What is a Solarize campaign?
A Solarize campaign is a popular community-initiative wherein many property owners unlock huge savings when they commit to buying solar together. When many people – sometimes as few as a dozen, often several hundred – commit to purchasing solar together, the price of each installation drops significantly – yes, just like Groupon. More buyers equal more savings.
A Solarize is the surest path to the best possible price for all participating members. The average savings will vary by State and depend on the number of committed property owners, but to use Media, Pennsylvania’s Solarize as an example:
- 300 people requested a solar proposal.
- 50 committed to purchase solar from the program’s approved installer, Solar States.
- 350 kWh installed across Media – on homes and on businesses.
- Average savings: $1,450 per job.
How does it work?
That said, every Solarize campaign shares a similar foundation:
- Attractive pricing that incentivizes participants to tell friends and neighbors. If others sign, you save – the soul of a Solarize.
- An engaging outreach effort, including events, e-mail blasts, and advertisements. In the Media program, Solar States hosted ten informational events for the community.
- A partnership between the community and an installer. Solar States provides support and a platform for the community members, who promote the program and ultimately make it happen – active participation from both sides is essential to the success of a Solarize campaign.
In short, there are many way to organize a Solarize campaign. We start with your community’s goals and preferences – “how do we make Solarize work for this unique group?” – and design a program that suits your vision.
Who can organize a Solarize program?
Anybody can start a Solarize program if they have a willing network in mind. The networks can be modest – non-profits, civic groups, churches, a few city blocks (your immediate neighborhood) – or very large – the entire city of Philadelphia: through Solarize Philly, 4,237 homeowners signed up, 363 contracts were signed, 1.6 MW of solar was installed, and 52 jobs were created. Connecticut’s state-wide Solarize, launched in 2012, has spread to over 30 towns and cities and has doubled the number of Connecticut homes with solar. A neighborhood Solarize looks much different than a city or state-wide Solarize, but is no less effective.
Every Solarize begins with 1 community member who believes it would be well-received by some group. Without early and active participation from community members (you), Solarize programs are not successful.
Using takeaways from our own experience and the experience of communities around the world, we will design a program that gives your Solarize the best chance at success.
Here are a few of the Solarize programs we have participated in:
Solarize Media, PA
Save BIG as a Town, Group, or Neighborhood
A small group can organize their own Solarize to maximize savings. Here is how the Media, Pennsylvania Solarize was designed:
- Organized by a civic non profit working on improving Media
- Tiered pricing model: “if 10 people agree to purchase, each saves this much. If 20 people sign up, each saves even more”, and so on, up and up and up.
- Single installer (Solar States) provided a competitive solicitation (via RFP) and managed all project installations.
More about the process and results: https://transitiontownmedia.org/solarize-wrap-up/
Pass Your Savings to a Local Non-Profit
Schools, publicly-owned buildings, and houses of worship have large energy outputs but are unable to access solar tax incentives, making a solar installation less accessible. A SunRaise campaign empowers the community to lower or eliminate the cost to go solar for a nominated institution. When a group Sunraises, group discounts are passed on to the selected institution. In other words, you go solar so that your favorite organization can go solar. The typical design of a Sunraise campaign is as follows:
- Goal #1 – Support the fight against climate change by developing a solar project on your own rooftop and the rooftop of your church, synagogue, mosque or nominated organization
- Goal #2 – Leverage solar to strengthen / expand said organization with the ongoing support of Solar States
- Funding and support for programming, events, activities, and outreach supplied by Solar States
- A portion of the group’s savings are passed on to the organization to be used toward a green project
Save HUGE as a City
The city of Philadelphia is currently running its fourth Solarize program, wherein all eligible Philadelphians can qualify for major discounts on solar installations. Solar States has been a participating installer in this program since its inception.
- Organized and facilitated by the city
- Flat rate discount for home or business owners
- Multiple installers involved to give community members a choice
- Funds from sales subsidize low-to-moderate income solar program
More details and application form available here: http://philaenergy.org/programs-initiatives/solarize-philly/
There is no shortage of Solarize campaigns to learn from around the U.S. If you care to read up, we suggest this summary of Solarize Connecticut, or this Solarize Guidebook from the U.S. Department of Energy. New York’s Solarize website provides tips and tools similar to those Solar States provides partners.
Anybody can start a Solarize campaign.
About Solar States
Solar States is a solar installer and educator based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. We are a certified B-Corp and Best for the World Nominee in both 2018 and 2019. We can install solar on any roof – residential or commercial – in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, or Maryland. If you have any questions about a transition to a sustainable energy system for your property, we can answer them.