A campaign to increase installation of solar electricity systems in the Wood River Valley fell just shy of its target, but organizers were celebrating nonetheless.

    Solarize Blaine had 36 installations by Aug. 19, which marked the end of the five-month campaign. It had set a target of 40.

    Put on by the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience, Solarize Blaine’s installations account for 247 kilowatts of solar electricity, and about $900,000 in investment, according to a news release.

    “Solarize Blaine has radically accelerated our community’s transition to clean energy,” Program Director Katie Bray said in the news release. “In 20 weeks we brought online five times as much solar electricity as what was added in all of 2015, and we drove about $900,000 of investment into our local economy.”

    The solar program was the first campaign of this kind in Idaho, but was modeled after similar efforts in other states such as Oregon.

    The campaign offered cost savings to homeowners, businesses and nonprofits, based on the number of installations. Additional savings were reached at incremental stages.

    The first tier was for 50 kilowatts total among all installations, while the second tier was for 50 to 100 kilowatts. The third tier was for 100 to 200 kilowatts, while the fourth was for more than 200 kilowatts total.

    At 247 kilowatts, the campaign netted buyers about $3,000 in savings compared to what they’d pay independently.

    The campaign had more than 200 people, businesses or nonprofits ask for an evaluation for installing solar, according to the news release.

    Solarize Blaine collaborated with Sagebrush Solar, Site Based Energy and Alt Energy to install the systems.

    Institute Executive Director Aimee Christensen called the campaign a success.

    “With recent dramatic solar price drops, the institute saw the chance to help bring quality, year-round jobs to our community, to save residents and businesses money on their power bills, to reduce pollution from our local energy consumption and to begin to build toward a more reliable local energy system,” Christensen said.

Email the writer: pjensen@mtexpress.com

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