Front Porch Blog

Advancing Community-owned Energy in Blacksburg

Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam announces Solarize Blacksburg to a crowd at a local farmers market.

Blacksburg Mayor Ron Rordam announces Solarize Blacksburg to a crowd at a local farmers market.

If you’ve ever wished that purchasing a solar array for your home could be more like shopping for food in bulk at a big box store, then the new program Solarize Blacksburg is right up your alley.

For the next three months, Blacksburg, Va., is using financial tools and focusing the public’s interest in clean energy to encourage scores of potential rooftop solar customers attracted by discounts to sign up all at once. The more people sign up, the bigger everyones’ savings will be.

It began with a plan: the Blacksburg Climate Action Plan outlined goals to reduce the town’s carbon dioxide emissions, and generating electricity with solar means burning less coal. This Blacksburg program is based on a concept that was implemented recently in Oregon to fantastic success.

It’s understood that when undertaking a big investment such as whether to adopt solar, loads of questions go through the consumer’s mind. How long until my investment pays for itself? Am I better off pulling the trigger now or waiting another year for the price to come down?

In this case, between federal tax credits currently in play and the price cut available through the Solarize Blacksburg program, the cost to the consumer comes down by as much as 45 percent. This reduces the payback period to an unprecedented 10 years, after which solar panels will supply essentially free energy to the customer.

Part of the value of owning a solar system is that when customers generate more energy than they need, the extra power feeds on to the grid and customers are metered so as to receive a credit on their next energy bill for the energy they gave back to the utility. There is even financing available to pay the cost of the system in installments, making solar more accessible for everyone. And, the jobs involved in site assessment and installations are local to the community: Baseline Solar and Solar Connexion are the two companies involved and are both centered nearby.

So, if you’re a Blacksburg resident with south-facing rooftop space and you’re wondering about going solar, the site assessment is free when you sign up now through the end of May 2014 at and spread the word to neighbors and friends that there has never been a better time in Blacksburg to take advantage of the sun for your home.





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