4 major US companies are giving solar discounts to their employees as part of their new employee benefits. Cisco, 3M, Kimberly-Clark and the National Geographic Society are offering their employees the opportunity to install solar panels at discounted rates under a new program.
According to a report from the New York Times, this program was developed by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF). The program will kick off as a benefit to approximately 100,000 employees of the four participating companies.
WFF estimates that if only 1% of these employees choose to accept their company’s offer, it will result in more than 74,500 metric tons of carbon emissions that would be taken off the atmosphere each year.
Solar incentive for employees
This solar incentive will provide employees, as well as their families and friends access to home solar power at an average rate of 35% less than that of the national average. The figures are according to the estimates computed by WWF. If this is true, the employees will enjoy electric utility rates approximately 50% less than the average household.
According to the WWF, they envision the solar energy discount as an employee benefits program, just like health insurance which brings big companies together to leverage the bulk purchasing power of their large number of employees.
“This takes the bulk purchase model from individual neighbourhoods and organizations to a national scale,” says Keya Chatterjee, senior director of renewable energy at WWF.
“A coast-to-coast, low, flat rate helps mitigate two major barriers of solar adoption—complexity and price—making it possible for more American families to save the planet without leaving their homes,” she adds.
The trend of large companies joining together for employee solar energy discount is catching on according to the New York Times report. Other companies and solar installers are pairing up with environmental activists.
Critics of the big business solar employee incentive scheme
Some are critical about these arrangements but still, the concept is making renewable power accessible to a wider range of consumers. In fact, the Times stated that SolarCity recently announced that it is renewing a similar project with car maker Honda.
This project is also being brokered by WWF and will be handled by Geostellar.
The program called the Solar Community Initiative was conceived at the World Wildlife Fund. It is designed to use the bulk buying power of employees to make considerable discounts for home solar power systems possible.
“Our objective was to make this as simple and cheap as possible,” explains Keya. After receiving discounts through a group program for employees last year, officials at World Wildlife Fund approached a few of their corporate partners, she says.
The solar community program reflects the shrinking gulf between groups that were previously assumed as mutually exclusive: mainstream corporate America, and environmental activists.
WWF’s initiatives have sometimes earned criticisms with other advocacy groups. However, some of these organizations are now pursuing similar activities as they grapple with the issue of how they can engage moneyed interest in achieving their objectives.