2015 Top 25
City of Portland, OR
Innovations in American Government Awards

Solarize is a community-driven, group-purchase initiative to help residents overcome the financial and logistical hurdles of going solar. In a Solarize program, a government or civic organization partners with a solar contractor on behalf of a community of residents and coordinates a time-limited campaign to encourage residents to install solar panels for a price that is below prevailing market rates.

Energy Trust of Oregon, an independent nonprofit that delivers energy efficiency and renewable energy incentives and programs to Oregon utility customers, collaborated with Portland’s Southeast Uplift Neighborhood Coalition to develop the Solarize model. This initial program resulted in resulted in 130 solar projects — more than three times the number of systems installed in Portland in all of 2008. The program also helped provide 18 professional wage jobs, from site assessors to journeyman electricians. Following that first successful experiment, the city of Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability (BPS) stepped in and began funding and coordinating the program. BPS’s organizing and leadership capacity led to the spread of Solarize locally, regionally, and nationally. To date, more than 170 Solarize campaigns have been run by 60 different organizations in 18 different states including Oregon, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, Washington, Texas, New York, and New Hampshire.