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Sunergy Systems News

1,000 Solar Rooftops

In 2015, Sunergy Systems achieved an incredible milestone, our 1,000th solar rooftop! 

In it's lifespan, this 9.52 kW Itek Energy-Solectria system in Bothell, WA will:

  • Offset 500,000 car-driven miles
  • Reduce greenhouse gases by almost 350,000 pounds
  • Reduce carbon dioxide by an amount equal to 3 acres of mature trees
  • Produce almost 250,000 kWhs!

So you might be thinking, “What happens when 1,000 people go solar?” Here’s how Sunergy’s 1,000 solar customers have been part of the solution. 

In their 25-year lifespans, these 1,000 systems will:

  • Clean Energy – Produce 18.0 million kilowatts-hours of clean renewable energy! 
  • Railcars of Coal – Offset 250 rail cars of coal, or 2.5 miles of a coal train.
  • Barrels of Oil – Offset 285,000 barrels of oil.
  • Car Miles – Offset 250 million car-driven miles.
  • Greenhouse Gas – Offset 200 million lbs!
Every year these 1,000 systems produce enough energy to power a subdivision of 500 homes! 1,000 systems also means supporting a thriving solar industry which has grown by 800% over the last 10 years. Your support of Sunergy Systems makes it possible for us to continue being a leading solar educator for the entire Puget Sound area. Since we started educating the public back in 2005, our professional design consultants have performed over 5,000 site surveys and in-home assessments! Regardless if going solar or not, every person we touched has made a difference as they share their knowledge and enthusiasm, which has been crucial to the growth of Washington State’s solar community. Give us another couple of years and going solar will be just as main stream as purchasing an electric vehicle is now!

Speaking of mainstream, with solar sightings now a common occurrence, this year alone Sunergy will install close to 250 systems. It took us 10 years to get to 1,000, the next 1,000 is right around the corner! Think about how the rest of the solar industry is doing as the State is rapidly approaching 10,000 solar rooftops. Going from 100 net-metered solar systems back in 2005 to 10,000 in 2015, Solar in Washington has come a long way and is building great momentum as 2016 approaches! 
 
So what would 10,000 solar rooftops look like:
  • A 100% solar powered residential community of 5,000 homes!
  • 25 miles of coal train railcarts no longer on our railways!
  • 3,000,000 barrels of oil no longer needed to be imported!

 Thank You Western Washington & the 1,000 families and businesses that went solar with us since 2005!

Sunergy Systems celebrates 10 years and our 1,000th Installation!

The Sunergy team will be celebrating our 10th year providing solar all over Washington State in July and we want to thank all of you for making us one of the State’s premier solar installation companies! Another big milestone is we’ll be the second Washington-based solar company to join the prestigious 1,000th solar installation club!

Sunergy Systems opened our doors back in 2005 and since then solar in Washington has grown from a sleepy industry of about 100 net-metered solar electric systems to the mainstream.  In 2005, there were a dozen or so solar installation companies, employing a total of around 50 people.  After a decade of growth and the inception of the WA solar incentive program, the State is now quickly approaching 8,000 systems! 

According to The Solar Foundation's 2014 State Solar Jobs report, Washington has 128 solar related businesses, employing over 2,400 jobs, and ranking Washington at 17th nationwide. The solar industry is one of the State's fastest growing job creators representing 28th in the State's employment ranking.    

Howard Lamb, Founder of Sunergy Systems says “We are honored to have been a key leader in the State's solar boom. During our first couple of years in business we'd celebrate at Hale's Brewery every time we had a customer go solar with us! Now here we are in 2015 with our 1,000th system being scheduled for installation in just a couple of weeks, which coincides very well with our 10-year anniversary! The solar industry is such a rewarding industry to have meaningful careers in, the relationship between excited customers and passionate solar professionals is truly amazing to witness, you don’t see this kind of synergy in too many other industries! This is one of the main reasons why Sunergy became an employee-owned corporation back in 2012, so each one of our employees truly feels like they are solar!”

