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Selling Homeowners a Solar Dream

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the not-like-a-d&d-solar-that-would-be-inefficient dept.

Businesses 279

slugo writes to mention a Wired article discussing a unique business looking to capitalize on interest in solar power. The Citizenr company will install a solar generator on your roof, completely for free. You then buy power from it, instead of a regular power company, at a fixed rate that's likely to be lower than the usual power fees. The company will make money on these usage fees, as well as credits from the federal government for spreading the use of solar power. If it sounds too good to be true to you, you're not alone. A number of financial analysts have warned people away from the company. "The naysayers are finding lots to say nay to. Much of the criticism is clinging to the company's multilevel marketing scheme. So far, more than 700 people have enlisted as independent Citizenr sales agents -- what the company calls 'ecopenuers' -- or about one sales representative for every 10 customers, with significant overlap. Heading that sales army is 42-year-old Styler, a veteran of multilevel marketing and a colorful figure in his own right." Pyramid marketing and shady business or not, it's an intriguing idea.

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First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131638)

For the first time.. First!!

The top cat will make money (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131640)

The alley cats will lose money. Same thing in any pyramid scheme.

Re:The top cat will make money (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131730)

If it's cheaper than your power company, you save money. If it's not, just buy from your power company, and you're no worse off than now. How would you lose money under this scheme?

Re:The top cat will make money (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131774)

No idea, but in pyramid schemes - pardon, multilevel marketing - the majority always lose money somehow. It is the nature of the beast.

Re:The top cat will make money (1, Troll)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132044)

I've signed up for a system, so yes I'll be paying the company money. But, my rate is 9.8 cents per kWh and I avoid a 2.1 cents per kWh distribution charge so I actually start out save about 17% from what I'd pay the utility.
In my sales activity, I have not been asked to pay anything. I have advertized a little, but this has payed for itself in terms of sales.
It is true, that those who work longer at this will make more money than those who work for a shorter period. In the bible story, all the laborers are payed the same if they came early or late, but this is to make a point. It is more usual to make more if you work more. I've also put some effort into training other people and I think I may profit from this if I've been any good at it. You can see the compensation at http://www.powur.com/mdsolar [powur.com] .

Re:The top cat will make money (2, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132398)

Wouldn't you rather just own the system outright? Outfit the system with a large bank of deep-cycle batteries like they use in telco offices (20yr lifespan), a good power conditioner, and net metering to feed any excess into the grid. That way, you pay your up front cost, but then your property begins earning you money, perhaps even enough to pay your property taxes. Convert home from a loss to a profit center!

Re:The top cat will make money (4, Informative)

wesmills (18791) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133044)

I've signed up with CitizenRe as well, and I have not chosen to be a "ecopreneur," so I have no referral link to place.

To answer your question: yes, I would love to own the system outright, and to outfit it with a large bank of deep-cycle batteries, etc. However, I do not have the $35-50,000 that such a system would require, nor do I have the credit to finance such a system. Therefore, CitizenRe, with their virtually "no risk to either side" contract, is the best option for "going green" and also saving a whole bunch of money.

Right now, CitizenRe has nothing about me except a name, an address, a telephone number, and a signature on a piece of paper indicating I will purchase all the electricity their solar cells can generate for a period of 25 years at $0.08/kWh. I predict this will be an excellent gamble, as energy prices are unlikely to fall dramatically (right now, the average rate for electric service in Texas is $0.124/kWh), and I will still be generating electricity in an environmentally-friendly manner.

These are the reasons I signed up. Not to make "gobs" of money, or to try to recruit other people. I did so because I wanted to, and without selling, so they let me.

Learn your terms (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132424)

From wikipedia [wikipedia.org] : "A pyramid scheme is a non-sustainable business model that involves the exchange of money primarily for enrolling other people into the scheme, usually without any product or service being delivered."

In this case, the money exchange isn't primarily for enrolling other people -- and there is an actual product/service being delivered: energy. It may be a scam, but it's not, strictly speaking, a pyramid scheme.

It's also not a Ponzi scheme [wikipedia.org] , which "involves paying abnormally high returns ("profits") to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors". They're offering a service, not paying "abnormally high returns".

This *could* be called MLM [wikipedia.org] -- which you are understandably suspicious of: "Multi-level marketing has a recognized image problem due to the fact that it is often difficult to distinguish legitimate MLMs from illegal scams such as pyramid or Ponzi schemes".

In a legit MLM system, the majority will not make as much money as the founders (the Amway president will always make more than people who simply bought Amway products -- duh), but that doesn't mean that people down the tree will *lose* money. They exchange money for a service; the fact that it was sold to them by another customer is irrelevant.

Re:The top cat will make money (1)

chakmol (88099) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132800)

No idea, but in pyramid schemes - pardon, multilevel marketing - the majority always lose money somehow. It is the nature of the beast.
So true. I also feel that like Clearwire broadband or those Postal Jobs,there will be those cardboard street-spam signs tacked up to phone poles everywhere for it. CHEAP SOLAR! 1-800-CALL-SUNY

Re:The top cat will make money (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131862)

Here is the original:
http://home.nycap.rr.com/useless/ponzi/ [rr.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ponzi_scheme [wikipedia.org]

and here is the grand daddy of the modern ones:
http://www.montrealmirror.com/ARCHIVES/1997/101697 /news5.html [montrealmirror.com]
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amway [wikipedia.org]

Re:The top cat will make money (1)

gallwapa (909389) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131928)

Uh, the 'current' generation of Amway is "Quixtar". Amway was held in such bad regard in North America they actually changed their name on 9-1-99

Re:The top cat will make money (2, Informative)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131860)


    I suspect there's more to it.

    I was roughly quoted something on the order of $50,000 for a solar power system for my house. I know I could build it for something more like $15,000, so that company was already making $35,000 for labor and other misc expenses.

    Now, where these people are "loaning" you the hardware, that means you're getting say $15,000 retail worth of equipment, which is probably more like $10,000 wholesale. Really, it's probably $7,500, but $10k is a easier number to work with.

    Say an average home pays $150/mo for power with the system in place, they've made their money back in 67 months. Anything after that is pure profit. It's kinda like leasing a car. You're paying for the car, but in the end, you don't own it.

    I strongly suspect somewhere in the fine print of the document, the life of the "loan" extends until you've used enough power, and paid their "reduced" rate, to cover the cost of the "loan". More than likely, you're wrapped up in a 80 month contract of at least $150/mo. It's a good long-term profit scheme, assuming they can get the customers in. Probably if you default on the loan, you are now responsible for their early termination fee, which I'm sure is roughly the cost of the equipment, plus a small profit.

