The light is shining on 3M, Cisco, Kimberly-Clark and the National Geographical Society as the companies take steps to provide employees a first-of-its kind employee benefit: discounts on home solar power installation.

The Solar Community Initiative, launched by the World Wildlife Fund in partnership with several companies, provides discounted solar panels through Geostellar at a rate close to 35% below the national average, says Keith Miller, 3M strategic adviser on global sustainability.

The initiative is starting as an employee benefit for close to 100,000 employees at the participating companies, Miller says.

3M internally announced the new benefit to its close-to-40,000 employees in the U.S. and Canada last week, in conjunction with National Energy Month, but publicly announced it Wednesday at the Solar Power International conference in Las Vegas.

3M’s intranet directs employees to a personalized page on Geostellar’s website where they can enter their address and receive an estimate on solar panel installation, Miller says.

“We’ve had a lot of interest,” he adds. “More than we thought in some ways,” he says, noting that as of Wednesday, 326 of 3M’s employees had already gone to Geostellar’s website for estimates.

Also see: Employees wary of employer efforts to go green

The initiative brings large companies together to leverage the bulk purchasing power of their substantial aggregate employee base, their families, and communities. “This takes the bulk purchase model from individual neighborhoods and organizations to a national scale,” said Keya Chatterjee, senior director of renewable energy at WWF.

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