Gaithersburg Solar Co-Op Forms

Gaithersburg residents now have an opportunity to band together and purchase solar energy as a group. Those who participate in the group, known as a solar co-op, stand to reap substantial savings thanks to their collective power.

“It’s essentially a bulk purchase for solar energy,” said Cory Ramsden, program director for MD Sun, a Maryland-based nonprofit helping to form solar co-ops amongst homeowners in the state. “It’s like anything else; you buy in bulk, you get a discount.”
This is one of 15 solar co-ops launched across the state by MD Sun. To date, hundreds of state residents have joined a co-op, including 34 county residents in the Takoma solar co-op and 63 in the Rockville solar co-op.

Over the summer, existing co-op members selected Elkridge, Maryland, firm Solar Energy World to install panels. Co-op members have the option to purchase panels outright or enter a power purchase agreement, which is essentially a solar panel leasing arrangement.

No matter which option a homeowner selects, MD Sun officials estimate that co-op members save an average of up to 20 percent off the typical cost of each system.

According to Ramsden, specific costs and savings figures differ based on various factors. Joining the co-op does not obligate a participant to any purchase.

“The per-panel cost varies but the overall size of the system is based on the budget and the size of the roof,” Ramsden said. “There’s no obligation when you join. We look at your roof and make sure it’s a good fit. If it’s a good fit, an installer comes and gives you a proposal. That’s when the homeowner says yes or no.”

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