San Francisco’s Solar@Work Program To Use Group-Purchase Model


The City of San Francisco launched a new program that offers solar energy systems to businesses in the Bay Area via a group-purchase model. The program, dubbed Solar@Work, is projected to help create more than 2 MW of new installations for small and midsize business and commercial property owners.

The City and County San Francisco's Department of the Environment (SF Environment) developed the Solar@Work model, which circumvents the rebate process, in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Optony, a research and consulting firm. According to SF Environment, the main barriers keeping area business and commercial property owners from purchasing solar energy are up-front costs and a lack of access to affordable financing.

The"aggregation," purchase approach combines multiple participants into one solar purchasing group and leverages a standardized solar equipment lease. The program's stakeholder group, led by the World Resources Institute (WRI), has selected SolarCity, which is based in the Bay Area, as the winning vendor.

With technical assistance from NREL and Optony, WRI used a"collaborative solar procurement model," to create a suite of financing options with SolarCity. These options include a cash purchase, solar lease, capital loan and others. The program will help match the buyers with appropriate financing, SF Environment says.

Under a grou-purchase model, the more businesses that sign up, the lower the prices will be for the entire buying group, the department explains. All participants will receive a"significant pre-negotiated discount," and the largest reductions will be available if the group purchases more than 3 MW by the end of the year. Registration for Solar@Work opened July 13 and runs through Oct. 14.

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