$500 rebate from PG&E for electric vehicle owners

Occasionally, we'll stumble upon something that sounds too good to be true. Not fake news, but are-you-kidding-me offers. This one's good and real: A $500 rebate from PG&E to any current electric vehicle owner. No joke, no strings attached. The program commenced yesterday; here's an excerpt from Green Car Reports story:

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) now offers a $500 "Clean Fuel Rebate" for customers with electric cars.

The program, which just launched yesterday, is the result of California's Low Carbon Fuel Standard, which among other provisions, gives credits to utilities whose customers use home electricity to charge electric cars.

PG&E hopes to pass the value of those credits back to those customers, according to a company press release.

To be eligible, customers simply need an active PG&E residential account.

Customers can apply for a rebate for their own electric cars, or apply on behalf of an electric-car owner in their household (or a tenant, in multi-family households), after gaining that owner's permission.

Applicants need only a PG&E account number and a scanned image of the car's registration or sales/lease agreement, which can be be submitted through a web page set up for the program.

Feel free to contact us if you have questions or have trouble securing your rebate. And, for a day, we can all smile when we think about PG&E!

Thinking about going solar? Five key considerations

There’s a lot of sunshine being monetized by our community. In Davis alone, one in four single family residences have solar PV systems (versus approximately 5% in PG&E territory). Such rapid adoption is driven by four factors: PG&E’s ever-escalating electricity rates, a sharp decline in the cost of solar systems, the 30% federal tax credit, and (increasingly) grand concerns about our climate and planet.

The formative stage of the Repower program involved extensive research. We assessed the quality, reliability and pricing of solar equipment; the efficacy of solar installation contractors; the pricing (through a group purchase program) of solar; the most viable financing options; and, the most systematic installation methodology. Since pulling the pieces together and enabling the Repower program, we have had the fortune of helping more homeowners in our community invest in solar than any other solar provider.

If you are pondering going solar, here are five key considerations:

1. How long do you intend to reside in your home? If your horizon is less than five years, think twice; if more than five (and given you have a de facto agreement with PG&E to purchase electricity), dig deep.

2. What is the condition (and remaining life) of your roof? Solar systems have a 25-year production warranty. Though it is possible (and common) to replace a roof with an existing solar system, if your roof’s remaining life is less than 10 years, you should consider replacing all or part (i.e., the portion under the solar panels) of your roof.

3. What are the installation contractor’s qualifications? Thereby, it’s critical to speak with local homeowners who have worked with the contractor. Furthermore, you should seek a 10-year workmanship warranty and ensure the installation contractor is financially solvent. Finally, the contractor’s experience with your type of roof is paramount.

4. Who manufacturers the solar panels and inverter(s)? The assessment herein is twofold: What is the efficacy and reliability of the products, and what is the financial solvency (i.e., strength of balance sheet) of the manufacturer, and thus the validity of their performance warranty. Bloomberg qualifies a dozen or so solar panel manufacturers as “Tier 1” or “investment grade” … make sure you’re purchasing a product from this class.

5. Who will own the system and/or how will you pay for it? Frankly, leasing a solar system — whereby your solar panels are owned by a third-party, tax equity fund — is a raw deal for homeowners. You should own your system. Many homeowners employ a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or credit union financing (Yolo Federal Credit Union) to finance their solar system. (Contact us if you would like to learn more about Property Assessed Clean Energy [PACE] financing … we helped developed the first PACE programs in Sacramento and Yolo counties.)

 

At the end of the day, you'd like to know the likelihood your solar system will meet or exceed its energy forecast. Most solar companies use the same forecasting tools. It's the assumptions that feed these models that vary. You should feel confident the forecast presented is reasonable and not some pie-in-the-sky result. Hence, ask solar companies the proportion of systems installed that meet or exceed the originally forecast energy generation. (You should also ask the number of systems monitored to ensure it's a meaningful proportion.)

