NY-Sun Solarize: Selecting an Installer and Implementing a Solarize Campaign

Welcome to the Creating and Implementing your
Solarize Campaign Webinar.
During this webinar: We will first go over the
basics of solar technology, solar ownership
models and solar financing. Next, we will provide an overview of Solarize
campaigns, including the benefits, the different
campaign types, and how NYSERDA can help. And finally, we will get into the details of how to
launch and implement a Solarize campaign. Solar technologies and financing. While there are a wide variety of technologies
currently on the market, the three most common
technologies are Solar Photovoltaic, Solar Hot Water or Solar Thermal, and
Concentrated Solar Power. Solar Photovoltaic, commonly referred to as Solar
PV, uses panels made of photovoltaic cells that
convert energy from the sun to electricity. Solar PV is a modular technology that can be
sized to power a single home, an entire office
building or an industrial facility. Its flexibility and relative simplicity have made it
the most popular option for solar energy
production today. Solar PV panels or modules are made up of
individual photovoltaic cells. These panels can be combined to create an
array. The panels themselves are measured in their
power or capacity rating. This rating comes in the
form of watts. The total capacity rating of an array will typically
be presented in kilowatts or megawatts. As sunlight hits the photovoltaic cells, these cells
produce electricity. The amount of electricity that the system
produces over a period of time is measured in
watt-hours, or commonly in kilowatt-hours. You may recognize this metric from your electric
bill that you receive every month. In this presentation, we are going to talk primarily
about solar systems that are connected to the
electric grid. There are a few components to these systems:
First, there are the solar panels themselves,
which produce power. But before this electricity is used, it needs to be
run through an inverter. This is because solar panels create power in
direct current (you might remember from high school physics
that there are two types of power, alternating
current and direct current). Both the electric grid and household appliances
run on alternating current, so the inverter changes the direct current (DC)
power that the solar panels create to the
alternating current (AC) power that we need. Then, the electricity is used to power household
appliances. Any power that is left over flows
across the utility meter and into the electric grid. At night, or other times when the solar panels
don’t produce enough electricity to provide all of a
home’s power needs, additional power is drawn from the electric grid
through the meter. Solar homes benefit from being connected to the
electric grid because it acts as a backup source
of power for when a home’s solar panels can’t produce all
the energy it needs. Community solar projects differ from typical
residential rooftop systems in that the power is generated in a different
location than it is consumed. Community solar projects are large arrays
installed in a community. Residents and businesses can subscribe to
receive a portion of the energy produced from
the system. In fact, any utility customer in the area can
subscribe. Subscribers then receive a credit on their bill
associated with the community solar energy
generation. The subscriber decides how much solar they
would like, so they can offset all or part of their
electricity needs. For more information, watch NYSERDA’s short
Community Solar video on YouTube. There are a number of incentives available to
residents interested in installing rooftop solar PV. This slide provides information on three key
incentives. The first is the Federal Investment Tax Credit. The
investment tax credit, one of the largest incentives available for solar, is
a federal incentive given to every solar project owned by a for-profit organization or a
homeowner. The value of this tax credit is 30% of the
installation cost and is available to projects
through Dec 31st, 2019. After that it will drop to 26% in 2020, 22% in
2021, and 10% in 2022 and onward. Another incentive is the New York State
Residential Solar Tax Credit. The value of this credit is 25% of the system cost
or $5,000, whichever is less. This credit is applicable to systems up to 25kW
for single family and 50kW for condo
associations or cooperatives. It does not have a set expiration date.
The third incentive is the New York Sun Incentive. This incentive reduces the overall installed cost
of rooftop solar systems via incentives paid
directly to the contractor. The incentive amount is based on the “blocks” for
each region and sector. Residential, non-residential and commercial
projects are eligible to receive this incentive. The Affordable Solar Incentive is available for
income-qualified homeowners and works just like
other NY-Sun incentives. However, there are household income
requirements as well as minor low-cost energy
efficiency upgrades to the home. There are several different solar PV ownership
models. The two basic structures that I will be discussing
today are direct ownership and third-party
ownership. Direct ownership is when the customer
purchases the solar PV system directly either
through cash or loan. Through purchasing the system, you as the
customer get to take advantage of all of the
financial incentives directly. In Third-Party Ownership the customer works
with a solar developer. The solar developer
finances and owns the project. The customer then enters into a contract with the
developer. The contract entered into is usually either a lease
agreement or a power purchase agreement (or
PPA). With both a lease and a PPA there is no upfront
cost for the customer and the installer owns the
system and collects the incentives. The incentives are then passed onto the
customer through a lower lease payment or PPA
price. One of the main differences is that with a lease
the customer makes a flat monthly payment to the
solar developer. In a PPA the customer payment to the solar
developer is based on a $ per kwh basis. As the customer you are paying the developer a
pre-determined price for every kwh the system
produces over that month. Lease contracts can vary in length and often
depend on the options the installer offers. PPAs are usually 20 years. For community solar, there are two different
membership types. With the subscription model, there is little to no
up-front cash layout. The customer subscribes to the project under a
“pay-as-you-go” payment plan. Subscriptions may have different term options.
