The Rochester company will lead a solar campaign in Seneca County that focuses on outreach and education and offers increasingly significant discounts the more people in the community elect to install solar on their homes and businesses.
“We’ve really found something that works for us here,” said Arista CEO Bill Schmitz.
The solarize campaign gives Arista a platform from which it can easily market its product in a small geographic area. Its contract with area leadership lends the company credibility and installing large volumes of solar panels in a condensed area with streamlined permitting saves Arista on overhead. That allows Arista to pass the savings along to the customer and develop a strong solar presence in a small community in a short time.
“It worked so well in Madison County,” Schmitz said.
That was Arista’s first solarize project. Since then, the company has landed contracts in two other small towns in more rural upstate New York – Hornell and Gensee.
“We’re finding it’s a great way to educate people about solar,” Schmitz said. “We call it demystifying – our education workshops.”
He said Arista usually brings one of its clients in to a group of 10 to 50 people who want to learn about how solar and the solarize program works. The client explains how simple the process was, what it cost and what he’s saving on his electric bill, Schmitz said.
It’s pretty straightforward and people are usually more interested after the presentation than they were when it started.
“We get a lot of people in their mid-50s who would like to pay off their mortgages and reduce their bills before they retire,” Schmitz said. “If they get rid of their energy bill, they’ll just have their taxes by the time they’re 62.”
So far, Arista has concentrated its efforts to contract for solarize campaigns within about an hour and a half of Rochester. The company brings a lot of its own crews out to the towns and trains a handful of locals to install the solar panels.
“A lot of the people we’ve trained have wanted to make a career of it afterward,” he said.
Schmitz said Arista is looking to move into other New York communities with its solarize offer and could even expand the model, which it didn’t create but has perfected, outside the state.