Following in the footsteps of its big box brethren Home Depot, Lowe’s, and IKEA, consumer electronics behemoth Best Buy is now adding residential solar to the shopping experience at 60 retail outposts spread across five states including New York, Arizona, Hawaii, Oregon, and California. With the just-announced program, Best Buy will be the first national consumer electronics retailer (but really, are there any other consumer electronics retailers these days?) to offer an in-store solar service option.

To be clear, Best Buy itself won’t be selling PV systems outright in these select stores, a bulk of which are in California. Rather, representatives from the nation’s leading full-service solar provider, SolarCity, will be planted in the stores to help guide solar-curious customers through the sometimes intimidating ins-and-outs of residential solar leasing and, ideally, get them to sign up.

Reads a blog post published by Solar City:

SolarCity makes it possible for many homeowners to install solar panels for free and pay less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power. As the first national consumer electronics retailer to offer a solar service option in-store, Best Buy helping to make solar more accessible. A SolarCity representative at each participating Best Buy location will be able to provide Best Buy customers with a satellite-based assessment of their home’s solar potential in less than five minutes. When customers know that they have an option to do something positive for the environment and save money at the same, they often choose that option. Knowledge, as they say, is power.
And if customers do ultimately decide to enroll in SolarCity's innovative leasing plan through in-store outreach at Best Buy, they’ll get a $100 Best Buy gift card as part of a promo that runs through Earth Day (April 22). Best Buy, of course, will also receive a percentage of each sale as part of the revenue sharing-based partnership with SolarCity.

Perhaps best known for its progressive electronics recycling, Minnesota-headquartered Best Buy itself is a prolific consumer of clean, renewable energy. As a member of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership, the retailer ranked 39 on a Jan. 2014 list of the 100 top green power users in the nation. However, Best Buy’s green power usage — accounting for 14 percent of its overall power consumption — actually doesn’t come from solar but from hydro and wind projects. The nation’s top green power users — Intel, Microsoft, Kohl’s, Whole Foods, Wal-Mart, and Google — all rely on solar, most, but not all, in combination with other green power sources.


As for SolarCity, Lyndon Rive’s San Mateo, Calif.-based company firmly believes that American homeowners are enthusiastic about embracing solar, whether they sign up for it while also shopping for a flat-screen TV at Best Buy or not. Earlier this week, the results of a nationwide poll commissioned by SolarCity and Clean Edge, Inc. geared to gage homeowner (over 1,400 participated) attitudes toward clean energy services and products was released with some rather encouraging findings.

The first-of-its-kind poll titled “U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy: A National Survey,” found that an overwhelming number of homeowners — 88 percent of those polled — across all political persuasions support clean energy projects while 62 percent said that they would be interested in pursuing solar power for their own homes. Seventy-three percent of homeowners polled were keen on the idea of having clean energy provided to them by an entity outside of their normal utility company.

Not surprisingly, economics,  not the environment, was the driving force behind homeowner interest in solar, specifically zero-up front costs and long-term savings. Outside of solar power, homeowners identified LED bulbs, smart thermostats, double- and triple-panned windows, hybrid cars, and Energy Star-certified water heaters as clean energy-related purchases that they planned on investing in at some point this year.

 Click here to read the poll in its entirety. 

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Matt Hickman ( @mattyhick ) writes about design, architecture and the intersection between the natural world and the built environment.

Best Buy: Come for an HDMI cable, leave with a solar leasing agreement
Representatives from SolarCity will now be a fixture in select Best Buy stores in a partnership that both companies believe will make solar more accessible.