Sunergy has also been an active supporter of the local Sustainable community and in April we hosted the 1st Annual Ballard Earth Day Street Party, a sustainably-themed street party to benefit long-time partner Sustainable Ballard. Sustainable Ballard President, Jennifer Heins “We're thrilled to be partnering with Sunergy Systems to celebrate sustainability in Ballard.  Sunergy has been a long time supporter and organizing this party as a benefit for Sustainable Ballard just goes to show what great neighbors they are."

One of the primary key’s to our success is making customer satisfaction our #1 priority! During the last year 30% of our installations have been referrals from people like you. Many of you have benefited from our SolarPass referral program which rewards you with $350 for everyone you refer to us that goes solar (3rd referrals and afterwards at $500 each).  Over the last year Sunergy rewarded our SolarPass referrers with $17,500! A big thanks to all of you for spreading the solar news, giving a solid plug for Sunergy, and for helping your friends reap the benefit of the State’s lucrative solar incentives.  And a huge thanks to our top three referrers:

  • Mr. C. Yockey
  • Mr. G. Austin
  • Mr. S. Kuo

For every referee you send our way we’re sweetening the solar pot. If they schedule a site evaluation with us we’ll make an entry for each one of your referees into our SolarPass $500 drawing to be held on July 31st! If you win the $500 drawing and if one of your referees goes solar with us then another $350, this could be a total of $850. If you happen to be one of our top referrers like C. Yockey this would be $1,000. So spread the word and share this post on Facebook to reap your solar rewards!

An Excerpt from one of our most recent customer's YELP review:

"I HIGHLY recommend Sunergy Systems. They are honest, reputable, trustworthy, caring, fair people. They have passion for what they do. I can't thank Chris enough for his time and dedication to my project. I told my wife last night that this besides our children, is the best decision we have made for our future and our earth. Thank you Chris, Alan, Mike, Melissa, Eric, and the other installers I did not meet on Monday. I really do appreciate everything and am so thankful I chose Sunergy Systems."

Tyson C., Bothell, WA 

The Employee Owners of Sunergy would like to share with you our Top 10 milestones:

  • 2005 (0 systems) – July 1st, 2005 Household Power is formed... yes that is what the company was first called.
  • 2006 (18 systems) – In March we install our first system!  Yikes, one sales every ten months is not looking like a good business model!  For the remainder of the year we install 18 systems so things are looking sunnier!
  • 2007 (49 systems) – Jon Lange, Steve Tedesco, and Mike Pogorzelski (AKA "Pogo") join the team to develop the NW’s best installation department. Pogo is now the company’s Site Surveyor, Steve has become one of our elite Solar Design Consultants, and Jon has stepped into the role of Company President.
  • 2008 (60 systems) – Household Power becomes Sunergy Systems and is a banner year for us as we take on some large projects like the 83.6kW Left Coast Cellars Winery in Oregon and the 23.9kW Tacoma Community College system.  Most of you have talked with Melissa Metcalfe who joined the team!
  • 2009 (74 systems) – Solar veteran Greg Williams joins the team! We install the Iwasaki Brothers 116.4kW system which is our largest to date.  Sunergy Systems settles into our current Ballard location.
  • 2010 (108 systems) – Sunergy launches the State’s first radio and TV solar campaigns which spreads the good news of solar more than ever before. We surpass one megawatt of installed solar energy with a total of 296 systems!  Chris Horne joins our Solar Design Team!
  • 2011 (114 systems) – Tim Fekete, Jason Duensing and Adam Cox join the Sunergy Team. Ask Adam about his short tenure on the installation team.
  • 2012 (129 systems) – Sunergy installs the Bainbridge City Hall 71.3kW Community Solar Project. Sunergy becomes an official Employee-Owned Corporation!!! Many of you remember the Exeltech inverter recall… yes we all survived it!!! Sunergy surpasses two megawatts for over 500 installed systems featuring the 22.8kW Edmonds Community Solar Project. The solar legend Chris Herman joins the Sunergy Team!
  • 2013 (159 systems) – We almost hit one megawatt for the year featuring the 32.4kW Valley View Sewer District and 31.9kW Aquaquip systems.  We were major sponsors for the NW Solarfest and Sustainable Ballard Festival.one and within a couple of weeks will be installing our 1,000th system!!!  We have nineteen employee-owners and on any given day are installing solar at two to three different sites. Our sales team might be meeting with five different solar clients at the same time while our office staff on an hourly basis is educating new customers while providing customer service to our existing ones.
  • 2014 (184 systems) – SWe shatter the elusive one megawatt in a year milestone with 1.13 megawatts!

