Ce­cil res­i­dents look­ing to form so­lar co-op

Cecil Whig - - LOCAL - By CHERYL MATTIX

cmat­tix@ce­cil­whig.com

— 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

NORTH EAST

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.”

CE­CIL WHIG FILE PHOTO

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.

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