Welcome to Solarize Athens!
End of Program Note:
The enrollment period is now closed. If you competed steps 1 and 2 below, then you're locked in to Solarize Athens discount pricing and a free solar evaluation. A representative from AES will contact you soon.
Before the Deadline
Sign up above.
Step Two: After you sign up, you'll receive two emails:
- Confirmation you're signed up
- Now Let's Get Started: this email will contain a link to a form needed so we can get started on your free solar evaluation. If you do not see this email in your inbox within a couple minutes of signing up, please check your spam folder and "Promotions" or "Updates" folder if you have Gmail.
After the Deadline
Once you competed steps 1 and 2 above, then you're locked into Solarize Athens discount pricing and will receive a free solar evaluation. We understand going solar is a big decision and comes with a few approvals that need to be taken care of before making a commitment. That's why we allow up to 60 days for participants to get approvals on permitting, financing, historic district, and/or HOA, if applicable. If you completed Step One but can't find the email to complete Step Two, please contact us at email@example.com or 706-389-9602.
What is Solarize Athens?
Solarize Athens is a community-based solar PV bulk-purchasing program that allows homeowners, businesses and nonprofits in the Athens Metropolitan Area to save on the cost of solar together—the more that participate, the greater the savings!
Solarize Athens is brought to you by a public-private coalition consisting of Environment Georgia, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, Georgia Climate Change Coalition, and Solar CrowdSource. Solarize Athens community partners include the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government and Athens Area Branch of the US Green Building Council.
Goals of this campaign include:
- To lower the cost of solar energy by reducing participant acquisition costs and transferring those savings to homeowners, businesses, and nonprofits in the Metropolitan Athens Area;
- To substantially increase the number of solar installations in Athens and adjoining communities;
- To significantly ramp up adoption of solar throughout Athens in a way that can be sustained beyond the time frame of the Solarize Athens campaign;
- To encourage the adoption of solar-friendly permitting and zoning practices in the Athens-Clarke and participating communities; and
- To educate consumers and cultivate a sense of community participation and ownership in the solar energy market.
In the News
Through a competitive bid process and with input provided by the community, Solarize Athens selected Alternative Energy Southeast as your preferred contractor.
About Alternative Energy Southeast
Alternative Energy Southeast (AES) was incorporated in 2007. AES is a full-service electrical contractor and specialists in the design and installation of Solar Power electric energy systems. AES serves North Georgia, Athens, and all of metro-Atlanta
- Non-Restricted Licensed Electrical Contractor
- LEED Accredited
- NABCEP Certified
- Structural P.E.Architectural P.E.
- Electrical P.E.
- North Carolina State University graduate in Renewable Energy Technologies
- North Carolina State University graduate in Green Building Technologies Master and Journeyman electricians
- ASHI Certified Building Inspector
AES has contracted with Turnsol Energy to complete at least 25 percent of the installations that come out of Solarize Athens. Turnsol Energy, based in Watkinsville, has been installing solar in Athens-Clarke County and Oconee County for 10 years with 16 workers in the Metropolitan Athens Area. They have completed over 300 residential and over 100 commercial installations since being in business.
Pricing Schedule and Incentives
The more Athens Area residents that participate, the lower the cost for everyone! For example, Solarize Athens residential pricing starts at 15% below the average install price in Georgia for similar quality materials (Tier I). With aggregate pricing, we
can achieve achieved savings of 25%+ (Tier VI)!
Here is a sample of how this pricing works for a 5kW system with federal tax credits (30%) and utility incentives included, where applicable:
Commercial and Nonprofit
Commercial installations are very different from residential with commercial systems generally costing less per watt due to the size and scope of these systems. Therefore Solarize Athens took an innovative approach by separating residential and commercial pricing to reflect this difference:
Solarize Athens and Alternative Energy Southeast will help customize a system to suit individual needs. We can help structure your commercial project to maximize returns and demonstrate how Solarize Athens pricing works with federal tax credits, bonus (50%) and MACRS depreciation.
Click here to see how incentives and financing can work to maximize your payback and get your project to cash flow.
Nonprofits can benefit from Solarize Athens too. Let us show you how!
