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New Program Will Help San Francisco Businesses Go Solar

WRI is accepting participants for Solar@Work, a new solar collaborative purchasing program.

A new pilot program from the World Resources Institute, called Solar@Work, will help San Francisco area businesses obtain affordable solar electric systems. We have issued a Request for Qualifications to find an experienced solar vendor with competitive pricing so that solar can be put to work for program participants.

Upfront costs and the lack of available financing are the main obstacles keeping commercial property owners from installing solar, according to the findings from the San Francisco Department of the Environment (SF Environment). WRI has piloted collaborative group solar purchasing and has found that it can lower costs and minimize time and staff resources spent navigating the process.

SF Environment proposed the Solar@Work “aggregation” approach, which combines multiple properties into one solar purchasing group, as a way to remove financing barriers they identified in San Francisco. To help make this a reality, WRI is organizing interested parties to aggregate their demand and seeking proposals from potential vendors to find a solution to supply solar in San Francisco.

Aggregated purchasing leverages companies’ combined buying power to obtain lower prices and attract financing for their solar electric systems through an equipment lease model.

Solar@Work is recruiting commercial facility owners in San Francisco and neighboring cities who want to use solar power to offset their electricity usage and costs. The ideal site to participate would:

  • be an owner-occupied commercial property (residential and government facilities are not currently eligible).
  • have maximum of 3 stories and an average electrical load;
  • have available space on their roof or parking area of 5000 ft2 or more with no major shading; and
  • have no plans for major repairs or renovations in the next 15 years to the potential installation areas.

Solar projects that are purchased and constructed under Solar@Work can expect lower-than-average solar pricing with preferred financing terms for qualified buyers. Performance guarantees will be included to ensure that the installed systems perform as expected and deliver long-term savings. Little or no money will be required in advance and the system will have a buyout option at the end of the financing term, which is expected to be 7-10 years. All applicable solar rebates will be received by the buyers, while the tax benefits will generally be used by the financing company to significantly reduce monthly payments and streamline accounting and reporting requirements. A Request for Qualifications (RFQ) targeting solar vendors and banks is available here.

Solar vendors and banks interested in being considered as program suppliers via the Request for Qualifications should also contact WRI for more information.

For the most up-to-date information on how to participate, visit our Solar@Work page


This project is being developed with support of the San Francisco Department of the Environment through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar America Cities program, and consultants Optony Inc and ICF International.

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