Meghan McCollum of Oviedo said she’s become more aware of her daily energy consumption since she enrolled in Seminole County’s first solar co-op program in 2017 because she can see how much electricity she is producing.
The program is now being offered again by Solar United Neighborhoods of Florida, a non-profit from Washington D.C. that offers group discounts and support through the purchasing and installation process.
The last solar co-op in Seminole County was in 2019 where they had more than 105 homeowners who participated and 45 who signed contracts to have solar panels installed in their homes.
Alexis Miller, the co-op’s senior engagement specialist, said that there is no obligation for people to sign a contract or commit to installing solar panels. If they decide to join the co-op it will just be a way for the organization to know how many people are interested and contact contractors to bid on who is going to install the panels.
According to SUN’s terms & conditions, they collect a $600 fee for each homeowner that goes solar. This fee is charged to the co-op’s selected solar installation company. They do not charge any fees to its members.
Florida Program Coordinator Heaven Campbell said that the SUN offers this co-op to help the environment and help people through the process of going solar.
“The co-op makes it easy to save on going solar. We work closely with co-op members to educate them about the technology, financing, and process of going solar,” Campbell said. “This gives co-op members peace of mind that they are making the right decision.”
McCollum said that she got her panels installed by one of the oldest companies in Seminole County and got a 20% discount by installing the solar panels with the SUN. She said she did not know a lot about solar, but the co-op provided her with the guidance and education she needed.
“The more you learn about it, the more you feel comfortable in your decision and don’t feel like you are going into it blind,” McCollum said.
McCollum said that in her home, they generally produce about what they consume for a year. What they typically end up paying is their fee to be connected to the power grid, which she said can vary a little bit over the years.
The Oviedo City Council voted to support the Seminole County Solar Co-op by helping the organization spread the word about the program on Monday night. The League of Women Voters of Seminole County is also helping to get the word out about the program.
McCollum, now a SUN volunteer, said that she is also trying to educate others about the program.
“I think it’s a really good program and it helps make solar more affordable and less scary for homeowners,” McCollum said. “I just want the program to continue because we had such a good experience, I want others in the community to have that experience as well.”
This program is open to all the cities from Seminole County. The co-op officially launches on Feb. 14.
Get more information
SUN’s upcoming informational virtual meetings are at 7 p.m. Feb. 22 and March 16. Click here to register.