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UnThink Solar
a div of Impress Labs
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San Francisco, CA 94111
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The Solar Marketer’s Action Plan to Help Save Net Metering — Do It


The fight is on to save net metering in many states, but SEIA, Vote Solar, and other solar organizations can’t win these multi-front battles alone. They need the support of everyone in the solar industry, especially solar marketers and sales people who have the communication skills to get the word out that net metering needs to be preserved.

I’m not just talking to residential solar marketers here. I’m talking to every solar marketer and salesperson in the American solar industry. The loss of net metering, utility by utility, will inevitably hurt every sector, from retail to B-to-B. How? Because without net metering, there will be fewer and smaller residential installations, which means fewer installer jobs, fewer solar panels being purchased, as well as fewer inverters, racks, and the rest of the BOS. All of that means that solar jobs are on the line — perhaps even yours.

Don’t put your blinders on and assume that solar advocacy organizations will take care of it. They’re doing everything they can, but we all have to help. In California alone, they’re up against a slick utility-backed $65,000 social media campaign to support AB 327, an anti-net metering bill. In Arizona, there’s an anti-solar television campaign that brings up Solyndra in a non sequitur, plus it claims that solar customers cost non-solar Arizona rate-payers $18 million a year.

We all need to respond to these and other attacks. To help, below is an inexpensive solar marketing action plan to help save net metering. Use it, modify it, or ignore it, but please do something.

The Solar Marketer’s Action Plan to Help Save Net Metering

1) Join action alerts. If you haven’t already done so, sign up for email action alerts from Vote Solar and SEIA. Easy. You can do this in three minutes. Less, if you’re a faster typist than I am.

2) Write a blog post about the net metering debate in your area(s). This is very important. It’s the anchor for your solar net metering action campaign. As you’ll see, you’ll use this blog post for other action items below. So, if you’ve never blogged before for your company or yourself, here’s a good reason and time to start. In your blog post, make these points:

a) Solar net metering is under attack by utilities, and that’s not good for solar customers, local jobs, or the environment.
Briefly explain what net metering is and why it’s important for home owners and businesses.
b) State what your utility is saying. You’ll need little research for this, since all the utilities are working from the same playbook: They’re saying that net metering is unfair to non-solar customers, who must pay a larger share for transmission and infrastructure charges.
c) Then state what the utilities aren’t telling solar customers in their anti-net metering campaigns: That solar and net metering are benefitting utilities. In fact, according to Vote Solar’s ProtectNetMetering.org, net metering benefits California utilities by $92.2 million a year. How? Through saving on transmission losses, meeting RPS requirements, investments in transmission and infrastructure, and more. Plus, it’s creating local jobs, reducing pollution, and making homeowners less reliant on the utility’s dirty energy.  See this handy-dandy info graphic from ProtectNetMetering at the top of this post and use it in your post.
d) Ask for reader’s help. Ask them to sign up to Vote Solar, SEIA, or other local net metering advocacy organizations, such as Southern California’s SaveRooftopSolar.com, which produced this brilliant satire video below. Embed this in your blog:

e) Also in your blog post, ask readers to share your post with their friends and family on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
f) If you’re a solar B-to-B manufacturer or service provider, include the above, but also shape the blog post towards preserving solar jobs and growing the solar industry.

3) Spread that blog post! Got that blog post written? Brilliant. Don’t just let it sit there and expect people to find it. You must push it out into the interwebs so that it can travel far and wide and be shared again…and again.

a) Post it personally on your Facebook page, LinkedIn profile, and Tweet it out once a day on Twitter. Fan of other social networks? Use those too. The more the better.
b) Repeat 3a steps for your company’s active social networks.
c) Copy and paste that blog post into a personal email or your company’s e-newsletter provider and send to all former and present customers and prospects. In some utility proposals, net metering changes will affect both old and new installations, so the financial interests of installed customers are at stake too. Activate this base.
d) Send a version to your local newspaper as a press release or letter to the editor. Reshape the post as a David and Goliath battle with misleading information spewing from the utility Goliaths. State that these proposals will affect solar installation jobs in your area and hurt future consumers wanting to go solar.

4) Every month, write an update blog. Keep track of what’s going on with your local net metering battle, and once a month update your readers. Repeat all of action items 3a-3d above with your monthly updates.

That’s it. If you’ve read this far, please commit to doing all of the actions on this list. If it sounds like a lot, break it up. Do one action point per week.

Put your company and city down in the comments section, and say “We’ll do it.” to show others reading this blog post that they’re not alone. Also, please share this blog post on your solar LinkedIn groups, Facebook, and Twitter.

Thanks for reading and thanks in advance for your help.

Tor Valenza a.k.a. “Solar Fred” is a solar marketing and communications consultant and the author of Solar Fred's Guide to Solar Guerrilla Marketing. Sign up for the Solar Fred Marketing Newsletter, or contact him through UnThink Solar. You can also follow @SolarFred on Twitter.

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