Buying a solar system on the cheap just got a whole lot easier for Los Angeles residents now that 1 Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a community solar purchasing program, is in town. 1BOG, a hit in the Bay Area, is partnering with residential solar dealer SunRun to move its service closer to national expansion. 1BOG is already active in New Orleans, Louisiana and San Diego, California, but the LA program is the first to team up with SunRun.
1BOG’s business model uses the power of community as a bargaining chip
to make solar energy cheaper for homeowners by taking advantage of rebates and negotiating with solar installers for group rates.
Unlike participants in other cities, 1BOG-ers in LA won’t pay to install and maintain their solar systems. Instead, they will pay SunRun a a low, fixed rate for solar energy produced by the systems. The price of the energy is made even lower with 1BOG’s group rate, which in past campaigns has led to discounts of up to 48%. Homeowners participating in the LA program also will get lifetime maintenance, monitoring and insurance from SunRun free of charge.
If you don’t live in LA, San Francisco, San Diego, or New Orleans, fear not. 1BOG is expanding to Denver, Colorado; Phoenix, Arizona; and Sacramento, CA in the next two months. Programs in 10 more U.S. cities will follow soon after.
The speed of 1BOG’s expansion is a testament to the popularity of solar systems even in tough economic times. When I first spoke to 1BOG Founder Sylvia Ventura last August, the company had signed up only 100 homes for its initial San Francisco campaign. Now 1BOG has signed up hundreds of customers in each active city, with hundreds more presumably waiting in the wings of future 1BOG cities. The message is clear: if you provide reasonably-priced alternative energy services, consumers will respond.