    Really, it's not much different than what cell phone providers, and satellite TV providers are doing. Consider someone like DirecTV. You get a "free" satellite system, which includes 4 receivers and a dish, installed. With this, you're signing a 2 year agreement. You're really getting a few hundred bucks worth of stuff, and they get you in a service contract for a couple years. More than likely, you'll keep using the equipment beyond the end of the original contract, so they'll continue to make money for a long time.

    Personally, I'd rather own the solar equipment, but hey, if they want to give it to me, cool. :) I haven't looked into them carefully, but maybe I should.

You must have missed a math class... (5, Insightful)

btempleton (149110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132140)

Sorry to be rude, but you really need to be more accurate in your math if you're going to opine on this. First of all, it's not nearly so small a fraction wholesale. Typical costs installed are about $8/watt, which covers quite a bit more than the panels, which cost about $4/watt wholesale.

However, just take your $10,000 system. Now in reality that only will provide you with about $50 of electricity per month at $4/watt (2500 watts) but even if it did provide you with $150, you have forgotten what every mortgage holder knows -- that money today is worth far more than money (or electricity) in the future.

So $10,000 at 7% interest in fact takes 85 months, not 67 months to pay off at $150/month saving. This doesn't seem like a big difference, but it's because your price numbers are off. At the real price of solar, a $10K system provides, as noted, only $50 worth of power, and you can never, ever, in any number of months, pay off $10,000 at $50 per month because the interest per month is more than $50. So the math error becomes a difference between a real payoff rate and infinity.

Re:The top cat will make money (2, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132312)

No, this is actually a rental. If you break the contract, you lose your security deposit and that is it. The company can still make money with the system sitting on another roof. The contact does have a lot to it though. You can read it by clicking on any of the links at http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com] and clicking "Reserve your System."

MLM (2, Funny)

Inmatarian (814090) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131644)

I think the politically correct term in Multi-Level Management. The term Pyramid Scheme might offend someone. :P

On a more serious note, I thought the best way to get more money out of a customer than the advertised price of the product was to put it on a lease with an interest rate.

Re:MLM (1)

JoshDM (741866) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131880)

Multi-Level MARKETING.

At least, that's what they called it at that pharmaceutical place that took all my cousin's money.

Re:MLM (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132148)

I'd get a better rate of return if I took out a load for the device and the maintainence over it's life expectancy.

It would be a sucky rate of return but better than a MLM. That's More Losers and Morons for those who a byte.

hmm (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131646)

The company will make money on these usage fees, as well as credits from the federal government for spreading the use of solar power.

So then who gets the income tax credit for the installation of the solar equipment on your property? You? or them?

Re:hmm (1)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131754)

It would make sense if it was them. You put up no capital investment to have this. You're simply buying power from them like you would your utility. The entity that risks some money should be the one to get the tax credit.

Ecopenuers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131650)

I believe you/they mean ecopRenuers.

Ecopeneurs are tree-hugging nether appendages.

Thanks for the visual.

Uh oh (4, Informative)

RichPowers (998637) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131654)

"So far, more than 700 people have enlisted as independent Citizenr sales agents -- what the company calls 'ecopenuers' "

The boldface buzzword is a warning sign: stay away, stay very far away.

Re:Uh oh (0, Offtopic)

Meatloaf Surprise (1017210) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131778)

stay away, stay very far away

...that's what she said

huh? where is the scam? (4, Insightful)

cyberon22 (456844) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131932)

I don't understand the skepticism. The company is willing to install a power generator on your roof free of charge. Even if the company goes under, it wouldn't make sense for the new owners to remove the panels as long as they have a revenue stream coming from them as is.

As far as I can tell, the only way you could possibly get screwed is if the market price of electricity on the public grid falls below the rate to which you agree for private provision. But if the market price rises, you get an even better deal. People are rational and will evaluate signing one of these contracts based on what they are paying for electricity now and expect to be paying in the future.

Who cares about the company's marketing method? What matters is whether they can make the business model work. This is a fantastic idea environmentally and it seems to be good for the consumer too. The details are all going to be in the contracts between homeowners and the company, not the company and its sales force.

Re:huh? where is the scam? (0, Troll)

Danny Rathjens (8471) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132062)

We reject it for the same reason we reject Roland Piquepille's slashvertisements for his blog (which has ads on it such as "make money fast by blogging"). It may be legal, but it is creeping near the grey area because it is a way of separating people from their money in a dishonest fashion. If we don't make a stand against the stuff in the grey area, then the greedy scam artists will merely march further on and take advantage of more people without the wit to see that they are being taken advantage of. (e.g. a girl I know almost falling for the poetry contest scam, "we've selected your poem to be published in our book!" until I did 3 seconds of researching which brought up proof it was a scam since they "chose" someone's purposely random text entry)

Re:huh? where is the scam? (0, Troll)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132388)

You miss the point of how this business is constructed entirely. When the company goes under, and barring heavy intervention from the federal rebates, it's a pyramid scheme so it will, so all the end users and middle men will be screwed. Sure they'll prosecute the Ken Lays at the top maybe, but what did they recover for the poor folks he starved at the end of the day? Yeah, fucking zip, they never made any attempt to recover the money he stole that I'm aware of. It was all about the criminal charges, what was morally right was never considered. Lets just say that what I would have done to attempt to collect some justice for his hungry victims, and what was done to Ken Lay, are two entirely different scenarios. If ever a vigilante action was warranted, that was it.

After they go under, then who is to handle the worthless contract that lets you suck the excess you use from the local power grid? That's right folks, it will all be up to you to negotiate a new deal with Mr. Reddy Kilowatt, and dear old Mr Reddy Kilowatt has you by the short hairs and decides to charge you an extra 5 cents a kwh as a transport fee, just what are you going to do? Short of a lengthy court battle and numerous hearings at your local PUC, not a damned thing that will be profitable to YOU.

The only thing you can do is go off-grid, and live within what you can pull from the roof. Then the furnace will pull the batteries down in a long grey cold snap and where are you? Scrambling around to setup a wood stove for the rest of the winter, and planning to add a few kwh worth of wind power come construction season. Yeah, you CAN make it work, but it WILL change your lifestyle AND it will cost quite a few hay wagon sized loads of cash.

Rottsa ruck as they have been known to say in Tokyo.

