A Solar Teachable Moment with My Brother-in-Law

My brother-in-law is a green contractor and I love him dearly. But he has yet to subcontract for solar PV on any of his commercial or residential jobs, or even to buy a system for his own home, which has plenty of sun and oriented South. Now he’s buying a new home for his growing family.

When I asked him this weekend why he’s waiting, he finally sings the same old song that I hear from non-green people: Solar’s great, but it’s too expensive. How does he know? He hears this message from other green contractors and LEED APs. Word of mouth. ::continue::

Word of mouth is another reason why I advocate for company blogs and company Tweeters and supporting your own marketing and communications department budgets. In my brother-in-law’s case, I took the advice from one of my own blog posts and proved it to my brother-in-law that solar was indeed affordable. Using California’s clean energy calculator. I input $6.50/watt for the installed price of a 5KW system for his L.A. zip code. He was, in a word, shocked. His payback was in 7 years and the price of $8629 after rebates and tax credits was about 1/3 of what he expected.

Sadly, this is not unusual. And if green people who love solar PV don’t know solar is affordable in a net metered, solar subsidy state like California, my guess is that green-minded Los Angeles businesses, schools, city governments, and VC bankers are also in the dark. And forget about green Wall Street executives in New York, where the state rebate is up to $3.00/watt for residential PV.    

My point is that before you object to marketing to consumers, remember that those bankers, business people, and bureaucrats are probably home owners before they walk into the office. If they knew how affordable solar PV is as consumers, think about how much more receptive they’d be when you call them about their businesses. Perhaps—if they have heard of your brand through Word of Mouth—they’ll even call you.

Please support your company’s solar marketing and communications department. Give them back their budgets for improving web design, blogging, as well as something for consumer advertising and education.

Thank you. Think Solar.

P.S. My Brother-in-law? He is going to get solar for his new home when he moves into it sometime next year. He’ll also be talking about how affordable it is to his clients and builder colleagues.

Author

  • Tor Valenza aka "Solar Fred" is the Chief Marketing Officer of Solar at Impress Labs, a PR, marketing and communications firm dedicated to helping solar companies reach solar customers through innovative messaging, branding, PR, and social media communications. Follow him on Twitter @SolarFred.

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Tor Valenza aka "Solar Fred" is the Chief Marketing Officer of Solar at Impress Labs, a PR, marketing and communications firm dedicated to helping solar companies reach solar customers through innovative messaging, branding, PR, and social media communications. Follow him on Twitter @SolarFred.

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