Solar United Neighbors has made an important step to encourage greater corporate responsibility within the solar industry. The organization helps thousands of people each year install solar energy systems on their homes through bulk purchase groups known as solar co-ops. Recently, the organization worked with Florida For Good to update the request for proposal (RFP) process its co-op members use to choose an installer. The changes will help co-op members better account for how prospective installers respect their community, their employees and the environment.
“Solar co-op members use bulk purchasing power to get a good deal on a quality solar installation,” said Angela DeMonbreun, Florida program director for Solar United Neighbors. “Working with Florida For Good, we’re helping co-op members use that same power to ensure bidding installers share their values in how they run their business and how they impact their community. We are hopeful this will set high standards across the industry.”
Solar co-ops work by members collaborating in order to learn about solar energy and subsequently choose an installer. The co-ops are free to join, and joining is not a commitment to purchase a system. Solar United Neighbors facilitates this process by developing a request for proposal for the installers to bid on as part of an open and competitive bidding process, and a volunteer selection committee made up of co-op members meets to review each proposal. That committee then selects an installer that best serves the needs of the co-op who then develops personalized proposals for each member. Members then review their bids and decide individually if going solar is right for them.
Solar United Neighbors worked with Florida For Good to develop criteria to include in the RFP that gives co-op members a fuller understanding of how the companies bidding on the co-op operate. The new questions screen installers for a variety of items. These range from diversity and inclusion efforts, such as the employment of women, minorities and residents from unemployed or underemployed communities to information about the payment of a living wage in each community where they work.
“The main mission of Florida For Good is to spread the idea that business can elevate humanity when practiced ethically in all aspects, from sourcing to supply chain to final product or service,” said Jared Meyers, co-founder of Florida For Good. “We suggested these changes to the RFP in order to encourage Solar United Neighbors to add even more good to what they do for the planet. They are already accelerating society towards a future with less pollution by making renewable energy options easily attainable for communities, and with this new screening process they can compound upon that good by providing their co-op members with installers that share their values.”
News item from Solar United Neighbors