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Real Goods Solar Helping Americans Go Solar with No-Cost Tools

Orange, CA: Real Goods Solar is helping Americans assert their energy independence this Fourth of July with a spectacular array of solar financing options that allow families from California to Connecticut to live large on smaller utility bills, despite the season’s sweltering heat.

The path to energy independence is manifested in a trifecta of tools that 1) dispel common myths about solar technology, 2) make the benefits of solar technology affordable to tens of thousands of new American households and 3) provide simple, straightforward solar solutions that allow consumers to harness the sun’s energy to save money on powering their homes and businesses — and fueling their electric vehicles — from month one.

“A recent Associated Press poll found that in today’s economy, a majority of Americans ranked lower energy bills a higher priority than taking a summer vacation(1),” said Real Goods Solar’s Southern California General Manager Josh Price.

“We’re here to let people know that they don’t have to be held hostage to skyrocketing energy bills. With the right solar solution, folks can take control of their energy costs and invest their savings in areas that reflect their core priorities, for instance quality-of-life issues that include education, recreation – and time with friends and family,” he said.

Step one in Real Goods’ approach to energy independence is arming Americans with facts about solar energy. “There’s a great deal of misinformation circulating about solar, and it does homeowners and those of us who create jobs in the energy sector a great disservice when it comes to evaluating the benefits of today’s solar energy,” said Real Goods Solar Sales Manager Scott Schumacher of San Diego.

With that, Real Goods recently announced the availability of “87 Solar Myths,” a free, downloadable eBook that separates solar fact from fiction. “It’s a fast, fun read that can help folks bust the most pervasive myths about solar today, while equipping them with an arsenal of facts that illuminate how solar can help curtail their energy anxieties,” said Schumacher.

There’s a reason solar is America’s fastest growing industry(2) – and that reason is primarily economic.

So step two on the road to energy independence is a review of a household’s energy bills and home orientation to determine potential solar savings. Recent thermometer-popping temperatures compound the problem of high energy bills, as people turn to pools, fans, freezers and air conditioners for relief.

“Harnessing solar power is a great way for families to live comfortably without breaking the bank– even when feeding energy-hungry summer staples like air conditioning and pool pumps, which can add a whopping 25% to summer electric bills,” Schumacher noted.

Solar, however is no fair-weather energy solution. It provides year-round benefits for consumers, not only offering monthly energy savings but a hedge against rising energy costs. A University of California, San Diego (UCSD) study(3) confirms that roof-top solar also has insular properties, keeping homes 5-degrees cooler in the summerand 5-degrees warmer in the chill of winter. And a recent Berkeley National Laboratory study of Southern California households shows that solar improves the resale value of properties.

Once it’s clear solar is a viable solution, homeowners are introduced to a menu of palatable new financing optionsthat are making solar affordable to more American households than ever before(4).

“With zero-down lease agreements, pre-paid solar and hefty tax credits for those who wish to purchase systems, it’s simple to bust Solar Myth #1, that solar is too expensive,” Schumacher added.

Schumacher says another important message for consumers is that solar is not the most expensive source of electricity anymore. “In almost all cases, for residential applications, solar is the least expensive way to get energy today,” he said. And while solar in time’s past was perceived as only for more affluent environmentalists, he says today’s economic incentives make it a prudent play for homeowners across the board.

“Solar’s just a smart move for anyone who wants to live comfortably, slash their electric bills and improve their property values. Solar’s benefits of reducing carbon emissions and creating a cleaner America strengthen the value proposition,” Schumacher said.

Understanding how solar technology works to benefit consumers (and the many ways Americans can choose to deploy it in their quest for energy independence) is an important leg in the race to beat the heat and vanquish rising energy bills. Real Goods Solar customers have three simple module and inverter offerings, some engineered in America, some manufactured in America, but all employing Americans in one way or another.

“Today, the U.S. exports nearly $26 billion a month to satisfy our appetite for oil, a great deal of which we get from nations hostile to American interests,” observed Price. “Empowering Americans to obtain their electricity from a clean, domestic and often cheaper source that creates local jobs just makes sense,” he added. “It’s the American way.”

With its job-creating, money-saving, property-improving qualities, Real Goods Solar’s prescription for solar energy independence is something Americans can celebrate not just on Independence Day, but every day.

Perhaps renowned author and energy guru Tom Friedman got it right when he said, “When it comes to energy, green is the new red, white and blue.”

About Real Goods Solar: Real Goods Solar is a leading solar energy integrator, having installed over 13,000 solar electric systems. We offer turnkey solutions, and have 34 years of experience in solar energy, beginning with the sale of the first solar photovoltaic panels in the U.S. in 1978. With offices in California, Colorado and the Northeast, Real Goods Solar is one of the largest residential solar installers in the country. For more information, visithttps://www.RealGoodsSolar.com or call 1-888-56-SOLAR.

