Villagers learn about solar panels during LWV presentation


Mary Dipboye, founder of Central Florida Solar Advocate, was the guest speaker at Monday’s meeting of the League of Women Voters in The Villages.

Mary Dipboye, of Central Florida Solar Advocate, addressing the League of Women Voters.
Mary Dipboye, of Central Florida Solar Advocate, addressing the League of Women Voters.

Dipboye’s talk covered three main areas. She updated members on upcoming state amendments, talked about her journey of getting solar at home and introduced a new solar advocacy group starting up in Florida.

Dipboye encouraged attendees to vote “Yes” on Amendment 4 in the August elections.

“If you want to expand solar, vote yes,” said Dipboye. “This amendment has the support of Republicans, Democrats, the chamber and utility companies.”

She feels differently about the amendment slated for the November ballot.

“It will enshrine what is already the law; making it difficult for purchase power agreements,” she said.

Next, she described the process that led her to getting solar panels on her roof. She had a “driveway moment” while listening to a National Public Radio story about the Community Power Network, a grassroots solar advocate organization, and how it originated. She was inspired to start a co-op in her Winter Park neighborhood. Last May, she held an informational meeting; it took her until the end of that summer to get 20 people on board. At that point they interviewed solar installation companies, settled on a Tampa-based company and ended up with 30 homes in her neighborhood getting solar panels at the same time.

Dipboye noted that doing it with a co-op saves both money and effort. A representative from the Community Power Network assisted them and attended many of the meetings, especially the ones interviewing contractors via Skype.

“We couldn’t have done it without their expertise,” said Dipboye.

Dipboye then helped a co-op in Winter Haven with their solar project. This came to the attention of Deirdre Macnab, former president of the Florida State League of Women Voters and current natural resources officer for the state board. Working with the Community Power Network, planning is in place to hire a director for the state of Florida. The director would be involved in setting up neighborhood co-ops throughout the state. Financing is currently being sought to make this plan a reality.

Villagers Robert Pine and Ron Ciecka along with LWV member Annie Grewe. All have solar panels on their homes.
Villagers Robert Pine and Ron Ciecka along with LWV member Annie Grewe. All have solar panels on their homes.

Throughout the talk the speaker was peppered with questions. Assisting her with answers regarding local regulations were three homeowners in the audience who have solar panels on their homes. Village of Ashland resident Annie Grewe said she installed solar panels in 2009. Robert Pine of the Village of Lynnhaven had his house built with energy efficiency in mind. He installed solar panels in 2007 and again in 2015. Ron Ciecka of Lakeshore Cottages installed his in 2009. He expects to save money and said his solar panel installation resulted in a neighbor becoming interested and adding them to his home.


  1. I am always shocked when I read such narrow minded “conspiracy theorists” replies to articles such as these.

    According to your way of thinking, any “new” information is controversial propaganda and a way to take away your “rights”.

    Bury your heads in the sand, please and avoid any information you consider controversial. Your lack of knowledge about the environment and the future of mother earth is not only shocking in this day and age, but it shows that you just don’t give a darn.

    The world will benefit from forward thinkers who try to inform and educate about the realities that surround us. No one benefits from your caustic negative comments.

    By commenting as you did here, Bill and Don, you have shown yourselves as uninformed and with a frightening 1950s mentality.

    Wake up, Climate Change is real. Perhaps at your advanced age it will not impact your lives, just the lives of your children and grandchildren. Green power sources are very important for our National Security. Maybe you should educate yourselves and quit placing negative comments regarding those who do choose to become educated about energy options.

    Guess you don’t have anything else to complain about today. Go out and enjoy life here in The Villages, and try to develop a glass half full attitude, rather than a glass half empty.

    I truly feel sorry for people as critical and negative as you. How miserably unhappy you must be!

  2. More control and more of your money. That’s ALL these amendments end up being.

    She got everyone together and got her solar panels installed for free. Now she “works with” solar companies. Who does she think she’s fooling. She’s a “lobbyist” for solar. She’s getting paid.

  3. Vote “yes”? Not me, I’m sick and tired of the government telling me how to live my live, and paying for for their stupid mandates. Green house gasses, global warming, the sky is falling, pure political hogwash. Some people will buy anything, remember Al Gore, inventor of the internet, was peddling this BS years ago. Yep, the sky was falling and we would surely perish, Florida and The Villages would be under water and we would all need a boat. You people that believe that political crap that enrich other people, buy yourself a roof made of solar panels and leave the rest of alone.

    • Don and Bill I have followed many of your comments and everyone of them seems to be negative. I think you have imaginary ideas that seem to be truth to you. This lady is explaining how we can get solar power and formed a group to help those that are interested. You try to turn her into a devil. I think you should wrap yourself in aluminum foil to protect yourself from the demons that must haunt you.