Sarah Brase, Author at Shine Solar

Author: Sarah Brase

 

Solar Financing: A Day in the Life

It’s one thing to know you want a solar analysis, but quite another to understand the inner workings of the process. From signing papers, to financing, to more paperwork, to installation, there are many steps along the way that may seem confusing. For that reason, we here at Shine thought we should offer a new blog series, A Day in the Life. Financing is our second segment in the series, following last week’s Part One, The Energy Consultant.

Financing 101

This week, Skylar Mann, Shine’s HR and Finance Manager, takes the spotlight. Skylar wears many hats at Shine, because she’s just that good! In her spare time, she trains in MMA, so she knows discipline. As our finance manager, Skylar goes through each deal as it hits finance verification. Verification is the fourth stage in the process, following the scheduled appointment, site survey, and design review.

Financing Documentation

There are several financing options for our customers. Skylar first makes sure that the energy consultant sent her the correct loan documents. If it is a cash customer, Skylar requires an install agreement and payment plan.

Financing Fine-Toothing

After Skylar confirms the correct loan documents, she checks certain items for accuracy. She makes sure, for example, that the system size is correct, and that the paperwork includes the requested attachments.

Financing Finalization

Once Skylar approves the paperwork order, she confirms that the financing is covered on the lending side. Each lender is different, so Skylar stays informed of each step in the customer’s install. This way, she can sent that lender’s paperwork at the correct stage.
After Skylar sends the requested paperwork and it is approved, the job is funded! From that point, the customer moves on to the best stage of all…interconnection!
Who will be next in our Day in the Life? Join us next week!
  Check out our Financing Day in the Life video summary!

Shine Energy Consultants: A Day in the Life

It’s one thing to know you’d like to have a free solar analysis, but another to understand the inner workings of the process. From getting that analysis from our consultants, to signing papers, to financing, to more paperwork, to installation, there are many steps along the way that may seem confusing.

A Day in the Life

For that reason, we here at Shine Solar thought we should offer a new blog series, A Day in the Life. Each segment will focus on one department within our company, presented from that employee point of view. That way, we can explain our part in your process! So let’s begin with the people you meet first: our energy consultants. Our consultants cover a lot of territory from Arkansas to Missouri, and that territory continues to grow!

Part One: Our Energy Consultants

When you decide to get a free solar analysis and contact us, we first turn to our consultants. Your information is entered into our system, and, based upon your location, a consultant is assigned to you for that first point of contact. Today we’ll be talking to one of those consultants, Missouri’s Dustin Moreland, about his solar process.

In the Beginning…

When someone requests a free analysis and is assigned to his location, Dustin calls them to get some background information. Once that information is verified, Dustin gathers energy usage amounts and past bills from the customer’s utility company, and sets an appointment to visit the customer’s home.  The time between this call and the appointment enables us to build a custom proposal based on that customer’s usage, and that way they get the most accurate numbers. This is why we don’t have one-size-fits-all pricing.

Appointment Time!

When he arrives for the appointment, Dustin first presents the proposal. He gives an overview of how solar works and what the customer is purchasing. Next, he discusses our referral program (in which we pay you!). After that, he walks the customer through their customized proposal and answers any questions they might have. He begins the process of getting customers interested in financing qualified.
If the customer looks at the proposal, likes the savings, qualifies for financing, and is ready to commit? Well, Dustin is prepared with paperwork. First, he presents an install agreement to be signed. Next, he sets up a time to do a site survey. This is a simple process that looks at property structure and electrical components, and we do this to verify that the proposed solar array will work as it should.
Next, Dustin calls Elements Capital Bank for a welcome call with financing customers, and also answers any final questions the customer has.
After that? Well, you’ll have to stay tuned for our next installment! Can’t wait? Want to know more information NOW? Just fill out our form here, and someone will contact you! Or give us a call at 844-80-SHINE!
Check out our summary video below!

What If…Renewable Energy Did Not Exist?

While renewable energy has come a long way, the fact is that most of us still do not own our own power. There are many reasons for this: maybe you don’t own your home, or maybe you live in a forest. Perhaps you want to wait and see if prices drop, or if technology improves.

“Checking out Renewable Energy? Yeah, it’s on our To-Do List.”

What many of us take for granted is that options (that benefit us) do exist. We fall into habits, and honestly, changing stuff just feels like too much effort sometimes. Some of us may know someone who got solar panels, and we’re curious to know more. But then we have to actually remember to research. And the kids just started soccer, and they have so much more homework this year, so maybe we’ll check it out later. Next month. Next year.

