If you group up to buy something, you’ll usually get a better price. That idea allowed Florida’s League of Women Voters in partnership with Florida Solar United Neighborhoods to create St. Pete Solar Co-op. The organization aims to expand access to solar power by providing the Floridians with information about the benefits of distributed use of solar energy. It also helps the people to organize group installations, strengthening the solar policies of the state.
Even with all advances in the field of solar power, getting a system still remains a very hard task. Alright, the costs are going down, but you still have to find reliable installers, find the manufacturer with the best guarantee and find a specialist who will service the system post-installation. Moreover, you will need to get a government permit and collaborate with the local utility company. Chances are you’ll need to find a specialist for that as well.
The St. Pete Solar Cooperative allows customers to save up to 20% on purchasing rooftop solar systems. It also allows all interested homeowners learn more about solar systems, ask questions and receive answers they’re looking for. As the organization claims, everyone will also find moral support, as the Cooperative’s members work for the benefits of all instead of acting for own sake.
As Florida becomes more and more interested in solar energy, we’re seeing more and more resident-driven cooperative ventures. Another organization, FL SUN, plans to start similar co-ops on September 25. They will be acting in several countries. There’s also dozens of other organizations.
According to FL SUN Coordinator Dave Sillman, the time to create a booming solar energy sector in both commercial and residential sectors has finally come. The co-ops are trying to push it to the tipping points. Transferring to solar energy is now the best decision homeowners can make. You will recoup the losses in eight to nine years, while the whole system should stay for 35 to 40 years. As a result, you should reach 200% to 300% ROI over time.
Last year, approximately 240 people joined the co-op. 50 of them have gone solar. According to St. Petersburg area League of Women Voters president Julie Kessel, there is no cost to join, and the participants are not obliged to install the solar systems. Most participants joined the co-op to get necessary information and stay in touch with the industry.
The co-op members learn about the environmental benefits, logistics of installation and cost saving features of solar panels. When someone decides to install the system, the whole group issues a competitive bid to the installer. Then they hire the installer as the whole group. The League also helps the low- and mid-income families by bringing some alternative financing options to those with good credit scores.
According to Kessel, the solar energy co-ops are a very demanded thing these days. People constantly call the organization, asking Kessel whether the co-op is working. As the community is located on the front lines for sea level rise in St. Petersburg and the surrounding beach communities, going solar has quite a few benefits. Now that Florida has yet to recover from devastating Hurricane Irma, it’s the best time to adopt solar systems.
Brenda Probasco is one of the co-op’s beneficiaries. She managed to get the 30% federal tax credit and a membership discount, purchasing the 15-panel rooftop solar system for $6,8000. She only paid $5,49 for electricity in August. And that’s Florida, an extremely AC-dependent state.
Brenda was always an environmentally conscious person, ardently believing in climate change. She believes that getting a solar system is as necessary as buying a refridgerator. Her words might as well become reality, especially as more and more co-ops spawn into existence.