Solar. Co-op. Here’s the deal

(Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)
(Southside Daily file/Courtesy of Pixabay)

VIRGINIA BEACH — Neighbors from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar and installing an EV charger easier, while building a network of solar supporters.

The group will also help electric vehicle owners – and those interested in buying EVs – receive discounted pricing and unbiased, installer-neutral support on adding a Level 2 charger for their home or business, according to a news release.

Level 2 chargers add up to 25 miles of driving range per hour of charge, three to six times more miles than the standard-issued Level 1 charger.

Co-op participants will be able to choose between installing solar, installing a Level 2 charger, or both, according to the news release.

Those chargers require installation by professional electricians and can be used for business or residential charging applications.

Drive Electric RVASierra Club – Virginia Chapter and Solar United Neighbors are the co-op sponsors.

The group is seeking participants and will host two information meetings on May 21, at 6:30 p.m., at the Great Neck Recreation Center (2521 Shorehaven Drive, Virginia Beach) and on May 22, at 6:30 p.m., at the Main Street Library (110 Main St., Newport News) to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

“We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar and EV chargers energy as simple as possible,” said Ann Creasy of the Sierra Club. “Working with the group helps participants learn about the technology so they feel confident in their decision to go solar.”

Solar United Neighbors expands access to solar by educating Virginia residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, helping them organize group solar installations, and strengthening Virginia solar policies and its community of solar supporters, officials said.

“I’m excited to work with Hampton Road residents to make the process of going solar or installing an electric vehicle charger easier,” said, Aaron Sutch, Solar United Neighbors of Virginia program manager. “If you’ve ever thought about going solar before, this is the perfect opportunity to do so.”

Data collected by Solar United Neighbors finds those with solar are more likely to own an EV, and EV owners are more likely to go solar to “fuel” their vehicle with the power from the sun.

More than a third of solar homeowners in Solar United Neighbors’ network have an electric vehicle, according to Solar United Neighbors.

Nationwide, about 1 percent of vehicle owners have electric vehicles.

Area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page.

Joining the co-op

The solar co-op is free to join and joining is not a commitment to buy panels or a Level 2 charger.

Once the group is large enough, Solar United Neighbors will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op participants will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to buy panels and/or a charger individually based on the installer’s group rate.

By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up off the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group participants and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors, according to the group.

Solar United Neighbors supports solar co-ops across the country.

Those interested in supporting the organizations’ work and becoming a member can do so at this website.

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