Solarize programs are not just making solar more affordable in the communities that participate anymore. Admirals Bank has pledged to increase its efforts to finance individual solar installations throughout Connecticut and Massachusetts following great success in the Solarize Connecticut pilot project.
Financing has long been considered one of the soft cost barriers to affordable solar. Since it was new and banks hadn’t fully developed their lending practices for solar, interest rates were high.
But Admirals Bank worked as a preferred lender with BeFree Solar, the exclusive solar installer for the Solarize Durham initiative that ended in October.
“Of the four towns that participated in Solarize Connecticut, Durham outshined the competition by installing solar systems on 117 homes,” according to a release from Admirals.
The town of fewer than 7,000 residents installed more than 1 megawatt of rooftop solar energy.
Solarize programs work to reduce the cost of solar in a community by promising the contract to one installer who works with community leadership on education and outreach. Since one installer will have multiple small jobs in a small area, it will have lower overhead and can offer discounted pricing to homeowners who go through the program. The more households that participate, the lower the prices go.
Durham reached top-tier pricing advantages within 47 days, according to BeFree’s information about the program.
While some communities work with installers that offer purchase and lease options, Durham’s program worked primarily with homeowners who now own their solar installations.
“It is imperative that homeowners understand the value of owning these solar systems as opposed to the lease or purchase power agreement options,” said Ryan Wells, director of renewable energy lending at Admirals Bank. “Our financing programs have proven to influence many homeowners’ purchasing decisions in local communities, like Durham and on a national level.”
Admirals said that its success with the solarize campaign in Durham has motivated the lender to pursue other solarize campaigns in Massachusetts and Connecticut, which has announced a new round of communities participating, including Canton.