(1) Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Poll conducted March 29 to April 15, 2012; released June 2012.

(2) Solar Energy Industries Association.

(3) Jacobs School of Engineering, University of California, San Diego.

(4) NREL Energy Policy report “The Transformation of Southern California’s Residential Photovoltaics Market through Third-Party Ownership.”

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Real Goods Solar’s Free “87 Solar Myths” eBook

Real Goods Solar, the nation’s most established residential solar installer and integrator, is helping Americans separate solar fact from solar fiction with a free, downloadable myth-busting eBook known as 87 Solar Myths, available online athttps://www.RealGoodsSolar.com.

87 Solar Myths is a quick read to dispel what solar professionals across the U.S. say are today’s most pervasive solar industry inaccuracies. Interest is high. Nearly one thousand eBooks have been downloaded since its Earth Week release.

“Solar is America’s fastest-growing industry, employing more than 100,000 individuals within 5,600 companies across all 50 states. And it has the potential to slash energy costs, improve property values and recoup tax dollars, all while helping Americans reduce their carbon footprint,” said Josh Price, General Manager of Real Goods Solar’s Southern California operations. “Yet time and again, we see homeowners who can truly benefit from solaroverlook its potential because of industry misconceptions.”

87 Solar Myths slaps down perennial misnomers such as “Solar technology is too expensive,” “Coal power is cheaper than getting power from the sun,” “A solar lease traps you in your home,” or “$0 down solar is too good to be true,” while confirming the veracity of other well-publicized solar tenets. Most myths contain hyperlinks to respected solar authorities like the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the US Department of Energy, where consumers can go for additional unbiased information.

“What we’ve learned in speaking with people across the U.S. over the years is that we aren’t just in the business of solar, we’re in the business of educating,” explained Real Goods Solar Residential Marketing Director Cheryl Moody.

“There are some whacky – and some serious – rumors that persist amongst consumers. Our goal is to equip homeowners with an unbiased source of information so that they can confidently make valid decisions as to how the benefits of solar energy could improve their circumstances,” Moody said.

More and more, companies like Real Goods Solar are seeing it’s the economics of solar that are driving new business. Thus, many of the rumors busted in 87 Solar Myths address the affordability of solar.

Plummeting module prices and a plethora of new, zero-down financing options allow a whole new demographic of folks to afford solar, whether it’s via efficient lease options or via system purchase, the latter of which allows for healthy 30% tax credits and, in 29 states, cash grants and related economic incentives.

“The good news is that improvements in manufacturing and the introduction of new financing products mean solar is finally within reach of most homeowners,” notes Real Goods Solar founder and Residential Solar President John Schaeffer in the eBook’s prologue.

A recent National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study(1) focusing on the demographics of Southern Californians who’ve recently entered the solar marketplace confirms this. According to lead NREL report author Easan Drury, repackaging the value of solar photovoltaics (PV) as savings on a family’s monthly electric bill is an attractive alternative to the pitch that it will pay for itself over the course of 5 to 10 years. “If someone comes up to you and says you can make money next month and forever, that totally changes how people see the value of solar.”

Price says that with compelling zero-down solar options that allow homeowners to save on their electric bills from day one, consumers are reinforcing that today’s solar solutions are as much of an economic play as an environmental one. “But people won’t get to the evaluation stage if they aren’t equipped with the facts,” Price added. “We created this eBook to help Americans enhance their energy IQ. They can then use this information to enhance their bottom line.”

(1) NREL Energy Policy report “The Transformation of Southern California’s Residential Photovoltaics Market through Third-Party Ownership.”

About Real Goods Solar: Real Goods Solar is a leading solar energy integrator, having installed over 13,000 solar electric systems. We offer turnkey solutions, and have 34 years of experience in solar energy, beginning with the sale of the first solar photovoltaic panels in the U.S. in 1978. With offices in California, Colorado and the Northeast, Real Goods Solar is one of the largest residential solar installers in the country. For more information, visithttps://www.RealGoodsSolar.com or call 1-888-56-SOLAR.

Real Goods Solar Supports “Boots-on-the-Roof” Job Training

Real Goods Solar, Inc. is joining non-profit GRID Alternatives and 150 job trainees, corporations, community volunteers, veterans and homeowners for San Diego County’s 2nd Annual GRID Alternatives Solarthon, a public-private partnership leveraging boots-on-the-roof solar training, donated solar equipment and corporate and student volunteers to install money-saving solar electric systems on eight low-income households in a single neighborhood in one day.

The effort will slash the energy bills of the eight families receiving the solar solutions by 70%, saving them a total of $190,106 over the anticipated 30-year life of the donated systems.

