Group purchasing is catching on for solar, a prime example of it being the Solarize programs spreading around the country. Solarize is a group purchasing program for solar PV systems that lowers acquisition costs for rooftop solar installations. As more homeowners join the program, the cost goes down, because of a tiered-pricing plan with reduced prices for more participation.
To help spread these programs further, the New England solar cost-reduction partnership, a coalition of five New England states managed by the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA), has produced a new guide for community group purchasing, “Planning and Implementing a Solarize Initiative: A Guide for State Program Managers.”
This guide features detailed cases studies of two particularly well-developed and successful programs from New England: Solarize Connecticut and Solarize Mass. The guide will be helpful to program managers and other stakeholders in states across the country seeking to develop their own Solarize programs.
Solarize programs in both Connecticut and Massachusetts have been tremendously successful in increasing the rate of residential solar adoption in three ways:
- First, Solarize expands the potential customer base. In Connecticut, 20% of households who signed a contract for a new solar PV system through the Solarize CT program had never previously considered installing solar.
- Second, the program speeds up solar deployment. In Massachusetts, the number of small-scale solar projects more than doubled in the vast majority of participating Solarize communities as a result of the program. In Connecticut, during Phase I of their Solarize program, selected Solarize municipalities achieved 24 – 65 times the rate of new solar installation contracts as compared to the rate during the prior seven years.
- Finally, Solarize programs help drive down the installation prices for consumers. In Connecticut, Solarize has resulted in cost reductions of 20 – 30% for customers. Solarize Mass has achieved an average price reduction of 18 – 20% for installed projects.
The guide is available online on the CESA website.