Solar City Attacks Washington State’s Solar Legislation!

Beware of recent anti-solar misinformation attack ads propagated by Solar City and their shell organization, The Alliance for Solar Choice. You might have seen these misinformation ads on Facebook and most recently played on the radio. They tell you that the current solar legislation is anti-solar when in all actuality it will be a Nation leading solar incentive program!
 
Why might they be doing this… because these big box out-of-state solar corporations rely solely on solar leasing. The new bill does provide provisions for leasing but also has consumer protection which discloses many critical leasing pitfalls. Solar City and The Alliance for Solar Choice do not want this disclosure since many educated people will opt to own their own systems and they fear this sets a precedence for the rest of the country.  At the end of this article is a great rebuttal by Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32)!
 
Here’s what Solar City and The Alliance for Solar Choice don’t want you to know and why owning your own system is better than leasing it:

  • A lease is a 10-year contract, if you sell your home before the contract term ends, you could be hit with tens of thousands of dollars in termination fees.
  • You do not own the solar energy system and cannot chose to have Made-In-USA equipment. The cheapest overseas equipment is used with no consideration to environmental regulations, living wages and equipment lifespan beyond the 10-year contract term.
  • You forfeit all incentives such as 30% Federal Income Tax Credit (ITC), the 9.5% State Sales Tax Exemption, and $10,000 to $27,000 in State incentives, depending on the system size.
  • Zero percent of system installation supports the State’s economy and local solar industry. This includes the State’s incentives, the Federal ITC, State Sales Tax Exemption, and supporting the State’s solar industry.

To learn more about the benefits of owning your own system and how simple it is to go solar contact us now.  Help put an end to this misinformation campaign by sharing this critical solar post on Facebook now.
 
The following is a letter published recently from Washington State Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32) addressing citizen concerns and questions in response to campaigns voicing opposition to this legislation. Reprinted with permission.



"Thank you for contacting me about HB 1912, an act relating to distributed generation.
 
Many of you have voiced your concern and your opposition to this bill. For this reason, I am taking the opportunity to clarify any misinformation you may have received.
 
This bill is about Washington State providing consumer protection to our citizens while increasing the uptake of solar energy in our state. There has been misinformation about the bills direction to end net metering.  HB 1912 does not change the net metering law as it exists today.  The bill does look at revising the existing solar program available to Washington state citizens in a manner that would result in increasing the clean energy options for our state. In addition, the bill allows options for individuals to find and secure financing for solar systems but does so without sacrificing consumer protection. Yes, solar is an important and growing renewable energy source for Washingtonians but achieving the individual goal of solar power should not be at the expense of consumer protection.
 
SolarCity has contacted many of you and provided misinformation. This syndicate is a large California Corporation that is using its massive resources against the best interests of our State. SolarCity and its syndicate of companies have become so afraid of basic consumer protection they have chosen to run a campaign of disinformation about HB 1912. I urge you to do a news search yourself on SolarCity Business Practices.
 
The green leaning podcast called the Energy Gang has had several sessions on solar. This one in particular shares some perspective on consumer issues around leasing.
 
Also if you think solar installers based in Washington State are a credible source, please check out their thoughts on a previous version of HB 1912. Here’s an additional opinion. 

Thank you for contacting me on this important issue.  I will always do my best to protect the interests and the values of our district’s citizens."

Help put an end to this misinformation campaign by sharing this critical solar post on Facebook now.

Time and Time Again: Solar is #1 Choice

In a recent Gallup poll, 91% of respondents said that more emphasis should be put on solar!  When asked, "Do you think that as a country, the US should put more emphasis, less emphasis, or about the same emphasis as it does now on producing domestic energy from each of the following sources?"  Here's how folks answered in 2015 vs 2013.

     SEIA, "Polling Data"

SEIA's Polling Data: Support for Solar

 

The Petro Industry Had To Admit A Little Defeat This Week!

