What is Cleveland Solar Cooperative? 

Cleveland Solar Cooperative is a multi-racial, multi-class cooperative business that finances solar projects. It allows local residents with as little as $50 make an investment in solar, joining with fellow community members to envision, develop, and own the project. CSC promotes an energy system built, guided, and owned by those who use it.

What is a cooperative?

A cooperative is a business that’s owned and operated by the people who use its goods and services. It’s governed democratically. Unlike a typical corporation, the primary goal of a cooperative isn’t simply to generate profit for shareholders. Instead, its goal is to provide benefits and services to its members. In the case of a solar cooperative, these benefits might be financial (member dividends), environmental (cleaner energy), educational (workshops), or communal (connections with neighbors). 

How does CSC make money?

CSC makes money when subscribers (aka, 'hosts') buy the power we generate with the panels we own. We use that money to cover our expenses. Investments from Member Owners are our primary source of funding.

Here's a handy graphic that provides a brief overview of our financing model for solar projects:

Who is eligible to join CSC?

Anyone who is an Ohio resident can join Cleveland Solar Cooperative.

How do I join CSC?

It's easy to become a member of the Cleveland Solar Cooperative! All you have to do is:

  • Live in Ohio

  • Pay a one-time membership fee of $20 

  • Complete a Member Owner agreement

Click here to begin the process. If you have further questions about membership, reach out to us at info@clevelandsolar.org

What does it mean to be a Member Owner of CSC?

When you become a member of CSC, you’ll join a growing network of Cleveland-area residents dedicated to locally grown sustainability solutions. This means you will be able to:

  • Invest in our solar projects

  • Partner with us to become a host for a solar project

  • Start your own Project Group

  • Vote in CSC decisions and board elections

  • Run for our Board of Directors

Most importantly, you get to have ownership over generation capacity in Cleveland. You and other Member Owners get to decide how and where to generate safe, clean electricity.

Visit our Get Involved page or email us at info@clevelandsolar.org to get started on becoming a Member Owner today.

How does CSC center marginalized voices?

    Our Board has compiled a list of actions we’ve taken and plan to take that we hope will move CSC towards being a force for anti-racism. We’re happy to share the full list with anyone who asks. We’re starting with humility: in August, we presented our progress to and asked for input from a group of national leaders at making a Just Transition. We’ve since begun an internal education series on environmental justice issues in Cleveland. We make decisions in a democratic way, with one vote per person. We are creating an outreach strategy that will prioritize extending the opportunity to join CSC to Black and Brown people. We are building partnerships with Black-led environmental groups in Cleveland. We are seeking grant money to subsidize the cost of membership for anyone tight on cash.

Can I host CSC’s next solar project (become a subscriber)?  

CSC is always interested in hearing new potential solar projects. Anyone who is interested in hosting a solar project should reach out to us at info@clevelandsolar.org

What are the benefits of becoming a project host with CSC?

When you host a CSC solar array on your roof and buy the electricity it creates (aka, “subscribe”), your organization will save money on its electricity bill, and you’ll pay none of the upfront or maintenance costs for the array. 

When you or your organization becomes a subscriber with us, you are enabling community ownership of power generation. This means that people who normally would not be able to participate in funding green energy now can –– and therefore, the ability to generate green energy in Cleveland is owned by the people who actually live here.

Who pays for the equipment and installation of a solar array?

The equipment and installation of solar arrays are paid for by the capital raised from Member Owners who invest. We take that money and hire qualified firms to do the upfront engineering, procurement, and construction, as well as continual monitoring and maintenance. 

What is the advantage of becoming a Subscriber with CSC over contracting with a private solar company?

Going solar can be expensive. But when your organization partners with CSC to become a Subscriber, you’ll pay none of the upfront cost of the solar array. Instead, you’ll sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) with CSC. We’ll finance the project through investments of our Member Owners. Your energy bill will decline due to Ohio’s net metering policies. You’ll also pay CSC a price per kilowatt hour agreed upon in the PPA.  

There’s more: when you partner with CSC, you won’t just save money on electricity. You’ll make connections with a group of community members who are proud to partner with your organization to produce green energy. You’ll also join a growing movement for climate justice and local, democratic control of energy, and you’ll help support that movement just by paying your electricity bill each month.

Are there any meetings coming up that I could join to get more of a sense of how this works?

Yes! CSC and its project groups meet regularly, and meetings are open to everyone. We’re also developing a series of webinars for folks interested in joining the movement for community solar. Visit our Get Involved page, sign up for our email list, or email us directly at info@clevelandsolar.org so we can give you the details on how to participate.


Cleveland Solar Cooperative