Solar project lights up Airport Heights community 23, 2018
A new community inspired program will soon be literally lighting up Airport Heights. Solarize Anchorage brings neighborhoods together to purchase panels in bulk to receive a volume discount. Two Airport Heights residents floated the ideas with their neighbors and from there, have begun turning on the entire community to a new idea.

The project is a partnership between The Alaska Center and The Alaska Center for Energy and Power at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. They form the steering committee for the campaign along with Airport Heights residents.

By Wednesday, 70 of the more than 1,000 homes in Airport Heights had signed up for home inspections for the project — more are signing up every day, organizers say. Some question the feasibility of solar power with Alaska’s lack of daylight in the winter. Ben May of Anchorage Solar, the panel installation company, says he gets asked about winter often.

“We make 93 percent of our power in spring, summer, and fall and only 7 percent during the winter,” May said. “Solar in the winter is a hobby, and solar in the other months are where the economics are.”

According to Solarize Anchorage, the biggest barrier for Anchorage residents to invest in solar energy is the high up-front cost of installation. Sid Atwood, an Airport Heights resident, says it was the cost savings over time, and not the up-front costs that intrigued him to make the move to get the panels installed on his home.

“We’re getting the power we’re looking for to operate the house on electricity and of course in the summer time we’ll be paying for more than we use. So the utility will be paying us for what goes back onto the grid,” Atwood said.

By combining the purchases for group discounted rates with resident and federal tax incentives the costs are lower than they would normally be. The last day for Airport Heights residents to sign up for a home inspection and quote is June 1.

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