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Solar meeting scheduled

By Staff | Feb 17, 2012

Recently the issue of solar energy has been raised with the Shepherdstown Historic Landmarks Commission and Town Council.

During those discussions, the idea of a community solar co-op was introduced as an alternative to rooftop installations on historic structures.

Over the last several months, members of the Sustainable Shepherdstown Energy Committee have been investigating the feasibility of this idea.

The group sees several reasons for optimism.

First, silicon wafer prices declined by almost 70 percent in 2011. This led to the collapse of Solandra but also much cheaper solar panels.

Second, state and federal tax incentives may lower the costs of solar installations by more than 30 percent.

Third, new financial models are being developed to let investors support a portion of a community solar project – and have been seeing returns on investment of 7 percent in some cases. However, because there are no solar co-ops yet in West Virginia, more work is needed to develop a financial and legal model that makes sense.

To facilitate discussion, the committee has invited Dave Brosch to Shepherdstown on Monday, Feb. 20, 6-7 p.m. at Town Hall. Brosch helped pioneer a community solar co-op in University Park, Md., and can address what worked for them and what didn’t.

Their story provides a compelling case for what Shepherdstown can do.

Shepherdstown is poised to take a leadership role for solar development in West Virginia. All are invited for a conversation about the town’s energy future.

For more information, email sustainable.shepherdstown@gmail.com.