Solar Battery Backup Webinar Series

Power outages are unpredictable, but the dangers of power outages aren’t. Protect your home from the next power outage and keep your lights on, phones charged, home offices running and food cold. The best way to protect your family from grid failure is to invest in a backup power solution. 

Learn from our Solar Professionals: Solar Backup 101 

 

Backup Battery Power for Resiliency 

 

While early solar technology required batteries, most modern systems are battery-free, depending on the utility grid for power at night and on cloudy days. The cost and reliability of today’s Lithium-Ion batteries are quickly changing that, as more and more solar customers are choosing to include backup power in their systems. Have you always wanted to learn more about Solar energy storage or the new Tesla Powerwall? Join Third Sun President, Geoff Greenfield for a deep dive into solar batteries. Geoff has lived 100% off-grid with a variety of battery systems, and recently installed a Tesla Powerwall, his “last battery bank ever”. 

 

Become Self-Reliant with Solar Energy: Emergency Backup Options 

 

 

How we can strengthen our homes and businesses and become self-reliant in times of crisis?  

In this video, Consultant David Zelasko discusses battery storage and generator options to add to solar energy systems, which allows homeowners to harness the sun and power themselves even when the sun isn’t shining, or gird is down. You will learn about: Tesla Powerwall, Other Solar Batteries, Home generator options. 

Off-Grid Tesla Powerwall Experience  

 

Off-grid systems are ideal for individuals who live remotely and don’t have access to utility power. Off-grid solar systems use solar panels to charge a bank of batteries which then power your home at night, or when the solar PV system is not meeting the load demand, especially during winter. With an off-grid system, energy conservation is important. Using energy-efficient appliances, reducing your energy consumption, managing your electric loads, and relying on a backup generator are all elements of an off-grid lifestyle. 

Learn from Third Sun President and co-founder, Geoff Greenfield about his experience going “off-grid” with his Tesla Powerwall.  

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Yet another attack on solar… and what it means for Ohio

As the inevitable shift to solar accelerates, the old entrenched fossil fuel interests are getting desperate in their fight to slow its growth and hold on to the old status quo for a bit longer.  As I dug into the details and what this latest attack means for our region I am reminded of the old saying: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”  The shift to clean energy is here to stay, but this is one more fight we must face on our path to a sustainable future.

 

This latest fight is an attempt to move net metering policy from state to federal control.  It is being pushed by a shadowy utility tied group who is paying extra fees to “rush” this change through a normally cautious process while the nation is distracted responding to the Covid-19 crisis. Net metering can vary greatly state to state, and in Ohio we have already been through several changes that have watered down net metering from the “full retail net metering” that many states still enjoy.  Today in Ohio the PUCO rules allow owners of solar systems to offset up to 100% of their monthly energy at the full retail rate (zeroing out their bills).  In 2017 a court decision favoring Ohio Utilities reduced the compensation for net excess energy exported each month from full retail value to the much lower utility cost of generating the energy.  This change slightly reduced the economic benefits of solar, but hasn’t stopped the huge shift of consumers taking control of their energy production with solar.

 

So – what does this latest attack mean for solar in Ohio?  Unfortunately we don’t know for sure.  The current FERC petition asserts that FERC cap the value of exports at the utility’s avoided cost.  If it stops there, Ohio solar owners wouldn’t see much of an impact as most customers rarely overproduce each month.  For those that do occasionally generate more energy than they use, the value that they can carry forward would drop from about 5.3 cents to 4 cents per kWh (or $20-30 per year for some of our customers with very large systems).  While this is not so scary, if we hand over this state level policy making to a single federal board, it would likely be easier for the desperate fossil fuel interests to influence policy and there is a possibility that things could get much worse.  One drastic change could be a shift from monthly net excess generation to a “dual meter system” such as in place in parts of Tennessee where exported solar energy is valued at this low generation rate at an hourly basis instead of monthly.

