Westminster, a place in the metro area city that is already a hub for solar power, hopes to power more homes with a new co-op.
Organized by the nonprofit Solar United Neighbors (SUN), the co-op is an opportunity for residents to band together and receive expert advice on solar panel installation to reduce the overall cost. The enterprise would incentivize additional reliance on renewable energy in a city that has so far permitted enough solar energy to power a maximum of 3,300 homes, city leaders said.
“I believe that a strong community effort through the co-op can make Westminster a leading solar city in Colorado. That will lead to cleaner energy, cleaner air, more jobs and lower energy bills,” said Kathryn Skulley, a member of Westminster City Council, at a Feb. 18 webinar.
The co-op itself is free to join. Once 30 people sign up, SUN will solicit bids from installation companies and present the options to a committee of co-op members who will select one company. In so doing, installation costs are reduced because the company isn’t spending time and money on education and outreach to potential buyers, explained Bryce carter, SUN’s Colorado program director.
Westminster currently holds a Platinum Level Solar Friendly Community certification from the Colorado Solar Energy & Storage Association, said Paul Schmeichen, Westminster’s chief sustainability officer. The city is currently pursuing a rare Gold Level certification from the federal SolSmart program and hopes the co-op will help accomplish that.