In Missouri City, some residents in Lake Olympia have joined forces with nonprofit Solar United Neighbors to form a solar co-op in an effort to save money on electricity and make going solar easier for others who want to join.

Lake Olympia solar homeowner Andreas Matzakos said in an email the sustainable nature of solar energy paired with the elimination of harmful air and water emissions piqued his interest when deciding to go solar three years ago.

“The concern of climate change was the tipping point in our decision,” Matzakos said. “The fact that we could make a return on our green investment encouraged us to buy them and use the dividends for other green investments like an electric vehicle and energy efficient AC units.”

On Aug. 6, the co-op hosted an information session at the Lake Olympia Clubhouse and had participation from 14 people, Matzakos said. Another informational meeting will be held Sept. 12.

During the meetings, Dori Wolfe, Houston manager for Solar United Neighbors of Texas, is working with Lake Olympia residents to provide education about the benefits of solar energy and how to organize group solar installations.

“I am excited to work with Lake Olympia residents to educate them about the benefits of solar energy,” Wolfe said in a press release.

Matzakos said after researching solar panel installers, it took about three months for the system to be operational after his contract was signed.

Matzakos said his home still needs to import about 50% of its energy needs from the electrical grid during the night and times of peak energy consumption. His home also requires natural gas to heat water, dry clothes and heat the home.

“But we also export energy to grid and get equal value for it. Thus, the ‘net’ energy we pay to the utility is about 25% of our annual needs,” he said.

Missouri City homeowners interested in joining the co-op can sign up at The solar co-op is free to join, and joining is not a commitment to purchase panels, according to a news release from Solar United Neighbors. Once the group is large enough, the nonprofit will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Matzakos said he needs a minimum of 20 people to participate in the program to make the co-op successful. He said there is already interest from about seven people as a result of the Aug. 6 meeting.

“It makes us optimistic that we can meet this number by mid-September,” he said.