Homeowners get solar panels installed as part of ‘Solarize Tonawanda’ program

TOWN OF TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Dozens of homeowners in the town of Tonawanda are making the switch to solar energy. It’s part of the ‘Solarize Tonawanda’ program, which gives people a little extra incentive to get solar panels installed on their homes.

“I’ve got a pretty extensive electrical – pretty good size lot, in ground pool, air conditioning so I use a lot of electricity especially in the summer,” said Bob Howard, who lives in the town of Tonawanda.

Bob Howard says he pays anywhere from $150 to $175 a month for his electric bill. When he learned he could save money by going green and using solar energy — he didn’t hesitate.

“There aren’t many ways to cut down on your utilities especially in the town with all the houses around wind power isn’t really an option,” said Howard.

More than 20 solar panels were installed on Howard’s roof this week. He’s is one of 55 homeowners who signed up for the ‘Solarize Tonawanda’ program. People could choose between local solar contractors, Solar Liberty and CIR, to get panels installed at a discounted price.

Town councilman William Conrad says that’s more than town leaders expected.

“Western New York, although be it we have the winter months, is definitely a prime candidate for this technology. And the one thing I would draw out of anything out of this is the fact that there’s an opportunity to save money,” said Councilman William Conrad.

Conrad says how much money people save depends on how many solar panels they have installed.

“It’s been pretty cool, I mean even with the short days and the rain and the snow, I’m still generating I think I’m up to about 35 kilowatts I’ve generated so far,” said Howard.

Howard says on average he’ll use about 700 kilowatts to power his home. Some homeowners are waiting until spring to have their panels put in.

“Even though it’s not generating a lot right now, during the summer, they predicted it’ll cover about 90 percent of my electricity,” said Howard.

Howard says that’s more than enough to be able to save electricity and the environment.

Councilman Conrad says many people questioned if the solar panels will work during a power outage. He says they won’t because the panels are still connected to the grid.

The town of Tonawanda isn’t the only community going green. A similar program is underway in Amherst.

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