Bay Area Launches Solar@Work Co-ops To Meet Ambitious Renewable Targets

This month, San Francisco launched a new program to build business co-ops to deploy distributed solar power, key to greening California’s power supply. The City and County of San Francisco Department of the Environment and the World Resources Institute has launched Solar@Work to “help Bay Area businesses obtain affordable solar electric systems”:

Solar@Work is a commercial solar group-purchasing program that was created to secure discounted solar pricing for commercial building owners, provide an affordable solar financing option, and stimulate local economic development.

“California Gov. Jerry Brown set a lofty new target this week: to generate enough clean green energy from rooftop solar panels and small wind turbines to power 3 million homes statewide by 2020,” SolveClimateNews’ Maria Gallucci writes. “Speaking at a UCLA clean energy conference on Monday, the governor said that 12 gigawatts, more than half of California’s 20-gigawatt renewables goal, should come from local, distributed generation.”

“For most people the act of buying and having a solar PV system installed is very inconvenient and loaded with uncertainty,” the Cost of Energy’s Lou Grinzo writes. “Are you getting ripped off by a local contractor? Does the outfit really know what they’re doing, or are they leaping into the solar market without giving their installers and salespeople proper training? And how big a system do you really need? The questions multiply very quickly when you go from the initial, abstract concept of ‘let’s put in a solar PV system’ to the messy details of how to make that happen.”

Government-backed solutions to solve these market failures — like power purchase agreements and solar co-ops — Grinzo writes, “dramatically simplify the buying process” and “you get green electrons, often at a slight discount, the company makes money (in part thanks to government subsidies), and everyone wins.”

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