|We have seen the solar programs serve as a source of community pride for residents and a bonding agent between neighbors. When you make a big decision like going solar as a group, it also tends to remind residents of the larger impact of their decision on the environment and the fight against global warming.|
|EarthToys Interview - The Community Solar Program|
|Lyndon Rive, SolarCity|
Lyndon Rive is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of SolarCity. Prior to SolarCity, Lyndon founded Everdream, the industry leader in software and services for large-scale distributed computer management. Under Lyndon’s leadership, the company raised over $90 million dollars in funding and grew to hundreds of employees. Lyndon played a vital role in securing new business and establishing relationships with suppliers. Lyndon’s past experiences also include creating an alternative health production and distribution company which grew to over 1000 sales representatives with multiple product lines within 4 years.
1. What was the genesis of your community solar program?
The community solar program began in November 2006 when a resident in Portola Valley, a Bay Area town, called SolarCity and inquired about the possibility of a group discount if he could convince his neighbors of the many reasons why going solar on their homes was a good idea. We were intrigued and loved the idea of helping communities come together to positively affect their neighborhoods and set a goal with the group that, if met, would offer them a significant discount off the price of their solar systems. SolarCity has since installed solar on 78 homes in Portola Valley.
2. How many cities have you rolled the program out to?
To date we have held community solar programs in 19 cities and towns and we are looking to expand that number as we continue to grow our operations in the state and into other states.
3. How large does the community need to be to take advantage of the program?
SolarCity will customize the size requirements based on communities
4. What has been the impact of SolarCity’s community programs?
The community programs have had a dramatic impact. In Mountain View alone, the community originally had a goal to raise 175kW of power, but committed to 353kW between February and April 2007 with more than 100 participating households. Including systems purchased from SolarCity since April 30, Mountain View residents have purchased 500kW of solar PV. This has increased the city’s installed base of solar PV by 150%.
5. How do homeowners benefit from economies of scale?
Homeowners benefit by seeing a %20-%30 reduction in the cost of their systems when SolarCity works with their community.
6. How many kW of solar power have your community solar programs signed up?
2MW of energy, equal to planting 128 acres of trees.
7. Where are you planning future community solar programs?
8. Are there parts of the country where a solar program is not feasible due to the climate?
No, all of the US is better than Germany and Germany is the largest market in the world
9. What kinds of affects have you seen these programs have on the greater community?
We have seen the solar programs serve as a source of community pride for residents and a bonding agent between neighbors. When you make a big decision like going solar as a group, it also tends to remind residents of the larger impact of their decision on the environment and the fight against global warming.
10. When evaluating solar for your home or business, what are some key considerations?
Size of electric bill, the larger the electric bill the better the return on investment. Anyone with an electric bill over $100 should evaluate solar
Make sure that the roof has exposure to the sun. Trees often cause shading which does not work for Solar
11. How can a homeowner that is interested in the program best get the process started?
Contact SolarCity directly at 888-SOL-CITY (765-2489).
12. How do you see the renewable energy industry developing over the next 5 years?
Because of the California Rebate market the best time to go solar is now. The longer you wait the more expensive solar will become as the rebates are reducing fast. In 5 years it will start becoming part of everyone’s home. Every house hold in CA will start to consider Solar as it makes perfect financial sense.