Here Comes the Sun: Orange County 2023 Solar Co-op Benefits Residents and Businesses

Public Health & Safety

Solar co-ops are making it easier for Americans to choose solar energy to power their homes, and the Orange County 2023 Solar Co-op, in partnership with Solar United Neighbors of Florida, is currently open to all County municipalities, residents and small businesses.

Co-ops provide bulk discounts for a group of homeowners interested in purchasing solar panels in addition to the  30 percent solar federal tax credit. As part of a solar co-op, each participant signs an individual contract with the group-chosen installer, and all participants benefit from the discount. The goal of the current solar co-op is to have 250 members by September 5, 2023.

“We usually reach our goal before that, so we’re encouraging residents and small businesses to sign up now,” said  Carrie Black, Orange County Chief Sustainability and Resilience Officer. “As we work to address climate change by lowering countywide emissions, this is a great way for residents and businesses to reduce their carbon footprints, while saving money on their utilities andget guided on the process.”

In addition to competitive pricing on solar panels, members get information to help them understand solar. There is a direct line to ask specific questions, a team that solicits and reviews proposals from solar companies. It’s an opportunity to join a growing solar community, and a chance to make a positive impact by creating jobs and putting energy production in the hands of the people.

“We offer the co-op every year because it’s an effective way to come together with your neighbors and learn through a vetted expert — Solar United Neighbors of Florida — that will guide you through the process,” explained Black. “It’s a great resource for community members who have thought about solar because it ensures you’re a good candidate, have a quality installer and provides information on finance options.”

Joining a co-op does not obligate members to purchase panels. The exact price of a Photovoltaic (PV) system is dependent on the members preference in system size and their home’s or business’s energy consumption. Members have the option to install the size PV system that fits their budget.

“You’re basically signing up to learn,” emphasized Black. “You don’t have to commit to go solar, just explore going solar and see if it’s a good fit for you. In the end, the goal is to have as many residents go solar as possible because it’s good for our residents and our local environment.”

Orange County has earned the national SolSmart GOLD designation from the U.S. Department of Energy, and the SolSmart program has provided clear guidelines and templates to help the County put its best practices into action. As a result, the County has managed to streamline the permitting process for solar installations, processing new solar permits in a single day.

To learn more and register for an information session, visit Solar United Neighbors of Florida. For more information about solar and clean energy in Orange County, visit Solar and Clean Energy.

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