Solar Installer Survey: Two-thirds will absorb solar tariff costs instead of passing to customers as confidence climbs

solar installer confidence

Solar installer confidence continues to climb nationwide, according to the third annual Solar Installer Survey, released by EnergySage and NABCEP. This is the largest and most comprehensive business climate survey of solar companies nationwide.

With nearly half of the 590 respondents stating they are more confident in the solar industry now than in prior years, confidence rose in key states such as Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington. However, customer acquisition challenges and changing regulations in the country’s largest solar market, California, resulted in a 27 percent drop in installer confidence. Additionally, installers called for better customer service and support from manufacturers, financiers and software providers as they try to win more business in an increasingly competitive solar market.

Three key insights from the 2017 Solar Installer Survey

1. Demand for solar-plus-storage surges – Nearly one in three solar shoppers are also interested in a home battery, according to respondents. Close rates for customers who receive quotes for solar-plus-storage are nearly 50 percent in some markets.

2. Installers may absorb solar tariff – The recently announced 30% tariff on imported solar cells and panels by the Trump administration may have less of an impact on residential solar than initially expected. Two-thirds of solar installers say they plan to absorb some or all of the cost of the tariff, rather than pass those costs along to the consumer.

3. Customer acquisition remains difficult – 37% of respondents stated that customer acquisition was harder in 2017 as compared to 2016, and that confusion created by competitors is still their number one challenge. Additionally, installers are prioritizing growth in market share over margins.

“For the second year in a row, confidence in the solar industry among installers is on the rise, with a meaningful jump in 2017,” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage. “From speaking with our installers across the country, we believe there are several reasons for continued optimism. Consumer interest in solar energy and home energy storage has never been higher. Given that prices remain competitive and the solar tariff is expected to only have a limited short-term impact, solar installers have much to look forward to in 2018 and beyond.”

EnergySage fielded this survey between December 14, 2017 and January 13, 2018. In addition to EnergySage, NABCEP, the leading certification organization for renewable energy professionals, as well as several large manufacturers, distributors, and industry associations sent the survey to their own installer networks. In total, 587 solar installers located across 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico participated.

You can download the full report here: Solar Installer Survey

— Solar Builder magazine

Solar Installer Survey: Two-thirds will absorb solar tariff costs instead of passing to customers as confidence climbs

solar installer confidence

Solar installer confidence continues to climb nationwide, according to the third annual Solar Installer Survey, released by EnergySage and NABCEP. This is the largest and most comprehensive business climate survey of solar companies nationwide.

With nearly half of the 590 respondents stating they are more confident in the solar industry now than in prior years, confidence rose in key states such as Massachusetts, North Carolina and Washington. However, customer acquisition challenges and changing regulations in the country’s largest solar market, California, resulted in a 27 percent drop in installer confidence. Additionally, installers called for better customer service and support from manufacturers, financiers and software providers as they try to win more business in an increasingly competitive solar market.

Three key insights from the 2017 Solar Installer Survey

1. Demand for solar-plus-storage surges – Nearly one in three solar shoppers are also interested in a home battery, according to respondents. Close rates for customers who receive quotes for solar-plus-storage are nearly 50 percent in some markets.

2. Installers may absorb solar tariff – The recently announced 30% tariff on imported solar cells and panels by the Trump administration may have less of an impact on residential solar than initially expected. Two-thirds of solar installers say they plan to absorb some or all of the cost of the tariff, rather than pass those costs along to the consumer.

3. Customer acquisition remains difficult – 37% of respondents stated that customer acquisition was harder in 2017 as compared to 2016, and that confusion created by competitors is still their number one challenge. Additionally, installers are prioritizing growth in market share over margins.

“For the second year in a row, confidence in the solar industry among installers is on the rise, with a meaningful jump in 2017,” said Vikram Aggarwal, CEO and founder of EnergySage. “From speaking with our installers across the country, we believe there are several reasons for continued optimism. Consumer interest in solar energy and home energy storage has never been higher. Given that prices remain competitive and the solar tariff is expected to only have a limited short-term impact, solar installers have much to look forward to in 2018 and beyond.”

EnergySage fielded this survey between December 14, 2017 and January 13, 2018. In addition to EnergySage, NABCEP, the leading certification organization for renewable energy professionals, as well as several large manufacturers, distributors, and industry associations sent the survey to their own installer networks. In total, 587 solar installers located across 46 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico participated.

