SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - More solar panels are coming to Savannah area rooftops and yours could be one of them.
The "Solarize Savannah" project kicks off Tuesday, with the goal of getting more homes and businesses to use solar energy at a discount.
Last year, the "Solarize Tybee" program brought discounted solar panels to about 60 homes in Chatham County, saving customers an average of $1,100 in that first year. If you missed out on that, this is Round 2.
"I've liked it a lot. It has cut the electric bill noticeably," said Bill Baird, solar panel owner.
Baird is one of the homeowners who qualified for last year's "Solarize Tybee" project. The solar panels on his roof have shaved off about a third of his energy bills over the past year.
The more difficult pill to swallow is the up-front cost: about $7,000-10,000 after the 30 percent federal tax rebate.
"Somewhere in the 10 year ballpark, it will have paid for itself, and then after that, it's maybe several hundred dollars a year essentially coming back to you," Baird said.
Here's how it works: Solarize is a national program supported by the U.S. Department of Energy. Vetted contractors buy the solar panels in bulk and then install them on eligible rooftops.
"So when the sun is out and it's producing energy, it's actually going to go directly toward what you need at that time. If you're producing too much, then it's going to go back to Georgia Power. But ideally, we don't size a system so that you're over-producing and sending it back to Georgia Power, and they do offer you a credit for over-producing," said Grant Tallon, Hannah Solar.
Tallon is with Hannah Solar, the Atlanta-based company that won the bid in last year's Solarize project. The company will be handling this second round as well, but they're not just focusing on Savannah. The project is open to all residents, businesses and government entities within a 100-mile radius of the city.
We really saw that a lot of people outside of Chatham County wanted to partake in the program. We had a lot of interest from Effingham County, from people down in St. Simon's, and so we want to make sure that this is available to as many people as we can make it practical for us as well," said Tallon.
Hannah Solar, just installed 156 solar panels on the Thunderbird Inn a few weeks ago. That makes it the second hotel in all of Savannah to utilize solar energy.
The deal is even sweeter for businesses, since they get up to 65 percent in tax credits. Double a residential customer.
For more information on Solarize Savannah, please click here.
Solarize Savannah is hosting a kick-off party on Thursday, for more information please click here.