Michigan Interfaith Power & Light and the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities have partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to coordinate a solar education and group purchasing program for properties in the Little Traverse Bay area. 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 or business.
This program builds on past successes around the Midwest: MREA has led over 42 solar group buy programs, educating over 10,000 people about solar. Additionally, dozens of solar group buys have been completed across the country in states from California to Vermont. Common elements that lead to the success of these programs include competitive contractor selection, community-led outreach with trusted community partners and a limited-time offering.
Competitive Contractor Selection: MREA will issue a competitive request for proposals and an advisory committee comprised of local representatives and volunteers will select a single installer to help carry out the program. This helps customers get the simplicity of a single installer and the confidence that the selection was made from a number of competitive choices.
Community-Led Outreach: Grow Solar Little Traverse would not be possible without the strong support of participating counties and local organizations. 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 deadline for the 2021 program will be announced upon program launch. Installations will take place throughout the year. The time-sensitive nature of the group buy adds urgency and helps bring the price down for everyone.
The key ingredient for most participants is the pricing for the group buy. The competitive bidding process ensures Grow Solar Little Traverse achieves a price per watt lower than an individual would generally be able to get from the selected installer on the open market. In addition, the price comes down for everyone when certain benchmarks are surpassed. For example, once the participants of a 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 again at the 150 kW and 250 kW marks, and a final reduction happens at 350 kW. It is important to note that the program does not guarantee the lowest available price for solar, but rather a lower than market price from a high-quality solar installer.
How is a solar installer able to offer lower prices through the program? There are two important factors: strong customer education and an economy of scale.
Strong Customer Education: Community outreach and education are crucial to program success. MREA, a 501(c)3 nonprofit provides renewable energy training and education, works with local organizations to schedule and facilitate a number of one-hour Solar Power Hours around the community and/or via webinar. These events help interested homeowners determine whether solar is right for them. We’ll go over the basics of solar, financials, how to tell if your site is ready for solar, and how to participate in Grow Solar Little Traverse. 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 solar installer for this program will be selected through a competitive Request for Proposals in late 2021.
Now that you’ve become familiar with how the program works, the next step is to become informed about purchasing solar. Click here to receive updates or sign up for a site assessment and cost estimate. We’re excited to meet you and get started!