Ocean City Today

County solar co-op meets goal, to begin search for installers

By Brian Gilliland | Aug 04, 2016
Photovoltaic solar panels.

(Aug. 5, 2016) Nineteen people have joined a countywide solar cooperative to get a deal on installation costs, and that is enough for the co-op to begin what is expected to be a month-long search for an installer.

“We’re looking to release the request for proposals in the next week or so,” Corey Ramsden, project manager, said.

Ramsden works for MD Sun, an offshoot of the nonprofit Community Power Network, which specializes in assisting communities in forming solar cooperatives.

Ramsden held two meetings, one in Snow Hill for the southern part of the county, and another in Ocean Pines for the northern side, to explain the process.

Basically, interested parties sign up to be part of the co-op by completing a form found at www.mdsun.org/worcester.

The form asks for information such as the address where solar panels are to be located and a recent utility bill, plus asks users to rank several factors used in selecting a solar installer.

Once the form is submitted, Ramsden said MD Sun would take a look at satellite images of the owner’s property to see if it’s adequate to generate enough power.

Ramsden said the satellite images aren’t always perfect and should a property fail to meet MD Sun’s standards, the party can appeal the decision.

Taking these data in bulk, MD Sun generates a big picture summary of what is, and what isn’t, important to potential solar customers and uses it to identify potential installers, Ramsden said.

That picture is beginning to emerge, Ramsden said, but new data is always welcome.

After the RFP has been delivered to potential contractors, Ramsden said he expected the group to remain open to new members until early October.

The latecomers might not get as strong a say in selecting the eventual installer, but will still be able to realize savings over going it alone, he said.

The whole idea behind a cooperative arrangement is for a large group of potential customers to band together to leverage the best deal on installation costs — the bulk of the customer outlay when deciding to switch from the traditional power grid to an alternative source.

Anyone in Worcester County can elect to be part of the process, or drop out if it’s discovered solar solutions aren’t a good fit.

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