 

While we are not too worried about such drastic changes that could impact the Ohio solar market, we strongly favor keeping these policies at the local state level.  If successful, this secretive group would undermine the more favorable state net metering policies currently driving the national solar revolution and prevent us in Ohio from enacting our own policies that would stimulate our economic growth, improve the resilience of our utility grid and clean the air that we breath.  We encourage you to ask our Governor to keep this decision making in Ohio.  The easiest way to do this is to generate a customized letter at savesolar.org.

 

2007 – Governor Strickland Visits Greenfield Home

In September of 2007, then Governor Strickland was introducing a new energy bill for the state of Ohio, which contained a renewable energy focus.  The Governor chose to visit Athens County and the home of Geoff and Michelle Greenfield to announce the bill. House Bill 221 initiated what was known as Ohio’s Advanced Portfolio Standard, and with it, the state joined many other states across the country in enacting some kind of standard for renewable and advanced energy production for the state’s mix of electricity sources.

“We were really honored that he chose to come to our house and highlight our home’s solar power,” says Geoff Greenfield, co-owner and President of Third Sun Solar.  In 2007, the Greenfields had been living off the grid for 10 years, powering their home with solar and wind. They had also integrated many facets of efficiency into the home.  Governor Strickland’s visit was a chance for them to highlight to other Ohioans that families can live comfortably using clean energy.

“When he got to our home, we had a crowd of Third Sun Solar team members, press, and a group of his staff from the statehouse,” recalls Michelle Greenfield.  “He spent a lot of time looking at our system, the solar panels, the battery backup system and the electronics.”  He also showed great interest in the home’s energy efficiency features like insulated window blinds, Energy Star appliances, and the energy-efficient lighting that was just starting to make it onto the mainstream market at that time.

Looking back

Looking back, Strickland sought to highlight many of the things the Greenfields were doing that have become commonplace now, 13 years later.  Solar on homes, net metering, energy-efficient light bulbs, insulating window treatments… these are all easily found in the marketplace and have gained increased usage today.  Part of the reason that these are now common is that political leaders like Ted Strickland sought to highlight and advance those ideas, both with the goal of saving consumers money and helping the environment.

House Bill 221, which contained the energy plan, was passed in May of 2008.  It enjoyed several years of success before the political winds shifted in Ohio and the clean energy provision was “frozen” by the legislature and the subsequent Governor in June 2014.

Despite this setback, the last 6 years have seen the cost of solar power plummet by more than 60%. Energy Star appliances are common, CFL and LED lighting are mainstream, and consumers are demanding more efficiency for their homes and in their day to day lives. A big shout out to Ted Strickland for having the foresight to be a promoter of clean energy and moving our state forward during his time in office.

 

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Why Solar Loans are Different  

While the right financing choice comes down to your specific circumstances, loans for solar have certain advantages over traditional loan options and lines of credit – particularly for recent or first-time home buyers, as well as homeowners that want to save on their energy bills and be part of a better future for our planet. 

Until recently there haven’t been great loan options for solar. But in recent years things have changed, which is why you may have noticed an increase in chatter about “going solar for $0 down” This could leave you wondering what all the commotion is about and how to choose the best solution for your family.  

In this article, you’ll find lists to help you decide if a solar loan is right for youUltimately, we‘ll let you know what makes our Smart Solar Financing program different For additional information, check out this recording of Consultant, David Zelasko reviewing solar loan benefits. 

Why you many consider a solar loan:

Purchasing a solar energy system can be a big cost to pay upfront. Here are some reasons for homeowners to consider a loan for their solar array  

Questions to ask yourself when considering a solar loan:

Solar isn’t one size fits all. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking about financing your solar energy system to help you choose the best finance partner 

  • Do you prefer small monthly payments or small interest rates? 
  • Are you okay having a lien on your home?  
  • Can you take the tax credit?  
  • Will you be looking to finance additional home improvement items (new roof, electric vehicle, backup batteries)?  

