The nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors, working in partnership with the Land Stewardship Project, has launched a new co-op designed to help area residents learn more about solar systems and help members purchase and install solar panels on homes, small businesses and farms.

The group, called the Driftless Area Solar Co-op, is open to residents of Fillmore, Goodhue, Houston, Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties. It is free to join and does not obligate members to purchase solar systems.

“The co-op will enable Driftless area homeowners, farmers, and business owners to join the growing community of people saving money by harnessing solar power,” said Bobby King, Minnesota program director for Solar United Neighbors. “What we call solar co-ops are simply groups of people who work together to get the best price from an installer, share and support each other in the process of going solar, and tap into the expertise here at Solar United Neighbors.”

Minnesota is an excellent location for home solar systems, according to Bobby King, Minnesota program director for Solar United Neighbors.  Photo courtesy of Solar United Neighbors
Minnesota is an excellent location for home solar systems, according to Bobby King, Minnesota program director for Solar United Neighbors. Photo courtesy of Solar United Neighbors

King said being part of a co-op can make a confusing process much easier. Members can learn about solar energy and take advantage of bulk purchasing to ensure competitive pricing and quality solar installations.

Solar United Neighbors has hosted eight solar co-ops in Minnesota since 2017.

“Minnesota is a great state for solar,” King said. “We have done a lot of solar installments in Minnesota. The snow slides right off of them, and we get more sun than we think we do.”

Homeowners who install solar panels receive reduced energy bills, and according to King, most solar systems pay for themselves in eight to 10 years.

“The panels are guaranteed for 25 years,” King said. “It is pretty extraordinary that the panels will last that long and probably longer. If you are going to be in your home for a while, it makes sense.”

Solar United Neighbors will host several information sessions to educate community members about solar energy and the co-op. The next session called Solar 101 and how the Driftless Area Solar Coop can help you go solar and is planned for 6:30-8:00 p.m. Wednesday, May 13. It will be hosted online as a webinar but can also be accessed via phone. They will also hold a seminar on Solar financing for farms and small businesses 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 19.

Individuals interested in learning more should register online for the webinar or contact Bobby King at 507-450-7258 or bking@solarunitedneighbors.org.

To sign up for the co-op or read more about it, visit www.solarunitedneighbors.org/driftless.