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Solarize Syracuse program deemed successful, could result in more projects

Ellen Abbott
One of homes participating in the Solarize Syracuse initiative.

The Solarize Syracuse initiative was a success, according to organizers. The three-month long program has helped more than 70 property owners in Syracuse, Dewitt, Manlius and the town of Onondaga go solar.

Solar energy is helping Diane Swords of Syracuse’s university neighborhood heat her home. Swords is one of the property owners who installed solar energy technology during the recent Solarize Syracuse blitz.

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO
A map shows where people enrolled into the solar program, and where people signed contracts.

"We’re excited about the fact that we can do this without any kind of sacrifice, in terms of we wouldn’t even know the difference, in terms of how our power works," Swords said. "Yet we can see the savings in money and carbon footprint.”

Jessica Maxwell, with the Alliance for a Green Economy, says 69 residential and two commercial property owners have already signed contracts to switch to solar. She says saving money on heating bills was one reason, but that’s not all.

“One of the major reasons that generated their interest in the first place, is the environment and climate change, and want to feel like they’re doing more that goes beyond just changing a light bulb," Maxwell explained. "Something that’s a long term investment.”

For Swords, it’s a win-win proposition.

“It benefits us personally who do it and it benefits the community and it benefits the planet, frankly,” Swords said.

Chris Carrick, with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board, says they’ll look at the results and determine if another program could target a different part of Onondaga County. In the meantime, the new solar customers may be the best advertising around.

"There’s independent research that shows that every solar installation in a community spurs more solar development," Carrick said. "Because people can go by and see this person has solar, they can talk to them about how it went, learn about solar. It becomes something that’s part of the landscape."

Organizers say a second round of the program in other areas is possible, if there is interest.

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.