When I was a kid, my Father subscribed to something called the Reader’s Digest, a magazine that excerpted articles from a variety of publications and compiled them into one, convenient, pre-Internet source. A very handy source except for one downside—the publisher’s penchant for promoting never-ending contests. Every week our mailbox would be besieged with yet another fabulous opportunity to win something grand—just fill this out (and maybe subscribe to yet another magazine?) and you, too, could win the prize of a lifetime.
Finally, my Father could abide the deluge no more. He famously (at least within our household) wrote to the subscription department and threatened to cancel his subscription if they would not halt their assault. As he put it, “Either finally give me the Moon, or leave me in peace to buy my own green cheese.”
Which brings me to our friends at LG.
We love solar modules from LG; in fact, we have been using them exclusively since 2012. We installed the first of their NeON modules anywhere in the world, and LG are the only solar modules that you see featured on our website. We are absolute fans, and so are our clients. We consistently deal with folks who want to maximize the amount of power on their roofs and the 300 Watt NeON modules are the way to go.
Except for one thing… we can’t get them.
Despite getting emails from LG on a weekly basis, with messages like this one:
…the NeONs are not available for love or money.
So, no, the LG MonoX NeON is not the right module for us since it makes no sense to sell a job with a product we cannot get!
From what we hear, it is like this all across the country. A friend and colleague of ours in PA had tweeted about a project he just completed—with LG 300’s! So we asked him about it and he replied: “I lucked out on this batch, LG300s are just a rumor anymore. Back to Solar World 275s for now.”
Just the other day we got an email with this banner across the top:
(If we were to caption this photo it would be something like, “We will be getting these WHEN? Uhnnnh. Thud.")
Let’s be clear:
It is NOT reliable to market a product to installers and then not make the product available.
It is NOT reliable to build a network of installers across the country who have faithfully and enthusiastically promoted and installed your modules, only to leave them with six month delivery times for your product.
And it certainly is NOT reliable to urge us in constant emails to sell, sell, sell, when you know full well that you aren’t going to be able to deliver on those sales.
It is not reliable at all. The word you are searching for is: disrespectful.
So here is the question for our friends at LG: What are you going to do about it? Frankly, until you are ready to provide reasonable delivery times for module orders, we really don’t need to see any more emails touting what a great partner you are.
Either supply us with product in a respectful manner or leave us alone.
We’ll buy our cheese somewhere else.
While it is true that in terms of raw numbers, women are underrepresented in the solar industry, that does not mean that there aren’t amazing women making major contributions to the growth of solar. Recently the folks over at PVSolarReport highlighted their Top 10 Women of Solar. Here’s our take.
The list of women compiled by author Lisa Ann Pinkerton is certainly laudable, with founders of major corporate players, leaders of trade associations, commentators and activists. Here’s a brief summary of who’s who on the list:
We have added the Twitter handles where we could identify them (or that of their company/association when we could not), and given that this is #FollowFriday, what could be more appropriate that to follow all of these impressive women?
Of course, one list begets another and it only seemed fair to toss in a few additional names. We limited ourselves to only one person from a given organization (otherwise we would have a huge list just from those terrific women at Enphase) and by definition this list is far more personal in nature.
So, in no particular order, here are some of our Top Women in Solar:
Heck, no way we could leave Velvet off this list, even if she isn’t on Twitter! And while our list is heavily weighted toward the journalism side of things, every one of these women is making a difference in solar, and we think they are awesome!
So, who would you include? One list does beget another so please, after you finish following all of these amazing women, let us know who we missed!
In our first two posts this week recapping the state of solar feed-in tariffs in the Run on Sun service area, we focused on what is happening with the biggest FiT around, that run by LADWP. But that isn’t, nominally at least, the only game in town so this post will summarize the progress, or lack of same, at the other FiT programs around: Glendale, Anaheim and Riverside.
We have written at great length about the problems with the FiT program that Glendale Water & Power designed to meet their state mandate. We noted that the prices being offerred—which were actually even 10% lower than what was presented to the Glendale City Council when they approved the program—were way too low to pencil out for a project, and that other uncertainties made it highly unlikely that anyone would participate. In other words, as we told the Glendale City Council, they were approving a program that was designed to fail.
Nine months into the experiment, where do things stand today? Let’s take a quick look at the FiT queue as of today:
All that empty space is just hard on the eyes.
In nine months, GWP has not received a single application for their FiT program—and contrary to how GWP officials refer to their defunct commercial solar incentive program as a “victim of its own success,” this program is a victim of GWP’s design.
Given the failure to attract a single project application, you might think that GWP would take steps to address their failure by increasing the offer price for energy, but you would be wrong. This table summarizes the progression on GWP’s FiT offer price for energy:
The “City Council” price is what GWP suggested to the City Council the offer price might be when the program went live and that is the price the Council had before it when they approved the program. The “Program Start” price is what was actually offered to potential project developers when the program went live last July.
The “Q214″ price is what is being offered today—a reduction of 5.5% for Peak and 4.8% for Off-Peak deliveries. That’s right, in response to offering a price that was already so low that no one was willing to put forward an application, GWP has responded by cutting its offer price by 5%. Genius.
