Customer Shout-Out

Thanks to Run on Sun for the generous compliment in their latest newsletter!

“Our primary distributor, Focused has a great crew of folks working diligently to support installers like Run on Sun. If you are a local solar installation company looking for a quality partner to help you grow your business, you should really give Focused a call.”

SolarCity Business Model “Rife with Risk”

While the SolarCity 2014 Q2 financial report includes bright spots for the company, such as a reduction in installation costs and continued access to low-cost capital, all is not sunny and bright for SolarCity. According to the article, “SolarCity Earnings: Rapid Growth Belies Fundamental Problems,” the SolarCity “business model is fundamentally challenged and unlikely to end well for long-term investors.”

Down the road, the authors predict high default rates on leases, stating that “these leases and PPAs will only get toxic as time progresses and the gap between market prices and lease prices increases.” In addition, the increase in more customer-friendly financing means SolarCity should expect “the supply of gullible customers to decline as solar penetration increases.” This gives way for good ol’ fashioned local installers to create happy customers and continue to strengthen the solar community. Read more from the article here.

Solar Leases May Reduce the Value of Your Home

In the last few years, solar installations on homes have increased dramatically –and home buyers like homes with solar. However, according to the NPR story, “Leased Solar Panels Can Cast a Shadow Over a Home’s Value,” taking on the remainder term of a lease may turn off potential home buyers. One home owner describes how he had to credit “the buyer $10,000 in exchange for assuming the rest of the lease.” Read or listen to the rest of the story.

Small to Medium Installer Still Backbone of Solar Industry

In Q1 2014, residential installations were a larger segment of the market than commercial installations (232 MW vs. 225 MW). In her RE World post published on July 2, 2014, solar industry analyst Paula Mints explains how the local installer can empower PV end-users to make informed choices between ownership and leasing. In the article, “The Rise of the Residential Solar PV Customer (and how a business model threatens to derail the U.S. solar revolution,)” Mints writes, “Despite an almost annual prediction of their demise, in the U.S. the small to medium PV installer is still the backbone of the industry.” Read more: Renewable Energy World.

Focused Energy Picks Winners!

As you may know, Focused Energy diligently selects manufacturers whose quality and economics benefit the entire value chain and support the long-term and sustainable growth of our industry. We’re proud to announce that two of our vendors, Power-One and UNIRAC, have been recognized for their launches of top products in 2013.

Power-One’s latest product, the TRIO-20.o TL and 27.6 TL three-phase inverters, made it onto Electrical Products and Solutions’ Top Products 2013 listElectrical Products and Solutions selected the year’s best products for being “unique, beneficial and reliable.” We know what they’re talking about. Use of Power-One TRIO, designed for 1000 V modules, can lower BOS costs by 40%, and offers much higher system uptime than central inverters. It’s light enough for two installers to mount and includes a Solar Plant Vision Software subscription with each purchase.

UNIRAC was selected for its ballasted racking solution, the Roof Mount (RM), by Solar Power World’s Top Products 2013 issueSolar Power World selected the “most interesting and innovative” solar products from 2013. UNIRAC was recognized for its simplicity. With only two components to install, this ballasted racking system minimizes preparation work and install time.

Congratulations Power-One and UNIRAC!

Increasing Quality of Life in Nicaragua Through Renewable Energy

This November, Focused Energy LLC sent Sales Manager Keith Ostwald to install solar in Nicaragua with the organization, Power to the People. This volunteer organization, based in California, qualifies villages for solar arrays to ensure the projects have the most positive impact.

Keith’s group built a system for the rural village, Los Calpules, about a two hour, off-road drive from Managua, Nicaragua. In three days, the group installed a battery back-up solar array on the clinic with an additional kilowatt and a half on the school. The system provides the village’s only light, allowing the school to also serve as a community center. The 200 villagers, who subsist as farmers and ranchers, now have a place to gather in the evenings. The project’s educational component resulted in twenty-four trained villagers. They learned about the system and how to use the illustrated troubleshooting booklet, provided by Power to the People.

