To Go Solar, Start Local
Co-Ops Can Help you Jump Through Hoops and Start Saving Engergy
Elizabeth D Festa
The Washington Post
Saturday September 19 2009
One March day in 2008, Ketch Ryan, a long-time environmentalist, sent
a message to her neighborhood group e-mail list in the town of Chevy
Chase, inviting neighbors to see the modest two-kilowatt solar-panel
array she had just installed on her south-facing roof to convert
sunlight into household electricity.
"Loads of people came," Ryan said. They asked questions about the
process and how to do it themselves
The Common Cents Solar Co-op was born then and there, founded by Ryan
and neighbor Kirk Renaud, who runs BioBrite, a light-therapy business
Common Cents negotiates discounts from installers, fills out
paperwork, applies for rebates, bundles solar credits, helps with
scheduling and even arranges to get house keys to let in contractors.
Homeowners sign contracts with and make payments to Common Cents,
which then pays the contractors.
In the District, the idea for the Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative was
sparked three years ago after the 12-year-old sons of neighbors Anya
Schoolman and Jefferson Morley watched Al Gore's global-warming
documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth," and wanted to take action, their
parents said. Fliers were distributed, neighbors talked, and
Schoolman, now the co-op president, began researching every aspect of
providing solar electricity for homes in her historic neighborhood. In
July, Schoolman, a consultant to foundations and nonprofit groups on
environmental strategy and program design, became the first member of
the co-op to install a special thin-film solar technology that adheres
to flat roofs.
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Websites to the Solar Power Cooperatives referenced :