Who we are & why we’ve formed a co-op
Three organizations in Northwest Philadelphia have banded together to bring solar energy to Northwest Philadelphia by forming a solar energy co-op. We invite all individuals, businesses, and neighborhood institutions in Northwest Philadelphia to join. We call ourselves the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op (NPSC – pronounced napsack).
Membership in the co-op will enable building owners in northwest Philadelphia to negotiate a lower price for solar installation as a group than if they had done so individually. The co-op will begin to form buyer groups during the fall of 2016, planning for installation to occur by spring 2017.
Why a co-op?
This is why we want to form a solar co-op, and not just a buyers club to gain a price advantage of buying in bulk, and why, even if you are not a candidate for solarizing, we invite you to consider joining and supporting the co-op’s broader goals. The International Co-operative Alliance defines a co-op as
an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”.
In keeping with this definition, we will advocate for changes in Pennsylvania’s regulations that will enable the production and sharing of clean, renewable energy, eventually by our co-op, and other groups committed to developing renewable sources. We will push for clean energy training and jobs to be developed in impoverished neighborhoods. Members who are not able to solarize might choose to invest in a fund that will enable people with low incomes to solarize, and those members who are able to solarize might wish to contribute some of their energy savings to advance the co-op’s goals.
The impact of increased solar …
Aside from saving money, there are other good reasons for supporting the increasing use of clean, renewable energy supplied by the sun:
- It will decrease emission of CO2 into the Earth’s atmosphere, help slow down the climate crisis, and reduce diseases, such as asthma, caused by air pollution.
- Training and jobs for the new clean energy industry can be developed in neighborhoods with few jobs.
- Increased use of solar power will reduce the market and political power of the fossil fuel and nuclear industry, and increase the power of the clean energy industry.
We will develop a political base rooted in our community that will support changes in local, state, and national energy policy, which aim toward justice for people and the planet. The co-op will promote the ethical, moral, and religious standards for protecting the environment that we value.
Join the Co-op Now!
The individual membership fee is $25. Institutions and businesses can join for $100. Membership fees will be used to promote the initiative and to educate neighbors about solar energy. The organization will be governed in keeping with the principles of the International Co-operative Alliance.
Download our fact sheet:
Not for Everybody
Solar PV (photo-voltaic) panels work most efficiently on a south-facing or flat roof that is in good repair and has little to no shade. The solar installation company hired by the group will conduct an on-site inspection to verify that installation is practical. A home, store, religious community building, or other facility that meets the criteria for solar PV installation can save a substantial amount of money in electric bills over time. Estimates range from 10% to 30%, depending on how much sun reaches the rooftop.
Not every rooftop or person is a candidate for a solar PV system. For example, the roof may not be properly oriented, there may be too much shade caused by nearby taller buildings or trees (and we do love our trees), an apartment dweller cannot solarize as an individual, a rooftop may be too small for the necessary number of panels. Many of these disadvantages can be overcome if federal and state laws are favorable to developing solar power. For example, a tall, large building might produce enough energy to share with a nearby block of row homes. In Pennsylvania, at this time, this is not legal. And for many of us, even with federal a tax credit of 30%, and payback from lower utility bills over time, the initial cost of installation is just too high.