A new Lorain County co-op is looking to hook up Earth-conscious residents
Carl McDaniel wants Lorain County residents to bask in the sunshine. The Oberlin College environmental studies professor helped found the Oberlin Peoples Energy Coalition in an effort to rally community support for solar energy, which uses roof-mounted panels to capture the sun's rays and convert them into enough electricity to run a home. In January, the energy coalition and solar energy nonprofit OH Sun formed the Lorain County Solar Co-op, which will make the purchase and installation of solar panels easier. McDaniel, who installed his own solar panel system in 2006, fills us in on the details.
Savings Bond: This month, OH Sun will begin to solicit proposals from independent installers for co-op members to choose from. The process will save 15 to 20 percent per installation on systems that can cost as much as $25,000. OH Sun also handles government regulations. "People have done all that work for you," McDaniel says. "They're probably not going to make as many mistakes as you would make."
Global Wealth: Homeowners generate their own electricity but are still connected to the power company grid as a sort of backup battery. They can also sell extra kilowatt-hours their system creates to the providers. "You're making your own energy," McDaniel says. "You bought the power plant." OH Sun estimates that it takes between 12 and 13 years for the panels to pay for themselves.
Positive Currents: McDaniel says there's no way to have zero environmental impact but installing panels lessens a household's carbon footprint. He estimates that fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas make up 70 percent of power generation for FirstEnergy. "You are pulling away from the destructive environmental processes to get electricity to your house," McDaniel says of going solar. "You're using a clean fuel."