Welcome to the
Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

In this Issue:

May, 2016

Volume: 7 Issue: 5

We Are One Million Solar Strong!

It is official! One million solar systems have been installed across the United States providing more than 27 gigawatts (GW) of clean power capacity 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 the next 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 growth in the us

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, solar supporters across the nation participated in a social media "thunderclap," celebrating and sharing this historic achievement and what it means to show our business leaders and lawmakers that solar is here to stay. We are #MillionSolarStrong!

“By 2020, solar will quadruple in size to nearly 100 GW of total capacity.…”

Free Run on Sun Solar Site Evaluation - Click here

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Looking into Solar? Careful Where You Click!

In today's world of endless information at our fingertips it is unsurprising that most people interested in solar begin with online research. It is also undeniable that the amount of information available to consumers is enormous, and helps people to be more informed than ever prior to investing in a solar system of their own. But as the solar industry grows, the accuracy and transparency of online information seems to be deteriorating, and nowhere is that deterioration more dramatic than from the mind-boggling number of companies engaged in solar lead generation.

Solar Site Eval Request

As a home or business-owner innocently entertaining the thought of going solar from the safety of your laptop or smartphone you will likely come across a majority of search results from solar lead generation companies. There are a number of reasons this is problematic. First and foremost, when clicking on these results, and worse giving out your personal information for free solar quotes, you may have no idea you are engaging with a lead generator — rather than a qualified installation company.

Why the growth in lead gen companies?

For a solar PV installation company it is expensive and time consuming to reach consumers with an interest in purchasing a solar system. Installers are often happy to fork over cash for supposedly "qualified leads" to avoid this uncomfortable piece of the business. Thus, lead generation for solar became a lucrative niche service, and their business model seems to be working, given the number of new companies offering to sell us leads (an actual local installer) every day. Some lead gen companies are nothing more than telemarketers cold calling the masses. Others use search engine marketing techniques to capture people who are shopping around for information.

What's the big deal?

Here lies the crux of this post. The few supposedly "qualified" leads that we have received (as an inducement for us to sign up) have had two possible outcomes. First scenario: we call and introduce ourselves and mention that their interest in a free solar site assessment was brought to our attention via company X — and they promptly hang up! Or second scenario: they tell us they mistakenly clicked on something and now solar companies won't stop calling.

We're in this business to help people reduce their carbon footprint and electric bills. The last thing we want to do is harass people! That's why as a company, Run on Sun does not buy solar leads.

Is lead gen damaging the solar industry?

Frankly we are worried about the reputation of solar as an industry if misleading click bait and telemarketing is how we are going to present ourselves to consumers. Online lead generators are essentially poaching customers away from local installers, taking a cut, and then selling the lead back to multiple installers who then descend upon the hapless consumer! Lead gen companies do not add value in the process and in many cases, create confusion or set up unclear/unrealistic expectations for the potential client. It stands to reason that a telemarketer with no experience in solar installation will not be able to give accurate answers to your questions.

Some online lead gen companies also have calculators (see right) meant to give you a sense of how much you could save with solar but these calculators are almost always inaccurate. Only a proper site visit to assess the many factors specific to your property along with an assessment of your usage history will lead to an accurate proposal detailing your return on investment and savings analysis.

Misleading solar calculator

Never fear! There are qualified installers out there!

We cannot stress enough our recommendation to simply do a bit more sleuthing on the website or company asking for your information before clicking on that "Have Solar Installation Contractors Contact You" button. Are you looking at an installation company, or just a lead gen mill? Do they have qualified installers on their staff (and preferably are NABCEP certified)? Are there positive reviews from past clients in your area?

When you're ready to invite qualified installers to your property to do a formal assessment, contact the companies you have found to have a solid reputation by clicking on their online assessment request form or giving them a good old fashioned phone call. Avoid the lead gen trolls, and maintain control over the process!

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UPDATE: Munis are Shutting Down Net Metering!

Last month we reported on the effort of some municipality-owned utilities like Turlock and the Imperial Irrigation District to shut down net metering programs — indeed some have already done so. We urged people to support AB2339 which would have prevented those shut downs and preserved the opportunity for regular folks to benefit from going solar.

Indeed, in the Imperial Irrigation District (think Desert Hot Springs or Brawley), the situation is so bad that The Desert Sun reported the following exchange with one Board member:

Board member Stephen Benson said he has "a problem with the idea of solar."
"If we dropped all tax credits and everything else, it would go away. That's where I stand," he said. "I'm up for re-election in December. You can vote me in or vote me out."

(Hopefully his constituents will do us all a favor and vote him out!)

Despite our best efforts, AB 2339 was HELD in the Appropriations Committee, effectively killing the bill this session. Thank you to everyone who took the time to call and voice their support for the bill. Special thanks to Frank Andorka who created a podcast in support of the bill, all the way from Cleveland!
We lost this battle, but the fight continues.

“We lost this battle, but the fight continues…”

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