Clean Power

Published on January 20th, 2016 | by Glenn Meyers


SolarCity Introduces SunRaising, A Solar Referral Fundraising Program For Nonprofits

January 20th, 2016 by  

SolarCity today announced SunRaising, a referral program that allows nonprofit organizations to raise additional funds by encouraging members to adopt solar.

California-based SolarCity will donate $200 to the nonprofit for each person who signs up for solar. Riverkeepers is one of its early participants.


SolarCity SunRaising inforgraphicGraphic

Organizations can tap into this powerful money-raising option by joining the Solar Ambassador program for nonprofits, said Jon Carson, senior director of the Solar Ambassador program.

Nonprofits are encouraged to enroll in the SunRaising program. Each time a supporter of a specific SunRaising partner organization signs up, SolarCity will donate $200 to that organization. Homeowners who go solar through a SunRaising partner will also receive their system’s first month of power for free from SolarCity as a thank you for helping their local nonprofit.

According to Carson, more than 100 nonprofit organizations—including food banks, hospitals, booster clubs, community centers, schools and recreational groups—have already joined and made referrals under the SunRaising program.

SolarCity reports these referrals have led to solar energy system installations projected to offset approximately 60,000 metric tons of carbon compared to energy produced from fossil fuels. In addition, the program has helped more than 400 homeowners take the first steps towards going solar while helping to raise thousands of dollars.

SunRaising Partners

One of the first SunRaising nonprofit partners is Riverkeeper, an environmental organization dedicated to protecting the integrity of the Hudson River and its tributaries, plus watersheds providing drinking water to New York City.

“Solar is both viable and economical for most home and business owners in New York and can play a large role in protecting one of America’s greatest rivers, the Hudson,” said Paul Gallay, president of Riverkeeper. “One of the greatest threats to the Hudson is an aging nuclear power plant so, not only does SolarCity lower New Yorker’s energy bills, but when consumers opt for solar, it plays an integral part in replacing the power from this harmful plant and others like it.”

Desert Sands Educational Foundation, a Southern California nonprofit focused on strengthening public education, also became a SunRaising partner earlier this year.

Jan Diaz, a board member of Desert Sands Educational Foundation, said her organization has already generated 20 referrals through word of mouth and social media promotions. “SunRaising has been a great way to promote clean energy and receive funds to support the students of Desert Sands Unified School District.”

Infographic via SolarCity

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About the Author

is a writer, producer, and director. Meyers was editor and site director of Green Building Elements, a contributing writer for CleanTechnica, and is founder of Green Streets MediaTrain, a communications connection and eLearning hub. As an independent producer, he's been involved in the development, production and distribution of television and distance learning programs for both the education industry and corporate sector. He also is an avid gardener and loves sustainable innovation.

  • AOK

    A non-profit could likely negotiate a much better deal with any solar installer of their choice. Pretty sure $500 would a fair price for a lead.

    • Otis11

      Unfortunately this isn’t true – many nonprofits can’t take advantage of the tax credits. The best thing for a non-profit is actually a PPA currently.

      (Unless things have changed since I last looked?)

      • AOK

        This program is not about non-profits getting solar, it is about a program for getting leads from non-profits in exchange for a donation.

        • Otis11

          Ah – I got that from the article but misunderstood your comment. Apologies!

  • Sreehari Variar

    Wow, all bad remarks! Are they that bad? I’m see crazy share price fluctuation though.

    • Otis11

      They’re not bad… SolarCity is just definitely FOR PROFIT and there are definitely better services out there. (Read their Terms of Service too – it’s kinda terrible for the leasee…)

      They still advance the cause of solar by installing it and raising awareness (though some may argue they falsely propagate the myth that solar is too expensive… which is a very valid criticism.)

  • Marion Meads

    Dear SolarCity,

    Please bring down the cost of your installations to levels of reality! By doing so, more people would adopt solar. Currently, your rate of $5.10/Watt before tax credit is among the highest in the nation, while the market average is $3.50 before tax credit from the other minor companies.

    Please don’t fool us by hiding behind supporting the non-profit referral program gimmicks of yours.

    If Australia and Germany can install solar panels for a way lot less than the market average installation costs in the US, why can’t you? If you lowered your price to about $2.50/Watt before rebates, you would have a gross profit of over 400% from your cost of goods, and all the other installers will follow suit in lowering their prices, and the massive adoption would follow suit, and you would be credited with helping save the planet. And most of all, I will stop my ranting against you.


    Marion Meads.

    • Dan

      Thank you Martin! Solar City, you would gain a lot of positive image in my opinion. My parents in Illinois would go solar if they could afford it.

    • Otis11

      The thing I didn’t “understand” when I got a quote from them – the cost to buy their system came very close to the rate you quote for them above if I bought it with cash. If I signed a PPA for 20 years however, it was only something like 9 c/kWh. I took these numbers and back-calculated the cost of the system assuming a LCOE of that 9c/kWh and a 10% ROI, magically enough their installation costs came out remarkably close to the other competing bids.

