Homeowners in Sarasota look to capitalize on solar energy at Solar Co-op Conference

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SARASOTA, FL. (WWSB) - Here in Florida, we get plenty of sunshine and now, there's a new effort by several groups to help homeowners capitalize on it.

Florida is obviously recognized as the Sunshine State, but many residents in Sarasota are now asking why not let the sunshine pay their bills?

"Solar is such a great thing for Florida, it's so appropriate here, it's kind of crazy that we don't have more of it," said Robert Halpern, a homeowner interested in installing solar panels to his home.

That's why the Florida House Institute, the League of Women Voters, and the Florida Solar United Neighborhoods all spoke out Wednesday about a new co-op for residents looking to add solar power to their homes in Sarasota County.

"They can take this in their own hands, they can take their energy usage in their own hands, and then it also leads to energy efficiency in other parts of their home," said Florida Sun State Program Director, Angela Demonbreun.

    

Currently, Florida ranks third in the nation for potential solar installation, but 14th for actual installation.

A number Demonbreun says is unacceptable.

"We want to actually be number one, we're the Sunshine State," she said. "We want the sunshine to help pay our bills."

Brenda Probasco says she only installed her solar panels a few weeks ago but she's already reaping the benefits.

"Each and every day, even on a cloudy day, I just about make as much as I use or more than I use at night," she said.

All residents who live in Sarasota County are eligible to participate in the co-op, and by signing up in a group co-op members would be saving up to 20 percent in costs.

For Halpern, that savings is enough to entice him to learn more.

"Today I just wanted to connect with other people in the community who are interested in solar as well and just pick their brains and make connections," Halpern said.