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Polk County launches solar co-op

Posted at 4:16 PM, Sep 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-09-26 18:45:16-04

BARTOW, Fla. — Polk County is now a part of a nationwide movement to switch to solar-powered energy.

Solar United Neighbors of Florida has now launched a Polk branch in order to help residents navigate the confusing world of solar power. And now, they say, is the best time to invest.

“This is the time to do it,” Charlene Bennett said.

Bennett is not a part of the Polk County Co-op but says she wishes it was around when she first decided to go green. Instead, Bennett jumped the gun four years ago and has not looked back since. Her goal, to be a more environmentally friendly person.

“Financial savings is just a nice side benefit,” she said.

And boy is it. Since she installed her $28,000 — 22-panel system — she says she is now saving about 100 dollars per month. By the way, she didn’t have to pay the full $28,000 either. Between rebates, federal kickbacks and energy credits Bennett says she was very lucky to only invest about $3,000 after all was said and done.

Now, she’s reaping the benefits.

“My typical bill is $10.49 a month,” she said.

Surprisingly, solar is nothing new to the world, as it was being used in the early 1950’s but since has come down in price drastically.

“It’s extremely economically feasible at this point and the efficiency is there,” Heaven Campbell with Solar United Neighbors of Florida said. 

The non-profit group says there are about 38 solar co-ops already in Florida. Polk is the newest county to join. 

“So you can kind of band together and navigate that process together,” Campbell said.

Solar United Neighbors is free to join and can help residents save in the process of going solar. The group reports a return on investment in as little as 7-10 years and as much as 15 percent in profits.

Campbell says not only a way to shave back your energy bill, but to make money doing it.

“That is a huge reason people go solar because getting hit with a $300 electric bill in the summer really hurts a lot of people in the pocket,” she said.

On top of the free membership and knowledge, the solar co-op also tries to keep business local by soliciting bids from vendors in your residential area.

“If you want solar you’re going to get it somewhat cheaper than if you go out on your own and buy it as an individual,” Bennett said.

To learn more visit Solar Neighbors United here.