Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Science

Selling Homeowners a Solar Dream 279

Posted by Zonk
from the not-like-a-d&d-solar-that-would-be-inefficient dept.
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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Selling Homeowners a Solar Dream

Comments Filter:
  • The alley cats will lose money. Same thing in any pyramid scheme.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by JWSmythe (446288) *

      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 i
      • by btempleton (149110) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @02:34AM (#18132140) Homepage
        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: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by peektwice (726616)
          You are both getting at the very core of the problem. Regardless of math errors, in its simplest form this is an economic problem. Nothing will ever successfully address the global warming problem if it isn't economically viable. Americans, and people in general, are not willing to change their electrical system or change to an alternate fuel vehicle if it costs more than a conventional system. This is why you saw a surge in biofuels, alcohols, etc., when gasoline was $3.25 per gallon here. Now that people
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Mr. Slippery (47854)
            Nothing will ever successfully address the global warming problem if it isn't economically viable.

            The fact that it's difficult to find a economically viable renewable energy solutions shows that it's our economic system that's not viable.

            So long as economist don't know how to subtract [adbusters.org], and as long as polluters get to externalize their costs, economic reality and physical reality will not correspond.

            • by Firethorn (177587)
              Hmmm....

              Nice little ad, but doesn't understand the economy very well. Most of the ad's examples don't work.
              Cutting down the forest - increases GDP for that year. It totally forgets to mention that either stuff is built on the cleared land or generally more trees are planted for harvest later. It's a renewable resource. At this point in the USA, the vast majority of trees harvested are farmed.
              The Oil spill - Doesn't help GDP. First, the value of the oil is lost. Then vast amounts of resources(money) ar
        • by Angostura (703910)

          money today is worth far more than money (or electricity) in the future.


          While I applaud your post in general, I'm not quite so sure this holds true for an energy market where we can possibly (probably) predict that the cost of energy will rise inexorably over the medium term.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mdsolar (1045926)
        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-user s -selling-solar.html [blogspot.com] and clicking "Reserve your System."
  • MLM (Score:2, Funny)

    by Inmatarian (814090)
    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.
    • by mrmeval (662166)
      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.

  • by User 956 (568564)
    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?
    • by anagama (611277)
      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.
      • by sumdumass (711423)
        My local power company has a clause saying we cannot buy power form any other source at the place their service is connected. So Im skepticle about were these installs are actualy going to happen at.

        If anyone is able to get the tax credit for the install, It would be the home owner. There just isn't any benifit in the company suppying them to get a tax credit of this nature. First, they would have to make a certain amount of profit before the tax credit altered their tax liability so they would be waisted o
  • Uh oh (Score:5, Informative)

    by RichPowers (998637) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:40AM (#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.
    • by cyberon22 (456844) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @01:37AM (#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.
    • by fermion (181285)
      When a company is willing to stand behind the product, and has confidence in the value, a company more often than not hires salespeople, perhaps on commission, but hires the people so there is a clear legal line between the customer and firm. This legal line has legal ramifications, and opens the firm to certain legal liabilities if the actual selling firm does not provide the specified product with the specified terms. IANAL, but my comprehension is that one way to limit such liabilities is to use a MLM
  • Eww (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jethro (14165) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:42AM (#18131666) Homepage
    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 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by anagama (611277) <obamaisaneocon@nothingchanged.org> on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:59AM (#18131764) Homepage
      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 (Score:5, Interesting)

        by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @01:07AM (#18131812) Homepage Journal
        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.
        • 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.

          The problem long term is companies pay a premium for solar because it is scarce - and the fed's give credits to us renewable power supplies and some states have renewable targets so companies buy it to for political, not economic, reasons.

          If solar becomes more common place then there is no need to pay
          • by mdfst13 (664665)

            If this really is viable long term utilities would start doing it - and they have the engineers and cash to invest should they decide to do so; and they like subsidies as much as the next person.

            I think that you are missing a couple things in regards to utilities:

            1. A utility is a government managed entity. While it is privately owned, prices, etc. are set by the government. This makes it hard to offer innovative pricing, like a guaranteed rate.
            2. A utility is a steady dividend, low growth company. Its stock will reflect this. While the utility has the manpower to do this, they do not have the ability to raise capital by selling high P/E stock. Even if this program would make economic sense to the
      • by bgfay (5362)

        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).

        Yeah, New York State has an incentive program for this too and with the tax credits available, it's pretty reasonable. My wife and I are considering the idea as we need a new roof and would like to combine the installation of both so as to minimize the effect on either one. Solar is a good idea, but for the homeowner of a not-so-new house like mine, it is not the first step toward energy efficiency or independence. Begin with the old furnace, insulation, windows and doors, and sealing all the leaks. But th

    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      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-user s -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 b
      • by bhsx (458600)
        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
        • by mdsolar (1045926)
          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.
    • They are offering fixed rate contracts as long as 25 years.....I don't think we're necessariy dealing with a bold-faced scam here. More likely, we are dealing with a potentially over-ambitious business model. I'm looking into it right now and my first question is, "where are they getting the money from?"

      Right now, it appears that all you are on the hook for is a $500.00 deposit. You would lose that if they went bankrupt I suppose.

