New Ypsilanti program offers $2,000 rebates on solar panel installations

A new solar rebate program goes into effect today in the city of Ypsilanti. The Grace Sweeney Solar Rebate Program was unanimously passed by Ypsilanti City Council on May 24, providing 40 rebates of $2,000 each to city residents interested in adding solar panels to their houses.

Dave Strenski, founder of the grassroots community organization SolarYpsi, brought the idea to council after community member and solar advocate Grace Sweeney left money to a number of community groups, including $74,000 to SolarYpsi. However, SolarYpsi isn't a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, so Strenski had to decide how to use that money.

"I could have taken the money and done two or three big projects and called it a day, but I thought a rebate program was a better way to get solar installed," Strenski says. 

He offered the money to the city for a rebate program and proposed that city council add $6,000 for an even $80,000 in rebate funding. Awards will be made until funding runs out, unless another funder can be found.

"I'd love to get another $80,00 and do another 40 [rebates]," Strenski says.

Interested property owners must get a quote from a licensed solar contractor that shows their proposed installation will cost $3 per watt or less. The homeowner reserves a spot in the rebate program by providing that quote to the city and paying for all required city building permits.  When the project is completed, the property owner receives the $2,000 rebate check.

"When the building department does the final inspection, that would be the trigger to say the project is done, and the city cuts a check to the homeowner," Strenski says.

Residents of the Heritage Park neighborhood in the city's Southside neighborhood live in what's known as a neighborhood enterprise zone and qualify for additional grant funding of up to $7,000 per project. 

While there are statewide rebate programs in other states, Strenski says that as far as he knows Ypsilanti is the first city in Michigan to offer a rebate for solar installations.

Those who have questions about the Grace Sweeney Solar Rebate Program can contact Strenski at dave@strenski.com.

Sarah Rigg is a freelance writer and editor in Ypsilanti Township and the project manager of On the Ground Ypsilanti. She joined Concentrate as a news writer in early 2017 and is an occasional contributor to other Issue Media Group publications. You may reach her at sarahrigg1@gmail.com.

Photo courtesy of SolarYpsi.
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