Click here to see how to see financing options of how your nonprofit can make the transition to clean energy.
Solarize Athens and Alternative Energy Southeast selected industry best-in-class components for this program so you get a high quality system along with big savings.
- SolarWorld Sunmodule. This American made panel is both high performance and high style. The black frame, black cell mono-crystalline design taps advanced light-capture and energy-conversion technologies to achieve industry-leading power density in a 60-cell format. The panel is about 10 percent more efficient than industry-standard 60-cell panels.
- SolarEdge Power Optimizer. The SolarEdge power optimizers increase energy output from PV systems by constantly tracking the maximum power point (MPPT) of each module individually and monitor the performance of each module and communicate performance data to the SolarEdge monitoring portal for enhanced, cost-effective module-level maintenance.
|SolarWorld Module||SunModule Plus 275 Mono Black||click here||25-year|
|Canadian Solar Module||CS6P-250 Poly Silver||click here||25-year|
|SolarEdge Optimizer||P300||click here||25-year|
|SolarEdge Inverter||SE 3000-10000A-US||click here||12-25 year|
All systems come with real-time monitoring. See how much energy each panel is producing at any time on your computer, tablet or phone. Receive a notice if something goes wrong. Generate weekly, monthly, and yearly reports to keep track of energy generated and CO2 avoided.
Athens First Bank is the preferred local financing company of Solarize Athens. Athens First's Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) product is loaded with great features to help make solar more affordable. Pay no closing costs (up to $500) and low interest payments.
The Admirals Bank Solar Step Down and Solar Plus programs are specifically designed to enhance the value of residential solar. Features include:
- no money down option
- 18-month interest free period (while you cash in your tax credits)
- no equity or appraisal requirements
- no pre-payment penalty
- minimum FICO score: 650
- approval within 24 hours
Interest payments are tax deductible in most cases. Please consult your tax adviser. Your free solar evaluation with Alternative Energy Southeast includes more details and how to apply.
Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or need additional information:
The Project FAQs
Thank you for visiting the Frequently Asked Questions for Solarize Athens. You will likely find the answer to your question here, however, if not, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will answer your question and add it here for others who may have the same question.
What is Solarize Athens exactly? Who is behind it? How did it get started?
Solarize Athens all started from an Athens Solar Town Hall meeting on August 27, 2015 sponsored by Environment Georgia, Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, and Georgia Climate Change Coalition. At this standing room only event, several solar initiatives were proposed for the city to consider to increase the deployment of solar in the Athens area. ‘Solarize’ was one of these initiatives and momentum quickly took off to start a Solarize Athens campaign. These organizations formed a coalition with Solar CrowdSource and then the Athens-Clarke County Unified Government joined as an additional partner. Solarize Athens was created, Alternative Energy Southeast (“AES”) was selected through a competitive bid process, and now we are off to the races making solar more affordable and accessible than ever in the Athens Metropolitan Area!
Who can participate in Solarize Athens?
Solarize Athens is open to all residents, businesses, nonprofits and governmental entities within the Athens Metropolitan Area.
How do I know if my property is within the Athens Metropolitan Area (“AMA”)?
Metropolitan Athens Area as defined in the Madison Athens-Clarke Oconee Regional Transportation Study (MACORTS); see http://www.macorts.org/macortsmap.html. This includes the northern portion of Oconee County and the southern portion of Madison County.
My property is not within the AMA, can I still participate?
If your property is not located within the AMA, you may still be able to participate. Sign up for the campaign and we will consider each property on a case-by-case basis. The more people in your area interested in participating the more likely we can bring you into this campaign.
I signed up for Solarize Athens. Now what?
After signing up, you will soon receive two emails: 1) Auto-response “thank you” email, and 2) A “Now let’s get started” email containing a link to a form page. Completing this form is required to start the process to your free solar evaluation. Without completing this form, we do not have enough information.
I want to participate but I do not have access to a computer or email address.
You can still participate without a computer or email address. Just call us at 706-389-9602 or come to one of our workshops scheduled throughout the campaign. Either way we will get you signed up and on your way.
How long do I have to sign up for the campaign?
Solarize Athens enrollment period expires March 31, 2016. We will continue to allow interested participants to sign up after March 31, 2016, however, Solarize Athens free solar evaluations and discounted pricing will not be available after that date.
