Terry Fuller posing with her solar panels
Terry Fuller posing with her solar panel during the installation process. Photo courtesy of the Allegheny County 2023 Solar and EV Charger Co-op.

Solar energy is becoming increasingly popular among residents of Allegheny County, as more people recognize the pressing need to address climate change. 

To encourage the use of solar power, the nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors (SUN) launched a co-op program in 2019 that residents can join to convert their homes and businesses to solar power and help educate communities on the benefits of solar energy. This year’s co-op includes includes access to electric vehicle chargers and more.

The Allegheny County 2023 Solar and EV Charger Co-op was launched in April to help residents and businesses go solar and make solar energy accessible to people who may not be able to afford it otherwise. 

Joining the co-op is free, and members are not obligated to purchase solar-generated power. Instead, have the option to purchase panels, battery storage or electric vehicle chargers based on the installer’s group rate. Co-op members select a single solar company to complete the installations.

SUN has partnered with several organizations, such as Rebuilding Together Pittsburgh, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Pittsburgh, 350 Pittsburgh, the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) and Group Against Smog & Pollution (GASP) to bring the benefits of solar energy to local communities.

Patrick Campbell, executive director for GASP, says that the co-op will focus on environmental justice communities, which are areas historically impacted by extreme environmental hazards and are often minority and low-income areas. 

“It will help keep people’s dollars in families’ pockets,” says Campbell. “Right now, the costs of everything have gone up, and as for the environment, this will continue to create hyper-local sources of power for individual homes.” 

SUN will host a free information session on Friday, June 23 to educate community members about solar energy and the co-op program. Registration for the co-op will close on Friday, Sept. 1.

Last year, Solar United Neighbors of Pennsylvania helped 46 households in Allegheny County go solar through its co-op program. The organization estimates that the 166 solar co-ops it has assisted represent 1,500 kilowatts of solar power, more than $4 million invested in the regional economy and more than 30 million pounds of lifetime carbon offsets.

“For individual residents, it benefits them because they do not have to spend as much on electricity for their homes,” says Campbell. “For businesses, it’s a good opportunity to make solar more available.

“This all benefits the environment as we’re transitioning away from fossil fuel consumption. It’s one more step in the direction of having an economy that is not dependent upon fossil fuels.” 

Jason PhoxGeneral Assignment Reporter

Jason Phox is a journalist in the Pittsburgh area sharing important information with the people of the Steel City. He enjoys writing, photography, and mostly comic books.