National nonprofit launches Toledo's first solar co-op

Jun. 15—Lucas County residents may soon be able to harness the sun to save on electric bills.

A national nonprofit Tuesday announced the launch of Toledo's first solar co-op to help area residents go solar.

"With this co-op, homeowners and business owners in and around Lucas County will now be able to join the growing community of people saving money by harnessing solar power," Tristan Rader, Ohio program director for the Solar United Neighbors nonprofit said.

"Together, we're building a movement to transform our electricity system into one that is cleaner, fairer, and shares its benefits more broadly," he said.

The Toledo Solar co-op has been open for prospective members since Toledo city council passed a resolution last month in support of the initiative.

The co-op is free to join and open to homeowners and business owners in Lucas County. A total of 13 members have joined so far, with the goal to have at least 100 in the near future, with no limit on membership numbers, according to the spokesman.

Mr. Rader said SUN pitched the co-op idea to the city council a few months ago, and discovered that Nick Komives, at-large Toledo City councilman, felt "very passionate" about it. Mr. Komives took the initiative and put forward a resolution of support that was passed last month, the nonprofit spokesman said.

Mr. Komives said he is thrilled to help bring more focus to residential solar in Toledo.

"I hope that people take advantage of the co-op," Mr. Komives said. "Toledo has many environmental issues to be concerned with and this is a great step forward toward incremental change that can have a huge impact."

SUN is working to educate co-op members about solar energy and how they can leverage their numbers to buy quality solar systems at competitive prices, according to Mr. Rader.

To promote the co-op, SUN is also working with the Citizens Utility Board of Ohio, Drive Electric Ohio, Green Energy Ohio Ohio Environmental Council, and Power A Clean Future Ohio, he said.

Once the nonprofit facilitates a competitive bidding process, co-op members will select a single solar company to complete the installations, Mr. Rader said, noting that the nonprofit is vendor-neutral.

Joining the co-op carries no obligation to purchase solar, giving the option to individually purchase panels and electric vehicle chargers based on the installer's group rate, according to a news release.

Solar United Neighbors bills itself as a non-profit organization "that helps people and communities go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights," working "to promote the benefits of solar around the country."

The nonprofit has hosted 30 solar co-ops across Ohio since 2016, in which time 384 families have gone solar through a co-op, which represents at least 97 million lbs. of lifetime carbon offsets, according to the news release.

For more information or to join the co-op, go to\Toledo, where a webinar is also to be scheduled in July.

First Published June 15, 2021, 1:49pm