PNM shares 2017 Interconnection Data

PNM interconnections
2017 Interconnection Data now available–compiled by Alaric J. Babej, PNM Technical Program Manager, Renewables

PNM has shared their interconnection data as requested by members at our annual meeting.  Despite the elimination of the state tax credit, 2017 was another record year for the total number of interconnections through PNM with a total of 3529 interconnections, almost 25 MWdc installed.  Congratulations New Mexico Installers!

EXECUTE PNM AGREEMENTS FASTER:

As you may or may not know, PNM has made progress in energizing their document processing procedure.  Please check out the Docusign System.  It’s important to provide PNM with your customers valid email address in order to keep this process moving smoothly.

State of Solar in New Mexico 2018

You probably already know that New Mexico gets an overall grade of B and is considered a solar friendly state. This grade is based on NM solar incentives and utility policy. But you may not know that much of this state’s friendly solar policy is due to the work of REIA-NM. A couple of examples include property tax exemption, sales tax exemption, RPS, solar carve-out, net metering and interconnection agreements. Your business directly benefits from these policies. Much of our work seems invisible, mostly because of the issues solar companies do not need to face, like the elimination of net metering and the implementation of solar tariffs. 

While New Mexico ranks close to last in the nation on other issues, Renewable Energy Policy puts us near the top, currently ranked 14.  The state’s position dropped a few spots with the expiration of the state solar tax credit, but through the hard work of REIA-NM, we will support efforts to renew that tax in 2019 to help reduce costs for customers who want to invest in distributed solar.  

Please contact us to see how you can help keep New Mexico a great state to have a solar business.

What you need to know about the complaint against Vivint Solar

It’s important to know exactly what Attorney General Hector Balderas identified in the complaint against Vivint Solar, so you can build a better sales team.

REIA-NM recommends all solar companies use the Distributed Generation Disclosure Form mandated through New Mexico law.  The recent case against Vivint Solar should provide you with enough reason to take this extra step to inform your customers.

It’s important to consider the counts brought against Vivint Solar and review your current sales tactics accordingly.  Sometimes company owners may not be clear about what sales people tell customers to get a sale.  Make sure your sales people are trained and reflect your brand appropriately. Check out this summary of allegations against Vivint Solar.  If you have any questions, please contact the NM Attorney General’s Office.

Count One:

Representing goods or services as having characteristics, uses, or benefits that they do not have.  This includes overestimating savings over time, promising unrealistic performance, or asserting your components’ vast superiority over other widely available components.

Count Two:

Disparaging the goods, services, or business of another by false or misleading representations.  AKA, be careful how you talk about competition.

Count Three:

Mislead customers about the price of goods or services, the prices of competitors, or its own price.  This includes overestimating utility increases over time.  Make sure your information is accurate, your math is solid, and all claims are backed by reliable sources.

Count Four:

Using exaggeration, innuendo, or ambiguity about material facts.  Unfortunately, this includes telling customers that their solar will add value to their homes.  Appraisers in New Mexico are still uncertain about the value that solar adds to property.  Again, only use reliable sources to back up claims.

Count Five:

Presenting false representations that transactions involves rights, remedies, or obligations that it does not have.  Don’t tell customers a solar system is an investment if they do not own it. Understand realestate terms like “fixture fittings” when it comes to real estate sales.

Count Six:

The biggest lesson here: don’t engage in unconscionable trade practices.  That means do not create marketing materials that claim solar is “free” or “never pay a utility bill again.”

Count Seven:

Don’t door-knock without a permit!   Doing so without a permit is considered an unfair or deceptive trade practice as defined by the Unfair Trade Practices Act (UPA).

Count Eight:

Executing contracts electronically without providing a fully completed copy to customer is considered unfair or deceptive.

Count Nine:

If you do not adequately inform customers of their right to cancel, and provide them with two copies of your policy, you violate the UPA.

Count Ten:

You can not get consent or agreement from customers to only receive electronic information from your company regarding communication, agreements, documents, notices, records, disclosures, or other information.

Count Eleven:

If the court finds willful use of methods or practices that violate the UPA, the plaintiff may ask for damages as relief.  In this case, $5,000 per offence.

Count Twelve:

False Advertising can be considered word design and statements that reflect any of the previous counts.

Count Thirteen:

All these counts can be considered fraud.  An interesting example from the suit is, “instead of buying your power from coal, you’re getting it all off your roof.”  Be careful how you explain DG to your customers.  If your sales people do not understand the interconnection process, its up to you to train them properly.

