Solarize Ypsi event will encourage residents to double Ypsilanti's solar energy output

Ypsilanti-area residents are invited to learn more about solar power and how to get a discount on solar panels at an event called "Solarize Ypsi," set for 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 28. 

The event is sponsored by the local grassroots organization Solar Ypsi and will take place at The Ypsilanti Performance Space, 218 N. Adams St. in Ypsilanti, which has 105 solar panels on the roof.

Solar Ypsi founder Dave Strenski says the event will include a short talk by a city of Ypsilanti representative, and Strenski will give a short "Solar 101" talk. Talks will cover the cost of a project and how to get a federal tax credit for installing solar panels.

Two homeowners who currently have solar panels will also talk about why they chose this sustainable energy source. Finally, Matt Kadwell, the owner of Sumpter Solar Services, will also give a talk about how "group buys" can lower the cost of solar panel projects.

Strenski says he has tried in the past to get three or four homeowners to install solar panels at the same time to make it easier on the contractor and reduce costs, but he says he could never get the homeowners to "pull the trigger at the same time."

"What helps is if the projects are all in the same municipality, because all the permits will be the same," Strenski says. "It's tough for contractors if they are doing one project in Grand Rapids and another in Lansing and another in Detroit. There will be three different inspectors and timelines and fees."

Strenski says Julie Roth, senior energy analyst for the city of Ann Arbor, has been very successful in holding similar meetings encouraging group buys.

"She is the one who formalized the process and even wrote a white paper about how to do it," Strenski says, noting that group buys in Ann Arbor over the last year have added about a megawatt and a half of solar power to the city. 

Strenski is hoping for similar success in Ypsilanti. The city is currently in the top 20 in the entire nation for the number of solar watts produced per capita, at 77, but Strenski would like to double that number.

More details are available at the Facebook event page, at solarypsi.org, or by emailing 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.

Photos by Doug Coombe.
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.