Arista Power is gearing up for a busy summer after being selected as the solar installer of choice for Madison County, New York’s solarize campaign. Residents who install solar through the program between June 1 and Sept. 30 earn deep discounts depending on how many people in the community sign up to go solar. Because the community is partnering with Arista, the installer can offer bigger and bigger discounts as more and more people sign up because it saves the installer marketing expenses.
Solarize programs, which started in Portland, Ore. are gaining popularity all over the country. “I didn’t know anything about solarize,” said Arista spokeswoman Cherrie Mahon. “When I started doing research on it, I realized it was pretty neat.”
Madison County leaders asked 100 solar installers within 150 miles of the upstate New York area to submit requests for proposals. Mahon said Arista was one of 15 installers who applied and the company was awarded the contract. Another installer, ETM Solar, was also awarded a contract to work with those residents who want to lease solar panels rather than own them. The county’s goal is to get 30 solar installations through the program. “I think they’re being conservative,” Mahon said. “I think we’ll get more.”
While Arista is based in nearby Rochester, Mahon said the company already does a lot of business in the wide open acreage of communities like Madison County. “It’s surprising, but people out here generally seem more accepting of new technologies than people in the cities,” Mahon said. “I think it might be because farmers make a business of the land and this is an easier concept for them to grasp'"
Morrisville State College has set up a community education program for solar energy. Before county leaders formally announced the solarize program and the day Arista released its announcement about the program, 15 people signed up for the first educational seminar.
The county, led by an ambitious college student, secured funding to give the first 15 people who install solar a $2,000 grant toward the total cost. Mahon said she hopes that Madison County is just the first among many northern New York areas that will attempt a solarize campaign. “This really does open a lot of doors for us,” Mahon said. “The hope is, as this spreads to other nearby communities, Arista will have the experience and will be competitive.”