Solarize Johnson County 2018 was a very successful solar array group-buy program launched in late 2017 and completed in early 2019. It provided solar education and discounted pricing for people to add solar to their own home, contributing to livability. It also became a model on how to engage multiple cities and rural areas for a sustainability project.
The effort brought together Johnson County’s county government, six cities, a regional nonprofit, and a local solar installer. 671 residents attended 22 educational “Solar Power Hours,” resulting in 180 households adding 1.12 megawatts of discounted solar for clean energy generation.
This 1.12 megawatts of added solar power is annually equivalent to avoiding the greenhouse gas emissions of 256 passenger vehicle cars driven for one year (2.6 million pounds of carbon dioxide). The effort reduces reliance on coal-burning power plants and keeps air cleaner. Energy efficiency was also emphasized as precursor to adding a solar array to a home. The solar arrays added were primarily rooftop mounts, making use of existing built environment and leaving land for other uses or undisturbed. Housing of all ages and types participated – within city infill, older and newer buildings, and urban and rural areas. Homeowners will see a return on their investment on average in 7.8 years. The median array size was 5.52 kilowatts and the mean size was 6.25 kilowatts. The MREA has fostered 32 completed group buys for nearly 11 megawatts to date. Thus, Solarize Johnson County was one of 32 group buys, yet accounts for approximately 10% of the total megawatts added.
In addition to solar power hours, many news releases, media interviews, multiple social media platforms, and individual conversations were conducted. The County held a celebration upon program completion (arrays constructed), furthering the county-cities partnership. Multiple presentations of Solarize Johnson County 2018 have been given since completion.