You can download the full report here: Solar Installer Survey

— Solar Builder magazine

Rethinking the grid: Southern Co. is building renewable, energy efficient communities with this Smart Neighborhood initiative

Southern Power Company

This may be a glimpse into the future: Southern Co. and its Alabama Power and Georgia Power subsidiaries have announced a Smart Neighborhood initiative that will provide customers with state-of-the-art home construction, distributed energy resources – including solar and battery energy storage – and smart home appliances and technologies.

The first-of-a-kind Smart Neighborhoods – located in Atlanta and suburban Birmingham, Alabama – will benefit customers through improved reliability, increased use of distributed energy resources and lower costs. These communities have the potential to further enable the smart grid and help the Southern Company system better meet customers’ evolving energy needs. These are the types of ideas we were talking about when we said utilities need to step up.

“In the rapidly changing energy landscape, we are focused on meeting customers’ current and future energy needs through cutting-edge research and technology,” said Southern Company Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Kimberly S. Greene. “These collaborative research projects with Alabama Power, Georgia Power and our partners will deepen our understanding of how distributed energy resources interact with the electric grid and how emerging technologies improve customers’ lives.”

How it will work

Both projects simulate what the future may hold for the energy industry, and provide Southern Company and its subsidiaries information on how homes of the future will function. That information will lead to new programs, products and services for customers.

The Smart Neighborhood concept is the result of the Southern Company research and development team’s deep collaboration with Alabama Power and Georgia Power, including a supporting partnership with the Southern Company Energy Innovation Center. The companies collaborated with U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Electric Power Research Institute on the initiatives, and have partnered with leading homebuilders for the construction and sale of the communities’ homes.

The Holistic Home: We peer into the future of home energy generation, usage

The first Smart Neighborhood project was announced by Alabama Power and all 62 homes have been sold. Signature Homes is the community developer and is overseeing the construction and sale of the homes at the Reynolds Landing community at Ross Bridge in Hoover, Ala. Home construction is expected to be complete in the spring.

“The first homeowners have moved into our Smart Neighborhood and we are excited to provide those customers with advanced energy solutions that will influence services across our territory in the future,” said John Hudson, Alabama Power’s senior vice president of Marketing and Business Development. “Each home is a crystal ball for home-building and residential consumption. Along with our construction, technology and research partners, Alabama Power is among the leaders of energy innovation.”

The Alabama project features the Southeast’s first community-scale microgrid. It is comprised of solar panels, battery energy storage and a natural gas generator that supplements power from the existing electric grid.

Each home in the Smart Neighborhood is built with emerging energy-efficient building features, and equipped with leading-edge technology, including a high-efficiency heat pump, an intelligence home comfort system with an Infinity Touch thermostat, voice-activated security, smart locks, cameras, interconnected appliances, triple-pane windows, LED lighting and more.

Meanwhile, Georgia Power has partnered with PulteGroup to help develop the first Smart Neighborhood in Atlanta. The new homes will be located in Atlanta’s Upper West Side, one of the city’s most vibrant and popular areas. Altus at The Quarter will feature luxury townhomes with cutting-edge smart home technology.

“Building the future of energy in Georgia centers on our continued commitment to offer new, flexible products and services that meet the changing needs of our customers,” said Paul Bowers, chairman, president and CEO of Georgia Power. “This partnership with PulteGroup provides a unique opportunity for us to demonstrate how energy companies can collaborate with homebuilders and retail partners to better serve customers today while developing new opportunities for tomorrow.”

Each technology-enhanced home in the Georgia Power Smart Neighborhood will be served by Georgia Power with power supplemented by individual rooftop solar installations and in-home battery energy storage. Homes also will be equipped with the latest energy technologies such as optimal insulation for maximum efficiency, advanced heating and cooling systems and LED lighting. They will feature home automation, including smart thermostats, smart locks and voice control.

Construction is underway with the grand opening scheduled for later this year.

Information and data collected from the distributed energy resources will provide researchers valuable operational experience as the company continues to evaluate microgrids along with residential battery storage and rooftop solar. Information from the HVAC systems, heat pump water heaters and other technologies will help inform new programs and services for customers.

— Solar Builder magazine

PetersenDean now offering solar + storage solution via SolarEdge, LG Chem

PetersenDean Roofing & Solar, the nation’s largest privately held solar and roofing company, has joined forces with SolarEdge and LG Chem to offer homeowners an affordable path to solar ownership and energy storage. SolarEdge will supply an intelligent inverter solution to manage PV production, consumption and both on-grid and backup storage to help increase energy independence for PetersenDean’s residential installations. LG Chem will provide the Residential Energy Storage Unit (RESU) 10H 9.8 kWh battery pack, which is compatible with SolarEdge and uses the same technology that has been used in other LG Chem applications.

