While Solar United Neighbors of Pennsylvania is just getting started, a group of citizens in Philadelphia have already been hard at work helping each other go solar together and fighting for their energy rights.
The Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op (NPSC) brings solar literacy to area neighbors and organizes households to negotiate lower prices for solar installations through bulk purchasing programs. The NPSC also advocates for a more solar-friendly energy system at the state and local levels. Most recently, they have been urging their members to tell the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission to correctly implement the recent solar border-closing law.
NPSC is a true grassroots community effort. It was founded in 2016 by three local community organizations, the New Economy Incubator Committee of Weavers Way Co-op, the Philadelphia chapter of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light, and The Shalom Center. Unlike in Solar United Neighbors’ solar co-ops, NPSC members each pay a membership fee—$25 for individuals and $100 for institutions and businesses—which funds promotion for the co-op and solar education efforts. Members meet twice monthly and the co-op is governed by an elected co-op board. NPSC organizes rounds of buying groups, which recruit interested homeowners into the co-op, solicit proposals from area solar installers, and track installations for eligible participants.
But the benefit of the co-op goes beyond just helping individuals go solar. Like Solar United Neighbors, NPSC is committed to fostering a community that is educated about solar and energy issues by providing a host of resources, both on their website and via in-person informational sessions. For example, one of the informational resources developed by NPSC is a list of northwest Philly homes and businesses that have already gone solar—aimed at demonstrating that solar is a realistic investment that can be made today.
The group is also working to expand equity and inclusion in the Philly solar market. In their effort to expand solar access to those who cannot afford rooftop solar on their own, NPSC is currently developing a model for peer-to-peer funding of residential solar. This is a part of the nationwide Solar in Your Community Challenge, funded by the US Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.
So far, NPSC has already made a substantial impact. They have helped 27 households go solar, installing 152 kW of generation capacity and preventing over 128 metric tons of C02 equivalent from entering the atmosphere. NPSC is currently gearing up for a third buying group—check back on their website for more information about how to join and upcoming info sessions or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also connect with many of the co-op members on the Solar United Neighbors of Pennsylvania Listerv.
As we continue to grow our Pennsylvania solar army, we look forward to working with our trailblazing partners in Philadelphia!