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Solar co-op heads for Northland

Solar United Neighbors has three active co-ops in Minnesota.

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Keith Peterson of Britt, Minnesota is a member of the Iron Range Solar Co-op. He installed these solar panels on his garage about three years ago. “It took all of the hard work off my shoulders,” he said of the co-op. (Submitted by Keith Peterson)
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A solar co-op is coming to the Northland.

Solar United Neighbors, a nonprofit that helps communities go solar together, is hosting a webinar at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday for folks in Duluth and surrounding St. Louis, Lake, Cook, Carlton and Pine counties.

The free webinar will cover the basics of solar systems; cost and financing options; and the cost savings of going solar.

How it works: You can join the solar co-op for free, and the nonprofit looks at different companies and works on bids from solar installers. They present their findings to the co-op, which selects one to hire as a group.

Keith Peterson, of Britt, Minnesota, heard about solar co-ops about three years ago, when he was looking into building his home.

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“It took all of the hard work off my shoulders," he said. "You’re able to go through it in a transparent fashion with a coach or an expert, who is helping you understand the lingo and subtle differences between the different bids."

Peterson served on his co-op’s committee to review the bids. When an installer is selected, there are no obligations. From there, the installer does a site visit to ensure the space will work for solar.

Peterson built his house in October 2019 with solar panels on his garage and some on the ground. He needs to brush them off when it snows, but most of the year, there’s not much to maintain.

He’s happy with them and is close to breaking even without having to pay for electricity each year, he said.

“For us, it made sense economically and environmentally," Peterson said.

In Duluth, the solar co-op is partnering with One Roof Community Housing and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light. As of Friday, the Duluth and Arrowhead Solar Co-op has 12 of its 50-member goal.

Since 2007, Solar United has helped launch 240 co-ops and 5,225 homes, farms and businesses in 12 states including Arizona, California and more.

There are three active co-ops in Minnesota.

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For more information, go to solarunitedneighbors.org/duluth .

If you go

What: Solar co-op info session about solar energy, the technology, financing, economics and the benefits of joining a solar co-op. Live presentation followed by a question-and-answer session.

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Register: bit.ly/3o3MIBs

More info: bit.ly/2KAfHiQ

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