Categories: Solar Organizations, ASES, CALSEIA, LA Renewable Energy Society (LARES), NABCEP, SEIA, SEPA, Vote Solar

11/02/17

  11:15:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 947 words  
Categories: Residential Solar, Ranting, Solar Policy, CALSEIA

Solar Policy Progress!

CALSEIA Staff and Members lobbying in Sacramento

CALSEIA Staff and Members lobbying in Sacramento, August 2017.

We wrote the other day that securing sustainable solar policy is not a spectator sport, that it requires all of us to roll up our sleeves and do the work needed.  Leading that charge here in California are our friends over at CALSEIA, and I think it is helpful to motivate others to join in when they can see positive results. 

After all, winning begets winning (well, ok, maybe it didn’t in Game 7, but wait ’til next year!), and recently CALSEIA published a list of policy victories this year that I thought you would like to see. 

So check it out, so much winning!

AB 1070 - Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher (D-San Diego)

Currently solar installers decide what information they will provide to potential clients, and it varies all over the lot, with many companies simply providing “generic” solar system quotes (i.e., this will be a 4.5 kW system for $4.50/Watt).  On the other end of the continuum are the quotes that we provide, calling out all of the equipment we propose to use, how much each line item will cost, a detailed analysis of your savings (using Energy Toolbase, the most sophisticated tool available) and payback over time.  We disclose all of our assumptions (such as energy costs increasing by 3%/year), and lay it all out in a clear and easy to follow format.

AB 1070 will drag some of those less forthcoming companies into the light.  From the legislative counsel’s digest:

This bill would require the [CSLB], in collaboration with the Public Utilities Commission, on or before July 1, 2018, to develop and make available on its Internet Web site a disclosure document that provides a consumer with accurate, clear, and concise information regarding the installation of a solar energy system, as specified. The bill would require this disclosure document to be provided by the solar energy systems company to the consumer prior to completion of a sale, financing, or lease of a solar energy system, as defined, and that it, and the contract, be written in the same language as was principally used in the sales presentation and marketing material. The bill would also require, for solar energy systems utilizing PACE financing, that the financing estimate and disclosure form satisfy these requirements with respect to the financing contract, as specified. The bill would also require the board to post the PACE Financing Estimate and Disclosure form on its Internet Web site.

The bill would require the Contractors’ State License Board to receive and review complaints and consumer questions, and complaints received from state agencies, regarding solar energy systems companies and solar contractors. The bill would, beginning on July 1, 2019, require the board annually to compile a report documenting complaints it received relating to solar contractors that it shall make available publicly on the board’s and the Public Utilities Commission’s Internet Web sites.

This is something we have been advocating for a long time.  Hopefully the CSLB and the CPUC will craft an easy-to-understand document that will help consumers make meaningful comparisons between competing quotes.  We are also pleased that this requires the contract language to track the language of the sales presentation and marketing materials - which in many cases they do not.  On top of that is the requirement for the CSLB and the CPUC to document complaints against solar contractors and to publicize those complaints on their website for all to see.

This bill won’t solve the problem of shady solar contractors, but it is a giant step in the right direction.

AB 1414 - Laura Friedman (D-Glendale)

It used to be that local jurisdictions could charge whatever they liked for solar permits, and getting those permits could take weeks, even for the smallest resi-install.  That was changed a few years ago and permit fees for small PV systems were capped at $500, although realistically, they are supposed to be limited to the actual cost of providing the service.  Some jurisdictions have done a lot to live up to the spirit of the requirement, and both the City of Los Angeles and LA County now have very reasonable permit fees.  Other jurisdictions, however, magically charge that $500 maximum no matter what.   Funny about that.

The cap on those fees was due to expire come January 1, 2018, but AB 1414 extends the cap for seven more years, and lowers the cap from $500 to $450, and extends the cap for both ground-mounted systems as well as solar thermal systems.  Big win.

Other Wins

Some other victories include:

  • AB 634 - Susan Eggman (D-Stockton) - prohibits HOAs from establishing a general policy that forbids the installation or use of a rooftop solar energy system for household purposes on the roof of the building in which the owner resides, or a garage or carport adjacent to the building that has been assigned to the owner for exclusive use.
  • AB 1284 - Matthew Dababneh (D-Calabasas) - Requires PACE lenders to make a “reasonable good faith effort” to ensure borrowers have the ability to repay their loans based on income, assets and current debt obligations.  Too often shady contractors prey on low-income and/or non-native English speakers to sign up for PACE loans that they really do not understand.  This law should help curb that practice, along with…
  • SB 242 - Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) - Mandates that PACE providers have calls with all homeowners before they take out the loan to ensure they understand the terms.

Collectively these measures strengthen the solar industry in California, while providing important consumer protections.  CALSEIA’s work - and that of its members - was key in achieving these results. 

But there’s lots left to do - CALSEIA’s legislative analysis list has many “Failed” entries on it where vital measures were either stalled or defeated outright.  So get involved - this is not a spectator sport!

05/02/16

  03:09:00 pm, by Laurel Hamilton   , 215 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Events, SEIA, Ranting

We Are One Million Solar Strong!


#MillionSolarStrongIt is official! One million solar systems have been installed across the United States providing more than 27 gigagwatts (GW) of clean energy over the past 40 years! This incredible milestone becomes even more impressive when you consider that projections have us reaching 2 million installations in just 2 years. 


Every day at Run on Sun we are proud to be part of the solar movement helping our communities access clean renewable energy. Solar is no longer a fringe technology, nor is it a solution for the future. It is powering homes and businesses nationwide today, and the more solar we install, the more jobs and economic growth we support.