Most developers offer this kind of plan. The other membership type is that customers
enter into a purchase plan. With this model, the customer owns a set number
of panels of the community solar project. Financing options are typically available. There
are potentially greater savings over time. And the customer may be eligible for tax credits. And the customer may be eligible for tax credits. Purchase plans are less common and many
developers do not offer them. Solar for All is a state-administered utility bill
assistance program that improves access to solar for low-income
households across New York through no-cost
community solar subscriptions. Participants save money through a free
community solar subscription. Both renters and homeowners are eligible to
participate and receive credits on their electric
bill. The New York State Solar Permit is the
standardized permit application designed to streamline the approval process for installing
solar in the community. It has been adopted by many communities around
the state. All Solarize campaigns are encouraged to adopt
the New York State Unified Solar Permit or be in
the process of adoption. Adoption of the Unified Solar Permit is necessary
for Clean Energy Communities designation. Now we’ll talk a bit about how to increase solar
PV deployment in your community with a Solarize
campaign. NYSERDA has developed the Resource Guide to
Solarize Campaign Success, which is a roadmap for community leaders who
want to make going solar easier and more
affordable for their neighbors. The Guide outlines each step of running a
successful rooftop solar or community solar
Solarize campaign. It provides information on:
Developing the core campaign team,
Conducting outreach, Reviewing installer or developer bids, and
Celebrating success. Solarize campaigns help homes and businesses
go solar through locally organized community
outreach. Solarize members can collectively negotiate
rates, select an installer or community solar
developer, and decrease the upfront costs of going solar. To date, communities in New York State have
completed more than 90 Solarize campaigns. So why choose a Solarize program? A large proportion of the non-hardware costs of
solar are commonly grouped together as “soft
costs”. These soft costs include the cost of handling
processes such as permitting and
interconnection, marketing costs including customer acquisition,
and installation costs including design, financing,
and labor costs. These components have a significant impact on
the cost of solar. Solarize campaigns target customer acquisition
and financing costs but can also reduce costs associated with
permitting and inspections. But how is Solarize able to address these market
barriers? With Solarize, the installer or group of installers is
able to provide a lower price because of
aggregated demand. The complexity of going solar for customers is
minimized through the community vetting of the
selected installer or developer. And by running the campaign for a specific time
with a known deadline, customers are urged to move quickly to get the
great deal that the Solarize program provides. There are two kinds of Solarize campaigns,
rooftop solar and community solar. Rooftop solar Solarize campaigns focus on
getting a group of homes and businesses in an
area to install solar panels directly on their properties.
