Here comes the SUN: Minnesota signs up for solar army

The revolution may not be televised, but it is running on sunshine.

Last week, Solar United Neighbors (SUN), an organization that’s building a solar homeowner coalition across eight states and the District of Columbia, added another state – Minnesota – to its growing list of states committed to driving solar energy deployment in the Solar Century.

The latest SUN co-op is in the Minneapolis suburb of Uptown, co-sponsored by the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association (LHENA) and Solar United Neighbors. The group hope to get the commitments of more members to the co-op at its November 30 informational meeting.

As with other SUN co-ops, the participants will decide which solar company will land all the installations, which allows the installer to offer a group discount on each individual job. What makes SUN different from other group-solar purchasing organizations is that its work is not done once the solar is installed. Instead, it maintains long-term contact with its members to keep them informed of policy debates going on in the states where they operate.

At a time when major policy decisions have devolved to the states, the importance of such statewide coalitions are hard to underestimate. Motivated solar homeowners – an army, if you will – could be an effective counterbalance to the myriad opposing forces seeking to slow or halt solar’s progress.

Understanding that people have more investment in a cause when there’s money involved, SUN has a paid-membership program. While members will still have the option of joining a co-op (in line with SUN’s long history of co-op development) for free, people can also choose to pay $85 to join as individuals. No matter which group they are part of, members get support as they move through the installation process as well as future support in monitoring, maintenance, performance and the latest technologies and incentives.

SUN currently operates in the states of Florida, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia and has a list of nearly 30,000 committed solar homeowners already. As it expands to other states, it expects those numbers to continue to grow.