By Evelyn Huang, Sunrun, Chief Customer Experience Officer
As someone who works in the solar industry, I’ve often heard “Solar panels on my roof sound nice but are simply too expensive.” This may have been the case when the technology was new, but today, there are options that make solar affordable and accessible to everyone.
Sunrun’s* solar as a service model allows households to access clean solar energy from as little as zero dollars down, with no debt and no maintenance worries. The household simply pays for the energy at a low monthly rate — solar delivered as a service. We install the panels on the roof, monitor them daily, and maintain them. Home solar can be a “need to have” for the everyday person, not just a “nice to have” for the wealthy.
Home batteries are another key part of the story. Here, technology has also advanced, making it affordable for households and communities to have their own backup batteries to protect their families during power outages. During Hurricane Irma, the devastating Category 5 storm that hit Florida in 2017, solar-paired battery systems powered 115 schools sheltering thousands of residents. Meanwhile, more than 6.7 million utility customers were stuck in the dark.
Solar as a service can literally save lives. According to the NAACP, approximately 68% of African Americans live or have lived within 30 miles of a coal-fired power plant. Similarly, a report by Clean Air Task Force found that close to 2 million Latinos live within a half mile of existing energy infrastructure. As a result, these communities face elevated health risks: an African American or Latino child is twice as likely to die from an asthma attack as a white American child. With home solar and batteries, households can produce their own energy on-site, creating a clean, localized energy system. They can also feed power back into the grid, reducing the need to build new power plants and infrastructure.
The economic impact of using solar goes far beyond the individual. The local economy gets a lift through job creation and permitting fees. About 25% of home solar project costs stay in the local economy, while just 6% of large commercial project costs are spent similarly. Solar also provides high-paying jobs for veterans, who make up 9% of solar workers, and for those without a college degree.
Solar power has never been more affordable or reliable than it is right now. The economic and environmental benefits of abundant, renewable energy are unquestionable, as more and more Americans adopt rooftop solar. In 2016, the one millionth solar energy system was installed in the US, a milestone that took nearly 40 years to reach. The two millionth solar installation will take place within a few months from now. Americans are taking notice — fast. With more than 200,000 customers in 22 states, DC, and Puerto Rico who have saved more than $200 million on electricity bills, the results speak for themselves. Clean air is not a luxury for the rich. With solar as a service, everyone wins — households pay less, the environment benefits, and everyone is healthier and happier, creating a resilient energy future for our families and communities.
Evelyn focuses on product, marketing, and brand at Sunrun, leading the end-to-end customer experience. She has spent over 15 years leading product, design, and organization change in Fortune 500 companies, marrying quantitative rigor with creative invention. Most recently, she served as VP of Design Thinking and Strategy at Capital One, leading the top 10 US bank in the transformation from traditional bank to tech leader. Prior experience includes product and design leadership at Banco Bice and Opportunity Fund. She is a design thinking expert and Lecturer at the Stanford d.school, where she helped run the Executive Education program. Through this experience and a successful consulting practice, she has coached executives at Hyatt Hotels, SFMOMA, JetBlue, Atlassian, Mail.ru, Covidien, Fidelity, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan.
This post was supported by SunRun