Archive for April, 2010

How to Choose a quality Solar Installer in Los Angeles

Friday, April 30th, 2010

How to Choose a quality Solar Installer in Los Angeles

The age of renewable energy is upon us.  Going green in one’s daily routine is easier.  However,  making a renewable energy retrofit on your home can be a chore if you do not know where to begin.

Here are some things to think about when choosing a quality solar installer in Los Angeles. 

First, you can always think about looking up a quality solar installer in the Los Angeles Yellowpages.  Those professionals tend to be dependable because they wouldn’t be listed in the Yellowpages if they were not dependable.  If you don’t use that method to find a quality solar installer, try locating a Los Angeles contractor on the internet.  There are many directories that provide lists of certified and experienced quality solar installers.

You must know what questions to ask when you select a quality solar installer.  In Los Angeles, there are many quality solar installers; this may result in a bidding war if you decide to contact several.  This may not be what you want.  Getting the lowest estimate is not the best course of action.  Contractors can easily take shortcuts to win your business with the lowest bid or they may not be experienced and are willing to go lower than quality solar installers.  You must ask pertinent qualifying questions of your installer to determine if they are experienced and trustworthy.  You will naturally gravitate toward a quality solar installer in Los Angeles if they can demonstrate these characteristics.

Ask them to show you all the proper licenses that are required of a solar installer in Los Angeles.  Not all electricians know how to install solar and not all certified photovoltaic installers know how to tie in the system to the utility grid.  Make sure they are experienced in both or have a team who can do each task competently.  In some cases, experience can be interchangeable with formal training.  You have to like your quality solar installer but make sure they have the proper credentials.

Also, ask if they have any references of past jobs.  It gives you a resume of their work.  You can find out if there were any complications with their service on prior projects.  

Ask about a service agreement.  This states what services the quality solar installer is responsible for and lays out the terms of the deal.  You should also ask your quality solar installer what incentives and rebates are available to apply for in Los Angeles.

How to Choose a quality Solar Installer in Los Angeles

Friday, April 30th, 2010

How to Choose a quality Solar Installer in Los Angeles

The age of renewable energy is upon us.  Going green in one’s daily routine is easier.  However,  making a renewable energy retrofit on your home can be a chore if you do not know where to begin.

Here are some things to think about when choosing a quality solar installer in Los Angeles. 

First, you can always think about looking up a quality solar installer in the Los Angeles Yellowpages.  Those professionals tend to be dependable because they wouldn’t be listed in the Yellowpages if they were not dependable.  If you don’t use that method to find a quality solar installer, try locating a Los Angeles contractor on the internet.  There are many directories that provide lists of certified and experienced quality solar installers.

You must know what questions to ask when you select a quality solar installer.  In Los Angeles, there are many quality solar installers; this may result in a bidding war if you decide to contact several.  This may not be what you want.  Getting the lowest estimate is not the best course of action.  Contractors can easily take shortcuts to win your business with the lowest bid or they may not be experienced and are willing to go lower than quality solar installers.  You must ask pertinent qualifying questions of your installer to determine if they are experienced and trustworthy.  You will naturally gravitate toward a quality solar installer in Los Angeles if they can demonstrate these characteristics.

Ask them to show you all the proper licenses that are required of a solar installer in Los Angeles.  Not all electricians know how to install solar and not all certified photovoltaic installers know how to tie in the system to the utility grid.  Make sure they are experienced in both or have a team who can do each task competently.  In some cases, experience can be interchangeable with formal training.  You have to like your quality solar installer but make sure they have the proper credentials.

Also, ask if they have any references of past jobs.  It gives you a resume of their work.  You can find out if there were any complications with their service on prior projects.  

Ask about a service agreement.  This states what services the quality solar installer is responsible for and lays out the terms of the deal.  You should also ask your quality solar installer what incentives and rebates are available to apply for in Los Angeles.

Sales Techniques for Inbound Calls

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Inbound call sales is defined as customers contacting call centers for customer service or catalogue (paper and online) sales. The goal during an inbound call is to make an add-on sale. By deploying specific techniques, inbound call sales representatives can increase their conversion rate.

Interrogation

Everyone knows what it is like to get interrogated by a sales representative. Instead of using this approach, make the call seem more like a conversation. For example, make a statement such as “My name is Rich” in front of “What is your name?”

Lead the Conversation

Just because you are answering a call does not mean that the customer has to lead the conversation. Develop a process to guide a caller through a conversation. A sample process would include:

  • Greeting
  • Method of engagement
  • Develop a need for product
  • Present the solution
  • Close the sale by reinforcing the buying decision

By putting a practice such as this in place, it is much easier to guide individuals through to your solution.

Politeness

You have received a lead for business. Make certain to be courteous by listening, saying please and thank you, and being receptive to the problems they are presenting. 

Close the Deal

By making your product or service fit their problem, you are well on your way to closing the deal. Using your closing techniques, present the price and ask for a payment. A good way to ask for payment:

“Will that be Visa or Mastercard?”

Make certain to avoid phrases such as “Before I let you go.” This makes the leads assume that you are attempting to sell. This will put them on the defensive (and makes it difficult to close the sale).

Fallback Offers

After the initial offer is rejected, have a second offer in mind. The fallback offer is almost always less expensive than the first offer. By presenting a fallback offer, customers may be thinking “I am getting a better deal.” This means that you have a better chance at closing the sale.

