Categories: "Solar Organizations"

11/09/19

  01:13:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 115 words  
Categories: CALSSA

Win Some, Lose Some...

And sad to say, we lost this one!  (The election to be on the Board of the California Solar and Storage Association, that is!)

But I am honored by the support of so many of you, and you can count on me to continue be a vocal advocate for this industry – and for doing things the right way.

In the meantime, here is the list of the winners this year:

Contractor Seats
Ed Murray, Aztec Solar
Gary Gerber, Sun Light & Power
Keith Randhan, Baker Electric Home Energy

 Manufacturer, Distributor, Developer, Financier Seats
Catherine Von Burg, SimpliPhi Power
Yann Brandt, Quick Mount PV 

Congratulations to them all - here’s to a very productive term of office.

 

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10/30/19

  12:33:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 477 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, CALSSA

Jim Jenal for CALSSA Board!

The California Solar and Storage Association is holding elections to its Board, and I have decided to run for one of the three seats allocated to solar contractors. Here’s why…

Jenal headshot

Readers of this blog are familiar with my background: I was a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs, I taught High School, and I was a Big Law Firm lawyer - all before founding Run on Sun in 2006.  That background gives me a worldview that is not always found on a roof - or as an inspector once said (I think in jest), “A lawyer with a code book, I’ll bet you could get away with anything!" 

Along the way I earned (and maintain) a NABCEP PV Installation Professional Certification, and also wrote the book, Commercial Solar: Step-by-Step.

So why run for the Board?

I think my experiences uniquely qualify me to speak on behalf of long-tail installers - the little guys who work so hard, and so honestly every day because they believe so passionately in what they are doing. 

I understand that our resources are always stretched too thin, and that challenge is compounded by the difficulties of dealing with disparate demands from local AHJs (to say nothing of individual inspectors), overly bureaucratic rebate programs that were designed for large companies that can allocate an army of lawyers  to navigate their arbitrary requirements, a workers compensation system that is baffling at best and punitive at worst – the list goes on.

Yet we are out there, every day, trying to make the world a better place, one roof at a time.

But sadly, there aren’t enough small installers in CALSSA. I would like to increase their numbers with a “First Year Free” membership program so that smaller companies can see the value provided by the great work of the dedicated CALSSA staff.

I would advocate for stronger consumer protections, but in a manner that does not portray solar installers as predators, as the CPUC’s current program does.  The small installers I know are hard-working folks who truly believe in the value of this wonderful industry.  They deserve to be acknowledged as such.

Finally, I would like to work to reform the SGIP program, so that installing a 10 kWh storage system takes more time than filling out the required rebate paperwork.

I hope you will support me with your vote.  (Voting begins today, October 30th, and continues through November 6th, with winners to be announced on November 8th.  Only member companies in good standing are eligible to vote.)

 

Endorsements (partial list, organizations for identification purposes only)

JD Dillon, Vice President of Marketing and Pricing, Enphase Energy

Ross Gerard, Director of Sales, North America, Everest Solar Systems LLC

Kendra Hubbard, Strategic Account Manager, UNIRAC Inc.

Adam Gerza, COO, Energy Toolbase

Yann Brandt, Quickmount PV

Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza, Founder of UnThink Solar Marketing and Communications

Tom Cheyney, Content and Market Intel Lead, Renewables Practice, Kiterocket

 

03/31/19

  09:14:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 635 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, NABCEP

Scanifly - the Coolest Thing I've seen this Year!

Last week I spent four intense days in San Diego for the annual NABCEP Continuing Education conference.  This is a great event, with lots of super smart, experienced installers from around the country gathering to sharpen their skills and share information.  Lots of vendors are there providing workshops, and there are heavyweight course sessions like two hours on Worker Safety, and an entire day on the National Electrical Code.  (Ok, so those two are a bit like eating your vegetables as a kid - but super important information, nonetheless.)  But there was one thing that stood out for having the highest cool factor - and that was courtesy of the folks at Scanifly.  Here’s our take…

Site Evaluations Re-imagined

One of the most crucial aspects of the solar installation business is performing proper site evaluations.  Some companies brag about being able to provide you with a proposal for adding solar to your home or business without ever bothering to go there.  We categorically reject that approach - online imagery is fine, but it won’t tell you whether the grounding is complete or the service panel has so many doubles in it already that it is a fire waiting to happen.  Nor can you look a prospective client in the eye, answer their questions, and build the confidence that is so important to doing this right.

But every time you have someone go up on a roof, there is a chance for injury.  And while roof work is a necessary part of this business, going up on a dangerous roof before you have even won the job, means most of the time you are exposing your employee to risk for potentially no gain.  Moreover, it is time-consuming and error prone to be making measurements while on the roof.  Things get overlooked - like just how far is that vent from the ridge? - and often you bring the evaluation results back to the office, only to realize that you missed a key detail!  Frustrating (and expensive) if you have to go back to the site a second time.

What if you could be assured that you would gather all the detail you could possibly need the first time?  And what if you could turn that - automagically - into a 3-D model complete with all the shading on the site from both trees and other obstructions?  Now that would be cool, and that is what the folks at Scanifly have achieved.

Here’s how it works.  You take a drone (typical price range: $700-1,500) and fly it on an automatic setting that flies a complete circle around the site at a set height, and radius from the center of the building in question - typically less than 100′ AGL and maybe 75′ radius (the site obstructions will dictate most of this).  The drone will fly that course automatically, and will take pictures with a roughly 85% or so overlap.  (No drone? No problem, they can hook you up with a drone pilot to do the image gathering.)

