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SOLARIZE NE offers affordable solar energy options to NE Portland neighbors

Solarize Northeast, a volunteer-driven, community-based volume purchasing project for solar electric panels operated by Portland's Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods (NECN), expects to create more than 20 new green jobs in the Portland area in the coming months. Supported by the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Energy Trust of Oregon, the project is designed to simplify the process of going solar as well as bring significant cost reductions through volume purchasing.

Solarize Northeast will make it easy for Northeast Portland neighbors to install solar panels by hosting workshops that cover how much solar to purchase, what to budget and how to get started. Enrollment for the group purchase program is now open at http://solarize.necoalition.org and closes April 15.

"The Solarize Portland effort is a great example of how neighborhoods can create long-term energy savings that will help Portland reach our carbon reduction goals," said Mayor Sam Adams. "As this project proves, increasing the demand for solar electric panel installations will benefit our community with additional new jobs, too."
 
Solarize Northeast was initiated by local neighborhood leaders who wanted to increase the amount of renewable energy generated in NE Portland by working together as a community. The program is structured so that the price of solar panel installation goes down for everybody as more neighbors join the effort. Group purchasing creates a 15-25 percent savings below current prices. This group discount, in addition to current available tax credits and cash incentives, gives Solarize Northeast participants a significant cost savings.
 
"What is inspiring are the many different and unique ways in which neighbors are coming together to help each other in these times," says Paige Coleman, NECN Executive Director.
 
Through a competitive bidding process, NECN selected SolarCity to implement the group purchase program and install the solar electric systems. SolarCity has been in business in Oregon since 2008 with offices based in NE Portland.
 
"SolarCity is looking forward to rapidly growing to meet the increased demand of renewable energy for Oregonians, with a full-service offering of solar financing, design, installation and monitoring," said Rob LaVigne, Solar City's Regional Director.
 
How it works
The Solarize Northeast program aims to install solar on 150+ homes, for over 300 kilowatts of new solar electric capacity by the end of the summer. In addition, the program hopes to increase the energy efficiency of more than 100 area homes by connecting residents to local weatherization programs. Interested homeowners can choose to go solar, participate in weatherization upgrades, or both by following these steps:
    
1. Join online at http://solarize.necoalition.org by April 15.
2. Choose to go solar, weatherize your home, or both.
3. Attend an upcoming workshop to learn more.
 
A project contractor performs a solar assessment at each home to determine the correct size and design of the solar electric system. Installations will take place between April 15 through August 30.
 
Solarize NE builds upon the first Solarize project in SE Portland
Originally created by SE Uplift and a neighborhood leader in the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association, the first iteration of the Solarize Portland project quickly expanded to become a partnership between several SE Portland neighborhoods and the SE Uplift Neighborhood Sustainability Program. The first Solarize Portland project (launched June 6, 2009, and closed Sept. 15, 2009) focused on homes in Southeast Portland. However, the interest and excitement around using group purchasing to bring down the costs and logistical hurdles of going solar caught on city-wide. Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., is currently organizing to roll out the next volume purchase for solar electric panels this spring.
 
The Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and Energy Trust of Oregon are working together to support the launch of Solarize NE. Both organizations provide technical and strategic program assistance to neighborhood associations and groups interested in operating Solarize Portland in all areas of the city.
 
For more information about the Solarize Northeast program, please visit: http://solarize.necoalition.org