A group of Indianapolis residents has formed the first solar cooperative in the city. The Indiana chapter of nonprofit Solar United Neighbors will allow members to purchase and install solar panels using a single installer at a group rate. SUN Indiana Program Director Zach Schalk says the organization is focused on building a solar movement in Indiana by fighting for better solar policies.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Schalk said he hopes to expand the number of homes and businesses with rooftop solar.

"If you look across the state, solar has been expanding over the last decade as prices have gone down exponentially, over 90 percent in the last 10 years alone," said Schalk. "But here in central Indiana, there really hasn’t been as much activity as there has north and south of us, so we’re really hoping to lower the barriers to entry and get more Hoosiers here in Indianapolis to go solar."

Nationwide, Solar United Neighbors says it has supported nearly 200 solar co-ops help more than 3,600 homes and small businesses install solar energy systems. The organization says the efforts have invested $73 million into local economies over the past 10 years.

Schalk says the nonprofit will next month kick off a series of public meetings designed to educate residents about the solar co-op process, as well as solar technology and how the finances surrounding it work. 

"Through this process, we’re growing our solar co-op as big as possible, getting as many homeowners (and) business owners into the group, folks who are interested in going solar," said Schalk. "The benefit of the solar co-op is they get to leverage their bulk purchasing power."

Solar United Neighbors of Indiana is the 12th state program for the nonprofit. You can learn more about the effort by clicking here.