Because of the unprecedented circumstances caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Solar United Neighbors (SUN) has extended the sign-up deadline for its Indiana County Solar Co-op to Aug. 15.

“The co-op has been progressing online during social distancing — with free webinars and video conferencing,” said Henry McKay, Pennsylvania program director for SUN. “We want to make the co-op available to as many people as we can, and now that installations can be done, we’re excited to see the co-op grow even more.”

Solar installations and other construction projects have been allowed to resume in Pennsylvania since May 1, more than six weeks since Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all non-life-sustaining businesses to cease operations.

“The installations generated by the solar co-op will give a much-needed boost to our regional economy as we begin to emerge from this pandemic,” Indiana County Commissioner Sherene Hess said. “And by substantially lowering their energy bills, members of the solar co-op will become more resilient and better able to withstand future crises. I’m thrilled that the Indiana County Solar Co-op is moving forward. I hope that many more Indiana County residents will consider joining the solar co-op soon.”

The co-op is free to join and open to homeowners and business owners in Indiana County. The group currently has 20 members.

Together, co-op members will learn about solar energy and leverage their numbers to obtain a group rate for each member’s solar installation.

SUN has adapted co-op activities due to COVID-19, moving in-person informational events online and having the co-op’s volunteer selection committee meet via Zoom video conferencing to review bids and select a solar installer, Florida Solar Design Group.

SUN has also been communicating closely with the installer and with co-op members to share updates and safety protocols.

According to the governor and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, solar installers in Pennsylvania must adhere to certain health and safety requirements while on the job site, including wearing masks, maintaining six feet of social distancing where possible, and allowing no more than four crew members on site at once.

Individuals interested in the Indiana County Solar Co-op can learn more at the co-op web page, https://coops.solarunitedneighbors.org/coops/indiana-county-solar-co-op/.

Solar installers interested in serving the group can also view updates and submit a proposal at the co-op web page.

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