OC Goes Solar Program Counts Over 180 Solar Installations to Date

In 2017, a group of neighbors in the UC Irvine community (University Hills) got together and secured a group discount on rooftop solar. That year, more than 70 homes in the neighborhood got solar panels through this program. This is now OC Goes Solar’s third year and third solar drive. On Monday, July 15, we launched our 2019 program with a well-attended workshop. We are a completely volunteer-run group with a mission to help accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy. We would like to extend an invitation to other communities in Orange County to join our group purchase program.

To select contractors, we sent out an RFP and vetted the applicants (please see below for a full description of this process). We selected one contractor this year, a returning company from last round: Aikyum Solar. The company has offered us again a very attractive group discount on rooftop solar—below their retail rates and excellent warranties. Their offer is good through November 1, 2019.

Here are the details about Aikyum’s products and prices. Following each option, we have included an estimate for a home that has an average monthly electric bill of $100. If you know how much you pay for electricity, these figures should give you some sense of what each price option would be for you. (If your bill is lower, the prices would be lower; if it’s higher, the prices would be higher.)

After each cost estimate, we have included the estimated cost after the federal tax credit of 30 percent. This tax credit will start to decline after 2019, which makes now a good time to go solar.

Please note that the prices per watt are for the average system size. For smaller systems, the price per watt will be slightly higher, for larger systems, slightly lower. There may also be other variations in cost depending on factors such as the condition and position of your roof.

Aikyum Solar: sample 4 kW system

Panasonic 330W: $2.80/watt (12 Panels)

Estimated cost for home with $100 electric bill: $11,088

Estimated cost after federal tax credit: $7,762

LG 350W: $2.94/watt (11 Panels)

Estimated cost for home with $100 electric bill: $11,319

Estimated cost after federal tax credit: $7,923

QCell 325W: $2.53/watt (12 Panels)

Estimated cost for home with $100 electric bill: $9,867

Estimated cost after federal tax credit: $6,907


How will I choose between the different panels?

To choose among the different panel types, we recommend discussing the options with the contractor(s) to determine the best fit for your home.

What if I’m away for the summer?

Don’t worry, you’ll still have time! The deadline for signups is November 1, 2019. And we will hold another workshop in September. Stay tuned!

Description of vetting process:

This spring, a group of neighbors in the UC Irvine community volunteered to participate in the evaluation of solar installation contractors that would serve the OC Goes Solar program. The group prepared and announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) explaining the goals and intent of the OC Goes Solar program. Contractors were given one month to submit their proposals.

Three contractors submitted proposals. The five-person selection committee (one U Hills Sustainability Committee members, three homeowners, and one employee of the Irvine Community Housing Authority) prepared evaluation criteria and scoring guide prior to reviewing each proposal. Each proposal had the opportunity to gain a maximum score of 160 points, based on eight categories. The categories were as follows:

1. Firm profile

2. Qualification of project teams

3. Local Offices

4. Local employees

5. Employment practices

6. Scope of services and schedule

7. Equipment

8. Prices

The contractors were initially ranked by total combined score.

Following the evaluation and scoring of each RFP, all three contractors were invited to University Hills for a 45-minutes interview with the selection committee. During the interview, the selection committee asked questions that expanded on business practices, construction/installation techniques, and capacity to accommodate the potential demand by interested homeowners.

We also compiled reviews from sites such as the Better Business Bureau, Yelp, Google, Glassdoor, and solar company review sites.

Based on all of the above criteria, this year, the selection committee identified one solar installation contractor to serve the homeowners participating in OC Goes Solar.

If you have any questions please email us at solar@uhills.org