New York’s SunShares Program Changes Solar Purchasing

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Last week, Governor Cuomo and NYSERDA announced a new round of innovative NY-Sun programs focused on scaling up solar adoption throughout the Empire State. We’re proud to report that Vote Solar’s GroupEnergy team will be partnering with Sustainable CUNY to administer one of those programs: NYSolar Smart – SunShares.

SunShares will help affinity groups – think major businesses, local governments, universities and non-profits – pool the purchasing power of their employees and members toward going solar at home. This unique take on collective purchasing will help build solar awareness, lower costs, and support the state’s solar industry in one fell swoop. The programs will serve affinity groups in two metropolitan areas.

Here’s how it works: SunShares will help participants navigate the potentially daunting process of going solar together – with our expert guidance. Whether or not they end up going solar through SunShares, program participants come away armed with the information they need become solar educators and advocates in their own right. For those who do choose to go solar through the program, they will be doing so at a lower price tag. Being able to serve a bulk solar purchase without the usual customer acquisition costs adds up to real saving for the industry that can be passed along to customers. Vote Solar’s 2013 GroupEnergy program with the City and County of San Francisco yielded a whopping 20% savings off of the city’s average residential installation cost.

We are excited about the program’s ability to advance our work on these non-hardware “soft” costs that represent such a significant opportunity for making solar more affordable to more Americans. As our own experience has shown, group purchasing programs have a track record of success in tackling a major soft cost – customer acquisition – head on. (According to a study by LBNL, customer acquisition costs are $0.62/W higher in the U.S. than for comparable projects in Germany–that’s almost as much as the cost of modules!)

SunShares also gives the affinity organizations an opportunity to offer a fantastic employee/member benefit while advancing their overall sustainability and social responsibility goals. And of course it all means more solar for New York, which builds healthier, more resilient communities.

Since 2012, Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative has focused on programs that drive down costs for customers and build scale to jump-start a self-sustaining local solar industry – and SunShares is another example of that smart strategy. NY-Sun has proven to be a remarkable success, catapulting the state to a leadership position in both solar installation growth and job creation. The administration’s recent commitment to expanding and extending a NY-Sun will keep those benefits shining on New York. We look forward working with NYSERDA and Sustainable CUNY to launch this new program and further support a state that’s made great strides in advancing solar energy.

Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

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Vote Solar is a non-profit grassroots organization working to fight climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

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