The Snake River Alliance is re-energizing Solarize the Valley, a program to help Treasure Valley businesses and homeowners convert to solar energy.
Launched in May 2016, the SRA exceeded its goal of signing up 250 homeowners for solar power site assessments, ultimately convincing 400 people to opt for assessments. A total of 49 homes were fitted with rooftop solar panels, generating 314 kilowatts of electricity and nearly $1 million in local investment.
This year, the SRA hopes to install enough solar panels to generate more than 350 kW of electricity—translating to nearly 60 home installations.
The popularity of Solarize the Valley, which pairs homeowners with contractors specializing in solar panel installation, stemmed in part from the decreasing cost of the technology. According to SRA Director Wendy Wilson, the quickest return on investment went to homes with the highest power bills.
"The best paybacks are for people who use the most electricity," she said.
Wilson called the homeowners who installed solar panels during the first year of the program "49ers," in part because of the number of installations and also because of the association with the California Gold Rush. This first cohort, she said, has begun to evangelize solar power to their friends, families and co-workers, leading to a growing number of people signing up for consultations and installations.
"They're really psyched," Wilson said. "It's good to see the pioneers get so excited about it."
Among the participants in Solarize the Valley last year were people who ordered larger solar arrays to power their electric vehicles—enough, Wilson said, to qualify as a trend.
As in 2016, there will be workshops at which people can learn more about Solarize the Valley and sign up for a consultation. The next workshop is on Thursday, June 1, 6:30-8 p.m. at the Boise Co-op Village at Meridian location. Another is scheduled for Tuesday, June 13, 6:30-8 p.m. at Riverstone International School.