A new business model has emerged in the solar industry to promote widespread installation of solar panels. Companies such as One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) and Solar@Work have been able to make solar panel installation cheaper by offering an innovative new group purchasing program for solar power.
Inspired by Groupon, the new business model leverages the purchasing power of groups of people to get local solar installers to offer their services at a reduced price. For instance, 1BOG compiles a critical mass of keen solar power purchasers and then contacts local solar contractors to make a deal.
Not only does 1BOG offer consumers a chance to save money on solar power installation, it connects them with reputable solar installation companies. This is particularly important since the market for solar panels is fairly new and prospective buyers may be unsure of how to find a good contractor.
In San Francisco, Solar@Work has recently emerged in collaboration with the San Francisco Department of the Environment to target local businesses interested in implementing solar technology. By enlisting the services of San-Mateo based SolarCity, they are able to offer consumers the options of purchasing solar panels outright, setting-up a lease on solar power generation, or getting installation loans.
The initial objective in San Francisco is to get a group deal with at least 20 property owners. Their marketing approach shows the economic benefits of installing solar power – namely, lower electricity costs than provided by the grid. Although the costs can vary considerably between areas, SFGate claims “the approach can yield 10 to 15 percent lower costs and save 75 percent of the administrative time and fees.”
The only thing preventing more widespread adoption of the “solar Groupon” concept is the variety of solar policies at the state level; some states subsidize renewable power while others do not. As a result, the program is more viable in states and cities with strong environmental policies, such as California and San Francisco, but less viable in others. But perhaps more states will jump on board when they see the positive impacts companies like 1BOG and Solar@Work have on local job creation and stimulating the green economy.
Would you participate in a solar power Groupon?
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