Solarize Installers

After three rounds of Solarize Upper Valley, we are closing up shop and moving on to other initiatives. Our sincere thanks to the many installers who bid on and participated in Solarize campaigns over the past two years. We couldn’t have done it with you.

Contact Sarah Simonds with questions: sarah@vitalcommunities.org or 802.291.9100 x109.

Frequently Asked Questions

Solarize Communities? Towns? What’s the difference?
Some towns will apply to be a Solarize community alone, and some towns will apply as a group of towns to be one Solarize community. We experienced both during the first round of Solarize and expect to see the same in subsequent rounds.

Who is eligible to apply as a Solarize installer partner?
Any solar PV installer with reasonable proximity to the participating communities is eligible to apply, provided the company demonstrates experience and proficiency in solar PV installations, is an approved contractor for residential solar incentives in the appropriate state(s), and submits a proposal that meets the threshold criteria outlined in section four of the Request for Proposals from Solar PV Installers.

Installers are encouraged to work together – whether bidding jointly on a community or subcontracting some of the work out if the flow of leads and installations exceeds an installer’s capacity. See RFP for guidelines around installer partnerships.

Who chooses the Solarize Installers?
Each Solarize community will choose its own Solarize installer partner, with the help of an independent technical consultant (shared among the communities) and Vital Communities. Each Solarize community will have a selection committee including at least three volunteer representatives who will review bids and interview installers. We will conduct joint interviews so installers can have one face-to-face meeting with all of the communities they bid on.

Why only one installer per community?
There are pros and cons to selecting one installer per community for Solarize. A few reasons we believe this is the right approach:

  • We’ve heard from Solarize communities both in the Upper Valley and in other states that vetting and working with a single, trusted installer makes the outreach process more straight-forward and effective.
  • Solarize involves 15 weeks of community outreach. The buzz created will remain even after Solarize has ended, and all installers will benefit from that. Even during those 15 weeks, customers are welcome to work with other installers, and other installers are welcome to continue marketing in Solarize communities.
  • We’re trying to make this as simple as possible for the customer. Solarize is designed to help customers overcome barriers to going solar. Having the community vet and partner with a single installer, making the price clear, and promising reliable service will help generate consumer confidence and move more people toward solar during the Solarize campaign.
  • The communities are not saying their installer partner is the only solar installer homeowners can or should work with. Communities are simply saying we’ve decided to partner with this installer in our push to double the amount of solar in our community, and we feel good about recommending their price and service.

Connecticut is very different from the Upper Valley – how much of the Solarize Connecticut program are you trying to replicate here?
We are learning what we can from Connecticut but have no expectation that anything about the Connecticut program will necessarily ring true in the Upper Valley. Our financing options, tax structures, income levels, community sizes, installer sizes, incentive structures, etc. are all very different from Connecticut. That’s why we’re working closely with installers and other partners here in the Upper Valley to help us refine a program that actually works for our region.

Solarize works, in part, because the installer provides a discount on solar installations during the program. Where does that discount come from?
In Connecticut, savings from installers came directly from savings on customer acquisition costs. We recognize that in the Upper Valley, customer acquisition costs are already relatively low and there may not be much room for realizing savings.

Installers should think critically about where and how Solarize Upper Valley could result in savings which can be passed on to the customer – no matter how small. Vital Communities is open to feedback from installers that can help us refine the community outreach campaign to realize greater efficiency in the sales/installation process.

Installers should not sacrifice quality of equipment or services in order to deliver a lower price.

Installers should not lose money in order to participate in Solarize.

How can we avoid Solarize becoming a “solar coaster” of boom and bust in our local market?
We don’t want to see Solarize create a bunch of temporary jobs at local installation companies which disappear at the end of the program. We encourage installers to work together to handle increased capacity. Our hope is that Solarize will spur ongoing interest and help grow the economy and create new jobs in a sustainable way.

Do installers reapply to participate in future rounds of Solarize?
Yes. Even installers who were Solarize installer partners in previous rounds must submit new bids for each new round of Solarize. Each round of Solarize will bring a new batch of communities with unique needs and characteristics. The communities choose their partner installers, and any installer is welcome to submit one or more bids.

Is price the driving factor when communities consider bids from installers?
No. Pricing bids should be competitive, but ultimately Solarize communities are as interested in reputation and reliability as they are in price. Communities may choose installers who do not offer the lowest price but are perceived to be better partners overall.

Is there any money flowing through Vital Communities from customers?
No. Vital Communities has a foundation grant allowing us to work on Solarize Upper Valley. The only transaction of money happens between the customer and the installer, as in a typical solar installation.

What do we do about the uncertainty of incentives available on the NH side?
If any aspect of your bid (pricing etc.) relies on uncertain factors (e.g. incentives for solar in New Hampshire that may not be available through the duration of the Solarize program), be sure to make a note in your bid explaining your assumptions and the possible implications if the situation changes.

RFP and Related Documents

What's Happening

Read our Blog

Calendar

December 2019

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31

Vital Communities Program News

Staff

Ana Mejia

Climate Projects Coordinator

Transportation, Energy

 802-291-9100 x114

Transportation, Energy

— Ana Mejia, Climate Projects Coordinator

Ana Mejia is the Climate Projects Coordinator at Vital Communities. She is a Southern California native and first arrived to the Upper Valley in 2018. Ana received her Bachelor’s degree in Geology from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania and her Master’s in Environmental Sciences and Policy from Central European University in Budapest, Hungary, where she wrote her thesis on solar home affordability and energy efficiency programs for low income families. When she is not actively working towards creating sustainable communities, Ana enjoys swimming, cross-country skiing, birding, and trying out new dessert recipes with her KitchenAid mixer.



Sarah Brock

Energy Program Manager

Energy

 802-291-9100 x109

Energy

— Sarah Brock, Energy Program Manager

Sarah Brock joined Vital Communities in 2013 as our Energy Program Manager. Through her work Sarah provides support for our region’s 40+ local energy committees, engaging with dozens of volunteers and clean energy businesses in programs like Solarize Upper Valley, Weatherize Upper Valley, and the Upper Valley Green Real Estate Network. Prior to joining the Vital Communities team, Sarah was an Environmental Philanthropy Associate with the High Meadows Fund, a supporting organization of the Vermont Community Foundation. Sarah now lives in Warner, New Hampshire, with her husband Zach and her chickens. When she's not busy advocating for energy efficiency, Sarah enjoys playing the trombone and taking walks in her backwoods to look for signs of New Hampshire's abundant wildlife.