--
Cheers, Gene

Re:huh? where is the scam? (1)

tinkertim (918832) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132734)

The question you guys aren't asking is what happens to the generators if the company goes under. They are assets, so can they be taken back to be liquidated to pay off the company debts, and if so do you have some kind of right of first refsual to outright buy the thing below its expected market (liquidation) price?

That really shapes how pissed you'd be if indeed they went under. If structured properly, it would be just like you leased to own the unit from them with a lump sum buyout at the end, not uncommon at all for that type of equipment.

I think , especially in Enron effected areas, people would be willing to risk it to at least shed some reliance on the grid. Also in developing countries.

Can't really call them evil until we know what goes in the fine print. There would also *have* to be clear cut regulations about this in place at the local level before it was made legal to do. That is a 'what if' that must be answered before these things gain popularity, imho anyway.

Re:huh? where is the scam? (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132924)

I loved this idea when I first heard it (the service not the sales scam). Perhaps if there were some evidence of "the worlds largest solar panel factory" actually being built in 2007 I would buy into it.

OTOH: My skepticism is about this particular company's credentials, not so much the basic idea of leasing solar panels. I still think there are many large corpratations with deep enough pockets to make something like this actually work in the not to distant future.

solar hot water (1)

naive_cynic (986375) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131660)

Sounds like a scam, but I've thought that you could make money doing something similar with solar hot water systems. The payback on solar hot water is fairly respectable.

Re:solar hot water (2, Interesting)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131872)

I've read up on it, and it appears to indeed be a big scam. Established solar panel producers are having a very hard time buying silicon at any price (most of what they do get is on long-term contracts), no less at the discount prices needed for the whole scheme to work.

I'm guessing the factory will never be built and the scammers will pocket the money instead.

PS: About solar hot water, the payback does indeed work out a heck of a lot better.

Eww (4, Informative)

Jethro (14165) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131666)

I would love solar (or some other alternative) energy for my house. Love it. But it's just too expensive.

That said, this is kind of nuts. They're using my roof space, selling power back to the energy companies and I still have to pay them?

Now, set this up so I pay them a flat-rate for a few years (even a rather long time, like 7 years) and I would absolutely consider it.

Re:Eww (4, Insightful)

anagama (611277) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131764)

That system is already in place. It's called a loan. You get a loan, buy the equipment, and pay it back at flat rate (probably at least).

Re:Eww (4, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131812)

This works really well in North Carolina where http://www.ncgreenpower.org/ [ncgreenpower.org] pays a very high premium for solar power. You could probably realize a 10% return. Elsewhere, it is an inflation tracking investment.

Re:Eww (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131788)

You are responsible for buying all the power the system produces but you can fix the per kWh rate for up to 25 years. The rate is what you pay now to your utility. Look at the map on one of the sales sights linked at http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com] to check the rate against your bill. If you are a Baltimore Gas and Electric customer, you'll see that you'll save about 30%, but that is only through Feb. 28. All the rates move to 2006 rates on March 1. BGE has just been rasing its rates quickly so you're seeing the lag as the company tries to track those changes.

Re:Eww (1)

bhsx (458600) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131916)

Incorrect. You are only responsible for the power you use. The excess power is sold to the power company. They only operate in areas where the local power pays you back for power entered into the grid(and actually haven't actually delivered to those areas yet anyway, afaik). They make a profit on the power you don't use, as well as the power you use; but they don't double-dip.
That said, there are a lot of critics of this particular startup, and not without good reason. They "swear" they have a ton in funding; but won't say where that money comes from or even where it's held (they're not public, so they're not required to). They seem to be holding-up on delivery of said goods (the solar panels) until they have their own fab plant for solar panels. It's been hypothesized that they're actually waiting 'til PV matures to over 40% efficiency in a cheap fab process before they even plan on building their own plant; but that's hearsay.
Basically, don't be an early adopter; but if you feel strongly that they're heading in the right direction, feel free to call them and get more info.
Another thing to note is that these "resellers" haven't been paid yet, and won't be until they actually perform their "roll-out," so you resellers are probably spinning you wheels for a while, while hoping to gods this turns-out to be profitable.

Re:Eww (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132058)

You can access the contract by clicking "Reserve Your System" on my home page. You'll see that you are responsible for paying for all the power the system produces. This works out because the systems are only rented where there are net metering laws. This makes the transaction with the utility in kWhs not cash. I think you are thinking of a dual meter arrangement.

Re:Eww (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131934)

One thing I think should have caught on by now is using a underground closed system water supply to cool and heat a heat pumps cooling coils. The system provides roughly 55F water to provide cooling for the coils in the summer and extracting heat from the the water in the winter.

This would also allow more people in the colder areas in the north to use a heat pump instead of a gas or oil furnace. The technology and systems are available for purchase now but they are still a niche product and very expensive. In reality, all it requires is a holding tank placed 10-12 feet under your house or in your back yard and a different design evaporator coil that allowed cross flow with the water system. A rubber lined concrete tank would last at least 100 years with zero maintenance and provide a large enough heat sink to heat /cool the average home.

I wonder.. (1)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131692)

Assuming this isn't a ponzi scheme, what would happen to this company if it was incredibly overcast for 6 months? It's not impossible. For example, Helensburgh, Scotland only sees about 5 or 6 clear days a year. Obviously, you wouldn't install these in Scotland, but something of that nature could happen anywhere, especially with the way the weather has been becoming more extreme as of late.

Also, let's say it's cloudy for a week or two, and the customer runs out of electricity. They'll have to pull energy off the grid, and incur a bill. Who pays that bill, the company or the homeowner? There are just too many holes in this scheme.

Aero

Re:I wonder.. (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131742)

This works under net metering, so it is not really a matter of running out of electricity. There is no storage in these systems except that provided by the grid and its responsiveness to changing loads. Net metering runs over a year, so an unusually cloudy year could affect revenues, but there are 40 states with net metering laws, so it would have to be cloudy all year everywhere for this to be a problem.

Re:I wonder.. (2, Informative)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132214)

Hmm.. I didn't know that. I also checked you facts, and it's 41 states + D.C.

Thanks

Aero

Re:I wonder.. (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132274)

Yup, West Virginia just got with the program, nine more to go. Some states have increadibly low caps on net metering capacity (0.2% of 1998 peak for Maryland).

Hooray! (5, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131698)

But, this is not completely free. There is a $500 deposit once you approve the design of the system.

