by: Audrey Asciutto
Since April 18th numerous people across Highlands County have learned about the cost saving advantage of installing rooftop solar panels. Several organizations including the Highlands County Audoboun, the NAACP, Alan Jay, The Print Shop, and Faded Bar & Grill have helped to spread the word.
Highlands County was also unique in that Realtor members of the Heartland Association of Realtors saw a beta version of a presentation by Solar United Neighbors of Florida specially designed for Realtors, appraisers, and home-sellers during their June luncheon. Audrey Asciutto, a local Realtor with Heartland Real Estate Corp. and the local co-op chair, gave what Eve Brock with Land n Lake Realty called a “spunky presentation”. Eve was kicking around the idea of going solar for some time. She came to the presentation with her Brokerage and to also get some more information for her and her own home. She has a wooden framed home with low installation and high energy bills in the summer topping $240 monthly. With those high bills she knows she needs to do something and she is happy that she signed up for the co-op. She needs to re-roof her home but for Eve the presentation was informative and came at a great time when she has been considering going solar. Also, Eve host homeowners and buyer's seminars and she would like to incorporate residential solar into her presentations.
Madge Stewart, President-Elect of the Heartland Association of Realtors, said “I am happy seeing people ban together for a cost-effective way to install solar. Any time that people can join together in a project and make something more affordable is a good thing. I am glad that so many people signed up.” She is looking forward to a future co-op happening in the county and to see the results of the electric bills from the first local install.
As of July 9th, 40 homeowners have submitted a request for proposal, and on July 9th, 2018 the first solar install was started in the Sebring Hills neighborhood.
All in all we would say that this co-op has been a success. Local installer, Dennis Mee with Cornado Solar said “I am excited at the response from the co-op. The first system install is happening and the pipeline is filling with jobs ready to move forward. The county is approving solar permits for the upcoming jobs.” Joe, an installer with Cornado Solar, said “I have seen co-op's across the country featured in magazines. I never thought that we would see one here. I have been working down in South Florida completing installs. It is nice to be working at home for once.”
Job growth in the solar energy field is increasing yearly. Since 2012 job growth in solar careers has risen 16% annually. In Florida, employment in the solar industry rose by 4% in 2017 to employee a total of 8,589 people. Over 3,700 of those people are installers like Joe. Currently most of the jobs are in South Florida, specifally Palm Beach county, but as co-ops become more and more popular and rooftop solar becomes more common let's hope that more of those solar install jobs stay in places like Highlands County.
The co-op comes to a close on July 16, 2018. This is the final chance to sign up for the cost saving benefits. You can join now at:
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Audrey Asciutto, Democrat, for Florida House 55 4 Years ago Reply
Hello, Emily! The benefits of joining the co-op are the cost savings ascpect but it is also the expert and unbiased advice that you get from Solar United Neighbors during the process from sign up to install and even for any questions after the job is through.
Future co-ops would be wonderful. Sign up to be on the Solar United Neighbors of Florida email list and please consider helping to grow the next co-op. It takes a wonderful team of volunteers and community members to get the co-op to grow.
Emily L. 4 Years ago Reply
Are there any other benefits to signing up for the co op or is it primarily just for the cost saving? Also, since this co op comes to a close July 16th, are there any more planned co ops in the future?
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Emily L. 4 Years ago Reply
Thank you so much for the information! I’m very excited to hear about the co op and will sign up to keep informed on future co ops!