Deborah Fleischer, Green Impact, August 2017
SunShares: Making Going Solar Easier and More Affordable
Since 2013, the UCSF community has been harnessing clean power by participating in Bay Area SunShares, a partnership between Bay Area cities and companies that pools buying power and provides discounts on home solar systems and zero emission vehicles (ZEV). To date, 25 UCSF households have switched to solar energy at home (165.12 KWhs of solar installed). For 2017, SunShares is offering free workshops that can help homeowners, drivers, and renters understand their clean energy options and how they can benefit from SunShares.
The 2016 program was the largest to date and the first to fully incorporate a ZEV discount component. In 2016, together with 37 partners, 1,817 people registered to learn more about the program, 144 households decided to switch to solar at home (732 kWhs of solar installed), 29 bought ZEV, and 326 attended a Community Renewables educational forum. Previous SunShares programs have led to almost 5 MWs of new solar installed across Northern California, enough to power over 820 homes.
Under the SunShares program, any UCSF faculty, staff or student living in the Bay Area (as well as residents of Sacramento and Yolo counties) can access discounts on ZEVs, including hydrogen fuel cell powered electric vehicles. In addition, they are able to install rooftop solar at prices well below market rates.
Getting Started for Home Owners
An evaluation committee, consisting of volunteers from SunShares Outreach Partner organizations, has pre-selected three solar providers to serve as vendors for the 2017 Bay Area SunShares program, following a competitive RFP process.
To get started, participants can sign up to receive a no-obligation quote for their home. You can learn more about your clean energy options at over 20 free workshops being held across the Bay Area. Check the SunShares website for details on scheduled educational workshops. SunShares will also be hosting six webinars this year, which will be the same exact format as the in-person workshops, including live Q&A with the selected providers. Education Webinars have been scheduled at Noon for: Aug 16, Aug 29, Sept 14, Sept 26, Oct 12, and Oct 17.
The selected solar installers for the 2017 Bay Area SunShares program are:
- PetersenDean (a SunShares Provider in 2016): PetersenDean (PD) started as a roofing company in 1984 and branched into the solar industry in 1992. PD is a world class roofing and solar company that is committed to operating in a profitable and ethical manner. PetersenDean is known for its dedication to be an all American made company.
- Solar Technologies: SunPower by Solar Technologies provides the most advanced commercially available PV solar technology in terms of efficiency, performance, reliability and warranty coverage with their E‐Series and X‐Series modules.
- SkyTech Solar (a SunShares Provider in 2016): Starting as a small San Francisco-based solar installer in 2008, Skytech Solar’s aim has always been to provide a safe consultation for those interested and also to provide great value for quality solar and an excellent installation backed by ongoing support. Initially, we had solely focused on San Francisco residents who were taking advantage of the GoSolarSF city-based rebate program and we were able to install hundreds of solar systems to those in the city who qualified, at no cost to them.
Participants have until November 10th to sign up for limited-time discounts, and can sign a contract with one of the selected providers by December 31st to qualify for the group discount available through Bay Area SunShares. Installations will be completed the following Spring.
UCSF is not participating in SunShares ZEV program because discounts offered to the UCSF community are a better deal. UCSF faculty, staff, and students considering the purchase of a new electric vehicle can take advantage of a special promotion being offered by Nissan. From now through September 30, 2017, Nissan’s special promotion, provides $10,000 off the MSRP ($30,680) of a new 2017 Nissan LEAF. This is in addition to the $7,500 federal and $2,500 state tax credits.
Clean Energy Options for Renters
Obviously, renters are not going to install solar panels, but the Bay Area offers renters (and home owners not ready to install solar) several clean energy options. There are several options available in the Bay Area for tapping into renewable energy without installing solar panels.
For San Francisco residents, CleanPowerSF, San Francisco’s Community Choice Aggregation program, offers cost-effective, cleaner energy alternatives for your home. Enrolling in CleanPowerSF’s 100% renewable SuperGreen energy is the number one action San Francisco residents can take to help the City reach its climate action goals.
Greener, cleaner energy is now provided throughout the Bay Area. Other clean energy programs to explore include:
- Marin Clean Energy (which is now serving Richmond, El Cerrito, and San Pablo)
- Peninsula Clean Energy
- Sonoma Clean Power
- Alameda County Community Choice Aggregation (recently approved and expected to be on-line in about a year).
- Palo Alto Clean
- PGE Solar Choice