In Focus: Solarize Massachusetts 0


Solarize Massachusetts, a state-funded program to support small-scale solar installations, is a good concept that is bad for consumers.  There’s no doubt that the program has been successful increasing the rate of adoption for solar in chosen towns.  900 homeowners and business owners have signed up in 21 communities, totaling 5.6 MW of installed solar capacity.  It’s also a great way for a solar installation company to get a large amount of signed contracts within a small geographic region and eliminating the competition.  While this looks great on paper for the state and installers, I hardly see the value for residential owners.

FACT:  Solarize Massachusetts communities have a tiered pricing structure, where the base price decreases as more contracts are signed

REALITY:  Brightstar Solar has competed with the Solarize Mass installer in many towns and we win every time because we provided better prices, better equipment, and better service.  Ask us and we would be happy to give you customer names.  The Solarize campaign tries to hook potential customers by talking about the base price, but historical data tells us that project adders add, on average, 11% to the cost.

FACT:  Solarize Mass designated installers give their customers the same incentives as non-Solarize installers do.  Solarize funds are only allotted for marketing and education.

REALITY:  Consumers are led to believe that Solarize designated installers are the only option.  That’s just not true.    Solar is a large investment.  ALWAYS get a second quote.   Let our company be the Solarize Mass alternative.

FACT: The Solarize program was implemented to advocate solar installations and improve our state’s economy.

REALITY: While Solarize Massachusetts does educate consumers and increase adoption of solar, out-of-state installers are the main beneficiaries.  In 2012, out-of-state installers like Astrum, SolarCity, and Roof Diagnostics were the recipients of 407 of 803 contracts signed.  The installers for the current program have not been announced in every town, but I do know Maryland-based Astrum Solar will be the Solarize NeedhamSolarize Lexington-Bedford, and Solarize Andover installer.  Next Step Living, who is affiliated with NJ-based Roof Diagnostics, is the Solarize Watertown installer.  If we are using Massachusetts tax dollars to fund this program, I would imagine we would want those dollars to stay in Massachusetts. Congratulations to Northeast Solar and Cotuit Solar, Mass-based installers, who did win a Solarize community!

FACT:  Solarize Mass designated installers have to hire sales and installation staff or subcontract to keep up with the volume the program yields.

REALITY:  New employees are not well versed in solar.  Past customers who live in Solarize community chose Brightstar Solar because their salesperson didn’t know much about solar, they were unresponsive, or wouldn’t look at alternative equipment or panel configurations.  In addition, three out-of-state Solarize installers have asked Brightstar Solar to perform “installation work” on projects they have sold.  If they were forced to subcontract work to keep up, I wouldn’t be surprised if customers are getting less than high-quality systems.  Most of our installation crew have worked with us for years.  We refuse to compromise on these “extras” because quality is our core principle and we never subcontract installation work.

FACT:  The Solarize Mass program requires tiered pricing for purchased or leased systems, but leased systems also pull money out of the state.

REALITY:  Many out-of-state solar companies incorporate leased systems as part of their business model.  If a homeowner has the credit score to be approved for a lease, they can also be approved for a $0 down solar loan.  A $0 down solar loan beats a lease every time in terms of return on investment and you own the system at the end of 20 years.

Solarize Mass is a successful program that has educated residents and increased adoption of small-scale solar in the state.  In all honesty, Brightstar Solar has applied to be the designated solar installer for the program.  We do think the program has its shortcomings, however, especially for residents.  We urge residents in Solarize Mass communities to get a second solar quote to ensure they get the best system, service, and price.  Brightstar Solar is a licensed Massachusetts solar installer who can be that second quote.  If you have a home or business in a Solarize Massachusetts community, please contact us for a free evaluation.

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Original Article on Brightstar Solar

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