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How these ‘solar cooperatives’ are helping neighborhoods save thousands on solar energy

By going solar as a group, these co-ops are combining the buying power of neighbors to score discounts as high as 30%.

Solar cooperative

Photo Credit: iStock

Installing a rooftop solar system can be both intimidating and expensive. 

When you’re combing through offers to find a reputable solar contractor or crunching numbers to find out how to pay off a solar investment, things can get overwhelming pretty fast. 

But neighborhood solar cooperatives are making solar panel installations more affordable and accessible. By going solar as a group, these co-ops are combining the buying power of neighbors to score discounts as high as 30%

The cooperative solar model empowers homeowners in their decision to install solar panels on their property and saves them money — making clean solar energy more accessible.

In a solar cooperative, neighbors can pool their money together and increase their market power by demanding more affordable costs and fair treatment. 

Joining a solar co-op is free, and there are no commitments to install solar panels on your property.

Beyond savings, neighbors in a solar co-op benefit from learning about solar energy and the fundamentals of rooftop solar contracts from professionals. The decision on picking contractors and retail electricity providers, and ultimately whether or not to install solar, is up to each homeowner.

It benefits the solar installers, too. These companies don’t have to find and acquire customers because the solar co-op provides numerous customers at once. Providing and concentrating a customer base saves installers money, which allows them to lower their prices.

Solar United Neighbors (SUN) is a nonprofit that organizes co-ops in different cities and neighborhoods across the country, producing lifetime energy savings of $233 million thus far.

It has launched solar co-ops in Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia, and Puerto Rico.

“Our solar co-ops can typically see a 10 to 30 percent reduction in cost over the going individual market rate,” Hanna Mitchell, SUN’s program director for Texas, told Canary Media.

The average-priced solar panel installation costs around $20,000, meaning savings of 30% would get customers almost $6,000 off. Solar energy is gaining more and more traction across the U.S., partially because more programs like SUN are helping to lower the cost of solar installation. These cost reductions help homeowners and the planet by making clean solar energy more accessible to more people.

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