Solar is being deployed by rural and urban communities in all 50 states, from churches and schools, to homes in neighborhoods across the socioeconomic spectrum, to large and small businesses everywhere. By 2020, solar will quadruple in size to nearly 100 GW of total capacity.

 

On Tuesday, May 3rd at 10AM EDT solar supporters across the nation are participating in a social media “thunderclap". Join us in celebrating and sharing this historic achievement and what it means for our energy future by spreading the word across your networks. Working together to raise our voice in unity shows our business leaders and lawmakers that solar is here to stay. We are #MillionSolarStrong! Join the SEIA organized movement and thunderclap here.

 

11/25/15

  12:21:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 407 words  
Categories: SEIA, SCE, Ranting, Net Metering, Chandler School

Solar Thankfulness - 2015

Giving thanks - 2015When you are fortunate enough to work in the Solar Industry you really should be thankful everyday.  After all, we are a part of doing something wonderfully important at work, and how many people can honestly say that?  We provide genuine value to our clients by bringing them clean, affordable solar energy, and we get to make our living at the same time – pretty cool!

But with the holidays upon us, starting with Thanksgiving tomorrow, we wanted to take a look back on this year and highlight some of the things for which we are especially thankful, today and all year around. 
So, in no particular order, here is our list for 2015…

Of course, at the end of the day, it is all of our clients for whom we are the most thankful! From the first to the latest, from the smallest to the largest, and everyone in between - you are why we do what we do, and we never for a moment take for granted the trust you have placed in us. 

May your holidays be filled with peace and joy and love!

12/11/14

  10:19:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton   , 428 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, SEIA

Rapid growth in the solar industry made 2014 the best year yet!

It has been a great year for solar in the US! As the year comeRun on Sun crews to an end, we like to take a look at the numbers to get a sense of how the industry is doing as a whole. The first statistic I came upon stated that through just the first half of 2014, 53% of all new electric capacity installed came from solar!

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, utility-scale solar as of September, 2014 had sent 14.2 gigawatt-hours of electricity to the U.S. grid, up 110% compared to 6.7 GW in 2013. California is leading the way with a whopping 7.8 GW generated in 2014, 188 percent change from 2013!

That means solar generation was enough to meet the electricity needs of 1,513,703 average U.S. homes, and represented about 0.4 percent of the nation’s total electricity. However, these numbers don’t take into account residential and private commercial solar.

“There are now more than half a million homes and businesses nationwide with a solar installation,” reported the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

With continued growth and accounting for these additional sources of generation, solar electricity could easily account for 1 percent of U.S. generation by the end of this year. That might sound like small potatoes, but as recently as 2008 the energy contribution from solar was virtually zero. Rapid growth in the sector points toward continued gains in the near future.

What’s spurring this remarkable growth in the industry? For one thing, it is becoming more and more affordable with the average price of a solar panel declining by 64% since 2010. We also cannot overstate the role of effective public policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) among other state and city-specific policies.

Growth in the solar sector has far reaching positive impacts for the US economy as well as the environment! While the numbers are not yet in for 2014, as of 2013 the industry had already provided 143,000 much needed jobs for Americans or more than 50 people hired in solar each day. Looked at another way, nearly $20 billion a year was invested back into the economy due to the industry.

On the environmental side Rhone Resch, CEO of SEIA, noted that solar will “help to offset an estimated 20 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions in 2014, which is the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off U.S. highways, saving 2.1 billion gallons of gasoline or shuttering half a dozen coal-fired power plants”. Needless to say, converting to solar or other renewable energy sources is paying huge dividends for both our economy and the environment. We look forward to sharing this great resource with continued growth in 2015 and beyond!

05/07/14

  06:57:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 393 words  
Categories: SEIA, Ranting

They are paying him what???

We are fans of SEIA, the Solar Energy Industry Association, as we believe that they do important work lobbying on behalf of solar in Washington, D.C.  But a blog post by Chet Henry over at Red, Green & Blue titled, “Who has the best job in solar? Bet it’s not you,” (h/t SolarWakeup) had us spewing our coffee in disbelief—they are paying him what???

It turns out that SEIA is paying its President/CEO, Rhone Resch, $786,000 per year—to say nothing of a gym membership and guaranteed first class air travel.  Say what?

Now this is not an attack on Mr. Resch, whom I respect.  But seriously, SEIA, what the heck are you doing?  Julia Hamm, who heads up SEPA, the Solar Electric Power Association (which tries to get electric utilities to adopt solar-friendly policies) gets paid roughly a third of Resch, at $286,000.  Sorry, but there is no way Resch is worth three times what Hamm is.  Worse still, according to the blog post, SEIA’s records reveal three other executive women at SEIA, none of whom makes more than a third of what Resch makes.

Frankly, we have been concerned for some time about SEIA’s dues structure which is disproportionately high for small revenue solar companies, and is one of the chief reasons that 80% of solar companies aren’t members.  Indeed, we are no longer members as it simply didn’t seem like a worthwhile investment for our all too finite capital.  Dumping nearly 800 G’s into one man’s salary, however, is no way to say to small installation companies, “we represent you and want you to participate.”

SEIA has noted that there are more than 140,000 people in this country working in the solar industry.  I wonder how many of them are getting paid what SEIA is paying its President?  SEIA has said that there are more than 5,000 solar companies in this country.  I wonder how many of their President/CEOs are getting paid anywhere near what SEIA is paying its CEO?

I simply don’t buy the notion that you need to pay someone that kind of salary to attract the talent needed to do the job.  After all, Ms. Hamm has to hobnob with the heads of IOUs who make 10 times as much as she does, but she can do it for nearly half a million dollars less than SEIA is paying out.

Time for reform at SEIA.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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