Large companies have teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and Geostellar to make access to inexpensive solar an employee benefit for more than 100,000 workers.
The Solar Community Initiative, facilitated by WWF and managed by Geostellar, is a nationwide bulk solar purchase program. Developed in concert with 3M, Cisco, Kimberly-Clark and the National Geographic Society, the initiative aims to give employees of these companies, their friends, families and communities across the U.S. and some parts of Canada access to solar for their homes at a flat rate that is about 35% lower than the national average and roughly 50% less expensive than the average electric utility rates. The partners say this means that the U.S. homeowner can have solar panels installed for zero money down, with average monthly savings on their utility bill of over 30%.
Conceived as an employee benefits program, the initiative brings large companies together to leverage the bulk purchasing power of their substantial aggregate employee base, their families and communities. The offer will start as a benefit to more than 100,000 employees of the participating companies.
‘This takes the bulk purchase model from individual neighborhoods and organizations to a national scale,’ says Keya Chatterjee, senior director of renewable energy at WWF. ‘A coast-to-coast, low, flat rate helps mitigate two major barriers of solar adoption – complexity and price – making it possible for more American families to save the planet without leaving their homes.’
Geostellar, the winner of a competitive bidding process and recipient of a U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative Incubator award, will coordinate all aspects of the program. Geostellar will run the online solar platform and manage the financing, design, permitting and installation processes for individual homeowners. The partners say all installations will be performed by qualified contractors based in the purchasers' local community.
‘We are partnering to take sustainability to a whole new level by making solar power more financially accessible for tens of thousands of our employees across the U.S. and Canada,’ says Gayle Schueller, 3M's vice president of global sustainability. ‘The initial employee feedback has been very positive. I'm proud that our efforts to be more environmentally sustainable are extending beyond 3M to the homes and lives of 3Mers.’
‘We are pleased to offer our U.S. and Canada employees a renewable energy alternative to cut their own electric bills,’ says Ali Ahmed, manager of Cisco Global Energy Management and Sustainability. ‘By extending the benefits of affordable solar energy that we have as a corporation to our employees and other stakeholders, we are multiplying our sustainability impact.’