Solar Dealmaker One Block Dealt To Canadian Firm

How do you go about buying a solar power system for your home? How do you make sure you’re getting the best price?

Most of us wouldn’t know where to begin on either of these questions, and it’s that knowledge void that One Block Off the Grid — aka, 1BOG — has been trying to exploit since its founding in 2008. The company has been growing, and now it figures to get bigger after an acquisition announced this week by Pure Energies Group.

Pure Energies, One Block Off the Grid, 1BOG

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Pure Energies is out of Ontario, Canada, where an aggressive feed-in tariff has driven solar development. With One Block Off the Grid, it’s looking to expand into the United States.

“We believe there is tremendous opportunity in this emerging retail market segment – in fact, the U.S. market alone more than doubled last year,” Pure Energies Group CEO Zbigniew Barwicz said in a statement [PDF]. “Acquiring One Block Off the Grid will help us extend the foundation we’ve built since launching Pure energies in 2009, following Ontario’s landmark Green Energy and Economy Act.”

There’s no landmark Green Energy and Economy Act in the U.S. Instead, there are a hodgepodge of federal, state and local inducements to go solar – and a wide range of companies that will lease or sell you a system.

One Block Off the Grid from its earliest days presented itself as a way to navigate that confusing thicket, while also offering low prices by aggregating customers in a geographic area and negotiating deals with suppliers and installers.

As the San Francisco Business Times reported, the company last year morphed, selling solar power systems directly to customers.

Still, the basic business proposition is that with 1BOG, you don’t overpay for solar – and it’s easy.

“We want to give homeowners the best deal possible, by having all the best options in any givengeography, and offering the fastest and most painless online sales process you can get,” 1BOG  founder and CEO Dave Llorens, who with the acquisition becomes its chief operating officer, said in a statement. “Getting multiple quotes is a chore. We let the customer skip past that with a one-stop-shop. Becoming part of Pure Energies lets us do that faster, better and in more places.”

Pure Energies, One Block Off the Grid, 1BOG

image via Shutterstock

GTM Research solar analyst Andrew Krulewitz told reporter Jeff St. John that the tie-up could be well-positioned for success by finding deals on solar purchases and, perhaps even more significantly, in the solar lease market.

“With no upfront cost to the homeowner, the end-customer is simply happy to be saving money,” he said. “If Pure can foster competition in this regard, third-party residential installers will be forced to reduce overall costs dramatically to continue to provide competitive electricity rates and keep positive margins.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.