The mission of the Benzie Solar Initiative is to “assist regional citizens who want to attain a clean energy future through conservation, education, and outreach initiatives.” About a year ago, a few local citizens, from Benzie County along the Lake Michigan coast of Northwest Lower Michigan, started having “energy” conversations that ranged from fracking to the sources that fuel our local Consumer’s Energy company. They realized they wanted to help push more clean energy options in our region, and help people understand what alternative energy sources are out there besides coal and oil. The nonprofit group, Benzie Solar Initiative (BSI) was born.
One strong component of the Initiative is conservation. This is a term often used when discussing the preservation or management of wildlife or natural resources, but BSI means it in the most basic sense: “the act or process of conserving.” Their goal is to help the Benzie community to learn about and assess their own energy uses, and then help them remedy the situation with simple to more complex solutions. As a member of the Benzie Solar Initiative, homeowners receive a complimentary onsite energy inspection; a professional assessment of what energy alternatives and solutions would best fit their home’s needs. This can range from caulking to changing out lightbulbs to solar panels.
The in-home education component is also invaluable as the global weather changes and creates challenges to our energy budgets. Eco-Building Products, located in Elberta, Michigan, is teaming up with BSI as part of their “Nonprofit Outreach Program,” and plans to offer events and seminars on pertinent topics such as “phantom power,” helping people to understand and be aware of the power they are losing. EBP is also planning to offer members discounts on energy products such as LED lightbulbs.
As part of Eco-Building Products Nonprofit Outreach program, EBP and BSI have agreed to “team up” and promote the sale of a special bulk-rate price on an 8w LED Viribright lightbulb; an equivalent to a 40-50w incandescent light. The normal price is $13.49, however, the special price is now $9.79. Both teams will promote the sale of specially priced LED Lights in the name of energy conservation. BSI will promote it to its membership as a benefit of EBP’s Nonprofit Outreach program and then place a bulk order. EBP will promote it to their existing customer base and facebook followers through the Buy-In-Bulk program. In this program, individual customers can take advantage of bulk-rate pricing without placing a bulk order. Customers and members of both BSI and EBP must place their orders by Wednesday, February 19th, to take advantage of the special bulk-rate pricing.
As an update, last year the Benzie Solar Initiative had four members upgrade their homes with solar panels! This is exciting news and rewarding for these members in particular, however, it’s not always affordable for everyone in the community. So BSI and EBP is currently working on a weatherization program that may help people offset some of the costs for these larger energy projects. Look for more Buy-in-Bulk products offered by EBP that will benefit the BSI members as well.
Lots of ideas are swirling around this nonprofit group; for instance, thinking beyond the individual citizens of Benzie County, why not work with the downtown businesses to help them asses and conserve their energy? Eventually, the BSI would like to use their funds (raised through memberships, product sales, and events), to help create a community solar project, perhaps helping a school or other municipality building become more energy efficient. Excuse the pun, but the sky is the limit with this team!
To support the energy efforts of our local community, contact the Benzie Solar Initiative at: firstname.lastname@example.org; or visit their facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/benziesolar/. Eco-Building Products may be contacted by calling 231-399-0700; sales@Eco-BuildingProducts.com; http://eco-buildingproducts.com/.