Solar Co-ops Community Power Network Style!
Anya Schoolman is the founder and Executive Director of Community Power Network, a DC-based national nonprofit that helps communities build and promote local renewable energy projects and policies. In 2007, Anya founded with Mt. Pleasant Solar Co-op with her son Walter after helping 45 neighbors in her Mount Pleasant neighborhood go solar. Anya then went on to foster the creation of 11 other solar co-ops in DC, eventually forming a city-wide organization DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN) to make solar accessible and affordable to all Washington DC residents.
In 2011, Anya founded Community Power Network, a national organization that supports grassroots, local, state, and national organizations working to build, and promote locally based renewable energy projects and policies. CPN has provided technical assistance to hundreds of citizens and organizations around the country. Community Power Network is currently supporting state projects in Washington, D.C. (DC SUN), Maryland, (MD SUN), Virginia (VA SUN), West Virginia (WV SUN), and Ohio (OH SUN).
Now Florida is getting into the action: This year, homeowners in Central Miami (South) – including the City of South Miami – formed a solar co-op to get discounts on solar systems. This one of several solar co-ops in Florida, including Seminole County, Broward County, and Orange County where over 550 homeowners signed up before the solicitation was closed. The Central Miami solar co-op was sponsored by the League of Women Voters Miami-Dade County, Green Corridor (Ygrene), and 14 other non-profit and government agencies. In each case, each participant signs his or her own contract with the installer, but everyone gets the bulk discount with published rates by size of system and roof type. The expectation has been to save up to 20% off the cost of a solar system.