Solarize aims to jump start residential solar in Central Ohio

If you have been thinking about going solar, now is the time to act. On Tuesday, July 12, a cohort of city and community groups including Simply Living launched the Columbus Area 2022 Solar and EV Charger Co-op through a program called Solarize. 

The launch took place at the Linden Community Center with speakers including City of Columbus Councilmember Emmanuel Remy; Mayor Ben Kessler, City of Bexley; Mryia Williams, Ohio Program Associate for Solar United Neighbors; and Ras Jahlani Benlevi, Empowered! Program Participant.

Solar panels on the roof of Mryia Williams' house in Galloway.

You may be familiar with the idea behind a solar coop. The concept, spearheaded by Solar United Neighbors, is to pull together a lot of people who are interested in going solar in order to obtain a bulk purchase rate. Often coop members can obtain a 10 to 15 percent discount on a solar system. Couple that with the 26 percent federal tax break – which falls to 22 percent next year – and solar becomes truly affordable. 

Solarize takes the idea of a solar coop one step further. Through the Solarize program, Columbus partnering organizations – including Sustainable Columbus, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, Solar United Neighbors, Impact Community Action, and Simply Living – went through a series of training sessions on how to launch and run a solar coop with sustainability officers and community groups from seven cities. 

This year’s Solarize cohort, organized by Rocky Mountain Institute, included Columbus, Broomfield, El Paso, Honolulu, Irvine, Kansas City, and Oklahoma City. The training began in January and covered topics such as partnerships, setting goals, addressing financial barriers, installer selection, outreach and communications, and launching the campaign. 

Solarize Columbus takes off

Now the Columbus campaign is set to launch! Our goal is to have at least 75 Columbus residents install at least 525 kilowatts of residential solar, and at least 150 Franklin County residents install at least 1050 kilowatts of residential solar. We want at least 30 percent of these installations to be in communities that are majority people of color. 

As part of Solarize, Impact Community Action is conducting the Empowered! program to provide on-the-job training, shadowing, and mentorship opportunities, and apprenticeship and job placement for solar installation, resulting in $1 million invested in the local economy and creating 30 living wage jobs. 

Simply Living is especially proud that one of our interns, Abby Esch (left), has been part of the Solarize meetings and trainings since she joined us, and will be tabling at upcoming events to tell people about the Solarize coop and how they can join. 

“Solarize Columbus is a solar co-op that would allow you to purchase and install solar panels at a less expensive rate and provide expert help throughout the entire process,” Abby said. “Joining the co-op would allow you to save on energy costs and be part of a community that strives to live more sustainably. I encourage everyone to attend an information session and learn more about how joining a solar co-op could benefit your life.”

Information sessions

Want to learn more? Simply Living will be holding a First Fridays online information session about Solarize on Friday, August 5, at noon. Even if you can’t make it, consider registering as the event recording will be sent to everyone who registers. Register here

Additional Information sessions are scheduled for:

  • Thursday, July 14, at 6 p.m. on Zoom
  • Monday, July 25, at 5 p.m. at Impact and online at Zoom
  • Tuesday, August 16, at 5 p.m. at Whetstone Library and on Zoom

Solar United Neighbors provides unbiased, installer-neutral support through each stage of the process of going solar. Their team ensures you understand how solar works, how it saves you money on your bills, and how it can be installed on your home.

Co-op volunteers will choose an installer on behalf of the entire group through an open and competitive bidding process. The selected installer provides everyone in the group with a personalized proposal for their consideration; there is no obligation to install.

For more information about the solar coop and to sign up, visit SolarUnitedNeighbors.org/Columbus

Media coverage
WOSU-FM
Columbus Dispatch

Watch the Solarize launch below (12 minutes):

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