Introducing the solar-powered workforce. by Solstice Initiative
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In the last judging round, the judges saw a really interesting kernel of an idea. And we still think there's a really interesting idea here ("This is a clever suggestion, and reflects the move by some innovative employers to attract staff by "doing good.") but we cannot advance it to be a finalist now.
Most importantly, we question whether this would actually decrease the costs of solar and have a large impact on carbon emission reductions. We wish the proposal had included evidence that would support expectations of decreased carbon emissions. In addition, we weren't convinced that as it's proposed now, the proposal is attractive enough for staff to actually participate in. Finally, the judges think there could be budgeting nightmare associated with taking savings and putting into individual home rebates.
These barriers can be overcome and we think there is potential here. We absolutely think this deserves to be a semi-finalist, but don't think it is ready to be a finalist.
This proposal is an innovative way to broaden the benefits of solar. The judges think that it would lead to greater social awareness of solar, which would hopefully lead to broader deployment. It's an intriguing idea, and one that we have decided to advance. There is a vacuum of opportunity for a lot of parties to tap into solar power.
However, raised questions about the route the author is proposing and see a number of logistical challenges with this particular proposed mechanism:
1) Starting with DOD is an interesting idea, but has some logistical challenges. For example, energy bills are paid for out of a base operations budget, while salaries are paid out of a different budget. Could money be moved between those budgets? And, how would you account for the pay differences between bases that would arise? Should soldiers in sunny places with high electric rates get paid more than those in cloudy places with low rates? I would encourage you to actually think these details through, because using DOD as a test case is very compelling.
2) I also have questions about the impact of this on solar deployment. I like the idea of sharing the savings with employees, but that raises two questions for me. First, wouldn't this decrease savings to employers, which would lessen the attractiveness of solar, ultimately leading to marginally less deployment? Second, it's not clear to me how your shared savings solution addresses the fundamental barriers you raise in the introduction. Have you thought about targeting the savings to help specific people who are currently disadvantaged?
3) It's worth considering that employees would need to pay taxes on this benefit, that the DOD would be limited in what types of benefits it can provide employees, and that employees would need to know enough about their employer, their employer's energy investments, and the magnitude of their potential benefit to demand such a dividend.
4) Crowdsourcing is a popular idea, but we are not sure how well it is suited to this proposal. It appeared to us that the incentive structure for employers' to offer this benefit to employees was illogical. What if there was a way to harness the interests of individuals to build capital, invest in a project, and receive a dividend on that investment? Would that be more effective than involving an employer? Would individuals be able to compel their employer to 'go solar' if the impetus came from the other direction?
We know that we raised a lot of questions. We encourage you to forge ahead as answering them will greatly improve the proposal's feasibility.
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