太阳能联合邻居的德州大愿景

作者Dori Wolfe,休斯顿地区太阳合作公寓协调员

现在是德州发展太阳能的最佳时机. I’m proud to be part of an organization that’s making this happen by helping Texans join forces to go solar and fight for their energy rights. Solar United Neighbors of Texas (太阳) does this every day, in a variety of ways.

We help people go solar through our free-to-join solar co-op programs. These groups bring interested members together to bulk purchase solar (joining isn’t a commitment to purchase panels). We work closely with local partners to spread the word about the groups and encourage members to join. We hold free public information sessions and tabling events to ensure co-op members are well informed about solar energy.

Once a solar co-op is large enough, we initiate a competitive bid process on their behalf. Local installers submit bids and a selection committee, composed of co-op members, reviews each bid. The committee chooses the one that best serves the needs of the group; then the installer visits and prepares individualized proposals for each member.

 

太阳能联合邻居的视频剪辑

 

The co-op process usually takes about 6-8 months from launch to final celebration.

太阳在德州待了快三年了. 在这段时间里,我们经营了十家合作社. 最近两次是迄今为止最大的一次. 我们的普莱诺合作社有146名成员. 最近的休斯敦合作公寓(Houston co-op)有291套. 在全国范围内, 孙杨已经45岁了,帮助了6万多名消费者,000 families install more than 50 megawatts (MW) of solar. Here in Texas, we have reached almost 1,500 individuals in the last three years. 我们已经帮助142个家庭安装了超过1个.3兆瓦太阳能.

While the stats are impressive, the stories behind the numbers are even more exciting. Each co-op has a champion who reaches out to neighbors, helps get the word out and leads by example. 其中一个冠军, Andreas Matzakos, organized community meetings with 太阳 and offered tours of his own system. Andreas is now one of our volunteer info-session presenters. 另一个冠军, 卡罗尔·丹森, invited neighbors to her home to share why she was considering going solar. It was a beautiful example of the power of “neighbors” in Solar United Neighbors.

因为我们在这里长大了, 我们加深了我们的关系, 使我们能够帮助更多的德克萨斯人使用太阳能. 今年, in coordination with the anniversary of Houston’s Climate Action Plan, we partnered with the City to launch the Houston Solar Co-op. 在新闻发布会上, Mayor Sylvester Turner discussed the benefits that distributed solar generation provides for our health, 电网弹性与气候. Thanks to the power of the City’s social media networks and local press, 太阳 had to close the co-op early due to record sign-ups!

We’re setting another record with the Houston co-op: the number of solar contracts that include battery storage. Of the first 41 contracts, 27 members have chosen to include battery back-up. People choose to go solar for a variety of reasons: to save money on their utility bills, 减少他们的碳足迹, 而最近, to provide resiliency against extreme weather events like February’s winter storm Uri.

太阳 also has an outstanding help desk and process to help those interested in seeking their own solar bids. This process provides the same education that co-op members receive.

Texas presents an interesting challenge and opportunity for solar. Its deregulated market means most electricity customers choose their own retail energy provider. This can be confusing, whether a homeowner has solar or not. Our goal at 太阳 is to reduce barriers to going solar. We partnered with Texas Power Guide to provide a free analysis to current and prospective solar owners. The analysis looks at past energy usage and the size of the homeowner’s solar array to determine which of the current electricity plans is most beneficial. Our research found that only 3% of Texas solar owners are using the best plan for them. Our tool can help solar owners save hundreds of dollars annually.

While the competitive bid process enables 太阳 to make solar more accessible for all, more support is needed to reach low- and moderate-income (LMI) residents. The City of Plano, for example, has allocated special funds to help advance solar in LMI communities. 作为试点项目, 太阳, together with co-op partners and the selected installer, facilitated the installation of a solar array on a Habitat for Humanity home in Plano. 这只是一个开始,未来还会有更多.

 

太阳能联合邻居的视频剪辑

 

合作庆祝活动结束后,我们的工作还会持续很长时间. We continue to build community around advocating for solar rights for all. 我们支持发展太阳能的立法, 像某人398, the Solar Consumer Protection Act passed last session which ensures solar customers have the information they need to make informed decisions. 它还将禁止市政当局, 除了房主协会委员会, 不合理限制能源自主. These protections are hugely important for the rooftop solar market and will help to bring more jobs and more solar to Texas.

我们反对限制太阳能的努力, such as Pedernales Electric Cooperatives’ recent imposition of unfair fees on solar customers. 在联邦政府层面, we are advocating for 30 million solar homes – an economic stimulus to help combat climate change. 想象一下五年内四分之一的屋顶使用太阳能! Working toward a big vision like this makes it a joy to work with an organization like Solar United Neighbors. http://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/texas/