Solarize Indiana mobilized as a short-term effort to respond to a new bill, SB 309, that was signed into law on May 2017. Over time, the law decreases access to net metering for new solar owners; thereby, increasing the time needed to recoup their solar investments. With the law’s first change taking effect in January 2018, Solarize Indiana aimed to quickly expand the number of solar owners by making it easy and lower-cost to have panels installed. By late July, a steering committee had formed, developed tools to equip local teams, disseminated request for proposals to 30 solar installers, and recruited and trained local Solarize teams from South Bend to Evansville.
By late September, thirteen Solarize teams had promoted and organized 65 information sessions that reached over 1400 Hoosiers. As a result, over 280 property owners signed solar contracts through the 2017 Solarize program – increasing the number of recorded solar rooftop installations in Indiana by 20%. Of the eight solar firms selected as partners, five have expanded as a result of their participation. The initiative attracted dozens of news stories including a national VICE News Tonight clip and the Energy News Network.
Solarize Indiana was honored as “Sustainability Champion of the Year” at the 2017 Greening the Statehouse. Impelled by their success, many of the Solarize teams have opted to continue their efforts in 2018 and again in 2019. To date, the teams have comprised 100 volunteers, many of whom participated in Solarize Indiana trainings. Teams have access to consulting advice, a complete array of customizable online tools and templates for promotion and monitoring, and regular conference calls to discuss technical challenges and lessons learned.
Solarize Indiana continues to expand the number of Solarize Teams for state-wide impact. Solarize Indiana is an all-volunteer network governed by a steering committee comprised of leaders from each local Solarize community, Team Leaders, and others responsible for key functions of the organization. Solarize Indiana hosts an annual training to leverage the experience of existing teams in equipping new teams and adapts the Solarize program to new Indiana policies.