The benefits of our Smart Solar Financing

  • $0 down 
  • No prepayment penalties  
  • Ameturized loans with no lien on the home 
  • Everything secured on the loan is secured by the equipment itself – if you don’t want to do a home equity or put a lien on the home, this is a good option for you.  
  • Various loan terms – 10, 15 and 20 year loans  
  • Will finance battery storage 
  • Good option if looking to utilize the tax credit  
  • Pay down your principle with your tax credit to receive an even better monthly payment  

An important difference

Unlike home equity loans, our Solar Financing partner provides access to solar loans that aren’t based on how much of your mortgage you’ve paid off and don’t ask for a lien on your home. Instead, they’re based on your ability to pay going forwards, as represented by your credit score and secured by the value within the solar system itself 

One reason solar loans are different than other home improvement loans:  a solar loan allows you to own an asset that generates significant financial value. It’s hard to think of another home appliance or renovation that can generate financial value.  

Mission driven

Our mission is to accelerate the shift to clean energy. It’s because of our commitment to values that we partner with another Certified Benefit Cooperation to bring you the best Solar Financing on the market. Building a better world can start with you and can start in your home.  

We’re excited to offer these loan options to make solar more accessible to everyone interested in making their home more sustainable, more self-sufficient and achieve financial savings over the lifespan of your system.  

Why Solar Should Be Your Next Home Improvement

Days are growing longer and that means springtime is here!  You’re probably thinking about Spring cleaning & home improvement projects… Don’t forget to add Solar to the list!  Why? We have 6 reasons for you below… 

Lock in a 2020 Solar Installation

2020 is the final year that the Federal Tax Credit sits at 26%, dropping to 22% next year. Think ahead about getting locked in for a solar installation in 2020 for that 26% savings on the system. In 2022 the tax credit drops permanently to 0% for homeowners.    

It’s Getting Sunnier!

In fact, we’re gaining sunlight at the fastest rate all year! In April solar panels begin to start producing excess power and begin that pile up of credits for you to use in the darker winter months.  

On these longer, sunnier days solar power gives you more than what you need, it runs your meter backwards and racks up credits on your utility bill. These credits get drawn down during the darker months.  

 

Financial Benefit

Look at this February bill from one of our solar customers covering dates 1/04/2020 – 2/07/2020 with 1,668 kWh charges. Notice also the amount due: $0.00. Especially in a grey, Ohio February… How did they do it?  

Through net metering, this customer built up credits over the spring, summer and fall months to use during the wintertime. 

A Note About Fixed Charges 

With rural coops, customers may still experience a fixed monthly charge that is not kWh based and will not be offset by the solar production delivered back to the grid.  In some cases, such as with investor owned utility companies, like AEP in this example, the net metering credits carry forward on a rolling 12-month basis and zero out any fixed charges. 

Property Value Increase

Have you ever been worried about going solar and not getting the full benefit because you may move? The home you’re in now might not be the home that you live in for the next 25 or more years. With your solar system lasting at least 30 years (and some functioning even after 40 years!) you may wonder: what happens if I move?  

A recent report by Zillow shows that on a national average, homes with solar sold for 4.1% more than homes without solar. So by investing in solar, you’re both saving money now AND increasing the resale value of your home. 

So not only is it a good home improvement, it’s a good investment.  

Plenty of Time to Research

Are there any other appliances in your home that have a return on the investment you put into them? Sure, an investment like solar will require some research, talking to people, and some serious thinking. BUT, what better time than now to consider an investment like solar? With time on our hands, in our homes, there isn’t a better time to learn something new and connect with the folks who can answer the questions you have.  

Check out our upcoming Solar 1010 Webinar Series here. 

Be a Leader in your Neighborhood & Family!

What other home improvements could you make that make a statement to your children and your neighborhood about the future world you want to see? Switching to solar power isn’t just a smart economic choice to make, it’s an environmental choice too.  

Our Solar Consultants have moved to a remote solar site assessment process. They are available to talk with you from the safety of each of your respective homes.  With the 26% federal tax credit dropping at the end of the year, we encourage homeowners interested in getting the full benefit of a 2020 solar installation to connect with us soon. 

