URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — The City of Urbana has reported that a record number of Champaign-Urbana residents participated in this year’s Solar Urbana Champaign solar group buy program.

A total of 70 area properties contracted to install clean solar energy, and over 700 kilowatts of new solar energy capacity was installed on area homes and businesses, generating over 844,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, according to the city. Officials explained that this is enough energy to power an average Illinois household for over 96 years.

The City of Urbana said that purchasing solar through a community-led bulk purchase allows program participants to offset the effects of inflation and secure a lower price on their new solar arrays.

“We’re definitely interested in helping the environment and saving on energy bills,” said Laura Lyon of Urbana, a participant in this year’s group buy. “We realized that this was a good time to buy with all the energy incentives from the state and federal government.”

Additionally, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) passed in August, which extended the existing solar federal tax credit for ten more years and raised the credit amount from 26% to 30% of the array’s cost.

“We’re thrilled to see such a great level of participation, especially since this is the seventh year we’ve run the solar group buy,” said Scott Tess, Sustainability & Resilience Officer for the City of Urbana. “It goes to show that when presented with clear information and substantial state and federal incentives, central Illinois residents are eager to gain the energy independence that solar provides.”

This year’s Solar Urbana Champaign solar group buy was created through a partnership between the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, the City of Urbana, and several other local organizations. GRNE Solar was selected as the program’s designated installer.

“In an uncertain world, solar power provides a level of stability, since you’re essentially buying decades of your energy up-front,” said Marta Monti, Grow Solar’s program manager. “By purchasing solar now, community members can protect themselves from future price hikes, which feels especially satisfying with inflation on the rise.”

Although the group buy for 2022 has closed, the City of Urbana said future group buys will be available in the Urbana-Champaign area in the spring of 2023. More information can be found here.