Neighbors in Arlington County have formed a neighborhood solar co-op, leveraging their collective buying power to go solar together and get a discount. The group is seeking more members to sign up before the deadline in mid-March so they can issue a request for proposals to local installers to install systems for the group.
The group got started through the work of Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE) and the Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) looking into ways to help Arlington County residents go solar. They decided to team up with Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods (VA SUN), a nonprofit that helps make solar more affordable and accessible. VA SUN has helped hundreds of citizens organize neighborhood solar co-ops in their communities.
How the Co-op Works: Homeowners attend a co-op info meeting or visit the Arlington Solar Co-op website to learn about solar, the co-op process, and the cost of installing a system. Those that are interested then sign up to join the co-op via the website. Once the group is large enough, VA SUN helps the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers, and select a single company to complete all of the installations. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, each participant generally saves up to 25% off the cost of their system. They also have the support of their fellow co-op members and VA SUN and the community partners throughout the process.
John Morrill, Energy Manager for Arlington County (and also a co-op participant), states, “Arlington County is very happy to promote this solar cooperative! This is a great example of residents working together as a community to save money and help the environment.”
Getting Started: The first step to participate in the co-op is to visit the Arlington Solar Co-op website and learn more about the co-op and see if solar is a good fit. Interested participants can then use the online sign-up form to register for the co-op and receive a solar roof assessment. For further help, participants can email [email protected]
Community Partners: ACE is a community-based non-profit organization promoting sustainable lifestyles in Arlington County. ACE engages volunteers and educates residents in order to protect Arlington’s air, water, and open spaces. The Arlington Initiative to Rethink Energy (AIRE) helps the Arlington community make smart decisions about energy and supports individual actions that improve and sustain Arlington’s quality of life. Through rethinking energy, they are committed to energy practices that will make Arlington County a more prosperous, healthful, safe, and secure place to live, work, and play. VA SUN is a community organization that helps Virginians go solar. Their goal is to extend the benefits of solar power to every part of Virginia and to all residents. VA SUN develops and implements projects, provides technical assistance and other organizing support. VA SUN is a project of Community Power Network.