San Francisco introduces Solar@Work campaign

San Francisco introduces Solar@Work campaignPlenty of attention across the country has been given to large-scale solar installations and residential solar installations. But smaller-scale commercial applications aren’t getting as much attention. At the Intersolar conference in San Francisco this week the city unveiled its Solar@Work campaign to put more solar on commercial buildings through a group purchasing discount program.

Beginning on July 13, the city began accepting applications for the program. Businesses and commercial property owners must apply by October 14.

“The pricing for all participants in the program improves as the total size of Solar@Work increases, with three tiers of pricing: below 1.5 megawatts, 1.5 megawatts to 3 megawatts and over 3 megawatts,” said Jenna Goodward, an associate with the World Resources Institute’s Business Engagement in Climate & Technology program. “The program can accommodate as many participants as would like to join by the deadline, and there may be future additional rounds.”

The project was developed by the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment, in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Optony. The World Resources Institute (WRI) negotiated contracts on behalf of the program organizers and selected SolarCity as the winning solar contractor.

Under the program, businesses can qualify for various financing options, including solar leases, power-purchase agreements, cash purchases, business loans and other options.

“Solar@Work will help participants access the financing option that results in the best financials for their particular project, but if they already have a loan offer, then they can bring that with them,” Goodward said.

The program is being financed through the Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities program and with support from DOE’s SunShot Initiative. Though one of the aims of the program is to reduce balance of system costs through group negotiations, the project has not applied for funding under SunShot’s BOS initiative.

“We hope that the findings from the program will be useful because the program aims to install multiple projects in the Bay Area, so we will be in a position to compare permitting processes and codes across cities,” Goodward said. “By negotiating on behalf of program participants, Solar@Work has done a lot of the heavy lifting for them and reduced the burden on buyers, lowering the transaction costs they face.”

Image courtesy of WRI.