As everyone in this office knows, good deals is my middle name. I'm subscribed for all those freebie and coupon sites so I can get my half-price soup and sandwhich for lunch or treat myself to an affordable facial.
But an online special for solar power?
I recently read on CNN that 40-some people in an office building in downtown San Francisco are trying to sell solar power using a model previously used mostly for things like restaurant deals or haircuts.
But instead of Living Social, they're using something called One Block Off the Grid, a start-up company run by a 32-year old former online gaming entrepreneur who is hoping the power of online group deals can do for solar what it's done for the service industry. One may call it the "Groupon of solar power."
Basically One Block finds locations nationwide where there are contractors that install solar power systems. They then screen the contractors, and see if they'll offer a discount if One Block can deliver a large enough group of customers.
Once the contractor agrees, the deal is posted on One Block's web site and potential customers sign up to have the contractor come over and offer an estimate. If enough people agree buy the panels, the deal "tips," meaning it takes place. The discount is usually in the range of 15%, plus a $500 rebate.
As part of the campaign, One Block put together a map showing all the counties in the United States where they have signed up a contractor willing to offer a deal. They are currently running deals in about a third of the nation's 3,000-plus counties.
But Groupon usually consist of offering smaller ticketed items. Do you think people will be willing to put down thousands for solar? Could this really give the industry the boost the service industry has seen from such sites?
Let me know what you think!
-Kathie Zipp is associate editor of Solarpowerengineering.com