April 4, 2024

Capital Area ‘Solar Switch’ Program That Could Save Homeowners Money Open for Spring

The Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is promoting another round of the successful Capital Area Solar Switch program in collaboration with Solar United Neighbors, iChoosr and other Capital Area governments including the cities of Rockville, Takoma Park and Bowie. The program's first iteration, which ran from May to August of 2023 in Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia, was a resounding success, with almost 2,000 sign-ups across the region.

Homeowners can register for free without any obligation to purchase solar panels. As part of the program, they will have the opportunity to get solar panels installed at a reduced cost. For more details and to register, go to SolarSwitch.com/CapitalArea.

Since its inception in 2007 in Washington D.C., local nonprofit organization Solar United Neighbors has been instrumental in organizing solar co-ops for residents who want to go solar. The initiative's impact has been felt not only in the Capital Area, but also in states like Illinois and Colorado. Already, more than 20,000 people have signed up for Solar Switch programs in their respective communities, indicating a broad base growing interest in renewable energy sources.

Residents interested in participating in the program are urged to register before May 8, as Solar Switch will host an auction for vetted solar installers on that date. The more people who sign up by the auction date, the more competitive the installer bids will be.

Once the auction has concluded, recommendations tailored to each household will be emailed to all participants by July 24. The Solar Switch program aims to have all installations completed by the end of January 2025.

During the most recent program, participating households saved an average of $4,115 on a typical-sized solar installation. Available state and federal incentives can further reduce system costs.

Montgomery County has set a goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2027 and 100 percent by 2035. Combined with the new Inflation Reduction Act's clean energy incentives, implementing this program is a significant stride toward helping Montgomery County reach those goals as the process makes solar more accessible.

"We are thrilled to see the positive impact of the Capital Area Solar Switch Program on our community,” said DEP Director Jon Monger. “This initiative not only empowers residents to embrace sustainable energy solutions, but also plays a crucial role in our efforts to protect our environment and combat climate change. By working together with Solar United Neighbors, we are making it easier and more affordable for our residents to transition to clean energy sources like rooftop solar panels and electric vehicle charging stations. This program is a key component of our strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions significantly by 2027 and ultimately achieve our goal of 100 percent clean energy by 2035. Through the Capital Area Solar Switch Program, we are paving the way for a greener, more sustainable future for all."

Solar Switch makes it easy for homeowners and small businesses to learn about rooftop solar, battery storage, and installation. This program takes advantage of group-buying power and Solar United Neighbors' expertise to ensure participants receive a quality system at a lower price. Solar Switch carefully screens qualified installers to compete for the group and manages a reverse auction to secure a competitively priced, turnkey solar package for potential solar customers.

“I’m thrilled for Montgomery County to again collaborate with the Capital Area Solar Switch,” said County Climate Officer Sarah Kogel-Smucker. “Switching to solar power saves homeowners money and helps combat climate change by substituting fossil fuel energy with solar power. Participating in this auction empowers residents to leverage collective purchasing power to make this switch easier and more affordable.”

“This being the third edition of Solar Switch in the Capital Region, we are looking to continue our efforts to scale up and accommodate more residents who can benefit from solar,” said D.C. Program Director for Solar United Neighbors Sukrit Mishra. “This being said, the benefits around consumer protection, discounted bulk rates and speedy service will remain our utmost priority.”