Scott Mueller
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The Top 10 Solar States to Watch in 2016

The solar industry had a record-breaking year in 2015: more than 135,000 solar panel installations were completed in the first half of 2015, and impressively, 40% of all new electricity-generating capacity came from solar. Approximately 785,000 American homes and businesses have gone solar, and with the extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), there’s no sign of this momentum stopping.

We’re excited about the record-setting year for solar energy in 2015, and we believe 2016 will be even bigger than 2015!

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Congress Passes ITC Bill Pushing The Solar Industry Forward

The Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a vital piece of legislation for the solar industry, was recently extended by Congress.

This extension aligns with American’s demand for solar energy, and continues to support a green energy future for the U.S.

What is the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), how does it work, and why is it important?

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Follow the Guvernator: Why California’s Solar Initiative is a Good Model for ITC Extension

The solar industry has emerged as a major economic driver and is becoming a robust industry. Over 170,000 people are employed by the solar industry.

The potential end of the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) could mean ½ of those jobs are lost in 2016.

Solar is providing increasingly cheaper and more reliable power, while allowing for domestic energy independence. In 2014, 32% of all new electric generation came from solar, largely because solar is economically viable. The abrupt end to this program will crush growth and set the industry back. What is needed is a clear ramp to allow a transition to new business models that allow for continued and possibly accelerated growth. You may have seen Schwarzenegger’s facebook post about climate change, but what you might not know is that he started the Million Solar Roofs initiative, which lead into the California Solar Initiative. Read on to find how why we should follow this model and extend the ITC.

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What do Homeowners Want to Know Most About Going Solar?

After working in the solar industry for over a decade, it’s hard to imagine not understanding the most fundamental details about solar power, including how much it costs, where it’s suitable, and so on.

But the reality is that the average homeowner doesn’t know that much about going solar.

In order to learn more we decided to directly ask prospective solar customers during the signup process (i.e. when filling out a solar request form). While we don’t claim to have come to a scientific consensus here (n=220) we do think these results are consistent with our experience in what potential solar customers most want to know.

And big surprise: everyone wants to know how much it’s going to cost.Continue reading

From Installing Solar Panels to Scaling With Solar Leads

My first job in solar was as an installer straight out of college.

There was something gratifying about getting up on the roof in the early morning and making tangible progress happen. You’d start with a plan, a truck full of parts, and full tool belt. By the day’s end you’d see real progress: mounting rails where before there had been a barren roof, solar panel after solar panel securely fastened to the racking and conduit perfectly bended to take the home runs into the inverter. When the switch flipped and the meter started spinning backwards and I felt a sense of pride — we did that!

Now that I’m focused on unlocking the overwhelming public support for solar (check out this recent public poll from Gallup and SEIA), I don’t get to see the tangible progress on a daily basis.Continue reading

These States Will Lead the Solar Pack this Summer (and Beyond)

At the recent Green Tech Media conference in Phoenix, Arizona the panelists talked not only about how hot the solar market has been, but how and where the hottest aspects of the solar market will continue. Notably, 94% of all solar ever installed in the USA was installed between 2010 and 2014, which goes along with the SEIA report showing how almost 1/3 of all new energy capacity installed in the USA last year was solar PV.

We follow the hot solar markets pretty closely, and wanted to share a few breakdowns on what the hottest markets are.

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Green Tech Media Analyst Cory Honeyman showed that 13 states and Washington DC are all at a ‘tipping point’ where direct ownership of residential solar yields a payback of 10 years or less. Here are some observations on the states he outlined:

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The Top 10 Solar States to Watch in 2015

Where are homeowners most interested in residential solar power?

Residential solar is the fastest and most steadily growing market segment with year on year growth well over 50%.

Over the last few years the solar industry has come a long way, as illustrated in the recent SEIA US Market Report. Numerous residential solar installation companies pepper the Inc. 5000 fastest growing companies list, and the successful IPOs of SolarCity and forthcoming Vivint Solar reflect this growth and optimism. We think the best is yet to come.

The megawatt question is where will we see new residential solar growth in the coming year?

In states like California the right mix of policy, market conditions, and consumer interest show how the market can grow quickly and sustainably, and California shows no real signs of slowing. As solar begins to reach the mainstream, and 92% of Americans want more solar, we all want to know which states represent the next wave.

So we did a little data crunching on our own residential solar lead data from the last eight months. We call it the “US Solar Combine”, where States are ranked in three events:

  1. “Strength” – Top states by total solar lead volume
  2. “Passion” – Relative interest level in solar power (ratio % of leads/% of population)
  3. “Speed” – Fastest rate of solar lead growth in the first 8 months of this year.

Then we took an aggregate score of all three events to crown the overall champion. You’ll be surprised to see how they stack up.

#1. STRENGTH: Top State by Total Lead Volume

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The first test is brute strength: who’s got the most interested homeowners?

Here we’re looking at the relative percentages of residential solar leads by State in the USA, which is of course heavily influenced by population (bigger states will generally have more leads). So The Golden, The Lone Star, The Sunshine and The Empire states live up to their big names and take the crown as the strongest states by lead volume.

But if California represents about 50% of the residential solar market and only 10% of the lead volume (much more in line with population) then doesn’t this say that people across the country are roughly equally interested in solar?

We think that with the right long-term strategies in place, Texas, Florida and New York would easily rise to become some of the major markets. New York is already taking big steps to become a major solar market, while Florida and Texas have alternated between glimpses of their true potential and stumbling. But the people have spoke, so let them have solar.Continue reading