Here Comes the Sun: Solar Panels at BCC
One of BCC's values focuses on our desire to reduce our ecological footprint: "We consider the impact of our community decision on the Earth's natural resources."
Despite the (sometimes) slow decision-making in a collaborative community, in this case, the decision to purchase solar panels to be installed on the roof of our building was swift and confident.
That swiftness was due both to its sound fiscal sense and its presentation to the community.
Benefits of solar
Two of our members, Candace and Cornelia, researched and brought the solar panel proposal to the community. The proposal takes advantage of a limited-time Duke Energy program.
A combination of Duke Energy rebates and tax credits added up to a considerable savings on the cost of the panels' purchase and installation.
Additional number-crunching revealed more potential benefits on the panels:
Produces 68% of energy needed for our common areas
Recoups its cost in 7-8 years through reduced energy bills
Reduces the COA's Duke Energy bill by around $4.3K in first 12 months
Total energy savings during the panels' 25-year life span would be around $147K
Conversations with Durham Central Park Cohousing, which also has solar panels, provided much-needed guidance and details.
A lesson in information sharing
Candace and Cornelia enlisted Jen’s help to ensure all this information was shared in a smart, easy-to-understand way.
They drafted a short, attractively designed document breaking down the details of the decision and timelines (the Duke Energy rebate is tied to a deadline).
They also hosted Zoom meetings where they presented the information and fielded questions; for questions that required additional research, they sent follow-up answers.
The access and transparency they provided to the community, their willingness to research and answer all questions, and the sensible presentation of costs and benefits contributed to the positive feeling everyone in the community had about this project.
When it came time for the community to make its decision at the January Plenary meeting, it sailed through with no questions and many thanks.
Where are we now
A contract has been signed with Yes Solar, which will install the panels. The plan is that before the end of 2023, we'll have solar panels on the roof and be on our way to lightening our footprint.
A mock-up from the presentation showing where the solar panels will be installed.