- Associated Press - Monday, May 18, 2015

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Cooperatives aimed at reducing the costs of residential solar arrays are sprouting up around West Virginia.

The nonprofit WV Sun has helped form co-ops in the city of Charleston and Fayette and Monroe counties. Similar collectives are beginning to take shape in Wheeling and Morgantown, the Charleston Gazette (https://bit.ly/1Gj4lVw ) reports.

Community Power Network spokesman Ben Delman said purchasing solar units through a co-op is a better deal for consumers. Co-op members typically save around 20 percent on systems that can cost around $15,000 to install.

Since 2007, Community Power Network has launched more than 30 solar co-ops in Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

Last summer Thom Worlledge installed six solar panels and plans to add six more with the help of a new Charleston solar co-op. An architect, he said it makes sense to join a solar co-op.

Worlledge said the solar panels save him 10 percent to 15 percent on his utility bill. He tracks how much energy the panels are generating with a phone application.

Tuesday, WV Sun is sponsoring the first meeting for the Charleston solar co-op at the West Virginia State University Economic Development Center.

WV Sun hopes to have 25 to 30 members planning to install solar units before the group sends out bids for installation. Co-op members will then review bids and get individual solar unit proposals. From there, the co-op members sign contracts.

“We’ve been blown away by the number of people that are interested in solar,” Delman said. “People want to go solar and are really motivated to help organize solar co-ops in their community.”

Delman said individual co-ops typically review four to seven bids. The Fayette County co-op, which has about 36 members, used Cleveland-based Appropriately Applied Technologies, while the Monroe County co-op, with more than 80 members, used Sustainable Energy Systems of Frederick, Maryland.

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Online:

WV Sun: www.wvsun.org

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Information from: The Charleston Gazette, https://www.wvgazette.com


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