Jeff Masters Weather Blog

Michigan woman helps neighbors go solar » Yale Climate Connections

Four years ago, Julie Roth of Ann Arbor, Michigan, installed solar panels on her home — and got excited to help others in her community do the same.

Working with her city’s office of sustainability, she organized a get-together where her neighbors and friends could learn about solar. And a local installer agreed to offer a discount if enough attendees decided to go solar.

“Forty people showed up in my living room, and 12 solar installations went up from that one gathering,” Roth says.

Today, Roth runs a program called Ann Arbor Solarize. It negotiates group discounts on solar installations and recruits other residents to hold neighborhood gatherings like the one she hosted.

She says the events create a relaxed place for people to learn about solar and have their questions answered.

“It’s taking some of the barriers away in terms of investigating solar,” she says. “If you’re intrigued about the idea of solar, oftentimes calling an installer … isn’t comfortable. So coming to these meetings that are being hosted by the person that you know down the street, that’s comfortable.”

Since 2019, the program has helped more than 500 households go solar. So Roth says it’s helping accelerate the transition to clean energy in Ann Arbor.

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy / ChavoBart Digital Media

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