Solar co-op launches in the Twin Cities

Michael Coghlan/MGN

Low-income homeowners who join will receive help in accessing incentives to go solar

Solar United Neighbors (SUN), a nonprofit organization that works in Minnesota and nationwide to represent the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. recently announced the launch of the Twin Cities Area Solar Co-op. The organization is encouraging homeowners interested in solar to join. SUN will help low-income homeowners access solar incentives that can make solar affordable for them. 

“The co-op will enable Twin Cities homeowners and business owners to join the growing community of people producing clean renewable energy while saving money,” said Bobby King, Minnesota Program director for Solar United Neighbors. “Together, we’re building a movement to transform our electricity system into one that is cleaner, fairer, and shares its benefits more broadly.”
 
The co-op is free to join and open to homeowners and business owners in the Twin Cities area and surrounding areas. Together, co-op members will learn about solar energy and leverage their numbers to purchase individual solar systems at a competitive price and top quality.

The Solar Federal Investment Tax Credit allows 26% of the cost of going solar to be recovered as a tax credit. This and other incentives will be covered during SUN webinars for those interested in the co-op.

After a competitive bidding process facilitated by SUN, which remains vendor-neutral, co-op members will select a single solar company to complete the installations. Joining the co-op does not obligate members to purchase solar. Instead, members will have the option to individually purchase panels and electric vehicle chargers based on the installer’s group rate. 

Partnering on the co-op are Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, City of Minneapolis Sustainability Division, and Minnesota Renewable Energy Society.

“We want to make solar accessible for all,” said Buff Grace, Solar outreach manager for Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light. “We are going to help low-income homeowners access incentives from Xcel Power and the City of Minneapolis that can make solar affordable for lower-income Minnesotans. We want all Minnesotans, regardless of income, to be part of producing clean solar power to address the climate challenge and to reduce their energy burden.”

SUN has hosted 15 solar co-ops throughout Minnesota since 2017, helping 139 people go solar, including 41 people in the Twin Cities area. According to the group’s estimates, the total 139 homes and businesses in Minnesota that now have solar panels because of co-ops represent about 1,000 kW of solar power, $3.3 million in local solar spending, and more than 38.7 million lbs. of lifetime carbon offsets.

SUN will host several free information sessions to educate community members about solar energy and the co-op. Individuals interested in going solar can sign up for the co-op or one of the upcoming information sessions at the webpage for the solar co-op at: www.solarunitedneighbors.org/twincities.

Information sessions are planned for:

Thursday, November 18, 2021, from 6:30 pm to 8 pm. RSVP here.

Thursday, January 6, 2022, from 6:30 pm to 8 pm RSVP here.

You can also RSVP by going to the Twin Cities Co-op web page and clicking on the “Events” tab.

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