Lexington launches program to encourage solar power. Who qualifies for discounts, grants

If you live in Lexington or Fayette County and you’ve thought about switching your home to solar power, you could qualify for a 20% discount through a citywide buying group and do it with a vetted installer.

Through the new Solarize Lexington project, homeowners in Lexington and Fayette County, and even nonprofits, small businesses and places of worship, can get a free solar assessment to see if their property is a good fit.

The initiative is the result of a partnership between the city and the Kentucky Solar Energy Society, according to a news release.

“It makes it easier and safer for our homeowners to do solar … We have taken the extra step” of vetting a solar installer, said Jada Griggs, senior manager of sustainability at the Division of Environmental Services for the Lexington-Fayette County Urban Government.

As part of the vetting process, Griggs said it put out a request for proposal for a solar installer who could work with city and county residents. A local contractor, Solar Energy Solutions of Lexington, was selected as the installer.

Griggs told the Herald-Leader the city authorized $1 million from its fiscal year 2022 budget provide grants for solar installations for eligible city and county residents, based on income.

The senior manager said the city was able to work out a deal with Solar Energy Solutions to get participants in its Solarize Lexington program a discount of up to 20% on installation costs. Additionally, participants can benefit from a federal tax credit worth 30% of their costs.

According to Josh Bills, a certified energy manager with the Mountain Association of Berea, a solar set-up, including a back-up, could range upward of $30,000 for large homes.

The average install cost is about $15,000 for a 5 or 7 kilowatt solar system. Based on the average Kentucky home’s annual energy consumption, Bills estimates a potential savings of at least $20,000 over the course of a typical system’s life.

Homeowners with low and moderate incomes can get access to one-time grant funding available on a first-come, first-serve basis to cover their costs, Griggs said.

This is for households making less than 80% of area median income, which for a family of four is $67,500. If someone believes they qualify for this benefit, Griggs said they should call Lexington’s Community and Resident Services at 859-300-5300 to start the pre-screening process.

While she wasn’t able to say exactly how many homes in Fayette County use solar power, Griggs said the Solarize Lexington project will help households reduce their dependence on the electric grid and their carbon footprint. The city is currently reimagining its communitywide sustainability plan, which hasn’t gotten a major revamp since 2012.

Learn more about the city’s solar partnership

Several upcoming workshops will offer more information about solar power and Solarize Lexington, including a webinar at 7 p.m. March 30. Other in-person workshops are in the works, but haven’t been scheduled yet, Griggs said.

For more information about the program or to register for one of the upcoming workshops, visit the project’s website at Solarize Lexington.

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