Campaign to ‘solarize’ DeKalb’s homes and businesses extends deadline

A grassroots program to increase the number of solar-powered homes and businesses in DeKalb County has extended its deadline to join the bulk-purchase effort.

Solarize Decatur-DeKalb said its new deadline for the program is Jan. 31 rather than Dec. 31.

The third effort that organizers have put together in Georgia since 2015, it promises bigger discounts as more people and firms sign up for solar energy. At the upper end, they can save more than 25 percent on solar installations compared to when customers go it alone, according to the organizers, mostly nonprofit environmental and community groups.

The program has drawn interest from almost 600 homeowners and businesses, according to the group’s website. So far, 42 homes and businesses had signed contracts for installations.

Georgia has become one of the fastest-growing solar power generators in the last three years, thanks to Georgia Power and other players in the state that have been installing large-scale solar farms at a rapid pace in Georgia.

Last week, Georgia Power and the U.S. Army officially flipped the switch on a new 30 megawatt solar farm on 250 acres on Fort Stewart, near Hinesville. The 250-acre solar farm is the fourth completed solar installation out if five Georgia Power is building on military bases in Georgia.

Meanwhile, homeowners’ and small businesses have been slow to install small-scale solar units on their rooftops. Trees shade many roofs, and the projects are slow to break even because of Georgia offers few subsidies or cost savings compared to many states, experts say.

Solar Decatur-DeKalb's program aims to help with evaluating whether solar power makes sense on customers' homes or businesses, and bulk-purchase agreements with two local contractors who agreed to lower their prices as more customers sign up for solar installations. The project contractors are also working with Norcross-based Suniva, one of the nation's largest solar panel manufacturers, to supply their solar panels.