A local environmental group, Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV), is launching a Solarize Harrisonburg program. This program is part of a grass roots effort in the U S to increase the use of solar to produce energy and to lower installation and equipment costs through a bulk purchase process. Currently there are such efforts underway in several states and, within VA, in Charlottesville, Blacksburg, Hampton Roads, Richmond, and Northern VA.
CAAV sponsored an initial, interest-gathering meeting on June 2 that was attended by over 100 persons. Subsequently, CAAV decided to sponsor a Solarize Harrisonburg group. Initially, the focus will be on the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County areas. If the interest is there, the group may consider expansion into nearby cities and counties. The Solarize Harrisonburg group has established a web site, http://www.vasun.org/solarize-virginia/solarize-harrisonburg/, and is partnering with the Community Power Network (CPN)/VA Sun to move forward.
A CAAV member, Joy Loving, Rockingham County resident and solar system owner, has agreed to lead the effort initially. In a June 19 Open Forum published in the Daily News Record, Loving wrote “As a cost‑conscious consumer and owner of a home powered by solar electricity since October 2012, I welcomed the opportunity to learn about the growing “Solarize” movement. The many questions from other attendees yielded even more useful information. Since the Harrisonburg event took place, I have asked for status updates from several Virginia “Solarize” efforts, and I look forward to better understanding their experiences and results. I believe many people could benefit from knowing more about their renewable energy alternatives, especially solar.”
Solarize Harrisonburg will have a community meeting and solar information session with representatives of (CPN/VA SUN on July 28, 2014. The meeting will take place at 6:00 PM at Massanutten Regional Library, 174 South Main Street, Harrisonburg. CPN works with interested people in a geographic area to initiate formation of a solar cooperative. Once established, CPN can then assist the cooperative with the many aspects (e.g., analytical, financial, technical) that such an effort involves. This purpose of this meeting is to generate interest, describe the process to attendees, get questions answered and begin the necessary organizational tasks.
Joining the Group
Anyone who is interested in going solar or in helping this initiative get underway can fill out the survey on the Solarize Harrisonburg web site. For those who express interest in installing solar, CPN will do a satellite assessment to see if their roof is a good fit for solar. For those offering to help, Solarize Harrisonburg will use the information from the sign up form to begin the process of matching talents/skills to the various areas in which it needs expertise. “Completing the sign up form does not obligate one to install a solar system. But it does make the person part of this exciting local initiative,” said Loving.
She added: “Getting the word out about our local Solarize program is vital. Folks who believe they might be interested should complete the survey and let their friends, neighbors, co‑workers, homeowners associations, fellow congregants or other potentially interested persons (like area farmers) know about the July 28 meeting and invite them to attend. The whole idea is to lower each person’s costs so the more folks who participate the lower the cost is likely to be!”