One thing that confuses people about how this works is the idea of net metering. The system is designed to meet 100% of you power use over a year. It is not designed to meet you peak power use. Under net metering you build up kWh credits when the Sun shines and you are not using all of the power, and you use those credits at night or on cloudy days. The key thing is that the credits last for a year so the seasonal differences in power production and power usage can match up annually. There is good information on net metering laws at http://www.dsireusa.org/ [dsireusa.org] .

At least three shashdot users are selling rental contracts for this company and if there are more please let me know so I can add them to this list http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com] .

Please remember that this is a startup and it is going to take time to get going. No money will be collected until the panels are ready for installation!

Re:Hooray! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131824)

Are you an "independent distributor" eco-preneur for this company?

MOD DOWN! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131990)

"mdsolar" is a shill for an obvious Ponzi scheme.

Feasible... (4, Interesting)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131712)

The plan is entirely feasible.

If you start up a solar power "plant" you have to pay for the land, and you end up selling the power to the grid at wholesale prices.

With this, you get the land (roof tops) for free, and you can probably sell a good portion of the power at nearly retail prices directly to the home-owner, rather than the much lower wholesale price.

Whether there is scamming going on or not is a completely separate issue... It's certainly possible this company could be a scam to get at that some of that state and federal subsidy cash, but it's just as possible that it's not. And frankly, if I'm not a stock-holder, and am just buying a service from them, why do I care much if it does turn out to be some type of scam? At worst, you save some money in the short term, and have to give it up after a while... At best, maybe they go under, you'll be lucky enough to get a solar panel installed on your roof, free and clear (no more monthly fees).

It's not like solar power companies have a monopoly on scams...

It's a scam. (1, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131826)

The plan is not feasible, with or without the multi-level scheme.

Solar installations of house-size with a net-metering grid hookup are not cost-competitive with grid power, even with government subsidies and without paying for the space under them. Otherwise people would be able to save money by doing this themselves, without the middleman and his pyramid scheme.

The difference currently is a factor of several - too large for even an exceedingly efficient company's economy of scale to overcome. It's dropping. But it's still far from crossover. (When it DOES cross over there will be efficient companies building customer-owned installations that homeowners finance with the mortgage, as part of their houses.)

This is a ponzi scheme.

Re:It's a scam. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131868)

Otherwise people would be able to save money by doing this themselves, without the middleman and his pyramid scheme.

Thousands upon thousands of people have done it, and continue to do so. The economics are well-settled at this point.

Got any more bullshit claims?

Re:It's a scam. (3, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131920)

Thousands upon thousands of people have done it, and continue to do so. The economics are well-settled at this point.

Photovoltaic generation on a house-load level IS cost-effective in one situation: New construction in rural areas, where it displaces running a long (and high-priced) grid connection. Then the money that would have been spent on the grid tie can be spent on the capital cost of the photovoltaic system instead.

This one requires a grid tie for net metering, so that displacement is not available.

Unfortunately, equipment costs for grid-tied photovoltaic equipment is still high enough that you're ahead to invest the money it would have cost and spend the interest buying power for the life of the system you didn't install. (This could change with enough lowering of equipment costs or raising of electric power prices.)

If you have a source for equipment inexpensive enough to back up your claim, please let us know what it is. I have two houses where I'd LOVE to install such a system.

Re:It's a scam. (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132068)

Odd that you think off-grid solar is cost effective and grid-tie isn't. Off-grid solar usually has batteries. Since people don't want their batteries to be constantly in discharge, they often end up with the panels throwing away the output because the batteries are charged or close to charged. This really screws up the economics of panels. With grid-tie, all power generated by the panels is always used, either in the house, or by the grid. The grid is your 100% efficient storage.

Solar can not yet pay for itself (ever) compared to grid, but it's getting closer and closer (through subsidies mostly.) Without subsidies it's not even remotely close to ever breaking even -- it's always a decision to be green at a higher cost. CitizenRe claims they can beat this, and that's why everybody is saying "sounds too good to be true." People who know the real math of solar know that CitizenRe's claims are a dramatic improvement in the economics.

Thanks Mr. CitizenRe salesman. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132354)

But it's still just a scam.

Re:It's a scam. (3, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132374)

Odd that you think off-grid solar is cost effective and grid-tie isn't. Off-grid solar usually has batteries. Since people don't want their batteries to be constantly in discharge, they often end up with the panels throwing away the output because the batteries are charged or close to charged. This really screws up the economics of panels.

What makes off-grid cost-effective is when it saves you enough by NOT running the grid to the site to pay for much or all of the system.

Example: Suppose the cost of the system - panels, batteries, inverter, wiring (excluding the house wiring), instalation, and all comes to exactly the same as the grid hookup. Now your instalation is FREE. Your power cost become the cost of maintainence for the system - mainly replacing the batteries every five to ten years. That's a drop in the bucket compared to a power bill.

With grid-tie, all power generated by the panels is always used, either in the house, or by the grid. The grid is your 100% efficient storage.

Not really, though it's close. Two main losses:

If you feed more than you use in a given year the excess is lost. (Like the dump load on the batteries.)

And you still pay the connect fee. (In the case of Sierra power in Nevada that's currently $6/month. $72/year would cover the periodic replacement costs for about 5-10 KWHr of your deep-cycle battery capacity.)

Re:It's a scam. (1)

evilviper (135110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132956)

Unfortunately, equipment costs for grid-tied photovoltaic equipment is still high enough that you're ahead to invest the money it would have cost and spend the interest buying power for the life of the system you didn't install.

There are thousands of examples, but frankly, I have no idea where you get your ideas to begin with, so let's just start with one:

http://california.realgoodssolar.com/economics.htm l [realgoodssolar.com]

Re:It's a scam. (1)

GreyPoopon (411036) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131962)

Thousands upon thousands of people have done it, and continue to do so.
And almost all of them (except in the sunniest of regions) are paying more per watt for the solar power than they would have for grid power. You have to factor in the lifetime of the solar panels. They don't last forever. Anyway, we already saw this week a couple companies who claim they will have solar power that is cost-effective in the next five years. I'll believe it when I see it.

Re:It's a scam. (1)

Yartrebo (690383) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131938)

Don't forget that with this type of business, there is essentially zero economies of scale, but plenty of bureaucratic bloat. Over half the cost of an average installation is in labor and parts other than the solar panel. Those things do not scale in the least (labor, because of its nature, and many of the parts because they are already produced in bulk for other industries).

