Grow Solar Program Offers Information for Homeowners and Businesses


Solar panels on a house. (photo Nature Conservancy)

The Nature Conservancy in Iowa offers home and business owners in the state a crash course in solar energy.

Patrick Snell, the organization’s climate and external affairs associate, said the Grow Solar program is in its fourth year to help Iowans follow a path toward finding an affordable source of energy. ‘renewable energy.

“It’s hard to know what to look for in solar, how to work with your utility, how to work with your municipality, and find all the right questions to ask,” Snell says. “What this program does is really put it all in front of them in a 30-minute educational series to get all those questions answered.”

Grow Solar is underway this summer in Polk County, following successful trials in Dallas, Warren, Linn, Jackson, and Johnson counties. There is also a longer program, Solar Energy Hour, where people can learn the basics of solar energy, as well as some financial aspects.

“The program is a limited group purchase program, so anyone who wants to participate in the program, we basically do a bulk purchase of individual solar systems,” Snell explains. “We typically see about a 10% reduction in the price of solar energy for these individual homes or businesses.”

The program aims to connect Iowa home and business owners with reputable local installers, while warning them of the predatory tactics of some out-of-state solar companies. “Good solar companies have a headquarters or operation in the state, that’s a big deal for us,” Snell says. “Another thing we look at is how many installs they have done. There are plenty of companies that will just come and try it out, and you’ll end up paying a lot of headaches for both that resident, as well as their local utilities.

Just because you see something on the internet doesn’t mean it’s true, and that applies to the solar industry as well. Snell says people may want to avoid some companies that advertise the benefits of solar power on social media.

“It’s something that can be good for someone’s wallet and good for their heart, and unfortunately on that altruistic side, we see a lot of actors having misleading commercials,” Snell says. “I would say there are a lot of good players, there are a lot of not so good players in the industry, so yeah, there are advertisements to be wary of.”

Solar Power Hours is taking place virtually and in person to help equip Iowans with the knowledge to make informed decisions.

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