You can buy organic food from community farms and share living costs in a housing cooperative. And for Roberto Gallegos, that same cooperative approach makes sense for buying solar energy.

“Sun is free, and if we can get our energy from the sun, we don’t have to burn coal and it helps the environment,” said Gallegos, a retired electronic technician and Air Force veteran. “If I can do a little bit, and my neighbor can do a little bit, then it all adds up to making a difference.”

A rooftop system just didn’t seem practical for his limited energy use. So when the Green Valley resident learned about Tucson Electric Power’s GoSolar Shares program, he looked forward to participating.

Under the program, residential customers can buy power from TEP’s local community-scale systems in monthly 150-kilowatt-hour “shares.” Some opt to buy enough shares to cover all of their energy use, while others buy some to cover just a portion of their energy use, offsetting the need for power generated from conventional resources.

The energy comes from some of the resources TEP is building as part of a clean energy plan to produce  70 percent of our energy from renewable sources by 2035.

“Solving climate change is going to take a community effort, so this is one way that everyone can participate, regardless of whether rooftop solar is an option for them,” said Theodore Burhans, Director of Emerging Technology and Innovation. “GoSolar Shares is designed with cooperation in mind – it’s going to take all of us working together to shift to a renewable energy economy.”

While customers participating in the program may see a slight increase on their bills initially, their power supply charges covered by solar shares will remain fixed for up to 20 years, so savings could evolve over time if traditional energy costs rise. Plus, there are no equipment or installation costs, and customers can cancel at any time.

Gallegos, who signed up when the program began in 2018, said he signed up to do his share. “A program like this can make a difference in helping make sure the sun’s energy is put to use instead of going to waste. I just want to do my part.”

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