Lehigh Valley

Local initiative encourages solar panel use

SCHNECKSVILLE, Pa. - If you're interested in going solar, now may be the time. 

A local initiative is designed to encourage solar panel use by helping you save a little money at home.

Not many things in the world are free. The sun, however, is, which is why solar is promoted as a smart, sustainable investment.

"If you're in our home, you're going to be paying your electric bill for the next 30 to 40 years," Owner of Evoke Solar Wes Checkeye said.

Solarize Lehigh Valley is an initiative launched by the sustainable energy fund in Schnecksville in partnership with Evoke Solar in Hellertown. The initiative offers free solar assessments and discounted installation for customers.

"We felt that the penetration of solar in the Lehigh Valley could increase," said President of the Sustainable Energy Fund John Costlow.

"It essentially is a kick-starter to see more solar go in for the years following solarize," said Checkeye.  

Solar power uses photovoltaic silicon panels which capture the sun's energy. The power can be used directly and overflow can be pushed back into the power grid for credits, which offsets your electric bill. 

"I would say the average American home somebody is going to spend something between $15,000 and $27,000 to do solar and they might save $60,000 to $100,000 over the years," said Checkeye. "It gives people about an eight percent return on their money."

The federal government is also offering a 30 percent tax credit on total installation costs.

"But starting at the end of 2019, that solar investment tax credit starts to decline from the federal government," said Costlow. 

The program has gotten a lot of traction.

"So far about 180 interested folks have reached out," said Checkeye. "Historically, solarize has closed about eight percent and I think we're gonna be right in track with that."

The program runs until Oct. 1. If you're interested, you can contact the Sustainable Energy Fund. 

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