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Big Box Solar? The Home Depot and BP Solar Partnership

Home Depot and BP Solar Division have come together. Yes, it’s true, and yes it’s happening. BP has been doing the solar thing since 1973. These two behemoths in their respective industries are looking to capitalize by bringing solar mainstream.

Here’s how it works: Home Depot provides a warranty on BP’s parts (often with a 12-month, zero-interest loan) and then hires a local contractor to do the actual installation. In the Denver area, it’s local Sunflower Solar who has secured the contract with 17 Denver-Metro Home Depot stores. This could be the next big thing for start-up solar installers.

Home Depot tried this program in CA first and has since expanded its solar offerings to New Jersey, Arizona, Texas, and New York. That’s significant for the residential homeowner, especially considering the incentives, which if correct, give a homeowner just enough time to start receiving their rebates before they start paying for the system with cold hard cash. Of course, that loan may not be exactly a loan - it could have come from a new membership to the Home Depot credit card or as a promotion thereof. Plenty of people are rather skeptical about Home Depot solar.

I’ve seen the good and the bad sides in my research for this new development. Of course, there’s a preconception to what “Big Box” is and how ecologically minded it can truly be, but wouldn’t widespread solar be just as good? Ay, but here’s the rub, solar power doesn’t account for even one-tenth of a percent of renewable energy production in the US. So, a mainstream company putting their reputation on the line for solar may be the shot in the arm the industry needs to create a massive mushroom cloud… of clean energy and prosperity to those who bring it.

Either way, this is the cutting edge for the booming solar industry full of energetic start-ups. But Sunflower Solar is not reporting excessive expansion of their business despite this statement from Geoff Slavin, BP Solar Vice President of Sales and Marketing: “The BP Solar Home Solutions program, through The Home Depot, has become the foremost retail program for solar in the U.S.” Time will tell, much like everything else in this fledgling revolution of the sun.

Even with my ingrained distaste for those big boxes, I can’t help but think this is a good thing overall. I had hoped that the booming industry might help disrupt corporate monopolies, but who was I kidding, anyway?

For those of you in New Jersey or South Eastern Pennsylvania areas, check out this website of a Home Depot Solar Installer.

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