The sun shines for McLean County residents and business owners with new Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 program



Peter Murphy, [email protected] 414-988-7963
Larissa Armstrong, [email protected] 309-454-3169 x.15

McLean County, IL – May 7, 2018 – The Ecology Action Center (EAC) of Normal, IL, is partnering with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to bring Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0, the solar group buy program, back to McLean County. The program will help home, business, and farm owners throughout McLean County lower their electricity bills by making solar more accessible and affordable through the power of volume purchasing. “We are excited to partner with MREA again to bring the group buy back to McLean County, providing another opportunity to expand solar in our community! The 2016 program was a big success, and we are confident Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 will help our community continue to expand its sustainability efforts,” said Michael Brown, Executive Director for the Ecology Action Center.

The Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 group buy program will offer multiple free, public, one-hour informational sessions known as Solar Power Hours. Active community education about the benefits of solar is the core of the group buy program. Navigating the solar market can be intimidating, creating barriers for solar adoption. MREA and the EAC provide free information sessions to community members to answer any and all questions about installing solar. “The first step to participate in the program and ultimately decide whether to go solar is to attend a Solar Power Hour,” said Peter Murphy, Solar Program Manager for the MREA. “The presentation provides the kind of information on solar that could take an individual days or weeks to research otherwise.”

The program launches on Saturday, May 19 with a “solar open house” at the home of Eric Marshall, a participant in the 2016 program. It will be held from 10:00 a.m. to noon. The open house is a chance to see a solar array in action and ask questions, and will not feature the full Solar Power Hour presentation. The first Solar Power Hour will take place Thursday, May 24 at 6pm at the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (724 W. Washington St., Bloomington, IL).

“I invested in a solar array for my small farm as a way to contain future energy costs,” said Marshall. “I’m able to keep a shop climate controlled year-round, run a well pump for irrigation, and handle the load of shop tools while still accumulating energy credits on my power bill. The solar group buy process was straightforward and both StraightUp Solar and Corn Belt Energy were great to work with. With current incentives, it was an easy financial decision.”

More Solar Power Hours will take place throughout the county in the months leading up to the participation deadline of September 30, 2018; all are free and open to the public. Visit for a full list of Power Hour presentation dates and locations.

The MREA has managed several successful solar group buys throughout the Midwest, including one in Bloomington-Normal in 2016, and two in Champaign-Urbana. To select an installer for Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0, MREA issued a request for proposals to solar installers in March. A local advisory committee reviewed proposals based on professional certification, experience, and cost. They selected StraightUp Solar, based in St. Louis with a branch office in downtown Bloomington. The advisory committee chose StraightUp Solar for Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 because of their high-quality solar installations, building science expertise, emphasis on customer service, and familiarity with the community. 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 Bloomington-Normal program enables residents to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve local energy security through the generation of renewable energy while simultaneously conserving energy and reducing long-term energy costs at their homes or businesses.

For more information about the group buy and to sign up for updates, visit

Get ready to go solar!

The Ecology Action Center is a not-for-profit environmental agency with a mission to inspire and assist residents of McLean County in creating, strengthening and preserving a healthy environment.  The EAC acts as a central resource for environmental education, information, outreach, and technical assistance in McLean County.

The MREA was incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit shortly after the first Energy Fair 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 


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