In Cleveland, OH, the nonprofit Cleveland Owns is incubating the state's first community-owned solar developer, Cleveland Solar Cooperative, which was the subject of a recent case study funded by the Climate Advocacy Lab.
Residents came together in 2019 around a common sense of anger and frustration at local inaction to address the climate crisis. Through a program of relational organizing and strategic planning - inspired by People Power Solar Cooperative in Oakland, California - this group decided community ownership was the most direct path Energy Democracy, or community control of our energy system. They wrote a business plan and, with pro bono support from People Power and Cleveland's Legal Aid, wrote bylaws to govern the cooperative. Today, Cleveland Solar Cooperative has 35 member-owners, an active board of five, and a new Energy Democracy Organizer starting soon. They have a signed Letter of Intent with a nonprofit host for their first project, a 91-kilowatt rooftop array that would be Ohio's first community-owned array. Their work now is to grow to 200 member owners and raise $200,000 from members to hire an installer to complete the array.
On the call, organizers shared lessons learned, their motivations to keep at this work, and best practices for groups around the country working to build community-owned solar arrays. The insights shared in this webinar will inform advocates working to start community-owned solar projects, provide practical tips for groups building relationships with the goal of taking action for climate justice, and introduce attendees to a national network of organizations that support projects like this around the country.