Lowe’s To Begin Selling Solar Energy This Summer

Home improvement retailer giant Lowe’s is receiving an improvement of its own – this summer, its California stores will begin a partnership with innovative energy company Sungevity, allowing Lowe’s to be a provider and distributor of the energy company’s leases on home solar energy systems. The two companies formally announced the deal on May 16, 2011 – a partnership that will eventually bring this service to the Lowe’s website. Lowe’s will receive about a 20 percent stake in Sungevity, according to a solar industry source. The rapidly-growing energy company aims to provide simple and affordable solar power to homeowners, and notes that most homeowners will see an immediate drop — usually around 10 percent — in their energy bills once solar panels are installed.

Sungevity, which has already provided online quotes for home solar panel installation to 25,000 potential customers, will make solar technology available to consumers in 30 California retail stores beginning in July. The kiosks will be equipped with Sungevity’s Web-based iQuote system, which allows users to enter their address and receive a quote within 24 hours. The system provides a quote by using satellite and aerial imaging technology to analyze the geometric design of a house’s rooftop, estimating how much sun the roof is exposed to and whether its future solar panels will be hindered or shaded by trees once installed. Homeowners will also be able to receive an iQuote, which consists of an actual aerial photo of their home with a digital image of how the solar panels will look once installed on the roof, as well as an estimate on how much money they will save on their energy bill. These projected savings are tailored to each homeowner, as users will have to input information about their typical power usage. Residents pay Sungevity a fixed monthly electricity rate, which is supported in part by government clean energy incentives.

The Oakland, California-based energy company will install kiosks first in Lowe’s locations in its home state, and later in the seven other states it operates in:  Arizona, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. SolarCity, a larger energy company also headquartered in California, partnered with Home Depot to provide a similar service last year, but the service is new to Lowe’s, which attracts around 15 million customers per week across the country.

Founded in 2007 by former Greenpeace activist Danny Kennedy, Sungevity recently became the fastest-growing residential solar energy company in the US – though 25,000 users have received an estimate from their website, only about 1,500 of those users have purchased solar panels from Sungevity. The deal aims to boost sales, make solar energy more accessible to the public, and demonstrate that a solar-powered home is a viable option.

In an effort to raise awareness and promote the sun’s power to provide energy, Sungevity has already donated solar energy systems to the homes of world leaders, beginning with President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives. Most prominently, Sungevity was at the forefront of the Solar on the White House campaign, an initiative that pushed President Obama to consider installing solar panels on the roof of the White House, recalling the days of President Jimmy Carter’s solar energy initiatives in the 1970s. The campaign succeeded, and the White House is set to install solar panels on its roof and a solar-powered water heater in 2011.

Solar panels harness energy from the sun and turn these energy photons into a direct current (DC), which flows into an inverter. The inverter turns the DC electricity into an alternating current (AC) to power homes. AC energy flowing through the wires, that is left unused in homes, travels back to the energy grid to be used by the energy provider. Solar panels perform just as efficiently– perhaps more so – in colder climates as they do in warm weather.



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