Go Solar Workshop Draws Crowd for Clean Energy

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By Rachel Hayden

Many Sierra Club members and supporters have been asking if they should install solar panels and how to take advantage of utility rebates for solar. This past weekend, Sierra Club supporters got an opportunity to do just that by attending the Go Solar Workshop in Edina, MN.  The event was a great success with over 55 people attending and multiple cosponsors for the event.

The presentation was done by Minnesota Renewable Energy Society board members Jen Eichten and Eric Jensen who brought together information on the state of solar in Minnesota, current issues in solar policy like the Xcel Energy Integrated Resource Plan, how homeowners and businesses can go solar (presentation:http://ge.tt/5HlWyrF/v/0?c) . After the presentation, all attendees were given time to connect with solar installers and manufacturers. Many of the attendees took advantage of the opportunity to meet with installers, which shows that many have great interest in solar energy.

Are you thinking about going solar on your home or business? Now is a great time. Jen outlined four steps to going solar:

  1.  Get an energy audit and take action to become more energy efficient. Energy efficiency is the lowest cost energy resource available, and the savings from an energy efficient fridge, insulation, and better lighting can help you pay for solar.
  2. Solar Site Assessment. This is the step where you figure out if solar works for your home or business. An assessor will help you figure out what your initial investment will be and how quickly that investment will pay off.   The assessor could be a solar installer or an independent assessor from a group like MRES. If you use an independent assessor, the solar installer may want to do their own assessment.  This may be a good time to talk with your financial team to start figuring out tax benefits.
  3. Choose a contractor/installer and get solar installed. Once you have your assessment, now it is time to do your due diligence and choose a solar installer and system design.  Then work with your chosen installer to get your solar system installed.
  4. Pay Day.  Now it is time to make sure you work with the installer, utility, and your financial team to make you take advantage of all the rebates.

After the event this weekend we are planning our next Go Solar Workshop in Duluth for the late Spring, and we continue to work increase solar as part of Xcel’s and Minnesota Power’s long range energy plans.

We thank our cosponsors; Sundial Solar, Applied Energy Innovations, Aladdin Solar, and Silicon Energy for their participation and hope to work with them on future Sierra Club solar events.

Here are a few pictures from the event:

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Jen explains Sierra Club’s mission and work on clean energy.

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