Rooftop solar installations offer a way to harness
the power of the sun through panels installed on the roof of the home
or business. Throughout this presentation, the term solar
installer will be used when referring to rooftop
campaigns. Community solar Solarize campaigns focus on
getting a group of homes and businesses to subscribe to a community solar project in the
area. Community solar projects allow renters,
homeowners, and businesses to benefit from solar without having to install solar
panels on their rooftop or property. As long as your community members are located
in the same utility territory as a project, they should be able to receive the benefits of
community solar. Throughout this presentation, the term solar
developer will be used when referring to
community solar campaigns. Solarize campaigns are supported by NYSERDA
throughout the campaign. NYSERDA support includes:
Resources including installer request for proposal
templates for rooftop solar PV and community solar campaigns, marketing
materials, an outreach toolkit, and tips for managing traditional media and social
media. Clean Energy Community (CEC) Coordinator
support. Prequalification of solar installers. Hosting an informational workshop/webinar about
the process. Providing a technical review of proposals by
NYSERDA’s technical assistance provider. We’ll now go through the components of how to
plan your Solarize campaign. Solarize campaigns often involve several
different types of groups including the local
community, NYSERDA, the selected solar installer(s) or developer(s),
and the solar customer. Members from each of these groups could fulfill a
number of potential roles. Members of the local community could be solar
ambassadors, event hosts, members of engagement and grassroot groups,
or involved in communication strategies. NYSERDA provides program support, technical
assistance, and solar incentives. Installers and developers will provide turnkey
installation, ownership and subscription models,
and competitive pricing. Solar customers will receive a free site
assessment, decide on an ownership model, go solar, and then tell their friends and neighbors
about the experience. The typical timeline for a Solarize campaign is
about 7-8 months. During the first 2 months, you are usually
focused on the pre-launch activities, which include team creation, outreach and
marketing planning, and selecting an installer or
developer. From months 3-4 is when the campaign launches,
and you begin doing outreach Months 5-6 are focused on maintaining campaign
momentum through public outreach. You will be running educational workshops,
participating in community events to promote the
program, working closely with your installer, and trying to
get people to sign up with the program to get a free site assessment and hopefully
decide to go solar. At the end of the campaign, you will celebrate
your success and think about what is next. We’ll go through each of these components later
in this presentation. One of the first steps of a Solarize campaign is
creating a team that will organize and run the
campaign. A campaign team will include a core team of
volunteers along with other individuals and
organizations that will have discrete roles and will be involved
throughout the campaign Every team member should have a role, so that
everyone on the team feels included and
empowered to contribute. Dividing tasks/roles will help manage the
workload and avoid volunteer burnout. Some key
roles you will want to fill: Project Manager/Team Leader: This will be the
person responsible for overseeing and managing
the entire campaign. Often this person is affiliated with a local non-
profit or local government. Managing a solarize campaign is a major time
commitment, so you will want to make sure the team leader
has the time to dedicate to the program. This person will also schedule regular team
check-ins and will serve as the point of contact
for the installer/developer. Solar Installer/Developer Selection Committee: This group of community members is responsible
for evaluating bids, interviewing, and selecting the installer and
developer for the Solarize campaign. The Recruitment Lead will coordinate the solar
ambassadors and recruit additional volunteers to
assist with the campaign. The Communications and Outreach Lead will
coordinate the outreach calendar, participate in
meetings with the installer/developer, and they will build/maintain the customer
database in coordination with the Team Lead. The Media Outreach Liaison is responsible for
managing the campaign’s relationship with local
media and also managing the social media profile of the
campaign. The Event Planner is going to plan and oversee all
of the events the campaign conducts including managing the outreach and marketing of
the campaign. The Community Outreach Coordinator is
responsible for sharing information about the
campaign with the local community, including canvassing, setting up lawn signs, and
emailing attendees about upcoming events. Additional Community Volunteers are recruited to
help out activities of the core team. Solar Ambassadors are often people in your
community that have already gone solar and are willing to talk about their experience with
going solar and potentially offer tours of their solar system to
interested Solarize campaign participants. Solar owners are some of the most effective,
enthusiastic, and influential sales agents, so it is helpful to have them attend events and tell
their stories. Once you have identified your Solarize campaign
team, you’ll want to consider your outreach
strategy. With your team, complete the campaign tracking
form template which can be found on the New
York Sun website. In building your outreach strategy the campaign
will want to: Define a target audience(s).
Set goals.
Identify outreach opportunities (for example: canvassing, bill inserts, lawn signs,
community events). Look at local calendars and tap into existing
events. Create your own events: workshops at libraries,
solar home tours, financing workshops. Work with Partners to plan events.