Count Fourteen:

Racketeering:  In this case, getting paid after misrepresenting utility rates, true nature of annual escalators, the actual price of the system, etc., qualifies for prison time.

Count Fifteen:

Because of the violations of the UPA, the plaintiff asks that the court declare all contracts null and void.

Count Sixteen:

Due to the alleged abuse, the plaintiff asks that the arbitration agreement (which says that each individual complaint be negotiated independently with / through Vivint only) be voided and unenforceable.

To read the entire complaint, please click here.

If you’re interested in a best practices sales training course, please contact us at executivedirector.reia@gmail.com

 

 

 

Hire a REIA-NM local solar company to install solar: ethical, accountable and professional

home owned solar

It’s never been more important than now to hire a local solar company that’s also a REIA-NM member to install your solar system.

On March 8, 2018, the New Mexico Attorney General, Hector Balderas, brought a suit against Vivint Solar, accusing the company of unethical and unfair business practices.   According to KOB4, “The complaint states that Vivint goes to great lengths in advertising that it will design, install and maintain a Solar System for a customer for “free,” when in fact Vivint has “skillfully crafted, baited and set a ‘free’ trap.”

We should all know that nothing is free.  Yet, these door-knocking sales agents don’t sell solar systems, they sell electricity produced by solar systems.  Few customers understand the impact of the long-term contract until its too late.

Back in 2015, REIA heard members’ concerns and realized these door-to-door tactics might stain the good reputations of our local solar businesses.

REIA-NM actively addressed the issue in 2016. We worked with PNM to submit a bill to solve some of the customer complaints and enable solar customers to make informed decisions.

The resulting law, The Distributed Generation Disclosure Act, passed in 2017.  This law protects consumers through mandated disclosures.  After passage, REIA-NM worked with the AG’s office to craft the required form using disclosures already in use by local solar company REIA-NM member proposals and contracts.  (available here)

As local, ethical, and accountable solar professionals, our member companies only install systems that customers own.  The industry has been growing steadily since 2007 and has never seen a similar complaint.  Quotes are free and the resulting system becomes an asset that will generate power for 20 years.  Just like a kitchen remodel, customers finance these solar projects through financial institutions.  If you’re thinking about solar, understand the difference between owning solar, leasing solar, and purchasing solar power.  Consider hiring a REIA-NM member.  We won’t be knocking on your door.

REIA-NM Annual Meeting January 19th @ Rio Bravo Brewery

Please join REIA-NM at the Rio Bravo Brewing Company

  • 12:00-3:30 pm:  Vendor Trainings
  • 4:00-6:00 pm:    Annual Meeting

Everything Storage

The storage market is emerging in New Mexico.  Find out about the latest equipment and PNM’s interconnection process.

Attend training with Unirac, LG Chem, and Solar Edge to learn about the latest technologies.  Stay for the annual meeting!  Or just attend the annual meeting, find out what your trade organization has been doing for you! 

Vendor Presentations:  12:00-3:30 pm

Annual Meeting @ Rio Bravo Brewing Company:  4:00-6:00 pm

  • 4:00: Mixer & Membership sign up
  • 4:30: Rachel Hillier, Executive Director,  2017 Report
  • 4:45: Judy Hendricks, New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program
  • 5:00  Mark Geiser, EMNRD, The State of Solar in New Mexico
  • 5:15:  Alaric Babej PNM, PNM’s Storage Interconnection Process
  • 5:30:  Ryan Centerwall, REIA-NM President, Why get involved in your local trade association?
  • 5:45:  Questions and Answers

Event is free for members, $10 donation suggested for non-members.

RSVP Here

 

ITC finds injury in solar manufacturing trade case

Finding Injury:

Finding “injury” in the solar manufacturing trade case brought by Suniva and Solar World means the ITC attributed financial problems to the low cost of imported solar panels.  It’s now up to President Trump to accept, amend or reject.

However, Solar PV panel manufacturing has been on decline for a number of years.  In fact, the rapid decline in module prices worldwide has more to do with the oversupply in the market than import pressure.  Prices fell so fast, manufacturers couldn’t recover costs of production.

Job Losses:

The solution is not setting high minimum prices for imported solar modules.  Instead, this action would be a huge blow to solar industry jobs.

