About Solar Up California

Background

SolarUp California is a campaign led by SmartPower, a non-profit organization whose mission is to help residents in communities across the country make smart energy choices. For communities, organizations and businesses looking to engage customers in energy efficiency and clean energy actions, SmartPower serves as the bridge linking directly to residents and businesses. Named the nation’s best non-profit marketing firm in 2014, SmartPower’s exclusive focus on energy efficiency and clean energy results in high visibility, high impact on-the-ground community campaigns designed to transform how residents use, adopt and invest in clean energy and energy efficiency.

SolarUp Story

The SolarUp California Campaign is based upon the incredibly successful “Solarize” program that was created back in 2007. SmartPower refined this model with great success in other states and is now launching in California.

Over the years we’ve realized that the on-the-ground outreach approach is so successful because it addresses several of the key barriers to residential solar deployment identified in consumer research:

  1. Fair Pricing. The SmartPower program offers a reduced initial price because of the “group purchase”. 
Add in zero down financing thanks to companies such as San-Francisco-based Dividend Solar and cost becomes less and less of an issue.
  2. Reliability. As a program managed by a non-profit organization and sponsored by a municipality and/or state, SmartPower gives residents the confidence they need to move forward with a pre-selected, pre-approved installer using pre-vetted equipment;
  3. Complexity. We’ve removed the confusion and complexity in buying solar because the pricing and the installer for SmartPower campaigns have been screened and competitively selected. As a result, the consumer is not overwhelmed with technical details and financial confusion.
  4. Inertia. Finally, every retailer knows a good “Sale” drives in customers. So our campaigns create a clear end date that ensures consumers are motivated to take action, shortening the decision making process.

The program we’re launching here in California is backed by newly released research out of Yale and Duke Universities, that proves that this model helps boost the adoption of rooftop solar power.

Titled “Solarize Your Community,” this national guidebook makes the case for “contagious” rooftop solar. The findings are distilled from a three-year study of successful campaigns that we designed and implemented that tripled the number of rooftop installations, reduced the average cost of residential solar by 20% to 30%, and created local jobs in participating communities.

“Solarize Your Community” is now available at http://cbey.yale.edu/programs-research/solar-energy-evolution-and-diffusion-studies-seeds.

According to the guidebook, the action of peers is an incredibly important motivator; during a six-month period, the presence of one solar rooftop project increased the average number of installations within a half-mile by nearly 50%.

Solar, in other words, is contagious, the study showed.

And the SmartPower program here in Southern California is designed to capitalize on this effect while leveraging peers and social networks to spur solar adoption. The researchers found – and we’ve had great success with — enthusiastic volunteers, especially those who installed solar as part of the program.  Indeed, they have been key to the campaign’s success.

“Solarize Your Community” also defines the role that different stakeholders — public, private, and nonprofit — play in building an ecosystem for renewable energy investment. The coalition of organizations that support a SmartPower campaign will create the groundwork for a robust clean energy market that no single entity alone could have achieved.