Incorporate an educational component for every
outreach strategy. And stay active! Create and update a community
Solarize web page, send email updates about campaign successes
and events to the customer lead list, and encourage the installer(s) to participate in
events when possible. Developing key partnerships with existing
organizations is essential to spreading the word
about the campaign. Campaigns may want to identify influential
organizations in the community that are effective
in connecting with people. These organizations often have established
communication networks and well-developed
constituencies. They may not always share an obvious interest
in environmental issues or solar but may see the benefits to the
members/constituents for supporting the
program. (For example: Chambers of Commerce, Boys &
Girls Scouts, Garden Clubs, Rotary Clubs,
Schools, etc.) In exchange for agreeing to include messages
about the campaign to constituents, you might consider listing them as a partner on
your website or marketing materials. These partnerships elevate the legitimacy of the
campaign to the community. The campaign may want to consider:
What organizations are influential in my
community? With what organizations do team members have
established relationships? What organizations share a common message or
interest? Next, think about the activities and events to
incorporate into your campaign schedule. There are many different types of outreach
activities campaigns can undertake. Based on previous Solarize campaigns, some of
the most effective outreach ideas and activities
campaigns can consider include: Solar Tours: Solar owners agree to open up their
homes to show visitors their solar panels and associated equipment (inverters, meters,
etc.) and to talk with visitors about why and how
they went solar. Installation Events: Invite potential solar
customers to watch the solar installers at work
and talk with the homeowner. A live installation, particularly the first one in the
campaign, is a very exciting event in a community. Canvassing: Identify neighborhoods with good
solar potential and leave door hangers that briefly
describe the campaign, the support from the community leaders, and that
mention that their home may be a good candidate
for solar. Be sure to get permission from the municipality
before starting such a campaign. Your team should also promote the campaign
through the media. Mapping out all the potential media outlets, thinking
about press-worthy events or campaign
milestones, and developing relationships with reporters early
in the campaign is a low-cost strategy for
spreading the word about Solarize. Campaigns should consider:
Developing relationships with media contacts
(editors and reporters) at local papers, radio stations, local cable access stations, and
other local media outlets. Identifying press release-worthy events including
campaign launch events, the first live installation,
a solar tour, and the end of the program. Providing print-ready articles with visuals and
graphics that can be placed and run as is in local
and regional publications. Developing graphics that tell your campaign’s
story and are print ready. Review the Solarize Guidebook for additional
outreach ideas and media engagements. Bring your campaign online! Create and update a
community Solarize website. The website should include upcoming campaign
events, answers to frequently asked questions, quotes or letters of support from local leaders
and a link to schedule a site assessment with the
selected installer. When used well, social media can be an effective
tool for spreading the word about your Solarize
campaign. Designate a social media coordinator on your
team and start early in the campaign process in
order to gain awareness and interest. Make sure to post about every event and share
successes and key milestones. NYSERDA has a number of marketing and
outreach materials available on their website for
campaigns to customize and use. These include flyers, postcards, pricing
handouts, banners, and yard signs. If utilizing new materials, make sure to minimize
the amount of text, include relevant local pictures
and the campaign logo, focus on a specific message and date or
deadline, and direct readers to the campaign
website. You can distribute these materials at events and
key locations throughout the community. These should be highly visible locations like
libraries, coffee shops, grocery stores, community bulletin boards and the local waste
station. Work with local government to include Solarize
materials in tax bills or with the water utility to
include in a customer water bill. Make sure to check with your local government
about any restrictions on posting and distributing
information. Now we’ll go through the steps of the
community’s process to select a solar installer for a rooftop solar Solarize campaign or a solar
developer for a community solar Solarize
campaign. The request for proposal (or RFP) template for a
Rooftop Solar Campaign, available on NYSERDA’s
website, is intended to be customized by the community
for their Solarize campaign. The RFP includes an overview of the Solarize
model and timeline for installers, installer
expectations and proposal requirements, proposal evaluation criteria, and a standard form
for the price proposal and financing options. Using the template, develop and issue an RFP. NYSERDA provides a template RFP for both
rooftop solar and community solar campaigns. NYSERDA will also help get the word out to solar
installers and developers in New York about your
RFP. Once your RFP is issued, the next step is to
receive responses to the RFP from solar installers or developers wanting to
work with your campaign. NYSERDA helps by pre-qualifying solar installers
and developers to be able to work with your
community. Your team will then review and evaluate the
responses you receive. NYSERDA’s technical assistance providers will
also review the RFP responses received and provide a proposal review webinar for the
campaign team. In this presentation, the technical assistance
provider will review each bidder’s pricing,
equipment, and overall quality of the proposal, as well as provide recommended interview
questions to the campaign team. Remember, the selection is solely up to the
campaign team. The technical assistance provider will answer
questions and provide an objective review of the
bids but will not make recommendations as to which
bid to select. Next, your team will host interviews with the
respondents and ultimately select one or more to
work with your campaign. And then you’ll officially launch your campaign. NYSERDA is available throughout this process to
answer any questions and help to troubleshoot
any issues that may arise. As the campaign team reviews the installer
responses, you may decide to work with just one or multiple installers based on their offerings and
the needs of your community. With a single installer program, participants are
encouraged to do their own neighbor-to-neighbor
outreach, there is only one installer for the campaign to
manage, and the messaging is easier for
participants to understand. However, with only one installer there is a
potential for some backlog if the number of
interested residents is high. There is also less diversity and options for
participants. With a multiple installer program, more installers
are able to take part in the campaign leading to
more options for participants. However, managing multiple installers can be
challenging and make the process more difficult
to explain to participants of the campaign. In developing the RFP, you will also develop your
evaluation criteria for the proposals you receive. In developing the criteria, it’s important to consider
which factors matter most to your community. Some potential criteria you can use to evaluate
installers are listed on the slide, including: The overall quality and value of the proposal.
