A Novel Approach to Solar

By Cynthia A. Arcate 2 February, 2012

I am thrilled to announce the launch of PowerOptions’ solar power program in partnership with SunEdison. Yesterday, we held an event at Woburn City Hall, hosted by Mayor Scott Galvin, which included comments from Massachusetts Energy Resources Commissioner Mark Sylvia and Representatives Jay Kaufman and James Dwyer, both of whom represent portions of Woburn. The event was well attended and heralded the accomplishment of designing and implementing this innovative program.

Over a decade ago, PowerOptions launched its first-in-the-nation electricity and natural gas programs for nonprofit institutions across the Commonwealth. By leveraging the bargaining power of a large aggregation of customers, PowerOptions provided its members with below-market pricing and very favorable terms and conditions which is critically important to nonprofits who want to focus every bit of their attention, time and money to their missions.
It was unchartered waters. Few people had even thought about, much less negotiated, the structure and terms of a retail energy program for a large consortium. We started with a fundamental knowledge that our membership brings value to suppliers and that that value must be recognized in the terms of the service delivered. Another fundamental premise was that the program should be available and beneficial to all of our members, regardless of size, and that they should have the right to opt out if we fail to deliver on our competitive promise. It is those fundamental values and beliefs that have continued to make our electric and natural gas programs successful.

We look at the market through a very different lens – keeping the interests and needs of our members always in focus and ensuring a return for the immense value that they, as a group, bring to the negotiating table. Our approach is unique and the results set the bar for all who want to provide energy to the state’s largest hospitals, colleges and universities, smaller nonprofits and cities and towns.

Once again, PowerOptions has created a program that is unprecedented in the Commonwealth and brings the power of the consortium to solar development. Our decision to develop a solar program was precipitated by the numerous calls from our members who were presented with solar proposals but had neither the funds nor the expertise to evaluate them. As one member said to me, “the solar dilemma cries out for a PowerOptions solution.” So we took the plunge.

After months of analysis, interviews and rigorous inquiries, we have chosen a solar developer who recognizes the value of our membership and is willing to be innovative in the approach to delivering solar power to our members. Our program is a turnkey solar development approach that not only streamlines the many hurdles a member would have to overcome to acquire solar energy but ensures terms and conditions which many, if not most, members could never achieve on their own.

Other developers told us we couldn’t develop a pricing structure that would ensure competitive pricing for all solar projects, regardless of size. But, SunEdison embraced the challenge and worked with us to meet the needs of our members. Many solar developers say they have access to capital, but only SunEdsion would guarantee it. Some developers didn’t quite understand who we were and what our role would be in acting on behalf of our members. SunEdison welcomed it.

This program takes PowerOptions in a new direction. We will work closely with SunEdsion and our members to find viable projects and do the hard work necessary to get steel in the ground and kilowatts flowing.

We are committed to making solar work for our members and help the Commonwealth meet its goals for solar development. We believe that our program will greatly advance the achievement of those goals, particularly for Green Communities, many of whom are already PowerOptions members, including the City of Woburn. We are excited and look forward to our next announcement with a ribbon-cutting for our first installation.

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