What Is Solarize Harrisonburg?

Full house at Solarize Hburg's June 2, 2014, exploratory forum.
Full house at Solarize Hburg’s June 2, 2014, exploratory forum.
  • The Climate Action Alliance of the Valley (CAAV) sponsored an initial public meeting on June 2, 2014.  An informational session, it was well attended, with over 100 persons listening to several speakers, including representatives of Community Power Network (CPN) and Sierra Club.
  • The second Solarize Harrisonburg meeting, to formally launch this initiative, will happen on July 28, 2014, at Massanutten Regional Library, 174 S Main St., Harrisonburg, VA, at 6 PM.  The public is welcome.   Representatives from Community Power Network will provide specific details about the project and answer questions.  After the meeting, the effort will continue with organizational activities and development of a request for proposal (RFP) to be issued to solar installers.
  • Solarize Harrisonburg has a web site: www.vasun.org/solarize-virginia/solarize-harrisonburg.  To sign up in advance of the meeting and receive a free satellite roof analysis of your building’s solar suitability, complete the survey form at this site.  Solarize Harrisonburg is partnering with CPN, which has extensive experience in helping communities increase their “solar footprint.”  The email address is:  solarizeharrisonburg@vasun.org.
  • Solarize Harrisonburg desires to support low-income energy users, energy conservation programs, renewable energy programs, and the advancement of green building principles. To that end, Solarize Harrisonburg seeks to dramatically increase the use of clean, renewable solar power in the Harrisonburg area and to provide local home and business owners with an opportunity to install solar panels at an affordable rate.
  • Across VA, families have wanted to take control of their own electricity for decades to provide relief from rate hikes and from unreliable utilities and to reduce their impact on our environment.  The solar power option has been too expensive, with large upfront costs that have put it out of reach for middle-class families, and without standardized financing options.
  • Solarize Harrisonburg will address these issues in the area by creating an easy and affordable way for area homeowners and businesses to own and benefit from their own solar electricity systems.  The project will include the following components:

1.    Bundling of individual solar contracts to allow participants to benefit from bulk purchasing through a competitive bidding process.  The chosen installer will provide a single price per installed Watt for all participating cooperative members.
2.    Community-based marketing strategy to encourage neighbors to go solar together.  This marketing strategy will include public solar seminars and information sessions, email and personal outreach, and earned media opportunities.
3.    Consumer advocacy and technical analysis for cooperative members—ensuring that members receive unbiased, third party assistance from providing trained site assessments, to reviewing bids on behalf of the group, to arranging affordable financing, and ensuring quality installations.
4.    A streamlined financing procedure that removes the upfront cost barrier for families and farms in Harrisonburg, VA.

  • CPN will provide consulting services to the Solarize Harrisonburg effort, including:

1.    Develop informational materials to help educate participants on the basics and economics of going solar.
2.    Conduct initial satellite assessment and answer technical, policy, and financial questions to prospective homeowners.
3.    Conduct due diligence and review of proposals, to allow coop members in making a final choice of installers.
4.    Ensure quality and timely installations.
5.    Bring any concerns about installer workmanship, pricing, or activities to the attention of the chosen installer and Solarize Harrisonburg.
6.    Continue post-installation engagement to build the movement for solar in VA.

  • CPN will support the formation of Solarize Harrisonburg through:

1.    Promoting public information sessions to its membership and the broader Harrisonburg community.
2.    Serving as the community anchor and public face for this local effort.
3.    Providing institutional backing and community support to the project through social and traditional media channels.
4.    Helping ensure the project reflects the culture, needs and desire of the local participants.
5.    Helping design follow up actions and next steps for the group.

Click on the image below for a full-sized view of this one page flyer about Solarize Harrisonburg. Consider printing copies to distribute to your neighbors! The more homes involved, the greater the success of this project.


Frequently Asked Questions with more details about how VA Solar Co-op programs work is here.


RMIlogoThe Rise of Solar Co-ops, Laurie Guevara-Stone, April 22, 2014, Rocky Mountain Institute blogsite.

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