Serving His Country and the Environment

Extending Our Gratitude

mat

This is US Army Reserve Drill Sergeant, Mat O’Brien.

When he is not serving his country in uniform, he is serving the environment by ensuring solar installations go smoothly and safely as Third Sun Solar’s Material Handling Specialist.

Mat’s presence is sorely missed while he fulfills a month-long assignment as the Drill Sergeant with the 1st platoon Echo Company 3rd Battalion 60th infantry regiment at Fort Jackson, South Carolina, but we are very proud of him for his service to our country and extend our congratulations and gratitude to him and his platoon who will graduate on September 25th.

 

Mat in his other role as Dad. Apparently, a baby that cute can melt even the toughest of Drill Sergeants

 

Thank you for your service, Mat, and thank you to all of the other men and women out there- and their families- who make many sacrifices to serve our country.

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Another Ohio Home Goes Solar

Athens’ Air Gets a Little Cleaner

This beautiful 7.92kW system recently went live in Athens, Ohio.

In addition to hedging against future rate increases and lowering the homeowners’ utility bills, these 33 panels will offset approximately 15,944 pounds of greenhouse gas emissions over the next 25 years.

digAthens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that is what we call a good neighbor.

Contact us today by filling out an inquiry form on our homepage, or call 877-OWN-SOLAR to see what solar can do for your home and your neighbors’ health.

 

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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”).

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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.
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Third Sun Solar in Amicus Solar Purchasing Cooperative

amicus_logo

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.

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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.”

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Lennon + McCartney + Solar + B Corporations

Here is an Op-Ed by David Brooks, a conservative columnist for The New York Times. In it, he comments upon The Beatles, creativity, and B Corporations (like Third Sun Solar) — how the confluence of creativity, capitalism and the desire to “do well by doing good” leads to a potent, positive force in American business culture. [Our emphasis added in bold.]

Two minds finding one song

Two minds finding one song

In the current issue of The Atlantic, Joshua Wolf Shenk has a fascinating description of how Paul McCartney and John Lennon created music together. McCartney was meticulous while Lennon was chaotic. McCartney emerged out of a sunny pop tradition. Lennon emerged out of an angst-ridden rebel tradition.

Lennon wrote the song “Help” while in the throes of depression. The song originally had a slow, moaning sound. McCartney suggested a lighthearted counter melody that, as Shenk writes, fundamentally changed and improved the nature of the piece.

Lennon and McCartney came from different traditions, but they had similar tastes. They brought different tendencies to the creative process but usually agreed when the mixture was right. This created the special tension in their relationship. They had a tendency to rip at each other, but each knew ultimately that he needed the other. Even just before his death, Lennon was apparently thinking of teaming up with McCartney once again.

Shenk uses the story to illustrate the myth of the lone genius, to show that many acts of genius are the products of teams or pairs, engaged in collaboration and “co-opetition.” And we have all known fertile opposites who completed each other — when they weren’t trying to destroy each other.

But the Lennon-McCartney story also illustrates the key feature of creativity; it is the joining of the unlike to create harmony. Creativity rarely flows out of an act of complete originality. It is rarely a virgin birth. It is usually the clash of two value systems or traditions, which, in collision, create a transcendent third thing.

Shakespeare combined the Greek honor code (thou shalt avenge the murder of thy father) with the Christian mercy code (thou shalt not kill) to create the torn figure of Hamlet. Picasso combined the traditions of European art with the traditions of African masks. Saul Bellow combined the strictness of the Jewish conscience with the free-floating go-getter-ness of the American drive for success.

Sometimes creativity happens in pairs, duos like Lennon and McCartney who bring clashing worldviews but similar tastes. But sometimes it happens in one person, in someone who contains contradictions and who works furiously to resolve the tensions within.

When you see creative people like that, you see that they don’t flee from the contradictions; they embrace dialectics and dualism. They cultivate what Roger Martin called the opposable mind — the ability to hold two opposing ideas at the same time.

If they are religious, they seek to live among the secular. If they are intellectual, they go off into the hurly-burly of business and politics. Creative people often want to be strangers in a strange land. They want to live in dissimilar environments to maximize the creative tensions between different parts of themselves.

