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Solar Co-op Launches in Columbus

Brent Warren Brent Warren Solar Co-op Launches in ColumbusA solar installation on the roof of Evolved Body Art in the University District. Photo courtesy of Modern Energy.
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A national nonprofit organization is bringing its solar co-op model to Central Ohio, and is hosting a series of meetings to explain the concept.

Solar United Neighbors (SUN) is hoping to find a group of between 50 and 100 local homeowners (any Franklin or Delaware County residents are eligible) who are interested in solar panels. The organization then puts out a Request for Proposals (RFP) to local solar installers, who bid to provide services for the whole group. The approach aims to take advantage of discounts on bulk purchases that an individual homeowner couldn’t access.

“When someone signs up, they provide their address and information about their roof, which enables the team at Solar United Neighbors to conduct a free roof review to gauge their roof’s viability for solar panels,” explained SUN Marketing Director Lisa Rimmert. “The co-op is completely free and there’s no commitment until a contract is signed by the homeowner and installer.”

The local group, which is officially known as the Columbus Area Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Co-op, will be accepting new members through the end of April.

Rimmert said that the local RFP will likely go out at the end of March, at which time a selection committee – made up of co-op members – will be formed in order to choose an installer.

“Once an installer is selected, we make that known to potential members so they have all the information when joining.”

Solar United Neighbors started as a local effort focused on a single Washington D.C. neighborhood, but has since grown into a national organization – about 4,600 homes have gone solar with SUN, according to its website. Seventeen SUN co-ops have been established in Ohio that are now either completed or closed to new participants, including one in Worthington and another in Delaware County.

“The co-op will enable Columbus area homeowners and business owners to join the growing community of Ohioans saving money by harnessing solar power,” said Tristan Rader, Ohio Program Director for SUN, in a statement. “Together, we’re building a movement to transform our electricity system into one that is cleaner, fairer, and shares its benefits more broadly.”

The announcement listed several local partners in the initiative: Drive Electric ColumbusOhio Environmental CouncilReady for 100 Columbus, Sierra Club; and Sustainable Grandview.

More information about the Columbus Area Solar and Electric Vehicle Charger Co-op can be found at www.solarunitedneighbors.org.

Two more information sessions are also planned, including one tonight in Franklinton. Here are the details:

Land Grant Brewing Company – Tuesday, February 11, at 6 p.m.

Dublin Library Branch of Columbus Metropolitan Library – Wednesday, February 19, at 6 p.m.

RELATED: Solar Panels in Columbus? How to Know if They Would Work on Your Home

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