“Renewable Energy isn’t that Important.”

It’s so easy to put things off. That’s what we love about it, right? It’s easy! Just getting through life every day feels like enough of an accomplishment sometimes. It is also easy to put off the big things, because we get so caught up in the little things. Renewable energy sounds great, but your electric bill isn’t that big. If it was a lot more expensive, that would be one thing, but it’s mostly manageable, except maybe January and August. Have you ever wished that you didn’t have so many choices? Does it ever feel like things would be simpler if we didn’t have so darn many options? Just deciding what to have for dinner every single day is enough of a chore.

So what if…there was no Renewable Energy?

Let’s imagine, then, what would happen if we didn’t have energy options. Some of us remember when this was the case. We didn’t have the option to convert to solar energy, or wind energy. Heat pumps weren’t a thing. We simply paid our electric bill every month. If we were lucky, we had a fireplace, or an attic fan. Those helped a little. We only had three channels on the television, and forget having a remote control. Microwaves were brand-new, and so expensive. If we were lucky, we had a window air-conditioning unit in the living room. So let’s imagine that we only had one choice: to pay the electric bill every month, or to get shut off for non-payment. The difference is that we have all the modern-day amenities. We have devices plugged in and charging all the time. We have the microwave, Keurig, laptops, desktop, tablets, Netflix, satellite television, industrial-sized refrigerator, central heat and air, and no energy efficient upgrades. Our electric bill goes up every year, and we have no say in rate increases. Our kids become teenagers, and don’t listen to a thing you say. They leave their computers on all the time, and the lights on in every room in the house. They never unplug anything. And the electric bill keeps climbing. You yell until you’re blue in the face, but it does no good. You’re paying a few hundred dollars per month to the utility company. Then a little more. Then a little more. Everyone else is in the same boat. Resources are limited, and with demand so high, rate hikes happen more frequently. You start to conserve. Coupons become your life. That new car purchase gets put off one year, then two. You take an inventory of everything you own that requires electricity, and then start eliminating. Spending time in the house begins to cause you anxiety. Because prices are so high everywhere, cost increases begin, then continue. Resources become more limited, and mandates to conserve power start popping up. There is no end in sight.

But There ARE Options. Renewable Energy DOES Exist.

Not only does renewable energy exist, but its effects are far-reaching.

Renewables ARE Real!

The best part? It’s absolutely free to find out how much money you can save, and there is no obligation to move forward. Whether you check into your options or not, though, just remember that you can have energy freedom…and freedom is a great thing. No time to read? Check out our quick video summary!

10 Facts About Solar Affordability

Solar Affordability is Real!

You Really Can Afford Energy Ownership!

Something that we here at Shine Solar take very seriously is customer satisfaction. And we don’t just mean ensuring the satisfaction of our customers who have transitioned to solar energy. We also want to provide requested information to those who have not transitioned to solar energy. Maybe you’re thinking about solar for your home. Perhaps you just want to learn more about renewable energy. You may simply have doubts about solar affordability. Whatever your motivation might be, answering your questions and addressing your concerns are two things of utmost importance to us. One thing we keep hearing, again and again, is that solar can’t possibly be an affordable option. People simply don’t believe that an affordable option for energy ownership exists. We’re used to having an electric bill to pay, after all. Paying higher rates year after year has become a habit. This week’s blog, then, focuses on the reality of solar affordability. The following 10 fun facts demonstrate where we are versus where we were. And we’ve got to admit it’s getting better…it’s getting better all the time! Reading this list may not convince you to go solar, but hopefully it will arm you with concrete information. Knowledge is power, after all!

10 Facts About Solar Affordability

Solar INCREASES home value!
  1. The cost of solar panels has dropped by 80% since 2008, and it is expected to keep falling.
  2. Plummeting  solar costs and rising electric costs means homeowners in the U.S. hit break-even points with solar in as little as three years. In 2017, most homeowners are seeing payback periods between five and eight years and 20-year savings estimates upwards of $20,000.
  3. Solar cells are priced per watt. In 1977, solar cells were unaffordable for most to purchase and install—costing around $77 per watt!
  4. Solar installation often ranges from $2.87 to $3.85 per watt (though $3.00 is becoming the norm!). The entire installation package cost for a 5kw system averages around $17,000, but if you apply tax credits, the total installation will probably sit between $10,045 and $13,475.
  5. Solar power itself is a free source of energy. Once you’ve installed photovoltaic (PV) panels on your home, maintenance is minimal and returns are high.
  6. You don’t have to buy your solar panels outright; you can also finance them. This makes solar power more affordable for everyone.
  7. Our solar panels have a 25-year warranty, and we offer a 12-year workmanship warranty.
  8. Many states (including Missouri and Arkansas!) allow you to sell back the excess solar energy you produce at wholesale rates, meaning you can not only earn back the cost of your panels but also make a profit on energy in the long run.
  9. Solar arrays increase the value of a home, even more than a complete kitchen remodel.
  10. When you buy solar panels, you’re eligible for a 30% federal government tax break—you could get thousands of dollars back on your taxes and offset the initial cost.
The truth is, solar is an affordable option for countless millions of people. And the best news? If solar isn’t a viable option for you, we will be the first to tell you. Call us for a free analysis, and see if you’re a candidate for energy freedom! 25-Year Warranty  

