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'Solar co-ops' help neighbors get installation discounts

MIAMI – June 2, 2017 – Florida residents interested in solar energy have a new way to research products and get installation discounts by working with like-minded homeowners in their area through "solar co-ops."

The Florida League of Women Voters and a group called Florida Solar United Neighborhoods (FL SUN) on May 24 announced the first two co-ops out of six that they're hoping to establish in Miami-Dade County. The website now lists four Florida co-ops, though the list is growing: the Alachua County Solar Co-op, Central Miami (North) Solar Co-op, Central Miami (South) Solar Co-op and the Seminole County Solar Co-op.

"There's no cost to join a co-op, there's no obligation to go solar through a co-op. We aim to educate residents on the power of solar and help organize these co-ops to grow the solar movement in Florida," says Jody Finver, the county coordinator for FL SUN.

The groups work by organizing homeowners in areas like counties, neighborhoods or municipalities who are interested in solar energy for their homes. FL SUN works as the liaison between the residents and solar contractors once about 30 qualified homes sign up.

Once a co-op has enough interested owners, FL SUN sends out a request for proposals to contractors, which then agree to give the members of the co-op up to a 20 percent group discount for going solar.

"With solar, you are reducing your family's carbon footprint, and there's not many ways you can do that and save money," says South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard. Leaders with FL SUN hope to get at least 350 homeowners to go solar and sign up for the co-ops. They said that the group's information sessions have attracted about 4,000 people statewide so far.

Source: Miami Herald (05/25/17) Dixon, Lance

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