Saturday, February 24, 2018
Business

Co-ops help homeowners turn purchasing power into solar power

Florida is touted as the Sunshine State yet ranks 14th nationwide for solar power installations.

"New Jersey is number four," quipped Rick Garrity, retired executive director of Hillsborough County's Environmental Protection Commission. "We have to be ahead of New Jersey."

On Monday, Garrity served as emcee for the launch of a project he believes will help Florida one day obtain that No. 1 spot.

From the University of South Florida campus, the nonprofit co-op Florida Solar United Neighborhoods entered the Hillsborough County market.

SAVING WITH SOLAR: New co-ops will help Hillsborough, Pinellas homeowners

Known as FL SUN, the organization will teach Floridians about the benefits of distributed solar energy and help organize group solar installations

Using FL SUN to buy rooftop solar panels cuts consumer costs.

"If you go to a car dealer and say you want to buy one Acura, you will get a set price," Garrity said. "If you want to buy 200, it will be quite different."

Those who have used the co-op to equip their homes have saved an average of 20 percent on top the 30 percent federal tax credit still available for solar panel installation.

To become part of the county co-op, visit www.flsun.or, click on "Go Solar" and choose Hillsborough County. Then sign up and RSVP for one of the three information sessions to be held throughout the county over the next few months.

Once at least 30 residents register, the co-op will seek proposals from vendors, said Angela DeMonbreun, director of FL SUN.

Homeowners will receive individual proposals and then decide if they want to proceed.

"There is no obligation," DeMonbreun said. Nor is there a fee to join the co-op.

While all homes are candidates for rooftop solar panels, some are better than others, said Susan Glickman, Florida director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, a nonprofit that advocates for "responsible energy choices."

For instance, since solar depends on the sun, a home that is nearly all shaded by trees would obviously not work as well as one exposed to the sun.

Older roofs should be checked for durability, Glickman added, and flat ones without a lot of pitches and gables work best.

"A roof should have good spacing for the panels," she said.

The panels can withstand hurricanes, said Bakari Kennedy, director of facilities for Suncoast Credit Union. The credit union has 14 buildings in the state, including one in Riverview, using solar energy.

Hurricane Irma, he said, did not rip one panel from a roof.

Hillsborough is now one of 14 counties in the state to join FL SUN.

This local effort is supported by the Hillsborough County Commission, which voted 7-0 to provide $15,000 in funds to FL SUN for outreach efforts.

"We want to save taxpayer dollars," County Commissioner Pat Kemp said. "Right now, Florida is spending $58 billion a year on fossil fuels that come from out of state. This is a time to invest in our great natural resource."

Brenda Probasco is among the 240 residents of St. Petersburg to join that city's FL SUN co-op since 2016.

When she sought to install 15 solar panels as an individual, the cost was $12,500 for her 1,264-square-foot home. But as a co-op member, the price dropped to $9,600. With the federal tax credit, the total cost was $6,800.

Probasco's electric bill is now around $5.49 a month.

And when Hurricane Irma knocked out power most of her neighborhood's power, Probasco's home turned into ground zero for teenagers — to "charge their cell phones and Game Boys."

Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.

Comments
Activists call for tech companies to drop NRA’s digital TV channel

Activists call for tech companies to drop NRA’s digital TV channel

Activists are calling for Apple, Amazon, Google and other streaming companies to drop the National Rifle Association’s digital TV channel in the wake of the mass shooting at a Florida school last week, putting the companies in the delicate position o...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

Edward Peachey demands severance from CareerSource before stepping down

The head of the Pinellas and Hillsborough career centers under multiple investigations into the way they report job placement figures says he has no intention of stepping down.That’s unless he is paid five months severance.In a letter from his attorn...
Published: 02/23/18
Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

Terminally ill Valrico man dies a month after marrying junior high sweetheart

VALRICO — During his final few days, 19-year-old Dustin Snyder moved to a hospice house, surrounded himself with belongings from home, swam in a pool and visited the beach in Ruskin.Wherever he went, the terminally ill Valrico man had family beside h...
Published: 02/23/18
Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

Tampa Downtown Partnership gets initial city okay to expand north

TAMPA — The Downtowner may be heading to Tampa Heights — but not until Oct. 1.That’s because the nonprofit Tampa Downtown Partnership this week won initial City Council approval to expand into Tampa Heights."Tampa Heights is becoming an important gat...
Published: 02/23/18

Tampa lawyer gets 27 months in federal prison for insider trading

Tampa lawyer Walter "Chet’’ Little was sentenced this week to 27 months in federal prison for engaging in an insider trading scheme that reaped him and a friend profits totaling nearly $1 million.According to federal authorities, Little accessed comp...
Published: 02/23/18
More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steam

More companies are cutting ties with gun lobby as #BoycottNRA movement gains steam

Three major companies — Enterprise Holdings, First National Bank of Omaha, and the cybersecurity giant Symantec — have ended co-branding partnerships with the National Rifle Association as a #BoycottNRA social media movement picks up steam.Enterprise...
Published: 02/23/18
Citi to refund $330 Million to credit card customers it overcharged

Citi to refund $330 Million to credit card customers it overcharged

Citigroup is preparing to issue $330 million in refunds after the bank discovered it had overcharged nearly 2 million credit card customers on their annual interest rates, a spokeswoman said Friday.The bank, which has about 150 million credit card ac...
Published: 02/23/18
Girl Scouts camp sold to member of Tampa’s Lykes family

Girl Scouts camp sold to member of Tampa’s Lykes family

ODESSA — The 63-year-old lakeside summer camp had no air conditioning or electricity. Cabin floors were often covered in grime, and cobwebs clung to the windows.But under new ownership, the 18.6 acres of Florida woods known as Camp Scoutcrest to memb...
Published: 02/23/18
BB&T cites ‘technical issue’ in outage affecting customers

BB&T cites ‘technical issue’ in outage affecting customers

Millions of BB&T customers were unable to access their accounts after a service outage which the bank blames on an equipment malfunction. The Winston-Salem, North Carolina-based bank posted a statement on its Twitter page saying the problem persiste...
Published: 02/23/18
Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

Realtors are ‘every 10 feet’ in Florida but more want in the business

ST. PETERSBURG — Tired of working as a yacht captain, Pancho Jiminez decided to get into real estate even though he knows it’s a highly competitive field in Florida."Realtors are every 10 feet around here," he says.Nonetheless, Jiminez is among 30 st...
Published: 02/23/18