You Know What? Don’t Go Solar (Part 1)

posted by Rachael Mammen on April 9th, 2013

Even in this day and age, we hear a lot of pushback against solar. Apparently people still don’t think the sun can produce a lot of energy or that in 2013 we still can’t power homes with anything other than dirty energy.

Whatever.

But, we like to have a little fun here at One Block Off the Grid, so we thought it would be a hoot to see what it’s like on the other side of the fence (the dark, withering, nothing-grows-here side of the fence where sun is bad). So here we go. Enjoy all the excuses for not going solar, and behold the reasons that they’re bunk. We’ll be doing this on a regular basis, so feel free to contribute in the comments.

Reason #1: Ugh, it’s really too much work—and we all have so much on our plates today. Although moving to cleaner and cheaper energy does seem like a good idea to a lot of folks, it also seems like a lot of hoops to jump through. If only there was a solar advocate group that streamlined the process for going solar (ahem), someone that did all the heavy lifting and guess work for the customer, vetted the partners/installers to the highest industry standards, and gave the customer an educated, informed, viable solar solution. If only…

Reason #2: Utility companies aren’t THAT bad. We all have a serious, deep-rooted relationship with our utility provider. They never raise the rates, always have the customer’s best interest in mind, and would never inspire us to punch our cat. All that noise about rising energy costs, extraneous/nonsensical charges? Dirty energy produced by coal and other non-renewable energy sources? Just a bunch of propaganda from the solar industry yammering about rights of the sun over rights of the planet.

Reason #3: Solar is anti-tree. Solar companies recommend that homeowners cut down trees just so they can get exposed roof space. Well, yes. This one is kind of true. In order to get the most from solar panels, those gangly, leafy, shade-giving trees should at least be given a skeptical side-eye. But only if they block the southern-facing part of your roof.

We hear over and over how the deals available today to help people go solar are too good to be true. But here’s the truth:  Homeowners can put little to no money down for a 20-year commitment to produce clean energy for a significantly more affordable rate of power due to incentives and rebates. Thanks to these options, a homeowner can become energy independent from their utility company and help decrease carbon emissions. Furthermore, there is a trusted, independent solar advocacy group that educates, informs, as well as simplifies the complicated process of going solar from gathering information to post-interconnection. Yes, and that is where we at One Block Off the Grid come in.

 

Rachael Mammen is the Solar Specialist Supervisor (say that five times fast) at One Block Off the Grid. She is ecstatic to flex her sarcastic muscle for this tongue-in-cheek post. For other sardonic noshes and a look into fighting the good solar fight, follow her on twitter (@rachaelmammen). Stay tuned for the next episode of Rachael’s witticisms on solar fact and fiction.

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4 Responses to “You Know What? Don’t Go Solar (Part 1)”

  1. Matt M. says:

    Rachael,

    Here in Minnesota I don’t think customers have the range of solar financing options available elsewhere. I could be wrong (am hoping I am!) but it doesn’t seem like PPA’s are widely available here, like they are in California.

    Question 1: Is that true?
    Question 2: Why? Is it that the industry doesn’t have capacity to take on more financing right now? Is it Minnesota state law that prevents it?

    I’m sure more people here would go solar if they had the sort of option available under a PPA.

    If you have time to reply, would you mind sending me the reply to my email as well? I’d really like to know!

    Thanks,

    Matt M.

    • Rachael says:

      Hi Matt!
      Thanks for your quick response. I can’t say personally I can speak to the solar landscape in Minnesota, but I’ll do my best. 1BOG is active in 14 different states, but unfortunately at this time, Minnesota is not one of them.

      1. PPAs are great, the one of the great inherent benefits of a Power Purchase Agreement is the flexibility–you, the homeowner, are only charged for the power that you consume. This mentality is about purchasing clean and cheap power that is tailored for your specific situation.

      PPAs are offered mainly by nationwide solar companies that have carved out a niche for themselves in the market (check out some of our channel partners that have done just that, SolarCity and SunRun, to name a couple). Financing of any kind is always a good thing when it comes to solar, but leases tend to be a little outdated as the homeowner is more renting solar equipment rather than buying power. Local solar companies tend not to have the funding like SolarCity or SunRun so leases or (chiefly cash purchases) are usually the only available options.

      Additionally, it’s dependent on the utility company. While we attempt to always offer the client a PPA, in certain instances, a PPA is not available. For example, we are quite active in Arizona, and statewide, we can only offer leases because that is what Arizona utility companies dictate.

      2. I don’t think it’s necessarily a shortage on funding for PPAs (nationwide, although, that always has something to do with it), but more about with the rebates. I’d say that is the foremost reason why 1BOG isn’t active in Minnesota at this time. Rebates are a significant portion of the savings when going solar, and if there isn’t a viable rebate we can ascertain for our customers, we won’t launch a campaign there. Our thought process is, better to wait to be able to help as many folks as we can in one particular area.

      It does have to do a bit with MN laws, but again, has to do with the rebates as well. Talk to your local congressperson to help combat rising energy costs and reducing carbon footprints by going solar! I don’t know if Minnesota is a particularly solar-friendly state, but any traction will be positive. This will help out 1BOG being active in your area as well as solidifying a rebate, securing PPA funding, as well as MN becoming a solar-friendly state.

      Hope this is helpful, Matt! We’ll be sure to let you know when 1BOG starts purveying solar in MN!

      Rachael

  2. Here in Australia the government have previously offered generous incentives to encourage electricity users to install grid feed systems. It is great to see systems going in on the roof tops all over the place. In Brisbane they have just finished offering Grid feed tariffs that are double what we pay for power ,which here is around the 23c mark. What are you guys paying per kw of power?

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You Know What? Don’t Go Solar (Part 1)

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