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Can't Get Cleantechnical Without a Plan


Maybe it’s because this national renewable energy company is based out of St. Louis that makes them so appealing to this St. Louisan. Maybe it’s the fact that I used to blog for these guys on their project blog and know that the folks behind the curtain are good people. Or maybe it’s just the way in which they do business. Solar Night Industries (SNI) would like everyone to adopt a modern (read: renewable) energy solution–it would be good for the planet as well as their bottom line. Yet, unlike many bottom-line focused companies, SNI wants their customers to be educated. They realize that not everyone can benefit from solar/wind energy systems. They also realize that the information regarding renewable energy solutions may be daunting to the average consumer. And, most importantly, they realize that everyone’s renewable energy needs are different. As a result, SNI has made the decision making process easy and informative for the consumer, through their Modern Energy Plan.

SNI’s Modern Energy Plan is a six step process. It is copied below directly from their Residential Modern Energy Plan document (they also have a very similar process for commercial/industrial needs):

General Customer Inquiry-A summary of the key information you have provided. If this

data was incomplete or partial, we provided a solution based upon what was available at the

time the plan was created.

Your Property Satellite Map-We use mapping software to isolate the property, primarily

for facing orientation, rooftop design, trees or other obstructions and land footprint. If this

was a new property, this is the approximate location. Again, several variables enter into a

final solution. A site inspection ultimately is the best methodology to finalize these

variables. The map is normally oriented as north-facing.

Solar Information-Baseline solar data is important because on any given day the solar

radiation varies continuously from sun-up to sundown and depends on cloud cover, sun

position, and content of the atmosphere. Peak sun hours is defined as the equivalent

number of hours per day that gives the same energy received from sunrise to sundown.

Many more variables impact the electrical output of Photovoltaic cells, but this provides a

useful benchmark for investment and payback analysis.

Proposed Solutions and Estimated Project Pricing-Based on your input, we

have chosen a solution with estimated pricing for equipment and installation. If you did not

provide a budget number, this output can be used as benchmark. Most or our systems are

scalable, meaning we can increase or decrease modules to meet your criteria. Part of the

Next Steps section will be to close the gap between this estimate and your final,

recommended solution.

Incentives-There are dramatic differences in the tax incentives, state and local rebates,

grants, and cash rewards for the adoption of modern energy. These laws are constantly in

flux. This section will provide current information on these topics, plus information about

Net Metering laws and Interconnection status. We will help you to understand how to

interpret these variables. In the Project Assumption section, some (but not all) of the

prevailing Incentives are included.

Next Steps-As you review your Modern Energy Plan, many questions remain

unanswered. A final solution and estimate can only be created after a qualified installer

conducts an “on-site visit.” From this visit, a final quotation/contract will be prepared for your review and action.

Afterall, with a purchase this important, you’d better be prepared. Well done SNI!

For more on the Modern Energy Plan read Jeff McIntire-Strasburg’s Sustainablog post from December ’07.

(Photo of Sage Homebuilders’ NZEH home compliments of SNI)


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Written By

is an Environmental/Political cartoonist for Planetsave, Elephant Journal, Wend Magazine, Twilight Earth, Ecopolitology, EcoSnobberySucks, and more... Joe also does a kids enviro-toon called Hank D and the Bee on EcoChildsPlay and NaturalPapa. Joe lives in University City, Missouri and spends his free time with his beautiful wife, enthusiastic daughter, and curious toddler of the same name. He also enjoys writing, drawing, painting, walking, biking, skateboarding, gardening, reading, listening to music, playing sports, and watching plays (especially the plays his wife's site-specific theatre company, Onsite Theatre puts on).   Visit Joe's online cartoon gallery at


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