We do not have all the answers — there is no surefire, perfect solar solution — but we do have strong opinions and extensive experience in our community. Nobody wants to get a bad deal or make a short-sighted decision; filtering through the noise of pesky solar solicitations can be migraine-inducing. To wit, feel free to contact us if you need a hand.

President-elect Tump + the future of solar

So, it happened. President-elect Donald Trump. The ramifications are yet to be seen, but based on more than one-dozen conversations since the election with prospective solar investors (residential and commercial property owners), a valid concern has been floated: What will happen to the 30% federal solar (renewable energy) tax credit?

First, what we know: Mr. Trump has bemoaned climate change as a “hoax.” He has committed to revitalizing the coal industry and boosting national development of non-clean (read: natural gas and oil) energy sources. And, he has — for selfish reasons, given his on-the-coast golf course in the UK — denounced wind farms. Furthermore, he has floated climate science denier Myron Ebell as a potential director of the Environmental Protection Agency. Clean air, clean water, viable species, and solar tax credits be damned.

But, in my conversations with concerned folk, I’m trying to apply logic and common sense. First, the solar industry has created more jobs in the US over the past five years than any other industry, and it’s the fastest growing sector in the economy -- more than 200,000 patriots are employed in the solar industry. The solar industry is growing 12x faster than the overall economy. Solar creates jobs; republicans like job growth. Second, when property owners opt to invest in and create their own energy, they are exercising their (energy and investment) independence. Who’s to argue with an individual’s right to create their own energy? Decentralization of energy — creation, distribution, investment — is something both sides of the aisle should logically agree with. (Fact: 85% of Americans and 84% of republicans support solar.)

My fear: Uneducated idealism will trump logic, facts, statistics and applied common sense. The reality that the fossil fuels industry receives more than 10x the incentives (tax credits included) of renewable energy will be cast aside by powerful coal and gas industries. 

My hope: Renewable energy (and solar in particular) is a roaring bonfire in our country that ideologues and industrialists can’t stop. Our economy and our environment benefit every time a property owner opts to invest in clean energy. It’s their choice, and it makes sense; if it did not, they would not do it.

The reality: Those of us who believe in and champion clean energy investment cannot simply apply logic and common sense. We will need to fight, use facts, and trumpet the job-percolating, economic-resonating virtues of our profession and passion. Solar is now and it is happening … we cannot allow the momentum to become no-mentum.

The oh-so-beautiful Tesla solar roof: Trophy wife or trusted companion?

I want a Tesla solar roof.

There, I said it. And I admit I’m under the spell of Elon (with a capital E). He’s enchanting and innovative, a visionary with extraordinary aesthetic taste. He is hell-bent on building THE sustainable energy company of the future. Elon rocks.

I spent 15 minutes Friday night fixated on Tesla’s solar roof (and Powerwall) announcement. Set at Universal Studios, it was like a scene out of Truman Show: Was it real? Time will tell. Here's the video.

Enchantment to the side, I have a few questions for Elon prior to pulling the trigger on a Tesla solar roof (in addition to recommending the solution for friends and neighbors). Elon, I will buy and recommend your roof if:

1. As you stated, the cost is the same or less than installing a new roof and traditional solar PV system.

2. The solar shingles’ electricity generation capacity is proven and backed by a 25-year, third-party warranty.

3. The quality of the roof is the same or superior to traditional roofs, both its insulating capacity and protection versus leaks.

4. It’s easy to install and replace the singles (versus Dow’s recently-killed Powerhouse solar shingle).

5. The roof can endure standard stomping and pounding, be it a person walking or a tree limb tumbling.

6. My local jurisdiction will permit its installation.

7. It can be installed by a reputable, third-party contractor; as you know, Elon, SolarCity is not known for their quality workmanship.

