Organizations Will Work Together To Extend Lower Cost Solar Installations
San Rafael CA (SPX) Sep 11, 2008
GoSolarMarin has announced that it had begun a second project, by soliciting bids from solar vendors as a project of the non-profit MarinLink organization.
GoSolarMarin founder Lisa Max said that a second Request for Proposal (RFP) had been issued to the more than 30 vendors who had expressed an initial interest.
Within the first two days after the RFP was issued, more than a dozen vendors responded including, Akeena Solar, Santa Rosa; A1 Sun, Berkeley; Borrego Solar, Berkeley; Evillage Solar, San Diego; Greenlight Solar, Mill Valley; Next Energy Solar, San Francisco; REC Solar, Petaluma; ReGrid Power, Campbell; SolarCity, Foster City; Sun First Solar, San Rafael, and Sunlight, San Francisco.
"We have taken into account what we learned during the first RFP process," she said. "As a result, this time we will consider recommending more than one vendor of choice, based on price, financing options, aesthetics, and even the most creative solution.
"We are encouraging smaller vendors to participate by giving credit for innovative or unique options. We are also expressly asking bidders to include commercial buildings in their offer. And, in partnering with MarinLink, we felt comfortable requesting a referral fee from the vendor(s) that we recommend."
The fees will be utilized to offset GoSolarMarin expenses and to support the many local community-based non-profit organizations that receive funds from MarinLink, she said.
In 2007 and 2008, Max personally funded the first phase of GoSolarMarin and with industry participants co-sponsored a community forum, which was attended by more than 90 California officials.
The latest RFP will be evaluated by a committee comprised of Max, co-GSM founders Jennifer Hewitt and Carol Benson as well as two non-affiliated industry experts: Dana Armanino, Marin County's coordinator of green business, energy efficiency and solar programs, and Dane Faber, chairman of the Sausalito Sustainability Commission.
Max said GoSolarMarin's goals remained the same:
+ to encourage the largest number of property owners to go solar at the best price they can obtain as a group, and
+ to benefit the environment, to enhance the value of property, to improve communities and to reduce electric bills.
According to Max, more than 100 new solar photovoltaic (electric) systems were purchased as a result of a 90-day marketing campaign undertaken in late 2007 and early 2008, based on GoSolarMarin's first RFP.
The systems represent a total of more than 300 kilowatts of new solar power, the equivalent of removing 1,110 cars from the road or not producing 450 tons of Greenhouse Gas pollution, each year. It would require 1,716 acres of new tropical rainforest to reduce an equivalent amount of CO2 from the atmosphere.
The first RFP attracted 10 solar companies to the bidding process. A GoSolarMarin Steering Committee consisting of Max, Hewitt and Benson vetted all 10, and did onsite inspections of the four finalists. The "winning" bid was 26.9 percent below Marin County net pricing prior to the program.
As a result, the price of solar power in Marin County was reduced to $7.94 per AC watt ("The kind of electricity you actually use," Max says) from its previous pricing of $9.32. This resulted in a savings of $4,830 for the average 3.5 kilowatt installation. A German solar trade publication cited the "below $8 pricing" as a "breakthrough" in the consumer market.
At the time, many in the solar industry expressed doubt that the price could be delivered. However, California Solar Initiative (CSI) records show that the installations were, in fact, sold at the GoSolarMarin advertised price. During the same period, several other vendors matched the GoSolarMarin offer-resulting in even more new solar electric systems at affordable prices.