ASTI Newsletter |February 2014 Edition | By Tyler Espinoza
Between learning the basics of solar to understanding competing vendor’s bids, shopping for solar can be a complicated and time-consuming activity, which discourages many homeowners and businesses from seriously considering a solar installation. For communities that want to promote solar power for its residents, the complex landscape of financing options and solar providers can be one of the most difficult obstacles to overcome.
EnergySage, a new online solar marketplace founded with support from the U.S. Department of Energy, is tackling this problem head on, and the American Solar Transformation Initiative is helping to build awareness of its innovative platform.
The “Expedia® of solar”
As the self-proclaimed “Expedia® of solar,” EnergySage simplifies the research process for interested consumers with a straightforward comparison shopping platform featuring a network of pre-screened high-quality solar installers. As installers compete for business in this transparent marketplace, consumers receive more choices in a comparative format and lower prices through simplification of the sales and buying process.
The online solar marketplace allows customers to quickly evaluate, request, review and compare competitive quotes for solar PV systems and financing options from a variety of pre-screened installers. With just a few clicks, the platform submits requests for price quotes and provides installer bids in an apples-to-apples format that equalizes any differences in the size of the systems quoted or the underlying assumptions used to estimate financial returns, financing options and production levels
Potential customers are able to correspond with installers through an on-site messaging platform that protects personal information. According to EnergySage customer J. Hunmann, “the EnergySage platform made communication between the offering companies and myself extremely efficient, making the conversations well organized and easily reviewed.”
In addition to its comparison shopping platform, EnergySage provides free access to state-of-the-art solar evaluation tools and educational resources. The site’s instant estimate feature uses information culled from leading proprietary market price databases to offer homeowners and businesses a ballpark estimate of the costs and savings that a solar panel system will deliver for their specific property, as well as an assessment of their property’s suitability for solar and expected environmental benefits. Vikram Aggarwal, the chief executive and founder of EnergySage, said the information is designed to self-motivate and to inspire confidence to start shopping for solar without any sales pressure.
A Platform to Create Customized and Effective Solar Programs for Communities
EnergySage’s Solar Marketplace offers considerable value for municipalities that are interested in promoting solar to their residents and businesses. The online platform can be leveraged to create customized, scalable and effective solar programs at no cost to a community. Ongoing programs include a regional initiative for homeowners and business owners in the National Capital Region, as well as a bulk purchase program available to employees of Walgreens.
For a customized solar purchasing program, a jurisdiction could opt to include only one installer, a handful of local installers, or EnergySage’s prescreened network. No matter the structure, EnergySage will evaluate solar installers thoroughly to ensure that consumers engage with qualified and reputable companies. These programs can be structured with a set pricing menu, price range, or can be left to competitive bidding to determine the installation cost to each property. The online platform provides program sponsors with considerable insight into participation and sales activity, and can provide regular reporting on program benefits, including expected financial savings and environmental benefits.
If your community is interested in exploring the implementation of a customized solar bulk purchase program, contact the Solar Roadmap team today to start the process.