Frederick County Solar Co-op

MD SUN and GHC logo together
Possible Solar Co-op Photo 1In 2016 and 2017, Frederick County Office of Sustainability and Environmental Resources (OSER) and Maryland Solar United Neighbors (MD-SUN), a state project of the Community Power Network, teamed up to create the Frederick County Solar Co-Op.

The Co-op closed to new members on May 31, 2017 but thanks to the coordinating and implementation efforts of MD SUN, 169 households learned about the benefits and options for installing solar photovoltaic panels (PV). Thirty households  took advantage of the approximate 20 percent discount available through our bulk-purchasing co-op. Together, these households will install 272 kW of solar power capacity which will generate 340,093 kWh of electricity per year. How does this help? Each year, these solar arrays will prevent 127 tons of coal from being burned eliminating 239 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Now that is something to cheer about!

Learn more about Solar Co-ops below, at the MD SUN website, or check out the following news stories:


What is a solar co-op?

A co-op is when a group of neighbors work with community partners to install solar electric systems together. By using the bulk buying power of the group, each participant saves on the cost of his system.

The group will go through the process of purchasing solar electric systems together. Through a competitive bidding process, the co-op will select a single contractor to install systems on all of the homes. Each participant owns their own system and will sign their own contract with the installer.

Who are Community Power Network and MD SUN?

Community Power Network is a DC-based nonprofit that helps communities go solar. We got started in 2007 when a group of Mt. Pleasant neighbors got together and formed the Mt. Pleasant Solar Co-op to go solar as a group. Since then we’ve been organizing neighborhood solar co-ops, doing policy advocacy, and helping other groups get started around the country. Our goal is to help all communities in the country harness the benefits of renewables! We have lots of technical experience with solar in the region and currently run state programs in DC, MD, VA, FL, OH, and WV.

MD SUN is a state project of Community Power Network dedicated to educating residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, helping them organize group installations, and strengthening Maryland’s solar policies and its community of solar supporters.

Why should we participate in a solar co-op?

Going solar as a group has many advantages:

  • Forming a group with community members allows you to pool your bulk purchasing power and leverage a competitive bidding process to receive the best possible price and installation terms that best fit your group’s needs.
  • By grouping participants in a particular area together, the installers have less travel time and fewer costs, resulting in a better price for the group.
  • Understanding all of the details of solar and solar financing can be confusing. Through the group process, you can get your questions answered and feel confident that you’re getting a good deal and a quality solar system.
  • MD SUN has a lot of experience helping people in Maryland go solar. We also aren’t affiliated with any specific installers. Our role is to serve as a consumer advocate, so we make sure that you get the best deal possible.

How does a co-op purchase work?

Learn about solar, join the co-op, and spread the word

The first step is to attend an info session and learn more about the co-op. At the meeting MD SUN will explain how solar works and answer any questions you might have.

Those who are interested in moving forward then sign up to join the co-op via an online form. This signals your interest in going solar, but is not a binding commitment to participate in the solar co-op. In this first phase, the goal is to recruit at least 25 co-op members. Tell your friends, neighbors, and community about the co-op. The larger the group, the more installers are likely to bid. This helps the co-op get the best value and lowest price for solar.

Get a Roof Review

Once you sign up via the online form, MD SUN does a preliminary screening of your roof via Google Earth. This is to see if you have any shading from trees or other structures, the size and shape of your roof, and its orientation towards or away from the path of the sun. If your home isn’t a good fit for solar, MD SUN will let you know.

Solicit bids and select and installer

Once the group has recruited about 25 participants, MD SUN will issue a request for proposal (RFP) to area installers on behalf of the co-op. The co-op will then form a Selection Committee to review the bids and select a single installer to complete all of the projects. 

Get individualized proposals and sign contracts

Once selected, the chosen installer reaches out to all participants to schedule a home visit. That installer will meet with each participant in order to provide an individualized proposal that lists the size and cost of a solar system for your specific house (the cost will reflect the group discount). If you decide to move forward, you then sign an individual contract with the installer to have the system installed.

Systems installed

Once you’ve signed your contract with the installer, they will begin filing the permitting and interconnection paperwork with the government and the utility. After the paperwork is approved, the installer can begin installing the panels on your roof. Installation typically only takes a few days!


Once the co-op members have had their systems installed we will celebrate with a party!