Solar panels

File photo of solar panel installation in Arlington, Ariz.

An organization known by the acronym SUN has announced the formation of a tri-state solar co-op.

Solar United Neighbors announced the start of the Ohio Valley Solar and EV Charger Co-op, which encompasses the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia and surrounding counties in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The co-op's objective is to spread word of the benefits of solar to families across the region.

Joining the co-op is free and there is no commitment to purchase solar. ​​SUN strives to facilitate a competitive bidding process, whereby co-op members will select one solar company to complete the installations.

SUN, a nonprofit, is a vendor-neutral information source. Members can individually purchase panels and electric vehicle chargers based on the selected installer’s bid.

“High energy costs and energy burden impact families across our region,” Leah Barbor, SUN's West Virginia program director, said in a statement. “The solar co-op is our opportunity to have a choice about where our energy comes from.”

Washington-based Center For Coalfield Justice is among the partners hosting co-op, as is Physicians For Social Responsibility Pennsylvania.

“Joining the co-op is an alternative to the status quo," said Monica Carey, SUN's Pennsylvania program director. "It allows residents to go solar and save. We want to build a new energy system with rooftop solar at the cornerstone.”

“Historically, fossil fuel infrastructure has harmed impacted community members and their environments," said Linnea Bond, health educator and campaign coordinator for Pennsylvania physicians group. "We are now beginning to experience symptoms of global warming.

"Fortunately, organizations like SUN are helping families move away from dependence on fossil fuels to more sustaining sources of energy that lower their bills and support the health of communities.”

SUN said in a news release that it has completed nearly 400 solar co-ops across the nation, and estimated that 8,290 homes and businesses statewide now have solar panels because of these co-ops.

The organization will host several free information sessions for community members about solar energy and the co-op. Individuals interested in going solar can sign up for the co-op or an information session at

Three sessions are scheduled, including one in Peters Township on July 6, from 1 to 2 p.m., at St. David’s Episcopal Church, 905 E. McMurray Road, Venetia.

The other sessions will be at Morgantown (W.Va.) Public Library, Meeting Room A, 373 Spruce St. They are scheduled for 1 p.m. June 24 and 1 p.m. July 22.

Staff Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won seven individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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