Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Solar-Energy Win-Win-Win

By Nate Seltenrich
Thu, May 26, 2011 at 3:52 PM

You're a good East Bay resident. You shop locally. You believe in alternative energy and support the efforts of the Sierra Club. And if you don't already have solar panels on your rooftop, you're thinking about it. Well get this: A new collaboration between the Sierra Club and Oakland-based solar contractor Sungevity offers a unique opportunity to wear a few of your do-gooder hats at once. (It also offered an excuse for Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune and Sungevity founder and CEO Danny Kennedy to climb atop an Oakland home on Tuesday.)

Through the new partnership, the Sierra Club will reach out to its thousands of members and supporters in Northern and Central California — the San Francisco Bay Chapter alone includes 38,000 members in Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, and San Francisco counties — and encourage them to sign up for a rooftop solar lease through Sungevity, America's fastest-growing residential solar company. For everyone who does, Sungevity gets a new customer and Sierra Club gets a $1,000 kickback from Sungevity to support its clean-energy campaigns.

“For our company, it’s a great way to get to a constituency that clearly gets it," said Sungevity's Kennedy. “From their point of view, it’s a great way to engage people in a solution to a problem that they describe all the time.” The third winner, he said, is the customer's wallet; through Sungevity's unique leasing program, up-front costs are all but eliminated in favor of small lease payments atop a significantly reduced monthly electricity bill.

Granted, let's not forget the fourth benefactor: that little thing called Earth. Eventually, reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution achieved through widespread adoption of rooftop solar could go a long way toward easing some of the planet's environmental crises. Fiscal incentives like this are an important way of getting there.

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