New Cooperative Hopes to Supply Flagstaff, Coconino County |, with a cheaper solar array locally

Employees at GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization in San Diego that offers low-income families no or low-cost solar roof installation, installed a solar panel in a home in 2017.

Howard Lipin, San Diego Union-Tribune / TNS)

A new cooperative in northern Arizona hopes to enable residents and local businesses to install solar panels at reduced costs.

In partnership with the cities of Flagstaff, Sedona, and Coconino Counties, the program is the sixth in the state to be operated by Solar United Neighbors.

The cooperative can join for free and so far has around 120 members. Bret Fanshaw, program director for SUN in Arizona, expects that number will reach nearly 150 by the end of the cooperative in late March.

After that, according to Fanshaw, in his experience about 40% of those who sign up choose to have solar panels installed.

Fanshaw said by organizing local residents and asking a local company to install solar panels in a bulk contract, they can significantly cut the cost of each member.

“It varies by market and cooperative, but on average we see a reduction in the base price for solar cooperative members by about 15%,” said Fanshaw.

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The cooperative will seek suggestions from local solar installers and then decide for itself which company to go through, he said.

In fact, last week a group of around 20 members met through Zoom to decide on the company, even though Fanshaw said he couldn’t reveal the plumber they would like to use because they haven’t signed the contract yet.

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