Residential Solar Electric Systems (Photovoltaic)
I'm a Sungevity Customer. Following is a log of my experiences with Sungevity and getting started with SOLAR :).
Last Updated 7/29/2013 - Scroll Down for Chronological updates.
It is possible to get a $500.00 referral discount but you must use the code
before/during your iQuote request or call
Mark Boggs(Sungevity sales, Heather has since been assigned elsewhere) directly at 510-496-5660
I started my search in late September by attending a presentation at Home Depot by Solar City in Tucson AZ. There were several options available from purchasing the system to an out right purchase. An out right purchase was going to require an outlay of about $40,000 up front. After State, Federal an utility refunds you can get more than half of that back by time you are done, but you still half to put that out there right off the bat. I wasn't in the position to do that.
My interest quickly went toward doing a prepaid 20 year lease. In a prepaid or any lease, the leasing company "Solar City or Sungevity" actually own the system that is placed on your house, thus they get the federal refunds, utility incentives and so forth. However, what I saw in the 20 year lease were the following benefits.
* Unlike a purchase that comes with a 5-10 year warranty, the lease essentially provided a 20 year warranty.
* Both Solar City and Sungevity offered performance guarantees.
* Both Solar City and Sungevity offer "net monitor" - allows them (and you) to monitor the output of your system at all times.
* One difference - not confirmed with Solar City, but Sungevity had me pay for the prepaid lease up front. I believe Solar City doesn't have you pay until the system is actually turned on, even with a prepaid lease.
* Sungevity's Implementation time is estimated shorter than Solar City's at 14-16 weeks vs. 6 months.
* They both warranty the system for the length of the lease (20 years) including the Inverter, which from what I can tell, seems to have a life of 10-15 years. So if you purchase, although coming down in price, inverters are about $4,500 right now.
The two company's work on a very different business model. Solar City has people here in town that work for Solar City. Solar City people come to your house and do the assessment, engineering, installation, monitoring and follow up. Sungevity does the assessment online and contracts the work out to a local company.
Based on this, I was initially leaning heavily toward Solar City. I liked the fact that Solar City people were here locally and were accessible. So I moved forward with Solar City and got a quote and designed a system for my needs. However there was one catch. I'm in line to purchase a Nissan Electric Vehicle in December and I wanted a system with the capacity to also supply the electricity for my new car. I requested a system designed with slightly higher output. I was informed by Solar City that to maximize/qualify for the rebates that I could not produce any more than 125% of my historical usage. Here is a link to
TEPs Home PV system rules
. I noticed that after August 11, 2010 their incentive is only $2.00 kwh. The Sungevity agreement calculates rebates back at $3.00 kwh - hope that doesn't come back and bite me.
Both Solar City and Sungevity were very knowledgeable, friendly and responsive. However, Sungevity believed there was no problem increasing the output beyond what Solar City was willing to quote. So I began an Apples/Apples quote with Sungevity. Solar City and Sungevity's quotes were within $200 of each other. I was still leaning toward Solar City. The more personal service provided by someone on site honestly, I could understand up to $1000.00 difference and stay with them. By time I was done, Sungevity was quoting a bigger system, with the brand panels I requested; all for almost $1500 less than what Solar City offered. I couldn't pass it up, on October 29th, 2010 I signed with Sungevity.
This site will serve to document my experience - good or bad with Sungevity and the process. Note: I will try to give an objective view, however be aware that as a customer I can receive a referral fee if you use my referral number when signing up.
You will also receive an additional $500.00 incentive
by using the referral. So if you want to look closer at Sungevity; see the template provided below on 11/2/2010 for more information; my referral number is: 42346. So far I've been very happy with the service, but now they have my money, so we'll see if that continues. If you use the referral code - please email and let me know at the email address on the bottom of this page.
- My Sales Representative at Sungevity is Heather Simone. She emailed me a link that allowed me to digitally sign. One thing I was surprised with is that with the Prepaid Lease they want the money up front. If you are not doing the prepaid, then the money isn't due until the system is actually turned on. I didn't go with Solar City, but my understanding was that you didn't pay a penny until the service was turned on - even with the prepaid lease.
- I received a welcome email from Heather. Following is a template provided for me to get money for referrals. Dear Friends and Family,
Today, I am excited! I just signed up to convert my home to clean, solar energy with the innovative solar company Sungevity. With their zero-down solar lease it’s now possible to reduce your environmental footprint while actually decreasing your home’s monthly energy bill. The whole process was so simple, I wanted to pass it along to others who I thought might be interested in going solar too. Best of all, Sungevity will give you an extra $500 just for being referred by a current solar customer (that’s me)! If you take two minutes to apply for an iQuote you'll get to see what your house will look like with solar panels, how much money you'll save and the positive impact on the environment you'll make. It’s good for you, good for your energy bill, and good for the planet!