I do not have copies of my last 12 months utility bills. What can I do?
Request a record of your last 12 months utility bill statements from your utility company. They will quickly accommodate your request via email in most cases.
I have my last 12 months utility bills but not in digital form or I cannot otherwise upload my document. What can I do?
If you cannot upload your last 12 months utility bills for whatever reason, there are several ways to get the information to us so we can get started:
- Bring copies of your statements to one of several workshops scheduled over the course of the campaign. We will take it from there! Check the Updates page frequently for event dates, times, and locations.
- Fax your bills to 706-389-9602.
- Mail a copy of your bills to 1590 N. Roberts Rd., Suite 101, Kennesaw, GA 30144. Attention: Solarize Athens
I want to go solar but I don’t have the upfront cost of a system readily available. Are financing options available?
Yes, Admirals Bank is the preferred residential lender of this campaign. They have a loan program specifically designed for solar ownership with no money down. See Overview page for more details and AES will work with each customer to get set up. We are working with a couple financing companies for commercial to identify the best program with the best rates possible. Please stay tuned and visit our Overview page for more details.
Solar Basics and Solar System Related FAQs
What are some advantages to getting solar?
- An investment with attractive, guaranteed returns
- Freedom from future energy rate hikes
- Increased property value
- Environmental stewardship
- Opposition to a hazardous power plant in your area
- Raise your profile in the community (marketability)
- The newest gadget to play with/show off (monitor your system from your smart phone)
- Solar works during peak hours (Great for TOU rate plans!)
- Support free-market in the energy sector
How does solar energy work?
Sunlight makes contact with a solar panel to produce direct current (DC) electricity. The DC electricity is then sent to an inverter and converted into alternative current (AC) electricity. The AC electricity can be used instantly on premises or transferred onto the grid.
Will my system produce energy on cloudy days?
Yes, but less than on sunny days. Depending on cloud coverage, your system may require a little more energy from the grid on cloudy days.
Will my system produce power if there is a blackout?
Without a backup power source such as batteries or generator, grid-tied solar PV systems will not operate when the power grid is down. This safety requirement, called “anti-islanding” allows utility linemen to safely repair power lines during a power outage. You may choose to add a battery backup to your solar system to keep the lights on during a blackout. Ask your our pre-selected installer, AES, for details on battery backup systems.
Where and how can solar be installed on my property?
Solar can be installed:
- on the roof (flat roof, pitched roof, shingle, metal, shake, slate and more)
- on the ground using a concrete foundation
- on a pole in a concrete foundation
- as an awning over a window or door
- as a carport shade/weather canopy (can be sized for one car or hundreds of car)
- as the canopy for a pergola or a breezeway
(Note: the pricing for Solarize Athens is for a standard shingle roof installation)
How do I know if my site is suitable for solar?
Solar panels work best when facing in a southern direction. They can be ground mounted or roof mounted and there should be little or no shading from trees, buildings, or fixtures to optimize output. The first step in the Solarize Athens program is to sign up for a free site assessment. Our selected installer, AES, will evaluate your site and help determine if solar is suitable for your location.
For roof installations: The roof should be in good condition and be structurally able to accommodate the additional weight of the solar panels. If your roof shows noticeable deterioration or needs additional structural support, these conditions will need to be addressed before installing solar panels. Your selected installer, AES, will help you make this decision.
For ground mounted systems: If your roof is not suitable for solar panels, you may also consider a ground mounted solar electric system. It doesn’t have to be placed right next to your premises, but rather can be situated in the sunniest part of your property.
If your property is still not suitable for solar, not to worry, we’ve got you covered. We will keep you posted of community solar programs available in your area.
What size system should I install?
Your pre-selected installer, AES, will provide a comprehensive assessment of your specific energy needs by taking a look at your utility bills and sizing a system appropriately.
What is net metering (aka bi-directional metering)?
If your system generates more electricity than you use during daylight hours, the meter will “spin backwards” and the utility will provide a credit on your bill. In Georgia, we have bi-directional metering (as opposed to net metering) which keeps track of how much energy is sent back to the grid. Georgia Power, Walton EMC, and Jackson EMC currently pay anywhere from 4.3-4.5¢/kWh for energy you send back to the grid.
