Solar advocacy group strikes deal for special pricing, financing

If you're a San Francisco Bay Area homeowner interested in installing solar technology AND you're looking for a break on what it will cost you, this post is for you. Everyone else ...

If you're a San Francisco Bay Area homeowner interested in installing solar technology AND you're looking for a break on what it will cost you, this post is for you. Everyone else ... well, actually, the deal could have relevance for your own local community sometime later this year.

Consumer group One Block Off the Grid (1BOG) has inked a deal with SolarCity to provide special pricing (up to 25 percent off the retail price) or financing for solar power system design, installation, monitored and other related services to Bay Area residents who are part of its registered community base. SolarCity will also offer qualified 1BOG program members free SolarGuard Energy Monitoring and a free Home Energy Audit (which the community group values at about $4,300). To be considered for registration in the 1BOG program, visit this Web link before Jan. 31, 2009.

1BOG was started back in June 2008 by several individuals hoping to stir up community interest in adopting solar power by providing solar evaluations as a carrot. One of the founders, David Llorens, actually worked for one of the local solar installers, although One Block Off the Grid is now his full-time passion.

To get its start, 1BOG approached San Francisco residents to share information about subsidies they might be able to receive for investing in solar technology. The initial outreach netted 180 interested residents; about 35 residents ultimately opted for solar installations. 1BOG was purchased by Web 2.0 community platform company Virgance back in November. The goal is to extend its reach into other cities and communities across the United States.

While Llorens is cautious about saying which communities will be next, he says there has been strong interest in New Orleans (which apparently has one of the best solar subsidies in the country) and Portland, Ore., which is inclined to favor alternative energy ideas.

If you're interested in more details of the 1BOG programs and approach to spreading the word about solar technology, you can register for a seminar at this link. They're being held on Jan. 14 and Jan. 17.