And let's not forget the interest rates that CC-rated (which is what I would rate such debt) bonds carry. Solar power is extremely capital intensive, and that is the last place a risky start-up should be investing money.

Crossover is here (3, Interesting)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131964)

The $3-4 cost per peak watt with present panels is driven now by scarcity of solar grade silicon and smaller scale less efficient production. The company expect a cost near $1.53 per peak watt and an energy return on energy in in about one year. This comes from scale and producing their own silicon. You can see that this is pretty much on the trend identified here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/m oney/2007/02/19/ccview19.xml [telegraph.co.uk] .

Re:Feasible... (1)

Have Brain Will Rent (1031664) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131924)

Anyone have a good idea of the technical requirements to feed energy back into the grid? I would assume it would have to be AC that is frequency and phase matched to the local power co line and some way of switching the house between the company line and the solar output. What kind of plant would it require and are there boxes already made to handle this part at a reasonable price?

Grid Tie Inverters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132042)

GIYF, http://www.google.com/search?q=grid+tie+inverter [google.com]

A grid tie inverter needs a couple of other components in order to build a complete system.

If you want to buy a bundled system, take a look at something like the Outback PS1.

You can download the manuals and wiring diagrams from the Outback web site.

There are many vendors to choose from. Some of them have good on line forums,

http://forums.sma-america.com/ [sma-america.com]

http://www.outbackpower.com/forum/ [outbackpower.com]

Re:Grid Tie Inverters (2, Funny)

aero2600-5 (797736) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132226)

I had to look up GIYF. I honestly thought it was 'Google it, you fuck!', but as it turns out, it's 'Google is your friend.'

Who knew..

Aero

Re:Feasible... (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132340)

You get a circuit box that shuts off the power if the grid power goes off (so you don't electrocute people)
I think it is called a "switchback" circuit breaker.

Sounds familiar (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131716)

Pyramid marketing and shady business or not, it's an intriguing idea.

Just like slashdot subscriptions

yuo Fail LIt? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131736)

enjoy the loud Share. *BSD is 'Yes' to any

Sorry I watch too much Heroes. (-1, Offtopic)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131738)

Heading that sales army is 42-year-old Styler. He's multilevel marketing to track down people faster to kill them off for their super powers.

If you don't pay your bills... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131766)

...they repo your whole roof.

Worst Case Scenarios (3, Interesting)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131786)

What happens if the company goes belly up, do I get to keep the generator, does uncle sam come & rip the thing off my roof, do I get the option to purchase it ?
Are they going to inspect roofs before installing theese things ?
"Multilevel marketing" ? Does that mean 3rd party contractors will be doing the install, who do I go to if my roof starts to leak after the install ?
If there's bad weather enough for me to have to use traditional grid power occasionally, do they cover the difference since their service failed ?
What happens if I decide to get my roof replaced while this thing is up there ?
How much of my roof will this thing require, will having a pool heating unit up there already be a problem ?

Re:Worst Case Scenarios (1)

golgoj4 (993133) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131858)

what the hell is your pool heater doing on your roof?

Re:Worst Case Scenarios (1)

Joebert (946227) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131874)

I live in Florida, a solar pool heater on a roof is a common thing to see.

Re:Worst Case Scenarios (1)

golgoj4 (993133) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131906)

the term 'solar' is key in that sentence...im sitting here imagining a full on gas heater on a roof...

Re:Worst Case Scenarios (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132390)

the term 'solar' is key in that sentence...im sitting here imagining a full on gas heater on a roof...

And I'm sitting *here* reading /. "nested" for the 1st time ever.

Wow.
I'm... solar.

Re:Worst Case Scenarios (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132998)

"im sitting here imagining a full on gas heater on a roof"

I live in an igloo you insensitive clod.

Re:Worst Case Scenarios (4, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131904)

The ownership of the systems stays with the company, so recievers would be collecting them, or the bill in the worst case.
The roof, shading factors, past electric usage all go into the system design. Under the 25 year contacts, there is one free deinstall-reinstall in case you need to move or reroof.
Installs are performed by franchises. These are brick and mortar. The network marketing is for sales. It is working as well.
These systems are only available where there is net metering. You use up kWh credits when the weather is cloudy that you build up when the weather is fair.
The amount of roof the system needs depends on how much electricity you use. The panel configuration is still not set but they will be 15% efficient. So, you can take 340 W/m^2 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solar_radiation [wikipedia.org] day night average mutiply by 0.15 and get about 50 W/m^2 out. For a 1000 kWh/mo bill you can work out that you use 1.4 kW on average so you need about 28 m^2 of panels, about 5 meters square. The tilt and orientation of your roof is also important and the amount of annual cloud cover. Ground mounted systems are also offered.
You can find out more following links at http://mdsolar.blogspot.com/2007/01/slashdot-users -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com]

If this takes off, I have my own business idea,,, (1)

bitrex (859228) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131802)

Home Solar Power Equipment Reposession Agency - for when a customer defaults on their payments. Though it'll probably be a bit hard to unwire an AC inverter from a main circuit breaker with a screaming shotgun-wielding homeowner next to you. There'll be a reality TV show about this in 2020.

This Rob Styler? (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131836)

Re:This Rob Styler? (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131974)

That's the one.

Is it redudant if..... (1)

edwardpickman (965122) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131838)

you also sell them retirement property in Arkansas? Florida seems to have run out of swampland so it's luxury living in Arkansas or your own private paradise in the Arizona desert. Just 30 minutes from the nearest water and power. At least with this skeme they'd have power.

I have an idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131854)

We could do way better than this Citizenr guy... Let's make second-rate knives, then lie to salespeople and consumers who will pay far too much money for them!

Woah, deja vu

Holy Crap protect your brain! (1)

ThePepe (775625) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131892)

Oohhhh, S-T-Yler - everybody's safe then.

Shady? (2, Funny)

gnurfed (1051140) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131900)

Shady business in solar power? I see warning flags popping up all over the place!

The real reason homepower won't be a success. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131950)

It's because the people in the Renewable Energy business are hopeless. Seriously. Try getting replies from RE businesses. They don't respond to e-mail or voice messages. When you finally get one on the telephone they give nothing but excuses why they can't help you.

You'll have to do what many of us have done, which is source your own hardware, such as PV panels, regulators, batteries/cells, etc. (Not easy: the manufacturers refuse to deal with end-users, and the "official distributors" apparently refuse to deal with anybody!)

The do the install, configuration, and maintanence (questions on message boards either go unanswered, or you'll be trolled and flamed for being a n00b....kind of like being on Slashdot, really.)

