Cecil residents looking to form solar co-op
— A group of about 18 Cecil County residents are getting help from a nonprofit state group to form a countywide solar co-op.
George Kaplan, a Colora resident, is in the process of soliciting more members for a group of homeowners that are interested in making solar easier and less expensive to use.
The group is working with Community Power Network, a nonprofit that oversees MD SUN and five other programs in other states. Community Power acts as facilitators for community groups interested in forming a cooperative to take advantage of quantity discounts for installation of solar panels or arrays.
“I found out about this a couple
of months ago and decided to try to organize a co-op here in Cecil County,” Kaplan said. “The solar marketplace has become confusing enough with so many options that I think an independent third party like MD SUN could help us make the right decision.”
Cecil County Solar Co-op will be offering informational meetings about the co-op’s goals and options at 7 p.m. Sept. 29. in North East Town Hall and at 7 p.m. Oct. 12 at St. Mary Anne’s Episcopal Church in North East. Also at the meetings, Corey Ramsden, program director for MD SUN, will provide information about solar energy.
The meetings are free and open to the public and attendance does not obligate a person to join the co-op.
“We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar energy as simple as possible,” Kaplan said. “Working with the group helps members learn about the technology, so they feel confident in their decision to go solar.”
Once the group for Cecil County is large enough, it will solicit bids from area installers through an open bidding process, Community Power Network communications manager Ben Delman said. The co-op will then pick one company to serve it, and co-op members will have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate, Delman explained.
“By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, each participant generally saves up to 20 percent off the cost of their system,” he said.
MD SUN receives a $500 referral fee for each contract to cover expenses of setting up the co-ops, running educational meetings and determining feasibility of the properties seeking to convert to solar. The nonprofit has set up about 14 co-ops so far, Delman said.
“I am excited to work with Cecil County residents to educate them about the benefits of solar energy,” said Ramsden, the MD SUN program director. “If you’ve ever thought about going solar before, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”
Several locals are hoping to form a solar co-op to install solar panels, such as the ones seen here at the IKEA distribution center in Perryville.