Here are the steps:
1.) Go to www.Sungevity.com
2.) Enter your address and information. After you’ve applied for your iQuote, type in my referral code 42346 (if you use this, please send me an email afterwards so I can keep track - thanks Randy) 7so you can get your $500 referral bonus.
3.) In 24 hours, you'll receive your free, no obligation iQuote in your email inbox.
If you want to call and speak to my solar consultant, Heather Simone she would be happy to assist you with any questions you have. She can be reached at 510-496-5557 or hsimone@sungevity-removethisNospam-.com.
Or if you have any questions for me, let me know! And Go green and Go Solar!
Hope you’ll want to spread the good news. If you have any questions let me know.
Heather Simone ¤
Solar Sales Consultant
- Today had to send back 2 signed documents that would be sent on to TEP and a copy of my electric bill. You need to make sure that your name is on the electric bill. My wife's name was on it so I had to call TEP and add my name as well since I was the one signing the lease.
- Sent an email to Heather just confirming that they didn't need anything else from me since I haven't heard anything. She said Josh Mariscal was assigned as my Project Manager and she CC'd him on the email.
- No coaxing - got an email recieved as follows:
This email is to follow-up on the voice mail I left for you earlier this week. My name is Josh and I will be the Project Manager for your PV Solar installation. The next step is for AZ Energy Pros, the Preferred Installer assigned to your project, to come out and do a site visit. They will measure your roof, take pictures, and analyze shading for the Solar Array(s). They will need access inside your home for about 30 minutes, so they can get structural information from your attic.
AEP has time some time available tomorrow morning as well as Friday morning. Please let me know if either day will work for you or if you would rather shoot for next week.
I have also attached an
to this email, it outlines next and future steps for your PV Solar Installation.
My contact information is below, please don't hesitate to contact me with any questions or concerns.
- We were available the next day, so I replied that we would like to set the appointment for then. Running a little late and longer than the 30 minutes (2 hours) mentioned above our installer took to the roof and made the necessary measurements. According to the
the next step is Design and Permitting.
Nice to be moving forward.
- Received a call from Heather Simone. She was just asking how things were going. I hem-hawed a little. She said "a lot of waiting I know, they are working on it". Anyway, it was good to hear from her and know that I am still in the loop.
- Got a call from Arizona Energy, who is the subcontractor that will be doing the work. The pictures that they took previously had some sort of problem, so he needed to come out and retake several. He was out promptly and took about 15 minutes to retake the pictures he needed.
- Received an email from my Project Manager that he was moving on and my new Project Manager is Philip J. Blair.
- Got a call from my Project Manager, Philip J. Blair this evening. Finally, a very nice conversation. He appoligized for the lack of communication and said this was not the standard care provided by Sungevity.
He provided some good information on the status of my project. Right now there were two issues that needed resolved. One - Pima County wanted more information on the strength of the roof to confirm it could hold the panels. We have a flat roof and the joice are 2X10s. Shouldn't be a problem - just needs someone's blessing. He expected to hear from Pima County on this by the end of the week. If Pima County wasn't happy with it, Sungevity would provided an Engineer who could assess it and certify that it is sufficient.
The second issue being the the amount of incoming electricity. We have a 200AMP panel/TEP allows the incoming power be up to 120% of that capacity, which would leave us with about 40AMPs. The system being designed is about 60Amps so we are exceeding that restriction. Philip provided two solutions and said they should have an answer from TEP by the end of next week as to which one they would accept.
All this being said, he estimated that we would be starting on our installation in the middle of March. More to come...
- Email from Phil
Here is a Super Bowl Sunday update.
We received the bad news that Line Side taps for the solar system are not permitted. This means that we will need to proceed with one the next two options, both of which will need some confirmation. I believe we discussed the panel swap option briefly during our first conversation. We are currently sourcing the required equipment and designing the required electrical configuration. The second option we would like to research is the feasibility of replacing your main service breaker (currently rated at 200A) with a 175A breaker. This is called "downsizing the main" and is an option we would carry out only with your approval and if we can confirm that existing loads and future loads (such as an electric vehicle charging station) would not be likely to cause "nuisance tripping" of the smaller breaker. I am coordinating with our designer to see what information is needed to complete this analysis and I, of course, want to check your opinion on it as well.
