HUNTINGTON — Huntington area residents have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters.
The group, sponsored by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Marshall University Sustainability Department, the League of Women Voters, WV SUN and OH SUN, is seeking additional members and will host an information meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6, at Explorer Academy, 2901 Saltwell Road, Huntington.
"A local solar co-op is an exciting venture, and we are proud to be a part of it," said Natalie Thompson, the executive director of OVEC. "Interested residents will have the opportunity to become knowledgeable and informed about solar generation and how they can invest in solar energy."
Two area non-profit organizations, WV SUN and OH SUN, are working to educate local residents on the benefits of solar energy and helping them organize group solar installations.
The cost of a home solar installation will vary depending on the size of the project and the system purchased, but WV SUN estimates the cost for a medium-size system is about $11,000, according to the organization's website. But there a number of factors that can help reduce that cost, including a 30 percent tax credit and working with a co-op that can package projects for a single installer and save up to 20 percent.
With that investment, a solar system is likely to pay for itself in nine to 11 years, according to WV SUN.
"The co-op is a great opportunity to demonstrate how solar energy can help our communities be more self-sufficient," said
Autumn Long, WV SUN solar co-op coordinator, in a news release.
Huntington residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op website, wvsun.org, and ohsun.org. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, WV SUN and OH SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.
Ben Delman, the communications manager for Community Power Network, said that solar co-ops also are being organized in Charleston, Wheeling, Lewisburg and Beckley. A group in Morgantown recently completed its second round of solar installations.
OH SUN has co-ops around the Buckeye State in its largest cities, such as Cleveland and Columbus. The closest is in the southern Ohio city of Athens, home to Ohio University.
Delman said the public information meeting will include a presentation and a question-and-answer session.
"The price has dropped significantly in the past several years," Delman said. "For a lot of people who were looking at solar a few years ago, the numbers didn't pencil in, but today they would. The idea of the co-op is that it is a great chance to not only get a better price but to also have that peace of mind of making a solid and informed decision with an installer that has gone through a vetting process."
RSVPs are not required but will help the group predict attendance. RSVP at wvsun.org and ohsun.org.
QUESTION: How much will my system cost?
ANSWER: This answer will vary depending upon the size and type of system you purchase. A typical medium-sized system costs roughly $11,000. Please note, this figure does not include the 30 percent federal tax credit.
How long does it take to install a system?
It typically takes one to two months for your installer to design your solar system and then secure initial permits and interconnection agreements. Once they have secured the proper permits, installers usually only need a day or two on-site to put up your system. They will then need to get final approval from the local government permitting office and secure final interconnection approval from the utility. This can take an additional one to three months depending on the jurisdiction.
What type of pay back time can I expect?
Payback time depends upon several factors: size of system purchased, average energy usage, the price of electricity, and value of renewable energy credits. Solar customers often are advised to estimate a nineto 12-year payback time.
SOURCE: West Virginia Solar United Neighborhoods (wvsun.org)
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