News Brief: Residents Form Energy Co-op

Adam Gittin and Kerensa Loadholt

Photo by Bryan Rubin, Photo Editor
Photo by Bryan Rubin, Photo Editor

Oberlin residents have begun forming Lorain County’s first solar energy co-op, Oberlin People’s Energy Cooperative, which will give consumers more resources and information about installing solar panels on their homes. The initiative is spearheaded by Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods, a local nonprofit working to organize solar co-ops across the state.

Chaired by Carl McDaniel, OC’64, the Oberlin’s People Energy Cooperative will educate community members on alternative energy sources and help homeowners in the switch to solar, a shift that can cut costs y up to 20 percent, according to OH SUN.

The exact price of solar energy system installation is dependent on a homeowner’s energy consumption. While solar panels are initially expensive to install, they tend to be more economical in the long run. A survey conducted by Clean Power Research in 2011, which analyzed more than 45,000 solar estimates from homeowners across the U.S., found that Ohio residents could save an average of $17,527 over 20 years by switching to solar power.

When a homeowner first signs up for an energy co-op, then their roof is examined and a quick assessment is taken to see whether the roof is viable for a solar panel installation. Solar panels cannot be installed if there is too much shade on the property or if the roof has holes, bad angles or other hindrances

To choose an installation company, a selection committee of around 15 volunteers from the co-op takes bids from local solar contractors and determines the price that best fits the co-op’s needs. The chosen contractor will then examine the properties of co-op members and issue individual price estimates, or decide that a property is unfit for solar energy.