A new program in San Francisco, Solar@Work, offers discounts, and in some cases free installation, on solar arrays for commercial building owners and lease holders. Almost any size business can qualify for the program that will lower energy costs for participants. For businesses proactively addressing San Francisco’s required energy audits, this program requires a closer look. (For full analysis of San Francisco’s commercial building energy audit program, click here)
Solar@Work groups commercial building owners and/or lease holders together to reduce costs through economies of scale. Participants generate the greatest savings on energy costs through the purchase of a solar array. The cost of purchasing and installing a system can be prohibitive, so Solar@Work creates a discount on installation and financing through volume pricing. A “traditional” solar lease is also available with no up front cost, but the savings on energy bills are markedly less significant.
The Collaborative Solar Procurement model created by the World Resources Institute allows the Solar@Work program to offer four financing options. Owners can purchase systems at a discount, secure a solar lease, secure a capital loan, or finance through other options including power purchase agreements.
The goal is to collect enough businesses in the program to collectively generate 2 megawatts of power or more. Applications are being accepted until October 31, 2011, and an informational conference call is scheduled for October 21, 2011.
The ideal applicants are owner/occupiers or long-term leasers whose available space on a roof or parking area is 5,000 square feet or more.
Solar City is the exclusive vendor for the program created by the World Resources Institute, the City and County of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment (SF Environment), in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Optony.
Solar City was selected through a competitive process to provide the installation services for the program. The company anticipates hiring 400 new workers in the second half of 2011 including 100 in the Bay Area, partly due to Solar@Work.
Congratulations to WRI, San Francisco, and the other contributors to this program. Solar@Work promises to be another great example of how sustainable development will lead a growth in the economy through reducing energy costs and increasing employment.