Chicago Tribune: Chicago unveils new rooftop solar discount program

Chicago is offering rooftop solar panel installations through the summer at 25 percent below market rates through a partnership with non-profit Vote Solar.

The idea, announced Wednesday, is to jumpstart solar installations in the city, according to Chicago’s Chief Sustainability Officer Karen Weigert. Similar programs have kicked off hundreds of installations in other regions, she said.

“We think of this as a way to bring more people into thinking about solar as an option,” she said. “And as the market gets stronger with more installations happening in Chicago, we expect there to be more and more growth.”

The city is paying nothing under the program, which stems from a World Wildlife Fund grant. WWF contracted with Vote Solar and the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center to administer the program.

Sarah Wochos, co-legislative director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, said her organization’s role is to get the word out about the program.

“We have contacted every alderman, every neighborhood group, every book club, every chamber of commerce organization. We see value in trying to help push these types of opportunities into the public space. The more that it happens, the quicker the market grows,” she said.

San Francisco-based Vote Solar invited solar contractors to bid and a committee selected Juhl Renewable Energy Systems, Microgrid Solar, Ailey Solar and Kapital Electric as contractors for the upcoming solar installations. The contractors are offering financing to homeowners through Admirals Bank.

According to Vote Solar, serving a large group of customers at once helps defray some of the expenses, making it possible to offer prices that are 25 percent below average.

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