BY: Morgan Citizen County:

Solarize Newton-Morgan, a community-based bulk purchasing program making solar installation significantly more affordable, held its launch party in Covington on Thursday, September 6. The gathering enabled members of the two counties to meet both the organizers of the initiative and representatives of the installation company, garner information about solar power, and participate in a question and answer session. Another informational event will be held at the Public Safety Building Meeting Hall, Suite 400, in Madison on October 4 at 5 p.m.

What began as a grass-roots organization of pro-active individuals in Newton County evolved into the nonprofit Sustainable Newton. Choosing to focus on solar energy, Sustainable Newton formed a public-private coalition Solarize Newton-Morgan. Members include Solar CrowdSource, Madison-Morgan Conservancy, Environment Georgia, Oxford Organic Farm, Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority, Smart Growth Newton County, and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL). Solar CrowdSource has conducted successful solarize campaigns in Athens, Savannah, Tybee Island, Dunwoody, and other cities in Georgia.

Drawing upon the expertise and experience of coalition members, Solarize Newton-Morgan utilized a rigorous competitive bidding process to evaluate product quality and price before choosing Alternative Energy Southeast (AES) as the contracted solar provider.

Buyers receive approximately 20-22 percent savings on the cost of installation and products. A six-tiered volume-discount pricing system indicates the reduced costs as more residential or commercial structures are solarized. In addition to cost savings on equipment and installation, residential and business property owners can take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit that is currently offered.

Theodosia Wade, spokesperson for Sustainable Newton and retired Professor of Biology at Oxford College of Emory University, elaborated, “Through bulk purchasing, as a group, we have purchasing power. That’s been a really important thing to try to bring that price down. Solar equipment and panels in general have come down greatly over the years in pricing, but this really makes it a lot more affordable.”