By Malee Oot March 21, 2014
The national electronics retail chain Best Buy has announced a partnership with the San Mateo, California based solar provider SolarCity to begin offering a solar package to customers—and help customers navigate the transition to home solar. The two corporations piloted the partnership for a trial period in September of 2013 at Best Buy locations in California and New York to assess whether the collaboration was fiscally worth pursuing long-term.
As a result of the new partnership, SolarCity will now have staff positioned at 60 Best Buy retail locations spread throughout Arizona, California, Hawaii, New York and Oregon. Best Buy customers at the selected stores now have the option to consult with representatives from SolarCity to assess whether their home is suitable for solar, and if so, they can get a quote for the cost of transitioning their home to solar.
SolarCity is able to keep the costs low for solar customers by providing free installation and maintenance of the solar technology. But the customer must agree to a 20-year contract to buy power from SolarCity, at prices typically 10-15% less than the cost of relying on standard utility providers, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. For homeowners who may sell their property and move during the 20-year contract period, the solar lease can be transferred to the new owners.
The residential solar market in the United States grew by 60% in 2013, according to a report just released by GTM research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. And projections for 2014 predict the residential solar market will continue to grow. This is in large part because the option to transition to solar is becoming more affordable with leases like the one offered by SolarCity.
SolarCity and Best Buy are banking on the fact that the American residential solar market remains mostly untapped. In a press release announcing the collaboration with Best Buy, SolarCity referenced a 2013 poll conducted by Zogby Analytics finding the vast majority of American homeowners want more choices in terms of energy – nearly 70%, and according to the same poll, an even higher percentage of Americans support renewable energy, reported as close to 88%.
In a similar move last year, Swedish home goods retailer Ikea announced a partnership with Hong Kong based solar producer Hanergy Solar Ltd. to begin offering home solar kits at 18 stores in the United Kingdom. The solar kits available to Ikea shoppers in the U.K. provide 3.36 kilowatt photovoltaic systems at a cost of about $9,200 (£5,700), according to Bloomberg News.
Ikea is hoping to offset the high cost of the home solar kits by emphasizing the long-term benefits of solar; and with the assistance of government subsidies, homeowners purchasing the solar kits sold at Ikea stores in the U.K. are expected to see returns on their investments in about seven years, according to the L.A. Times.