Baltimore homeowners form solar power co-op - Technical.ly Baltimore

Access

Mar. 27, 2015 12:49 pm

Baltimore homeowners form solar power co-op

About 40 residents got organized for solar panel installations — and they're welcoming new members.

Baltimore beckons.

(Photo by Flickr user urbanfeel, used under a Creative Commons license)

A group of Baltimore residents have formed a solar power co-op, and they’re hoping to gain some more members in April as the spring sun begins to shine.

The co-op, organized by the nonprofits Civic Works and MD SUN, is made up of about 40 residents. According to MD SUN program director Corey Ramsden, the program allows the residents to have cheaper access to solar systems.

“When you do it as a group, you can expect to get a 20-25 percent discount” on normal rates for installing solar panels, Ramsden said.

Solar power technology isn’t to the point where it can power an entire house. But in a Baltimore rowhome, Ramsden estimates that the panels offered through the co-op can account for about 30-50 percent of the energy used.

The organizers prepared a request for proposals for the co-op. This week, the homeowners who signed up chose Elkridge-based Solar Energy World as the company that will complete the installations. New residents can sign up through April 22.

How to join

Right now, residents are concentrated in Federal Hill, near Patterson Park and in the Hamilton/Lauraville neighborhood in Northwest Baltimore.

“Solar in general tends to go in clusters,” Ramsden said.

The co-op is considered a pilot, so organizers aren’t going crazy with their estimates. But by the time the sign-up period ends, Ramsden is hoping the co-op will add about 20-30 new members. Along with the discount, MD SUN also runs a statewide listserv with people who can answer questions.

Plus, Ramsden adds, the co-op homeowners feeling like they’re the only ones on the block with those crazy panels have the support of a group.

-30-
Stephen Babcock

Stephen Babcock is the lead reporter for Technical.ly Baltimore. A graduate of Northeastern University, he moved to Baltimore following a stint in New Orleans, where he served as managing editor of online news and culture publication NOLA Defender. While there, he also wrote for NOLA.com/The Times-Picayune. He was previously a reporter for the Rio Grande Sun of Northern New Mexico.

  • Bryan

    Just remember when you join any kind of organization that pricing for solar has dropped to historically low levels. Today a name brand, average sized 4.75 kW grid tie solar system that will produce up to 600 kWh per month with only 5 hours of peak sunshine per day.can now be purchased for less than $2.20 a watt after applying the tax credit or less than $11,000.

    in fact you’ll pay more than twice and up to three times this amount if you decide to lease instead of buy. And good luck to you if you every decide to sell your home with a 20 year lease attached to it. After all, what home buyer in his or her right mind will want to assume your lease payments on a used, outdated system when they can buy a brand new system with the latest technology and keep the 30% federal tax credit for thousands less.

    Don’t believe it ? Well then simply type the keywords “solar lease scaring buyers” into Google and you can read many accounts of homeowners and real estate professionals reporting difficulty when trying to sell a home with a 20 year solar lease or PPA attached to it.

    And if you’re thinking about one of those newfangled 30 year solar loans that the leasing companies are now offering, you’ll have to come up with a 30% balloon payment that is due on June 1st the year after installation, regardless of the amount claimed in the tax credit and you’ll have a 2.9% annual payment increase.

    Shop around don’t fall for the leasing company’s gimmicks. Use a search engine such as Yahoo to (enter the name of your state followed by the word solar) and you’ll come of with hundreds of results to compare pricing. Pricing can vary by tens of thousand of dollars for the same system. Be smart, shop before you buy or lease.

Advertisement

Sign-up for regular updates from Technical.ly