Today we live in a distinct sort of creative environment. People don’t so much live in the contradiction between competing worldviews. We live in a period of disillusion and distrust of institutions.

This has created two reactions. Some monads withdraw back into the purity of their own subcultures. But others push themselves into the rotting institutions they want to reinvent. If you are looking for people who are going to be creative in the current climate, I’d look for people who are disillusioned with politics even as they go into it; who are disenchanted with contemporary worship, even as they join the church; who are disgusted by finance even as they work in finance. These people believe in the goals of their systems but detest how they function. They contain the anxious contradictions between disillusionment and hope.

This creative process is furthest along, I’d say, in the world of B corporations. There are many people today who are disillusioned both with the world of traditional charity and traditional capitalism. Many charities have been warmheartedly but wastefully throwing money at problems, without good management or market discipline. Capitalists have been obsessed with the short-term maximization of shareholder return without much concern for long-term prosperity or other stakeholders.

BCORP

B corporations are a way to transcend the contradictions between the ineffective parts of the social sector and myopic capitalism. Kyle Westaway, a lawyer in this field and the author of the forthcoming “Profit & Purpose,” notes that benefit corporation legal structures have been established in 22 states over the last four years. The 300 or so companies that have registered in this way, like Patagonia [and] Method [and Third Sun Solar], can’t be sued if they fail to maximize profits in order to focus on other concerns. They are seeking to reinvent both capitalism and do-gooder-ism, and living in the contradiction between these traditions.

This suggests a final truth about creativity: that, in every dialectic, there is a search for creative synthesis. Or, as Albert Einstein put it, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.”

<End of Op-Ed>

That last statement from Albert Einstein is where solar comes in. We cannot solve the problem of reliance upon dirty fossil fuels by digging and burning more of them. We can solve the problem — gradually, one rooftop at a time — by taking it to a different level, by incorporating clean, renewable energy into the mix, and by slowly but definitively breaking our addiction to deadly fuel sources. We won’t solve the problem in my lifetime. But if we start now, we will solve it in our kids’ lifetime. Creatively, cooperatively, and by joining the unlike to create harmony.

You can read the full Op-Ed here.

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SB-310 Darkening Ohio’s Energy Future

Ohio poised to slide into the dark on its energy policy

By Terry Smith, Athens News, May 7 2014

The state of Ohio is poised this week to continue its gleeful slide into backward, reactionary energy policy, with a state Senate Committee expected to approve an amended Senate Bill 310.

This bizarre back-pedaling is happening as most of the rest of the nation and world have accepted both the intrinsic good of ratcheting back on dirty fossil-fuel-driven energy, and the economic opportunities that come with promoting energy efficiency and a shift toward green alternatives such as solar and wind.

Before an amendment proposed Wednesday, S.B. 310 would have frozen at their current modest levels energy efficiency and renewable energy standards and benchmarks passed nearly unanimously by the Ohio Legislature in 2008. It would have canceled the 2008 legislation’s progressive stair-step of benchmarks ending in 2025. Sub. S.B. 310, unveiled Wednesday after negotiations with Gov. John Kasich’s offer, doesn’t appear much better.

It’s the predictable result of the intersection of flat-earth-society climate-change denial – now a firm plank in Republican ideology – and electric utilities and major manufacturers (or deep-pockets outside groups that support them) who are eager to contribute to state legislators who will promote and advance the doomed cause of fossil fuels. In fish-bowl Ohio, they’re all swimming heartily against the historic and scientific tide, as well as a growing business segment in advanced and alternative energy.

YOU SEE THE SAME SORT of willful resistance to reality and good government in the Ohio General Assembly’s refusal to consider raising oil and gas severance taxes to levels even approaching what they are in other frack-heavy states such as Texas and West Virginia.

The latest version of a severance tax bill in the Ohio House of Reprentatives has a top rate of 2.5 percent, which represents a compromise between Gov. Kasich’s proposal for 2.75 percent and the House’s recent proposal for 2.25 percent. It’s similar to a compromise between Bud Light and Miller Lite, basically no compromise at all.