Interested in learning more?

Check out our recent Solar 101 Webinar here. 

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Backup Power for Self-Reliance

Each of us have our own goals- from reducing the amount of money we spend each month on energy to ensuring we have power when the grid goes down- solar energy systems & backup energy systems are designed with your needs and goals in mind.  

Securing Power in 2020

Something on the minds of many individualis how to make sure they have secure energy for their homes in the case of a grid outage. By no means do we believe that the COVID-19 Pandemic indicates that there will be widespread grid failure. But, we do believe that there are plenty of other reasons for homeowners to consider clean, renewable energy and backup power at this moment in history 

Power outages are unpredictable, but the dangers of power outages aren’t. Protect your home from the next power outage and keep your lights on, phones charged, home offices running and food cold. The best way to protect your family from grid failure is to invest in a backup power solution.  

Types of backup power:

Tesla Powerwall and standby generators don’t require a solar energy system to generate power. Powerwall can fill from solar, but it can also fill from the grid if you do not have solar. This allows it to function like a generator, providing energy to your home when your neighborhood grid is down. Both backup options come on automatically- whether you’re home or away. All within seconds of a power outage.  

Powerwall

Warrantied for 10 years, Tesla Powerwall is made to charge, deplete, and recharge continually to keep a critical circuit of essential systems in your home up and running, practically no matter what. Seamless backup power. With or without solar. Powerwall detects grid outages and automatically becomes your home’s main energy source. Through the Tesla App, you can manage your battery from anywhere. Powerwall receives free over-the air updates, providing new features and improved performance over time. 

Backup Generators

Third Sun Solar is a certified Kohler installer. These standby generators run on propane or natural gas, and don’t require manual refueling. A benefit of a Kohler Generator is that there is no need for extension cords, as it’s hooked in with your homes electric panel. The power it delivers is high quality and won’t harm your electronics. A standby generator can power your whole home, including the hard-wired systems like AC, heat, sump pumps, well pumps, security systems and large home appliances 

Grid Tied Solar + Solar Batteries

Grid-tied solar systems with battery backup are ideal for anyone with unreliable power or anyone with appliances that need to operate when the grid is down or anyone. A solar energy system allows you to generate electricity right on your rooftop (or in a nearby field). These systems send excess energy into the grid for credits, pull energy from the grid when the solar system isn’t producing at night, and have backup batteries that store solar power to use in times of a utility outage.  

This type of system ensures you have reliable access to electricity. And if the grid is down for a long time, a battery tied to a solar energy system will recharge using the energy you generate on site.  Additionally, this type of system allows you to use more of the solar energy that you produce, minimizing your reliance on your utility, making your home truly self-reliant. 

Learn more about Solar Batteries: 

In Conclusion

If the current crisis has taught us anything so far it’s that resilience is important. From families starting to plant gardens to homeowners starting to think about electric cars that can be powered from solar right at your home – whether to prepare for a grid failure or just to build the feeling of resiliency – self-reliance can bring peace of mind to you and your family. Are there any other appliances in your home that have a return on their investment? That can give you the security of knowing you’ll have energy when the grid goes down?   

Your home is only a few smart steps away from securing the benefits that backup power and solar energy has in store. Reach out to speak with a knowledgeable consultant today.  

Starting Monday, March 23rd, our Solar Consultants have moved to a remote solar site assessment process. They are available to talk with you from the safety of each of your respective homes.  

 With the 26% federal tax credit dropping at the end of the year, we encourage homeowners interested in getting the full benefit of a 2020 solar installation to connect with us soon. 

 

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Solar Power in the Time of COVID-19  

At Third Sun Solar, our mission is to Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy. We accelerate towards a clean energy future at a faster rate each year. However, we know that making this shift won’t happen overnight and we’re committed to seeing our mission through to the end. We’re all facing a lot of uncertainty these days, but we know that that seeing a clean energy future is still our driving mission and we won’t rest until we’ve seen big change! 