The experience of the installer. For example, have they participated in a solarize
program before? The installer’s capacity to implement the program.
For instance, what are their plans for dealing
with high levels of customer volume? The financial strength of the installer.
Their pricing proposal.
Their marketing plan. And the local economic and environmental impact
of the proposed program. After the RFP is issued and installer proposals
are submitted, it is then up to the installer selection committee to
evaluate each installer’s proposal based on the
criteria outlined in the RFP. We have seen campaigns receive up to seven
proposals. It is usually recommended that the committee
identify the top respondents to the RFP and conduct interviews to help with the
evaluation process. Once interviews are conducted, the selection
committee selects the installer or installers that
will work with their community. The community solar RFP template allows
campaigns to offer their community the option to
participate in community solar. Developers can offer shares in upcoming and/or
existing community solar projects and determine
which plans to offer community members. The basic options include:
Subscription Plans where customers pay no
upfront fee for a solar share and instead pay a monthly fee. This “pay-as-you-
go” subscription requires little to no upfront cash
layout, offers different term options, and provides a
guaranteed percentage discount on the credit
price for the duration of the subscription. Purchase Plans where customers buy and own a
solar share for an upfront fee. Financing options are typically available, and
these plans may be eligible for tax incentives. Purchase plans also offer the potential for
greater savings over time. The main differences between rooftop solar
Solarize campaigns and community solar Solarize
campaigns are summarized in the following slides. Understanding the main differences between
rooftop and community solar will help your team decide which type of Solarize
campaign is most appropriate for your community. Eligible Participants
In rooftop solar campaigns: homeowners and
businesses with suitable roof and sunlight access are eligible to participate.
In community solar campaigns: homeowners, renters, and businesses are
eligible to participate regardless of roof or
sunlight access. Location
In rooftop solar campaigns, solar panels will be
installed on the rooftop of the homeowner or business owner.
In community solar campaigns, the solar panels will be ground mounted on
leased land or a rooftop located in the
community’s utility territory. Program models
Participants in a rooftop solar campaign will either
directly own the panels or they will enter a lease or PPA with a third-
party. Participants in a community solar campaign will
either purchase a solar share or they will enter a subscription plan where they
will pay a monthly fee. Billings and savings also vary in rooftop vs.
community solar campaigns. In a rooftop solar campaign, participants will
receive credits on their monthly utility bill for solar
production sent to the local power grid. The utility will administer these credits on a
monthly basis and excess credits will roll over to
the next billing cycle. In a community solar campaign, participants will
receive credits on their monthly utility bill for the solar production from their solar share
sent to the local grid. The developer will provide solar production
information for each participant to the utility. Participants will then receive a monthly bill from
the utility and a monthly bill from the developer. The utility administers these credits on a monthly
basis and excess credits will roll over to the next
billing cycle. Lastly, there will be variation among rooftop solar
campaigns and community solar campaigns when
it comes to key contract details, such as contract duration, operations &
maintenance, and moving or selling the property.
