Here Comes the Solar Power

(Photo Courtesy of U Solar Community)

(Photo Courtesy of U Solar Community)

 

The U is offering a chance for students, faculty and staff to get connected to solar power through U Community Solar.

Until October 1, those interested can apply for residential solar panels. The program works with the nonprofit Utah Clean Energy and will help applicants reduce their environmental impact. Applicants are also guaranteed financial discounts and a streamlined installation process.

Kate Bowman, solar project coordinator for Utah Clean Energy, said people with solar panels will save money on their energy bill for at least 25 years, when the warranty expires. She said the program, which started on Earth Day this year, has already seen success.

“We’ve seen more than two times the amount of solar power as there was previously, almost three times,” Bowman said.

The U is among the top ten EPA Green Power University Partners, and this program offers a way for the U to reach out into the broader Utah community beyond the university boundaries.

Casey Modjeski, a freshman in nursing, said she hadn’t heard much about the program, but she supports the environmental efforts.

“I’m always for solar energy, especially in a place as sunny as here,” she said.

But Modjeski said the program might not be a good fit for her.

“I won’t be owning a house for five or six more years, and I’m not from Utah,” she said.

The solar program is only applicable for homeowners in Salt Lake, Summit and Davis counties and for the first 150 homeowners from Morgan, Wasatch, Tooele and Utah counties.

“There needs to be a limit. We want to reach as many people as possible,” Bowman said. “But we need an ending in order to tally up the impact.”

Bowman said those who are interested and eligible for the solar installations should attend the upcoming workshops for more information on Thursday, Sept. 25 at 12 p.m. in the Gould Auditorium of the Marriott Library and Thursday, Oct. 16 at 5:30 p.m. in Alumni Hall of the Health Sciences Education Building.

“The meetings aren’t mandatory, but it’s a good way for people to get familiar with the program and installers,” Bowman said.

Bowman said this program will benefit those who receive electricity from Rocky Mountain Power. While some power companies charge people who switch out their old electrical meter to a new “net meter” that tracks their renewable energy, Rocky Mountain Power does not.

The net meter allows consumers and power companies to keep track of their renewable enery use. Consumers can then donate what points they earn to the U to help reduce its carbon footprint.

k.ehmann@chronicle.utah.edu

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