A nonprofit group is partnering with a local group for a second Iron Range Solar Co-op, a news release said this week. The group is aimed at helping homeowners, farmers and small businesses on the Range go solar for more affordable rates by purchasing together.

The first of two meetings to build membership is 6 p.m. Wednesday in Virginia at Hope Community Presbyterian Church, 212 S. Fifth Ave. The nonprofit group Solar United Neighbors is organizing the co-op along with the Iron Range Partnership for Sustainability.

“The solar co-op really simplified the process of understanding solar options and choosing a solar installer," said Keith Peterson, of Britt, a board member for the partnership behind the first solar co-op on the Iron Range in 2019. “I was able to join with neighbors to use our buying power to get the best price on solar.”

A second community meeting is 6 p.m. Aug. 11 at the YMCA in Grand Rapids. Both meetings will begin at 6 p.m. for registration, with programming from 6:30-8 p.m.

The co-op is free to join and open to homeowners, farmers and business owners on the Range, the partnership's news release said.

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"Together, co-op members will learn about solar energy and leverage their numbers to purchase individual solar systems at a competitive price and top quality," the partnership said.

After a competitive bidding process facilitated by SUN, which remains vendor neutral, co-op members will select a single solar company to complete the installations. Joining the co-op does not obligate members to purchase solar. Instead, members will have the option to individually purchase panels and electric vehicle chargers based on the installer’s group rate.

“The co-op will enable homeowners and business owners on the Range to join the growing community of people saving money by harnessing solar power,” said Bobby King, Minnesota state director for Solar United Neighbors. “Together, we’re building a movement to transform our electricity system into one that is cleaner, fairer, and shares its benefits more broadly.”

SUN has hosted 14 solar co-ops in Minnesota since 2017, including the past Range Solar Co-op. the group estimates that 128 homes and businesses now have solar panels because of co-ops, which represent 128 kilowatts of solar power, $3 million in local solar spending, and more than 34.8 million pounds of lifetime carbon offsets.

To RSVP and learn more about the Range Solar Co-op, go to solarunitedneighbors.org/rangesolarcoop, or call 612-293-7267‬.‬