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Purple is the New Green

Purple is the New Green

Purple bacteria were among the first life forms on Earth. They are single celled microscopic organisms that play a vital role in sustaining the tree of life. This tiny organism lives in aquatic environments like the bottom of lakes and the colorful corals under the sea, using sunlight as their source of energy. Its natural design seems the best structural solution for harvesting solar energy. Neil Johnson, a physicist and head of the inter-disciplinary research group in complexity in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami, thinks its cellular arrangement could be adapted for use in solar panels and other energy conversion devices to offer a more efficient way to garner energy from the sun.
The utility of the future? Think shopping mall

The utility of the future? Think shopping mall

The energy world is about to turn upside down. With the coming of smart grid, the electricity consumer becomes the electricity seller; the passive home appliance becomes the active energy manager; the grid repairman becomes the grid itself. Such an upheaval means that the energy world needs to start thinking about a new business model, says a recent report by […]
A Report That Will Help End Solar Confusion for Consumers

A Report That Will Help End Solar Confusion for Consumers

          Many people are “going green” but don’t have enough information to feel secure in actually making the switch to solar energy.  Solar energy is still a relatively new technology, so like anything new it needs credibility to increase the comfort with the buying decision. Without recommendations or a strong understanding of what to expect from a […]
BioDiesel-Powered Valentines for Chicago

BioDiesel-Powered Valentines for Chicago

January14, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The Scrolling Mobile Billboard Company, of Chicago, Illinois, has launched the BioDiesel-powered “IloveYouTruck,” a renewable fuel vehicle that offers mobile billboards and floral arrangements for Chicago-area Valentine’s Day shoppers. All ILoveYouTrucks are powered with BioDiesel fuel that is made from recycled cooking grease, because the Scrolling Mobile Billboard Company wanted to make them safer for the environment. […]
Shopping Made Better With Green Power

Shopping Made Better With Green Power

Shoppers won't see the turbines, but six shopping malls and two professional offices owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge will benefit from power produced at the McBride Lake wind farm in Alberta. The real estate company signed a five-year contract with Enmax Energy to buy one quarter of the properties' electricity needs from wind-generated electricity through the utility's Greenmax program.
Someday Soon Your Utility Will Help You Select Your Next Car

Someday Soon Your Utility Will Help You Select Your Next Car

Utilities are — and have been for a long time — seeking better ways through which they can engage with their customers. According to Jeff Hamel, director of energy and housing partnerships at Google, the Nest smart thermostat, which is part of the hardware product line that Google provides, is a good example of a simple way that utilities are partnering with their customers.
Study Reveals Room for Sales Response Improvement in Growing Solar Industry

Study Reveals Room for Sales Response Improvement in Growing Solar Industry

Solar installations have grown by more than 600 percent across both residential and commercial properties in the past 9 years – a compound industry growth rate of 76 percent. But even within an industry that is ripe with opportunity, there are a surprising number of time-sensitive sales leads that aren’t being worked by solar companies every day. In a recent study that secret shopped 30 residential solar installation companies, it was apparent that solar installers’ contact strategy vary in comparison to established best practices for maximum sales effectiveness in other industries. The survey tracked how quickly solar companies responded via phone and email, and the number of response attempts made over a 22-day period. Their performance, relative to buyer expectations and best practices, left significant room for improvement.       The study found that there was a surprising percentage of companies that took days or weeks to respond to what should be seen as a “hot lead.” What was even more shocking was that a majority of companies failed to follow up with interested buyers after their initial contact attempt or failed to respond to these interested prospects at all. Given that residential solar investment tax credits (ITC) are set to expire at the end of 2016, residential solar installers are looking for every possible edge to drive increased revenue. There is no excuse to neglect leads that are waiting to be contacted with more information about residential solar options.  Based on the study’s research, here are three best practices to optimize inbound lead conversation: 1. Maximize The Value Of Your Leads: While the concept of responding to all inbound leads sounds obvious, the secret shopper study revealed that 30 percent of online buyers never received a phone call, 43 percent didn’t receive a response by email and an alarming 19 percent of leads did not receive any sort of response.  That is a significant amount of revenue and opportunity being left completely untouched, and practically being served up to the competition. It’s time for sales teams to take advantage of inbound leads and convert more untapped revenue. 2. Implement A Sales Contact Strategy: Previous research found that the optimal amount of follow-up to be between five and seven contacts attempts. This secret shopper study revealed only a fraction of interested buyers received close to the optimal number of follow-up calls. Interested customers were more often not contacted by a solar sales rep than they were to receive multiple follow-up phone calls. This is not ideal when building brand loyalty and awareness, and if customers are feeling ignored they will likely move on to a competitor. 3. If You’re Not First, You Might Be Last: Industry research showed speed-to-contact as the number one driver of lead conversion. So much so, that calling a prospect within one minute can increase the chance of conversion by as much as 391 percent. However, the study surveying solar sales reps found that many of them failed to follow-up promptly via phone, with 60 percent of solar prospects waiting days, weeks or not receiving a phone call at all. Sales reps’ response via email wasn’t much better, with more than 50 percent of interested prospects waiting days, weeks, or were never contacted via email. Driving revenue is the number one goal for every company, and the solar industry is no different. This rapidly expanding industry has seen extensive growth, however, drastic changes must be made to the selling process in order to address the problem of untouched opportunities. Solar companies are getting far too comfortable with the current growth cycle in the solar sector. In a sales environment driven by word of mouth customer marketing, these practices could hurt brand reputation in the long run.  Being the first to make contact with a prospect and stake a claim is extremely important, but there are more steps required to close a deal. Knowing how to work with a prospect to optimize satisfaction and chances for a successful sale is essential to capitalize on this exploding market. Lead image: Timing is Everything. Credit: Shutterstock.
Capacity conundrum: Happy consumers, worried suppliers

Capacity conundrum: Happy consumers, worried suppliers

Good news for consumers: there’s more c-Si capacity coming online. Bad news for suppliers: there’s more capacity coming online.
The Paradox of Clean Energy Choice

The Paradox of Clean Energy Choice

A couple of years back, my sister, who lives in Manhattan, received an advertisement in the mail from a local clean energy firm.  She sent me a text message with a photograph of the flyer and a simple question: “Should I do this?”  
Northeast US a smart energy testing ground

Northeast US a smart energy testing ground

Ben Franklin’s saying, “Out of adversity comes opportunity” seems to characterize the energy sector in US Northeast. Electricity rates are among the nation’s highest. Population density leaves scant room for new power plants and transmission lines.  And the region has little indigenous generation fuel. So what’s the good news? “This is why a very large and well spent push for […]