A Tribute to Home Power Founder Richard Perez

Damian Diaz meeting Richard Perez at the 2014 Solar Pioneer Party  photo credit: Tony Diaz

Damian Diaz meeting Richard Perez at the 2014 Solar Pioneer Party  photo credit: Tony Diaz

I was lucky. I got that “once in a lifetime opportunity” to thank someone who made a meaningful impression on my life and my career. That person was Richard Perez, the founder of Home Power Magazine.

Over this weekend, I learned that Richard Perez passed away at his off-grid home in Agate Flats, OR.

I owe a lot of my humble beginnings in the solar industry to reading back issues (and current issues) of Home Power Magazine in the late 90s and early 2000s. Solar education was hard to come by in those days. The internet was in its beginnings and the solar industry as we know it today was not even a thought in anyone’s mind.

Read more on LinkedIn.

Posted on January 18, 2017 and filed under news.

Three Steps to Achieving a more Profitable, Referral-based Solar Business

Handshake by Quinn Dombrowski via flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Handshake by Quinn Dombrowski via flickr.com (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Customer acquisition is a tough nut to crack for many solar contractors. But by looking at what strategies have worked over time, we can determine some best practices to lowering customer acquisition cost, building a referral-based business and moving closer to achieving profitability.

Non-referral strategies and the growth of residential solar 

Non-referral customer acquisition strategies (content marketing, telemarketing, providing a proposal before an in-home consultation and canvassing, for example), have resulted in tremendous growth for residential rooftop solar installers—about 53% in the residential sector since 2005, according to SPV Market Research.

But what is the cost of that growth? High growth rates of 50, 60 or 70% are great, but they also require putting a lot of money into generating non-referral leads. It’s important for contractors to strike the right balance between growing and staying profitable.

Want to find out the three steps? 

Read our article on Solar Power World.

Posted on January 9, 2017 and filed under operations.

Why The Energy Sector Still Sees Solar as Alternative Energy

Outlook and Best Practices for a Growing DG Solar Market Panel at Renewable Energy World International, December 13, 2016. From left to right: Nancy McKereghan, Tangerine+; Erin Grossi, Center for Neighborhood Technology; Pamela Cargill, Chaolysti; Paula Mints, SPV Market Research; JW Postal, Clean Energy Collective; Matthias Heinze, TUV Rheinland; Front row, Travis Lowder, NREL (co-chair) Photo Credit: Leah Wilkinson, Wilkinson Associates

Outlook and Best Practices for a Growing DG Solar Market Panel at Renewable Energy World International, December 13, 2016. From left to right: Nancy McKereghan, Tangerine+; Erin Grossi, Center for Neighborhood Technology; Pamela Cargill, Chaolysti; Paula Mints, SPV Market Research; JW Postal, Clean Energy Collective; Matthias Heinze, TUV Rheinland; Front row, Travis Lowder, NREL (co-chair)

Photo Credit: Leah Wilkinson, Wilkinson Associates

Last week, I chaired a conference session at Renewable Energy World International, a co-located event at PowerGen Week, one of the largest conferences and trade shows serving the energy generation industries.

Despite our “braggowatts” we’re still alternative energy in the minds of many energy professionals in the oil & gas sectors. 

While a certain amount of cheerleading is important to help us coalesce as an industry, staying only in that bubble can often keep us from empathizing with how the traditional utility sector and existing operating energy industry sees us.

What can we do to solve bridge this gap?

Posted on December 22, 2016 and filed under eventwrapup.

Getting to Profitability with Superior Customer Experience: Four Steps for Solar Contractors

Did you work a lot harder in 2016 for a lot less money? Did you grow your volume of projects but not your net revenue?

That’s the real downside of the much-lauded falling cost of solar. There’s a lot less margin to go around. For example, a 30% markup on $0.45/watt modules amounts to a lot less than it did on $1.50/watt modules. And you can see the same effect across labor and BOS markup.

What are some concrete steps business owners can do to get out of the race to the bottom?

Read our article on Solar Power World for the answers.

Posted on December 8, 2016 and filed under operations.