Category: "CALSSA"

02/06/18

  09:51:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 474 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, CALSSA

A Rose by any other Name: CALSEIA becomes CALSSA!

CALSSA logo

Readers of this blog know that Run on Sun is a proud member of the California Solar Energy Industry Association or CALSEIA.  Headed by the incredible Bernadette Del Chiaro, and supported by a brilliant cast of characters (including Carter Lavin, Laura Gray, Kelly Knutsen, Brad Heavner, Meghan Vincent-Jones, and Josh Buswell-Charkow), CALSEIA is making a positive difference in California’s solar industry. 

But these days, just advocating for solar is not enough, as the future for solar, indeed the future for renewables, is to include energy storage into the mix.  Hence the need for the name change, as CALSEIA becomes CALSSA - the California Solar & Storage Association!

Of course, one doesn’t change the name of a forty-year old organization lightly.  Here’s how Bernadette explained the reasoning behind the name change:

Reflection of reality. The new name simply better captures the rising importance of energy storage in the marketplace and paves the way for the integration of a whole suite of new customer-facing energy products. Interestingly, over 70% of the storage systems installed in California in 2017 were installed (and in many cases manufactured) by existing members of the Association.
 
Big tent. Former Board President Rick Reed likes to remind me that this association has always taken a “big tent” approach. The solar hot water industry (the original solar energy storage device!) made room for the photovoltaic industry that, in turn, is making room for energy storage. The job of a business association is to create the environment within which all businesses can compete and thrive. And, to quote our current Board President Ed Murray, “We have been installing storage devices for decades. This new name is as much a nod to our past as it is a reflection of our bullish outlook on the future.”
 
Can’t get there from here without it. Without a rapid deployment of energy storage, along with other energy management tools, California will be unable to integrate high levels of renewable energy as well as electric vehicles onto the grid. We need to be able to deliver clean power whenever the consumer and/or the grid need it. We simply can’t let the sun set on solar.
 
The “internet of things” is revolutionizing energy. The question isn’t so much if this change happens but when and who benefits from it. Giving our consumers the tools they need to meet their energy needs while lowering costs is what we have always been about. As the most successful business people among us will point out, we don’t sell solar panels so much as we sell energy independence, savings, and clean air. Making the sun shine at night and giving our consumers that much more freedom, savings and clean energy is and has always been this Association’s purpose at its core.  

Here’s to another 40 years of success as the California Solar & Storage Association.

To which we say, Right On!

 Permalink

11/02/17

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

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!

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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