The Truth About Connection Fees

At Shine Solar, we like to take an educational approach with everything we do.  We do this for two reasons: because we prefer telling the truth, and because solar is still a pretty new concept in the Midwest. People don’t realize how affordable solar energy has become. Most don’t know how much money they can save month to month. And we get that! When you haven’t heard much about solar, it can sound too good to be true. It makes sense to hear about instant savings and react with disbelief. People want proof of savings that large. This is why we regularly post videos showing actual electric bills from our customers, or focusing on the affordability of solar. The response to these videos, though, isn’t always positive. “Stop lying! That’s not true!” is a frequent comment on our Facebook page. But here’s the thing: it does us no good to lie to people at any point in the solar education process. The truth is great enough. Untruths have no place in our company. Case in point: our video displaying three consecutive $15 electric bills, sent in by one of our customers. The reason this customer’s bill is a flat $15 per month is because that is the utility company’s “connection fee.”

The Truth About Connection Fees

Customers who choose to go solar usually remain connected to the utility provider’s grid. To go off-grid entails a battery backup, which is just not cost-effective. Through a process called net metering, the utility companies monitor what you’re producing in addition to what you’re pulling from the grid. Credits are generated at wholesale rates and applied to your account. You can build up credits from your panel production to offset your regular bill.  Regardless of credits, though, your utility company will still continue to charge you a monthly fee to remain tied to the grid. The grid acts as a cost-effective battery backup. The truth is, all utilities don’t charge the same connection fee, because each company has different fixed costs in place based on its expenses. Unfortunately, those connection fees (or price per kWh, or seasonal adjustments, or fuel surcharges) can be increased at any time if the utility’s expenses increase. Co-op customers generally have the highest connection fees, so those customers often see $25 or $30 per month connection fees…or higher. And it is this very price uncertainty that has led millions of people to choose solar power. The sun continues to provide a free source of energy. Solar panels continue to drop in price (80% since 2008!). And, the best news of all, solar payments don’t randomly increase. Solar payments remain the same price.  Once energy storage options become more and more available, separating from the utility grid will make far more sense financially. Why deal with the uncertainty? Call us for a free solar analysis today!  

Four False Assumptions About Solar

Recently, we participated in a vendor show. We love these opportunities! We get to meet a lot of great people and educate them about clean energy. Shows also allow us to address any questions or assumptions people may have about solar. What we found, though, is that there are a few assumptions about solar that cause concern. Because we like to get to the point, we decided to compile them all here as a quick reference guide. So let’s get to it!

Assumption 1: I have to keep replacing the equipment

This was the top comment. People believe that something that goes on your roof and looks like glass is likely fragile. And we can’t blame them! But solar panels are extremely durable. They’re built to withstand extreme hailstorms and straight winds up to 90 mph. They’re installed on a sturdy racking system affixed firmly to the roof. We’re so confident in our panels, in fact, that they have a 25-year warranty. And if you decide in the first five years to get a new roof, we’ll come remove and replace them. Free of charge. Our solar panels are maintenance-free, aside from maybe having to knock off a random branch. Even that shouldn’t be a problem, because trees are typically not that close to a solar-paneled roof.

Assumption 2: I’ll be dead before I save money

This one almost took the top spot. When people think about solar, they think about wealthy people with money to burn. Again, we can’t blame them. Until fairly recently, solar was unattainable for many. But that’s not the case anymore. When we do a free solar analysis, we look at your specific energy usage and custom-build your proposal. Most of our customers are actually saving money from the beginning! Solar payments are typically less than previous electric bills were. Solar payments also have an end date, unlike electric bills! So your savings will continue to increase until you achieve full energy freedom!

