Cyber Monday captures the imagination of shoppers everywhere - so why not solar shoppers as well? We know this time of year is traditionally slow for solar purchases - folks are more focused on presents for others than they are on cutting their energy bills. That will come with the New Year and all those resolutions - after all, saving more money will be one of your resolutions next year, right?
But this year we thought we would offer you a little incentive to break that mold and get a head start on your New Year now. So, in honor of Cyber Monday, we are offering our first ever Cyber Monday Sale on Solar!
Here’s how it works - when you click on that big, “Go Solar Now” sun on the right, enter the code “Cyber Monday” in the comments box. Or if you call us at 626-793-6025, mention Cyber Monday on the call. Then, if we sign a contract before the end of the year, we will take $500 off the cost of your new solar power system!
What could be better? You save some money (heck, you could spend that extra $500 on some of those presents!) and you get a head start on fulfilling one of your upcoming New Year’s resolutions! That just might make this the best Cyber Monday Sale ever!
Thanksgiving is just behind us and it seemed like a fitting time to take a moment and offer a word of thanks to those of you kind enough to take the time to read this Newsletter. So here are some of the things for which we are grateful this year:
We qualified for the Chase Grant—We reached our goal of convincing 250 of our supporters to go online and vote for us in the Chase Bank, “Mission Main Street,” grant program. Now if you run a restaurant, getting 250 people to vote for you is easy - just set up a laptop at the counter and let people vote right there. Same if you run a gym or a bookstore, or pretty much any other brick and mortar type of enterprise.
But Run on Sun is a bit more “virtual” than that - except when we are actually installing a project, we interact with our clients mostly electronically. Nor do we operate a store front for “drop-ins” by the public. (Not yet, at least!) So we needed to reach out to folks electronically and cajole them to take a moment and visit the Chase website to vote. Yet even that wasn’t easy - since the only way to vote was to login using your Facebook account and some of our supporters don’t have Facebook accounts (?!?) and others are reluctant to trust the assurances of Chase that they will respect their privacy (we hear that). So we are truly grateful for those of you willing and able to vote.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that we have won - we won’t know that until January. Watch this space!
We published our book—At the start of the year we set out to publish a book about Commercial Solar and after many months of work we were able to deliver on that goal. The book, Commercial Solar: Step-by-Step, has gotten great reviews—including one by none other than Tor ("Solar Fred") Valenza published over at Renewable Energy World that described it as a New Solar Sales Bible - wow!
As a result, we have sold copies of the book not only here in California, but all across the U.S. and even in Great Britain and Germany (isn’t the Internet grand?). While the book’s focus is on how building owners/managers can profitably install commercial solar, much of the text applies equally well to residential solar projects.
Oh, and we hear it makes a great Holiday Present—just sayin’!
We have our largest project pipeline ever—As we come to the end of the year, our project pipeline is the largest we have ever seen. We are closing out 2013 strong, and we are looking forward to our best year ever in 2014!
We are well on our way to rolling out a shiny new website—Part of our excitement for the New Year ahead is the rollout of a brand new version of our website. The current website—which dates back to 2010—has evolved over the years but the underlying design had gotten to look pretty “clunky” to quote one dismayed supporter.
The new website will feature an entirely new look with a much simpler layout and cleaner design elements. Plus, we have been hard at work applying our analytical skills (thank you, D3) to developing intriguing, and maybe even fun, functionality to delight and inform you! (For a sneak peak at one of those features, click the image below.)
None of this would have been possible without the support of our many readers and clients. Together, you have given us the ability to make the world a better place, one rooftop at a time. You are why we do this, and we are mindful of your support every day. Thank you!
We have expressed skepticism over the value of solar leases for residential clients in the past and, as a result, we have refused to offer them. Unfortunately, for some perspective clients, something was needed between a straight-up cash purchase and the siren song of the solar lease. Now we have an answer - the solar loan.*
Run on Sun is now able to offer qualified residential clients a $25,000 secured loan with the option to also include up to $15,000 more in an unsecured, 18-months same-as-cash plus loan. Together, these two loan options provide for as much as $40,000 for solar power systems - enough for 95% of all residential solar projects.
The first piece of the financing mechanism is the $25,000 step-down loan. Under this program, which is open to residential clients with FICO scores of 650 or more, the client has the option of re-amortizing the loan once within the first 24 months - after the rebate and tax credit payments have been received. This allows the client to take advantage of those incentives - as opposed to surrendering them to the leasing company - and use some or all of those proceeds to lower your monthly payments. In addition, there are no pre-payment penalties and the interest is most likely tax deductible - unlike lease payments (but please, check with your tax advisor).
The second piece is the $15,000 plus loan for systems larger than 5-6 kW. This loan requires a FICO score of 700 or more, and no payments are required until 18 months from the date of funding. The intent here is that for larger systems, no payment is made on this second loan piece until the rebate and tax incentive have been received, at which time they can be used to pay off this part of the loan. In this way, qualified homeowners can purchase larger systems without increasing their monthly payments.
So why is this better than a lease? For one thing, the loan terms are more flexible than many leases, allowing the homeowner to choose repayment periods from five to twenty years. (Of course, the shorter the term and the better your individual credit, the better the interest rate will be.) Another benefit is that your payments are fixed; there are no escalator clauses in this loan, thereby eliminating the fear that your payment could increase faster than utility rates, possibly destroying the value of your system - no such assurances with leased systems. And because you own the system, if you decide to sell your home there is no qualification issue to worry about with potential buyers.
