Linn County, Cedar Rapids, Marion, Mount Vernon, Center Point, The Nature Conservancy in Iowa, and Indian Creek Nature Center have partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to coordinate a second solar group buy in Linn County, building on the success of the first iteration of Solarize Cedar Rapids & Linn County, which took place in 2017.
The advantage of a group buy is the power of volume purchasing, which can significantly reduce the up-front costs of installing solar on your home. The group buy is open to all Linn County homeowners, regardless of municipality.
Dozens of solar group buys have been completed across the country in cities like Portland, Milwaukee, and Chicago, and in states from California to Vermont. Among all of them, there have been some common elements that led to success: competitive contractor selection, community-led outreach with a trusted community partner, and a limited-time offering.
Competitive Contractor Selection: Grow Solar Linn County’s Advisory Committee consists of representatives from Cedar Rapids, Center Point, Linn County, Mount Vernon, MREA and The Nature Conservancy in Iowa. MREA issued a competitive Request for Proposals and the Advisory Committee selected a single installer to help carry out the program. This way customers get the simplicity of a single installer, plus the confidence that the selection was made from a number of competitive choices.
Community-Led Outreach: The Grow Solar Linn County program is being conducted by the MREA with support of the following partners: Linn County, Cedar Rapids, Marion, Mount Vernon, Center Point, The Nature Conservancy in Iowa, and Indian Creek Nature Center, and would not be possible without the support of local communities. Are you part of a neighborhood association, nonprofit organization, school, or workplace that is excited about solar? Help us get the word out by distributing flyers or hosting a Solar Power Hour! Email to get started.
Limited-time Offering: Nothing motivates people like a deadline. The time-sensitive nature of the group buy adds urgency into the mix, and helps bring the price down for everyone. How? Read on.
The key ingredient for most participants is the pricing for the group buy. The competitive bidding process ensuresGrow Solar Linn County achieves a price per watt lower than an individual would generally be able to get on the market. In addition, the price comes down for everyone when certain benchmarks are surpassed. For example, once the participants of the group buy collectively reach 50 kW of capacity, everyone gets an additional reduction of the price of their array. An additional reduction of price happens at the 150 kW mark, again at 250 kW, and a final reduction above 350 kW.
Two important factors allow solar installers to offer lower prices through the program: strong customer education and an economy of scale.
Strong Customer Education: Community outreach and education are critical to the success of the program. The MREA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that does training and education around renewable energy, works with local organizations to schedule and facilitate a number of 1-hour-long Solar Power Hours around the community. These events help interested home and business owners determine whether solar is right for them. We’ll go over the basics of solar, market trends, financials, how to tell if your site is ready for solar, and how to participate in Grow Solar Linn County. Getting well-informed participants to the table saves the installer hours and hours of marketing and education they would otherwise have to do themselves, and in turn saves you money.
Economy of Scale: Just like in a buyers club or co-op, the more people participate, the lower the cost is for the service provider (in this case, a solar installer), and the lower the prices are for participants. Your participation matters, and it always helps when folks talk to their friends and neighbors about the group buy.
ABOUT THE INSTALLER
The Grow Solar Linn County Advisory Committee selected a joint proposal submitted by Eagle Point Solar, SiteGen Solar, and Paulson Electric.
Founded in 2010, Eagle Point Solar is dedicated to providing renewable solar energy solutions throughout Iowa, Illinois and Wisconsin. We have installed systems of all sizes including residential homes, small businesses, large commercial facilities, agricultural operations, local government facilities, academic institutions and local utilities.
Eagle Point Solar is one of the largest solar installers in the Midwest and consistently ranks in the top 500 installers in the U.S. We provide turnkey energy management solutions including, sales, design & engineering, permitting, utility interconnection, construction and maintenance.
The professional staff consists of NABCEP certified designers, master electricians and individuals with decades of construction management and administration experience. At Eagle Point Solar, our people trusted, our process is tested, and our results are proven.
Paulson Electric is a fourth-generation family-owned electrical design and construction firm headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Paulson Electric has over 120 electricians working throughout Eastern Iowa. Dave Delovely is Paulson Electric’s senior project manager and will lead the Electrician Team. Dave has decades of experience in electrical design and construction project management.
SiteGen Solar is a sister company of Paulson Electric, becoming its own entity in 2014. Also headquartered in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, SiteGen Solar provides turnkey solar projects for its customers, from site assessment and financial analysis to permitting, construction, and commissioning. Paulson Electric and SiteGen Solar have completed over 100 successful solar installations. SiteGen Solar’s team consists of five office employees supporting Paulson Electric’s electricians installing the projects. SiteGen Solar’s team is led by Robert Dix, project manager, who has over 30 years in electrical design and construction experience. Robert is also NABCEP certified.
The solar installer for this program was selected through a competitive Request for Proposals in early 2019.
Now that you’ve become familiar with how the program works, the next step is to become informed about purchasing solar. Click here to view the schedule for our upcoming Solar Power Hours and updates about the program. We’re excited to meet you and get started!