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Energy Cooperatives Make ‘Solar Gardens’ Bloom

Make renewable energy a more affordable option for your home or business by joining a local energy co-op.

| August/September 2017

  • Solar co-op members in Maryland proudly stand next to their solar inverter.
    Photo by Samir Qadir.

Have you ever admired a strong, community-supported business? If so, it may be a co-op. By common definition, co-ops are comprised of workers, consumers, farmers, and others who work together to meet a common goal for the group.

Because they’re owned collectively, co-ops also strive to keep financial benefits within their communities instead of allowing those benefits to line the pockets of outside investors.

Historically, many co-ops have focused on farming and organic food. Their growing popularity in the United States means that more than 30,000 co-ops now exist for a wide variety of enterprises, ranging from hotels to hardware stores. And recently, the co-op movement has expanded to include renewable energy.

In many ways, alternative energy is a natural fit for co-ops. Community-driven renewable energy efforts allow experts and laypeople alike to band together and fund projects that benefit them all. Most of these projects would be too expensive to attempt otherwise — examples include neighbors acquiring a stake in a local wind turbine company, or managing fields to grow crops for biodiesel.

Solar power is the sector in which renewable energy co-ops have really taken off. As the affordability and accessibility of solar panels has improved in recent years, more people have turned to sunlight for their energy needs — and co-ops are making the process simpler than ever. Because they pooled their resources and expertise, many solar energy cooperatives are now on the cutting edge of community solar initiatives and are pushing innovations that will make solar an option for more people.

One of the best-known solar co-ops in the United States is the Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative, a Washington, D.C., co-op that’s comprised of 300 households. The co-op was started by a group of neighbors who realized it would be cheaper to install their own solar panels if they could purchase them in bulk and rely on community experts for installation help and advice. The cooperative has grown every year since its founding. Members reap the benefits of shared expertise and expenses, which dramatically brings down the overall price per system. To make solar accessible for more people, the co-op also advocates for solar policy changes throughout its district.

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WELCOME TO THE SOLAR BUYERS REVOLUTION WHAT IS A SOLAR BUYERS CLUB? The Solar Buyers Club, aka “The Club”, is a web-based platform where Homeowners within a given State can join together to go solar. The Club is simply "a free to join group" of Solar Buyers “Club Members” who have an interest in learning about how solar works, solar technologies, the many benefits of going solar and are seriously considering having a solar electric and or battery storage system and other renewable solar products installed on their home. As Club Members make the commitment to go solar, Solar Buyers Club and our contractor partner use their collective buying power to negotiate deeply discounted savings with the solar manufacturers and pass on those savings to its Club Members. In Fact, we offer unheard of prices that are 40 to 50 % less than solar installers nationwide. In addition, WE ARE BEATING PRICES BEING OBTAINED BY COMMUNITY C0-OPERATIVES Find out more here more. click here!

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