Exploring the gospel principles of earth stewardship

Cooperating for Group Solar

Today’s guest post is by Don Jarvis. Don is a retired BYU professor of Russian.  He lives in Provo where he is Sustainability Adviser to the Mayor of Provo and Chair of the Provo City Sustainability and Natural Resources Committee.  He also serves on the Board of Directors of Utah Valley Earth Forum, as a Trustee of Centro Hispano (a support center for immigrants) and as a member of the Provo Rotary Club.  He and his wife Janelle supervise teachers in Provo School District’s English Language Program for adults.  Don is high priests group leader in the Oak Hills First Ward and a former Russian mission president.

Early in 2013, a small environmental group in Utah County, Utah, that calls itself Utah Valley Earth Forum (UVEF) started thinking about how we could organize a group purchase of solar power for our homes.  We first considered imitating a big project organized in 2012 by Utah Clean Energy in Salt Lake City but decided that we didn’t have the paid staff to wheedle local government incentives and endorsements like UCE did.  Instead, we decided to just issue a request for proposals (RFP) to every solar installer in Utah and see if they wouldn’t give us a quantity discount and run the group program for us.  Four reputable companies responded, and on 12 March we chose Intermountain Wind and Solar (IWS) of Woods Cross, UT, which offered a discount of about $2,000 to each participant.   That meant that a small installation of 12 panels (3Kw) would cost only about  $11,000 and, with federal and state credits, only $6,000.  That should produce 3/4 or more of the electricity used in many Provo homes and pay for itself in about 13 years.  The Norwegian-designed panels are guaranteed for 25 years.

UVEF and IWS collaborated in March and April to advertise the project and to recruit customers from anywhere in Utah Valley. As a result, IWS signed 12 participants, who ordered a total of 281 panels, for an average of 24 panels per house.  My installation was the smallest of the group, with only 12 panels, and was turned on during 10 June 2013.  So far it is producing more electricity than we use, except on the very hottest days.  I keep running out to the net meter to watch it spin backwards.  It is fun to know that we are not only saving money but reducing our carbon footprint, and so are a bunch of other far-sighted people.  And we are reducing Provo City Power’s peak load during hot summer afternoons.

Here’s a link to a local newspaper article that included a photo of our panels:
Solar panels give choice in power.