8. It qualifies for the 30% federal tax credit.

9. I can insure it.

Elon, if you nail the above you will be well along your way in building a sustainable and profitable, end-to-end clean energy juggernaut. Until then, please focus on ramping production of the Model 3 ... my $1,000 deposit is burning a mini hole in your pocket!

RepowerYolo siting (in Morocco!)

We believe an unofficial world record was set this weekend: The farthest distance -- 5,990 miles -- traveled by a RepowerYolo t-shirt! Our colleague, friend, fellow sustainability advocate, Davis resident, and (hah!) international correspondent Yvonne Hunter reported in from Ourazette, Morocco.

Greetings from Morocco. My Repower tee shirt went along on the trip and was worn today in the city of Ourazette - in the Sahara.  

Lots and lots of solar PV all over Morocco and imagine my surprise at seeing that a solar festival is here now.  No chance to attend but the poster and outside signs were nifty.  In French and Arabic!

Many thanks to Yvonne for sharing the solar love in the Sahara! (And, hopefully, she did not hug a solar panel.) 

Electric cars + solar panels: Does 1+1=3?

A quick note of thanks to The Enterprise for publishing the below article online today and in tomorrow's print edition. You can access the story here, and below is the prose.

A few times each week, we tender conversations with homeowners who own (or are considering purchasing) an electric vehicle and are thereby contemplating installing solar panels.

The psychology is similar: Electric cars (and solar) are good for the environment, and electric cars (and solar) are pragmatic/less expensive than the alternatives. Seems like a no-brainer – power your electric vehicle with cheap, clean energy generated by your solar panels.

But, is it?

Since 2010, nearly half of all plug-in electric vehicles sold in the United States are registered in California; the top-three models — Chevrolet’s Volt, Nissan’s Leaf and Tesla’s Model S — dominate the electric highway.

(And, many see the advent of Chevy’s all-electric Bolt in late 2016 and Tesla’s Model 3 — my deposit is in; please, Elon, late 2017? — as a tipping point for electric vehicles.)

Similarly, nearly half of all solar electric systems in the U.S. sit atop California households. (As we’ve shared, nearly one in four single-family residences in Davis now has a solar electric system, far out-pacing an estimated 5-percent penetration in PG&E territory.)

As transportation is increasingly electrified and energy generation is decentralized (from carbon-based, utility delivery to solar-generated, homeowner systems), does going solar to power your home and transport make sense? Let’s do the math.

Electricity costs
We have had the fortune of helping several hundred Yolo County homeowners evaluate solar. What we’ve learned: Their average cost of PG&E electricity is 25 cents per kWh, and their median monthly electricity bill is $185. Conversely, their cost to generate solar electricity averages 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), amortized over the warrantied life of their solar panels. Solar saves money.

Transportation costs
For comparison, let’s assume an average car is driven 12,000 miles each year. If the car averages 25 miles per gallon, powered by petroleum, it will guzzle 480 gallons of gas annually. At $2.50 per gallon, annual fuel costs are $1,200, or 10 cents per mile.

Electric vehicles yield, on average, 4 miles of range per kWh. Hence, you will consume 3,000 kWh to drive 12,000 miles. If you are purchasing electricity from PG&E, your annual “fuel” cost is $750 (or, 6 cents per mile). If your electric car is powered by solar, your annual cost is $240 (2 cents per mile).

And, of course, if you charge at your workplace or one of a half-dozen free sites downtown, your cost is lower.

Environmental benefits
I can’t conceive an environmental virtue of driving a gas-powered car, though admittedly my family owns three (along with an all-electric vehicle). The environmental outcomes of electrifying your transportation with solar, though, are striking.

According to the EPA, over three years (36,000 miles) the greenhouse gas equivalents of clean transportation are:

* Retirement of 12.84 metric tons of carbon dioxide;
* Planting 320 tree seedlings, grown for 10 years; or,
* Averting 4.08 tons of waste sent to a landfill.

