Some large corporations in the United States are trying out a new employee incentive: giving them discounted solar panels for their homes.
Cisco, 3M, Kimberly Clark and National Geographic unveiled a new plan this week to allow their employees to buy or lease solar panel systems for their homes at substantially discounted prices, according to the New York Times. The program will be offered through Geostellar, an online solar panel marketplace and price-comparison site.
About 100,000 employees of the participating companies—as well as their friends and family—will have access to the new solar panel discounts. The discounts were made possible thanks to a bulk-buying program called the Solar Community Initiative designed by the World Wildlife Fund.
“In the old days there wasn’t a big alliance to build around solar energy because it was such an infinitesimal part of the energy picture and prices were so high,” Dan Reicher, executive director of the Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance at Stanford University, told the Times. “Now that it’s becoming a more mainstream, cost-competitive approach, it makes sense for environmental organizations to build alliances with the business community to get this technology to market.”
Prices for the solar panel installations will depend on various factors, such as an employee’s roof conditions, but it will average about $3 a watt of system capacity. That’s about 35 percent less than the national average. Participants will be able to pay for their solar panels over up to 12 years, reducing or replacing their home electric bills.
"If one percent [of the 100,000 employees] choose to power their homes with solar, more than 74,500 metric tons of carbon emissions would be avoided each year—the equivalent of taking more than 15,000 cars off the road," the World Wildlife Fund said in a news release.
The new benefit program shows that large companies see opportunities to provide an enticing benefit to eco-conscious employees who might have already considered getting solar panels. If the program takes off, more companies large and small might consider offering solar panel discounts and other sustainability-related perks to their employees.
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