How It Works
Frequently asked questions about the Energy Benefits program
What is Energy Benefits?
Energy Benefits is a new program available to local governments, which allows municipal and major private sector employees to pool their buying power and slash the up-front costs for home energy efficiency and solar improvements. The program helps local governments reach their climate and sustainability goals, and gives employees a major money-saving benefit. ICLEI USA and GroupEnergy have partnered to design and deliver this program.
How does it work?
On behalf of the local government, GroupEnergy educates employees on the program and its benefits, and signs up interested parties. GroupEnergy then prepares an RFP seeking a local contractor to provide residential solar or energy efficiency upgrade services (insulation, high-efficiency heating and cooling, etc.) to the pool of employees, leveraging the size of their group to achieve significant discounts.
An Employee Evaluation Committee, with consulting from GroupEnergy, selects the firm that will provide the best deal in terms of turnkey installation services, cost, financing, system quality, and employee incentives. GroupEnergy manages the entire RFP and contracting process.
What motivates employees to sign up?
Homeowners want to lower their utility costs and use solar to create clean energy but aren't sure how to go about it. They're not sure what to ask for, who to trust, or where to start. Plus, installing these improvements one home at a time is inefficient for contractors and costly to consumers. Energy Benefits reduces the up-front costs, confusion, and complexity of this process. Through a limited time offer, employees are motivated to join the program; as more sign up, the potential discount they can receive increases.
What are the program’s benefits?
- Energy Benefits offers participating jurisdictions a great way to team up with community members and neighboring jurisdictions to take steps toward saving money and reducing community-scale emissions.
- Municipal employees and major private sector employees receive a major new employee benefit—a significant discount on solar and energy efficiency upgrades that they could not otherwise have found. Additional benefits help with employee retention.
- As dozens or hundreds of local employees convert to clean energy or reduce their energy use through efficiency, a local government can make significant gains toward its greenhouse gas reduction or clean energy targets.
- A large contract with a solar installer or energy efficiency firm stimulates the local economy and creates new jobs.
How much does the program cost?
There is no cost for a jurisdiction to participate. There may be a minimal amount of staff time to assist the GroupEnergy in identifying approved channels of communication to reach employees. Each solar energy installation and/or energy efficiency upgrade contract is between the selected firm(s) and individual homeowner. All program documentation specifies that the participating jurisdiction and employer organization have no fiscal or legal liability.
To whom is the program available?
Energy Benefits is currently being piloted in a small number of ICLEI member local governments, selected by ICLEI and GroupEnergy. We are testing different models of the program this year to determine the best for broad scale deployment. In 2012, ICLEI will seek additional pilot communities -- based on size and market potential -- to determine interest and to gradually scale up the program, with a full launch scheduled for 2013.