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9/13/2017 9:23:00 AM
South-central Indiana solar panel rush tops 2017 capacity
Colorful signs identify solar-powered homes Tuesday on South Washington Street in Bloomington. Staff photo by Chris Howell
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Colorful signs identify solar-powered homes Tuesday on South Washington Street in Bloomington. Staff photo by Chris Howell

Ernest Rollins, Herald-Times

About 260 south-central Indiana residents recently signed up for new solar power installations through a Bloomington program, but only a fraction of those will be completed this year because of intense demand touched off by a change in state law.

“To call this situation unfortunate and regrettable is a major understatement. We acknowledge and share the disappointment of those who can’t be installed this year,” Woodie Bessler, an electrical engineer and volunteer with Solar Indiana Renewable Energy Network stated in a news release. “But driven by a year-end deadline imposed by a new law, the situation changed rapidly and suddenly produced a critical imbalance of supply and demand statewide.”

The 260 letters of intent were signed with SIREN this summer during the second phase of a Solarize Bloomington campaign that started in January. The campaign offers a financial discount to homeowners who want to install solar power systems.

The vendor, Third Sun Solar, will only be able to complete 25 solar installations by the end of the year — less than 10 percent of the homes whose residents who have signed letters of intent.

Because demand outweighs supply in the area, the company is giving priority to program participants above other commercial projects scheduled for next year, according to SIREN. The energy network and the city of Bloomington are also working to find another vendor for participants who are still waiting, but hoping to have a system installed this year.

Homeowners want installations by Dec. 31 because in April, Gov. Eric Holcomb signed into law legislation that changed net metering — a process that rewards property owners who invested in small solar power generation by allowing them to sell excess energy back to the power grid and earn financial credits.

Solar power systems installed before year’s end will lock in the current net metering rates until July 1, 2047 — 29.5 years or more, depending on its activation date.

Related Links:
• Herald-Times full text

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