OH SUN supports Ohio homeowners who want to go solar by using a solar co-op model focused on community engagement. This model is installer-neutral and financing-neutral (cash/loan/lease/PPA). Building strong relationships with solar installers is critical to our model’s success. Toward that end, we are committed to sharing data and lessons learned from each solar co-op experience with installers. Everyone is welcome to participate in the solar co-op process.
Why does OH SUN organize solar co-ops?
- Educate consumers on the benefits of solar electric power.
- Support consumers throughout the process.
- Help homeowners get a discount on solar.
- Connect participants to a larger conversation in Ohio to increase local renewable generation.
What is the solar co-op process?
1. Building the group and homeowner education
- Hear about the group and sign-up online.
- Have their roof screened by OH SUN.
- Receive regular updates from OH SUN as the group grows.
OH SUN holds several public information sessions as part of the outreach and education process. These sessions are about 90 minutes in length and cover the basics of solar technology, financing, and incentives as well as the solar co-op process. We find these events to be lively interactions with engaged homeowners asking good questions. We make ourselves available after the program for one-on-one questions until all questions are answered. If homeowners are unable to attend an information session, we have also a recorded one for them to view online. Come join us for an info session sometime! Installers are welcome to attend.
Information sessions are a key component in our efforts to make sure homeowners are educated energy consumers by the time they receive a proposal from the selected installer(s).
2. The RFP and selection process
- Release and promote RFP to installer community.
- Solar co-op selection committee forms.
- OH SUN receives proposals and compiles review spreadsheet for committee members to use while reviewing bids.
- Committee members sign confidentiality agreements (example) to not share installer proposals outside of the committee.
- Selection committee receives proposals and review spreadsheet for their review.
- Selection committee meets in one evening, reviews proposals as a group and selects winning bid(s).
- As part of the selection process, the committee will contact the designated bid representative for each selected finalist for a brief 10 minute phone or video call during a pre-arranged call window and then make their final selection.
- OH SUN facilitates that process and answers questions, but selection committee makes the ultimate decision as to who their installer(s) should be.
- OH SUN works to finalize an award letter with the winning installer(s).
- OH SUN connects winning installer(s) with homeowners in co-op.
3. Installation and follow-up
When promoting the group to the general public, OH SUN does not disclose specific pricing provided in the bid but rather discusses the approximate discount members can expect to receive by going solar with the group.
Our expectation at this stage of the process is that the chosen installer(s) will keep on top of site visits, track interactions with participants, and provide excellent customer service. In exchange, OH SUN works with the co-op members to move them through the process, answer questions, and troubleshoot. We stay involved throughout and support your sales process. We’ve found that this approach means significantly more signed contracts than a traditional solarize program. In general, a successful co-op will have a 50% customer conversion rate, and we’ll work with you to help get to that number.
4. Wrap-up and celebration
How do I get notified of upcoming RFPs?
How are installers involved in the process?
- Advocate for and support homeowners as they go solar.
- Help homeowners get a good discount as a group.
- Provide good business opportunities for participating installation companies.
With that in mind, we actively encourage installers throughout Ohio to provide us with feedback on how the solar co-ops are conducted (educational materials, RFP process, etc.) and the challenges you face in your business. We want to hear from you! Any feedback we receive will be kept confidential and won’t impact your ability to be selected as an installer for a co-op. The co-op participants make the final selection, not OH SUN.
What information do you collect about the co-ops?
- Member participation in information sessions.
- Survey responses from homeowners about their OH SUN and installer experiences.
- System sizes.
- Customer service milestones (site visits scheduled, proposals provided, contract closes, and install dates).
We use this data to help us support solar co-ops more effectively. We also share what we learn from this data and our experiences supporting homeowners with participating installers.