The ITC made the ruling despite a bi-partisan group of US Senators urging the ITC to not impose tariffs on solar panels.  Their letter stated, “Increasing costs will stop solar growth dead in its tracks, threatening tens of thousands of American workers in the solar industry and jeopardizing billions of dollar in investment in communities across the country.”

As we know in the industry, solar companies have never enjoyed large margins, so a drastic slow down could kill many businesses.  Greentech Media predicts the remedies requested by the petition “would eliminate half of potential solar deployments over their term in exchange for limited new domestic module manufacturing.”

At its peak, Suniva employed 400 workers.  Bringing back US manufacturing will create jobs, but not many.  Companies interested in solar manufacturing will likely be highly automated.  For example, K’NEX has 110 presses to make their toys.  It only takes 8 operators to work on the floor.

Solutions:

Bringing manufacturing back to the US takes “low triple-digit millions” investment.  Cost that must be recovered within the four year “remedy” period.  According to the article “Six Ways to Encourage American Solar Manufacturing Without Import Duties,” government policies designed to stimulate local manufacturing would do more to support the industry. Ideas include investment tax credits, expanding federal procurement, direct support for domestic manufacturing, loan guarantees, subsidizing the supply chain and supporting workforce and technology development.

 

Suniva’s Solar Trade Case

suniva solar trade case

The US Government will move forward with Suniva’s Solar Trade Case. Suniva has requested a four-year tariff schedule on solar panels imported from anywhere in the world. If approved, the tariff would double the price of solar panels imported into the US. Although Suniva manufactures its solar panels in the US, they sold a majority stake and control of the business to a Chinese Company in 2016.

SEIA (Solar Energy Industry Association) has launched a campaign to stop the proposed tariff on the grounds that Suniva is not a representative of the domestic industry as it has been defined. REIA intends to everything in its power stop this blatant attempt to slow down the solar industry. The hearing is scheduled for August 15th at the International Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Solar Fiesta and Community Fair 2017

decoupling

Solar Fiesta

Sponsorship Opportunities and Benefits

Leadership Level:
Top sponsor placement in all print and on web site.
Full page color ad in program.
Five (5) Fiesta shirts w/logos and names.
10’x20′ booth space.
$5,000.00 tax deductible sponsorship.

Support Level:
Middle sponsor placement in all print and on web site.
Half page color ad in program.
Three (3) Fiesta shirts w/logos and names.
10’x10′ booth space. (Upgrade to 10’x20′ at 50%)
$3,000.00 tax deductible sponsorship.

Associate Level:
Lower sponsor placement in all print and on web site.
Quarter page color ad in program.
Two (2) Fiesta shirts w/logos and names
10’x10′ booth space. (Upgrade at 75%)
$1,000.00 tax deductible sponsorship.
___________________________________________________________________________________
The sponsorships will help pay for the cost of advertising, the program, tee shirts, etc. The program will be a special print version of the “Sun Paper” in full color and will include the advertising for the sponsor as outlined above. The shirts provided for the sponsors will be long sleeve collared shirts with the company’s logo, the Fiesta logo, and the name of the person at the Fiesta. Sizes and names will need to be supplied two months in advance.

Standard booth size is 10’x10′. It can be upgraded to 10’x20′.

Advertising sizes can be upgraded to a half or full page ad.

Growing Industry in New Mexico

industry in new mexico

A report out by the Solar Foundation shows that the solar industry continues to have a positive economic impact on the country. According to the report, “The industry added $84 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.”

The study also found that the solar industry created 260,000 jobs, with one solar related job supporting an additional 2.03 jobs. These workers, who earned $50 billion in compensation, then contribute to other economic activity, considered induced impacts, based on spending by workers and employees, and this contributed an additional $62.5 billion in sales to the economy.

The top five states for the solar industry are California, Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas. While New Mexico is the best state suited to install solar, it ranks 8th for solar jobs per capita. Even though it has the second highest range for PV generation hours, it is cooler here than Arizona, so panels actually generate more energy.

REIA wants to see New Mexico take it’s rightful place among the top states with the best economic impact from the growing solar industry.

This is the kind of economic impact that could really help New Mexico. Solar jobs year/year growth in our state increased 64% between 2015 and 2016 from 1,899 jobs in the sector to 2,929 jobs. Policy makers looking for job creation opportunities should be looking for ways to support the growing solar industry in New Mexico. It’s the best opportunity for growth that we have.

Fact sheet: New Mexico Solar Jobs Census 2016

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