By Taft Wireback
If energy activist Jim Warren has anything to say about it, solar panels one day will grace the rooftops of every suitable house, store, office and factory statewide.
But he and his Solarize NC program are taking it a few cities at a time, and the Greensboro area is next on their agenda.
“What we hope to do, we want to make solar happen for people across the economic spectrum, not just those who can afford to pay for it up front,” said Warren, executive director of the nonprofit energy watchdog group, NC WARN, based in Durham and a cosponsor of the statewide Solarize campaign.
One of the first steps along that path is the Solarize Triad initiative begun recently by Warren’s group and its partner nonprofit, Clean Energy for Us. The two groups previously ran separate, but similar “solarize” programs in several other parts of the state.
Their efforts come at a moment of increased popularity and affordability for the technology that can give home owners a lot more control over monthly power bills.
While hardly commonplace, solar panels are sprouting atop increasing numbers of North Carolina businesses and houses. Prices for solar equipment have come down dramatically in recent years. And generous tax incentives for residents and businesses have helped make North Carolina one of the nation’s leaders in wattage generated from sunlight.
The solarize idea hinges on assembling a large group of homeowners and other building owners who agree to install solar in the same period of several months.
“The more people that come in, the lower the price goes for everybody,” Warren said.