Apartment complex installs solar panels: Operators to see cost savings

A low-income apartment complex is expected to see some cost savings on utility bills after installation of solar panels on the building.

Armory Apartments, located at 646 Franklin St., was outfitted with 90 solar panels in December by Third Sun Solar, an Athens, Ohio-based solar panel installation company.

Armory Apartments should generate, on average, enough electricity to reduce its electric bill by about $2,250 annually, said Geoff Greenfield, founder and president of Third Sun Solar.

The installation of the panels was done in December to beat the Jan. 1 deadline of new net metering regulations that make it more difficult for businesses and homeowners to sell excess electricity back to energy providers, said Michelle Greenfield, co-founder of Third Sun Solar.

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“There is a sense of urgency across Indiana to get solar panels installed to ensure net metering occurs,” Greenfield said. “Net metering is a common-sense approach for our economy and environment and we are thrilled to see such diverse organizations get ahead of the solar curve.”

Thrive Alliance, which owns and operates the Armory Apartments building, received a grant for about $53,000 through Prosperity Indiana that helped cover the purchase and installation costs of the solar panels, said Rick Gardner, healthy development manager with Thrive Alliance.

The apartment complex is designated for low-income individuals 55 and older.

Residents won’t see energy bill savings, but the solar panels will help reduce energy in the commons area of Armory Apartments, said Sue Lamborn, public relations manager for Thrive Alliance.

Geoff Greenfield said while the use of solar panels started gaining popularity 10 years ago in states such as California, the technology has taken off over the past three years in the Midwest. Greenfield called it a no-brainer to invest in the use of solar panels, which can result in savings over an average of a 12-year period.

“Solar is the 21st century technology and we’re at the beginning of a very rapid trend,” Greenfield said. “It’s making clean energy right now.”

Greenfield said solar panels are meant to supplement what’s already available, with about 50 to 85 percent of power received from the sun. A 30 percent federal tax credit is also available for people who want to install solar panels, Greenfield said.

“A small portion of customers are doing it for environmental reasons,” Greenfield said. “With solar, you already own your power plant.”

About Armory Apartments

The Armory Apartments, which is owned and operated by Thrive Alliance, is a low-income apartment complex for individuals 55 and older. The 25-unit complex at 646 Franklin St. was acquired by Thrive Alliance in 1995.

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Matt Kent is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at 812-379-5712 or mkent@therepublic.com