Many suns will set before electric vehicles become mainstream. Though cool and cheap and clean, their drawbacks are obvious: Range anxiety (Can I get from here to there?), charging anxiety (Do I need to charge it?), technology phobia (Is it too early/will it work?).

Danny Kennedy, managing director of California Clean Energy Fund, recently opined, “We’re now in a tech world, rather than a resource world. Resources are bound by scarcity — the more you use them, the more expensive they become. With tech, the more you use it, the cheaper it becomes.”

As the cost of solar and electric cars continue to descend, as the efficacy of both improve, and as PG&E rates further escalate, it will become increasingly difficult to dispute solar-fueled transportation.

The future is bright.

To Bolt or not to Bolt

Over the past 10 days, we've had a dozen or so conversations about Chevrolet's soon-to-be-released, all-electric Bolt. Concurrently, my wife is pondering a new car that's efficient, economical and suitable for a Davis-to-UCDMC commute. To wit, to Bolt or not to Bolt?

After all, what's not to like? Significant -- 238 miles -- all-electric range, a decently sporty design, and a good price tag (less than $40k before $7,500 in federal and $2,500 in state incentives). Pundits have proclaimed General Motors (with the Bolt) has beat Tesla (with its Model 3) to the dance.

General take through our lens: Electric vehicles powered by solar-generated electricity make great economic and environmental sense. Quick math:

Electricity costs

We have had the fortune of helping several hundred Yolo County homeowners evaluate solar. What we’ve learned: Their average cost of PG&E electricity is $0.25 per kWh, and their median monthly electricity bill is $185. Conversely, their cost to generate solar electricity averages $0.08 per kilowatt hour (kWh), amortized over the warrantied life of their solar panels. 

Transportation costs

For comparison, let’s assume an average car is driven 12,000 miles each year. If the car averages 25 miles per gallon, powered by petroleum, it will guzzle 480 gallons of gas annually. At $2.50 per gallon, annual fuel costs are $1,200, or $0.10/mile.

Electric vehicles yield, on average, four miles of range per kWh. Hence, you will consume 3,000 kWh to drive 12,000 miles. If you are purchasing electricity from PG&E, your annual “fuel” cost is $750 (or, $0.06/mile). If your electric car is powered by solar, your annual cost is $240 ($0.02/mile). (And, of course, if you charge at your workplace or one of a half-dozen free sites downtown, your cost is lower.)

Back to the Bolt. A few takes floated over the past week:

- Business Insider: The Chevy Bolt still doesn't compare to Tesla's Model 3

- Electrek: The very good Chevy Bolt reviews are in ... everyone forgot to ask the most important question

The latter from Electrek hits -- aside from design/style/brand cache/Elon-halo-effect virtues -- Tesla's sustainable competitive advantage. General Motors (and other automakers) need to get off their collective rears and solve the charging challenge. Their networks are established: Dealerships are sensible locations for super-charger stations.

Until then, the Bolt will be a bit better than my Leaf: Great for local transport and perhaps a trip to the Bay Area or Tahoe, but nonsensical to take to Oregon or Southern California. Here's hoping General Motors and others will tackle the simple (technology) but complex (logistical) challenge of building a charging network.

---

Postscript: Great comparison of the Bolt and Model 3 in today's Clean Technica, echoing and amplifying many of our thoughts.

YoloShines: NAMI-Yolo

There are a lot of rewarding and fun virtues of doing what we do: Helping friends and neighbors achieve energy independence (while slashing their carbon footprint and saving thousands of dollars) is extremely gratifying. At the top (of the Repower fun/rewarding list) may be when we ask homeowners to select a local nonprofit for our YoloShines program.

And, this time we have a new twist. Repower homeowners John and Alice Provost asked if we could split our $500 donation among two organizations. Of course.

