A team’s first priority should be identifying (1) the necessary incentives to reduce the up-front cost of rooftop solar and (2) the corresponding funding required.
Residents installing solar through a Solarize campaign typically receive an up-front price that is 10%–20% lower than market average due to the campaign’s numerous high-quality leads and its competitive contractor selection process. Whereas this discount may be sufficient for upper- or middle-income residents to view solar as cost-effective, campaigns typically need to provide additional incentives for lower-income residents that cover the majority of the up-front cost so they can receive immediate cost savings without taking on additional debt.
First, the team should determine the specific up-front incentives necessary to enable participation by lower-income residents. For example, with a Solarize price of $3 per watt for a 5 kilowatt (kW) system, the team could estimate the economic impact of a 100% buydown (i.e., $15,000) versus a 50% buydown incentive (i.e., $7,500) using calculators like RMI’s RESET. Then, the team could identify the corresponding funding needed to achieve its lower-income goal (e.g., with an identified incentive of $7,500 per system and a goal of 20 lower-income installs, the team would need to secure $150,000 in funding). Some teams may also prioritize funding to reduce the cost of roof and electrical upgrades. When identifying funding opportunities, teams typically consider the following sources: