Co-op Power supports member, community projects

Monday, January 01, 0001
HATFIELD — The private nonprofit Co-op Power, incorporated in 2004, does more than just help with residential projects.

Co-op Power is funded by more than $320,000 in fees from members, as well as $840,000 in member loans, and $850,000 in other local investments, according to its website. Membership fees are $975 for most members or $500 for those who make less than $30,000 annually and meet other criteria.

The funds are used to help members with residential projects from energy efficiency upgrades to solar installations, as well as to support “community-scale” projects.

Timothy Holcomb, an Amherst resident who does outreach for the co-op, said it was born out of a now-defunct local energy group called Co-op Plus of Western Massachusetts, founded in Greenfield.

When it first got off the ground, Co-op Power had offices in Greenfield, but in 2012 it moved to 15A West St. in West Hatfield. Six self-governing bodies, called Local Organizing Councils, collect fees from their own members and are in charge of projects in their region.

“They look at the local need and help to focus the resources more effectively” than one central leadership structure would, he said. “And it promotes person-to-person, neighbor-to-neighbor relationships with everyone who participates.”

The local councils choose how the equity and loan money raised from local members should be used to support the development of community clean energy projects. Locally, Co-op Power funds have supported the creation of Energia, a Holyoke company that provides energy efficiency upgrades, and to build the vegetable-oil-fueled Northeast Biodiesel plant in Greenfield.

The co-op also has a work group that meets regularly to study products and services and it recommends equipment and local vendors to members, Holcomb said.

Consumers don’t need to be members to buy equipment or services from Co-op Power, but only members get discounts on solar equipment and other things.

For more information, visit www.cooppower.coop.

Rebecca Everett can be reached at reverett@gazettenet.com.