Column: Go solar this spring


Commentary by Heather Stith

Winter is half over, which means you get as much as three extra minutes of sunlight daily from now until the end of May. How can you make the most of this amazing resource?

You could go outside to wake up your body and synthesize some much-needed vitamin D. You could take deep breaths and snack on some fruits and vegetables to enjoy the byproducts of photosynthesis. Or you could install solar panels on your home or business.

Granted, that last suggestion requires more planning and investment, but the benefits last longer. Solar panels empower you to generate energy independently without contributing to harmful carbon emissions. The results are lower electricity bills and cleaner air and a healthier climate for your community.

To get the quickest return on a solar investment, however, you need to start the planning process now. The solar energy reimbursement strategy called net metering only applies to solar panels installed before July 1 under Indiana law. Net metering means the utility company credits your electricity bill at retail rates for any extra energy your solar panels add to the electrical grid.

The Hamilton County Solar Co-op, a partnership that includes nonprofits Carmel Green Initiative, Solar United Neighbors of Indiana and Solarize Indiana, is presenting free online programs during the next six weeks. They include information about the 26 percent federal tax credit and group discount purchasing for solar energy systems. You’ll also learn how to beat the rush to get your system installed before net metering ends. All meetings are virtual. Here’s the schedule:

  • 6:30 p.m. Feb. 22
  • 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24
  • 7 p.m. Feb. 24
  • 9 a.m. March 12
  • 7 p.m. March 14
  • 7 p.m. March 29

Learn more and register at

Heather Stith is a member of the Carmel Green Initiative. Contact the group at