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Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

Run on Sun - the source for Pasadena Solar Power

In this Issue:

August, 2017

Volume: 8 Issue: 8

Court to SolarEdge: DENIED!

Judge bangs gavel on SolarEdge's claims

We wrote last month about the ill-conceived lawsuit filed by SolarEdge against Enphase Energy over a video comparing the new Enphase AC Module's install time with that of systems using the SolarEdge optimizers. SolarEdge initially asked for a Temporary Restraining Order - which was denied, but the court set an accelerated hearing schedule for a Preliminary Injunction. If granted, Enphase would have been prohibited from airing the video - either via YouTube or at next month's SPI trade show.

Well this just in: SolarEdge's motion has been denied in full. (You can read the court's order here.)

SolarEdge had whined in their complaint that the video wasn't fair because they too have embedded optimizers, and that is the comparison that should be shown. But that is just silly. First of all, the ad isn't aimed at consumers, it is aimed at installers - and they very well know the difference. (A point the judge noted as well.) Furthermore, here at Run on Sun, we are exclusively an LG shop when it comes to our solar modules. SolarEdge doesn't have an embedded optimizer with LG - but Enphase has an AC Module built on the LG 330 Watt Neon module! For us, the comparison in the video is exactly the comparison that matters.

SolarEdge also whined about the use of their logo in the video, but that was equally bogus. No one looking at the ad would think for a moment that SolarEdge was endorsing the Enphase product. Rather the video makes it clear that Enphase is only using it to identify the competing product, a "nominative fair use" that can be invoked where "the use of the trademark does not attempt to capitalize on consumer confusion or to appropriate the cachet of one product for a different... and where a defendant uses the mark to refer to the trademarked good itself." That is precisely what was done here.

In finding that SolarEdge was unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims the court cleared the way for Enphase to promote their video far and wide. We are happy to help! In case you missed it before, here's the video that SolarEdge tried, but failed, to keep you from seeing:

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

PS: Note to SolarEdge's lawyers - from my old firm of OM&M - you really need to do a better job of managing your client! Just sayin!

“In finding that SolarEdge was unlikely to succeed on the merits of their claims the court cleared the way for Enphase to promote their video far and wide…”

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Mr. Jenal Goes to Sacramento

As promised a couple of days ago, I went to Sacramento to lobby our state legislators about the value of solar and storage. Here is my report...

Our state trade group, the California Solar Industries Association (CALSEIA), organized (thanks to the awesome - and very loud voiced - Carter Lavin, et al., for the heavy herding) more than 150 cats, er, solar professionals, to descend upon the state Capitol and provide legislators with not only a human face behind the solar industry, but some of the passion for solar that makes this industry special.

CALSEIA Solar & Storage Contractors at CA Capitol building

The mighty team assembled on the Capitol's West steps.

We were divided into 20 teams that went to - in my case - five different legislative offices. We had a number of agenda items, and our goal was to let legislators and their staffs know what we belive to be important going forward.

Here are the folks from my team:

  • Mark Miles - Team Leader - head of MMCI, a startup looking to improve solar thermal technology;
  • Jason Johnson - Synthesis Construction in South LA - a solar thermal/PV guy bringing the power of the sun to less-advantaged communities;
  • Harry Cartwright - Synthesis Construction - doing the sales/advocacy in South LA;
  • Stella Isbell - WESCO Distribution - a solar equipment distributor;
  • Felicia Lee - TerraVerde Renewable Partners - an energy analysis consulting firm.

Our first stop was the office of Pasadena's own Democratic Assemblymember Chris Holden, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor was the person scheduled in his place. Instead, we met - in the hallway - with his Senior Assistant Elle Hoxworth, who despite the title, is very young. She was polite, but her answers about the fate of SB 700 - which would have created a rational rebate program for storage, but was killed by her boss earlier this year - were not helpful. While she insisted that Assemblymember Holden supported storage, he wanted to wait for a series of reports to be issued by the CPUC before acting - and those reports aren't even scheduled to be completed until the end of next year! It would be irresponsible to act now without the benefit of receiving those reports, she implied, and an unfair burden on ratepayers. In other words, precisely the utility's line.