Contract Duration In rooftop solar campaigns, leases and power
purchase agreements will vary in length, but are typically somewhere between 20-25
years. Contracts will typically include a
termination fee. Community solar contracts also tend to vary in
length and they may or may not include a
termination fee. Operations & Maintenance
For rooftop solar campaigns, operations and maintenance are up to the system
owner in the case of a direct ownership model or
the solar installer in the case of a lease or PPA. For community solar campaigns, operations and
maintenance are the responsibility of the solar
developer. Moving or Selling the Property
For rooftop solar campaigns, PV systems that are
owned directly can be passed on to the next homeowner and
value of the system will be included in the
purchase price. Under a lease/PPA model, systems can also be
taken over by the next homeowner. For community solar campaigns, the
purchase/subscription will remain with the
purchaser/subscriber as long as they stay within the utility territory. Although it has already been discussed, we
want to reiterate that proposal evaluation is not
just about price. A national DOE survey of Solarize campaign
organizers found that the four criteria weighted
most heavily by the selection committees were: 1. Reputation for customer satisfaction. This is reasonable considering you are the
trusted team running this campaign for your
community and you want your community members to be
happy with their experience. 2. That they were a Local establishment 3. The Price And 4. Their Solarize experience. Had they
participated in a Solarize campaign in the past? These don’t have to be the four most important
criteria to your campaign, but it is important to consider other factors
besides price when making your decision. This slide provides an overview of some
frequently asked questions regarding the RFP
templates. Some communities have asked: Can we change
the RFP? Or use our own? Yes, it is your community and your campaign. The templates will require you to make some
changes and edits in order to customize it for
your group and you can add in your own community
priorities. If you wish to use an entirely different document
or process, reach out to NYSERDA to discuss. How should we make solar installers/developers
aware of our campaign and distribute our RFP? The New York Sun team will be providing all
eligible solar installers with a list of new
campaigns. However, we also recommend reaching out to
installers in your area and utilizing the public list of New York Sun
installers that can be found on the New York Sun
website. And what if someone on your core team has a
business or personal connection to an installer
that is responding to the RFP? That core team member should not participate on
the Solarize team but should still participate in the
campaign as a customer or solar ambassador. Installers/developers are integral Solarize team
members and it is important to involve them in
every step of the campaign. Once you’ve selected your installer or installers
it’s important to have discussions early on with
your installer laying out each entity’s roles, responsibilities and setting out expectations
Some issues to discuss early on include: Clarify and define roles especially regarding
campaign activities and education/outreach. What will be the campaign team’s role vs the
installer or developer’s role? Set up a method and expectations for sharing
campaign metrics. For example, how frequently
does the campaign team want to see their metrics and how often can the installer or developer
provide these metrics and in what form? Coordinate on marketing and an online presence.
For example, whose logo and contact information will be going
on outreach and marketing materials? Both the campaigns and the installer/developer or
just the installer/developer? Set expectations for timeliness of customer
service. How long will it take for the installer to
follow up with customers? What is a reasonable timeframe in the campaign
team’s eyes and what is reasonable for the
installer? With multiple installers, it’s important to determine
how customer leads will be shared and how campaign operating costs will be
shared among the installers. Clarifying roles, responsibilities and expectations
between the campaign and installer/developer is one of the most important steps to guarantee a
successful partnership. Additionally, there are a few best practices
installers can use to make sure the campaign and
the Solarize customers have a good experience. 1. The installer/developer should make immediate
contact with the customer once they’ve
expressed interest in the Solarize program. 2. The installer/developer should also find ways
to streamline price quote delivery and should connect customers directly to
financing partners to ask questions if financing
partners are being used in your campaign. 3. In the case of rooftop solar, if a customer has
said they will be moving forward with the
installation, the installer should have the customer sign a
letter of intent prior to the actual contract being
delivered and signed. In the case of community solar, the developer
should provide options for when projects become
fully subscribed. If your campaign team needs other strategies for
establishing a good working relationship, reach
out to NYSERDA for assistance. Now that you have selected the installer or
developer that will work with your community, it is
time to launch your Solarize campaign. The Solarize launch is one of the most important
events of the campaign as it sets an exciting tone
for the campaign, gives participants access to information, and introduces them to the solar installer or
community solar developer and other people who
have gone solar. The launch also shows the community that local
leaders and organizations are supporting the
campaign, which provides credibility and builds trust in the
campaign. Some strategies for a successful launch include: Plan launch events with enough advance notice –
at least one month. Note that “soft” launches are
not recommended. Build excitement for the event – invite media,
email invitations, leverage social media, and
distribute flyers. Set up registration for the event to track those
who attend and allow re-marketing. Plan to have a local leader speak at the event.
Hold interviews with local media. Invite solar installers/solar developers and solar
ambassadors to attend and potentially speak.
Serve light food and refreshments. There are a number of different campaign launch
events that teams can consider. The workshop launch can be a structured event
that lasts 1-2 hours and typically involves a full
solar 101 presentation. This launch provides an opportunity for people to
gain a full understanding of the campaign and
solar energy, as well as to meet the installer or developer. You may instead want to do a launch
celebration/meet & greet, which typically has
more of a party atmosphere. These types of launches will typically include a
few informal comments from Solarize organizers,
local leaders, and/or current solar owners, but educational workshops are usually planned a
week later so people can get more in-depth
information. Regardless of the launch type, there are a few
key elements that should be covered at a typical
launch event. Introduce the Solarize team.
