People & Projects

Holland Climate Collaborative launched its Solar Up Network group-buy discount program in early 2022. Its first event on March 15, 2022 generated 44 KW of new residential solar power while saving $20,000 for eight homeowners and reducing their CO2 emissions by 20+ metric tons per year.

Posted here you will find feedback from participants in the program to give you a sense how the program has worked for others and a possible preview of how it might work for you.

Jeff Auch… Our March 23rd Host

Here is Jeff Auch & his wife’s Solar journey as we hope you will join us Thursday, March 23 at 7pm to see their presentation and learn about their own experience installing and adopting the Solar future into their energy mix. You will also find a link to their installer’s website to familiarize yourselves with their process.

My wife and I live in a 135 year-old, two story home in Montague, MI and have spent the past 10+ years renovating and making our home more efficient while trying to maintain the historical aesthetics and live more sustainably. 

I’ve thought about solar for several years and had done some basic research but there was a huge knowledge gap that was a real hurdle to take that next step.  Even the basic questions of how the system operates was unknown – Do we need to be independent or can we be tied to the grid?  What happens to the “extra” energy produced?  How big of a system is needed?  We didn’t know of any homes with solar in our area and didn’t even know how to find a local contractor.  Once I did find our contractor, we wanted to take the lead and help encourage others to install solar within the community.    

I’ve had a great experience with the contractor, and I think they spent more time teaching about the technology and how the system operates than they ever did on the install.  As we worked through the design process for the solar installation, we also decided to include a battery as part of the system.  The battery provides us with electrical back-up during power outages and otherwise powers the home during the night when the panels aren’t producing energy. 

The system produces about 70% of our energy and I’ve learned to use off-peak use and the battery storage capacity to increase savings.  By doing some little things throughout the year I believe the return on investment will be decreased by 12-18 months and is now less than 10 years.

Note: The Auch’s Solar installer is Rob Rafson of Chart House Energy of Muskegon. You can find out about the installer here…

Renee Hesselink… Our February 16 Host

An Early Adopter’s Story
Solar Works in Michigan
Hesselink Implementation Completed May 19, 2014

Renae’s Story: Why did I take this on?
Someone has to take a risk and start the ball rolling. I have always believed in leading by example. Solar does work in Michigan and I want to provide details that actually demonstrate that solar is affordable for an average home owner, on an existing home and that it does work in Michigan.

Things to consider:
• My house faces east so I will not get the maximum production  – south facing is the best
• Replaced the inverter in June 2021. It is normal to have to replace an inverter.

• 1470 Square Feet       • Muskegon County, Egelston Township
• 5 KW System, 18 panels, SolarWorld,
Made in USA, Solarworld purchases from businesses in
Michigan exceeds $1 million
• Footprint: Approximately 360 square feet
• 2012 Electric Usage 12,149 Kwh, $1686.39 total Average of
101 Kwh/month

Project Team:
-Installer: Srinergy
-Electrical Contractor: Belasco Electric
-Green Home Institute

Related Costs:
• Removal of a tree $500 *
• Upgrade Electrical Panel to 200 amp $1500 *
• Consumers Energy Application $100
• Amount Financed: $14,580      • Payments $168.10/mo
• Expected Payback 10 years
• Expected Panel Life 25 years warranty, life 25 years +
• 30% Federal Tax Credit when file 2014 taxes
$4,810 received 2015 tax return
• Bottom line cost after 30% tax credit $9,770.00

One month to go for 2022 and so far, have generated 3.593 MWh, have paid Consumers Energy $355.16.

My system has generated about 60% of my annual electric needs for 2022 so far!

Anne & Rich Hiskes, Holland…

What motivated you to consider the installation of solar panels? 

Mostly we were driven by a desire to live more sustainably.  Also, our neighborhood is one that would be greatly benefited by widespread solar use, so we wanted to be something of a demo project.

 We have looked at Solar before, but this program was attractive because of the excellence of the contractor involved through the network and very persuasive Zoom presentation by the SolarUP! Network group which included a number of people sharing their experiences and expertise.

Did your opportunity to interact with a solar contractor give you a sense of confidence in the contractor? 

Absolutely, from the contractor on down to all the team members involved in the installation, they all exuded both competence and enthusiasm for their program.

How did the solar installation process go? Were our expectations met? 

 Great! Completely successful and non-intrusive.

Is your solar system operating as expected? 

Yes, and it is currently generating enough electricity to cut our electric bill considerably.

What improvements would you recommend to this whole process? 

None that I can think of.


Bart and Pat Den Boer, Holland…

What motivated you to consider the installation of solar panels? 

Our biggest motivation is honoring God and biblical principles by caring for the environment. Even from a secular point of view, we simply must address our use of fossil fuels.

Did the opportunity to meet with a host homeowner and their solar contractor make you more comfortable with making a decision?

The zoom gathering in March of ’22 was essential for our decision-making process. It is safe to say that without participating in this zoom it is unlikely that we would have proceeded. Understanding the process and hearing the positive experiences of other homeowners answered most of our questions and hesitancies.

Would you have made this kind of decision without the group-buy discount option?

While the group buy was an important incentive, I believe we would have proceeded regardless. The other incentives (Holland Energy Retro-fit and federal tax relief) were sufficient to make the project affordable for us.

Did your opportunity to interact with a solar contractor give you a sense of confidence in the contractor? 

Yes, but the combination of homeowner participation along with the solar contractor is what sealed the deal for us.

How did the solar installation process go? Were our expectations met? 

The installation process went exactly as described. We were out of town during the installation itself and everything went fine.

Is your solar system operating as expected? 


What improvements would you recommend to this whole process? 

It was installed in August so we lack a long term perspective, but so far-so good.


A Look at the Solar Hookup/Connection to a home’s electrical system. (Tiger Solar project at the Hiskes’ home in Holland, MI)