Helping Communities Harness the Power of Solar Energy
Did you know there is already enough solar installed on American rooftops and lands to power more than 3.5 million homes – a number that is rising daily. In other words, the sun has been working hard . . . and so have we.
Over the last two years, Vote Solar’s GroupEnergy programs have helped homeowners in Arizona, California, Colorado and Illinois install more than 3.5 megawatts of residential solar. We’d like to thank the many participants and partners who helped make 2014 a wildly successful year!
Seems the Windy City is really into solar. Alongside a host of partners including the City of Chicago, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and World Wildlife Fund, Vote Solar launched Solar Chicago with the goal of creating demand for rooftop solar and removing barriers. Pooling the buying power of Chicagoland homeowners resulted in pricing that was below that of mature solar markets (like California), amazing! With over 2,000 participants in a 3 month period, this emerging solar hotspot saw over 650 kilowatts of new residential contracts, which is DOUBLE what was previously installed community-wide.
San Francisco SunShares
San Francisco SunShares was the City’s first-ever employee group discount program for solar. In 2013, the program’s inaugural year, San Francisco employees, retirees and some of the City’s largest employer’s workforces installed over 100 solar photovoltaic systems on their homes. These solar rooftops added almost a half of a megawatt, roughly equivalent to a new fossil power plant, of new residential solar capacity in less than six months. By pooling their purchasing power, participants were able to secure solar pricing that was 20 percent less than average residential installation costs in San Francisco at the time. Seeing the success of the 2013 program, the San Francisco Department of the Environment launched a second phase of SF Sunshares in 2014.
The SunShares program makes solar more affordable and accessible for employees working in San Francisco. The group purchasing aspect empowers employees to be part of a greater regional effort working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions throughout the Bay Area. The 2014 participating employer organizations include some of the city’s largest workforces including the City and County of San Francisco, Arup, Genentech, Salesforce, the San Francisco Unified School District, the University of California at San Francisco, United Airlines and Virgin America.
Community Solar NY
As part of his 2014 State of the State address, Gov. Cuomo announced a new program within NY-Sun called Community Solar NY that will help make solar energy available to all New Yorkers that want it. One approach will be to pool the buying power of groups and communities to reduce the cost and complexity of individual solar purchases. Participants get a trusted third party to help them navigate the process of going solar. Solar companies can lower costs by serving a larger pool of customers at once. And at the end of the day, more New Yorkers will be producing power from the sun. Vote Solar will bring our unique twist on the Solarize model to the empire state to help groups of employees’ pool their collective buying power to go solar at home.
All of these new solar customers have a powerful voice when it comes to energy decision-making. They are first-hand, real-world proof of solar progress in their communities. They are saving on their utility bills through net metering. They are supporting local job and industry growth. They are investing in a more reliable, more affordable, safer grid for us all. And that’s exactly what our elected officials need to see. Vote Solar is here to help those new solar customers become new solar advocates by signing up for our action alerts.