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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Idea of the Week: Bringing Solar Global

Founded in 2006, SolarCity has grown rapidly into the largest solar power provider in the United States, serving thousands of customer sin 14 states. What makes SolarCity so unique is that they have have eliminated upfront cost, which is the primary obstacle to increased solar usage, by offering a financing option that mimics the homeowners existing utility bill. By offering a 20 year financing option, the homeowner can get rid of their electricity bill and replace it with a much lower Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that is locked in for 20 years. So no matter how high electricity prices go in the next 20 years, your cost remains the same. Beyond that SolarCity will also maintain your solar system to ensure its continued functionality.

Another company that is spreading the usage of solar power is Solar Richmond. Begun in 2006 as a solar education initiative, it quickly grew into an internship and installation program for low income homeowners. Solar Richmond attacks the problem of solar’s high installation cost, by providing temporary to permanent labor solutions for solar installers so they can keep their costs down, as well as affordable and subsidized financing alternatives for homeowners. By attacking the problem from both angles, Solar Richmond has created over 300 temporary and permanent jobs and installed solar panels for over 50 homeowners. But the best thing is that there is currently nothing like this program in Atlanta. With an average of 4.5 hrs of sunlight per day, huge swaths of Atlanta residents below the poverty line and in dire need of help with energy costs, and a ballooning tech industry, Atlanta would be the ideal place for a program like this to take root. All that is needed is the right entrepreneur to take the bull by the horns and get started. The model has already been built. It’s already proven.

Clearly there is a lot of opportunity in the Solar space across the country. Whether you mimic the models of either of these fine companies, or come up with your own, providing homeowners and  businesses with solar power has the potential to be very lucrative and helpful.