“San Diego’s high electricity rates make many living in affordable housing vulnerable to economic stresses from rising energy costs, compounding their financial hardship,” said GRID Alternatives’ San Diego Director Paul Cleary. “We believe that free, clean electricity from the sun should be available to everyone,” he added.

The National City Solarthon — one of seven Solarthons GRID Alternatives has slated for California this year — takes place Saturday, June 9, from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm at the intersection of 18th Street and G Avenue, just five miles south of downtown San Diego.

“This is our biggest public initiative of the year,” said Cleary. “We’ll have licensed solar installers and eight teams of corporate and student volunteers working alongside the homeowners benefitting from the program to install 18.4 kW of solar power capacity across eight National City households,” he said.

Teams include students earning field credits from Southwestern College’s Green Building Program and the first all-female contingency. National City’s Vice Mayor Alejandra Sotelo-Solis will also be assisting in the build.

Prep work for the day’s installations began in May. The physical labor associated with solar installations – from module testing to the pulling of electrical wire to hoisting and securing panels to rooftops for final inspection — will all be completed on June 9. GRID Alternatives makes these systems free to qualifying homeowners with corporate donations and through the California Solar Initiative’s Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing (SASH) program.

Rosalva Rodriguez, one of the eight homeowners working alongside professionals and volunteers to install her new home solar solution this Saturday, is enthusiastic about going solar — and the savings it will bring. “I have many family members who need help through these tough economic times. This better equips me to help them,” she said.

The benefits of solar energy transcend monthly energy bill savings. “Solar not only provides an effective safeguard against rising energy costs, (particularly as we activate fans and AC to beat summer heat), it improves property values,” said Scott Schumacher, Regional Sales Manager for Solarthon supporter Real Goods Solar.

In addition, Schumacher says a recent UCSD Jacobs School of Engineering study found rooftop solar adds to the insular properties of a home, keeping it five degrees cooler in the summer and five degrees warmer in the winter. “This partnership is a terrific way to bring the benefits of solar energy to families who may otherwise never access them. We are all looking for smart ways to save,” he said.

The installed systems will generate a whopping 30,012 kilowatt hours (kWh) of clean energy each year. Because this electricity is produced without the burning of dirty fossil fuels, they will prevent the release of 724 tons of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into our atmosphere, the equivalent of eliminating the pollution generated from carbon-belching vehicles driving 1,552,000 road miles on San Diego freeways.

“Collaborative programs like these reinforce Real Goods Solar’s corporate mission of sustainable living and demonstrate just how successful we can be when we pull together to make clean, renewable energy accessible to everyone,” added Schumacher. Schumacher says Kent Halliburton, Real Goods Solar’s VP of National Sales, has been active with GRID Alternatives since 2005. Since then, he has engaged employees throughout the organization to support GRID’s outreach efforts by sponsoring teams of Solar Champions at Solarthons throughout California.

Solarthon is an annual solar installation block party and fundraiser for GRID Alternatives – a licensed, non-profit solar installer exclusively serving low-income families.

“These projects generate triple bottom line results: energy savings and solar ownership for the families, hands-on job training and a healthier environment,” said Cleary. “The funds raised at Solarthon support GRID Alternatives’ work to bring clean, affordable energy and hands-on solar installation experiences to families and job trainees who need them most.”

Continued Cleary: “We encourage others to join Real Goods Solar, Wells Fargo, SunPower, Capital Energy Group and Yingli Solar in supporting GRID Alternatives initiatives throughout California. It’s an investment that – like the solar panels we’re installing – reap big community dividends for decades to follow.”

About GRID Alternatives: GRID Alternatives is a non-profit organization that brings the benefits of solar technology to low-income communities. Using a barn-raising model, GRID Alternatives leads teams of volunteers and job trainees to install solar power on qualifying homes, providing needed savings for families struggling to make ends meet while preparing workers for jobs in the fast-growing solar industry. Since opening its San Diego office in 2009, GRID Alternatives has installed over 200 systems throughout San Diego County and trained over 1,500 community volunteers and job trainees. More than than 2000 families have received systems from GRID Alternatives state-wide. For more information, please visit https://www.gridalternatives.org/my-community-san-diego.

About Real Goods Solar: Real Goods Solar is a leading solar energy integrator, having installed over 13,000 solar electric systems. We offer turnkey solutions, and have 34 years of experience in solar energy, beginning with the sale of the first solar photovoltaic panels in the U.S. in 1978. With offices in California, Colorado and the Northeast, Real Goods Solar is one of the largest residential solar installers in the country. For more information, visithttps://www.RealGoodsSolar.com or call 1-888-56-SOLAR.