SolarOP Technical Assistance Case Study – Solarize Tybee Island Program

Tybee

The Solarize Tybee Island Program is open for enrollment until April 25, 2015!

In the summer of 2014, Tybee Island, GA applied for technical assistance (TA) from the Solar Outreach Partnership (SolarOPs) after meeting with SolarOPs at the Georgia Municipal Association Convention in 2014. The City of Tybee and the Tybee Community Resource Committee were interested in exploring the feasibility of a bulk purchase program for solar photovoltaic (PV) systems.

SolarOPs provided support in the form of sharing information and educational materials on solar energy, presenting an overview of a Solarize program, and sending examples of request for proposals (RFP) for selecting an installer to the Tybee Island Solarize program. Accordingly, SolarOPs held a workshop at the Tybee Island City Hall in December 2014 to inform residents in Tybee Island about a Solarize program. Huge support not only from Tybee Island, but also from surrounding communities resulted in broadening the scope of the program to include the entire Chatham County area including Savannah, GA.

Tybee Island Councilman Paul Wolff indicated that the well-documented and well-presented information provided from SolarOPs on other Solarize programs across the U.S. gave the Tybee Island residents confidence about the feasibility of a Solarize program for their community. For example, a Tybee Island grocery store owner who had previously explored installing a PV system but was not successful, expressed interest in participating in this Solarize program and is interested in now installing a 85 kW PV system on the rooftop or parking after the workshop. The other factor that encouraged the community to participate in the program is the close deadline for 30% tax credit provided by federal government. The ICLEI team supported the City of Tybee in setting up the program and simplifying the process and finding the contractor. The program had specific challenges such as legal issues of expanding the program beyond the City boundary which was addressed by adding some languages in the application form to require permission from relevant jurisdiction. In addition, the low prices from energy generated through the PV system by utility company resulted in recommending systems that would provide just enough energy for on-site use.

In February 2015, the City selected Hannah Solar as the installer for this program. Hannah Solar is offering ten pricing tiers ranging from $2.95/W to $2/W. After selecting the installer, the majority of the work for this Solarize program focused on community outreach. To help publicize this program, SolarOPs and Hannah Solar presented at a launch event on February 24, 2015 to officially promote the program to the community and to encourage people to sign up. SolarOPs shared additional information on Solarize programs and answered questions from community members interested in participating. This meeting had a successful turnout with positive media coverage, and 202 people have signed up as of early March 2015.

For more information, please visit the Solarize Tybee website.

SolarOP Solarize Tybee community meeting: Link

For more information on SolarOPs technical assistance, please visit here: Link

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