Taking Solar Mainstream: SolarCity's Community-wide Installations


With talk of a 40% drop in costs for solar power, we can all expect a huge upsurge in interest in companies developing or installing solar energy systems. One of these will no doubt be SolarCity. We've mentioned SolarCity before regarding their collaboration with Tesla Motors (Elon Musk, the chairman of Tesla, is also the chairman and pirincipal financer of SolarCity), but we are yet to do a specific post on this innovative company. Based in California, the company describes itself as "the leading provider of solar energy systems that deliver reliable power to homes and businesses."

Aside from the company's work in installing solar power for commercial, residential and government clients, they have also developed a forward-thinking program of community-wide solar installations. Under the Collective Power Program, SolarCity encourages residents to come together to collectively purchase installations, so they can benefit from special pricing while SolarCity can take advantage of a high density of installations in one area. Of course, the environment also benefits, because home owners who may not otherwise consider solar are encouraged by their neighbors to take the plunge, often with dramatic results:

"In Mountain View, community solar advocate Bruce Karney helped rally 118 homeowners to together install systems producing 355 kW of power. "There were only 85 residential solar PV installations in Mountain View before the start of this program," Karney said. "The power of collective pricing made a strong argument for going solar, more than doubling the number of solarized homes in the city." Mountain View's mayor, Laura Macias, also came out in support of the successful community initiative. "Mountain View residents made a powerful environmental and economic statement by adopting clean, renewable energy," she said. "The city can take pride in this step to answer its own power needs." "

And echoing the thinking of Guardian correspondent Ashley Seager, SolarCity are promoting solar technologies on more than just environmental grounds. Their website boasts that homeowners can enjoy a 15%-20% rate of return. We are delighted to see such innovative marketing for solar, pushing it beyond the usual environmentally conscious market and firmly into the mainstream. ::SolarCity::

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