This week, the American Petroleum Institute (API) released it's annual "State of American Energy Report" noting the incredible rise of solar energy in 2014! Solar is now the fastest-growing source of renewable energy, with a total of 20.2 gigawatts of solar power installed in the US! To give you a baseline, this quote from the President and CEO Rhone Resch of SEIA tells the story extremely well:

“Solar energy is one of America’s great success stories,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “Last year, solar installations were 70 times higher than they were in 2006 – and today there’s nearly 30 times more solar capacity online nationwide. We’ve gone from being an $800 million industry in 2006 to a $15 billion industry today. The price to install a solar rooftop system has been cut in half, while utility systems have dropped by 70 percent. It took the U.S. solar industry 40 years to install the first 20 GW of solar. Now, we’re going to install the next 20 GW in the next two years. In fact, during every single week of 2015, we’re going to install more capacity than what we did during the entire year in 2006. Any way you look at it, solar energy is paying huge dividends for the economy, our environment and America’s future.”

Solar Stats provided by the API Report:

  • Blended average system pricing has come down 53% since 2010
  • Pumped $15 billion into the US economy, thanks to the ITC, NEM and RES incentives currently inplace. (See our Facebook page for a petition to support the continuation of the ITC)
  • Offsets 20 million metric tons of dangerous CO2, which equates to about 4 million cars off the road saving 2.1 billion gallons of gas
  • Five coal-fire plants were forced to close down operations for good!
  • Industry was $800 million in 2006, now it's over $15 billion
  • Provides 143,000 American jobs

Share in our happy dance for solar!

  

"Solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America" by Kathleen Zipp

How Solar Energy Could Be the Largest Source of Electricity by Mid-Century

By 2050, solar energy could throttle past fossil fuels, wind, hydro and nuclear as the world's largest energy source. In reports just released by the International Energy Agency, solar photovoltaic systems are poised to generate up to 16% of the world's electricity.  the combined ability of solar thermal electricity and concentrating solar power plants could provide up to additional 11%.

“The rapid cost decrease of photovoltaic modules and systems in the last few years has opened new perspectives for using solar energy as a major source of electricity in the coming years and decades,” said IEA Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven. “However, both technologies are very capital intensive: almost all expenditures are made upfront. Lowering the cost of capital is thus of primary importance for achieving the vision in these roadmaps.”

Read more at IEA's website.

Washington’s EV Development Could Progress Very Quickly

Washington's EV Development Could Progress Very Quickly

In 2010, then Governor Chris Gregoire announced the development of "that nation's first true electrified highway".  This technological advance in highway travel connects Oregon to Canada along the I-5 corridor.  However in 2013, things began to stall despite the fact that more Teslas were sold in our state than any other.  

Here are a few things that might help turn that around:

  • Extend the sales tax exemption past the first half of 2015.
  • Adding more charging stations along I-5, which is a cheaper way the movement.
  • Fund a few more DC stations along the freeways to encourage more people to go with an EV.
  • Remove the extra taxation for EVs and extend the sales tax exemption to motorcycles as well.
  • Encourage WA to purchase their own fleets of EVs, taking advantage of the GSA schedule.
  • Put on more Ride-and-drive events, outreach and community events.  

Plug-in America Director Chad Schwitters had this to say,"Washington has very near the highest per-capita EV adoption rate.” Schwitters explained. “I think it’s partly due to the fact that we have a lot of software people up here. Engineers are likely to have both the money and temperament to be early adopters. We also have a sales tax exemption, which is significant because the tax rate is almost 10%. It applies to Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV), not Plugin Hybrid Electric vehicles, which may be why BEVs sell much better here.”

in reference to our state, Schwitters continued, “The state has no petroleum resources. But we do have abundant wind and rain, and while we don’t have whole mess of solar hours, the temperatures and angles actually work out pretty good for panels here. Greenhouse gasses in the area, unlike other parts of the country, are primarily from cars. Most of the population lives near Puget Sound, which is very sensitive to petroleum runoff – a huge problem with ICE vehicles."  

Continued on the website.

Cut Energy Use and Stay Warm and Save Money

From a recent Seattle Times article.

