Monday, May 16, 2011

New Group Purchasing Model Slashes Cost of Solar Power - 12-step guide makes solar power accessible to small businesses and local governments
As the solar market in the United States surpasses $6 billion, a new report demonstrates how governments and businesses can save money by joining together to buy solar power. The report, “Purchasing Power: Best Practices Guide for Collaborative Solar Procurement” was issued by the World Resources Institute (WRI) and Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network (Joint Venture) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities Annual Meeting. Collaborative solar purchasing allows governments, businesses or universities in the same region to collectively negotiate solar power contracts.

The “Purchasing Power” guide presents an innovative approach to solar power purchasing that can yield 10 to 15 percent lower costs and save 75 percent of administrative time and fees, while helping participants negotiate better contract terms to save money in the long run.

“This is the ‘Groupon’ model of solar purchasing,” said Jenna Goodward, Associate, WRI, and co-author of the report. “It provides the tools small businesses and local governments need to save time and money by flexing their collective purchasing power. Our goal is to make it easier to buy solar power, help interested groups save money, and promote greater adoption of renewable energy nationwide.”

The 2011 Solar America Cities Annual Meeting, April 26-28, 2011, will focus on two themes: reducing key barriers to solar market penetration and removing administrative costs and hurdles. The “Purchasing Power” guide provides a straightforward solution to these challenges. A 12-step strategy walks public and private sector users through the process from recruiting regional participants to procurement, to negotiating deals, and finally to celebrating success.

“It is crucial to break down barriers that keep small businesses and local governments from gaining access to renewable energy,” said Rachel Massaro, Associate Director of Climate Initiatives for Joint Venture and co-author of the report. “The new ‘Purchasing Power’ guide offers an easy-to-follow, 12-step process that can lead to much broader market penetration for solar power.”

WRI and Joint Venture developed the guide after piloting the first collaborative solar procurement projects in California. In Santa Clara County, the Silicon Valley Collaborative Renewable Energy Procurement Project represented nine local government agencies and 70 solar installations across more than 40 locations, totaling more than 14 MW of power at peak capacity.

“As we learned through our experience in Santa Clara, this approach is practical and achievable,” said Lin Ortega, Utilities Engineer and Program Manager for Santa Clara County. “We believe the best practices will be very helpful to other organizations looking to invest in solar power or other renewable technologies across the country.”

The “Purchasing Power” model is increasingly gaining popularity as several groups in California and Washington, D.C. begin collaborating toward group solar purchases.

The full report is available here; and a summary of the 12-step process is available here.

by Jenna Goodward, Rachel Massaro, Benjamin Foster, and Caroline Judy.
World Resources Institute
April 26, 2011
Tags: alternative energy energy renewable energy solar united states

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