A new website launched Monday provides an easy way to look at the costs and financial benefits of installing solar energy in a home.

One Block Off the Grid — an organization that sets up group deals for solar energy — launched the website as an easy way for people to investigate the costs of a solar system based on local incentives and energy costs.

“The goal is jobs,” said Dave Llorens, One Block Off the Grid CEO. “Not enough people look at the industry where you can actually generate jobs.”

Solar energy rebates, rules and incentives for homeowners differ widely across the country, which can make it confusing to people who might be interested, but not passionate enough to take time to do the research, Llorens said.

The website asks for some information, including a homeowner’s monthly electricity costs, and has a Google map feature that helps locate a person’s home.

The site then estimates what the cost of installing a solar energy system would be for that area, provides information on incentives that are available locally and estimates how long it would take for the system to pay for itself.

“It’s a safe environment to get solar,” Llorens said. “It’s the easiest way to see what solar would cost you and return to your home.”

Louisiana’s incentives are “surprisingly good,” Llorens said, but not perfect.

Electricity in Louisiana is cheap, so the energy savings with solar isn’t as good as it might be in other parts of the country with high electricity rates, he said.

As a business, One Block Off the Grid organizes group deals for residential solar power, and membership is free for installers and homeowners.

One Block Off the Grid gets paid through a referral fee from solar system installers, according to the business’s website.

The campaign launched Monday extends these group deals to a number of states, and an interactive map shows where group deals are available on a parish/county level.

Profits from this new national program will be donated to Kiva City, a program announced by former President Bill Clinton in June, Llorens said. Kiva City will help provide small loans to small businesses in the United States.

Llorens said the national push is also intended as a way to mobilize people interested in solar energy to contact and push policymakers to improve incentives for solar installation, which will increase the number of solar installer jobs, Llorens said.

“Approximately 105,000 U.S., state and local level jobs would be created over a five-year period if solar energy policies were established or improved in 37 states,” according to a new study by One Block Off the Grid.

ON THE INTERNET: http://1bog.org/solar-estimate