Last year, residents of CU had the opportunity to learn about solar installations through Solar Urbana-Champaign, and many took advantage of group purchasing to have solar panels installed in their businesses or homes. According to the Solar U-C website, the 80 installations will result in combined energy cost savings of over $67,000 and will offset over 1.1million lbs. of CO2. Now the group is poised to offer 12 more "power hours" across the community where Champaign County residents can find out if going solar is right for them. The first one is happening Thursday evening at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Here is the full press release:

URBANA, IL - March 13, 2017 - The sun is shining for homeowners and commercial property owners across Champaign County, as the Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 program commences March 23. The program allows individual home and commercial property owners to access lower prices for solar installations through the power of volume purchasing.

The City of Urbana has partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to coordinate a second solar group buy in Champaign County, building on the the program’s success in 2016. The advantage of a group buy is the power of volume purchasing, which can significantly reduce the upfront costs of installing solar on your home or business. You do not need to be a City of Urbana resident to participate – the group buy is open to all Champaign County residents and business owners.

“Last year’s group buy resulted in over 80 installations of solar on homes and commercial properties all over Champaign County,” said Scott Tess, Environmental Sustainability Manager for the City of Urbana. “It was one of the most successful programs of its kind in the region. We wanted to build upon the strong interest that we know exists here.”

“For us, the focus is education,” said Peter Murphy, Solar Program Manager at MREA. “Last  year we reached 420 individuals with our free information sessions, helping them understand how solar technology works, whether their site is a good solar candidate, and how solar might affect their pocketbook.”

“There are a lot of misconceptions,” said Murphy. “There’s a persistent myth that solar is future tech, that it’s on the horizon but not available today. The truth is, it’s more affordable than ever right now, and the Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 program not only brings the price down, but helps correct some of the misunderstandings.”

MREA issued a request for proposals to solar installers in January. A local advisory committee reviewed proposals based on professional certification, experience, and cost. They selected New Prairie Construction Co., based in Urbana. They were chosen as the solar installer for the second Solar Group Buy because of their high-quality solar installations, building science expertise, and emphasis on customer service. They are uniquely qualified to evaluate a homeowner’s energy needs, provide quality solar installations, and even provide a preliminary energy efficiency assessment for each participant.

"The solar branch of New Prairie Construction Co. is a natural extension of our commitment to providing high quality, environmentally responsible solutions for homes and businesses," says Julie Birdwell, co-owner of New Prairie. "Solar Urbana-Champaign 2.0 provides an excellent opportunity for our community to use the power of bulk purchasing to get premium quality installations for a great price.  We are excited to work with our neighbors to help increase sustainability and energy independence in Champaign County."

The first Solar Power Hour education session is March 23 at 7:00pm at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church (2101 S Prospect Ave. Champaign, IL 61820). The Solar Power Hour will last about 60 minutes, and will include an opportunity to meet representatives from the program and from New Prairie Construction. Additional Solar Power Hours are being posted at


The MREA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit in 1990. MREA’s mission is to promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration. To learn more, call 715-592-6595 or visit or

For more information, contact Peter Murphy, MREA Solar Program Coordinator, [email protected], 414-988-7963.