As to the structural issue we discussed, our designer is confident that the structure is solar ready and that our proposed plan will be accepted by Pima County. He checked with the county to confirm their guidelines and expectations. The particulars of your project will be reviewed during the plan set approval process.
I will check in with you by mid week with a further update on the electrical configuration of your project.
Philip J. Blair
- My comment
Not sure why they would want to "downsize" my main breaker. I guess I'll find out more soon.
- My Email to Philip, curious about that downsize thing
Subject: Reply to Project Update
Thanks for the update. I don’t understand the purpose of “downsizing”.
- My Email to Philip, haven't heard anything so sent a tickler to see if I can get a response.
Subject: TEP RECPP
What address do I need to send the TEP RECEPP agreement to, and to whom? I’ll get it out today – just signed page 10, left the rest for you. I’ve scanned it if that works as well.
Also, just following up #2 of the agreement “Program Timeline” states that Proof of Project Advancement within 60 days is required. That would have been February 6th. Just a heads up. Also just another FYI, my charging station for the leaf is being installed next week, and the car will be available for pick up in two weeks (yeah).
- Well guys - sorry to say still no customer service happening at Sungevity. No response to my Feb 7th email nor my Feb 15th email. I think I've been patient but its time for some phone calls. Wish I could recommend Sungevity but at this point, my suggestion is to find another vendor. I thought Sungevity could give me a better deal than Solar City, but it ain't no deal if you give them money and you get nothing in return. A little communication would have gone along way.
Hopefully we can turn this one around.
Sent an email to Heather
- Philip called. We had a frank but cordial discussion. There are some issues with my installation. They have to do with the size of installation - location of my electrical box limiting options etc. So we are moving forward slow as it may be. Next step - Arizona Energy needs to come out and measure/calculate our energy needs to see if the 175AMP system is an option.
The 175 Amp bus bar
OK - I'm starting to understand this. My situation - I have a 200 Amp box on my house. Break that down into 2 sections. One is a bus bar - this is what the electric company attaches to, this bus bar provides 200 AMPS of electricity. The 2nd section has breakers that can be connected to 200AMPS worth of appliances. The solar system I am putting on will generate 60 AMPS. TEP only allows the bus bar to exceed this by 20 percent, which maxes me out at 240AMP. With the solar I will be bringing in 200AMPS from TEP and up to 60 AMPS from the solar system. 260 being > 240 puts me over the max TEP allows. By dropping my bus bar to 175 AMPS + 60AMPs from solar, puts me at 235 AMPs which is below 240 and is the cheapest way to resolve my problem.
- Heather with Sungevity called.
She was just touching base, saying HI and asking about how things are going.
- Rudy with Arizona Energy called. He going to head over to the house the next day to test the load. This would determine whether the "downgrade" would be possible.
- Rudy with Arizona Energy called came by and completed the testing.
03/21/2011 - Monday
- Philip with Sungevity called
Load came in at 187Amps - meaning we couldn't downgrade the box to 175. So plan B or C is out the door. Plans D and E are to get variances from TEP. Plan D being to allow us to increase the input to the 200amp box to more than 120%. Plan E is to request a variance from TEP to allow just an upgrade of the box to better than 200amp without having to use the required " box with a meter". If we have to use the breaker box/meter, then it is too close to the edge of the house and we are talking major renovation to move the box since the electrical comes up through a concrete sidewalk on the side of the house.
Option/Plan F is to reduce the size of the solar system. This is obviously the easiest solution, but there were two major reasons I went with Sungevity in the first place. One, was that they said yes to the larger system (Solar City said no, and now I'm understanding why). I wanted the larger system because I was getting a Nissan Leaf, which I now have by the way(Whoo hoo, love it), and the second was price.
03/22/2011 - Monday
- Philip with Sungevity emailed
Subject: TEP Update
Here is a quick update following up on our conversation yesterday.
We checked in with TEP today and they had not yet provided us with their assessment. They are likely to be able to deliver it tomorrow.
Our contract team is working up the information on the downsized system so that it can be presented to you. It is expected tomorrow. I will pass it along as soon as it is ready.
Thanks again for your patience as we finalize the system design and move closer to installation,
- Phil- Project Manger updates status, Variance Granted!.
Great News - Sungevity pushed through a Variance with TEP. The variance is allowing the bus bar to be upgraded to 225 Amps and still use the same 200 AMP box. This is another "Woo Hoo". I will get my larger system and no major modifications have to be done with the electrical. Thank You Sungevity / Phil - and Thank You TEP.
