Miami-Dade residents who are interested in solar energy will now have a new way to research the products and find like-minded homeowners through “solar co-ops.”
The Florida League of Women Voters and a group called Florida Solar United Neighborhoods (FL SUN) announced the first two co-ops, of six that they’re hoping to establish in Miami-Dade, at South Miami City Hall on Wednesday. Information sessions for the first two groups, called Central Miami North and Central Miami South, will take place next week.
“There’s no cost to join a co-op, there’s no obligation to go solar through a co-op. We aim to educate residents on the power of solar and help organize these co-ops to grow the solar movement in Florida,” said Jody Finver, the county coordinator for FL SUN.
The groups work by organizing homeowners in areas like counties, neighborhoods and municipalities who are interested in utilizing solar energy in their homes. FL SUN works as the liaison between the residents and solar contractors once about 30 qualified homes sign up.
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FL SUN sends out a request for proposals to contractors, and the companies then agree to give the members of the co-op up to a 20 percent discount for going solar.
South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, who has been vocal on environmental issues, said that going solar makes financial sense and can also help combat climate change.
“With solar you are reducing your family’s carbon footprint, and there’s not many ways you can do that and save money,” Stoddard said.
FL SUN is already active in St. Petersburg and Orlando and in Broward, Brevard, Alachua, Volusia and Sarasota counties. The group is based on a model created by the Community Power Network. That network has helped communities create and develop local renewable energy projects and policies in places like Washington, D.C., Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and West Virginia.
Leaders with FL SUN hope to get at least 350 homeowners to go solar and sign up for the co-ops. They said that statewide the group’s information sessions have attracted about 4,000 people.
“We believe homeowners should have the right to produce their own power,” said Angela DeMonbreun, FL SUN’s program director.
The Central Miami North area, which includes Key Biscayne, Coral Gables, West Miami, Miami and parts of unincorporated Miami-Dade, will have an information session at 7 p.m. May 31 at Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Dr.
The Central Miami South area, which includes South Miami, Pinecrest and extends into West Kendall, will have its information session at 7 p.m. June 1 at the Pinecrest Community Center, 5855 SW 111th St.
To RSVP for those sessions and for more information on solar co-ops visit flsun.org.