If you are a homeowner who has considered going over to solar you know the pitfalls and difficulties you have faced in the past. First of all, it is very expensive. Most people just cannot afford this kind of investment up front, even if it does mean big savings down the line. And then there is the overall confusion among all of us about which systems are available and which will work for you. Toss in the various rebates and incentives and you have a recipe for surrender. Most homeowners just flat out give up out of exasperation, even if they still long for this change.
Enter 1BOG (One Block off the Grid). This new organization is trying to take some of the confusion and expense out of trying to buy solar. 1BOG was formed earlier this year in San Fransisco and it’s main goal is to organize all interested parties and having them buy into solar upgrades on a collective level. They ran their first effort his past summer and found that their idea slashed the prices of solar, including materials AND installation by a whopping 43%! This total is pretty accurate, it even includes all the federal, state and local rebates. On the heels of this success, they are now in the process of expanding this effort into 11 other major cities like Los Angeles, San Diego and Denver.
The entire concept, pulling together large groups of consumers, amplifies buying power and enables the group to negotiate discounts from suppliers and installers, often for a substantial amount. This brings down the overall cost of this upgrade for all of the participants. It’s sort of like a carpool idea. Everybody rides in the same car and then everybody saves on gas. Imagine if all of you bought a single car and then shared it. This concept puts solar power with the reach of many consumers for the first time in our history.
This concept was the baby of a husband and wife team, a former advertising executive and a Silicon Valley software executive. They created the organization after going the grueling learning experience of researching, buying and installing solar on their own home in California. Once they were done, they had a real education in the process and realized that the project was way too challenging for many folk. They first created a website, Solar4SF.org, for the purpose of simply sharing what they’d learned. They wanted to save everyone else the headache of doing what they had accomplished after so much work.
Along with the website, they also spread the word through community gatherings like flea markets. By the beginning of this past summer they had the first group of 100 people signed up. 1BOG then sent out requests for proposals from vendors in their area; sort of like bidding on a major contract. Their first winning bidder was Real Goods Solar, a company in California that is known for making the very first solar panel sale in the USA over 30 years ago.
At this time,1BOG is a volunteer organization but they are hoping to be successful enough to turn it into a for profit company and be able to hire paid employees. But first and foremost they wish to spread the use of renewable energies, no matter what time and effort that actually takes.
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