Since Solarize Portland began in 2009, Solarize programs have been spreading throughout the country. From Raleigh and Asheville, NC to New York and Massachusetts, Solarize initiatives are becoming one of the most efficient ways for communities to go solar. The concept of Solarize originated as a grassroots campaign to help residents overcome the significant financial and logistical barriers to installing solar. Residential solar installations can have high upfront costs and seem complex or daunting to residents unfamiliar with the technology. Solarize alleviates these pressures, making the process easier and cheaper.
So, how does it work? The Solarize approach allows groups of homeowners or businesses to work together to collectively negotiate rates, competitively select an installer, and increase demand through a creative limited-time offer to join the campaign. Ultimately, as the number of residents who participate in the program increase, the cost of the installations will decrease. Additionally, residents benefit from increased political control and are able to make more informed decisions about selecting an installer. Installers also benefit from Solarize by saving on marketing and lead generation costs, therefore reducing the upfront costs of the installations for all involved. Solarize programs simplify solar processes, educate the public, reduce costs, alleviate stress, and promote a strong sense of community.
One of the latest Solarize programs is taking place in Plano, Texas. Plano is bringing solar to its residents by shining light on the benefits of solar group purchasing. In May 2013, SolarOPs and the North Central Texas Council of Governments in Dallas, TX, hosted a Solar Powering Your Community Workshop. The information shared during the workshop – creating a local-level solar program in the Dallas region – spurred the desire to increase awareness and use of solar energy in Plano. By June, Plano Solar Advocates, a grassroots volunteer group of Plano citizens and Live Green in Plano, launched the 2013 Solarize Plano pilot program. The goal of the pilot was to promote the adoption of solar energy by using Plano’s utility incentives and linking homeowners interested in solar with local solar installers.
Throughout the pilot, Plano Solar Advocates provided educational support and technical assistance to residents and stakeholders. By the end of the pilot program, more than 20 Plano homes had installed solar, exceeding 100kW in total capacity. As a result of the positive feedback from the pilot program, Plano Solar Advocates and Live Green in Plano are now initiating a 2014 Solarize Plano Project.
Enrollment for the 2014 Solarize Plano Project is now open and will continue through April 15, 2014. The more participants, the greater the group purchase’s discount and impact the project will have on the community. To learn more about Solarize Plano, please visit www.SolarizePlano.org. To learn more about Solarize, check out The Solarize Guidebook: A Community Guide to Collective Purchasing of Residential PV systems.