Solar is no longer future technology: it’s being deployed on a massive scale today. More solar-friendly policies and continuous decreases in price make solar a better and better investment. But most people need more information about solar, and need a way to learn about the technology and its potential to lower their energy bills. The purpose of a group buy program (also known as a Solarize program) is to increase education of local residents about solar photovoltaics (PV), and increase market penetration of residential and small commercial solar PV through a group purchasing program.
Group Buys are important tools for increasing solar deployment in a market in a short period of time. When done correctly, they can be beneficial to everyone involved, including residents, businesses, local organizations, and jurisdictions. They work by aggregating demand for solar, usually in a small geographic area, achieving economies of scale. They lower the solar installers’ “soft costs” further by providing up-front customer education en masse, leading to a higher-than-average conversion rate for solar leads. Home and business owners see lower prices for their solar array, and communities move toward achieving their sustainability goals.
How it works
- A solar installer is selected through a competitive Request for Proposals process involving an advisory committee of community stakeholders.
- Free, public information sessions (we call them “Solar Power Hours”) are hosted throughout the community over a period of several months.
- Local jurisdictions, organizations, volunteers, and MREA help spread the word to the community to invite as many people as possible to learn about and potentially invest in solar.
- As more people decide to go solar, the price comes down for everyone.
- Participants have a deadline to make a solar “go” or “no-go” decision. After that, the group buy pricing goes away.
- Solar installations happen throughout the program timeline.