Residents help launch first Ohio solar co-op


By Valerie Urbanik - vurbanik@civitasmedia.com



Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Anya Schoolman, founder and executive director of Community Power Network, talks to nearly 80 residents about the benefits of having solar panels and how a new solar co-op will work.


Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Anya Schoolman, founder and executive director of Community Power Network, talks to nearly 80 residents about the benefits of having solar panels and how a new solar co-op will work.


Ohio’s first solar co-op met last Wednesday at Oberlin Public Library to talk about solar panels and how they can help homeowners save money.

“We need to live on today’s sunshine,” said Carl McDaniel of the Oberlin People’s Energy Cooperative.

“We’re forming this co-op to make saving money with solar energy as simple as possible,” he said.

Nearly 80 residents gathered to hear Anya Schoolman, founder of the non-profit Community Power Network, speak on a partnership with Ohio Solar United Neighborhoods.

She launched her organization in 2007 and spent two years learning how to offer energy services and discounts. “Going solar is usually the beginning not the end of the process,” Schoolman said.

Her non-profit has solar programs in Washington, D.C., Maryland, Florida, Virginia, and West Virginia. It has served 1,000 homeowners.

“Our goal is to educate consumers,” Schoolman said. “If you go solar with us, that’s great. If you come here to learn, that’s fine.”

She explained to residents how solar panels can withstand hailstorms, hurricanes, and snow. They can be built on roofs or in yards.

Solar panels are expected to last 25 to 30 years. “The parts last longer than almost anything you are going to buy for your house and they have less maintenance,” Schoolman said.

“One of the most frequent reasons people don’t go solar is they have an old roof and they’re not ready to replace their roof,” she said. “You do not want to put solar on an old roof when its leaking right now. The best time would be right after you get a new roof.”

Schoolman said solar panels will extend the life of a roof because they protect a person’s home from the sun and rain.

Anyone interested in having solar panels generally needs good southern exposure. “You want as much sun as possible,” Schoolman said. “You don’t need 100 percent sunlight.”

Several residents asked whether snow on the panels will be an issue during the winter. Schoolman said snow usually slides off the panels because they’re black and mounted at an angle.

The organization wants 20 to 30 “good roofs” to begin the process of finding one company for everyone to work with, then start site planning, and then installing the panels.

Schoolman said residents can help pick the company and the co-op will work closely with the company and give residents a weekly update about what is going on. “The co-op is here to support you throughout the whole process,” she said.

McDaniel said he installed solar panels in 2006 and loves having them on his home. He has never had to make repairs.

The Oberlin resident said he watched his energy bill fall and routinely looks for ways to cut it more. “You’ll have a lot of fun if you get caught up in it,” McDaniel said.

Schoolman said residents can expect to save roughly $400 per year with solar energy.

The co-op is open to all Lorain County residents. Anyone interested in learning more about the solar co-op can visit www.ohsun.org/lorain.

Valerie Urbanik can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @ValUrbanik on Twitter.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Anya Schoolman, founder and executive director of Community Power Network, talks to nearly 80 residents about the benefits of having solar panels and how a new solar co-op will work.

http://theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_IMG_6578-1.jpg

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Anya Schoolman, founder and executive director of Community Power Network, talks to nearly 80 residents about the benefits of having solar panels and how a new solar co-op will work.

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Anya Schoolman, founder and executive director of Community Power Network, talks to nearly 80 residents about the benefits of having solar panels and how a new solar co-op will work.

http://theoberlinnewstribune.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/web1_IMG_6581-1.jpg

Photos by Valerie Urbanik | Oberlin News-Tribune

Anya Schoolman, founder and executive director of Community Power Network, talks to nearly 80 residents about the benefits of having solar panels and how a new solar co-op will work.

By Valerie Urbanik

vurbanik@civitasmedia.com

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