The Community Power Network has harnessed the power of co-ops to reduce the cost of solar for more than 1,500 homes throughout eastern and southeastern US. That’s resulted in 10 megawatts of solar on homes through more than 80 co-ops developed to lower the cost of solar.
The co-ops use the power of bulk or group purchasing to help lower the cost of equipment. In other states similar efforts have been called Solarize campaigns, but they are often created by local governments.
The co-ops are neighbor-based, consisting of people who joined together to go solar and have achieved discounts of up to 20 percent on a solar system. “Co-op members have spent more than $26 million on solar installations and have saved more than $5 million. In total, these systems will save more than 318 million pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifespans,” the organization stated.
Thus far the organization, launched by Anya Schoolman in Washington, DC, has established state-level affiliates in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, Florida, and DC. “Nine years ago, my then 12-year-old son asked if we could install solar panels on our home,” Schoolman said. “I had no idea at the time that eventually we’d be helping people across the country go solar. Our success is a testament to solar’s popularity and the desire of people to take control where their electricity comes from.”
When Schoolman decided to try to go solar in 2007, she said she realized it would be better to work with her neighbors to go solar together. That co-op helped 45 homes go solar and eventually grew into the D.C. Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) organization in 2009. That, in turn, led to establishing the Community Power Network in 2011.
The organization’s state affiliates help the local co-op members, educating them about solar and helping them solicit bids from area installers. The organization said it’s also provided technical assistance to groups across the country to develop local programs that meet their needs.
Installers will work with the co-ops to offer discounts because the co-ops help bring customers to them, instead of marketing to the people directly. That’s in addition to allowing the installer to place bulk orders for materials and permits, helping to further reduce costs.Tweet