The Vision 2025 movement might soon be energized, at least in part, by solar power.

On Monday, Solar United Neighbors, a nonprofit organization, held a meeting inside the David A. Glosser Memorial Library Building in downtown Johnstown, providing information about possibly starting a solar co-op in Cambria County.

The organization decided to gauge local interest after learning about Vision 2025, an effort to reimagine a new Johnstown region in the upcoming years.

“It’s a community that is thinking about its future, and thinking about how it’s going to look in the future – relative to how it looked in the past – and is interested in doing exciting things around energy for example,” Henry McKay, Solar United Neighbors’ Pennsylvania program director, said.

“We saw there was momentum, and there was interest and there was the right local partner to help us get in on the ground.”

Solar United Neighbors promotes the financial and environmental benefits of solar.

“We talk a lot about how the technology works, how it plugs into your house, how it generates electricity for you, but then also the financial angle – how that energy you produce saves you money,” McKay said. “It’s money you don’t have to buy from the utility when you produce more than you use. You can sell that excess back to that utility.”

The gathering, attended by several dozen individuals, was the first step in a process that, if enough interest exists, could lead to the creation of a local co-op.

An installer will be selected once at least 30 participants sign up through solarunitedneighbors.org/cambria.

“Hopefully, a meeting like this is a first step with that,” Tom Schuster, from the Vision 2025 Re-Energize Johnstown Capture Team and Sierra Club, said.

“It’s a process. We haven’t tried it before here. I think, as solar becomes more affordable, a lot of people are seeing it as a viable option for them to save money.”

Schuster considers solar one of the many tools that could be used to improve the region’s energy usage.

“Even if you can’t go solar or if you don’t want to go solar, there are still lots of opportunities to reduce energy waste,” Schuster said. “We want to help people do that. That can also be something that improves not only people’s household finances, but their comfort levels in their house and the health and safety of their house because a lot of times energy waste goes hand-in-hand with things like drafts, and leaks, and mold and things like that that we can correct at the same time.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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