The House Republicans had resisted Gov. Kasich’s proposal, which was still less than half of what drillers face in Pennsylvania. In West Virginia, the effective rate is 11.3 percent.

As an April 27 editorial in the Columbus Dispatch pointed out, “Kasich’s proposed severance tax could double in size and still be under those of Pennsylvania, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Michigan, Arkansas, Texas and West Virginia – in the case of the latter four, well below.” (It should be noted that the Dispatch‘s editorial board is arguably the most conservative of Ohio’s major dailies.)

While comparing the severance taxes from state to state is difficult (the taxes are structured in different ways), no matter how you drill it, the 2.50 percent compromise proposal for Ohio is much lower than the tax in other states that Ohio is supposedly competing against to lure oil and gas drillers, entrepreneurs and investors.

Yet, there’s no public clamor to open up the state’s oil and gas sector to all comers, nor is there any groundswell for doing away with incentives for energy efficiency and renewable energy sources. Meanwhile, there’s growing public recognition of the environmental hazards of industry run rampant, especially with regard to fracking and its resulting waste disposal.

SENATE BILL 310, AS EXPLAINED in an April 4 op-ed by Jereme Kent in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, have frozen freeze in place the renewable portfolio standards and energy-efficiency standards set in Ohio’s 2008 energy policy bill. “This would be the first time in any state, anywhere in the entire United States, that a renewable portfolio standard would be reduced, frozen or repealed.” (Kent is general manager of One Energy LLC, a Findlay company that helps industrial energy users explore the use of wind energy.)

The amendment to S.B. 310, released Wednesday, would replace the permanent freeze with one lasting two years. As Senate President Keith Faber, R-Celina, explained in the Columbus Dispatch, a special committee, with six House members and six senators, would determine whether to make other changes to the energy rules during the two-year freeze, and recommend resulting changes, if any, to the General Assembly. If lawmakers do not set a new energy course during that time, annual increases in energy efficiency and renewable energy sources – as set in the 2008 energy bill – would re-start in 2017 and continue until 2027.

In the widely supported 2008 bill, the General Assembly required utilities to take three steps to slow the growth in spiraling electric rates: 1) achieve savings of 22 percent by lowering electric consumption through energy efficiency by 2025; 2) achieve a 12.5 percent integration of renewable energy into the state’s electrical supply by 2025; and 3) achieve a 12.5 percent integration of advanced energy (cleaner and higher-efficiency forms of conventional technologies). These goals would be achieved through regular benchmarks up until 2025.

Sen. Troy Balderson, R-Zanesville, introduced S.B. 310, and reportedly was responsible for the amendment proposed on Wednesday. It should be noted that the top two campaign contributors to Balderson in 2012, after the Republican Senate Campaign Committee and Ohio Republican Party, were FirstEnergy Group, one of the main advocates of S.B. 310, and American Electric Power, donating $12,500 apiece. Balderson’s 20th District includes the very northern part of Athens County.

In an article in the March 28 Plain Dealer, Ted Ford, CEO of the Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, predicted, “If enacted, Senate Bill 310 will systematically dismantle Ohio’s clean energy law, which was reaffirmed and improved in a comprehensive energy policy bill (SB 315) enacted by the legislature and signed by the governor just two years ago. This radical departure will devastate the advanced energy industry in Ohio, which includes more than 400 advanced energy businesses, employing over 25,000 Ohioans.”

Ford followed up Tuesday evening with an equally negative response to amended S.B. 310. “It is a very bad bill that is, in some ways, worse than S.B. 58 and S.B. 310. None of the proponents of the current (from 2008) standards were involved in shaping this ‘compromise.'” Ford urged other advanced-energy companies, the public and stakeholders to heavily lobby their senators and the governor against the substitute bill. “It is another attempt to take Ohio backward. It will destroy jobs, raise electricity costs, and put Ohio in a poor competitive position.”

