New Ann Arbor Solar Club eases hassle, cuts costs of going solar

Washtenaw County homeowners and businesses intrigued by the prospect of installing solar energy equipment may find helpful assistance and financial savings from a new partnership involving several local organizations.

The Ann Arbor Group Solar Program – also called Ann Arbor Solar Club – is a partnership between the City of Ann Arbor's energy commission, the nonprofit Clean Energy Coalition, outreach and education effort a2energy, and online solar energy marketplace Geostellar. The program will offer educational events and social media forums, and emphasize the use of Geostellar's online platform to compare, customize, and find installers for solar equipment. A discounted group-purchasing rate is available to county property owners who use the promotional code "A2" when purchasing equipment through Geostellar.

Geostellar CEO David Levine says Geostellar's patented technology produces a "Solar Profile" unique to each property, which is used to tailor site-specific offerings.

"We can adjust the equipment types, system size, racking, and financing terms to optimize the installation for total savings over the life of the system or monthly savings on each bill," Levine says.

Initial surveying is done virtually with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) technology that measures surface heights by bouncing lasers from airplanes off objects on the ground.

Interested home or business owners can see an initial survey of their property's solar potential and estimated installation costs for panels, as well as projected energy cost savings and greenhouse gas emissions reduction, by entering their address on the Geostellar homepage and following some simple steps.

"This saves the property owner a lot of time and money, because the consultation can happen over the phone," Levine says. "Only after the estimate is dialed in will Geostellar deploy a local installer to perform an on-site verification of the design."

Once design and contracting are complete, Geostellar assigns a project manager who works through scheduling and logistics for delivery and installation. Levine says the whole process takes about 90 days from estimate to installation, after which Geostellar monitors the systems and dispatches a contractor to fix any problems.
 
Eric Gallippo is an Ypsilanti-based freelance writer.
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