NYSolar Smart Group Purchasing
NYSolar Smart Solarize and NYSolar Smart SunShares are pilot programs for New Yorkers that aims to greatly reduce the costs of installing solar by leveraging the collective purchasing power of a group of homeowners or employees interested in going solar, whether they live in a single or multi-family dwelling. People all over the country are buying solar in bulk and saving money in the process, a classic ‘economy of scale’ that works on many levels. Often called “solar bulk purchase”, “solar group purchase”, “SunShare”, or “Solarize,” these programs help guide groups of homeowners as they purchase solar systems together. The benefits include both cost savings and programmatic support. For example, a large portion of the cost of a residential system is the cost to installers of finding customers. Group Purchasing programs bring pre-screened customers directly to an installer, allowing the installer to pass the savings on to the participants. Additionally, the support the group provides each participant makes it easier to evaluate quotes from installers and to navigate permit requirements, incentive programs, and the local utility. More information: Department of Energy Guide <pdf>.
How it Works
Under this pilot program, the NYSolar Smart team will guide a pre-determined New York neighborhood, municipalitiy or group as they decide on their project goals and a time frame for residents to sign up. Sustainable CUNY then issues a ‘Request for Proposal’ (RFP) to solar installers, laying out the goals of the project and requesting price bids. Installers, now familiar with this process, usually submit an offer that includes four or five tiers of pricing, with the savings increasing as more people commit to the program. A single contractor is then selected to install the systems on the participating homes or buildings, but each participant owns their own system and signs their own contract with the installer. Homeowners who participate can either purchase the solar electricity systems directly or enter into a lease or power purchase agreement (PPA) with the installer. Under a lease or PPA, the installer will own, operate and maintain the system, while the homeowner agrees to purchase the power generated by the system at an agreed-upon rate. Under the lease or PPA option, the installer will offer a discount or cash back as higher tiers are reached.
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