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Louisville completes its first solarize campaign

A new solar array was installed this month at housing nonprofit, HOMES, Inc.
Photo Courtesy of HOMES Inc.
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A solar array installed this month at housing nonprofit, HOMES, Inc.

Louisville’s first-ever campaign to help residents put solar panels on their homes and businesses resulted in nearly twice the average number of contracts, city sustainability officials said.  

“It shows us that our community is definitely very interested in solar and ready for it,” said Louisville Metro sustainability coordinator Sumedha Rao. 

The city launched Solar Over Louisville in February as part of its sustainability efforts, which as of Wednesday include reaching net-zero greenhouse gas emissions communitywide by 2040.

Similar to other solar campaigns in Cincinnati and Lexington, Solar Over Louisville connects residents with a trusted solar installer, who in turn provides a discounted rate to customers. 

The average cost ranges between $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the number of panels and size of the battery storage system, Rao said. Solar customers generally see immediate savings on electricity bills, but to see a return on the investment, it takes around eight to 12 years. 

Over the six-month campaign, more than 1,300 people signed up to learn more, resulting in 94 solar contracts, she said.

“I think it’s been a very successful first campaign,” Rao said. “We had an internal goal of about 50 installs, because that tends to be the average for solarize campaigns, and the fact that we doubled that number tends to be a great sign.” 

Approximately 14% of the contracts were signed in census tracts with people who are majority Black and other people of color. Rao said there’s a disparity nationally with residential solar, as customers are more likely to be affluent and white.      

The resulting solar electricity generated from the city’s first solarize campaign will generate more electricity than the output from the panels on the Oxmoor Center mall, Rao said.

The city plans to launch its next solarize campaign in February 2023.

Ryan Van Velzer is WFPL's Energy and Environment Reporter. Email Ryan at rvanvelzer@lpm.org.