It's basic capitalism: the more you buy, the cheaper your price per unit. It is this very simple economic guiding principal that has allowed giant big box retailers, distributors and other megacorporations to enjoy enormous profits and buying power, from Standard Oil to HMOs and Wal-Mart.
Why not use some of that bargaining leverage for good, argues a recent editorial in the Marin Independent Journal. For solar energy (a particularly timely good), the idea makes so much sense. A San Rafael homeowner, Lisa Max, has been trying to organize her neighbors into a kind of buying block, so they can get a group discount on solar equipment.
The technology keeps improving by leaps and bounds, and is an emerging source of power. The buy-in needed is still relatively high, however, which is where any discounts help (in addition to federal, state and municipal tax incentives, which are particularly robust in progressive California). According to the Journal, Max was inspired by recent successful group solar projects involving more than 200 homes in the Bay Area. Tony and forward-thinking Marin County would seem to be a natural next step.
The idea also resonates because peer pressure is a powerful motivator. If a trusted friend or neighbor comes knocking on your door asking you to join in an exciting energy revolution, you are probably much more likely to sign up, versus overcoming your own inertia if you have to fly solo. By working together, homeowners can share research, experience and even labor, making the whole process move much faster and smoother. Problems can be troubleshot as a group.
What better way to get to know your neighbors than by banding together to work towards cleaner air, and mitigate the specter of global climate change?
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