Assumption 3: I can’t afford a battery backup

The great thing about solar in Missouri and Arkansas (and most other states) is that net metering laws are in effect. This means that your utility company acts as a natural battery backup. And that means that you don’t have to have a battery. While battery technology has advanced significantly, the price is still cost-prohibitive. Net metering provides a great, automatic battery backup system through your utility company.

Assumption 4: I’ll just wait until the technology gets better

The reason we want to change technology is because we want products to do something differently than they did when we bought them. For instance, your old computer can’t support new versions of programs, so you have to upgrade. Solar panels convert sunlight into clean energy. They still do that.  We design systems to offset your energy production. The systems will continue to offset your energy production. Your energy production won’t advance to Windows 12 while your solar panels are stuck in Windows 95. So waiting for an undefined point in the future until you claim energy ownership isn’t necessary. We’ve got you covered…now.   We get it. Change is scary. Especially when it means that you’ll likely be the energy pioneer in your extended family, circle of friends, and neighborhood. But nothing ever changed by remaining the same. You can save money now. You can be an energy pioneer. You can put your roof to work for you. Instead of making assumptions, make a call. Find out how we can help your home or business today.

The Procrastinator’s Guide to the Eclipse

  Are you a procrastinator? Don’t lie. We’re onto you. We are you. Are you the type that hopes for a last-second study guide so that you can cram information in that makes you sound like you did your homework? It’s okay. We all do it. In fact, did you know that the human brain is programmed to procrastinate? Feel better now? Good. Because we have to talk about something that’s about to go down for real…the solar eclipse. If you haven’t brushed up on your eclipsery, great news! We’re going to give you a brief rundown (because that’s the best kind) guide just in time for the event. Here, then, are three things you need to know before the big event.
  1. What even is happening?

    A total solar eclipse, which will occur on Monday, August 21. This means that the moon will pass between Earth and the sun, thereby blocking our view of the sun. If you are standing in the moon’s shadow on Earth, you’ll see the sky darken and feel the temperature drop. The place where the sun should be will instead look like a cool black circle in the sky. Also, you’ll be able to view the sun’s atmosphere, or corona — a halo of exceedingly hot gas that’s normally invisible to the naked eye. Mike Kentrianakis, the solar eclipse project manager for the American Astronomical Society, calls it “the most gorgeous natural wonder you will ever see.”
  2. Why is everyone making a big deal about this?

    Because it’s a big deal! This is the first solar eclipse to hit the continental United States since 1979. It’s the first to run across the entire country since…wait for it…1918. It will be the only one of its kind most of us will see in our lifetimes.
  3. How can I watch it?

    That’s a little trickier. The short and most important answer is “safely.” But after Amazon’s recall of not-so-safe glasses, how do you know what to look for? Let’s go to the experts on this one. NASA website’s solar eclipse section offers a wealth of information about the event. Check their safety tips here. Beyond safety, though, is the question of visibility. The Path of Totality, or area in which spectators can see the full splendor of the eclipse, is mapped out here. The Path stretches from Lincoln Beach, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina, and is a relatively narrow strip about 70 miles wide. For our Missouri friends within the Path, the eclipse is set to hit Jefferson City at 11:46 a.m., with totality beginning at 1:13 p.m. and ending at 1:15. Arkansas falls outside of The Path of Totality, but regardless of your location, check viewing events for more precise information.
So grab your glasses (but leave your homemade viewing devices at home), and follow The Path. But even if you can’t, fear not. Current technology, coupled with the coast-to-coast viewing swath, guarantees that we will all be able to view the full beauty in its entirety.

Why Should You Pick Us, Anyway?

You’re thinking about going solar, but it’s not so easy to pick a solar company. This is a big decision, after all. How do you know which one is going to be the best fit for you? If you’re going to own your own energy, you want to have the peace of mind that comes with making the right choice for your long-term needs. And you deserve that.  In fact, we encourage everyone who contacts us to do their homework before choosing to install happiness the Shine way. It’s why we offer our homework page, in addition to our website and weekly blogs. So let’s jump ahead. Say that you’ve done your homework, you’ve reached out to several companies, you’ve gotten several free solar analyses, and now you just need to choose. We can’t presume to know the types of things that are most important to your family. What we can do is tell you four ways that we’re different than our competitors.

Why Pick Us?

  1. We have our own Code of Ethics.

    We’re not trying to take over the world. We want to remain small and customer-focused. We also want our employees to represent how seriously we take your business. Our employees will be polite, courteous, and clean in both language and appearance. We have amazing customers, and they deserve the best.
  2. You don’t have to worry about waiting a couple more years until you get that new roof.