Petersen Dean

 

“Technology has significantly evolved over the years—especially with batteries and inverters. PetersenDean is proud to offer these two well-trusted brands to customers,” said Jim Petersen, president and CEO of PetersenDean Roofing & Solar. “Both of these companies’ commitment to technology, coupled with efficient and high-quality manufacturing processes produces solutions that exhibit the highest levels of safety, performance, and reliability.”

Providing PetersenDean customers with intelligently managed energy storage from reliable companies, this solution helps meet an important goal for PetersenDean, which installs about 2,000 solar and roof systems each month nationally.

“During the last few years, our customers have been asking us for better home energy storage solutions. While some systems only function when the grid goes down, others only work to help limit grid use in moments when their solar system is not producing the amount of energy needed to power their home. By combining SolarEdge’s StorEdge solution with LG Chem batteries, customers can enjoy both options by managing and monitoring PV and battery status through a single platform. It provides the peace of mind that when the grid goes down, they’ll still have power backup,” said Petersen.

Petersen added that customers will save substantially in the long term. “Storage systems such as this help customers improve their system payback by increasing the amount of PV energy they consume. They can store excess solar and draw from it when needed. This avoids unnecessary fees and taxes, while giving them the flexibility in an ever-changing utility landscape.”

LG Chem is the global leader in lithium-ion batteries with a market-leading position in advanced batteries for grid-scale, residential storage and automotive applications. Its lithium ion battery technology is the product of 23 years of experience in the development and production of mobile batteries and large format batteries for automotive and energy storage systems. For residential storage applications, LG Chem is using the same technology that has been used in its utility-scale projects.

Linh Tran, Sales Manager of LG Chem, said, “With the growth and advancement of residential storage batteries, we are pleased to team up with a leading installer, PetersenDean, specializing in new residential and commercial construction in the US market.”

 

— Solar Builder magazine

This California bill expands access to solar energy generated by already-developed sites

california energy storage

The California Legislature is being commended again for its support of solar energy, passing a bill last week to make it easier for businesses, schools, nonprofits and municipalities to access solar. In turn, this will help generate thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars of investment in the state.

“California has long been our nation’s leader in solar energy, but many of its businesses and schools face practical barriers to adopting solar,” said Sean Gallagher, SEIA’s vice president of state affairs. “This bill provides an innovative, yet commonsense solution that will unlock access to local clean energy for these organizations, while creating thousands of jobs in California. We thank Sen. Wiener for his leadership in advancing California’s solar economy.”

The bill would require the PUC …

to require each large electrical corporation to establish a tariff or tariffs that provide for bill credits for electricity generated by eligible renewable generating facilities and exported to the electrical grid to be credited to electrical accounts of nonresidential customers of the corporations. The bill would require the commission to ensure that the credit reflects the full value of the electricity from the eligible renewable generating facilities and the credit is established using the same methodology that as used to determined credits under the standard contract or tariff for eligible customer-generators.

The legislation expands access to offsite solar projects for non-residential customers, by allowing them to partner with already-developed sites – such as parking lots, warehouses, brownfields and landfills – and use those sites for solar energy that the local community can access. The bill, SB 1399, was authored by California Sen. Scott Wiener, who represents San Francisco and parts of San Mateo County.

“To meet our aggressive renewable energy goals, California needs to dramatically expand solar, including maximizing use of our empty rooftops and other developed spaces that are ripe for solar,” said Senator Wiener. “However, these locations sometimes have no need for solar power and therefore sit unused, while other energy customers want to access renewable energy but have no space to install solar. SB 1399 brings these two groups together – supply and demand – to drive an increase in solar installations in urbanized areas throughout California. SB 1399 will spur the generation of more clean energy and create more good-paying solar installation jobs in communities throughout our state.”

10 predictions for community solar in 2018 via Clean Energy Collective

California has an abundance of previously developed sites — 35,000 acres in total, including 20,000 in disadvantaged communities — that could provide ideal locations for solar energy. This bill establishes a pathway for non-residential customers to take advantage of clean energy and enhance both the built environment and the local economy.

SEIA urges the California Legislature to pass this bill, and allow solar to deliver more clean, reliable, affordable power to businesses, schools, public agencies and nonprofits in the state.

— Solar Builder magazine