Greater Roanoke Residents Forming Solar Co-op

The Greater Roanoke Solar Co-op is open to neighbors and businesses in Roanoke and the surrounding area, including Botetourt and Montgomery Counties.

Neighbors in the greater Roanoke area (including Botetourt and Montgomery counties) have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters. The City of Roanoke Sustainability Department, Botetourt County, Roanoke County, the City of Salem, Virginia Clean Cities, and Solar United Neighbors are the co-op sponsors.

Solar group purchases in Virginia started with the Solarize Blacksburg campaign in 2014, a partnership between the Town of Blacksburg and Community Housing Partners with support from Solar United Neighbors of Virginia (then known as the Community Power Network).  Since 2014, Solar United Neighbors of Virginia has supported more than two dozen solar co-ops, helping nearly 650 Virginia homes go solar and saving homeowners more than $2.2 million in the process.

The group is seeking participants and hosted its first informational meetings in early March in both Roanoke and Blacksburg to educate the community about solar and the co-op process. “We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar energy as simple as possible,” said Nell Boyle, City of Roanoke Sustainability & Outreach Coordinator. “Working with the group helps members learn about the technology so they feel confident in their decision to go solar “

Solar United Neighbors of Virginia expands access to solar by educating Virginia residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, helping them organize group solar installations, and strengthening Virginia’s solar policies and its community of solar supporters.

“I’m excited about returning to the region that launched the first community solar campaign, and to work with Roanoke-area residents and businesses to educate them about the benefits of solar energy,” said Aaron Sutch, Solar United Neighbors of Virginia Program Director. “Solar energy is a great way to direct the benefits of our energy system back to our local communities, while creating jobs and providing resilient power. If you’ve ever thought about going solar before, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op website; (See address at end of article) the campaign will encompass both the greater Roanoke Valley and Montgomery County.  Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, Solar United Neighbors of Virginia will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op participants will select a single company to complete all the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up off the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group participants and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors.

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