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Southwest Florida 2023 Solar Co-op one step closer to bringing solar to community

Free community info events March 14 and 15

By Staff | Mar 14, 2023

The Southwest Florida 2023 Solar Co-op has selected Florida Solar Design Group to install solar panels for the 63-member group. Co-op members selected Florida Solar Design Group through a competitive bidding process over seven other firms. The group will hold its next in-person public information sessions March 14 in Fort Myers and March 15 in Sanibel to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

“Florida Solar Design Group is delighted to have been selected for our second Southwest Florida SUN Co-op. Our local and engaged owners are grateful for another opportunity to help a substantial number of people with practical solar energy solutions. There has never been a better time for homeowners and small businesses to embrace their own power potential with solar energy,” said Jason Szumlanski, Principal Solar Designer for the Florida Solar Design Group.

Solar United Neighbors expands access to solar by educating Lee and Collier county residents about the benefits of distributed solar energy, helping them organize group solar installations, and strengthening local solar policies and its community of solar supporters. This co-op, open to businesses and residents in Lee and Collier Counties, is scheduled to close to new members on April 30.

Co-op members selected the local installer Florida Solar Design Group based in Fort Myers because of quality equipment offerings (wind ratings and efficiency), local experience, and price.

“I really enjoyed the experience of being able to select the solar installer,” said Paul Oliver, resident of Naples and member of the 2023 Southwest Florida Solar Co-op. “Solar is a heavy investment, and I wanted to be okay with whatever decision the group came to. The group all shared similar values, so it made the decision quite easy once we were presented with all of the relevant information. Our decision was unanimous.”

The company equipment’s ability to withstand hurricane-force winds was top of mind for committee members in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian’s devastation. As Floridians continue to rebuild and recover from this past hurricane season, rooftop solar is one way that consumers can rebuild more resilient communities and be prepared for the next storm. Solar panels can handle severe weather events and, if the homeowner has battery storage too, solar can keep critical appliances and medical devices up and running.

“Hurricane Ian is a strong reminder of how important energy resilience is to our region and state. Rooftop solar can be a part of the solution. Plus it can save money for homeowners, businesses, cities and nonprofits while keeping our air cleaner. It’s a no brainer!” Bob Moore, Co-Chair of the Sanibel-Captiva Renewable Energy Working Group said when the co-op launched.

The solar co-op is free to join and joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Florida Solar Design Group will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, members can save on the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group members and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors.

Partnering on the co-op are the city of Sanibel, Sanibel-Captiva Islands Chamber of Commerce, Bailey’s General Store, Sanibel-Captiva Renewable Energy Working Group, All Faiths Unitarian Congregation, Committee of the Islands (COTI), Engage Estero (formerly ECCL), Growing Climate Solutions, The Climate Reality Project – Lee County Chapter, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, League of Women Voters Collier County, “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society – Friends of the Refuge, Sierra Club Calusa Group, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greater Naples, and Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

SUN will host several free information sessions to educate community members about solar energy and the co-op. Individuals interested in going solar can sign up for the co-op or one of the upcoming information sessions at solarunitedneighbors.org/swfl.

Information session details:

Southwest Florida 2023 Co-op: Solar 101

Tuesday, March 14

6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. EDT

All Faiths Unitarian Congregation

2756 McGregor Blvd.

Fort Myers, FL 33901

Register here

Southwest Florida 2023 Co-op: Solar 101

Wednesday, March 15

6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. EDT

Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum

3075 Sanibel Captiva Road

Sanibel, FL 33957

Register here

Florida Solar 101

Thursday, April 6

6 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. EDT


Register here

SUN has hosted 78 solar co-ops in Florida since 2015. According to the group’s estimates, the 2,373 homes and businesses that now have solar panels because of co-ops represent: 23.5 thousand kW of solar power, $56 million in local solar spending, and more than 709.8 million pounds of lifetime carbon offsets.

About Solar United Neighbors

Solar United Neighbors is a nonprofit organization that works in Florida and nationwide to represent the needs and interests of solar owners and supporters. Solar co-ops are part of the organization’s mission to create a new energy system with rooftop solar at the cornerstone. Solar United Neighbors holds events and education programs to help people become informed solar consumers, maximize the value of their solar investment, and advocate for fair solar policies.

Source: Solar United Neighbors