John and Alice selected the Davis School Arts Foundation (read more about our prior support of DSAF here) and Yolo-NAMI, a new organization in our basket of beneficiaries. Here's what John and Alice had to say about Yolo-NAMI:

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is a national organization with local chapters throughout the country, including one in Yolo County. Yolo NAMI works with cities and counties in Yolo County as well as private organizations that provide services to residents of Yolo County who suffer from some type of mental illness. This is a population that is greatly underserved and often suffers in isolation due to the nature of their illnesses. Yolo NAMI provides much needed assistance to these individuals and is a very worthy organization to support.

Thank you, John and Alice, for making our community a better place.

YoloShines: Yolo Farm to Fork

As we've shared, Yolo Farm to Fork is one of our favorite (most appetizing?) nonprofits. Like many small, scrappy organizations, F2F does a lot with a little, and their impact spans generations.

With our YoloShines program, Repower homeowners select a local nonprofit organization to which we donate $500. When the selected organization is one of our faves, our donation has even more meaning.

To wit, we would like to thank Davis resident Kirk Mills and his family for choosing Yolo Farm to Fork, and we are proud to donate $500. Here's an encapsulation of why the Mills family selected F2F:

The video on Yolo Farm to Fork's website really spoke to our family. We value buying local produce because it's delicious (mostly), but also because we know it has only traveled a short distance to our local store thereby creating less pollution in the traveling process. The idea of schools using local produce is so exciting. Even more exciting is the concept of school gardens. We know first hand how excited our son gets about our garden at home and how it makes him want to eat what he grows. It is truly a gift to see our son so excited about something so beneficial and positive that he will carry through his whole life.

Thank you, Kirk, for making a difference in our community. Please join the Mills family and Repower in supporting Yolo Farm to Fork.

Considering an electric vehicle and/or solar?

More than half of the homeowners we talk to either own or are, in the near term, considering purchasing an electric vehicle. Part of the combinatorial interest -- clean energy + clean vehicle -- is values based. However, most homeowners who go solar and fuel their transport with sunshine do it for pragmatic reasons: Solar electricity is significantly less expensive than PG&E's energy, and fueling an electric vehicle is much cheaper than pumping gas. Here's a prior post quantifying the economics of solar + eVs.

Though the math is simple, the decision -- which car to purchase or lease, at what time, and how to size my solar system to cover my electric vehicle charging -- has more to it. To wit, there's a delightful new tool for California homeowners to determine if a solar-powered vehicle makes sense. In a few minutes, you can compare options and model the economics/scenarios. Take a peek, poke around, and (we're confident) you'll be impressed by the savings.

And, of course, feel free to contact us if you have questions about electric vehicles and the potential to power your eV with solar. We will perform a no-cost assessment for you, modeling various alternatives and quantifying the impacts.

YoloShines: Davis School Arts Foundation

When given the opportunity to speak to students at UCD, be it about innovation, entrepreneurship, or clean energy, one of my favorite stories to relay engages children and creativity. Quick synopsis:

Creative consultant Gordon MacKenzie, during speaking engagements with elementary school students, would ask kindergarteners, “How many of you are artists?” All would raise their hand. But with older kids, an interesting trend develops. Fewer and fewer students identify themselves as artists as they grow up. By sixth grade, only a small percentage raises their hand in response to the same question of being an artist. As kids grow up, they feel the judgmental pressures from others and don’t want to take the risk of being judged as weird.

Unfortunately, our children become normalized to think they can't be or do something. Sad but true, particularly in our community where the pressure to succeed academically is so intense.

Fortunately, there are organizations like the Davis School Arts Foundation (DSAF), an all-volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission it is to raise money for art and music education in the Davis public schools. DSAF believes the value of visual and performing arts is equal to that of other curriculum and essential for the education of the whole child. 

On behalf of RepowerYolo homeowners (and parents of DJUSD children) Matt Donner and Kimberly Grogan, we are pleased to donate $500 to DSAF. Matt's take on the Foundation:

As a musician and artist myself, I am happy and proud to offer any and all support to this worthy cause! We tend to get caught up in academics and athletics here in Davis and it's worth supporting the arts as well!

