SIREN and the City of Bloomington Response to Solarize Capacity Issues
We have bad news to share with those of you who did not receive a notification directly from Third Sun Solar. The company reports that they will not be able to schedule any more installations for 2017, but can still schedule for 2018. (See TSS letter below).
The limited capacity and the abrupt nature of the notification came as a surprise to us. We can only imagine the level of disappointment it must be bringing to Duke customers that had hopes of a 2017 installation.
Here is what we have done to deal with this situation. You may recall that in mid-August we surveyed Solarize Bloomington 2 participants to determine your priorities in case a capacity problem were to emerge. We discovered that the responses were fairly evenly split between those who prioritized getting installed in 2017, even if it meant paying a small premium to a backup vendor, and those who were agreeable to a 2018 installation, so long as the SB2 pricing will be honored next year (it will). We asked Third Sun to serve the 2017 list first. All REMC participants automatically went to the 2018 list because they are not subject to the net metering deadlines.
Meanwhile, we assigned a ranking to all SB2 participants based on the order in which they complete all three requirements for participation. It is the basis for the “first in, first out” order in which we re-assign people to backup vendors who may still be able to meet the 2017 deadlines. Jefferson Electric, our partner in a previous solarize round, has already sent proposals to some participants in order of rank, and is preparing more. Some remain in reserve pending go/no-go decisions by the SB2 recipients.
Another large regional solar company has indicated interest in scheduling 2017 jobs, but has not finalized terms and conditions with us. Hopefully they will come on soon as backup. If/when that occurs, they too will issue proposals on a “first in-first out” basis.
Bloomington has a number of smaller solar companies that did not enter a bid for SB2 because the program would be larger than they could handle. They may be able to accommodate individuals. A contractor list is available here.
Net metering will still be a good investment in 2018. Click here to see why. Third Sun Solar will continue to honor its Solarize Bloomington 2 through June of next year. See their letter below for details.
Because of the arbitrary deadline imposed by the Indiana legislature, in many places around the state, demand for solar increased 5, 10 or more times over its historic average this year. The solar companies could not grow equally fast. That is the root cause of capacity drying up so rapidly. We regret the situation deeply.
With best wishes for your solar future,
The SIREN/City of Bloomington Solarize Team
ATTACHMENT: Third Sun Solar Letter to Solarize Bloomington 2 Participants
Dear Solarize Bloomington Participant,
We are writing you to give you an update on the Bloomington Solarize program. Due to the overwhelming interest in this program, combined with an unprecedented interest in solar across the state, our company’s 2017 install schedule is now full. This has happened faster than any of us could have predicted, and we have done everything we can to increase capacity and prioritize Indiana projects (including rescheduling several large Ohio commercial projects into next year). Based on our focus on quality, safety and the reality of weather, along with realistic permitting and utility interconnection timelines, we have concluded that there is no way to promise a 2017 install date beyond the clients that are already on our install schedule.
We are very sorry if this news causes disappointment in your solar expectations, and understand that it may cause frustration and hard feelings. We pride ourselves on providing top-notch service and also on being honest with our customers; even when the honesty involves delivering difficult news. We are proud to be a part of the growing solar movement in Indiana, and it is very unfortunate that state leaders have enacted such short sighted policies.
As Solarize participants evaluate their options, most are concluding that solar, even installed in 2018, is still a fantastic economic and environmental investment. Our team will be happy to discuss the difference between 30 year and 15 year net metering with you as you evaluate your options, and I am happy to point out that Ohio net metering policy went through similar changes several years ago and solar continues to thrive on this side of the state line.
In our collaboration with the volunteer organizers of the Bloomington Solarize program we have concluded that the next step is to let participants choose which path to take: A) to continue to work with the Third Sun team (we are still honoring our pricing and volume discount for all clients in the program, including those with a 2018 installation date), or B) to work with SIREN to see what options may exist for a possible 2017 installation date with a different solar company (offering different products, different pricing and a shorter length of warranty).
If you would like to continue working with us on your solar project and you are agreeable to a 2018 install, please reply to this email confirming that is the case and we will follow up with each of you to continue the process. If you are interested in looking at the possible 2017 install of your solar system, please contact SIREN email@example.com to receive a proposal from another solar company that may have the capacity to install your system this year.
Again I personally (and on behalf of the Third Sun Solar team) apologize for the situation. We admire all of you for your interest and support of clean energy, and sincerely hope that you go solar, whether this year or next.
For a brighter energy future,
President, Third Sun Solar