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Solar energy supporters from across West Virginia will gather Saturday at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center for the annual West Virginia Solar Congress — a daylong event to share stories of success, learn about new solar developments and celebrate solar’s growth in the state.

Organizers of the event say the Solar Congress will provide attendees with a series of informational presentations and interactive workshops covering a variety of solar-related topics geared for “solar novices, experts, advocates and anyone in between,” according to a news release.

The event, which is free and open to the public, runs from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the center, 200 Civic Center Drive, with solar co-op information sessions beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Organizers expect more than 80 attendees.

The Solar Congress also marks the launch of the Charleston-Huntington Solar Co-op, whose members will work together to learn about solar technology and the process to have solar installed on their homes. Once enough people show interest in solar power, the co-op will solicit bids from area installers and the co-op will select one.

The solar co-op is free to join and joining is not a commitment to purchase panels, according to the release.

Lower Kanawha Valley and Metro Valley homeowners and businesses interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page.

“I am excited to work with West Virginians from Charleston to Huntington to educate them about the benefits of solar energy,” Autumn Long, program director of Solar United Neighbors of West Virginia, said in the release. “If you’ve ever thought about going solar, there has never been a better time to do so.”

The solar co-op will host a series of public information sessions to educate attendees about solar and the co-op process, with one scheduled for 5:30 p.m. May 22 at Unlimited Future Inc., 1650 8th Ave., in Huntington.

The group says it has attracted strong local support from area organizations and businesses, including the Appalachian Boarding Co., West Virginia Citizens’ Climate Lobby, West Virginia Healthy Kids and Families Coalition, League of Women Voters of West Virginia, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Our Children Our Future, Watkins Design Works, West Virginia Chapter of the Sierra Club, The Wild Ramp, Unlimited Future Inc. and West Virginia Citizen Action Group.

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