In an email Tuesday before the Senate released its compromise to S.B. 310, Geoff Greenfield, president of Athens-based Third Sun Solar, predicted that retreating from the state’s current energy policy will cripple the growing solar energy industry in Ohio.

“If SB 310 went forward as written, it would make the economic payback for solar longer and harder to finance… Passing this law as is would probably cut in half the number of residential customers that go solar… Many would still do it even though the payback is slower,” he said. “For business customers and large projects, it would be devastating and probably shut down 90 percent of the projects, as these are much more financially driven. If this law passed as is, we (Third Sun) would stop hiring and growing in Ohio and focus on other states.” He didn’t appear to be any more impressed by the substitute bill released on Wednesday.

DEFENDERS OF S.B. 310 SAY the measure would protect Ohio electric energy consumers from the high costs of complying with standards in the 2008 energy legislation. In an April 12 op-ed in the Columbus Dispatch, Sen. Balderson claims that the 2008 energy standards were “fabricated to conform with a catchy gimmick or slogan…” Later in the opinion piece, he asserts that his legislation will allow Ohio’s energy policy to be “based on what evidence and science tell us, not the exaggerated rhetoric, slogans or how the political winds blow at a particular time.”

Anyone familiar with the rhetoric of climate-change deniers will see some of their rhetorical flourishes in Balderson’s vague references to gimmicks and slogans gussied up with a gratuitous fealty to science. That’s their perverse way of casting doubt on the overwhelming global scientific consensus that climate change is happening now, is getting worse, and is mainly caused by human-kind’s burning of fossil fuels.

Plus, as critics of S.B. 310 have pointed out and the utilities themselves have admitted, money spent on energy-efficiency standards will recoup twice as much in savings.

If Ohio wants to continue sliding backward into the darkness, while its elected representatives happily collect rent from the fossil-fuel and electric utility industries, and their allies in the dark world of Koch, it makes perfect sense to double down on coal- and gas-fired electric power and flea-market-level severance taxes for oil and gas.

One might hopes, however, that Ohio citizens would have a different idea and show it at the ballot box.

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Solar Installers Talking

Here is a comment about Third Sun Solar made by another solar installation company. Not a competitor–they operate in another part of the country–their observation is based on their knowledge of our company and our Third Sun Solar reputation as one of the region’s best solar installers:

Third Sun Solar offers–

  • Critical knowledge of solar tax and utility incentives
  • An impressive job portfolio
  • Best solar installation methods using their own crews
  • Best solar equipment options, from the most efficient to the most affordable

Naturally, we were delighted to see ourselves described in that way. We’re working hard to build on our reputation, both inside the industry and with our customers.

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The Real Value Difference

People often come to us with questions about specific brands of solar panel. We use select panels from a variety of manufacturers, both US-made and imported. If a customer has a preference for a specific brand, we can usually provide them; but part of our mission is to recommend and install the best products, and we sometimes steer customers away from one brand and towards another, based on our research into panel quality and our experience with different brands. Because our top executives are so linked into the best industry sources of information, we can make these recommendations with confidence. We want our customers to have the best system to meet their energy requirements, available space, and budget.

The fact is, most of the solar panels in the market now are quite good. Solar panel technology, and the processes to manufacture, have stabilized and become more standardized over time. Quoting from the SROECO website, “most solar panels on the market are high-quality and will have a guaranteed output of not less than 90% after 10 years and not less than 80% after 25 years. Any brand panel should have this warranty, whether it’s made in China, Germany, or America.” The outstanding exception is Sunpower, widely regarded as the best of all panels, with the highest efficiency rating of any, and also the highest price tag.

For the consumer, a better differentiator than the panel brand or warranty is the experience and reputation of the installer. Third Sun Solar has completed over 350 successful installations; we have been in business for 14 years; and we have a great reputation among our customers. One of our core company values is, “we’re in it for the long haul.” Our 14 years of experience and excellent reputation is what we build and stand upon; we have grown steadily by doing things the right way.

A solar electric system is a 30-year investment that should provide real value over its entire lifespan. In the end, choose an installer who will build your system well and stand by it over time. That is the smartest solar market differentiator.

Holzer Clinic Installation

 

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