Morgantown Area Solar Co-op Launched
Residents Go Solar Together and Save Money
Morgantown, WV—Neighbors in Morgantown and Monongalia County, West Virginia have formed the Morgantown Solar Co-op. The co-op will leverage the group’s buying power to save money on the purchase and installation of solar panels on co-op members’ homes. The group is seeking more members. It will host three informational meetings in May:
• Wednesday, May 6, 2015, 7:00 pm, at Black Bear Evansdale (3119 University Ave)
• Thursday, May 7, 12 noon, at Downstream Strategies (downtown at 295 High St. #3)
• Thursday, May 7, 2015, 5:30 pm, at the Shenandoah Room of the Mountainlair Student Union
The May 7 noon brown bag lunch meeting at Downstream Strategies is designed specifically for small businesses and farms that can qualify for U.S. Department of Agriculture grants. These grants provide up to 25% of the cost of solar power systems through the USDA’s Renewable Energy for America (REAP) program. The USDA also has loan guarantees available to bring down the cost of financing investment in solar power.
There will be plenty of general information at all three meetings, so anyone can attend any meeting, regardless of specific interest.
The Morgantown Municipal Green Team and Downstream Strategies are sponsoring the meetings. “The Green Team has decided to sponsor a solar cooperative as a way to promote the growth of alternative and renewable energy sources within the city,” said Jim Kotcon, Energy Chair for the Green Team, “The solar cooperative addresses community goals identified in the drafting of the 2013 Comprehensive Plan. Additionally, the solar cooperative will reduce Morgantown’s greenhouse gas emissions, which, according to a recent report from Downstream Strategies, amount to nearly 1.5 million metric tons of CO2 per year.”
The effort is also being supported by WV SUN, a nonprofit that helps make solar more affordable and accessible. WV SUN is part of the Community Power Network, which has helped hundreds of citizens organize solar co-ops in their communities. WV SUN recently helped homeowners in Monroe and Fayette Counties go solar.
How the Co-op Works
Homeowners attend a co-op information meeting to learn about solar, the co-op process, and the cost of installing a system. Those who are interested then sign up to join the co-op via the Morgantown Solar Co-op website.
Once the group is large enough, WV SUN helps the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers and usually selects a single company to complete all of the installations. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, each participant can generally save 20%-30% off the cost of their system. This is in addition to the 30% Federal Tax Credit that will be available to homeowners through 2016. Co-op members also have the support of their fellow co-op members and WV SUN throughout the process.
The first step to participate in the Morgantown Solar Co-op is to attend one of the info meetings on May 6, 2015 at 7:00 pm at the Black Bear Evansville, May 7 at 12:00 noon at Downstream Strategies in Morgantown, or May 7 at 5:30 pm in the Shenandoah room of the Mountainlair Student Union. For those who cannot attend in person, more information about the co-op and an online signup form are available at www.wvsun.org/solar-coops/morgantown-solar-co-op.
If you cannot attend any of these meetings and you want to join the Co-op, contact WV SUN Program Director Bill Howley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more local information on the meetings, contact Joey James at 304-292-2450
About the Morgantown Green Team
The Morgantown Municipal Green Team advises the City of Morgantown on matters relating to sustainability in public policy, planning, education, departmental management, development, and environmental and energy-related issues. For more information, please see www.morgantownwv.gov/residents/green/green-team.
About Downstream Strategies
Downstream Strategies offers environmental consulting services that combine sound interdisciplinary skills with a core belief in the importance of protecting the environment and linking economic development with natural resource stewardship. For more information, please see http://www.downstreamstrategies.com.
About WV SUN
WV SUN is a nonprofit leading the transition across West Virginia—helping towns and communities develop renewable energy projects and programs that will sustain our economies and our planet for the long haul, while making sure we continue to power America.
“We fight for the little guys—the nonprofits, homeowners and farmers that can’t afford the constant power company rate increases” said WV SUN’s Bill Howley. “We work with towns with long, proud histories that need new industries and new jobs. We’re looking to a future that’s locally grown—with power and good livings to be made in the hollers.” WV SUN is a project of Community Power Network.