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Solar ‘group buy’ program launches in San Jose

August 20th, 2010

From Green Right Now Reports

Members of the San Jose Credit Union who are also City of San Jose employees and retirees can now go solar more efficiently and cost effectively as part of a group buy program that is the first of its kind in the U.S.

The San Jose Employee Solar Group Buy program is the result of a partnership between the San Jose Credit Union and San Jose’s Solar America City Program. A group of 130 City employees and retirees negotiated the group buy, which allows them to purchase residential solar electric and solar thermal systems at a reduced cost.

The two organizations said they will provide technical and strategic expertise to help group members reap the benefits of volume purchasing and low interest loans. The group buy model is expected to lower solar system costs for a large group of homeowners and will encourage community participation in achieving San Jose’s Green Vision goals, as well as neighboring cities’ environmental goals, the groups said.

“We’re already the city with the most solar power in California,” San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said in a statement. “These innovative approaches are what continue to set San Jose apart as a leader in sustainable energy. I encourage more organizations to follow their lead to help us achieve our Green Vision goals.”

The San Jose Employee Solar Group Buy program builds upon the success of similar community group solar purchases in Portland, Ore., and other cities across the country, and takes the model from the neighborhood and city-specific level to the organizational level. Through this type of program, large groups of organizational employees that are members of a well-respected local credit union can utilize familiar financing tools to go solar no matter what city they live in.

SunPower Corporation and SunWater Solar, the solar providers chosen for the project, were selected through a competitive bid process. The two companies will work with participating homeowners to perform site assessments to determine the correct size and design of the photovoltaic and/or solar thermal systems. Installations will take place between September of 2010 and February of 2011.

The San Jose Employee Solar Group Buy program aims to install solar electric and solar thermal systems on more than 130 homes, adding over 300 kilowatts of new solar electric capacity throughout the Bay Area. The most recent California Public Utilities Commission annual report shows that from Jan. 1, 2007 to July 7, 2010, San Jose installed 14.9 megawatts of solar power on residential and commercial roofs across 1,737 sites.



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