EERE Success Story—Solar for the People: Online Marketplace Expands Solar Access Options in Rhode Island

September 14, 2016

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A new partnership between EnergySage and utility National Grid is providing Rhode Island energy consumers with a new way to go solar and save money on their electricity bill. Photo courtesy of EnergySage.

A new partnership between EnergySage and utility National Grid is providing Rhode Island energy consumers with a new way to go solar and save money on their electricity bill. Photo courtesy of EnergySage.

As the residential solar sector rapidly grows, so do the number of options energy consumers  have to choose from when going solar. The process can be complex, but energy consumers in Rhode Island now have the option to go solar through their utility thanks to a first-of-its-kind partnership between EnergySage and National Grid.

EnergySage, a solar software startup that the SunShot Initiative has supported since its founding in 2012, has developed a customer-centric platform that makes shopping for solar simple and provides consumers with the tools they need to make an informed decision. Developed under SunShot’s Incubator program, the Solar Marketplace helps energy consumers determine if their home or business is a good fit for solar and discover how much they can earn from switching to solar. The marketplace provides objective information, giving customers the ability to get multiple quotes from local installers and comparison shop for the option that best suits their needs. Because the Solar Marketplace gives installers a built-in source of interested customers, the platform reduces customer acquisition and marketing costs by more than 50 percent for participating installers, allowing these savings to be passed along to consumers.

The platform quickly became popular because of its easy-to-use interface and benefits to both customers and installers. The platform is now the driving force behind National Grid’s SolarWise Rhode Island program. This new program uses the EnergySage software to create a personalized online marketplace for National Grid customers, featuring pre-screened installers, comparison shopping, and financing options. The SolarWise Rhode Island marketplace also offers energy efficiency incentives from National Grid, helping energy consumers improve the overall energy efficiency of their home or business, leading to smaller sized solar systems, even lower system costs, and more solar projects to be built under the program. 

The SolarWise marketplace benefits the participating utility, customers, and Rhode Island solar installers and financial institutions. SolarWise helps National Grid generate revenue while also meeting customer demands for solar and contributing to the state’s renewable portfolio standards. The platform gives Rhode Islanders easy access to installers and lenders while also providing transparent options to customers. This helps the utility remain a neutral party to local installers while also prioritizing customer choice and ability to make a decision that best suits customer needs.

The SolarWise program lays the foundation for a new utility business model featuring unique partnerships between local solar businesses, financial institutions, and utilities—all for public benefit.

Learn more about the SunShot Initiative’s Incubator and Technology to Market programs.