Competing company calls foul on pricing at solar power meeting

Patrick Yost News

Solarize Newton-Morgan, a community-based bulk purchasing program with the mission of making solar installation significantly more affordable, held an informational meeting in Madison on Thursday, October 4. The event provided an opportunity for local residents to hear from both the organizers of the initiative and representatives of the installation company, garner information about solar power, and participate in a question and answer session. Toward the end of the discussion, a competitive solar company sparked debate over local pricing options.

The solarized campaign was initiated by a grass-roots organization comprised of pro-active individuals in Newton County that evolved into the nonprofit Sustainable Newton. Choosing to focus on solar energy, Sustainable Newton formed a public-private coalition Solarize Newton-Morgan. Members include Solar CrowdSource, Madison-Morgan Conservancy, Environment Georgia, Oxford Organic Farm, Newton County Water & Sewerage Authority, Smart Growth Newton County, and Georgia Interfaith Power and Light (GIPL). Solar CrowdSource has conducted successful solarize campaigns in Athens, Savannah, Tybee Island, Dunwoody, and other cities in Georgia.

Drawing upon the expertise and experience of coalition members, Solarize Newton-Morgan utilized a rigorous competitive bidding process to evaluate product quality and price before choosing Alternative Energy Southeast (AES) as the contracted solar provider. Buyers receive approximately 20-22 percent savings on the cost of installation and products. A six-tiered volume-discount pricing system compares the reduced costs as more residential or commercial structures are solarized. In addition to cost savings on equipment and installation, residential and business property owners can take advantage of the 30 percent federal tax credit that is currently offered.

During the meeting, Joel Huff, an employee of Solar Sun World, a competitive company operating out of Putnam County that provides custom solar energy solutions for commercial and residential applications, asserted that similar pricing is offered by Solar Sun World.

Contestation arose between the speaker and Solarize representative Donald Moreland who pointed out that Solar Sun World did not provide a bid during the competitive bidding process.

Aaron Scranton, a solar consultant for AES, stated, “I don’t know Solar Sun World personally … I do know our warranties and policies and that we are going to stand behind whatever we do. I know that our 20-year production policy is something that’s real, something that we have never had to write a check for because we give good numbers. We know what we’re doing. In terms of whatever components you’re offering, I don’t have that in front of me to be able to compare them.”

“It seems to me that it would be a good thing,” commented Theodosia Wade, spokesperson for Sustainable Newton and retired Professor of Biology at Oxford College of Emory University, “to have two companies in the area right now that would offer the same pricing that you would have a choice of.”

Solarize Newton-Morgan’s purchase plan’s enrollment period ends February 28, 2019, with all installations to occur by December 31, 2019. To receive a free solar assessment of a home or business, click “Solarize Now” on the following website: http://www.solarcrowdsource.com/campaign/newton-morgan/.

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