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Orange County Solar Co-op Launches with Support from Local Mayors

Nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors (SUN) launched the Orange County 2023 Solar and Storage Co-op this month on June 1st, which also signified the first day of hurricane season.

“Not only is rooftop solar quickly becoming one of the most effective ways for energy consumers to achieve energy independence, but when paired with battery storage, it helps residents and businesses be more resilient to future storms,” said Heaven Campbell, Florida program director for Solar United Neighbors.

This free program is in its seventh year and aims to enhance clean energy education to Orange County and City of Orlando residents, small businesses and nonprofits, while increasing customer-owned solar energy.

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.

SUN will host several free information sessions to educate community members about solar energy and the Orange County co-op. Individuals interested in going solar can sign up for the co-op or one of the upcoming information sessions.

Upcoming meetings:
Florida Solar 101
Wednesday, June 28th, 6:00pm
Zoom Webinar
Register here

Florida Solar 101
Tuesday, July 25th, 6:00pm
Zoom Webinar
Register here

“With the advent of hurricane season, now is the time to consider rooftop solar, as an investment for a brighter and safer future,” said Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings. “Together, we have the power to transform our electrical system into one that is cleaner, fairer, and directly benefiting our communities.”

“In the wake of stronger storms, days with more extreme heat and an increased risk of inland flooding in Central Florida, our city continues to invest in immediate and long-term strategies and find ways to further grow our sustainability and resiliency efforts,” said Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer. “This partnership with SUN furthers the city’s commitment to accelerating the transition to clean energy throughout our community and strengthen our collaborative efforts in taking climate action.”

Together, co-op members will learn about solar energy and storage options while leveraging their numbers to purchase individual solar systems at a competitive price and top quality. In addition to rooftop solar, this co-op is featuring a new component that allows solar owners to utilize the power of battery storage to provide backup power during outages.

“The Orange County solar co-op not only helps residents move to clean, renewable energy, but also helps them become more resilient after extreme weather, such as hurricanes, with the ability to generate their own electricity, avoiding complete power outages,” said Carrie Black, Orange County Chief Sustainability & Resilience Officer.

“Through the solar co-op, we’re educating communities about the benefits of solar energy and connecting people with federal tax credits and rebates to reduce installation costs and put solar within reach for everyone,“ Campbell added.

This co-op is funded by the Orange County Government and  City of Orlando. Additional partners include Alianza for Progress, the CLEO Institute, IDEAS for Us, City of Apopka, City of Maitland, City of Winter Park, the League of Women Voters of Orange County, Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) and the Interfaith Environmental Alliance of Central Florida.

SUN has hosted 81 solar co-ops in Florida since 2015. According to the group’s estimates, the 2,387 homes and businesses that now have solar panels because of co-ops represent: 23.6 thousand kW of solar power, $56.6 million in local solar spending, and more than 714.12 million lbs. of lifetime carbon offsets.

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