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New organization's goal is to Solarize Syracuse

Ellen Abbott
WRVO File Photo
Solar panels on the home of Peter Wirth in Fayetteville.

There’s a movement afoot in the Syracuse area to get more people to install solar energy technology in their home or business.

Peter Wirth of Fayetteville installed solar panels on his home two years ago. And one of the most frequent questions he hears is,

“Does it work in central New York? Well, it’s produced almost 100 percent of our power for the last two years,” said Wirth.

Add to that state incentives that brought the cost of installation down to about $6,300, and the fact that it’s a renewable energy source, and Wirth says it’s a very viable choice for homeowners. Federal tax credits, subsidies and low interest loans that are available for homeowners or businesses that go solar also help make it more affordable than it used to be.

The newly formed organization Solarize Syracuse is banking on Wirth’s story to convince people to go solar. Chris Carrick, one of the group’s organizers, says Solarize Syracuse is based on other "solarize" programs, that use bulk buying power to bring down the cost of a solar installation. That means a certain number of people have to sign up by September 30, which they think is doable.

“Our goal is about 40 households and businesses. If we do that, we can meet the highest tier and provide the lowest price,” said Carrick. "We did a similar project in Madison County and we had 30 households sign up in a similar time period  We have many more customers available in our target area than we had in Madison County, so I think we can meet that 40.”

He admits it’s a challenge selling energy that comes from the sun -- in Syracuse.

“The biggest impediment for us is the myth that solar doesn’t work here in central New York," said Carrick. "And part of the benefit of doing a solarize program is getting solar out in the community. Because when your neighbor or co-worker has solar, that’s the best advertisement we can have.”  :17

Solarize Syracuse will hold nine free workshops in coming weeks to explain the process.  The program is available in the towns of Manlius, Dewitt and Onondaga, as well as the city of Syracuse. For more information go to www.solarizesyracuse.org

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.