A typical single American family accrues an average annual energy bill of $2,200. 

Here are some ways to reduce that:

  • Make your need for heating, cooling and lighting as lean as possible!
  • The average home leaks enough air to fill a hot-air balloon in a matter of three hours, prevent any leaks by sealing and insulating well.
  • Higher performance windows let in the warm sunshine in the winter while shading in the summer, and providing another level of good insulation.
  • Do your research and install appliances that are make efficient use of your water and electricity.
  • LED bulbs have a quarter-century lifespan and are 75% more efficient that incandescent bulbs, which have now been banned.
  • Get your independence and go solar!  After initial system costs, solar is FREE because it runs off clean, unregulated sunshine!  Solar panels have come down lately, and Seattle receives more sun energy than Germany, which leads the world’s solar market.
  • Mark the Northwest Green Home Tour on your calendar to learn more!  April 26th

An Interesting Take On Solar as 2013 Comes to a Close

The First Solar Energy Top Ten List of Things to Remember as We Exit 2013

 

by Paula Mints for Renewable Energy World Logo

Starting in late December and continuing through Q1 2014, top ten lists will begin popping up — top ten manufacturers, top ten markets, top ten this, top ten that, top ten mistakes not to make ever again, top ten success stories to be emulated until we all want to scream, top ten losers, top ten winners, top ten conferences. In sum, there is a top ten list for pretty much everything that happened in 2013 as well as a few for the top ten things to expect in 2014. Thusly, here is the first (or just one of many) top ten list of things to remember in solar as we begin to exit 2013:

  1. An industry with most of its manufacturing in one country is stifling more innovation than it encourages. Right now students in universities who just might have that joyous spark of insight that ignites innovation and engenders a leap forward for the solar industry are being told “there is no money or future in manufacturing, all technology manufacturing is in Asia now.”
  2. Thin films are not dead and there is still progress in old lady wafer yet — remember, several years ago crystalline was dead, now thin films are dead, in a few years crystalline may well be dead again — meanwhile, students in universities who just might have that joyous spark of insight that ignites innovation and engenders a leap forward for the solar industry are being told “forget CIGS, CIS, a-Si, CdTe, c-Si, OPV, CSP, CPV and dye sensitized. Unless you can make it for less than a quarter, it hasn’t got a chance.”
  3. Let’s put to rest the unhelpful belief that a PV installation is a commodity. Electricity is a commodity, a photovoltaic system is not a commodity and nor is a solar panel. A PV system is the means of energy production and once installed, it helps its owner control energy costs and teaches the surrounding community a valuable lesson about energy independence as well as about how technology improves everyday lives. The closer to the load solar gets — that is, to the customer — the more the reality of energy independence inspires business models and the technology developers of tomorrow to imagine and create. Independence will never be commoditized.
  4. Watch out for fads as they are innovation killers. Fads are not trends and fads do not last (though just like hem lines, they tend to come and go). Trends develop overtime. A short term trend is a fad. An example from a few years ago was: Crystalline is the old technology and it is the past. Another example: Form factors other than the good old rectangle that defy the laws of physics (and are no longer in production). Another example: utility scale solar is the future, distributed generation (DG) is dead. Another example: off grid solar does not matter, grid connected is the future of solar. Another example brought about by the end of the FiT era and current low incentive environment: It was all about money for the past few years, now we can get back to our roots. To the last, come on, there is nothing wrong with making enough money to pay employees better, invest in R&D and quality control all while inspiring innovation and serving the goal of ameliorating climate change. One last thing, the trend to financing companies with debt (solar bonds so to speak), may look intriguing now, but, many a financial instrument has turned around to bite the hand that fed it.
  5. Stop selling free or cheap — once installed solar installations control energy costs over a very long period of time. Stop educating the energy buying public to believe that independence and reliability have no value — no luxury item manufacturer would undercharge for their product. Instead, they’d stick a logo on it and hike up the price a bit more.
  6. Solar leases are very popular and this model does encourage people to consider solar — but the model is flawed so let’s mature it. First, standardize the contract escalation costs (which are very confusing to end users) and base them on the costs of the solar system as well as on the desired margin. Concerning this, there is gathering momentum among utilities to add a per kWp service charge for PV system access to the grid. Finally, a strong attack on net metering would change the DG dynamic significantly and thus the economics. Net metering and access charges are the escalation charges to be concerned about in the future, prepare now.
  7. Energy storage: All the rage and not quite ready for wide deployment, particularly in terms of cost. Let’s not hold this emerging technology to the goal of being ever cheaper, we all know how this ends. After all, the value of self-sufficiency — not needing the utility grid to store electricity — now…utility grid as back up storage, that’s empowering.
  8. Access charges deserve a place on the list. US and globally, utility charges to connect, with APS and California as examples (though there are global examples) — seriously, if you are surprised at this, well, no comment. Solar deployment is increasing and where net metering is in place or self-consumption is encouraged utility profit margins are feeling the pinch. Charges to connect were always in the cards and we should have been prepared.
  9. Community solar: A very good idea just beginning to gain momentum. Not everyone owns a single family dwelling and for multi-unit dwellings, owning a solar installation has not been possible. PV is the best renewable distributed generation technology, finding a way for communities to take part will accelerate deployment. Community solar teaches the value of energy independence encourages a new generation of solar technology developers and engages utilities to work with solar industry participants. Installing PV on low income housing improves the lives of everyone in the community — grass roots movements can and do foment change.
  10. Remember that announcements are not data and PR is used for a variety of reasons including: calling attention to something worthy of attention, to divert attention from something else, to legitimize something, to announce a new product available for sale, to re-announce availability of a product that is not selling and to correct mistakes, along with many other reasons. In PV, announcements of champion cell/module results are often taken to mean that the achievement is currently commercial, instead of a as a report of progress in research.