Please join RepowerYolo, Matt and Kimberly in supporting DSAF and germinating future artists and musicians in our community.

 

CoolDavis Profiles RepowerYolo Homeowner Mike Hart

Thanks to our friends and colleagues at CoolDavis for featuring Repower homeowner, and Sierra Energy Founder and CEO, Mike Hart in their July/August newsletter. Here's a link to the article on CoolDavis' site, and below is the profile in full. Thanks, Mike, for making our community and this planet a more sustainable, vibrant place to call home.

Local Businessman Saves Money by Installing Rooftop Solar

Mike Hart's 4 kilowatt solar system returns ten percent on invesment

July 1, 2016

By Carla Arango

Mike Hart, CEO and Founder of Sierra Energy, is saving thousands of dollars every year since he installed solar panels. His desire to reduce his carbon footprint encouraged him to go solar, but that’s not the only thing he has managed to decrease.

“When my energy bill comes, instead of a few hundred dollars a month, it’s now three bucks,” Hart said.

Davis-based business manages the process

Hart consulted with RepowerYolo for his rooftop solar system. “They did a great job. They came out, they oversaw everything. Certainly the most difficult part was getting connections with PG&E, and they handled all of that so I thought that was fantastic,” Hart said.

Hart explains how RepowerYolo took care of everything leaving him worry free.

“I thought going with RepowerYolo was a smart move because they’re local, and they worked with us, they worked with the contractor, they made sure that everything was done right the first time, and they’ve done a very good job just setting this up and making sure our system worked well.”

Ten percent return on investment

Hart installed a 4 kilowatt solar system (sic: it's a 7.95kW system) and paid for it in full. He explains he has received a bigger return on investment than if he had invested his money in a bank.

“If you put money, which I had, in a savings account in the bank, you get about half a percent, less than one percent interest on savings, but if you put that money in your roof instead of the bank you get about ten percent. So you make about 20 times the return on your money.”

“Anyone who doesn’t have rooftop solar, but has money in their bank is making a mistake.”

Hart emphasizes that investing in solar is better than putting money in the bank and said that from a financial perspective, he can’t think of a reason not to have rooftop solar.

An extra layer of insulation

Since installing rooftop solar, Hart and his family have maintained their energy use the same but said their comfort level has increased while their energy bill has decreased.

“We’re saving several hundred dollars a month. When the solar panels are creating the greatest amount of energy, that’s typically when most homes use the greatest amount of power for air conditioning, so it has effectively eliminated those bills for us,” Hart said.

In addition to saving money, the extra layer of all that solar covering part of the roof has made his house cooler, decreasing his need for air conditioning.

“If anything we have an extra layer of insulation on our roof now,” Hart said.

Telling friends

Hart has shown his system to friends and neighbors saying how installing rooftop solar has been a good financial decision for him.

Hart encourages people who are interested in going solar to talk to RepowerYolo.

It’s simple

“I have a hard time understanding why anybody wouldn’t have solar on their roof. It can be done with no cost to you, and if you have the money it’s a great way to make a profit,” Hart said.

“It lowers your carbon footprint, gives you a great financial return, and makes your house cooler, so it’s a pretty easy decision. You don’t have to do anything extra. Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s simple,” Hart said.

YoloShines: Make It Happen for Yolo County

One of the most rewarding virtues of our YoloShines campaign is learning about fly-under-the-radar, little-engine-that-could nonprofit organizations that are making a difference in our community. In this case, they're making it happen!

On behalf of RepowerYolo homeowners Mike and Dawn Hughes, we are pleased to donate $500 to Make It Happen for Yolo County (MIH). According to Mike and Dawn, here's what makes MIH special:

Make it Happen for Yolo is a small non-profit that provides assistance for foster children who have "aged-out" of the system and are trying to get a college degree. They do wonderful work for a very needy group of young folks. Thank you for making this generous gesture. 