Most likely this will get modded 'Flamebait' or 'Troll', not much I can do about that, but I still believe the RE industry is its own worst enemy.

Re:The real reason homepower won't be a success. (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131988)

If a Citizenre associate does not get back with you in 24 hours, you are passed to one who will.

Thanks... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132026)

...but I'm not interested in scammers.

How to find a real solar installer in California (2, Informative)

Schafer (21060) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132164)

California has a major share of the solar market due to strong incentives. For each rebate, the state lists the system size, seller, and cost. There were about 15K installs in the last two years. Of the over 600 sellers listed, many are "green driven" types with few installations and not much business motivation. Below is the full list of 39 sellers that have over 100 installations. They are much more likely to return calls.

PowerLight Corp. (798 installs)
Renewable Energy Concepts, Inc. (712 installs)
GE Energy USA, LLC (473 installs)
Gaiam Energy Tech dba Real Goods (449 installs)
SPG Solar, Inc. (447 installs)
Carlson Solar Inc. (334 installs)
Regrid Power, Inc (320 installs)
Akeena Solar, Inc. (311 installs)
Premier Power Renewable Energy Inc. (278 installs)
Unlimited Energy (274 installs)
Sun Light & Power Co. (233 installs)
Sharpe Solar Energy Systems, Inc. (219 installs)
GenSelf Corporation (218 installs)
Mohr Power Solar, Inc. (213 installs)
Southern California Solar Inc. (202 installs)
Helio Power (198 installs)
Advanced Solar Electric (192 installs)
Cooperative Community Energy Corp. (190 installs)
Altair Energy, Inc. (188 installs)
Borrego Solar Systems, Inc (183 installs)
Next Energy Corp (181 installs)
Borrego Solar Systems Inc. (174 installs)
M C Solar Engineering (171 installs)
Marin Solar, Inc. (170 installs)
Sierra Pacific Home and Comfort (166 installs)
Sharp Electronics Corp. (160 installs)
Energy Efficiency Solar, Inc. (156 installs)
Clean Power Systems, Inc (150 installs)
Solahart All Valley (144 installs)
Power Independence Electric (thru Home Depot) (137 installs)
Sun First Solar (129 installs)
Plan It Solar (126 installs)
Revco Solar Engineering, Inc (123 installs)
New Vision Technologies, Inc. (123 installs)
Solatron Technologies, Inc. (122 installs)
Solar Technologies (118 installs)
Solar Works (118 installs)
Independent Energy Systems, Inc. (106 installs)
TMAG Inc dba Stellar Solar (Home Depot) (102 installs)

Source data from http://www.energy.ca.gov/renewables/emerging_renew ables/COMPLETED_SYSTEMS.XLS [ca.gov]

So? Try contacting them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132244)

See how far you get before you give up in despair and disgust.

Citizenr company (1)

citizenr (871508) | more than 7 years ago | (#18131966)

I sure didnt know I have a company.

MLM? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18131996)

Would you like to talk about a business opportunity?

And because Slashdot users are involved means a lot. I mean, look at the quality of the first posts on any thread . . .

OK, do it as a normal company (2, Insightful)

davidwr (791652) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132050)

Unless this company has some patent or something, nothing will stop a more traditional company from entering this market, if it is an attractive investment.

Ditto non-profits and cooperatives doing the same. With the tax-advantaged status if a non-profit and the lack of a need for a positive rate of return, I expect to see local eco-nonprofits start doing things like this even if it's not a good commercial investment.

Re:OK, do it as a normal company (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132106)

http://www.ncgreenpower.org/ [ncgreenpower.org] is a nonprofit that is making it quite worthwhile to buy solar. But, scarcity is making panels expensive, so to work at the price point of Citizenre, you need to control your own supply, which takes more money than a slow build out can manage. The sales approach of Citizenre ensures that the factory production will be presold. This is important because an idle factory increases costs.

A hot topic, at my blog and elsewhere (1)

btempleton (149110) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132082)

This is now a hot topic and you'll find a couple of detailed threads about CitizenRe at my blog. Executives of the company have been participating there and trying to give some (not too satisfactory) answers to critics.

You may wish to check out the original thread at:

http://ideas.4brad.com/node/504 [4brad.com]

And then the followup thread with my summary of what was learned at:

http://ideas.4brad.com/citizenre-real-or-imagined- challenge [4brad.com]

Normal solar is not yet close to economical. That's why everybody is skeptical about CitizenRe's as yet unfulfilled promise to deliver economical solar. The combination of secrecy, multi-level-marketing and astounding claims has many people feeling it sounds too good to be true.

Re:A hot topic, at my blog and elsewhere (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132150)

I remember looking at your blog a while back. The trouble is that you are assuming the price owing to scarcity is the cost. The estimated cost per peak watt for Citizenre is $1.53. This makes the model profitable above 7 cents per kWh as your calculation shows. I think you had breakeven at $2. If you think about this in the context of the industry world wide, especially new plants in China, this makes a lot of sense. The suppliers of machinery for those plants are also suppliers for Citizenre. Also, take a look at this http://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/main.jhtml?xml=/m oney/2007/02/19/ccview19.xml [telegraph.co.uk] . Crossover at wholesale may not be too far off either.

"O Ye, of Little Faith" (2, Interesting)

Olero (1067936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132098)

It's funny to me how negative even the nerds are--this is the last place I would have thought I'd see this attitude, but as always, the techies fear the sales guys (OOOOOhhhhhhh--MLM!). I mean for crying out loud--an 18-month-old website just sold for almost $2 BILLION dollars, and although looking at stupid videos might be a good way to pass the time at the office for folks stuck in front of their computer all day, it ain't gonna change the world. I think Citizenre will (full disclosure - I signed up to be an associate - http://www.qcimarketing.com/ [qcimarketing.com] , and I think the naysayers will be put in their place in the next month or so when the press release comes out. You'll have your questions answered then. I don't know if any of you people remember a little thing called the "Dotcom Era"? Anyone? If you're a tech person and you were working then, you remember the incredible level of secrecy around even the most duplicated business plans, and nobody would even dare to think about "opening the kimono" about their plans to anyone--even investors--without an iron-clad NDA. Why would you expect Citizenre to? With such an incredibly disruptive business model to today's energy industry--especially the traditional solar guys (who CANNOT compete with our model--EVER), and with many big-caps with big pockets who can see themselves making a few bucks in this $296 Billion market by simply copying us, I hope you people have the requisite 2c to rub together when it comes to just plain old business common sense. We may have announced $650 million in funding, but let's be honest here--there's a LOT more where that came from. Timing is everything here. I'm a NASD licensed former floor-trader (private fund--not a stockbroker), start-up business consultant, and C-Level Sales Shark, and I "get" the numbers, and they work. In fact, you can take a look at a PhD'd Independent Investment Advisor's analysis of our plan (I'm in CO like he is, but I've never met him, FYI) here: http://tomkonrad.wordpress.com/2006/12/13/102/ [wordpress.com] - if you see any flaws in that analysis, let me know! That's my 2c. PJ

You compare it to the dot com (1)

bxbaser (252102) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132858)

I don't know if any of you people remember a little thing called the "Dotcom Era"?

yea isnt that when all the vc's got ripped off when companies pissed through money like it was free beer ?