Rich Hessler
Rich Hessler Solar Marketing 

California Solar Incentives

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Virtually all utility customers have the opportunity to benefit from renewable energy incentives.  This creates green jobs in the service sector.  However, California also has production incentives in place to meet the renewable energy goals set in the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) program.  These incentives directly create jobs in the production sector.

California solar production incentives come in the form of feed-in tariffs and the purchase of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs).  

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has made feed-in tariffs available to small facilities with renewable generating capacity for the production of up to 500MW.  Feed-in tariffs will be based on the CPUC market price referent (MPR) and time-of-use factors.  A single customer-generator can enter into a 10, 15, or 20 year standard contract to sell renewable energy to utility companies up to 3MW. 

Utilities offering California feed-in tariffs include Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), San Diego Gas and Electric Company, PacifiCorp, Sierra Pacific Power Company, Bear Valley Electric Service (BVES) Division of Golden State Water Company, and Mountain Utilities (MU).

Sacramento Municipal Utilities District (SMUD) offers feed-in tariffs for all renewable energy technologies plus combined heat and power (CHP).  SMUD feed-in tariffs do no use a market price referent and are based on the year placed in service, time of day, time of year, and length of contract.

City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) purchases Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from within their own local commercial and industrial sectors instead of from outside renewable sources.  

California must employ customer-generated energy to produce 33% of the state’s power demand from renewable sources by 2025.

Learn more about California solar incentives.

New York Solar Incentives

Monday, April 26th, 2010

In 1997, the State of New York enacted a New York Solar Tax Credit for individuals to retrofit residential property and multi-family property with solar systems.

 

New York homeowners are eligible for a personal tax credit of up to 25% for the cost of solar system equipment and installation for solar PV systems and solar thermal systems.  The maximum incentive for solar energy systems is $5,000. 

 

System sizes cannot exceed 10kW for residential solar PV systems while properties owned by condominium or cooperative housing associations are allowed up to 50kW per solar PV system.

 

If the tax credit exceeds your taxable liability, it may be carried-forward for the next five tax years.

 

To take advantage of this personal tax credit, solar PV systems must meet the New York net metering law which limits photovoltaic systems to 10kW.  However the law was expanded in August 2008 with S.B. 7171 allowing for net-metering on residential photovoltaic (pv) systems up to 25kW.  The state has not clarified whether or not the new net-metering law limits can be applied to this personal tax credit for solar-electric systems.


The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) also offers rebates to photovoltaic installers.  This NYSERDA solar incentive is equal to $1.75/watt DC subject to shading, system orientation, tilt angle, and other derates to performance.  No eligible system size has been specified and production output may not exceed 110% of the required annual energy load.  The maximum NYSERDA solar incentive amounts and system capacities are as follows:


Residential: $13,750, 5kW

Non-residential: $112,500, 50kW

Non-profit, government, schools: $56,250, 25kW
 

There are also local options to help property owners install solar.  Solar systems have a 100% property tax exemption up to 15 years.  Another local option is a Municipal Sustainable Energy Program where property owners use Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing to pay for renewable energy upgrades.  In July 2005, New York made all sales and installations of residential solar-energy systems 100% exempt from the state sales tax and use tax. 

 

The State of New York will benefit from distributed energy sources.  By distributing energy sources, it promotes energy security and eventually energy independence (with the installation of renewable energy). With the New York Solar Tax Credit for individuals and other incentive programs, New York is well on their way to meeting their renewable energy goals.

Lights Out on Maricopa Solar Incentive ED-3

Monday, April 12th, 2010

In late 2009, Electrical District No. 3 (ED-3) started offering up to $15,000 rebates on professionally-installed photovoltaic solar systems. The was so much interest in the program that ED-3 looked at ways to reduce its popularity. Already, the response has exceded the funds set aside for the rebate.

The ED-3 solar rebate program is funded by a renewable energy fee it charges customers – 30 cents a month for residential users and $12 a month for commercial. These fees help the company raise $300,000 a year, some of which is used to continue funding renewable energy projects.

Unfortunately, these projects pale in comparison to major utility companies such as Arizona Power Service (APS) and Salt River Project. These companies charge its customers between $1.88 and $3.46 a month for renewable energy projects and incentives. This will provide APS with $86.7 million in tariffs in 2010.

Despite collecting a large amount of money to fund renewable energy, APS and SRP are planning to scale down their solar programs. The number of pv solar installations in 2009 is greater than the previous 8 years combined.

One way APS will accomplish this is through reducing it’s maximum rebate to ~$13,000. If APS does not takes this action, the funds set aside for this year will run out by June.

Still, thanks to the generous rebates offered by the federal government and APS, a solar system costs $8,000 – $12,000 out of pocket (instead of $30,000 – $35,000). Imagine purchasing a solar system at $8,000 that will provide you with electricity for the rest of your life!

In addition, any excess energy produced by your solar system will run your meter backwards, giving homeowners a rebate on their electricity.

APS is also looking into raising fees to support these renewable energy programs. APS is discussing whether the renewable energy fees are something the residents of Phoenix would want to pay.

This brings up one important point – the residents of Phoenix are paying for the solar rebates. Why would anyone continue paying for other homeowners to install photovoltaics instead of taking advantage of this offer? Getting a solar system 60% off in a state with as much sunshine as Arizona seems like a no-brainer.