First Minnesota solar co-op installation completed in Minneapolis

By Ben Delman on October 3, 2018
Installers lock panels into place on Etkins’ roof.

Minneapolis homeowner Larry Etkin is the proud owner of Minnesota’s first solar system installed with the help of a solar co-op. The 6.3 kW system sits atop Etkin’s asphalt shingle roof. The Minneapolis Solar Co-op’s chosen installer, Solar Farm, completed the system at the end of last month.

“I’ve been interested in the harvesting of solar energy since I first read about the then new-fangled solar thermal water heating systems back in the 1960s,” Etkin said. “I’ve followed the development of solar energy continuously since. Especially since about 2015, when I perceived that costs for installing solar photovoltaic systems had reached the practical level. I’ve tracked my financial situation to try to find a way to afford it. That point was finally reached about a year ago, and I started looking into it seriously.”

More than two dozen Minneapolis homeowners joined the group. The Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association, Whittier Alliance, Environment Minnesota, and the St. Anthony East Neighborhood Association partnered with Solar United Neighbors to sponsor the solar co-op. Solar United Neighbors held a series of well-attended public information sessions to educate participants about solar technology and the process of going solar.

“I’m ecstatic to see Solar United Neighbors making solar power more affordable to my fellow Minneapolitians,” said Timothy Schaefer of Environment Minnesota. “With its first two installations under way, the Minneapolis Solar Co-op is clearly already a big success. Environment Minnesota has been proud to support Solar United Neighbors’ efforts and will continue to do so. We believe these new solar users will become solar activists that bring Minnesota a 100% renewable future.”

Minnesota Solar Co-op participants worked together to learn about solar technology and the process of going solar. They worked with Solar United Neighbors to submit a request for proposals from area installers. A selection committee made up entirely of solar co-op participants reviewed each bid and selected the installer that best fit the needs of the group.

“I’m glad I worked with the co-op because I both saved a couple of thousand over what I’d expected and budgeted for, and got my installation completed sooner than if I gone with my previous independent bid, based on the timelines and waiting list that original vendor was projecting.”