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Solar bargaining power

Posted 02/03/2010 by RoseS

I am, I confess, a sucker for supermarket three-for-two offers. The more you buy the cheaper it gets – even if it means cramming more cans in the kitchen cupboards than Ikea ever intended. Bulk buying is definitely the way to get big discounts, and it doesn’t just apply to supermarket foods. Imagine then how powerful if we could harness the power of the internet to order all our preferred items en masse – a sort of global purchasing power online. Well now it seems that we can.

According to a recent report in the Financial Times, a ‘new wave’ of companies is now springing up in the US and Europe to negotiate discounts on everything from deluxe car washes to art gallery admissions and even skydiving. And the latest addition to the list of offerings obtainable is solar power. San Francisco-based start-up One Block off the Grid, or 1BOG, matches groups of US homeowners with solar installers offering group discounts of around 15%/home. The company is reported to take a flat referral fee from the installer, and 25 cents/W installed or about $1000/home.

‘In the [solar] industry, you have to do it in group fashion because that’s how you reach the tipping point where people realise solar is not only for rich environmentalists,’ 1BOG’s chief executive is quoted as saying in the FT.

The company has now signed up 600 homeowners for solar installations via campaigns targeted across 10 US cities. Last week, PR Newswire announced the firm’s latest campaign in Texas, in San Antonio, where homeowners are being encouraged to sign up free for a group discount rate of $4.80/DC watt – the lowest solar price offered to any 1BOG community. And in addition to 1BOG’s discount, San Antonio’s municipal utility CPS Energy provides rebates of around $3/AC watt as a further inducement for local homeowners to go solar.

Sadly, 1BOG is so far restricted to the US. Anyone considering the move to solar here in the UK may have to be content with the government’s new feed-in-tariff (FIT) scheme due to come into effect on 1 April, and which is designed to incentivise consumers to adopt the technology by offering the money for unused energy fed to the grid on top of the savings in energy bills. A Department of Energy and Climate Change release estimates a typical household could make £900/year from power generation, in addition to a £140 reduction in energy bills. It is certainly something to think about for anyone with money to invest, especially given the current return on savings rates.

Sign on here if anyone is interested in clubbing together to try to get a group discount on the installation!

Cath O’Driscoll – Deputy Editor

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  • Anonymous said:
    21/06/2013 07:52

    The only way to get anywhere close to a fair estamtie is to actually call up a solar installer in your area, and get a free quote. The price depends vastly on your energy usage, and your location. Two houses can be neighbors, and one can use 20 times as much electricity.Solar hot water costs $4-6k, after which you may get some rebates or credits.Solar electricity costs $6k and up, after which you may get rebates or credits. A typical system, if there is such a thing, is several times that size, and it is not unheard of to have a system 20 times that large.

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