Will I still receive a monthly electric bill?
Yes, you will still receive a monthly bill for your meter and for any energy you use to supplement your solar array at night or cloudy days. The amount of your bill will depend on how much electricity you use and how much you send back to the grid.
How much will this cost?
The cost will be determined by the tiered pricing structure provided by your pre-selected installer, AES. The more people that participate in the program, the lower the pricing will be. For instance, a 4kW system in the highest tier at $2.90/watt would cost $11,600. After the 30% federal tax credit ($3,480), the cost would be $8,120.
Will solar increase the value of my property?
Typically, solar systems add to a property’s value. This is due to the fact that unlike electricity rates, solar rates will never go up. Thus, a solar PV system insulates you from rising electricity rates. Once the system has paid for itself, the electricity it generates is absolutely free!
Can my Homeowner’s Association prevent me from installing a solar array on my property?
Some HOAs may require prior approval from the HOA Board of Directors before installing a solar system on your roof – particularly if the system will be visible from any public space such as roads. We recommend that you review your HOA’s covenants to determine if there are any restrictions in place. Your pre-selected installer, AES, can help you troubleshoot any problems you have obtaining approval from your HOA.
Should I have solar panels installed on an older roof?
We don’t advise anyone to install solar panels on a roof that shows signs of old age. The solar panels will provide a degree of protection but when it does come time to replace the roof the solar panels will have to be removed and then re-installed which can be somewhat expensive.
Can hail damage solar panels?
This has never been much of an issue for the solar industry. The solar panels we use have tempered glass and can withstand bombardment from billiard ball size hail at very high speeds.
What happens when I move and I have solar installed and how much does it add to property value?
Having solar installed will increase the value of your property, the amount of which is calculated based on the value of the electricity the system will produce over its warranted life. When you sell your home you may also elect to have the system removed and take it with you to your next home.
How long does it take to pay off?
ROIs (return on investment) vary depending on incentives available and the rate your currently pay the utility company. Typically, ROIs can ranges from 7-10 years but can be higher or lower depending on the site specifics.
How long does the system last? What warranties are available?
Some of the very first solar panels made in the ’50s are still producing power after 60 years, and they’re still at about 80% of their original power ratings. Solar panel’s decrease in output over time but the effect plateaus around the 80% mark. Solarize Athens solar panels are very robust and they are warrantied for 80% output after 25 years.
The SolarEdge optimizers used for this program have a 25 year warranty and the inverters have a 12 year warranty that is extendable to 20 or 25 years for only a few hundred dollars more and varies based on the wattage of the unit.
Our high quality components are engineered to withstand 90 MPH gusts of wind and 12” of snow. AES also provides a 5-year workmanship warrant, and a 1- year no roof leak guarantee.
Is the production guaranteed?
Yes, your pre-selected installer, AES guarantee’s our systems will produce as much power as we say they will or we’ll pay the difference!
How much maintenance is required?
Very little. Solar panels should be cleaned and electrical connections torqued every 5 years. You should blow the leaves from underneath the array about as often as you clean your gutters.
Can I go off the grid?
Off-grid systems are achievable but unless you are prepared to spend a large sum of money you’ll need to limit your consumption of electricity to the essentials e.g. refrigerator, freezer, well pump, lights, etc... AES can add essential systems to a separate distribution panel that will connect to the battery backup system.
Why doesn't solar provide any backup power without batteries?
When the grid power drops out the system is required to shut down production per the UL 1741 requirement which prevents inverters from back feeding the power lines during grid interruption. However with batteries and a transfer switch you can have reliable, sun-fueled power during a grid outage without back feeding.
If the panels get damaged will my insurance cover the repairs?
Typically your homeowner’s insurance will protect your solar array the same way it protects your home.
Is AES insured?
Yes, AES carries a general liability policy for all damages up $2,000,000 and has workman’s comp coverage.
What are the chances this could cause my roof to leak?
In 7 years of installing PV AES has never had a roof leak. That’s not to say it can’t happen but we do guarantee our systems will not leak for 1 year after the installation.
