SunRun Nominated for Another Solar Innovation Award – For Psychology

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Although we cover solar breakthroughs in the lab here at Cleantechnica, solar is actually already at or below grid parity for consumers in some states through leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs).

Solar is cheaper because the cost can be spread out over a number of years, and solar panels, divided by the years the panels work, already makes cheaper electricity than utilities.

You reap the benefits of paying off a $15,000-$20,000 solar power station that can make electricity for 30-40 years, by paying monthly, and only for the years that you are in the house, because PPAs and leases continue along with the house each time it’s sold. In most states, this comes to less, monthly, than current electric bills.

However, there is a widespread belief, even in these states, that solar is just not at grid parity… yet. This slows solar adoption.

The highest barrier to solar adoption is procrastination, driven by ignorance, skepticism, and fear. News about solar efficiency break-thoughs feed a forever-in-the-future belief that solar will be cheaper… some day. People start to believe that they need a degree in mechanical engineering to decide when solar is efficient and cheap enough. They simply don’t know enough to decide, and they fear asking a salesperson, and so they never do decide.

Thus procrastination, a human psychological factor driven by ignorance, skepticism and fear presents the highest barriers to rapid solar adoption, even in the nine or so states that do allow PPAs to lower monthly rates.

This psychological problem is addressed by California’s SunRun, founded by Ed Fenster and Lyn Jurich, who already won the Cleantech Innovation Crunchies for figuring out how to offer a residential PPA and negotiating the legal hurdles to make it possible: solving the financing barrier.

Now the company is one of five contenders for an Innovation in Finance award next month at the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo in Florida.

Lyn and Ed’s newest innovation is in taking the PPA one step further. They worked with Toll Brothers on a development in Southern California to  pre-install solar on some of the homes –  taking the fear of decision out of the picture.

Instead of offering solar only after houses are built – SunRun worked with the builder to simply pre-install solar on the homes, offering a flat rate lease of $42 a month, reducing typical electricity bills by $50-$100.

“SunRun is focused on making home solar power so easy and affordable that it becomes clear to homeowners that this is a better way to get electricity than from the utility,” said Lynn Jurich, President of SunRun. “At The Preserve, Toll Brothers is demonstrating how easy solar can be, and without any upfront cost to the home buyer.”

By pre-installing solar, SunRun eliminates procrastination. The solar, along with its lower rates, is simply part of the whole package. No endless research is needed. The purchase of the home, along with its solar benefit, is a done deal. The highest hurdle, a psychological one, is overcome.

Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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