What has the COVID-19 pandemic taught us so far & how does it apply to solar power?

 

Sustainability

How are we creating a sustainable business that can weather the hardship that a pandemic might cause? As a Benefit Corporation, sustainability is at the root of our business. BCorps are accelerating a global culture shift to redefine success in business and build a more inclusive and sustainable economy. 

One way we do this is by creating sustainable and self-sufficient homes and businesses. We harness the environmental and economic benefit of the solar movement to help build the market for renewable energy.  

In the time of COVID-19, we’ve all learned that supporting our local economies in times of crisis is what will sustain us. Supporting the local restaurants that employ our neighbors. Supporting local farmers who will be there to provide food to nourish us. Supporting a local energy supply comes next.  

Sustainable economies arfueled by an energy supply that comes from close to home, energy supplies that are renewable in nature. Today’s solar technology paired with simple lifestyle changes will help maximize a community’s resilience all while protecting the natural world that we all depend on to surviveThat is sustainability.  

Reliability

Think about it: renewable energy is reliable, it’s stable and it has sound economic advantage. Are there any other appliances in your home that have a return on the investment you make when you buy themWith solar, energy is supplied for a flat rate for the decades that the solar panels are producing. It’s well documented that the case for renewables is as strong now as it’s ever been. The thing about your solar system is that it’s not influenced by outside forces – the economy, pandemics. The sun comes up every day and provides you with power, saving you money. It’s that simple. Solar is a safe investment.  

Despite relatively low electric rates, the solar industry has been thriving in the US for many years. Why? Electric rates creep upwards and ratepayers can see the expense of grid modernization coming. Our customers have decided to trade their dependence on outdated and non-renewable energy sources for clean energy generated in their neighborhoods and consumed right where it’s made.  

The Need for Community

It’s more important now than ever to reach out and connect with community. We’ve seen brilliance in the ways individuals are creating community and connecting with one another despite social distancing protocol. From the countless educational resources released to assist in homeschooling to live yoga classes hosted on Zoom, we’re in awe of how the world continues to connect.  

In our mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy, we won’t stop educating those interested in learning more.  

In order to connect with you at this time, we’ve put together a series of live webinars for you to learn something new and for you to engage with us. Check out a full list of upcoming webinars here to register or learn more on our Facebook Events page.  

The Need for a Clean Energy Future Remains

From titles like “Sorry, Climate Change hasn’t Gone Away Just Because of COVID-19” in Forbes to “The Coronavirus is a Preview of Our Climate-Change Future” in New York Magazine – we know that COVID-19 has something to teach us about climate change.  

Despite global economic slowdownswe all know that the climate crisis still exists. So too does the need for a clean energy future. Since the stay at home measures and other slowdowns of economic activity have happened in some of the world’s largest economies such as China and the United states, there has been an observed decrease in pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, a gas emitted by motor vehicles, power plants, and industrial facilities. 

As we’re reminded to slow down, we’re also reminded to take time to think about what didn’t serve us in the past and move into the future with a new vision:  we hope that the need for clean energy surfaces as a priority in the weeks and months tcome.  

 

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Solar 101 Webinar Series

Our mission is To Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy. And when looking forward we know that despite what is happening in the world right now, we still are completing the work necessary to achieve our mission. In fact it’s more important now than ever. As part of our mission we provide education to individuals every day who are interested in learning more about solar power.

We know that solar can strengthen our homes and businesses by making them self-reliant in times of crisis. We also know that solar power protects the natural environment that we all depend on.

That’s why we’ve developed a new way to educate: through virtual events!

Please tune in every Thursday to learn more about cultivating self-reliance, community resilience and reducing carbon pollution. We’ll be announcing additional virtual events along the way. Stay up to date by following our Facebook Events page. 

