After installing solar panels at her Cluster Springs bed and breakfast a few years back, Pickett Craddock is ready to expand her solar array- and help her friends and neighbors go solar too.
When faced with rising energy costs at Oak Grove Plantation, built in 1820, Craddock originally intended to install a geothermal heat pump but wanted something more tangible for her guests to see and touch. “I wanted people to feel what it was like to go solar,” she said.
Her 16-panel, ground-mounted solar array (measuring 3.9 kilowatts) has cut her electricity costs and given her guests the opportunity to learn how solar energy works. Visitors are able to see the panels close up and ask questions about how it functions.
As Craddock seeks to expand this system, she hopes that working together with other members of a co-op will make the process easier and cheaper. “I would like to triple the size of my system and make it cheaper and easier for the rest of Halifax County to benefit from solar energy,” she says.
So, she has teamed up with nonprofit Community Power Network to help launch the Halifax County Solar Co-op. The co-op is a bulk purchase program where a group of neighbors go solar together, reducing system costs and making it it easier to go solar. By going solar as a group the participants get economies of scale and reduce system prices by as much 30%. A group of interested residents met at herr inn last month. Anyone resident or business in Halifax County is welcome to join the co-op, which will launch this fall.
The Halifax County Solar Co-op page can be found at http://www.vasun.org/halifax-county-solar-co-op