If you’re a solar installer, you know how important incentives are to helping you get new customers. Especially homeowners.
If state and federal incentives can bring the cost of a $15,000 home solar array down to $7,000 or even less, then you’re going to sell a lot more solar installations than if your customers had to pay full price.
And you know that selling solar is about more than living in a sunny state. It’s really more about good solar incentives.
It’s Less about Sunshine than Public Policy
Generous incentives have made the famous California solar boom possible. And incentives have also made New York the #10 solar state while much sunnier Florida at #12 is still playing catch up to achieve its solar potential.
Strong state public policy for solar has made un-sunny states like Massachusetts and New Jersey into hot solar markets. And lack of good solar policy has doomed sun-drenched states like Alabama, Louisiana and Oklahoma to being solar backwaters.
Since incentives can bring down the price of solar by 70% or more, you know that your business relies on them. But because incentives are always under attack by utilities and their allies, you worry that solar incentives are going to go down or go away altogether.
So, maybe you’ve even helped the industry lobby to keep those incentives, whether by signing a petition, sending an email, making a phone call or even attending a meeting in person with an elected official.
The solar industry would be lost without the successful lobbying of the Solar Energy Industries Association both in Washington and in state capitals across America from Sacramento to Albany.
But just think how much more successful that lobbying would be if SEIA was joined by some of the one million plus homeowners who’ve already gone solar. You know, the families who are your customers.
Solar Needs an Army
While Vote Solar and other groups have helped mobilize citizens especially in California, the United States lacks a truly citizen-friendly, national outreach effort to solar homeowners.
Other countries have already started effective campaigns to turn solar homeowners into solar champions. Just take Solar Citizens in Australia, for example.
This group is welcoming to solar homeowners. It makes public policy easy to understand. And it’s well organized, with campaigns that citizens can join right away. Solar Citizens offers the perfect model to recruit solar homeowners as solar champions.
What if we could do something like this in the US?
Then we could recruit solar homeowners as an army, stretching from coast to coast, to push back against utilities and protect net metering and other key solar incentives.
But that’s only the beginning. With a regiments of citizen-advocates in each state, the solar industry could start thinking bigger. Much bigger.
Stop Playing Defense
What would thinking bigger look like? For starters, it would mean that the solar industry could finally stop playing defense all the time and start playing offense for a change.
Then, we could find ways to really level the playing field with fossil fuels and make solar affordable for many more Americans.
We could demand an end to subsidies for coal, oil and fracked gas. We could even push for innovative policy on the federal level such as carbon pricing that would automatically make solar much cheaper.
And that would light up the phones of solar installers. With a level playing field that recognized the true value of solar, installers would have so much business that they’d have to go on a hiring spree, creating even more good American jobs than they already have!
But to help America win true clean energy independence and reach our nation’s great solar potential, it’s going to take more than a village of industry insiders. It’s going to take an army of citizens.
I’m trying to recruit homeowners into that army with my next book.
Last year, I wrote The Solar Sales Leap, a guide to help solar installers use the internet to connect with customers. If you haven’t gotten your copy yet, you can order a paper book or download the Kindle version now.
Now, I’m working on another book about solar. The title is The Solar Patriot: A Citizen’s Guide to Helping America Win Clean Energy Independence.
This time, the audience will be ordinary Americans who care about solar, especially homeowners who’ve already gone solar.
Citizens, To Arms!
Solar homeowners are the best people in America to speak up for solar power.
First, solar homeowners are motivated. People who have already invested in solar at home have a vested interest in speaking up for better solar policies. After all, they don’t want to lose the incentives they signed up for when they bought solar, whether net metering or tax breaks.
Second, solar homeowners have authority. Since they’re leading by example, their words carry more weight.
- They can educate their families, friends and neighbors.
- They can send referrals to their solar installer.
- And they can even call their member of Congress to protect the federal tax credit or even ask for a price on carbon, a promising idea to cut the cost of clean energy whose time may soon come because conservatives love it.
I’m writing The Solar Patriot now to inspire both progressives and conservatives. To help bring all Americans together around what solar can do for America, I’ve chosen the theme of patriotism.
And I’ll be having a little fun with it by adding stories from heroes of the American Revolution. I hope to inspire homeowners to follow in the footsteps of Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton and Patrick Henry to become the heroes of their own solar revolution today.
I’ll be having even more fun promoting the book while wearing the costume of a soldier from the Continental Army!
If you care about protecting the solar industry for the future and spreading solar far beyond its current territory, then please check out the book’s website and subscribe to my updates. If you do, you’ll be one of the first to learn when the book is published, and even get special pre-publication offers.
And where else will you find such an obvious mashup of solar power and American history?
— Erik Curren, Curren Media Group