Going Solar: From the Millennials to Baby Boomers

Kelcy Pegler Jr.

As we continue installing thousands of rooftop solar power systems on homes across the United States, we continue to gain a deeper understanding of what motivates people to pull the trigger and go solar.

While the decreasing cost of solar is the all-important driver, the incentive to install a solar array at home comes from a wide variety of needs and desires. These motivations are closely related to generational trends. 

We’ve identified two pillars of current and future customers: The baby boomers, which we call the Bill Walton generation (after our spokesman and legendary basketball hall of famer) and the millennials, which we call the Netflix generation.

One of the biggest misconceptions we see around today’s 50- and 60-somethings is that they reject technology. Truth is, we see the exact opposite.

Many of us have helped a grandparent, parent or other older relative get an email address. It’s a rewarding accomplishment. And here’s how it works: When you set them up with Gmail in January, they’re on Twitter by March. It turns out they actually do want technology — they just need some help doing it so that they’re empowered users.

When it comes to solar, they want to adopt it, but they want assurance that they aren’t making a bad decision, that they’ll still turn the lights on like they normally do, and that they still use their electricity the way they always did. They also want to tell their neighbors how and why they did it. How does it work? How did you do that? They want clear direction on how to answer those questions for people who ask.

Additionally, many senior citizens are on fixed incomes. In many of the states where we operate, going solar at home is a complete no brainer in terms of saving them money on monthly electricity bills. That savings is a big comfort to them and their families.

Millennials — many of whom will be first-time homeowners in the next few years — were born with a disruptive gene. There’s an internal voice inside them that can’t believe; “Wait, my parents never got to choose who their electric company is, where their power comes from or how their power is made?” They think that premise is simply ridiculous.

These are the same people who are disrupting other big industries (think telecom and cable) right before our eyes. As they become homeowners, they’re looking very closely at decisions they make around TV, phone, internet and more. How and where they get their energy factors into those decisions and they’ll ensure they get the type of electricity they want, where they want it, and how they want it. Solar energy is this generation’s power source of choice. 

Members of the Bill Walton and Netflix generations are embracing the concept of solar. But their real motivations provide us with a fascinating perspective on what tomorrow’s energy marketplace looks like: more innovation, more choice and control, lower cost and something that’s good for the environment. The future looks bright. 

Lead image: Generations via Shutterstock

The information and views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on this Web site and other publications.

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Kelcy Pegler, Jr. is President of NRG Home Solar, leading one of America’s largest and fastest growing residential solar companies. NRG Home Solar designs, installs and maintains solar systems that help homeowners bring clean, affordable energy directly to their homes as they realize the economic value of their home’s roof. Kelcy came to NRG following the company’s 2014 acquisition of New Jers...

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