Of note, Keith also reports an amazing visit to an Eco lodge and Coffee Estate 4,000 feet above sea level called Selva Negra (black jungle). The estate, founded by German immigrants in the 1800s, is dedicated to sustainability and preserving the rain forest. “You name it,” Keith reports, “they use methane from the farm animals to run the equipment and use the coffee by-products to fertilize the land. They even make their own furniture!”

Focused Energy LLC is very happy to contribute to increased quality of life through renewable energy.

Focused Energy Donates LG PV Panels to Girl Scouts of Maine

Focused Energy provided a generous discount on LG photovoltaic panels to help provide an off-grid solar power system for Camp Natarswi located in Baxter State Park. The Girl Scouts of Maine use this camp, located on 30 acres with Appalachian Trail access, during the summer months. Now this rustic camp runs on solar energy, and the LG photovoltaic panels gather enough sunlight to charge 24 batteries, which will reduce the camp’s fuel costs by 50%. In addition, Girl Scouts who attend the camp will also gain firsthand experience on how photovoltaic systems work, and how easy it is to rely on clean energy.

Focused Energy Announces Deeper Partnerships with Key Manufacturers

In the past month, Focused Energy has been selected by two industry-leading manufacturers to participate in exclusive distribution programs.

SMA America, the world’s leading inverter manufacturer, recently announced its Authorized Distributor Program and chose Focused Energy as both a Residential and Commercial AD. In its own press release, SMA stated that “Solar professionals [will] benefit in a variety of ways, including faster delivery, as distributors carry increased warehouse stock. There also is improved service and support such as greater access to valuable technical resources.” SMA is currently launching a new line of transformerless inverters and its Tri-Power inverter for distributed-architecture commercial projects.

Also in July, Unirac, a leading manufacturer of PV racking solutions, launched its Elite Partner Program and included Focused Energy in a select set of distributors with exclusive access to a variety of Unirac resources. Unirac has also revamped its product set, announcing new flat and pitched roof solutions at Intersolar earlier this month and signaling additional new products in Q4 2013.

“Top tier manufacturers are recognizing the value of the distribution, and moreover, the value of building sustainable, long-term partnerships with Focused Energy. Our national reach, global relationships through our parent company, BayWa, and unique, streamlined business model makes us capable of being valuable to both manufacturers and installers to a very high degree,” said Focused Energy CEO Paul Benson.

“Narrowing the field of distributors and direct customers enable manufacturers to concentrate on R&D and manufacturing, which will make them competitive long-term, and leave the warehousing, forecasting, logistics and customer service to us, since that is our core business and where we excel,” added Focused COO, Dean Scott. “This represents a maturity in the value chain.”

Focused Energy has dedicated a Technical Sales team to provide more of the pre-sale design consulting and post-sale tech support needed to more robustly support the SMA and Unirac product lines, and will be collaborating with both manufacturers on a series of initiatives throughout the year.

Focused Energy’s parent company, Baywa AG, celebrates 90th Anniversary

Baywa AG was formed in Germany as a wholesale trading company in 1923. After 90 years of successful business, Baywa has grown significantly. Baywa now has over 17,000 employees worldwide and annual revenue of nearly $19 billion. The company has become known for its long-term outlook and consistent performance, having been profitable for every year of its existence.

In 2009, BayWa formed “BayWa r.e.” as a subsidiary dedicated to renewable energy, with the goal of becoming one of the leading renewable energy service providers in the world’s key markets. In three short years, BayWa r.e. has made great strides in this industry, with holdings in PV, Wind, Biomass and Geothermal, including its strategic partnership with Focused Energy in 2011. BayWa r.e. has already brought about 1,000MW of renewables to the grid, including over 500MW of PV. BayWa sees its investments in the RE market segments as a significant contribution towards the sustainability of the world’s energy mix.

In an open letter to all employees, BayWa CEO Klaus Josef Lutz stated that “it is safe to say that BayWa has been a success. And I am certain that this will continue in the decades to come – if we remain true to what drove our founding fathers: consistently orienting our business towards our customers and markets, independently of political and economic conditions and on the basis of cooperative values, while keeping an eye on risks.”