When we last wrote about 1 Block Off the Grid’s(1BOG) community solar initiative in San Francisco, many of you wondered why similar programs don’t exist across the United States. Well, good news for those of you in Boston, New Orleans, Seattle, Miami, Washington, and 15 other US cities—1BOG is coming.
1BOG’s business model uses the power of community as a bargaining chip to make solar energy significantly cheaper for homeowners. In its San Francisco campaign, 1BOG negotiated up to 48% off 2 kW solar systems from the market price for its participants.
The organization’s expansion can be credited to social activism start-up Virgance, which just acquired the company. According to 1BOG co-founder Sylvia Ventura, “The portfolio of campaigns within Virgance brings a whole new dimension to what we are trying to accomplish with 1BOG. Having access to tools and expertise such as online social networks puts 1BOG right in the middle of the action, where people actually connect and communities are formed.”
And if all goes well with 1BOG’s new 20 city campaign, Virgance plans on extending it to hundreds of cities. “Virgance amplifies what we’ve accomplished in the past 3 months to the tenth power,” Ventura said.
If you want to get in on the 1BOG action, do it soon—in a 2 month period, over 180 San Francisco residents registered with 1BOG’s initial campaign. And with the rising cost of energy hitting homeowners across the country, the company’s community bargaining model looks mighty tempting.
Ariel Schwartz was formerly the editor of CleanTechnica and is a contributor at Fast Company, Inhabitat, Triple Pundit, SF Weekly, and NBC Bay Area Online. A graduate of Vassar College, she has previously worked in publishing, organic farming, documentary film, and newspaper journalism. Her interests include permaculture, hiking, skiing, music, relocalization, and cob (the building material). She currently resides in San Francisco, CA.