Have a local leader endorse the campaign.
Give facts about solar. Provide information about the website and how to
get a solar quote through the Solarize campaign. Introduce the installer(s)/developer(s).
Have a solar ambassador give testimonial.
Create a festive, fun atmosphere. And outline what to look for in the future to build
excitement. So you have launched your campaign and stirred
up a lot of excitement. You’ll want to capitalize on that initial energy and
take steps to maintain the campaign momentum. Holding regular, scheduled calls with Solarize
members and the installer/developer is important
to keep everyone engaged, to understand how the campaign is progressing,
and to identify problems as early as possible. During these calls, it is important to:
Check on the progress of the campaign, including the number of inquiries, site visits,
quotes provided, and contracts signed. Have the installer/developer provide updates and
review metric tracking. Talk about any problems, concerns, or
opportunities. Develop talking points for campaign
volunteers so messaging is consistent. Review upcoming outreach events to see if there
are enough planned for the next two to four
weeks (or whether too much activity is planned).
Prepare for marketing collateral for upcoming
events. Review website to ensure it has up-to-date
information and photos.
Share comments from participants. Verify if installer is keeping up with site visits and
customer contact. And plan to get out to take pictures if installations
are scheduled. It is also important for teams to track and monitor
customer inquiries. Best practices include: Creating strategies to address problems early in
the process, identifying key points of success to tell media and
the community, and tracking metrics throughout
the campaign. Based on the experience of many New York
State Solarize campaigns, there are five main ways by which the solar
participants have found out about the campaigns: By far, the most successful strategy for reaching
residents and instilling confidence in a Solarize
program is a letter sent to all of a town’s homeowners at
the beginning of the campaign from a chief
elected official. This letter lets the community members know that
the town supports Solarize and encourages
homeowners to participate. Media opportunities include press releases, news
advisories, op-ed pieces, letters to the editor, and appearances on local
radio and television shows. In addition, town websites and town and
personal Facebook pages are used to publicize
the program and significant events. Informational workshops held regularly
throughout the campaign give homeowners an
opportunity to learn about solar and the details of Solarize. Yard signs and table banners are another
effective communication and outreach strategy. Signage reminds people about the Solarize
program. The homes of people who own solar
and town properties are good places for signs. Each town has a different policy regarding
signage, so check feasibility before ordering. And make sure to utilize your solar ambassadors. Residents in your community who support solar
and are willing to volunteer are the best
proponents of Solarize. Often these residents already have solar on their
own homes or are dedicated to renewable
energy. This gives them an opportunity to talk to their
friends and neighbors about solar. There is a lot of excitement at the start of the
Solarize campaign, but it is important to maintain that momentum
through the duration of the campaign. This slide lists a variety of creative ways to keep
people interested throughout the campaign, including solar bike tours, solar bingo, farmers
markets and other unique activities and events
specific to your community. You may also want to incorporate solar
testimonials into your continued momentum
strategy. Consider asking one of the first participants to
sign up or to be installed to provide a quote about
their experience. Post these on the campaign website or use on
flyers and other outreach materials to show
enthusiasm, pride, and a positive experience. There is still some work to do towards the end of
a Solarize campaign. As you near the end of the campaign, remember
that typically fifty percent of Solarize participants
sign contracts in the last two weeks. Make sure that you plan with your installer or
developer to manage this busy period. Ask NYSERDA if you need assistance
addressing this end of campaign push. You’ve worked hard for months so make sure to
celebrate all that success with an end of
campaign event. Invite the press and campaign participants, even
those who may still be undecided. Use this opportunity to announce the final number
of signed contracts and installations as a result
of the campaign. Thank your participants, the installer/developer,
your campaign team and any volunteers for their
help increasing solar in the community. Keep the campaign momentum going even past
the official end date. Connect interested residents to other potential
energy options like community solar projects, clean heating and cooling programs and energy
efficiency programs. Keep the Solarize campaign website active so
others can learn about your success. And consider running another campaign in the
future! Thank you for your attention.
For more information, visit
NYSERDA.ny.gov/solarize. For questions, email
[email protected]

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