By Sarah Lappé, communication and outreach coordinator, University of Utah Sustainability Office

U Community Solar is back. This program offers U community members the opportunity to purchase discounted rooftop solar panels and installation for their homes. Local nonprofit Utah Clean Energy will again assist the University of Utah Sustainability Office with program.

U Community Solar is open to all members of the university community, including faculty, staff, students, alumni and campus guests from Salt Lake, Summit and Davis counties. The program runs from March 15 through Sept. 30, 2016.

U Community Solar simplifies the process by pre-screening solar companies to meet specific qualifications and by negotiating discounts up front. After a competitive process, the U has selected Creative Energies to again partner as the installer for the program.

“Our program was so well-received that we have had regular calls to bring it back,” said University of Utah Chief Sustainability Officer Amy Wildermuth. “Working with the students and Utah Clean Energy and with tremendous support from the university, we are thrilled to offer the program again and hope to achieve even greater results this time around. Like many who participated in the program, I am not just saving money with my solar panels. I am able to show others how we can impact our community and our well-being with the choices we make in energy use. Even better, at the discounted prices available this time around, I plan to add more panels to power my new electric vehicle.”

What makes U Community Solar so cool?

  1. In 2014 and again in 2016, the Associated Students of the University of Utah generously allocated funding for the administrative costs of this program through a portion of student fees designated for renewable energy purchases.
  2. Three hundred eighty homeowners installed 2 megawatts in the last round of this program, three times the program’s initial goal.
  3. The program helped prevent 13 million pounds of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere, the equivalent of cutting four million automobile miles annually.
  4. The average cost for U Community Solar participants in 2014 was $16,310 per installation before the state and federal tax incentives, and about $10,000 after tax incentives. Participants are expected to break even on their investment within 10 years.
  5. Participants have an opportunity to donate their renewable energy credits, or RECs, back to the University of Utah.

To get started, homeowners should first take the online solar survey. After completing the survey, come to an info session:

  • March 30, 4-6 p.m., Union Theater in the A. Ray Olpin University Union, 200 S. Central Campus Drive
  • April 25, 4-6 p.m., Red Rock Conference Room (level A, Room W-A350) in the University of Utah Hospital, 50 N. Medical Drive
  • May 17, 4-6 p.m., Gould Auditorium in the Willard Marriott Library, 295 S. 1500 East
  •  July 12, 5-6:30 p.m., Union Theater in the A. Ray Olpin University Union, 200 S. Central Campus Drive
  • Aug 16, 5-6:30 p.m., Alumni Hall in the Health Sciences Education Building (HSEB), 26 S. 2000 East
  • Sept 14, 5-6:30 p.m., Gould Auditorium in the J. Willard Marriott Library, 295 S. 1500 East

For updates and details, visit mycommunitysolar.org/ucommunitysolar.