    If, within the first 5 years of your original solar installation, you replace your roof, Shine Solar will remove, store, and re-install your solar panels. Free of charge.
  3. You don’t have to worry about that vague day in the future when solar technology may become super advanced and your old panels just don’t cut it.

    If you purchase a system from us, then decide to upgrade it later, we’ll buy back your existing panels for 50% of your original cost.
  4. We’re in it for the long haul.

    With a 25-year panel warranty, and knowing that the first-ever solar panels are still producing, we’ll be sticking around. This is why we provide each customer with their own solar concierge. Whether you have questions, comments, or just want to touch base, we have a point person in place. Your concierge knows who you need, when you need them, and will keep you from being on terminal hold or waiting for that callback that never comes. And your concierge is going to be there for you, whether it’s been three days since your installation, or three years.
There you have it. These are the top four items that set us apart from the competition. We want to remain focused on you, and will prove it to you throughout your experience with us. You will have the peace of mind that your concerns and questions will be addressed promptly at every step in our relationship. Plus, what have you got to lose? With our free solar analysis, you’re armed with the information you need to make an informed decision. Give us a call at 844-80-SHINE to get started.      

10 Steps to Going Solar Checklist

Most behind-the-scenes work of solar installation is a result of your solar company and utility company working together. We do this in order to give you the best, most worry-free experience possible. But that sometimes makes the solar purchasing process a mystery to you! For that reason, Shine presents:

10 Steps to Going Solar Checklist

Step 1: You autograph the initial paperwork to give us the approval to start your project (purchasing agreement, financial documents. finance documentation process varies among lenders). Step 2: We get Net-Metering approval (we cannot begin construction until the customer’s utility company approves the application. This varies from utility to utility, but we do follow up with them checking on updates and project status.) Step 3: We get a permit application from your city or county (this depends on customer’s jurisdiction. If they live in an area that doesn’t require this, then we skip this step.) Step 4: We schedule your solar installation! Step 5: We complete your solar installation! Step 6: We schedule your final inspection (if no permit is required, we skip this step). Our Master Electrician has to schedule with the entity that requires the permit, so this depends upon that entity’s schedule. We then coordinate with the customer. Step 7: We arrange your final Net-Metering phase (this is when we submit final documents to the utility and wait for them to give us a date and time of interconnection) Step 8: Interconnection (this happens once final net metering has been approved) and that means you’re LIVE! Step 9: LED bulb and thermostat delivery! We try to be present at your interconnection, both to ensure a smooth transition and deliver additional energy-conserving items for you! Should the interconnection happen before we’re notified, we call and schedule a time that is best for you. We want to make sure your system is operating as it should. Step 10: We’re here for you, long-term. If you have any questions about your panels, your monitoring, or even your Ecobee thermostat and light bulbs, call your personal Shine Solar concierge!  

Shine’s Sunny New Site

At Shine Solar, we like to take an educational approach in everything we provide. We’re not into scare tactics, and we’re not into becoming a huge company. Not one of us has any desire to browbeat people into going solar RIGHT NOW. What we are into is making sure people understand exactly THEY’RE what getting into. We want them to make an informed decision based upon facts. So, we provide the facts in our free solar analyses. We provide the facts in our blog series. And we provide more facts in our monthly Solar Insider newsletter. All of this is aimed at educating you, the reader (and maybe having a little contest fun along the way) about all things solar. That way, you can make the choice whether to move forward on the path to energy ownership. But we also knew that we had to back up our educational approach with a solid go-to for people to access that contained, well, everything. The answer was a complete website overhaul that included something for everyone. We have a Frequently Asked Questions page with both written and video content. There is a blog library. Testimonials and real-time reviews from our customers? Check. We also have a little bit about who we are and how seriously we all take our jobs by following our own Shine Solar Code of Ethics. There is a live chat feature, in case you needed answers to your questions now. The bottom line is, we’re here for you. We know the type of company we want to deal with as a customer. Preferably, to deal with people who answer our questions, who listen to our concerns. And who, should we decide to move forward and go solar, would be there for us years down the road. We poured all of those wants and needs into our new website, and we hope that, in so doing, we are able to help with any questions or concerns you may have. So go ahead and check it out. Take your time and look it over for yourself. If you feel that we should include something else, reach out to us. Let us know what we’re missing, or what you think we could enhance. The bottom line is, we’re here for you. And we’re here because of you. Thanks for hanging with us on this journey. And, as always, keep shining.