Going Solar, Groupon Style

Okay, so it’s not a coupon purchased over the Internet. However, Daniel Parrella talks with people in his community and helps bring them together, so they can purchase solar energy for less.

“The logic is very simple,” Parrella said. “By going in as a group you can switch the power to the homeowners and negotiate favorable pricing.”

This summer, Parrella left the University of California at Santa Barbara where he was a sophomore studying political science, to orchestrate a group purchase of solar systems in Davis. Parrella signed up more than 150 Davis residents who expressed an interest in installing solar panels at their homes, and convinced REC Solar, based in San Luis Obispo, to offer these residents a 20 to 25 percent discount if they purchased a system over the next three months.

Participants in the deal will pay REC Solar about $5.45 a watt for their systems, or about $15,000 for an average-sized three kilowatt system. Parrella said state and federal tax credits and incentives will reduce that cost to about $10,000. The federal tax credit amounts to 30 percent of the total system cost while the California rebate is 25 cents per watt.

Parrella’s company, Spearhead Solar, which consists largely of Parrella and his partner, Chris Duran, 27, a former solar system salesman, receives a commission from the solar installers on every contract it signs. The size of the commission is based on the size of the system and ranges from 15 to 25 cents per watt. A contract for a three-kilowatt system would net Spearhead Solar about $700.

Photo by USFWS Mountain-Prairie

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