Tag: small contractors

Power Failures, Dynamic Pricing and The Future of Small Contracting

Article RoundupIndustry Issues

Opinion: More solar panels and battery storage at homes could prevent power failures

By Barry Cinnamon for The Mercury News

Cinnamon makes the link between power outage prevention and solar/battery backup clear. He states that while this tech provides electricity for households it also functions as a buffer for transformers by directing excess solar or battery power back to the local grids, rather than straight to nearby transformers (which can overload and fail). He points out that heavier demands for energy due to higher temperatures and more EVs are increasing power outages in CA and that modernizing local grids would address the problem.

Cinnamon states that encouraging homeowners and businesses to install BTM solar and storage systems would avoid the need for expensive grid upgrades that would otherwise fall on utility ratepayers. He highlights two important policies that would help lower the barrier to solar adoption: no limits on customer ability to install solar tech and the reduction of up-front costs of battery storage systems.

Key quote: “Power was out in my neighborhood for about 12 hours while PG&E deployed a crew to diagnose the problem and replace the transformer. But the blackout would not have happened if just one more home in the neighborhood had a solar or battery storage system.”

Beyond TOU: Is more dynamic pricing the future of rate design?

By Herman K. Trabish for Utility DIVE

In this article Trabish assesses the merits of dynamic pricing, often in comparison with time-of-use rates, by citing consulting groups and various consumer advocates. His research highlights the limitations of TOU rates with regards to reducing peak demands. He states that these rates offer too small a daily price differential.

Trabish points to the merits of dynamic pricing, “alerting customers to steeper increases in per-kWh rates in advance of specific peak demand events,” which results in increased reductions when highest demand days occur. This system guides customer usage more effectively because it closely aligns actual pricing and costs with price signals. Not only does this aid consumers, it also helps utilities more easily assimilate renewable energy and lower their generation and distribution costs.

Trabish’s research does demonstrate, however, that advocates are mixed on the suitability of dynamic pricing. He points out that while consumers show a willingness to adjust to different rate structures, issues like off-peak price to peak price ratio and rates set up to be revenue neutral present problems. He Keep reading

Maintain Growth, Get Revenge & Worry Less

Article RoundupIndustry Issues

Here are some interesting articles I’ve come across so far for Feb/Mar 2017:

Can Residential Installers Make a Profit From Solar Price at $2.50 per Watt?

By Eric Wesoff (for gtm)

Wesoff walks through some highlights from a recent numbers crunching presentation done by Barry Cinnamon at the IEEE PV chapter in Palo Alto, CA. Cinnamon is always worth listening to, given his long experience in the industry and uncanny ability to deliver relevant insights to small and mid sized residential installers. Here he talks about strength in small markets, the future of maintenance and hardware and customer acquisition in the long tail.

Interesting quote: “I think what’s going to happen with the customer acquisition costs is that they’re going to start coming down, not because we found a better way to find customers, not because of technology and web funnel sites and direct mail. It’s going to change because the business model in the solar industry is going to evolve more toward local installers who, by necessity and inherently, have lower customer acquisition costs.”

Scaling and Streamlining Solar Business Growth

By: Chris Anderson, Amanda Bybee, James Hasselbeck, T.J. Kanczuzewski (for SolarPro)

SolarPro asked four executives at four separate solar companies to discuss strategies for efficiency and profitability. While Anderson of Borrego Solar acknowledges the difficulties of reduced incentives, he credits management and operational level improvements like value stream mapping, A3 problem-solving and increased validation and standardization as the secret to the company’s continued growth. Bybee of Namaste Solar attributes strong growth over the past three years to strategies around labor, procurement and financing as well as an employee owned company structure. Kanczuzewski of Inovateus Solar credits their success to an emphasis on core values, inclusive cross-disciplinary teamwork and clarification and improvements in their project proposal process.

Interesting quote from Hasselbeck of ReVision Energy: “The final, and perhaps most critical, piece of our company initiatives for efficient streamlined growth is identifying and leveraging key performance metrics.”

Small, Distributed Solar Companies Are Retaking the Industry. Here’s Why

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