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Solar Co-ops in Indiana aim to make solar energy more accessible to Hoosiers

Adding solar panels to your home Is becoming more popular but many people are tuned off by the price and hassle, that's where solar co-ops come in.
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Posted at 8:45 PM, May 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-19 11:50:09-04

INDIANAPOLIS — High energy bills might have your family wondering about the logistics of installing solar panels.

They're becoming more popular but some homeowners are still turned off by the price, and the hassle.

That’s where solar co-ops come in.

"It's about getting neighbors to join together to leverage their bulk purchasing power to get a good deal on solar," Zach Schalk, Indiana Program Director for Solar United Neighbors said.

Solar co-ops are comprised of at least 30 homeowners, small businesses, and non-profits that all want to add solar panels to their properties.

"I definitely wanted to do solar from the jump, " Schalk said.

The national non-profit Solar United Neighbors has helped establish solar co-ops across the country. They educate people about the process and help them get discounted quotes from different companies.

"We compare those side-by-side apples to apples, and we actually empower the co-op members to review those offers,” Schalk said. “Then they select one single company to serve everybody in the group so that's kind of where the bulk savings come in.”

Because the company is installing several different solar panel units in one community, they can give a bulk price typically comes with a significant discount.

Solar United Neighbors have helped over 8,000 property owners install solar panels nationwide.

Betty Lynch is a solar co-op member and has a net-zero home.

"I became interested when I found out that I could create energy, clean energy from the sun,” Kynch said. “That journey started about 10 years ago and it took me about four years to finally get my solar panels. “

Lynch has now had her solar panels for six years. Her over all investment was close to $20,000 but she says it's been worth it.

"For the last 6 years my bill has only been 13 dollars or a little over that,” Lynch said. “Now since I got my second set of panels, I'm totally electric. I have an electric car and I still only pay 13 dollars a month for all my energy needs, so it definitely pays off.”
Along with that, new technology makes it easy to know how much energy your panels will make.
"When the sun is shining you know what you are going to produce, " Schalk said.

Joining a solar co-op can save you anywhere from 10 to 15 percent on solar panels and installation. They're free to join and there are no obligations for you to get solar panels.

Two co-ops just launched in Tippecanoe and Montgomery counties.

Others are set to launch in the Indianapolis area next month.

To learn more about solar co-ops click here.