Third Sun Solar Makes National Top-400 List

Athens, Ohio Solar Installer Listed Among Top National Firms

ATHENS, OHIO—Solar Power World magazine released their national 2014 Top 400 Solar Contractors list last week, noting the best-ranked solar electric system installers from across North America. Third Sun Solar ranked #135 of 400 nationally.

The 2014 Top Solar Contractors list includes many companies from high-growth solar states like California, Colorado, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Third Sun Solar was the highest-ranked of the five Ohio firms that made the list.

“Only a tiny fraction of the nation’s companies have demonstrated such remarkably consistent excellence, particularly in the difficult economic environment of the past few years,” noted Editorial Director Frank Andorka of Solar Power World. “This achievement puts [Third Sun Solar] in rarefied company.”

Watch the Video

Once again ranked among the best

Once again ranked among the best

 

To promote this year’s list, Solar Power World also produced a video featuring three regional solar companies, one of which was Third Sun Solar. In the video, three of Solar Power World’s 2014 Top Solar Contractors discuss their jobs, the industry and the future. The video is available here and also on YouTube (search Solar Power World on YouTube to find “A Time To Shine: 2014 Top Solar Contractors Discuss The Industry”).

Home Equity for Solar

Our friends at Pure Energies note the following about using a HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) for solar. Our comments are italicized.

Home equity is the conventional means by which most people have purchased solar systems in the past. So what’s new in using home equity financing for solar?

Some home equity loan products are beginning to take into account the value the solar energy system adds to your home into their cumulative loan-to-value ratio (CLTV) calculations. This means more people would qualify for a loan with these products. If you’re interested in this, ask your banker or loan officer about it. More and more banks are getting on board with solar.

Maybe you’re thinking “how much VALUE does a solar system add to my home?” Solar is a relatively new commodity, and there has not been a lot of turnover yet in homes with solar, so the data is not very deep. But a number of studies over the last few years suggest that solar homes sell faster and for more money than non-solar homes. One summary in an appraisal journal article written a few years ago states that any energy improvement made to your home adds 20 times the yearly energy savings in value. So if you were to install double-paned windows that save you $300 a year in utility expenses, that adds $6,000 in value to your home.

If a solar system saves you $1,000 a year in energy, it adds $20,000 to the value of your home. Think about that. Few home improvements both add value to your home AND produce a valuable commodity year after year. With solar, you can be saving energy costs AND enhancing your home’s value over time. How many other investments do that?

Solar adds value while it also shows your values

Solar adds value while it also shows your values

Solar Champion Referral Discount & Fee DOUBLED Through September 23, 2014

Special Offer for Solar Champions: Double Down for Solar!

The summer months are a peak time for solar production, and should also be a great time for sharing the good news about solar with your friends and neighbors. September 23rd is the Autumnal Equinox, the traditional time to celebrate the harvest and nature’s bounty. To recognize this time of year, we are doubling both our reward for Solar Champions and the discount for the folks you introduce us to that decide to go solar. Now through September 23, you can double the discount and double your reward for helping us grow solar!

At Third Sun Solar, our mission is to Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy.  Many of you, our solar customers, share that mission and have made the decision to act on it through the use of clean, efficient solar power.  Our Solar Champion program gives you the opportunity to increase your impact by promoting solar and sharing what you have found with your friends, neighbors and family.

Our Solar Champion program rewards this good deed in two ways – with a Visa gift card (or charity donation) for you and a discount for your friend.  For a LIMITED TIME ONLY, we are doubling our offer!  Now is a great time to go solar, and more than ever, our country and planet need folks to make the switch.

From now through the Autumnal Equinox (September 23rd) your solar referral is worth $500 for you and a $500 discount for your friend, neighbor, co worker, family member… even a stranger you met at the coffee shop.

Remember:

  • Referrals must be registered at www.ThirdSunSolar.com and must not already be registered to be eligible. Click the solar Champion Badge on our website or call our office to register a referral.
  • This special “double” offer only applies to new referrals made after August 8th 2014  and for customers that sign a contingent contract before September 23rd.
  • Referral rewards will be paid upon customer payment of the final invoice, after completion of the installation.
  • There are no limits to the rewards you can earn, but expansion projects are only eligible if we were NOT the original installer.

