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Hillsborough Gets New Solar Co-Op

Pat Kemp
Steve Newborn
WUSF Public Media
County Commissioner Pat Kemp speaks at the kickoff event at Joe Chillura Park

Hillsborough County kickstarted its third solar co-op Thursday. It uses the power of bulk purchasing to leverage the cost of installing solar panels and electrical connections through competitive bidding.

County Commissioner Pat Kemp helped kick off the co-op during a rally at a downtown Tampa park.

"It used to be that people would hear you would lose jobs, it would cost all kinds of money. You couldn't do this, you couldn't do that, it's impossible to address," she said. "But that's not true anymore. We don't actually have to make the environmental argument. The argument that we can make is it's just plain saving you money."

Kemp said there's a lot of pent-up demand for people to generate their own electricity.

"Why in the world in the state of Florida are we spending $58 billion - with a "b" - out of state on fossil fuels when we have our own power plant that we can just resource and we can do it economically, with ease," she said.

Organizers say the price of solar panels have come down 65% over the past five years. Tax credits are available, and they estimate another 20% savings through the co-op.

A set price is given by the bidding installer to the cooperative, with adjustments depending on each house. They limit the sign-up period to three months, and each co-op is capped at about 200 people.

Here's a list of upcoming information sessions:

Tuesday, May 7
6 p.m.
Town ‘N Country Regional Public Library
7606 Paula Dr #120
Tampa, FL 33615
Click here to RSVP

Thursday, June 6
6 p.m.
Jan Kaminis Platt Regional Library
3910 S Manhattan Ave
Tampa, FL 33611
Click here to RSVP

Tuesday, June 25
6 p.m.
New Tampa Regional Library
10001 Cross Creek Blvd
Tampa, FL 33647
Click here to RSVP

Tuesday, July 16
6 p.m.
Seffner – Mango Branch Library
410 N. Kingsway Rd.
Seffner, Florida 33584
Click here to RSVP

Steve Newborn is a WUSF reporter and producer at WUSF covering environmental issues and politics in the Tampa Bay area.
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