City of Madison: City effort promotes solar purchase program for businesses

Contact: Bryant Moroder

Telephone: 608.261.5568

Email: [email protected]

Group volume discounts available to residents now open to businesses

Madison – The MadiSUN Commercial Solar Group Buying effort is the latest attempt by the City of Madison to encourage more solar installations through the support of the Department of Energy’s Solar America Communities program.

Group purchasing programs for solar are a growing trend in other cities across the country, but this is one of the first times businesses have been coordinated into a large group purchase of solar. This past October, one of the project’s partners, WECC, issued a request for proposal to seek qualified installers for commercial photovoltaic systems at a per-watt price lower than the typical installation.

The selected installer, Pieper Electric based in Milwaukee but with offices in Madison and Middleton, was chosen by a committee of technical experts based upon their qualifications, capacity to serve the commercial market, and a standard price to install solar on businesses.

The effort builds off of the success of the recently completed residential group solar purchase program. This past fall, the program enrolled 32 homeowners that are likely to install up to 100 kW of solar PV, equivalent to the total number of installations in all of 2010 in the Madison area.

“On average, we expect the commercial business participants to benefit from volume discounts of up to 15-20% on the typical cost of solar.” says Don Wichert, Director of Renewable Energy Services at WECC and project coordinator. “A 20% savings on solar will tip the balance for many companies looking to secure their long-term energy independence.”

The effort was timed to take advantage of federal incentives, expected to end this year, so participants can get an even shorter pay-back with their investment. For instance, commercial solar projects that are under contract by December 31st are eligible for a federal cash grant equivalent to 30% of the cost of the system, in lieu of a tax credit.

One benefit of the effort is the expertise and direct support that businesses get by participating in a group buying experience. By participating in the group buy, businesses save substantial time and resources because the project coordinators have already screened qualified installers and products eligible for the program, and have negotiated a substantial discount on a solar system installation.

Two free informational workshops (Nov 16, 11:30am and Dec 6, 8:00am at 431 Charmany Dr) are schedule to provide an overview of the group solar purchase program and the benefits for commercial business participants. Businesses throughout South-central Wisconsin are eligible to participate. For more information visit

About Solar America Communities

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has designated 25 major U.S. cities as Solar America Cities committed to accelerating the adoption of solar energy technologies. The Solar America Cities partnerships represent the foundation of DOE’s larger Solar America Communities program which is designed to increase the use and integration of solar energy in communities across the United States. Visit Solar America Communities online at