Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Solar Panels for rent/lease?

Seems there a bit of controversy in the solar photovoltaic community, but if this really works out, it would be awesome! I just don't know if the math actually works out...

"Instead of making you spring for $25,000 or more in gear, Citizenrē says it will loan you a complete rooftop solar power system, install it for free and sell you back the power it generates at a fixed rate below what your utility charges. The company hopes to make back its investment with those monthly payments, augmented by federal tax credits and rebates."

The good: "Citizenrē plans to lower those expenses by building its own manufacturing plant. "It will be the largest solar manufacturing plant in the world, 600,000 square feet and 1,600 workers," says Rob Styler, the company's executive vice president of marketing. "By manufacturing our own panels and systems, we cut our costs to the bone.""

The bad: "Much of the criticism is clinging to the company's multilevel marketing scheme. So far, more than 700 people have enlisted as independent Citizenrē 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."
Even more bad, their marketing setup. "Then agents will earn 5 percent of their customers' monthly solar bill, as well as bonuses based on the performance of downstream sales representatives." How is the NOT multi-level marketing?

It does sound too good to be true, which is really unfortunate. The concept is a good, but it just doesn't sound feasible in its current incarnation. Maybe if they kicked out the sales people, and just advertised via the web or something...,72752-0.html?tw=rss.index

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