Upcoming Events 

 

Solar Myth-Busting Panel

Thursday, May 21st 11 AM

Come meet some of our Solar Consultants and ask them questions! We’ll be covering the most frequently asked questions we get, some long-standing solar myths and taking questions from our audience!

Solar Consultants Jamey Jones, David Zelasko and Cesar Flores will be panelists.

The presentation will address the typical myths we’ve heard from those exploring solar including:

  • Does solar work in the wintertime?
  • Does solar work when the grid is down?
  • Can I go solar for $0 down?
  • Should I wait for better solar technology?
  • Questions from the audience…

 

When a Ground Mounted System is a Better Option

Thursday, May 28 – 11 AM

Join Third Sun Solar’s Jamey Jones to learn why and when we suggest a ground mounted system.

 

Past Events 

 

Backup Battery Power for Resiliency

Thursday, April 9th, 11 AM

While early solar technology required batteries, most modern systems are battery free, depending on the utility grid for power at night and on cloudy days.  The cost and reliability of today’s Lithium-Ion batteries are quickly changing that, as more and more solar customers are choosing to include backup power in their systems.

Have you always wanted to learn more about Solar energy storage or the new Tesla Powerwall? Join Third Sun President, Geoff Greenfield for a deep dive into solar batteries.   Geoff has lived 100% off-grid with a variety of battery systems, and recently installed a Tesla Powerwall, his “last battery bank ever”.

 

Turning your roof into a profit center: How Solar Energy is Transforming Businesses

Friday, April 10th 1-2 PM

In this webinar, 20-year industry veteran Geoff Greenfield provides an overview of today’s solar technology and considerations for commercial applications.

The presentation will address the typical concerns of those exploring solar including:

  • Project economics
  • The solar resource in Ohio
  • Technology (including storage)
  • Performance and durability
  • penetrations and roof warranties
  • Question and Answer period

 

Going Solar For $0 Down: Fact vs. Fiction

Thursday, April 16th -11 AM

Do you dream of going solar but don’t have the upfront capital to make the investment? You aren’t alone! For many people paying for solar out of pocket simply isn’t an option.

Third Sun Solar is proud to offer a variety of ways to go solar for zero money down. We take a consultative approach and walk you through every step of the process.

Have questions about solar financing? Get them answered by Solar Consultant, David Zelasko

You’ll get answers to common questions like:

  • Can I really go solar for $0 down?
  • Are there additional incentives for solar that I can take advantage of?
  • What is the loan approval process?

 

7 Things to Know About Ohio Net Metering

Thursday, April 30th – 11 AM

In sunny peak months in Ohio, solar systems often produce more energy than a home can consume. Have you ever wondered you benefit from the extra energy your solar system produces?

Join Solar Consultant David Zelasko for a deep dive into Ohio’s Net Metering benefits.

Tesla Powerwall Off-Grid Experience

Thursday, May 7th, 11 AM

Third Sun President, Geoff Greenfield has been living “off-the grid” with his Tesla Powerwall for the past 10 days.

Join Geoff as he discusses his experience taking his solar + storage system off the grid and what he’s learned along the way.

 

Become Self-Reliant with Solar Energy: Emergency Backup Options

Thursday, May 14 – 11 AM

How we can strengthen our homes and businesses and become self-reliant in times of crisis?

Join David Zelasko and learn how homes can combine battery storage, generators and solar electricity to harness the sun and power themselves even when the sun isn’t shining or gird is down.

You will learn about:

  • Tesla Powerwall
  • Other Solar Batteries
  • Generator Options

 

Covid-19: Our Turn to be Great?

I am in my second week of “working from home self-quarantine”, and I found an old photo of my grandfather as a young Air Force pilot, taken just before the US formally entered into WWII. He went on to fly fighters throughout Europe and the Pacific and was one of those that returned home alive.  At the time the photo was taken, the war was underway in Europe with bombs raining down on London, while the US was nervously watching a rising danger that still seemed far away to many.

