When it comes to going solar, there's a lot to consider. For some people, the upfront costs are daunting. For others, the process of selecting an installer and choosing equipment is overwhelming. Another group -- people living in condos, apartments, or townhomes -- would love to go solar, but getting a system requires more than an individual passion for going green.
But in 2018, Enphase is setting out to help everyone cut out the excuses and find a way to make solar happen. One of the most exciting new trends we’re seeing is cooperative solar communities. People across the country are forming small official co-ops or casual neighborly agreements to ease upfront costs and legwork, making going solar a community-minded effort.
A solar co-op comes in many forms. For some communities, it can mean getting your utility company to invest in solar so you see big savings. This is a hefty undertaking and requires a lot of grassroots activism and lobbying to get a local utility to do the legwork. But for the right communities — especially those with a high level of interest in solar and a solid infrastructure to make it work — forming a municipal co-op could be a great path forward.
For most communities, a smaller, close-knit effort is more likely to happen. Simply put: go get your neighbors on board to install solar at the same time — and in the process, you may be able to work out a great bulk deal with an installer, so everyone can enjoy big savings on your upfront costs.
If you’re interested in starting a cooperative solar effort with your neighbors, now’s the perfect time. With solar more affordable than ever and so many options for financing, it’s never been more possible to install solar. Here are a few quick tips to keep in mind:
1. Take the neighborhood’s temperature.
Whether you live in a cul-de-sac or a condo, there’s a good chance your neighbors are also interested in going solar. Sometimes, it just takes a little nudge from the people around us to really get moving.
Start out by casually knocking on doors, talking to neighbors, and getting a sense of who in your neighborhood may be interested in solar. No need to push or prod — just asking questions can be plenty to get the ball rolling.
2. Present your case.
Now it’s time to really call your neighbors to action. Create a simple presentation or written argument for what you’re proposing — be sure to clearly state your case for why pooling the neighborhood’s efforts can 1) improve the environment; 2) save money on energy costs; 3) unite the neighborhood around a good cause.
It doesn’t have to be formal: for some, inviting everyone over for a backyard barbecue may be a great tactic; for others, a simple email to the neighbors can suffice.
3. Find an installer.
Once you’ve got neighbors on board, find an installer that you trust. Bonus points for finding one who will cut down installation fees for the bulk order.
Once your neighborhood has found its chosen installer, it’s just a matter of scheduling the installations, and then watching your energy costs tumble. While each individual homeowner will handle all their own financial transactions, the entire neighborhood will benefit from the pride of seeing their neighborhood powered by the sun. That’s something worth celebrating together.
Renters Can, Too.
Going solar doesn’t have to be just for homeowners. If you rent an apartment or a townhome in a rental complex, this is your chance to shine by doing something good for the community and the environment. By getting your neighbors on board, you stand a good chance of convincing your landlord to explore the possibilities of solar.
Think outside rooftops.
There are many ways communities can reap the rewards of investing in solar together. Installing modular units in community gardens, parks, or other common areas in your neighborhood can reduce energy consumption and ensure everyone enjoys the pride of their new cooperative solar power.
Make It Happen.
When you drive into a neighborhood with solar panels on every roof, you’re seeing a close-knit community full of people who care about something bigger than themselves. It’s a badge of honor that your community deserves to wear. So if you’ve been on the fence about solar, hop it — and talk to your neighbor.
Recruit your neighbors. Get your community to go solar.
Already have solar?
If you already have solar, you can still help the rest of your community. Share this story with your neighbors.