So­lar power comes to In­dian Head

En­ergy com­pany of­fers co-op op­por­tu­nity

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By CHAR­LIE WRIGHT cwright@somd­news.com

Go­ing so­lar may seem like a daunt­ing task, but a Mary­land ad­vo­cacy group is here to de­liver the goods on those sleek, metal­lic pan­els lin­ing rooftops across the state.

Mary­land So­lar United Neigh­bor­hoods (MD SUN) is form­ing a so­lar co-op in In­dian Head for res­i­dents who would like to ex­plore dif­fer­ent en­ergy op­tions. Sim­i­lar to buy­ing in bulk, cit­i­zens would be able to make the tran­si­tion to so­lar en­ergy for a cheaper price by work­ing as a group.

“We hope that peo­ple or­ga­nize and use their col­lec­tive buy­ing power to go so­lar to­gether,” said Corey Rams­den, MD SUN pro­gram di­rec­tor. “So­lar is not hard, but it can be a lit­tle in­tim­i­dat­ing. There are a lot of dif­fer­ent pieces and parts to pro­pos­als and things like that, so peo­ple find do­ing it in a group is help­ful.”

MD SUN is a non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cused on con­sumer ad­vo­cacy, and does not make any pric­ing or pur­chas­ing de­ci­sions

for the col­lec­tive. In­stead, they in­form res­i­dents about the ben­e­fits of so­lar power and then work with lo­cal groups to de­velop pro­pos­als for the co-op. A se­lec­tion com­mit­tee made up of co-op mem­bers chooses a sin­gle con­trac­tor based on the group’s pref­er­ences, and then the win­ning com­pany works with each mem­ber to cre­ate an in­di­vid­u­al­ized pro­posal.

In­dian Head of­fi­cials in­vited MD SUN to hold in­for­ma­tion ses­sions to help get the word out about so­lar en­ergy as part of the town’s sus­tain­abil­ity ef­forts.

“Us­ing re­new­able en­ergy like so­lar fits into the longterm vi­sion for the town,” said Mayor Bran­don Paulin. “When I look at ways we can re­duce our car­bon foot­print, so­lar is one way of go­ing about do­ing that.”

It takes a min­i­mum of 20 par­tic­i­pants to form the

co-op. MD SUN has fa­cil­i­tated nearly two dozen of these unions through­out the state, in­clud­ing one of more than 300 peo­ple in Mont­gomery County. By go­ing so­lar to­gether, mem­bers can save up to 20 per­cent off the cost of

the sys­tem. Eco­nom­i­cal ben­e­fits abound, whether in a group or as an in­di­vid­ual, Rams­den said.

“Even with­out the co-op, it makes eco­nomic sense for a lot of the peo­ple in Mary­land,” Rams­den said. “Any house that is

go­ing to get suf­fi­cient sun be­tween 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. … is gonna have a good roof for so­lar.”

Rams­den ex­plained peo­ple choose to switch to so­lar power for many dif­fer­ent rea­sons, depend­ing on per­sonal pref­er­ences.

“Some peo­ple come to it want­ing to do some­thing for the en­vi­ron­ment, other peo­ple are look­ing at it strictly in eco­nomic terms,” Rams­den said. “In Mary­land it works for both. A lot of it is the mo­ti­va­tion of the per­son, but what you’re re­ally do­ing is fix­ing a part or all of your elec­tric­ity cost for a long pe­riod of time.”

MD SUN will have an in­for­ma­tion ses­sion at the Vil­lage Green Pavil­ion on July 12 at 7 p.m.

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