Felicia pointed out that the ratepayers are going to pay either for incentivizing storage, or for more transmission lines to bring in the needed power from far away. Moreover, Assemblymember Holden should be on the side of the future, not the past. (Felicia was a passionate voice for the future all day!)

Bottom line here - our vision is not Holden's, and he is not likely to be swayed by us.

Oddly enough, we had more success at our next stop, at the office of Republican Assemblymember Harper from Huntington Beach. When Mark Miles talked about extending the rebate program for solar thermal, Assemblymember Harper shot back that if the price of natural gas was going to continue to climb, then no other incentive would be needed and the market would solve the problem on its own. (Ah yes, let's hear it for the "Invisible Hand!") I pointed out that the incentive is important because it empowers the consumer to take control over their economic future - they know what they will pay for their solar system (be it PV or thermal) and that insulates them from the whims of the marketplace. He at least nodded at that thought, and told us that he had enjoyed the meeting, and that we had given him some "new perspectives" to consider. Hard to know if that can morph into votes, but you have to start somewhere.

Next stop was Democratic Senator Portantino, who also represents Pasadena. We met, again in the hallway, with his Legislative Aide, Tara McGee. Tara assured us of the Senator's support for pretty much all things solar and took all of our information about our legislative agenda and promised to share it with her boss. This was the only meeting we had where we were assured of full support. (It was also the shortest.)

We then went to the office of Senator Steven Bradford, a Democrat from Gardena. We met with his Chief of Staff, Sue Kateley, who is the former head of CALSEIA! Needless to say, that makes her very well informed about solar issues, but it also means that she has strong views and can be difficult to persuade. One interesting exchange occurred when she observed that she didn't like tankless water heaters. That brought an illustrated response from Jason Johnson (he brought a binder of project images) who explained that the problem was with having the heater and solar thermal system properly sized - and that he has an engineer handle that for his company, not a plumber. "You use an engineer on every job?", Sue questioned "Every job," was Jason response. As we were leaving, I thanked her for her past service with CALSEIA, and she seemed taken aback before saying we were welcome.

Our final stop was at the office of Democratic Assemblymember Mike Gipson, and his Legislative Director, Jay Jefferson. While we were waiting for the meeting - we had been allotted exactly 15 minutes starting at 4:15 - a group of suits walked out of his office. The contrast between their corporate uniform and our colorful diversity was striking. Assemblymember Gipson was cordial, but it was getting to the end of the day and he was nodding off a bit. Felicia brought him back to the room with some powerful comments about the future, I made a pitch for supporting SB 700 next year, and Jason and his colleague Harry were able to explain to him the benefits of extending the thermal rebate program, and how that would be a boon to the poorer constituents in his South Los Angeles district. He was supportive, and Mr. Jefferson was taking notes about the points that we made. It was a positive way to end our round of meetings.

The day ended with a reception and the award of CALSEIA's Legislator of the Year to Democratic Assemblymember Jacqui Irwin, for helping to lead the way on a number of important bills this year.

All-and-all, it was a long but productive day, and it was great to see old friends and make new ones from the solar tribe.

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100 Years of Global Warming in 35 Seconds!

As regular readers of this blog know, we are major "data geeks" here at Run on Sun, and there is hardly anything that lights our fires more than a brilliantly executed data visualization! Well Antti Lipponen, a researcher at the Finnish Meteorological Institute, has just published what may be one of the greatest data visualizations ever, demonstrating 100 years of global warming in a mesmerizing 35 seconds! (H/T Yale Environment 360.)

Check it out...

Using temperature data from the world's 191 countries, Lipponen's stunning video turns a boring dataset into a compelling image of the rapid change that we are experiencing. Using both color (warmer temperatures appear in warmer colors) and height (the length of each country's bar is its departure from the averaged baseline), you can almost feel the pulse of the ever-warming Earth.

This visualization brings vividly home that we have a lot of work ahead of us, and such is the power of data used properly. Congratulations, Mr. Lipponen, you are our new favorite data geek!

“Lipponen's stunning video turns a boring dataset into a compelling image of the rapid change that we are experiencing…”

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