 

Looking out my window at the quiet woods surrounding my house I feel safe and am grateful for my health.  I am grateful as well that this fast spreading virus hasn’t yet claimed any lives in my family or network.  This will change, and the death and suffering carried by this emerging threat will be upon us faster than many understand or currently admit.  This is not the case among my friends in healthcare who see what is coming and are grim. They are preparing for “the surge”, where our hospitals will be overwhelmed. As they get ready they also know that many of them will fall sick as they struggle to save as many lives as they can while comforting the dying.  While it seems that too many Americans are still trying to carry on as normal, those on the healthcare frontlines are steeling themselves for the realities of triage where they will decide who to treat and who to let die. They see the rising danger, and it is no longer a far away threat to them.

 

The tragic reality of this pandemic is that it is still “far away” for many Americans.  While the call to stay at home and flatten the curve is slowly gaining traction, it seems that too many of us are continuing with business as usual.  As I look at my grandfather’s young, innocent face in this photo, I can only imagine his thoughts as he prepared for a war that was still distant and far away to many of his peers. Their fragile innocence was quickly shattered as more and more families said goodbye to departing young soldiers knowing that many would not return.  These families and their neighbors quickly adjusted to a new reality of rationing, sewing bandages and planting victory gardens. Whether flying repeated bombing runs over a distant battlefield or working on a domestic aircraft assembly line, this war experience shaped and defined these men and women, and changed our culture.  Tom Brokaw told the stories of the “The Greatest Generation”, and their actions, mindset and sacrifice provide a stark contrast to our current culture focused on individualism, comfort and consumption.

 

As we hear about the grim reality of Italy’s overwhelmed healthcare system, many of us are starting to realize the gravity of our situation.  This growing awareness is awakening our instincts to contribute, and many are beginning to help in many ways: sewing masks and fabricating face shields, delivering food to the homebound and vulnerable, converting craft-distilleries from vodka production to hand sanitizer.  Thousands of small businesses are going into hibernation as they prioritize community health over their own economic self-interest.  The inspiring courage of our nurses, orderlies, med-techs, first responders and doctors feels contagious as they scramble to face a growing danger with a shortage of the masks, gloves and gowns that they need to protect them from this invisible enemy.

 

My grandfather and his generation were shaped by WWII.  His role in air combat was just one part of a massive collective effort that defined him and the nation while more than 400,000 Americans died in the war.  That horrible chapter in our history brought massive suffering and pain, yet it also birthed a culture where selfless contribution to community became stronger than selfish individualism. If today’s epidemiological models are right, the US may loose more lives to this viral enemy than my grandfather’s generation lost during the war. Will our generation rise to the occasion as his did?  Will our efforts mirror the collective sacrifice of “The Greatest Generation” and reshape our culture?

 

As I continue to see so many not yet taking this pandemic seriously, I am not sure we will. My grandfather’s generation was also shaped by the great depression, and our world today is vastly different than his, so strongly influenced by a media driven popular culture infatuated with pleasure, distraction and consumption.  While millions have continued to suffer from calamity and war around the globe, many of us have largely insulated ourselves from this pain, focusing instead on the pleasures and distractions that are beginning to appear trivial.  Though our economy has promoted a culture of self-indulgence, I don’t believe that this is who we truly are or how we are meant to be as humans.  At our core, our species is meant to be interdependent, working together for group survival.  Perhaps these traits are reemerging and our deepest survival instincts are awakening as a response to this new existential threat growing on the horizon.

 

Looking at this photo in my hand I feel grateful to have spent a lot of time with my grandfather during my youth; his influence on me was pretty significant.  His strength of will, determination, and confidence to lean into challenges are traits I have aspired to as I raised a family, built a business and lived my relatively comfortable life.  As this virus begins to challenge that comfort and we react and change, how will our culture shift?  Decades from now how will our grandchildren view our generation?

 

Though my observations often make me feel cynical, deep in my heart I am an optimist.  I am far from confident in this outcome, but I do have hope that this virus might awaken the best parts deep within all of us.  I have hope that as we respond to this threat we join together in collective action and relearn to genuinely care for each other.  This existential challenge on our horizon could be our chance to become a second “Greatest Generation”, with a new norm that values the good of the whole over our individual pursuit of comfort and false security.

