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SolarCity Experience

Last week Tesla and SolarCity made news when Elon Musk's Tesla made an offer to buy SolarCity. I vaguely remember visiting the SolarCity website one or two years ago but not being moved to act on any of their call to actions (CTAs in the digital marketing business).

Last Friday three days after Tesla made their offer for SolarCity, I decided to take another look at SolarCity's services. I try to learn more about companies by seeing where they have employees. I gained confidence in their capabilities to serve me in Florida when I found several solar technician job postings in Clermont which is a suburb of Orlando not far from me.

I completed the SolarCity interest form on their site which included an initial verification that SolarCity might be able provide me solar energy. Shortly after completely the form, I got a phone call. I was too busy to talk right then and I encouraged them to call me back on Tuesday.

Tuesday rolled around and I got another call. The caller asked if I was still interested. I said, "yes." He transferred me to a bubbly and personable SolarCity agent that I'll call Hannah (not her actual name). So far the SolarCity experience was good, but not that much different from other company's CRM capabilities.

I was actually driving home from work while talking with Hannah. She walked me through a series of additional qualification questions which got us to a point where she was ready to design my solar system installation - in real-time. This was intriguing because she needed to show me my design and ask questions about my roof and nearby trees. I needed to be at my computer to proceed. So we ended the call and she setup a call back time later in the evening, 3:30 pm her time and 6:30 pm for me here in Florida.

Hannah called back at 6:30 on the dot. I had my laptop fired up. Hannah sent me a Zoom link and we proceeded to have a video call where Hannah shared her desktop with me so I could see the solar panel layout process. On her screen she had imported a Google satellite view of my house into SketchUp. I was really impressed with how SolarCity had empowered Hannah with actually good software tools to perform a solar plan for my roof.

The graphic above is from the SolarCity proposal for my house. Basically, Hannah generated this for me in near real-time. The solar panel layout as designed would generate about 14.3 kwh or about 67% of my energy needs. The plan takes into account trees, roof exit vents the southern exposure. Hannah and I discussed all of these factors. Looking at historical data, this solar panel system would potential cover all my energy needs in the month of February, but I would still need to augment the system with my traditional power company for the other 11 months.

So this is the good news. SolarCity did a great job getting me useful information, analyzing my current and historical power consumption by reviewing a recent Duke Energy power bill that I emailed to Hannah and by providing a detailed proposal of my system.

The bad news is that I can't afford the system. The potential offset to my power bill wasn't enough, but the economics are getting close. I'll probably take another look at this in a few years. 


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