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Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

Run on Sun - the source for Pasadena Solar Power

July, 2017

Volume: 8 Issue: 7

SE Takes the Leap, Highlighting Enphase's Superior Product

In an earlier life I was a big firm lawyer, mostly handling hi-tech and intellectual property litigation. Every now and then a client would get steamed over what they thought a competitor was doing, and would demand that we sue them - even though there was no merit in the case. The competitor had a legal right to do what they were doing, even if it annoyed our client.

Calmly, we would try to talk them down off the ledge less they draw more attention to the issue by suing than the activity ever would have on its own. Apparently the folks at SolarEdge never got such advice as they have filed a frivolous lawsuit against competitor Enphase Energy over the video below. Here's our take...

See the video SolarEdge doesn't want you to see!

SE is complaining that this video is "false and misleading" since it doesn't illustrate the installation comparison that SE thinks is proper. But that isn't the standard. Enphase says that they are comparing the install time on the roof between an Enphase-LG AC module and a SE optimizer system with separate modules. Does that comparison exist in the real world of solar installations? Of course. In fact, if a solar installer wanted to use LG modules with SE, this is exactly the comparison that would be at issue! To suggest that such a comparison is false and misleading is to simply ignore real-world conditions.

If SE wants to highlight a different, equally factual comparison, they are free to produce that ad, but that doesn't give them the right to enjoin the factually accurate comparison that Enphase chose to highlight.

(SE also complains about the use of their logo in the video, but this is equally frivolous - that would be like saying that you couldn't show a Pepsi can in a Coke ad. Good luck with that.)

So far the court has not been too impressed with SE's claim, denying a motion for a Temporary Restraining Order ("TRO"), saying:

Preliminary injunctive relief, whether in the form of a temporary restraining order or a preliminary injunction, is an "extraordinary and drastic remedy," that is never awarded as of right. In order to obtain such relief, a plaintiff must establish four factors: (1) he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) he is likely to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in his favor; and (4) an injunction is in the public interest.
Here, with respect to the request for a temporary restraining order in advance of a hearing for a preliminary injunction, plaintiffs have wholly failed to establish a likelihood of immediate irreparable harm to justify the issuance of a temporary restraining order at this time.

Apparently SE is afraid that Enphase will show the ad during SPI. But thanks to this ill-begotten lawsuit, probably everyone who would have seen it at SPI, will see it now! Way to take the leap, SE, nicely done.

“If SE wants to highlight a different, equally factual comparison, they are free to produce that ad, but that doesn't give them the right to enjoin the factually accurate comparison that Enphase chose to highlight…”

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NEM 2.0 is Here - Now What?

Net Energy Metering 2.0, or NEM 2.0 for short, is now the law of the land, at least in SCE territory. So what does that really mean for potential solar clients? Here's the scoop...

NEM 2.0 brings three changes to how new solar clients will be treated by SCE (customers of PWP, LADWP, or any other muni utility are unaffected). Let's take a quick run through each one:

  • A one-time application fee - new solar clients will be charged $75 as part of the interconnection application process. (In the past there was no charge.) Not a big deal, just another annoyance from SCE.
  • Switch to Time of Use rates - this is a much bigger deal. Most residential customers are on a two-tiered rate structure with a "penalty" tier for users who exceed 4x baseline allocation. Under that rate structure the maximum cost for energy is 31.224¢/kWh.
    Going forward, new solar customers will be charged based on when they use energy, not how much energy they use, with a Summer, on-peak energy cost of 44.665¢/kWh! Ouch! Peak hours are weekdays (holidays excepted) from 2-8 p.m.
  • Non-Bypassable Charges - Under the old rules, energy that was imported from the grid could be entirely offset by energy exported onto the grid. Now, for every kilowatt hour imported, regardless of exports, the customer will pay a small (for now) non-bypassable charge of 2.25¢/kWh. Again, the utilities were pressing for this to be a much higher number, but for now this is a relatively minor surcharge.

So what does this all mean? The answer is, it varies. For some clients, particularly those with west-facing roofs, they may actually do better under TOU rates than they would have staying on the old, tiered rate plan. But to answer that question requires a proper analysis, and this is where potential solar clients need to do their homework and look closely at their solar bids.

Here's what to look for. Your potential installer should be requesting that you provide them with SCE's "interval data" for your home. This hour-by-hour data for the entire year allows for a proper analysis of your usage, and makes it possible to compare that historical usage with the modeled output of your proposed PV system. If they aren't asking for interval data, they are taking shortcuts with their savings analysis - likely in ways that inflate your potential savings on paper, only to result in disappointment down the road.

EnergyToolbase screenshot

Run on Sun uses UtilityAPI to access SCE data securely, and we employ EnergyToolbase (pictured above) to do our analysis of your potential savings - two of the most highly respected and sophisticated tools in the solar industry. We have the tools and the expertise to give you the most accurate projection of your future savings from solar - so let's get started!

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Solar Market 2017 - a Different Environment

The solar market so far this year has been a very different environment than what we have seen in the recent past. For one thing, installations in California in Q1 declined 31% year-on-year, due at least in part to the massive amount of (mostly welcome) rain that the state received. While that rain was a blessing in terms of our infamous drought, it helped push a number of well-known and respected solar companies into bankruptcy, including: Sungevity, HelioPower, Ten K Solar, and American Solar Direct.

Compounding this problem is the manner in which some solar companies continue to pursue potential clients, whether via cold-calling lead gen outfits, or pesky door-to-door canvassers, leading to consumer burnout.

At Run on Sun we got through the downturn, and are seeing healthy growth in our residential installation business - without resorting to pushy sales tactics. As we continue to adapt to this new environment (including the rollout of NEM 2.0, as discussed above), we want to thank you, our loyal friends and clients for your continuing support. We are determined to make 2017 our best year ever, and with you by our side, we know we can make that happen!

“We got through the downturn, and are seeing healthy growth in our residential installation business - without resorting to pushy sales tactics…”

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