      I'd love to see it work....but I don't yet understand where the profit is c
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by hardie (716254)
      Read what Citizenre has to say. They are doing what you want.

      They charge you what your current power bill runs for electricity, flat rate for 25 years if that is the term you sign up for. You still have to pay for the connection, since they sell excess power to the utility (and the utility is your backup power--no batteries).

      They will also move your installation to a new house once, for free.

      Now whether this business plan is going to work for them, I don't know, but the risk on your part is small ($500 for
  • 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
    • Re:I wonder.. (Score:5, Informative)

      by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:54AM (#18131742) Homepage Journal
      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: (Score:3, Informative)

        by aero2600-5 (797736)
        Hmm.. I didn't know that. I also checked you facts, and it's 41 states + D.C.

        Thanks

        Aero
        • by mdsolar (1045926)
          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! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:48AM (#18131698) Homepage Journal
    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!
  • Feasible... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by evilviper (135110) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @12:50AM (#18131712) Journal
    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. (Score:2, Interesting)

      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 droppi
      • by evilviper (135110)

        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. (Score:4, Informative)

          by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @01:34AM (#18131920) Journal
          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.
          • 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 f
            • Re:It's a scam. (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Ungrounded Lightning (62228) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @03:32AM (#18132374) Journal
              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: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by aquabat (724032)
              I think he's saying that off-grid solar is more cost effective than on-grid conventional if you live way out in the sticks, because it would cost the electric company millions of dollars to run a line to your house, but it would only cost you a few grand to set up some panels and an energy storage system.

              Another point in favour of off-grid solar is that your costs are all capital costs, as opposed to operating costs. You buy the hardware, set it up and forget about it. Also, when comparing costs, you get

              • I wonder what would happen if you built your own far off grid community that all had solar installations. I'd imagine you would have to do more than just install wires. Would be an interesting experiment.
              • If you go off grid, and don't use 100% of the power you generate, you are not being very green at all. Not even counting the problem of disposal of batteries. On-grid has minor costs but every watt hour is used.

                If you want backup power with your grid-tie system, of course you have that during the day. Non-green as it seems, the greenest choice is actually a generator for your night usage, because in reality you are hardly ever going to run it.

                If you're off grid the right approach is to underprovision th
          • by evilviper (135110)

            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]

        • 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.
      • by Yartrebo (690383)
        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 cap
      • Crossover is here (Score:4, Interesting)

        by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @01:41AM (#18131964) Homepage Journal
        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].
        • 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.

          Except it is difficult to secure cheap long term purchase agreements for the raw silicon they need - where are their purchase agreements?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...they repo your whole roof.
  • Worst Case Scenarios (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Joebert (946227) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @01:03AM (#18131786) Homepage
    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 ?
    • by mdsolar (1045926) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @01:30AM (#18131904) Homepage Journal
      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]
      • The ownership of the systems stays with the company, so recievers would be collecting them, or the bill in the worst case.

        Or a court voids the rate agreement and allows it to be reset to a higher profitable level and you either agree or opt-put and the new owner needs to come get the units; or the court awards the units to the owner and your stuck with repairs / maintenance and disposal.

        Plus, the cash flow for these units is expected to decline over time as the units degrade with age. Once the market is sat
  • 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.
  • Shady? (Score:2, Funny)

    by gnurfed (1051140)
    Shady business in solar power? I see warning flags popping up all over the place!
  • 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.
    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      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.
  • 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 abou
    • by mdsolar (1045926)
      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,
  • by Olero (1067936)
    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
    • by tftp (111690) on Saturday February 24, 2007 @06:07AM (#18132868) Homepage
      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.

      • Because the systems are monitored for billing, this is a wrinkle that is not off-the-shelf. Thus there will be some beta systems to help debug the billing code before regular installs get going. But, if you want fully mass produced stuff, you'll need to wait for mass production.
      • "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. "

        What do you mean the whole planet? Is that like "pave the earth" but with solar panels? and then buy Microsoft and the whole world will be at your service? I don't get it. Do you plan on closing Microsoft down after you buy it?

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

      Excellent, I'm trying to look at these guys with an open mind....I look forward to thier press release.
  • 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
  • Can we have a tag: usaonly?
  • 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 yo
  • citizenre (Score:2, Interesting)

    by slashthedot (991354)
    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 wi
  • Its no surprise that they want to give you the equiptment, and charge you a subscription, rather than sell you the equiptment.

    If you owned the equiptment you dont need the power companies really, and you can infact sell your energy to the power grid so...

    yeah... dont fall for this scam. Buy the hardware, and the energy is free. The real truth is... the sun's energy is free for all.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    I keep seeing comments about "government subsidies" here. THERE ARE NO GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIES - only taxpayer subsidies! I hope all you taxpayers are happy subsidizing this and all the other solar wet-dream schemes!
  • There is a new development not far from me that has basically done the same thing as what's being described here. Mosier Development [energypriorities.com]

    In summary, they are selling new townhomes with solar panels attached to the top. However, you don't own the solar panels for the default listing price; because there are much better economic incentives to commercial use of solar, you purchase the townhome and then buy back the solar from the commercial entity that was setup to own the panels. It is believed that this is m

Testing can show the presense of bugs, but not their absence. -- Dijkstra

Working...