Introducing Solar United Neighbors

By Anya Schoolman on September 29, 2017
Walter and Diego on roof-min
Walter and Diego stand on a roof about to get solar installed.

“Mom, can we go solar?”

When my son Walter asked me this question a decade ago, I would have no idea where it would lead, or what I was getting myself into. He and his friend Diego (both 12 years old at the time) had just seen the movie “An Inconvenient Truth” and wanted to take action. So, we looked into go going solar at our Washington, D.C. home. At the time, going solar was a complex and expensive process. About ready to throw my hands up, I said to the boys: “If we’re going to go solar, we might as well do our whole neighborhood.” Sure enough, they canvased the neighborhood and signed up 50 neighbors who expressed interest.

This is how the Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative got its start. We worked with our community for two years to get solar installed. It wasn’t enough to learn about the technology and financing of solar. We also had to fight for policies that ensured our solar rights. Our community’s success in these fights has made D.C. one of the best markets in the country for solar. This community formed DC SUN (D.C. Solar United Neighborhoods).

Anya Schoolman displays a Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative sign in 2007.
Anya Schoolman displays a Mt. Pleasant Solar Cooperative sign in 2007.

As it turned out, the idea of going solar together is really popular. We’ve worked with communities in Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio, and Florida to create similar efforts under the umbrella of Community Power Network.

Today that changes. We are proud to launch Solar United Neighbors.

The name Solar United Neighbors is a perfect reflection of who we are and what we stand for. 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 help people go solar, join together, and fight for their energy rights.

This rebranding is just one change. Our work is spreading to Minnesota, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. We look forward to engaging with these communities soon.

Solar homeowners celebrate their new installation.

We are expanding the ways we help people go solar in addition to expanding geographically. Our new membership program will give people more choices to get help going solar with us. It will allow us to help solar homeowners through the lifetime of their systems. But most importantly, it will enable solar homeowners to form a powerful community to support solar.

The most valuable thing we’ve learned by helping more than 2,300 homes go solar is the need to build a community to be successful. We can empower everyone to take control of where their electricity comes from and make solar accessible for everyone. Doing so will make us wealthier, healthier, and more secure. By working together, we can ensure the answer to the question: “Can we go solar?” is always: “Yes!”