Third Sun Solar in Amicus Solar Purchasing Cooperative

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Amicus Solar Cooperative was founded in the fall of 2011. A small group of friendly solar installation companies decided it was time to form a national organization where independent businesses could support each other by sharing best practices and pooling their buying power. Amicus is a purchasing cooperative that is jointly owned and democratically managed by our member companies. We are 31 members, with 43 office locations in 22 states. Member companies are passing their enhanced purchasing power along to customers by offering best solar pricing on high-quality solar electric system installations. Third Sun Solar is a founding member.

Commercial Solar Leasing

SOLAR TAX LEASE FOR COMMERCIAL & INDUSTRIAL COMPANIES.
A LOW-COST SOLAR ACQUISITION STRATEGY

LFC Capital, Inc., with more than $1.5 billion of equipment leasing experience, provides a low-cost way for commercial and industrial companies to own solar systems in 6 or 7 years.

A traditional operating lease with attractive purchase options and efficient use of tax benefits (aka tax lease) has long been used as an alternative method of financing equipment acquisitions. Now available from LFC for solar projects in all 50 states, it appeals to companies that cannot otherwise benefit from the federal energy ITC, or want energy savings and off-balance sheet treatment without the complexity and long-term entanglement with a power purchase agreement. Unlike other solar leases, LFC’s lease provides the lessee with more benefits (listed below) than just energy savings.

MONETIZATION OF ITC: A PROBLEM FOR PRIVATELY OWNED COMPANIES

Most privately owned companies are S Corporations or LLCs. These are pass-thru tax entities, meaning the federal energy investment tax credit (ITC) as well as the company’s income is reported on the personal income tax returns of their owners. While many of these companies are profitable and financial strong, they are dissuaded from acquiring a solar system when the tax credit exceeds the amount of the owner’s tax (often for reasons unrelated to the company).

TAX LEASE SOLUTION

LFC, the Lessor, monetizes the ITC and provides a company, the Lessee, with lower monthly payments than otherwise available…and the payments are fully tax deductible. The same as leasing a company car!

BENEFITS

  • All-in acquisition cost at a substantial discount from original invoice price.
  • No up-front capital cost and low monthly payments improve Lessee’s cash flow.
  • Lease payments subsidized by Lessor’s monetization of the ITC.
  • Lessee options to own the solar system after 6 and 7 years.
  • Up-front utility rebates and government incentive payments for Lessee.
  • Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) for Lessee.
  • No complex accounting and tax records to set up and maintain.
  • No construction period financing costs when advance lease commencement (subject to approval of contractor and project).

Local Farm Uses Sun for Power

Mount Vernon News, Saturday August 2, 2014–by Henri Gendreau

HOWARD OH–The sun is shining on GrassyDell Farms.

On top of two large milking barns on Schenck Creek Road  near Howard sit 130 solar panels.

“I think they look pretty good on the building myself,” said Dale Grassbaugh, of GrassyDell.

“I just think it’s something we need to do more of,” said Grassbaugh, who was partly inspired to install the panels by his son Doug, who put in solar panels on his property last year.

The panels on Grassbaugh’s barns were installed in March by Third Sun Solar, an Ohio-based company that has installed about 400 systems since its founding in 1997, said communications director Gerald Kelly.

“An interesting thing about farmers as business people, they tend to be long-term thinkers,” Kelly said. “Farmers don’t buy and ‘flip’ farms. They’re in it for the long haul.”

Kelly said that beside looking toward the future, farmers are used to making large purchases for equipment and dealing with market volatility. Those two mindsets come into play when factoring in the initial cost to install a solar electric system and dealing with fluctuations in energy costs.

Grassbaugh said his system is currently providing about two-thirds of his electricity and Kelly said the system would pay for itself in four to seven years. [Solar panels are warranted for 25 years and continue to produce significant amounts of power well beyond that.]

“It used to be ten years ago that people who put in solar were not allowed to connect to the utility grid,” Kelly said. Now, however, those who produce electricity from solar panels are able to sell extra energy produced back to utility companies. They also qualify for federal tax credits [due to expire in 2016].

A meter on GrassyDell Farms shows how much electricity is being [made, used, and shared with the grid]. “Right now I’m buying electricity,” Grassbaugh said on a sunny Tuesday. “A minute ago I was giving it back” [as the meter dial spun backwards].

In June, the Obama administration announced plans to curb climate change by targeting coal-fired power plants, which could increase electricity costs.