But here’s the best part - you will save more money with a loan than you will with a lease! Don’t believe me? Take a look - let’s suppose you need a 5 kW system and you want to pay for it over twenty years (the same terms as most leases). Your credit is very good, but not outrageously good (say, somewhere between 725 and 759), and you are presently averaging $0.22/kWh to SCE. We will assume you are in a 30% tax bracket and we will estimate SCE’s rate increases, conservatively, at 4.5%/year. (Note that some leasing companies use 6% or higher - making their numbers look better than they might really be.) That works out to a loan amount of $22,500, give or take.
How do your savings compare over 20 years? Take a look:
Because you are able to apply your rebate and tax credit to the loan - as opposed to simply handing those over to the leasing company, your loan payment steps down in Year 2. By Year 6 the loan has saved you more money than the lease, and that differential continues to grow year after year. By the time the loan is paid off and the lease term ends, you will be $5,600 ahead having chosen a loan over a lease! (Of course, these are estimates only, your mileage may vary!)
If you are looking to go solar but need a financing vehicle, we strongly encourage you to consider the loan option. Give us a call today and let’s help you run some number and get you started on a solar project that will maximize your benefits!
*Solar loan financing provided through Admirals Bank, Equal Housing Lender, Member FDIC.
An innovative new survey on the attitudes of women about solar is now seeking user input. The survey effort, dubbed “Shining a Solar Marketing Light on Women” is the brainchild of #SolarChat visionary, Raina Russo, and solar marketing expert, Glenna Wiseman.
As Raina put it:
Women across America overwhelmingly guide the purchasing decisions in the average household. They also carry with them an intuitive nature to create a better future for their children. Understanding these two significant attributes can assist the solar industry in communicating and connecting with such an important consumer base, one that has the potential to increase the adoption of solar nationwide.
We couldn’t agree more and we urge all of our women readers to take a moment and share your views by clicking here to take the survey.
Raina and Glenna will be gathering survey responses through November 13th, and we will have a follow-up post when the results are published.
Encouraging the adoption of solar is way too important to leave it just in the hands of the men who presently dominate the industry - some of whom are completely tone deaf as to what is proper solar marketing. (After all, it was a bunch of guys who gave us women in cages as a means of marketing solar - can’t get any more tone deaf than that!)
Raina and Glenna’s survey is a great step in helping the solar industry improve its marketing to all segments of the consumer universe and those improvements can’t come too soon. So please, take a moment and take the survey!
We have previously reported on - and been critical of - the handling of defective solar tile systems installed in new “solar” homes built by Centex. Now we are happy to report that after much delay, Centex is stepping up to the plate and replacing defective solar tile systems with new, conventional solar arrays. Here’s our update.
Centex Solar Home in Pleasanton, CA
First some background - between 2006 and 2009, Centex built “solar” homes like the one at the right in Pleasanton, California. These homes featured solar roofing tiles that became the subject of a recall by the Consumer Products Safety Commission and were manufactured by Open Energy Corporation, which became Applied Solar, Inc., which became Applied Solar LLC - which then went bankrupt and ceased operations.
That left Centex to address these problems and as we previously noted, they were taking their time in doing so and were asking homeowners to sign an especially pernicious release of rights before agreeing to undertake repairs. Then this summer, Centex stopped making repairs altogether after a series of fires broke out in homes that had been “repaired". Clearly what was needed was for the old tiles to be completely removed, the roof restored and a new, conventional solar array installed.
Well now we are happy to report that Centex has agreed to do exactly that.
Based on an independent review of the OE-34 panels, Centex is not confident in their long-term viability and safety. Because of this, we are pleased to inform you that we will replace all existing OE-34 solar panels with new solar panels at no cost to homeowners. This includes all homeowners who have previously had their systems repaired.
In short, we believe resuming repairs is simply not sufficient to address the issues with the original solar panel system. When repairs were suspended and investigations underway, all homeowners were instructed to turn off their systems. We remind you to continue to keep your solar system turned off until the new system is installed.
Our goal is to replace all existing solar panel systems by February 2014. This replacement schedule is aggressive, but we have retained several companies to conduct the necessary work that entails: removal of current solar system panels, installation of new roof tiles in their place, and installation of a new raised-panel solar system. We estimate that it will take approximately two days per home for the removal and installation process.
This is very good news indeed and we applaud the decision by Centex to take this step. Finally these homeowners will have the “benefit of their bargain” and once again have the opportunity to live in a solar home.
The letter identified the solar modules to be used as coming from either Hanwha or ET Solar and had links for more information about each of those. Unfortunately, those links appear to be broken so we have uploaded the datasheets for the identified solar modules. Here they are:
We will continue to monitor this story and we encourage affected homeowners to provide us with info about their experiences with this repair and replacement program in the comments below.
«climate change» «commercial solar» cpuc «enphase energy» «feed-in tariff» fit fluxhome gwp ladwp «net metering» pg&e pwp «run on sun» sce seia «solar power» «solar rebates» solarcity usc «westridge school for girls»