SolarCitizen Summer 2011 Issue
Summer in the 'City

SolarCity was founded on July 4th and we like to celebrate our birthday as "energy independence day." We believe cleaner energy is better energy and we truly want to help millions of homeowners and businesses realize that dream. We've taken a few more big steps in that direction in what has already been a very busy year:

  • In the first half of 2011, SolarCity expanded to six new states on the East Coast and Hawaii. With 15,000 solar customers and counting, we're the largest solar service provider in the nation, and we recently signed our 1,000th energy efficiency customer as well.

  • Google partnered with SolarCity to extend solar financing options to more homeowners in many of these new locations. We've now created more than $1.25 billion in solar financing for homeowners and businesses.

  • We are letting more homeowners "drive on sunshine" with high-speed electric vehicle charging stations that can be powered by solar electricity. SolarCity can now install chargers for just about any EV on the road, including the Chevy Volt, Ford Transit Connect, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Roadster.

  • Fast Company Magazine named us one of the 50 most innovative companies in the world, and ranked us #1 among energy companies.

To keep abreast of SolarCity developments in real time, "like" us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

The Evolution will be Televised

The adoption of solar power tends to be a transformative process, and some of our customers have taken to telling their stories on camera. Did you know that SolarCity has a YouTube channel? Yes, it's true. Check it out when you have a minute, and give us some feedback.

We've added three new videos this week (linked below), and we'll be adding more in the coming months. What else would you like to see? Email us at socialmedia@solarcity.com, or tell us on Facebook. We would love to hear your thoughts.

Lucy and Paul's Solar Story
John's Solar Story
Jay's Solar Story

Seeing the Light

Something interesting is happening all over America. As a partisan divide has deepened in Congress and Americans seem to be agreeing on less and less, we still overwhelmingly agree that as a nation that we should be using more solar power.

A January 2011 Gallup Poll revealed that 83 percent of Americans (including 93 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of Republicans) support additional incentives for solar and alternative energy. We ranked solar incentives as our #1 legislative priority, ahead of withdrawal from Afghanistan and overhauling the tax code. A March 2011 CNN poll indicated that 88 percent of respondents believe the U.S. should use more solar power, ranking it #1 among energy choices.

However, while support for solar is growing, some nagging misconceptions are still holding us back. Many businesses and homeowners assume solar power is too expensive without even checking into it. Some people think they will have to pay a premium to go solar, but never bother to find out if that's actually the case. Others don't realize that a solar installations increase home values, as two separate 2011 studies from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the National Bureau of Economic Research have shown.

Solar still provides less than 1 percent of America's electricity, but we can take encouragement from another phenomenon. Less than 3 percent of American adults had high-speed Internet at home in 2000, but just ten years later, more than two thirds of adult Americans have high-speed access. Solar power makes too much sense not to become a mainstream source of electricity. Together we can make it happen.

Solar Citizens: The Weavers, Burleson, Texas

Dave and Julie Weaver, of Burleson, Texas, knew that renewable energy was a good idea but never considered solar for their home until reading about it in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper. The couple, who have always kept a close eye on the electricity consumption in their all-electric home, was intrigued by a new offering from TXU Energy and SolarCity that would allow them to pay less for solar power than they previously paid for electricity. Motivated by the ability to adopt clean power and save money, the Weavers moved quickly and called about the TXU solar program the same day.

"With a decision of this nature, you have to measure the economic impact. The SolarCity option made sense," said Dave.

It wasn't long before the Weavers had their solar project in progress with audit, design and install crews working hard to get the system on their roof. The couple, who were eager to get the system installed before the close of the summer, sympathized with their SolarCity installation crew who was committed to getting the project complete, even in the heat of a Texas summer day:

"We felt for the crew working hard in the summer heat. We're grateful they completed the job in time so we could take advantage of the long summer days."

Mr. Weaver is so enthusiastic about their system that the first thing he does in the morning is to check the meter readings and SolarGuard to see how much electricity his system is generating and how much is being fed back into the power grid. The Weavers also enjoy counting the money they're saving, and they closely monitor their electric bill and track everything in a spreadsheet.

According to Mr. Weaver the couple has saved more than $1,000 on their electricity bills since the system was turned on in July, 2010. A year after their install, the Weavers, who never thought about having a solar home, have this to say about their system: "We love it!"

The Weavers' story circled back to its origin this February. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the paper that originally informed the Weavers about their solar option, published a story about them!

Commercial Corner: Y-M-C-A!

The Sonoma County Family YMCA was looking for ways to become more environmentally responsible, and also looking for ways to find more money for local programs. President David Brown thought solar power might be a way to do both.

"We were looking for a way to reduce our carbon footprint while cutting down on electricity costs," said Sonoma County Family YMCA President and CEO, David Brown. "One of the challenges was finding a partner that would take into consideration our limited budget and space constraints."

YMCA selected SolarCity for its sleek, efficient integrated solar carport design and cost effective Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) financing option. With a SolarCity PPA, the YMCA was able to go solar for zero down and only pay for the power it produces. "SolarCity's approach to our project was exactly what we were looking for, and made them a natural fit," said Brown.

SolarCity was able to put together a design that would conserve all the YMCA parking spaces. The 273 kW integrated solar carport design is expected to save the Sonoma County Family YMCA $250,000 in electricity costs over the 15 year life of the PPA, with no out of pocket expenses. SolarCity will monitor and maintain the system, allowing the YMCA to focus on members.