GWP will no doubt say that they have no choice, that the formula approved by the City Council for setting the offer price mandates this result, but that’s merely self-referential nonsense. GWP designed the formula and the City Council confessed that they had no way to assess the technical merit of what was before them. The formula is supposed to be based, in part, on avoided costs—but guess what? So is the offer price for the LADWP FiT and yet it is twice what GWP is offering. Are we to believe, therefore, that GWP’s costs are half of those incurred by LADWP? If so, we suspect the customers of GWP would be surprised then that there rates are as high as they are.
It is high time that the Glendale City Council call GWP to task and insist that they re-create this FiT program so as to achieve what the state law intended—the actual installation of solar power in the City of Glendale.
The representative from Anaheim Water & Power had told us last year that their program to date, despite being started in 2010, had yet to attract a single application. Checking in on Anaheim’s FiT website confirms that unbroken string of failure continues to this day with no projects in the queue.
Anaheim’s offer price tells us why: it ranges from 3.883¢/kWh for Off-Peak to 6.472¢/kWh for Mid-Peak to a summer On-Peak price of 9.708¢/kWh.
Last year Riverside’s representative told us that they knew that their price was so low no one would bite and that was fine because they didn’t want solar installed in Riverside anyway. Today, Riverside’s “we don’t want anybody to participate” price for energy is 6.2¢/kWh—exactly the same as GWP’s off-peak price. Looks like GWP is playing follow the (non)leader.
Which brings us to our friends at Pasadena Water & Power. At a meeting yesterday we learned that PWP is considering a Feed-in Tariff program of its own. Now we are fans of PWP, indeed, we think they are the easiest and best utility around to work with (and for, for that matter). So that begs the question: What sort of FiT will PWP create? They could base their program on what has been done at LADWP (with necessary tweaks to make small projects viable) and thereby insure a successful program that reduces pollution, creates local jobs and helps to green PWP’s energy mix. Or they could follow the misguided path of GWP and its ilk, creating a program in name only, that guarantees that not a single kWh of clean energy will ever be generated.
Needless to say, we will follow FiT development at PWP closely. Watch this space.
What do women want? That’s a question that has confounded men for… ever. But this is a solar blog, not advice for the love lorn, so we are really concerned about something more specific: What do women want when it comes to solar? Since most of the folks in the solar industry are guys (sadly), we have tended to create marketing approaches that would appeal to… guys. Which, when taken to frat boy extremes, can lead to disasters like the one perpetrated by the folks at RECOM.
So how to overcome this inherent, genetic limitation?
Well, perhaps listening to what some really smart women have to say on the topic would be a good start.
Which brings us to the work, released today, by two of the smartest women in solar that we know: Raina Russo and Glenna Wiseman. Their study, titled “Shining a Solar Marketing Light on Women,” consists of 20 questions that track the “5 Stages of Buying” that women use, according to marketing researcher, Marti Barletta. Compiling results from 34 different states, Russo and Wiseman have produced an analysis that should be a must read for any solar company trying to improve their kitchen table discussion with that all important “Chief Purchasing Officer." After all, as they note, women actually initiate 80% of all home improvement projects and they are the driving force in deciding whether to go solar, and if so, with whom.
Yet much of the time, “women do not feel the solar industry is reaching out to them in techniques they will respond to or are speaking their language,” a trend that we continue at our economic peril.
From today’s press release:
Solar industry marketers are encouraged to purchase the survey and then participate in the upcoming #SolarChat to get further insights from the experts. The survey will be discussed on #SolarChat April 9, 2014, where a host of leading marketing to women experts will be featured including Marti Barletta of Trend Sight, Leah Segedie of Bookieboo LLC and Mamavation.com, Andrea Luecke of The Solar Foundation, Krystal Glass of The National Women’s Business Council and Glenna Wiseman of Identity3 and Women4Solar. The panel will be moderated by Raina Russo, recently ascribed by The Energy Collective as a top 10 woman in solar.
A portion of the survey proceeds will go to Heather Andrews Scholarship Fund at Solar Energy International (SEI) to further its mission of women’s solar training. The SEI Women’s Program provides in-person, technical workshops in a supportive learning atmosphere to bring more women into the renewable energy field.
Count us in. And we love the contribution to the Heather Andrews Scholarship Fund - I’m sure she’s smiling at the thought of helping to educate women in doing solar by educating men on how to speak to women about solar.
Oh, and if you are still casting about for a solar hero or two to nominate for the White House’s Champions of Change program, you’d be hard pressed to find two more worthy candidates than Raina Russo and Glenna Wiseman.
As we close out the merry, maddening month of March, we thought we would share with you the best pair of ads we’ve seen in a long time. No, they have nothing to do with solar, per se, but they do both feature plug-in hybrid cars, so implicitly they cry out for solar.
But what drew us to them is the difference in attitude these two ads demonstrate: the “make your own luck” view versus the “make the world a better place” one. Perhaps the world needs both types, but it seems pretty clear to us that one type is in too short supply, whereas the other, not so much.
Here’s the first ad, from Cadillac:
And here’s the second, from Ford:
So here’s the question: which one would you want to be?