Re:You compare it to the dot com (1)

Olero (1067936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133128)

Ever hear of Google? Ebay? Yahoo? Paypal? Ring any bells? They were just websites with simple online services, too. That's it. Nothing more.

Not to mention, they didn't have physical assets like real estate and factories when they were funded, but with your knowledge of VC's you probably knew that already.

PJ

http://www.qcimarketing.com/ [qcimarketing.com]

Re:"O Ye, of Little Faith" (3, Insightful)

tftp (111690) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132868)

It's funny to me how negative even the nerds are

It's just many nerds are good at math...

I signed up to be an associate

...but some apparently are not.

I think the naysayers will be put in their place in the next month or so when the press release comes out

It will take more than a press release to convince techies. Something like, maybe, a working product?

I'm a NASD licensed former floor-trader [...] and C-Level Sales Shark, and I "get" the numbers

Whatever. On the other hand, you are not a businessman, because otherwise you would have immediately asked a very simple question. If your company happens to develop such a revolutionary solar panel (cheap, efficient or both), why to bother with homeowners at all? Just make solar panels for the whole planet, and then you can buy Microsoft with your spare change; the whole world will be at your service. Presidents of Kyocera and Sharp would be genuflecting in your lobby, and Secretary General of UN would be begging you to answer his calls (there is plenty of sunlight in Africa, and not much oil.) But no, instead of making the largest transnational corporations its customers CitizenRe picks ... homeowners, for $deity's sake! That's ridiculous, assuming CitizenRe's claims -- but totally understandable if CitizenRe's directors are just setting up a pyramid, with homeowners as stupid pawns. That's because Sharp would not move a finger without doing due diligence (and they know how to do it right, working with the technology for decades) but your average Sally and Tom will gladly pay $500 for unsubstantiated claims; indeed, "a sucker is born every minute". Some of such su^H^Hpeople will even sign up as unpaid members of the pyramid in hope to profit. In your case it is absolutely laudable that you chose to set aside your super-profitable career as a trader, licensed and all, and instead spend your expensive time on this free work.

Why would you expect Citizenre to [do] ?

A demo of their solar panel - installed in a standard house - would do a lot. It's not like a black shiny panel will reveal its technology to watching journalists. A mass-produced lot, with a sticker price on it, would remove all the doubts. But as it stands, the company is all hat and no cattle. Anyone with half a brain (or more) should treat them as a scam unless proven otherwise.

Re:"O Ye, of Little Faith" (0, Troll)

Olero (1067936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133106)

Well, the nerd that posted this obviously did not do their homework and look at the numbers that were supplied to all in the link in the original post, or this attitude would not pervade. With such negativity, you must work for one of those transnationals, huh?

Maybe in your cubicle "whatever" is a high-functioning response. All kinds of logic there. I guess I'm not a businessman either because you said so.

And how do you know that world leaders will not be asking us for favors in the future?

Make solar panels for the whole world? I believe that's part of the plan. How do you know that the largest transnational corporations are not our customers already?

You see, the problem you have here is that you've based this on your assumptions--including my "super-profitable" career as a trader. I'm not Warren Buffet. Yet.

Also, trying to mischaracterize things I wrote does not help your credibility. Do you remember the "open the kimono" part of my post? That's a reference to showing people your "private parts", and again why would you want us to lose our competitive advantage by showing the world everything before it's ready? So our competitors have a chance to catch up? Who's not a businessman?

Lighten up, man!

PS--We are asking for no money until the equipment is in your neighborhood and ready to install and you've approved your system design, so unless your family loves us so much that they are sending us unsolicited funds beforehand, well, anyway. If you could explain the scam to me a little bit more, I'd be interested in having you explain to us all how anyone benefits from anything when no money is exchanged--I'd really like to hear it. Really.

What's my cut for referals? (1)

mrnick (108356) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132518)

So, if I get a grid of solar panels on my roof and I do actually start saving money on my electricity. What do I get out of the deal when my neigbors start signing up listing me as their referal?

Nick Powers

Re:What's my cut for referals? (1)

Olero (1067936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132548)

Good Question Nick--You get 5% of your referrals' monthly bill. So if you do the math, you can see it would take 20 folks with a bill the same size as yours to zero out your monthly bill. It's that simple.

Ask your current power company if they'll do that!

http://www.qcimarketing.com/ [qcimarketing.com]

tag: usaonly? (1)

caluml (551744) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132646)

Can we have a tag: usaonly?

A different solution (1)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132670)

There's a better way to go solar than to enslave yourself to some fly-by-night company for the rest of your life. It's called a loan. Here's how it works.

You go to the bank, get a loan, use the loan money to install your very own solar panel system, and use the money you save on electric bills to pay back the loan. Later, once you've paid off the loan, you get to keep the money that you aren't spending on those electric bills instead of continuing to pay a permanent rental fee to some company. And if you generate more power than you use, you can actually sell it to make more money.

Works great for retirement, and if you decide to sell the house instead, you can mark it up because of the solar panels, allowing you to install solar panels at your next house as well, perhaps without needing a loan.

Re:A different solution (1)

Olero (1067936) | more than 7 years ago | (#18133032)

What bank do you work for? Be honest.

If you want to drop $50,000 on the typical system sized to meet 100% of the average US home's needs, be my guest, but that is a very poor financial decision.

In the last 3 decades, the current solar establishment has installed ~30,000 systems nationwide. Why haven't they been able to do more? Why don't people take your advice? Hint: $.