“As time goes one, they’re going to get tougher on pollution,” Grassbaugh said. The prospect of increased electricity costs can make solar energy a wise investment.

Grassbaugh stressed that the cost-effectiveness and energy savings depend a lot on the kind and size of system installed.

“Everybody has to look into it,” he said. “It’s just like everything else, like buying anything — you have to decide for yourself.”

Ohio Farm Solar

Solar for Farmers

If you are involved in agriculture, be sure to take a look at our website devoted to solar for farmers. You can jump to it here, or point your browser to http://ohiofarmsolar.com.

 

Barn roof with solar

Third Sun Solar Added to $7 Billion Renewable Energy Multiple Award Task Order Contract

HUNTSVILLE, Ala., July 25, 2014 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Army today awarded the final round of solar technology contracts that will support a $7 billion renewable and alternative energy power production for Department of Defense installations Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC).

The U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (EITF) and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, established the $7 billion MATOC primarily to use for Power Purchase Agreements involving renewable or alternative energy projects greater than 10 megawatts.

These contracts will support the Army’s achievement of its congressionally mandated energy goal of 25 percent production of energy from renewable sources by 2025, and improving installation energy security and sustainability.

Today’s contract awards add 12 small businesses to the pool of qualified contractors who will be eligible to bid on future individual solar technology project task orders. Companies receiving contracts include Third Sun Solar of Athens, Ohio, the only Ohio small business that made the cut for this work. To pass muster for this assignment, Third Sun Solar had to complete a rigorous set of application procedures and be judged as a healthy, reputable company well-equipped to do work for the Department of Defense.

The MATOC involves third-party financed renewable energy acquisitions and involves no Army capital or Military Construction appropriation. The Army only purchases the power from contractors who own, operate or maintain the generating assets. The MATOC’s total estimated value of $7 billion refers to the total dollar value of energy available for purchase under all Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) task orders for their entire term (up to 30 years).

As renewable energy opportunities at Army installations are assessed and validated by the EITF, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville, will issue a competitive task order RFP to the pre-qualified MATOC companies for the specific technologies. Task orders will specify the type and amount of energy to be supplied to the Army installation or other federal user as well as other pertinent information for the developer to prepare a response that meets the government’s requirements.

SOURCE U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Engineering and Support Center, Huntsville

Solar in Ohio: Trust and Ratings Trump Price

Part of what we do for our customers — and prospective customers — is keep an eye on solar market trends and market intelligence. We want to know where the value is in solar, and how to maximize that value for our customers. Often, that research reflects back upon us, and other companies that install solar in Ohio, showing us what customers think about, and look for, in a solar installer. So it is gratifying to see a survey like this, conducted by EnPhase and published in Renewable Energy World magazine.

When solar homeowners were asked, “Why did you select the installer you chose? (check all that apply,)” a huge 69% said that they chose their residential installer because they were the most trusted or highest rated installer, while just 56% of responders selected price. So price is certainly important, but trust and ratings are a much more common factor.

SURVEY

 

“It’s pretty clear that strengthening the trust of prospects and customers leads to solar sales and referrals, and reviews and other information found on the web are also important for acquiring and converting residential solar sales.” (Tor Valenza)

All of that said, it’s honest communication, follow-up and follow-through that win peoples’ trust. And maintaining focus. Each solar installation we do is the most important one we have ever done. That’s where our reputation comes from.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred’s Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.

U.S. Energy Grid in Trouble

The U.S. grid is the worst in the industrialized world (outages are up 285%!)

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Power outages in the United States are up an astonishing 285% since 1984. The U.S. ranks last among the top nine Western industrialized nations in the average length of outages. That dismal performance costs American businesses as much as $150 billion every year according to the EIA.

“The U.S. electrical grid, once one of the world’s great marvels, is crumbling after decades of underinvestment,” trumpets Bloomberg BusinessWeek. “It’s… something of a relic, largely built after World War II from designs that date to Thomas Edison.”

Although talk of a smart grid has been around for years, many utilities are now starting in earnest on a huge infrastructure makeover. It could cost almost $500 billion before it’s completed, according to the Electric Power Research Institute.

Smart Grid News. Author Jesse Berst is the founder and Chief Analyst of SGN and Chairman of the Smart Cities Council, an industry coalition.