SolarizeSI’s group buy effort part of long term plan to benefit the environment and workers

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Dominique Martinez-Powell | @dmartinez_powell.photography

The solar panels collect energy outside of the Carbondale Public Safety Building Sept. 1, 2021 in Carbondale, Ill. The panels are courtesy of the Solarize Southern Illinois Program. Saxon Metzger, the director of the program said, “When you look at the math for the amount of available electricity from the sun, especially in a place like Southern Illinois, it is the most viable renewable energy resource that we have to be able to fuel the advanced economy that we have.”

Solarize Southern Illinois (SolarizeSI), a Carbondale area non-profit, extended the deadline for its collective solar energy purchasing program to October 31, according to a press release. 

Saxon Metzger, program director for SolarizeSI, said the organization’s main goal is to educate people on the benefits of switching from fossil fuels to solar energy.

“It offers an opportunity for people who are interested in solar power to have a wide array of educational materials presented to them in a simple format,” Metzger said. “It also offers them a way to move forward with purchasing a solar system that is cheaper.” 

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SolarizeSI’s 2020 group buy program produced over 20 solar energy projects valued at over $1 million, according to the press release. 

Field Organizer Sonja Krueger said SolarizeSI began as a research project driven by a variety of community groups, including Carbondale Spring, using a model created by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to create educational information for residents.

Solarize partners with Straight Up Solar, an installation company based in Bloomington, Ill. to help install solar panel systems throughout the region

“They have more than a thousand installations across our region… most recently they were primarily responsible for the giant system that went up for the city of Carbondale,” Metzger said.

Krueger said the long term goal of SolarizeSI is to facilitate the creation of worker-owned cooperative businesses. 

“One of the models is creating nonprofits that create these funnels and funding that can assist worker cooperatives to get off the ground, and then to learn the process of nonprofits and board rules and board functions,” Krueger said. 

The worker-owned company Squirkle Design launched to provide marketing and branding services as a result of SolarizeSI’s efforts, Krueger said. 

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SolarizeSI facilitated solar projects in Carbondale at the Public Safety Center, City Hall and Water Treatment facility, Metzger said. 

Director of Business Development Erich Schnider said Straight Up Solar’s work with SolarizeSI is helping Carbondale move forward with its sustainability action plan.

“By helping them achieve their goals through high quality installations, and informing them about how it all works and maintaining a service on it… we are helping them achieve their goals with their sustainable plan,” Schnider said. 

SolarizeSI is hosting events through the month of September in-person and online for home and business owners. 

Staff reporter Janiyah Gaston can be reached at [email protected] or on Instagram at @janiyah_reports. To stay up to date with all your Southern Illinois news follow the Daily Egyptian on Facebook and Twitter.

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