The Alaska Center and the Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) led a successful, community driven Solarize Anchorage Campaign in the Airport Heights neighborhood. Their community outreach and commercial partnership with retailer and installer Anchorage Solar resulted in an additional thirty sets of solar panels installed in Airport Heights in Alaska this summer, with several of the houses involved going to net zero energy purchasing throughout the year. They were able to shrink the initial high upfront costs of purchasing and installing solar panels by pursuing volume discounts, and were able to minimize the complexity of installation through community outreach and their close relationship with the installer. Their success translates to a victory for renewable energy in Alaska, as it shows that bulk purchasing can considerably affect price and make the installation and purchase of energy sources such as heat pumps, solar panels, and even traditional fossil fuels more accessible.
The campaign was based on bringing community members together for bulk purchasing of solar panels and equipment. The idea was that the urban density of the neighborhood would cut down on the labor costs of a bulk installation, and directly transfer to a lower cost for consumers. The solar panel installer, Anchorage Solar, set up a tiered system where the more people were involved the lower the price per installation would be. Knowing that involving their neighbors would help them save money, community members flocked to the program, and it was filled to the highest available tier (and more).
The campaign was based on a host of successful projects throughout the Lower 48, and showcased that with a little bit of Alaskan grit, solar can be a valid energy solution for Alaska. Kristen from the Alaska Center gave a presentation about the project in the Cold Climate Housing Research Center on August 28th, and an official report about the project will be drafted in September. The success of this program opens up the possibility for larger solarize campaigns in Anchorage and across both urban and rural Alaska, and it can be translated into heat pump or other renewable source campaigns as well.
Visit the campaign’s website at https://akcenter.org/climate-clean-energy/solarize-anchorage/ if you’d like to find out more about their campaign, or email firstname.lastname@example.org for information about organizing your neighbors for your own campaign.