UC Davis, alone, is poised to have 35,000 students in 2016-17. Add tens of thousands of community members who attend community colleges, CSU Sacramento and vocational schools ... there's a growing population of at-risk late teens who can use a hand.

From MIH's website:

The purpose of MIH is to provide support, resources, referrals and community outreach to under served and at-risk youth of Yolo County.

MIH provides household supplies and furniture for under served youth in Yolo County. An additional purpose is to provide resources and support, as well as advocacy for this population.

MIH receives referrals from Social Workers in the Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services as well as other individuals and agencies involved with these youth . A MIH "wish-list" is sent to the referring person, completed by the youth requesting assistance and returned to us. A pick- up/delivery time is then arranged for the youth to receive your donations.  Confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

Please join Mike, Dawn and RepowerYolo in supporting MIH ... it's the Little Engine that CAN! Your gift of furniture, household supplies, gift cards or money will fuel lives.

YoloShines: Yolo Crisis Nursery

The past month has been a whirlwind, with a record number of homeowners in our community signing up for solar via the Repower program. To wit, our apologies for falling behind in our advocacy for the terrific community organizations our homeowners support.

On behalf of Davis residents Jim and Katrin Baxter, we are honored to donate $500 to Yolo Crisis Nursery. Here’s why the Baxters selected Yolo Crisis Nursery:

The Yolo Crisis Nursery provides critical support for the youngest and most vulnerable members of our society and their families during times of crisis. We are pleased to support their efforts and thank Repower Yolo for making this gift possible.

This donation hits home with us, having raised children in the community. And, my mom is a retired public school psychologist ... Yolo Crisis Nursery is one of her favorite, more impactful support groups.

Here's more from their website:

The Yolo Crisis Nursery is a place of hope for desperate parents and vulnerable children in Yolo County, California.

We provide a safe, temporary home for children up to age 5 during times of extreme family crisis, when young family members are most vulnerable to abuse and neglect. Our cozy three-bedroom home can accommodate four children overnight and 12 during the day. Our professional staff members offer not only essential care but also smiles, hugs and hope.

Equally important, we help parents and guardians resolve their immediate problems and gain family stability.

In short, we prevent abuse and save lives. We strengthen families. We build a better future for Yolo County and beyond.

Please join us in supporting Yolo Crisis Nursery. Click here to learn how you can get involved -- financially or personally -- and help propel YCN's service to our community.

And, thanks again to the Baxters for making Yolo shine!

Solar Lease, R.I.P.

David Crane, former president & CEO of NRG Energy, is one of the solar industry's most prophetic and emphatic pundits. When he speaks, the industry (and analysts and investors) listen. Crane's latest opine in Tuesday's GreenBiz: TeslaCity: Will car company + solar company = shareholder happiness?

Worthy of a quick read, Crane lambasts national solar leasing companies (including SolarCity) for their fundamentally fragile business models, specifically their practice of "no money down solar leases." Quick anecdote:

But, most of all, SolarCity needed a quick phase-out of zero-money-down, long-term-lease financing, a funding arrangement which once was essential to the kickstarting of the entire industry, but has mutated into the crack cocaine of home solar companies that still depend upon it.

 

We receive calls -- probably two or three a day -- from either prospective solar homeowners who were propositioned a solar lease, or existing solar leaseholders (or their Realtors) who are trying to sell their home (with a leased solar system). Solar leases are sugary-sweet on the surface, but the hangover is brutal. 

I hope SolarCity survives -- we enjoy competing with them. Perhaps they'll figure out how to make money. But, leasing solar systems is a bad deal for homeowners, and potentially fatal for SolarCity and its leasing comrades (e.g., Sunrun, Sungevity, Vivint, et al). RIP, solar lease; Viva la vida, solar ownership!