Summit County homeowners make a difference through Solarize Summit program | SummitDaily.com
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Summit County homeowners make a difference through Solarize Summit program

Workers install solar panels onto a roof in Summit County.
High Country Conservation Center/Courtesy photo

Since it began in 2019, Solarize Summit has helped bring solar energy to over 160 homes in Summit County.

The program, which started under the county’s Climate Action Plan, incentivizes business and homeowners to switch to solar energy by signing up for rebates from energy providers and local governments. In the past four years, homeowners have received a total of $226,000 in rebates, according to a news release from High Country Conservation Center.

This year, home and business owners can receive up to $1,800, $300 of which comes from Active Energy Solars, an Eagle County-based solar energy installer. The remaining $1,500 comes from the Breckenridge, Frisco or Summit County governments. Homeowners can begin signing up for the program, which requires contracts to be signed by May 31 to be eligible for the rebates.



The program has become a crucial part of bringing solar energy to Summit, said Jess Hoover, climate action director at the conservation center. In total, the 160 residents who have taken advantage of the program have produced over 1 megawatt of solar energy, which is more than the two solar farms in Breckenridge can produce combined.

The community doesn’t have much space for solar farms, which allow people to become a part of a solar grid without installing panels on their homes, so it’s up to homeowners to contribute to the future of solar energy in Summit County, Hoover said.



“The more people that put solar on their roofs, we don’t have to worry about finding space for a community solar garden,” she said.

Each year, the conservation center hosts the program along with the Summit Climate Action Collaborative from March through May. The goal is to ultimately bring down Summit County’s carbon footprint. Electricity plays a major role in that footprint, contributing about 23% of the county’s total greenhouse gas emissions.

“For people who do have the means and the roof space and a good angle to go solar, we wanted to make a program that would make it easy for them to do it,” Hoover said.

This year, Breckenridge, Frisco and Summit County governments purchased a total of 55 rebates for the program. Of those 55, 20 belong to the town of Breckenridge, 25 belong to the Summit County government and 10 belong to the town of Frisco, Hoover said.

In a news release, Jessie Burley, Breckenridge’s sustainability coordinator, said the town is excited to be a part of the program again this year.

“Seeing the physical systems continue to be installed helps create a community snowball effect,” she said.

Solar energy has many benefits aside from helping with climate change, Hoover said. One of the major benefits is the financial savings. Some homeowners have managed to bring their electricity bills down to $0, Hoover said.

Solar energy also helps the overall community by contributing to the Xcel Energy grid. When Xcel goes to build more renewable energy, it doesn’t have to take up more space and resources because homeowners are already producing that energy on their own, Hoover said.

Although the program offers a financial break for homeowners, solar installation remains a costly endeavor that is out of reach for many homeowners. It can cost anywhere from $9,000 to $50,000 before discounts for people to install solar panels on their homes, according to the conservation center.

Many homeowners can’t afford that and many people don’t live in homes they own themselves. Hoover said the conservation center is working on strategies to improve equity when it comes to solar energy.

“We’re exploring how to make solar more accessible to everyone across the community,” she said.

People can sign up for the Solarize Summit program by visiting HighCountryConservation.org.


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