Group-buying programs for solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and systems have caught on fast in the US. With a glut of solar panels still overhanging the market, state and municipal governments (as well as local communities) are benefiting from the discount prices being made available via group-buying programs. At the same time, they are generating high-volume sales for manufacturers, and projects for installers.
Companies such as Solar Mosaic are helping residents organize community solar power projects. The Obama Administration’s green government initiative, meanwhile, is spurring green economic growth across the vast government sector in the form of energy efficiency improvements and installations of solar and other renewable energy systems. The driving force in helping public and private sector organizations create local, community group-buying programs nationwide — the Obama Administration’s Rooftop Solar Challenge, carried out by the Deptartment of Energy (DOE) as part of the broader SunShot Initiative — resulted in the Salt Lake City-Wasatch group-buying program garnering savings of some 40% on the installed cost of home solar PV systems for those who participated.
Municipal and state governments have also gotten into the act. SolarWorld on January 31 announced that it will offer solar PV panels and systems to Helping Governments across the Country Buy (HGACBuy), “a 35 year-old group-purchasing program to offer renewable energy products and services to US state and municipal government agencies.”
Group Purchasing Helping State, Municipal Governments and Public Sectors Go Solar
Originating as a cooperative purchasing program of the Houston-Galveston Area Council, HGACBuy has grown to include 6,106 local and state government agencies and non-profit organizations in 47 states. Included are city and county governments, municipal and cooperative utilities, community colleges, universities, school districts, transportation agencies, port authorities, and fire protection districts.
SolarWorld joins a group of only three other solar energy providers approved by HGACBuy. The largest manufacturer of solar PV panels in the US for the past 35 years, Oregon-based SolarWorld Americas earned “the highest score in HGCABuy’s evaluation of responses to its competitive solicitation for its high-quality, American-made solar panels, complete solar systems, and engineering and construction services.”
“HGACBuy just made it easier and faster for state, county and municipal governments to go solar,” Solar World Americas’ president Kevin Kilkelly commented. “In being selected for the HGACBuy program, SolarWorld has been pre-qualified and evaluated in a stringent, competitive and public bid process. We stand ready to rapidly deploy our American-made solar panels, balance-of-systems components and technical services to government agencies from coast to coast.”
HGCABuy enhances and streamlines the government agency purchasing process for products and services of a highly technical nature; employing public, competitive bidding in doing so. HGACBuy members last year purchased more than $123 million of goods and services through HGACBuy’s radio communication equipment contract, and another $120 million of goods and services apparatus contract.
I've been reporting and writing on a wide range of topics at the nexus of economics, technology, ecology/environment and society for some five years now. Whether in Asia-Pacific, Europe, the Americas, Africa or the Middle East, issues related to these broad topical areas pose tremendous opportunities, as well as challenges, and define the quality of our lives, as well as our relationship to the natural environment.