Once you have the photos, you upload them to the Scanifly site, and after some amount of data crunching, you now have a 3-D model onto which you can add your modules.  The software understands the shading at the site and can produce production modelling data that can then be imported into a savings modeling tool like that provided by our friends at Energy Toolbase.

Even cooler, you can give your prospective client a link to the model so that they can see what their house will look like with the system installed (including the boxes on the wall!) in full 3-D!  

Now that is really cool, and no one had to go up a ladder onto a roof to do it!

We are super excited about this system and we cannot wait to try it out for ourselves.

03/13/19

  07:15:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 411 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, SCE, Residential Solar, Ranting, CALSSA

Clean Power Alliance -- NEM Fail!

Back in January we wrote about the pending switch over to Clean Power Alliance (CPA) in portions of SCE’s service territory (Clean Power Alliance is Coming - is that a Good Thing?), noting that given the slightly lower rates, the switch was probably a good deal for most SCE customers.  Alas, it turns out that it wasn’t such a good deal for SCE’s solar customers!  Here’s our take and recommendation…

PLEASE NOTE: THIS APPLIES ONLY  TO SCE CUSTOMERS!
SOLAR CUSTOMERS IN PWP, LADWP AND OTHER MUNICIPAL UTILITIES CAN IGNORE THIS COMPLETELY!

Yesterday our trade association, CALSSA sent out this urgent notice under the headline: ALERT: CPA NEM snafu:

ACTION: For existing residential customers, we suggest you advise them to OPT OUT of the Clean Power Alliance (LA area CCA) by March 31st!

To opt out, they should call Clean Power Alliance at 888-585-3788 immediately.

What is going on here?  It seems that in their zeal to initiate the switchover from SCE, CPA fouled up how they are handling the “true-up” accounting.  As a result, solar customers who switched to CPA—and mind you, if you are in one of the affected cities, the default is for you to be switched to CPA—you will actually receive two true-up bills this year - one from SCE and the other from CPA.  CALSSA is sufficiently concerned that this could have an adverse financial impact that presumably exceeds whatever saving you might realize from the switch to CPA’s lower rates.

According to CPA, customers who OPT OUT by March 31, will only have one true-up bill this year “as if nothing had ever happened.”

For solar system owners who are part of the Solar Rights Alliance, they have already received notice directly regarding this situation.  (Not yet a member of the SRA?  Sign-up here.)

Here’s a list of cities participating in the CPA switch:

Unincorporated area of Los Angeles (e.g., Altadena) and Ventura Counties and the following cities: Agoura Hills, Alhambra, Arcadia, Beverly Hills, Calabasas, Camarillo, Carson, Claremont, Culver City, Downey, Hawaiian Gardens, Hawthorne, Malibu, Manhattan Beach, Moorpark, Ojai, Oxnard, Paramount, Redondo Beach, Rolling Hills Estates, Santa Monica, Sierra Madre, Simi Valley, South Pasadena, Temple City, Thousand Oaks, Ventura, West Hollywood and Whittier.

Once things get sorted out, if you want to switch to CPA, you will be able to do so, and we will write about it once we know more.  But for now, the prudent choice appears to be to make that call and opt-out.  If you have any issues in doing so, please let us know.

02/25/19

  10:45:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 445 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, Utilities, Residential Solar, Energy Storage, Vote Solar, CALSSA

Solar Bill of Rights Introduced in California Legislature

Capitol steps launch for SB-288 - the Solar Bill of Rights

On February 19th, a bipartisan bill, SB-288, was introduced in the California legislature to enshrine into State law a Solar Bill of Rights.  tl;dr Support the Solar Bill of Rights! 
Here’s our take…

The legislation, co-authored by Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Jim Nielsen (R-Fresno), has the enthusiastic backing of the Solar Rights Alliance, Vote Solar, and CALSSA.  If signed into law, the bill would require both Investor Owned Utilities (like SCE) as well as public utilities (like LADWP and PWP) to make changes to how they handle the interconnection of solar and storage systems, provide for compensation for storage systems that provide energy back to the grid, and report on their progress in streamlining their processes for approving and commissioning such systems.

The bill also makes some key findings regarding the value of distributed energy generation and storage systems:

  1. All California residents, businesses, nonprofits, and government entities have the fundamental right to generate and store renewable energy and to reduce and shape their use of electricity obtained from the electrical grid, whether their facilities are off-grid or interconnected to the grid.
  2. These fundamental rights to self-generation and storage extend to all California consumers regardless of income level, geography, or property type.
  3. Residential customers have a right to consumer protections that ensure adequate transparency in sales and contracts for renewable energy and storage installations and services. [To which we say: Amen!]
  4. Customer-sited solar and energy storage systems will play an essential role in helping the state to meet its greenhouse gases emissions and other environmental goals.
  5. Customer-sited solar and energy storage systems are valuable assets for managing the electrical grid efficiently and improving the reliability and resiliency of the grid.
  6. Removing barriers to the installation of customer-sited energy resources will help reduce costs and facilitate the deployment of these resources.
  7. The time required for utility review and approval of interconnection applications and the lack of transparency in interconnection costs has impeded customer adoption of solar and energy storage systems.
  8. Developing market mechanisms for energy and other services supplied by customer-sited energy resources can facilitate the adoption and deployment of renewable energy and energy storage technologies that will provide greater local reliability and resiliency benefits throughout the year, including during emergency conditions.

But as we have said in this space often before, politics is not a spectator sport—it takes active involvement to bring about effective public policy.  The good news is that we can make it super easy for you to contact your members of the California Legislature and urge them to co-sponsor SB-288.  Just click on the friendly button below:

Support SB-288

We will keep you posted as to the bill’s progress - watch this space!

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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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