      SolarCity doesn’t want to sell you a system. They want to convince you solar is too expensive, but through magical financing they can put it on your roof and sell you the electricity at a reasonable price – just out of the goodness of their heart.

      • WuestenBlitz

        The pricing at SolarCity is based on the utility power price per KWh in each market, because the product SolarCity provides and coverages are unmatched by other solar companies and SolarCity services really can only be compared to the service provided by a utility. In certain markets the price for utility power is much higher, therefore the price per KWh of the $0 down MyPower also has a higher price per KWh. The variables of the actual system price per watt are the interest rates in that market. The lower the interest rates the higher the system price for a cash purchase in that market per watt. The higher the interest rate and the lower the utility energy price the lower the cash price for a SolarCity system.

        Are there “cheaper” options….well always and in any industry. Someone is always willing to destroy their margins to win a deal. Problem with that strategy is long term stability. And if you have a product with 25 year plus warranties, products that can also quickly turn into costly toxic assets on what is most people’s most expensive belonging, you want to make sure whoever is making you those guarantees is going to be around. SolarCity has close to 350,000 customers and a massive long term revenue stream. They will be around a long time.

        The question someone interested in solar needs to ask themselves is how much risk they are comfortable taking on themselves. Do they want to plop the cash down and wait “X” number of years for their actual savings with solar to begin? Or do they want to split the risk with capitol aquisition costs with a loan or a lease and see instant savings but lower long term savings? If problems arise in the future do they want to have to deal with the problem by finding an electrician to service their system, etc? Or call a single phone number and have everything taken care of by one company?

        Intrinsic value obligates. To say one product and service is cheaper than another might be “true” but the “TRUTH” of it will vary from person to person and situation to situation. 🙂

        • AOK

          I don’t even know where to begin. Their pricing is based on the local kWh price. What?? Why isn’t it based on cost of equipment and labor? Their product is unmatched by any other company. What?? In what way? Solar City is using module, racking, and inverter technologies that no one else can access? Solar City services can only be compared to that of the utilities. What?? What does that even mean? Are you implying the actual electricity is different? The lower the interest rates the higher the system price for a cash purchase in that market per watt. What?? Why do interest rates impact the cost of a cash purchase system? And even if that made sense, why would it be an inverse relationship? And if you have a product with 25 year plus warranties, … you want to make sure whoever is making you those guarantees is going to be around. The warranties come from the manufacturer, not the installer. Shouldn’t you be exponentially more concerned about the stability of the manufacturer over the installer? And what guarantees does anyone have Solar City brings more stability than another installer? When it comes down to it, wouldn’t someone have a greater sense of security dealing with a local electrician who has been in business for a long time over a start up company that has yet to turn a profit? The question someone interested in solar needs to ask themselves is how much risk they are comfortable taking on themselves. Because the risks of funding a solar system purchase are you have to wait for the system to pay for itself?? Pretty sure you have to wait for any investment to pay for itself before you reap the rewards. That is how investments work. The “TRUTH” is a solar PPA is a vehicle to get reduced electricity rates which support expansion and adaptation of the industry while a solar system purchase is an actual investment that not only supports expansion and adaptation of the industry, but one can also stand firmly in the assertion they are producing clean, renewable energy (owning the RECs). Stop the smoke and mirrors. If the product and services have merit, they should stand on their own.

        • Otis11

          “and SolarCity services really can only be compared to the service provided by a utility”

          Um, what? How so? I was requesting a quote to simply put panels on my house for a cash price. How is that an incredible service?

          If you’re referring to the PPA – have you seen their terms of service?

          Plus, there are a bunch of companies offering PPAs or $0-down-solar-loans. See Solarworld, Sungevity… or just go look at solarsage.

          As for your comment about matching retail prices: I’m in one of the areas with the cheapest electricity in the country. They aren’t marking it up because of that. Next…

          The cash price upfront should be the price of installing the system (With equipment, labor and other BOS costs) and a handy little profit. It should not be affected by the interest rate at all. (Unless you’re suggesting that they back-calculate the cost of the system based on how much they can charge for a PPA in order to maximize allowable profits while still selling the system – in which case that’s exactly what I’m claiming, and why they’re not competitive with other installers.)

          I fully understand that you can always sacrifice quality for cost – but I’ve analyzed each of the various solar proposals (I have a modest background in solar). While this is occurring to some extent, there are bids on the higher end with just a bullet-proof, overdesigned systems (sometimes even more so) that also cost less.

          As for the company being around – most of the companies insure their products through external insurance companies, so even if your installer goes broke, and the system fails, you still have someone to turn to to pay for the system

          As for assumed risk by the solar user – I understand and agree. That’s why PPAs exist, $0-Down-solar-loans, and cash purchases. But many companies do that, so it’s not unique to solarcity. I wasn’t saying they were bad because they offered one type or another, I was ragging on them because they claim to offer all 3 options when they really only offer 1 (the PPA) and make a “bid” on the other two and show how “uneconomical” it is…

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