New program to install more solar panels in the community

NOW: New program to install more solar panels in the community

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SOUTH BEND, Ind.—The city of South Bend is launching a new program, called the Energy Assistance and Solar Savings Initiative (EASSI), to help install more solar panels throughout the community and to make other solar efficiency changes.

This includes places like schools, churches, grocery stores, medical facilities, local nonprofits and others, to add solar energy into their place of business, or to make solar upgrades. The city partnered with IFF and CDFI Friendly South Bend to make this all happen, and will help to offer free energy assessments, grant funding for improvements and optional low interest lending.

South Bend’s Director of sustainability, Evelyn Bauman said she’s excited to get the ball moving on getting more people involved in going solar.

“I’m really excited to be apart of this program, especially because we hope that the organizations that make changes through this program will have an education and awareness component to their improvements, too. So, we just hope that ripples through the community where more and more folks can learn about this, learn how these types of projects contribute to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions, and becoming a greener, cleaner city,” Bauman said.

Some of the energy efficiency changes that are eligible through this program, includes updating lighting and switching to LED lighting, H-VAC replacements, upgrading appliances like washers and dryers to be energy-star appliances, water heater upgrades, and air installation or weather installations. The program can also help qualifying organizations and places of business to contact pre-qualified contractors and assist with project management for this.

The whole core mission for the program is to just use less energy as soon as possible, so that you’ll have a better change of securing net metering, which will ensure you receive fair credit towards the electricity that your systems produce.

“We’ve seen an increase in solar installation, and one important thing I will note about this timing of this program is a really beneficial policy called net metering in the state of Indiana, which is set to expire on July 1st, so we are also trying to push as many solar panels on roofs and on property as possible,” Bauman said. “This is the most financially beneficial time for you to put solar panels up, so we hope to see more even over these 6 months.”

All you have to do is submit an intake form, and then the intake form will then be reviewed by program organizers, who will then talk further about potential projects you can pursue in the program.

In a statement from Mayor James Mueller about the new program launch, he said:

“I’m excited that the city will help local organizations improve their energy efficiency and go solar. These investments in clean energy will not only advance our environmental goals, but also allow these organizations to spend more on their core missions and less on energy.”

Bauman says it’s important now more than before to make the upgrades to go solar, if this is something you can do, or haven’t done already.

“South Bend back in 2019, the city passed its community-wide climate action plan, and that stated our goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. Within that report, we looked at our greenhouse gas inventory and which sectors produced the most greenhouse gas emissions, and buildings accounted for approximately 60% of our communities’ emissions. So, we are really looking to help building owners, property owners reduce the amount of energy coming from buildings. We’re hoping that by making these upgrades, they’ll be using less energy.”

There will be a webinar happening Monday, January 22 starting it 10 AM for business owners and organizations to get a full breakdown of the program and ask any and all questions surrounding the program and future involvement. To join the conversation, click here.

To learn more about eligibility and how to apply, click here.

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