The feed in tariff incentive model drove photovoltaic industry deployment to multi-gigawatt levels and encouraged the entrance of new players. Many of these new players believed — as did most of the industry — that the FiT model was the future of solar. The early profitability of this model drove the multi-megawatt (utility scale) installation sector. Many of those who entered during these times left stunned when retroactive changes and underbidding (as well as underpricing) erased profits almost overnight. So, for an official number eleven: incentives and subsidies for solar always change over time.

Also, and this applies to everything including the lease model, today’s darling will almost always disappoint eventually. Solar is progress and is crucial in the battle against climate change; remember, enthusiasm is great but perseverance, hard work and steady progress will keep an industry going when enthusiasm wanes. Just as incentives come and go, enthusiasm waxes and wanes.

And Now a Word about Climate Change

Climate change, with a lot of help from humankind, is altering the ecosystem that we are all a part of — sometimes accidentally, sometimes blindly and sometimes by excusing polluting behaviors as necessary. Bluntly, if you are not a part of the climate change solution, you are the problem – solar is a key part of the solution. The fight to deploy solar requires old fashioned guts and is often gut wrenching. Nonetheless, there is no better fight to engage in than the one against those who argue that we have time to make an impact.

And this calls for 12. Remember that the real goals are energy independence (from polluting sources), energy security (against escalating prices), and ameliorating climate change.

Announcing the Formation of Solar Installers of Washington

Approximately 40 companies install solar energy systems in the state of Washington and many have been active in the policy arena for a number of years, but too often as separate entities.

With the formation of Solar Installers of Washington (SIW), possibly the first trade association of its kind in the United States, the coalition is setting aside their competitive impulses and working together to help shape the future of solar energy in this state. Their aim is to do so by representing their customers, teaming up with local manufacturers and suppliers. It is also their goal to work closely with elected officials, and build strong relationships with utilities and environmental stakeholders in order to increase awareness and create better policies for wider adoption of solar energy.

In addition to delivering clean, renewable energy to Washington, they will support the creation of hundreds of local jobs and prosperous local economies across the state. Climate change, ocean acidification, air and water pollution, and resource depletion are all daunting problems that require a team effort to solve. It is with this in mind that the SIW is making its expertise and resources available to elected officials and related stakeholders so that Washingtonians are better able to use our most abundant energy resource - the sun.

Sunergy Systems is proud to be a Founding Member and also have our company founder, Howard Lamb, serving as a Board Member!