The Young-Cupery family installed solar in Shorewood through our group buy in 2015.

The Village of Shorewood has partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) and the Grow Solar Partnership to coordinate a solar group buy in Shorewood. 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. You do not need to be a Village of Shorewood resident to participate – the group buy is open to all Milwaukee area residents and business owners. 

The Solar MKE group buy is being led through a partnership with City of Milwaukee’s solar program, Milwaukee Shines, and the MREA. The goal of the Solar Milwaukee group buy is to increase solar education and installations in City of Milwaukee through a group purchase and competitive bidding process. Similarly, the Solar Shorewood group buy is being led through a partnership between the Village of Shorewood and the MREA. The goal of the Solar Shorewood group buy is to increase solar education and installations in Shorewood through a group purchase and competitive bidding process.

With support from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program, the MREA is coordinating efforts among various Midwest organizations and municipalities to build an open and advantageous solar market that provides long-term benefits to communities. This joint effort between Solar Milwaukee and Solar Shorewood is an example of this cooperation.

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: Solar Milwaukee / Solar Shorewood’s advisory committee is comprised of representatives from the MREA, City of Milwaukee, two Milwaukee residents, and a Shorewood resident. They issued a competitive Request for Proposals and 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 program would not be possible without the strong support of the Village of Shorewood, City of Milwaukee, 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 time-sensitive nature of the group buy adds urgency into the mix, and helps bring the price down for everyone. How? Read on.

PRICING

The key ingredient for most participants is the pricing for the group buy. The competitive bidding process ensures the program achieves a price per watt lower than any individual would generally be able to get on the market. In addition, the price comes down for everyone when certain benchmarks are surpassed.

How is a solar installer able to offer such low prices through the program? There are two important factors: strong customer education and an economy of scale. 

Strong Customer Education: Crucial to the success of the program is the community outreach and education we do. 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 the Solar Urbana-Champaign. 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.

WHAT NEXT?

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!