Last Solarize Athens Info Session
April 13, 2016, First Christian Church of Athens, 268 W. Dougherty Street, Athens
Join us April 13th at 7pm for our last info session of the Solarize Athens campaign at First Christian Church of Athens, at 268 W. Dougherty St. The Solarize Athens campaign expires on April 30th so this is your last chance to meet the entire Solarize Athens team, learn about the benefits of the solarize program, and participate in our in-depth Q&A session.
Solar Energy Panel Discussion
March 17, 2016, Winterville Historic Depot, 104 Marigold Ln, Winterville
Solarize Athens is co-hosting, with the City of Winterville, a Solar Energy Panel Discussion on Thursday, March the 17th, at the Historic Winterville City Depot at 7pm.
Tim Bryant of Fox News WGAU 98.7 and AM 1340 will moderate the panel discussion featuring:
- Lauren "Bubba" McDonald of the Georgia Public Service Commission
- John Weaver, Solar Engineer for Jackson EMC
- Montana Busch of Alternative Energy Southeast
- Drew Bowen of Turnsol Energy
- Home and business owners who have already gone solar
We will engage a vigorous discussion about the business and regulatory policies that create the conditions for solar energy expansion here in Georgia. Thanks to Mayor Dodd Ferrelle for his support of the program.
Solarize Athens Info Session - Athens Metro
March 15, 2016, Athens Clarke County Library
If you're ready to go solar but still not quite sure how to make it work then this is the place to be. This comprehensive session will answer all your questions, including financing and installation question and answer session. Representatives from participaing finance companies will be on hand. Let us show you how to finance your solar project with minimum out-of-pocket expense while the sun takes care of the rest!When: Thursday, March 3rd, 7-8:30pm
Solar Open House
March 5, 2016, 655 Riverview Rd, Athens
Jan and Bob Matthews' installation was just completed last week! Now they're ready to show it off for those who want to learn more about residential solar, the program, and in the installation. Janice and Greg are hosting from 2-5 p.m. on Saturday, March 5th.
Start spreading the word!
Solarize Athens Info Session - Oconee & Watkinsville
March 3, 2016, Oconee County Library
Attention Oconee County and Watkinsville: if you missed our previous solar information workshops in Oconee, this may be your last chance to learn about solar power, its benefits, and meet the Solarize Athens team. Come one come all! Tell your friends and save together!
Solarize Athens Workshop
February 17, 2016, Athens-Clarke County Library
Business Meet & Greet
February 4, 2016, Terrapin Brewery
If you are a business owner and ever thought about making the transition to clean, renewable energy, now's your chance!
Solarize Athens is teaming up with a local business association, YPN ( Young Professionals Network ) to host this business oriented event at our favorite local brewery. Terrapin already has solar hot water units installed by Turnsol Energy, one of the contractors working with Solarize Athens! If you have ever thought about going solar for your business this is the time and this is the program. The rates have never been so affordable and the pay back time never so fast! Come join us to learn more and sign up!
Solarize Athens Workshop
January 21, 2016, Oconee County Public Library
Come join us on Thursday evening, January 21st for two workshop meetings!
1) Solar 101, 6:30-7:30pm, where you can learn more about solar generally, the benefits of solar, and ask the selected installer, Alternative Energy Southeast, questions specifically about solar on your property, and
2) Financing, 7:30-8:30pm, where we will go in depth about the financial benefits of solar, tax incentives, and financing programs available for residential, commercial and nonprofit customers. A representative from Pinnacle Bank will be on hand to discuss loan options for residential and commercial customers.
Light snacks and drinks provided.
Oconee Solar Town Hall
January 4, 2016 @ 7:30-9pm, Oconee County Library
You're a part of Solarize Athens too Oconee County and Watkinsville! We look forward to meeting interested participants on Monday, January 4th at the Oconee County Library, 1080 Experiment Station Rd, Watkinsville. Come meet the Solarize Athens team, meet the installer, Alternative Energy Southeast, ask questions, and learn more about the benefits of solar energy.
- Official Launch Party, Thursday December 17th, 7-9pm, UGA Presbyterian Student Center [12/12/2015] [Edited: 12/12/2015]