If there’s one thing that the Sunshine State has in abundance, it’s…well…sun. That’s one of the reasons that, in 2016, Solar United Neighbors of Florida formed to help residents harness the power of the sun to generate their own electricity, save money, and build a strong community of solar supporters. Director Angela DeMonbreun has been with the organization since its inception and has made great strides in helping the state get a little brighter. “I have always been involved with community outreach, education, and advocacy,” says Angela, “so when I saw the opportunity to share the sunniest news in Florida, I jumped at the chance to lead this amazing state program.”
There has been a lot of buzz lately about solar energy and the benefits it can provide to its users, so Solar United Neighbors is there not only to advocate for solar energy-beneficial legislation in Tallahassee but to give information to individuals about resources, what solar can accomplish, and how they can get started on the path to going solar.
The primary way that they accomplish this is by organizing solar co-ops, one of which recently came to St. Johns County. “Our solar co-ops,” says Angela, “are groups of neighbors and community members who come together to go solar on their homes and businesses with the technical support of Solar United Neighbors. To date, our solar co-ops have taken more than 2,500 individuals solar.” 53 of those households are St. Johns County residents – collectively saving $225,000 and offsetting 24,856,000 pounds of CO2 over the lifetime of their systems.
Those are pretty big numbers for the local households, a lot of money and energy saved for residents who decided to take the leap. They’re pretty high numbers whoever you are and the stats on solar energy in general are just as impressive. “A solar photovoltaic system (PV) is typically guaranteed for 25 years,” says Angela. “Think of all the electric bill savings over that 25-year period. Along with the resulting electric bill savings, local wealth creation, and public health benefits by creating clean energy, solar creates lots of state and local solar jobs.”
Even though the St. Johns County solar co-op has since passed, locals are still able to utilize the resources of Solar United and, if enough interest is shown, the organization will bring another solar co-op to the area. So it might just be the time for us to bask in the sun and take a step forward for clean energy.