 

We did not choose this challenge, yet it is upon us and we will all have a part to play.  I am inspired by Teddy Roosevelt’s call to action: “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”.  I do not know how our grandchildren will come to view us years from now but I am hopeful that they will see us as heroes similar to the way I view my grandfather.  We are all a part of this story, and in the coming months our choices will determine its outcome.  This is our turn.

Third Sun History and Ohio University

Some time back in early 2003, Geoff and Michelle Greenfield agreed to be a case study “site” for a group of Ohio University Business School students.  This meant that the students got a chance to study a real-world small business, with a view into all the challenges and triumphs of a start up.  For Third Sun Solar, it meant getting some outside perspective on what they were doing, how they were doing it and what needed refining in order to succeed.

 

“Our first meeting with this group of 4 students was in the Attic loft room of our home, where we both had set up our desks and were running the business”, says Michelle. “It was a tight space – you could not fully stand up in half of the room and there were files and paper stacks all over the place. One of the students, who was sitting on the floor, bravely asked us if we ever had trouble or found it distracting to work from this cramped space”.  Looking around them, Geoff and Michelle did acknowledge that this office was not ideal, especially if they were going to grow, add some employees, meet with clients or need a warehouse.

Thinking About Growth

The students then suggested that the Greenfields look into the new Innovation Center that Ohio University was in the process of constructing on West State Street in Athens.  They knew about the Innovation Center, because they were in the process of working with the university to install a solar array on that very building.  After meeting with the director, Linda Clark, and being accepted as a “tech” company that met the incubator standards, the Greenfields made the move into one of the smallest offices that the Innovation Center had available.

 

“Stepping outside the house and actually starting to pay rent and adding overhead, was scary at first,” said Geoff.  “But the benefits ended up far outweighing the costs.”  Those benefits included the ability to have a dedicated business space, access to amenities like a copier and a separate business mailing address, interaction on a regular basis with other entrepreneurs and access to small business counseling resources that the Innovation Center and the University provided.  The biggest benefit was yet to come: a path to adding employees to the team.

Moving to Ohio University Innovation Center

Moving to the Ohio University Innovation Center (IC), where Third Sun Solar remained housed for 8 years, enabled the company to grow, add employees, add warehouse space and receive the assistance needed to put the company on strong footing.  Over the years at the IC, the company moved to many different offices, larger and larger spaces, and finally multiple offices that comprised the end of one of the wings of the building. When the IC warehouse space became available, Third Sun Solar was able to bring its inventory on site, rather than using vendors and storage units to hold product.

 

Third Sun Solar became the site for many OU student groups and case studies, from the marketing department to the management school and entrepreneurship classes.  During this period, the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs at OU was growing and adding services. They began to oversee on the Small Business Development Center and the PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) and added a new entity called TechGrowth which provides assistance and funding to early stage businesses. Third Sun Solar was able to access business assistance and services from all of these entities and saw great benefits to these partnerships.

Lessons Learned

“One thing that Geoff and I have learned over the years in business is to reach out to and learn from all the advisors that are out there for small businesses”, commented Michelle.  “Our connection to the Innovation Center, Ohio University and the Voinovich Center has helped Third Sun Solar with outside experts to help address challenges, give perspective and be cheerleaders for the business”.  The “entrepreneurial ecosystem” in Athens County is strong and is one of the reasons that Third Sun Solar has remained headquartered in Athens, even as the company has grown, working all over Ohio and the Midwest.

 

After moving from the Innovation Center into its current space on West Union St. in Athens, Third Sun Solar still enjoys a great relationship with Ohio University and its business outreach services.  The Greenfields extend a big “Thank You” to everyone that has worked with the company over the years to help this homegrown Athens County business to grow and thrive but  remain rooted in the Athens community.