(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.
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.