- Email from Phil
Subject: Plan Set Complete and Ready for Review.
The Plan - pdf format
Our design team finished the plan set for your project yesterday. It is included as an attachment for our review.
- Email from Phil
Subject: -Plan Set Update: Permit Approved.
I just wanted to provide the update that we have received permit approval from the County of Pima.
We are still on track to build in the first week of May and the materials are being shipped to the installer at the beginning of next week.
I'll check back in with you as we get closer to the installation start.
- Hard at Work
I've been slackin. Arizona Energy Pros have been hard at work.
I'm running out of town again, but here is a quick update. They have the panels up took about 3 days, including the inverters on the wall. Yesterday 5-18-2011 Rudy spent a good day's work to upgrade my panel from 200Amp to 225 which as discussed above was specific to my requests.
More updates next week but here are some pics. Looooking Goood! Click on the thumbnails for the larger picture.
About 9:00am - TEP shows up. They put the new meter. Called AEP and let them know it was ready for Turn Up.
AEP came by and turned it on. Yeah - I'm up and running, those inverters are humming!
- Email from Phil
Congratulations! Your home solar system is now connected to the utility grid and producing clean, green electricity.
Thank you so much for the message that TEP has been out to your home to install their meter and commission your system.
Solar is one of the easiest, most low-maintenance ways to produce renewable energy, but there are a few steps you'll need to take to make sure it is working properly. Our Services Department will help you with this for the lifetime of your system. Please feel free to contact them if you have any questions regarding the operation of your system.
By phone: 510-496-5575
By mobile phone (primarily for urgent issues): 510-384-7977
By email: email@example.com
I’ve attached an electronic copy of the Operations & Maintenance Guide that will provide you with basic information about how to operate your system, including how to turn your system on and off.
The most basic but important step to monitor your system is to regularly check that the green LED lights on your inverter are illuminated during daylight hours. This is especially important in the first few weeks because we may need to make a few equipment tweaks to ensure your system is working at its best. If you notice that a green light is not on during daylight hours, please contact the Services Department.
We will be monitoring your system's production to make sure it is meeting expectations. Shortly, the Services Department will be sending you the access information for your remote monitoring so that you too can track production. If you notice that your system is under-producing or not producing at all, please contact the Services Department so we can assess whether your solar array needs cleaning, is being shaded by adjacent trees or shrubs, or is experiencing technical issues.
will be your main point of contact at Sungevity moving forward, but feel free to contact me with questions about your system or solar in general.
Thank you so much for your enthusiasm and passion for going Solar. On, a personal note, I wanted to share with you my appreciation for your patience and understanding through an installation process that had its challenges. It's been a real pleasure working with you!
- Smooth Going
Been up and running for almost 3 months. No problems to report, had to do absolutely nothing. I'm including a couple screen shots of the productivity from July.
- Seeing the difference
Just thought I'd share a couple month's electric bills with you. Keep in mind I am also charging an electric car every night as well.
October's Electric bill including 1200 miles of driving: $15.26. (Eliminating $5.00 donation and other fees, actual charge for electricity was $1.36)
November's outrageous bill: $12.51
- Its been a year now - Here are some comparisons
Hard to figure apples and apples, especially with the addition of the Nissan Leaf which I have almost 21,000 miles on now. But I did break out the cost of just the electricity. There is a $7.00 per month connection fee no matter what, we donate $5.00 month, with taxes that comes to $12.51 even with a $0.00 electric usage. I figure the car is costing about $25.00 month to charge and I didn't get it until the middle of March 2011. Also, because my system was installed in the middle of May, I didn't get the credits I now see accumilating from February through April and also for the full month of May. These are electricity costs only. There are taxes on top of these so the higher the bill the more taxes you are paying as well. With the accrued credits, although I had "real bills" for the months of June - September, I expect at least June and July to completely go away. With current rates it looks to be about a 7 year return on investment. Again this was a prepaid lease. I'll ask Heather to do a quote for me show what a 0 down and a 50% down lease payment would be; I can add columns to see if using these methods save me money as well.
- Still no electric bill
With the credits accrued in January through May there has been no usage charges. I believe by my October billing I will be able to fully understand what my ongoing electric bill will be on an annual basis. Looking pretty good at this point.
- First Full January thru December comparison.
Simply put I paid $30.00 for electricity in 2012. Kinda sweet.
- Nothing to report and that is a good thing.
Sun is shining and the inverters are humming.
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