By Linda Irvine
We’re in the worst recession since the Great Depression and nobody’s spending money on non-essentials, right? Wrong! Homeowners in just two Seattle neighborhoods spent almost $1.5 million on local solar installations in 2011, through the efforts of Solarize Queen Anne and Solarize Magnolia. They are part of a new movement of neighbors organizing to go solar together. These neighborhood group purchase campaigns aim to make solar simple, affordable, and social.
Group campaigns allow neighbors to go through the process together, learning and gaining confidence along the way. A pre-selected installer and a competitively determined price reduces complexity and makes the choice a simple Yes, or No?
A group purchase allows the selected contractor to focus marketing and installations in one area, decreasing the cost of sales and increasing installation efficiency. The campaigns also provide education about the tax credits, state incentive and simple payback, to show that solar is more affordable than ever!
A group purchase campaign is an opportunity to connect with neighbors and make a difference. Neighbors serve on the contractor selection and outreach committees, attend workshops together, and volunteer to spread the word in many other ways, creating a stronger communty network and building capacity for future actions.
And Washington is not alone: In 2010, the city of Portland increased their annual solar installations by 400% through the efforts of the local solarize campaigns, a program of their neighborhood coalition offices, with support from the City of Portland and the Energy Trust of Oregon. (See Northwest SEED’s Solarize Guide for details.)
Appeared in Solar Washington Newsletter on March 9, 2012.