Do the math: Drop $50G's today, start paying interest, and MAYBE see ROI in what? 10yrs? 20yrs? Maybe. Or become a Citizenre customer and see ROI the moment your system is installed from interest accruing on the deposit and the fact that you can lock in 2006 rates today--even if your system isn't installed until 2008--and IF utilities drop their prices in fear (heh heh), we'll give you the better rate. If you have a $200/mo bill, you'll save a little over $17,000 (if the utilities raise their rates at 2.1% (inflation) annually, and some have already announced 30-50% increases just this year) with a 25 yr FRA, averaging out to ~$56/mo in savings, which, if invested properly, will have a pile of cash staring you in the face at the end of the contract (wanna talk retirement?)--not a 30-year-old piece of obsolescence you must spend money on to replace.

And as far as your concerns with lifetime slavery go, you can cancel your agreement with Citizenre the instant you see the ColdFusionator 5000 infomercial on TV for 3 easy payments of $9.99 (or any other technological breakthrough that results in a more cost and energy efficient method of getting power to your home), and you simply forfeit your deposit (~$500). Most homeowners can handle that. Most can't handle losing $50,000--even those that can would obviously rather not if there's a better hedge in the market. Getting paid interest is always better than paying it. Let's get real here.

As far a property values go, it is true that Citizenre owns the system, and there is not added asset value because of it, but there is intrinsic value in the Forward Rental Agreement if you want to transfer it to the new owner (if you don't want to take it with you and keep your 2006 rate, since we'll move it to your new home once for free--it's a little more expensive if you own the system). In fact, if you sold your house in 10 years and your monthly bill is lower than your neighbor's, you have a real financial value advantage to offer a prospective buyer, with zero extra costs for monitoring, maintenance, and repairs (like they would incur if the system was purchased).

If you want to put Citizenre and Google on the same level (you call us both "fly-by-night"--see here: http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=222842&cid=180 45560/ [slashdot.org] ) I'm OK with that. It's obvious you took a swing without doing your homework, and I'm OK with that. If I ever have the opportunity to "fly-by-night" like Google does, I'm capitalizing on the opportunity every time.

One more thing--the deposit is due when the equipment is in your neighborhood and you've been reading about us in the news for months and we've become the Google of the solar business and we've put serious time and effort into helping you switch to solar (you'll see our efforts)--there is no financial obligation to reserve your system today. (It takes less than a minute, and you can do it at the link below. Yes, I am an associate.) I'd love to help educate you further if you have any other questions.

PJ

http://www.qcimarketing.com/ [qcimarketing.com]

Conclusion (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18132870)

Some good discussions are here [4brad.com] here [renewablee...access.com] and here [wordpress.com] . This sounds like a great idea, I'm all for it. But, the collective 'naysayers' have a lot of really good points, and several misconceptions. The misconceptions are quickly and vociferously explained. The numerous good points, however, are usually met with changing of the subject. The best of those points are:
Q: Who is financing the $650mil? Where is the manufacturing plant?:
A: 'We'll release that info in the next few days... er, next couple weeks....er, end of January...er, 1st ½ of February...er, end of February':
People in the solar manufacturing business know when any new plant is being built. Somebody, somewhere, will leak that info to the blogosphere. It takes many months of planning, then 6 months to years to build the plant, then another 6 months to years to get the equipment going, and the first product they produce never actually works - it takes at least another few months to a year to get even 20% working. But for the biggest solar plant ever built, not a word? Hundreds of workers at every step of the process, but nobody leaks any info? In January, they said 20% capability by Sept. 07.:
:
Q: How much will it cost per kWh?:
A: $1.53. This was mentioned on a conference call end of January, but it wasn't printed anywhere on any advertisements, or even the internal website, including the knowledge base. I've been looking, and didn't see it anywhere, ever, until mdsolar wrote it today. Why not? For a piece of info that the 'naysayers' have been screaming for, why not reply to them?:
:
Q: Solar power cheaper than coal is the 'holy grail' the industry has been searching for relentlessly. Citizenre claims not just to have broken that barrier, but smashed completely through it, like skipping 5 years of Moore's Law in 1 year. 'Vertical Integration', while very buzzy, doesn't explain that. If you could do it, people would hear about it, and sign up. You dont need the risks, bad name, and expense of MLM - you'd max out your capacity by putting a website up.
A: Long answers that dont add up usually follow, but sometimes, "Forget the numbers, you have to just believe. I believe in a green future, dont you?"
:
My conclusion is that there is definitely some scheming going on. I just hope its of the Bill Gates variety, like when he licensed 'his' OS to IBM before he owned it (at least that's what I remember from Pirates of Silicon Valley). I believe there is no manufacturing plant or $650 mil, but the Citizenre guys hope to drum up enough hype that they can go to potential investors and say - look, we've presigned 10k customers - give us the startup capital, and we'll chia-grow a business. Every year they delay roll out, the silicon and technology gets cheaper, so they're in a win-win situation, going from investor to investor, every month the numbers get a little better. All the while the hype drives Rob Styler's book sales.:
:
The darker possibility in my mind is that they're after the security deposit, which is size dependent. If your system requirements are bigger, you pay more than the $500. The average size people are signing up has been said (without refutation) to be close to $1300. If they could actually convince people to pay the deposit without getting the systems, then they would make 10k customers X $1300 = $13mil. Oh, they are upfront paying the sales associates 10% of the $500 potential commissions, so they would only make $12.5mil. Split that between 5 core people, $2.5mil is not bad for a couple years work. If it were me, I'd sacrifice my good name for $2.5mil and travel the world on a yacht under a false name. Maybe I'd write a book about it - hope it gets turned into a movie.:
:
All this said, you don't seem to lose anything to just sign up on the website, just in case it does work out. Just be careful about paying that security deposit before you know for sure people are getting their systems.

citizenre (2, Interesting)

slashthedot (991354) | more than 7 years ago | (#18132950)

I came to know about Citizenre through bestcashawards.com . BCA is a MLM scheme where you earn for attending marketing conferences if you manage to make 7 levels under you. Thereafter you get paid per person under you for each conference. I was initially quite interested in how they can help me make money but gave up after a few days in their internet conference. Citizenre was the first company giving a seminar under bestcashrewards. The sales guy offered me $5 for each customer I manage to get signed up with them. But when I asked him how would he track if the customer has been referred by me, he didn't have any idea; asked me to help him make a tracking software. I like the idea of harnessing Solar power, but not sure if citizenre can deliver. They count each person who fills up a form as a customer. Most of them attend the conference to make money and are hardly interested in buying anything. I think the 7000 count is just the people who have filled the form, not the real customers.
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