Group Purchasing: Power in Numbers

Group purchasing programs leverage group buying power to obtain lower prices, attract better financing options, and simplify the installation process for program participants. The San Francisco Department of the Environment has implemented three group purchase programs in recent years.

San Francisco SunShares. SF SunShares is an employee group solar discount program offered by the City of San Francisco, the Business Council on Climate Change (BC3), and the non-profit Vote Solar. The first round of SF SunShares, which launched in the summer of 2013, resulted in almost half a megawatt of new residential solar installed throughout the Bay Area!

We are excited to announce SF SunShares II, which will run from September through the end of November 2014. The City and local employers including Genentech, Salesforce, UCSF, ARUP, Virgin America and United Airlines are participating in this program to help their employees / retirees pool their buying power to secure significant discounts that make installing solar more affordable than ever. 

Want to Participate? Any homeowner can sign up individually for SunShares! Please sign-up here  to receive your no cost / obligation solar assessment and discounted solar pricing. Does your business want to participate? Contact us to learn more about future opportunities! Renewables@sfgov.org

Solar@Work. The World Resources Institute (WRI), with the support of SF Environment, launched this commercial solar group purchase in 2011 to help small- and medium-size commercial property owners in San Francisco obtain affordable solar PV systems and affordable financing options. The program secured a 20 percent discount for participating members and provided streamlined financing options, including a $0 solar power purchase agreement. For more information, check out WRI's Purchasing Power: Best Practices Guide to Collaborative Solar Procurement.

Solar@School. In 2012, a group of four private schools in San Francisco joined forces to issue a Request for Qualifications under this innovative new program. Although the schools do not have a tax appetite, they were looking for a way to take advantage of the significant tax incentives for solar projects available from the federal government. Through third-party power purchase agreements, they were able to reduce their operating costs and allocate more funding to school-related programs. The schools have the combined potential to install over 500 kW.

For more information on group purchase program models, read our policy brief on group purchasing.

Group Purchase Providers

GroupEnergy [mygroupenergy.com]
One Block Off the Grid [1bog.org]

This list contains all the solar group purchase providers that the SF Department of the Environment is aware of. The City and County of San Francisco neither endorses nor assumes liability for the quality of work performed by any of these companies. If your company is not listed here and would like to be, please send your request to be added to renewables@sfgov.org.

Additional Information for Group Purchasing: Power in Numbers

WRI group purchasing guide
This Best Practices Guide is intended to assist commercial and government entities in the process of organizing and executing a collaborative solar purchase.
SF Energy Map
A map of renewable energy activity around the City, including installed solar systems, case studies, and monitoring stations.
Solar@Work Press Release
San Francisco Launches Solar@Work: Innovative Model Creates Breakthrough in Solar Affordability for Small Businesses
Purchasing Power: Best Practices Guide to Collaborative Solar Procurement
This Best Practices Guide is intended to assist commercial and government entities in the process of organizing and executing a collaborative solar purchase.
Green Tenant Toolkit
The Green Tenant Toolkit will assist tenants and landlords in reaching their sustainability goals within commercial buildings.