New program makes soaking up the sun easy

Solar Program Manager at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association Peter Murphy said thanks to new legislation homeowners, farmers or business owners through Bloomington-Normal can purchase solar panels at a discounted price. (Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)

By Blake Haas

NORMAL – As the summer heats up, residents in Bloomington-Normal can catch some rays at a discounted price.

For homeowners, farmers, or business owners soaking up the sun has never been easier in the Twin Cities. Solar Bloomington-Normal achieved its first benchmark program since it was founded in 2016, triggering a deeper discount for Bloomington-Normal residents who are interested in installing solar panels on their homes, farms or businesses.

“The solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 is a group purchasing program for solar,” saidPeter Murphy, Solar Program Manager at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. “The idea being to make solar faster, easier and more affordable for homeowners, business owners, farmers but also residents as well who are not homeowners thanks to new legislation.”

According to the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity, the Future Energy Jobs Act was signed into law in 2017 and was designed to help pivot Illinois to the new clean economy by growing renewable energy resources and significantly expanding energy efficiency programs that help customers save energy and money, thus trickling down into Bloomington-Normal.

“The Future Energy Jobs Act provides for a massive increase in solar both utility scale solar and residential solar,” added Murphy. “It really emphasizes work force development as well. In the next couple of years we are going to see a huge explosion in terms of the deployment of solar.”

The solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 is a program designed to help home, business, and farm owners thought McLean County lower their electricity bills by making solar more accessible and affordable through the power of volume purchasing. Murphy added that anyone can add solar to their homes and can get more information at Solar Power Hours designed to teach the public about solar energy through presentations.

“The important thing to know is that solar is modular so if you want to add solar to your home you can start small,” added Murphy. “The other big takeaway from our presentations that the nature of the residential solar market and residential solar market is really what this program is geared toward.”

The EAC of Normal and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association is administrating the Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 for the second time in McLean County.

“The program has built-in benchmarks for extra savings at 50, 150, 250 and 350 kilowatts of capacity, and every time we reach one of them the price comes down a little more for everyone,” said Larissa Armstrong, Assistant Director of the Ecology Action Center in a news release. “These additional savings, combined with lower costs and a number of other available incentives, help people decide to go solar now, rather than wait until next year or even later.”

Blake Haas can be reached at


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