About Solar United Neighbors of Florida
As the Sunshine State, Florida has always celebrated the sun. Now, we’re harnessing its power to generate our own power, lower our bills, and make our energy system stronger. We’re bringing solar to the Sunshine State!
In 2015, Florida resident Mary Dipboye heard the story of how Anya Schoolman had started the first solar co-op for Washington, D.C. homeowners on her local NPR station, WMFE 90. She had a “driveway moment”. That same year, Mary went on to start two solar co-ops in the Orlando Florida area in partnership with Anya and Michael Cohen. The success of the two co-ops led to the creation of a Florida program in 2016.
We envision a clean, equitable energy system that directs control and benefits back to local communities, with solar on every roof and money in every pocket.
We’re a community of people building a new energy system and rooftop solar is the cornerstone. We help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights.
Our statewide partners
Our co-op partners
We also work with amazing partners across the state to spread the word on co-ops. Our partner organizations range from nonprofits to municipal governments, universities to community organizations, and individual “super volunteers” to houses of worship.
Some of our awesome co-op partners in Florida over the last few years have included:
Florida advisory board
Our Florida advisory board provides strategic guidance to our work. Members do not have fiduciary oversight but provide strategic direction to the program. They are members of successful solar co-ops, solar champions, and leaders in the community.
|Chris Castro||Chris Castro is an eco-entrepreneur, community organizer and sustainability professional with a passion for accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy. Over the last 10 years, Chris has consulted for governments, academia, business chambers, companies, nonprofits and communities to implement sustainability projects that include smart cities, solar energy development, building efficiency, electric vehicles, local food systems, water quality, ecological restorations, and more. He’s currently the director of sustainability for Mayor Buddy Dyer and the City of Orlando. In that role, Chris works to develop cross-sector policies, programs, and initiatives that support the sustainability, energy, and climate-related goals of the “Green Works Orlando” municipal and community action plans.|
|Michael Cohen||Michael Cohen co-founded Central Florida Solar Advocates in 2015. That group successfully launched the first two solar co-ops in Orange County enabling 90 new solar installations. It was so exciting that calls came in from all over the state to create additional co-ops. This was more than two volunteers could handle. Together with their DC partner, Community Power Network and The League of Women Voters of Florida, the group has raised money to take the effort statewide via Solar United Neighbors of Florida.Michael is a Pittsburgh native, but has lived in Orlando for 30 years. He is a marketing professional with experience in restaurants, hotels, and real estate.|
||In 2015, Mary Dipboye heard the story of how Anya Schoolman had started the first solar co-op for Washington, D.C. homeowners on her local NPR station, WMFE 90. She had a “driveway moment”. That same year, Mary went on to start two solar co-ops in the Orlando Florida area in partnership with Anya and Michael Cohen.
The success of the two co-ops led Mary to encourage the creation of a statewide program in Florida in 2016. Now, as a member of the Solar United Neighbors of Florida Advisory Board, Mary works with the Florida League of Women Voters and the organization to assist local groups around the state as they prepare to launch solar co-ops in their communities.
||Deirdre Macnab served as president of the Florida League of Women Voters for six years and is currently Chair of the League’s renewable energy campaign: Lets Make Florida #1 in Solar. A co-founder of FL SUN, she helped engineer the partnership between Community Power Network and the Florida League of Women Voters.
Appointed by Florida’s two senators, Macnab serves on Florida’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission. She has been recognized by the Orlando Sentinel as the Most Influential Central Floridian of the Year, by the State Commission on Women as a Florida Woman of Achievement, and was the first non-Latina to win La Prensa newspaper’s Woman of Distinction. Former business/non-profit experience includes Dun & Bradstreet, founding her own direct marketing company, and election to the Nashville Board of Education. She has an MBA from Columbia University and a BA from New York University.
Dr. Richard Garrity
Dr. Rick Garrity recently retired as Executive Director of the Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County and had held this position since the year 2000. He was responsible for the overall direction of the agency, which staffs more than 130 scientists, engineers and attorneys with the mission of protection of the natural resources, environment, and quality of life in Hillsborough County.
Prior to working at EPC, Dr. Garrity was Director of District Management for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Southwest District office in Tampa serving under four gubernatorial administrations.
|Martin Taylor is a sustainable and renewable energy enthusiast and activist. He serves as a trusted advisor on residential solar for members in the community. He focuses on providing financial education. He has also given testimony based on his personal investment in solar, batteries, and electric vehicles.
Martin began as a solar advocate while serving in the Air Force in Northwest Florida. He was a member of the Okaloosa-Walton County Co-op Selection Committee in 2018. He provided resources to establish the Escambia-Santa Rosa County Co-op in 2019.