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Group Discounts on Solar Power

A company that makes going "off the grid" easier and more affordable. Solar energy can be intimidating to even the most environmentally minded homeowner: Outfitting a home with solar panels is an unfamiliar process with no standardized costs and an infinite number of variables. Prospective customers must sift through competing installation bids that run in the tens of thousands of dollars and involve ever-changing technology and complex calculations of energy equivalents. "You basically need to be an engineer to evaluate the bids," says David Llorens, general manager of 1BOG, a Bay-area company that organizes bulk purchases of renewable-resource technologies.1BOG-which stands for "one block off the grid"-aims to use the power of collective buying to ease this process for homeowners. Using field organizers, the company drums up interest in solar energy among homeowners in a single city; once 100 people have signed up, they vet installation companies and negotiate a group discount. "The larger the group gets, the more negotiating power you have," Llorens says. "You get people thinking about solar energy that would never otherwise be thinking about it."1BOG is already working in five cities-San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, and New Orleans-and plans to be in 15 more by year's end. Eventually, the company may use the same model to help consumers buy other big-ticket green technologies, such as hybrid cars. "If you put in a purchase order for 100 cars at a time, you can get a huge discount," Llorens says. "The economies of scale are just amazing."Photo courtesy of 1BOGReturn to the interactive site

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