‘Rooftop Revolution’ offers affordable solar power for your home

By Carol Carpenter

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As a Sierra Club member or supporter, wouldn’t you love to make your home more environmentally friendly─and also save money─by installing solar panels? Good news! Solar power just got a big boost in Colorado with an exciting new and affordable plan to switch your home energy use to this reliable and renewable energy source.

Calling the venture a “win for you, a win for the planet, and a win for the Sierra Club,” Executive Director Michael Brune, in late May, said homeowners who convert to solar this summer can lock in an affordable electricity rate, protect themselves against rising electricity rates for the next 20 years, and free themselves from dirty energy with no upfront investment. The initiative will also create a variety of clean-energy jobs that will help the overall economy.

“Powering your home with solar energy is the single best way to shrink your carbon footprint,” he said, adding that installing solar panels in just one home is roughly the equivalent as 1.5 fewer cars on the road.

Diverse Benefits of Solar

The benefits of making this switch are impressive, not only for individual homeowners, but also for Sierra Club and the planet as well. If homeowners convert to solar power this summer, they will get a $750 cash gift card from Sungevity and ensure their electricity rate will be locked in for the next two decades.

Solar power works like this: Energy that comes into solar panels goes through an inverter installed at a home. The inverter is able to change the sunlight into usable power; the energy not used is put into the electricity grid. Power from the grid can be used at night or during darker times when the panels aren't producing energy. Users will receive a "true-up" with their utility that indicates how much energy is used, how much is produced, and the difference between the two.

The Rocky Mountain Chapter will benefit in a big way from this program. Sungevity will give $750 to the Sierra Club for everyone who goes solar through this program. This means more money for Sierra Club’s important environmental work in Colorado. 

The planet, of course, benefits when dirtier energy sources are replaced with cleaner, greener, and renewable sources.

Colorado is among several states selected for the second phase of this project─California was the first in 2011─through a partnership between Sierra Club and Sungevity, a solar home specialist based in Oakland, Calif.

Joshua Ruschhaupt, Director of Sierra Club’s Rocky Mountain Chapter, is extremely pleased to promote this program in Colorado. “If a Sierra Club member or supporter wants to make a tangible difference, every day in their lives, to make the world a better place, installing solar panels for electricity use is one of the best ways,” he said, noting that Colorado's Renewable Energy Standard is only approaching 30 percent renewable energy within the next few years.

Colorado was selected for the program, Ruschhaupt explained, because it has a population that wants solar energy instead of dirty fossil fuels. “Demand for renewables is extremely high in Colorado,” he said. “Xcel Energy's Windsource program is in extremely high demand, so much so that they can't keep up with their customer's desire for renewable energy power, and there are even caps put in place to limit available supply.”

Ruschhaupt likes to consider the positive impact of large numbers of Colorado homeowners switching to 100 percent renewable this summer─actions that would not only help improve the environment but also reduce individual electricity bills. “That's the world Sierra Club is working to create: to provide solutions to answer the fossil fuel debacle,” he said.

All Pros, No Cons

Ruschhaupt sees only pluses and no minuses related to the solar initiative.

“I'm hard-pressed to see any downsides,” he said. “Hmm, let's see: fewer pollution-related deaths and health impacts from coal and natural gas; less damage to Colorado's ecosystems from fossil fuel extraction used in Colorado power plants; less carbon dioxide in our atmosphere from power plant smokestacks; a real solution to climate change and all of its symptoms that we're currently experiencing (winter snowpack instability, early runoff seasons, droughts, and bark beetle overpopulation, for example); and more jobs in the clean-energy economy.”

Money raised by this campaign will support everything Sierra Club RMC does to explore, enjoy, and protect Colorado, Ruschhaupt said. “It will, for example, help us build an oil and gas campaign that is fighting an industry that has run amok throughout Colorado.”

Funds raised will also support RMC’s:

  • outings program,
  • work on legislative issues,
  • fight against Front Range water grabs of West Slope water sources, such as the Flaming Gorge Pipeline,
  • fight to save Colorado's last roadless wild lands, and
  • efforts to create new wilderness and national monument areas, such as Chimney Rock and Browns Canyon.

“Sierra Club is excited to be in a partnership with Sungevity,” Ruschhaupt said. “They have a great track record of excellent customer service and great solar installations. As a benefit corporation, or B-Corp, they aren't only in the business of making money like standard corporations; they're in the business of helping us in part of our mission to protect the planet.”

For frequently asked questions and answers: If you are interested in the Solar Homes campaign for your home, here’s how it works:

  1. Enter your address and energy use on our website to get a free solar evaluation for your home.
  2. Your free Sungevity email quote will detail your solar options, show you what your home would look like, and reveal how much you would save.


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