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Jim Jenal

Jim Jenal
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  • Residential Solar Is Growing Up [View article]
    I have to second Pam's comments. As one of those endangered, small installers, we don't compete on price - we are more expensive. But we are also better: much greater attention to detail and much better trained crews. Not every potential customer cares about that but our clients do.
    Moreover, we see our clients as part of a long term relationship. Case in point - one of our clients, a private school, recently changed facilities directors. We contacted him and offered to meet with him and get him up to speed on the system we installed under his predecessor two years ago. He was very pleased with our offer and in return, offered to introduce us to the folks at his old school that were looking to install solar on a new building that is under construction.
    It is that sort of client-oriented approach that will allow us to do just fine.
    Sep 10, 2014. 09:16 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Acquires Silevo: Is Elon Musk Green? [View article]
    Re: "Zep is working on a mounting system that will attach to the roof w/out drilling into the surface"

    Really? Good luck pulling permits for such a product, I don't care what the patents say. Talk to an AHJ, they are the ones calling those shots.
    Jun 21, 2014. 01:32 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • ENPH Energy: Between A Rock And A Hard Place [View article]
    I am an installer (not an investor) and a fan of Enphase. Two problems with this post:

    1) Installers took a long time to trust the Enphase product but once they became convinced it was a viable option, they loved it. The warranty, the monitoring, the customer service are all great. It is not true that we will give that up to save "a few pennies per Watt." So while it may be easy enough to come to market with a microinverter (something, frankly, that neither SMA nor Power One has done well), it is quite another thing to get installers to switch.

    2) AC panels, as another commenter noted, "are not the next big thing" - they are something that has been around a while and mostly generated a yawn with installers. Flexibility is important, and being able to have options during times of tight supply (as with LG NeON for example now) matters to installers. Besides, even after significant price reductions, the module still costs twice what the micro costs. Since modules never fail (short of being hit with a hammer or its equivalent), an AC module requires 3x the warranty replacement cost over just replacing the micro.

    I agree that Enphase is likely to be profitable in the next couple of quarters. As their market share expands, I expect that trend to continue.
    May 5, 2014. 08:43 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Are utilities headed for a death-spiral? [View news story]
    The answer to the reliability/availability question raised by @Abigsoxfan and @hornucopia is intelligent storage. In California, the PUC has ordered the IOUs to start investing in storage and it is beginning to become a solution - at least for leveling out demand spikes - at the individual solar client level.

    Over the next five years, intelligent storage will be the biggest push in the renewable energy world, IMHO.

    Full disclosure - I do not own stock in any company related to energy storage.
    Dec 23, 2013. 11:49 AM | Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Enphase: Part II Of Anemic Revenue Growth With Alarming Warranty Obligation Growth [View article]
    As I said in my comment to the original article on this subject, I'm no stock analyst, but when you start citing CSI data, well, that's my turf, and your analysis leaves much to be desired.

    If you look at all installers with at least 150 Enphase installs cumulatively between 2011 and 2013 (partial data only, using the 10/30/13 dataset), there are only five companies out of 20 who have reduced their use of Enphase in the California Residential market segment of CSI. (Keep in mind that CSI data only covers the three IOUs, munis like LADWP are not included in that data.)

    Those three installers are (in order of % decline in Enphase projects):
    REC, Galkos, Skytech, Solar Network and Solar West Electric. Let's look at each in turn.

    REC - Enphase did lose market share here, as did SMA. The winner? Fronius.

    Galkos - Galkos is a problem child in the industry, as I have reported on at length before - you can read some of that analysis here:
    It appears that Galkos is now showing up in the data as Killion Energy (dba GCI Solar) and the loss of market for Enphase is significantly smaller when you combine the data for both companies. But the good news is that Galkos/GCI is losing market share overall (as they should). Nevertheless, ALL of their installs in 2013 were with Enphase - so not loss of market share to competitors.

    Skytech Solar - as with Galkos/GCI, they have just lost market share themselves - out of 31 projects listed in 2013, 27 used Enphase.

    Solar Network - lost share to SMA (string, not micros).

    Solar West Electric - the company has lost market share overall, but appears to have become a SunPower dealer, hence the shift away from Enphase.

    That's it for major players "bailing" on Enphase.

    Overall, 2011 full year to ten months of 2013, Enphase's number of projects is up 63% (from 2091 to 3400) and number of inverters installed is up 135% (32,320 to 76,011). We should all be losing market share at such a pace.

    As I noted before, I do not own Enphase stock (or that of any other solar company). But I install their products and have been impressed with everyone I've met who works for the company (from the CEO to line level sales people). Time will tell whether their reliability holds up - but our experience has been positive and we expect to be working with them for a long time to come.
    Dec 19, 2013. 09:10 PM | 3 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • SolarCity Short Thesis On Tax Change [View article]
    No such thing as a 45% efficient solar module available for the residential market. Not today, not in five years.

    Solar PV is not an "immature technology" - and its improvements over time are incremental, not radical (and going from 22% efficient to 45% efficient in five years would be radical indeed).

    The author's more specific point about tax credits being better targeted at overall GHG emission reductions is well taken, but the point is undermined by uneducated assertions about the one technology he chooses to denigrate..
    Dec 19, 2013. 07:22 PM | 5 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Enphase: Anemic Revenue Growth With Alarming Warranty Obligation Growth [View article]
    I'm not a stock analyst, I just install solar power systems for a living. While I am at it, I publish a blog, Thoughts on Solar, that has been quoted on this site before because of some data analysis that I have done on CSI data. As an installer who has used both string inverters and Enphase micros, I have a few observations:

    1) The author asserts that micros are "significantly" more expensive than string inverters. Not sure what he is basing that on, but it is not true for us. The actual hardware cost is about 5% more, but the labor is actually lower. And the increase in yield for my clients is undeniable and well documented. (Check out this blog post if your care to see some numbers:

    2) The author alludes to market share loss and speculates that this is tied to warranty concerns. I cannot speak for market share broadly, but in SoCal where I operate, that is simply not true. Back in August, I published a three-part analysis of the first six months of CSI data for 2013 (as I had for the two years previous). Looking only at systems in SCE territory - where we operate - we found a number of contrary items. For example, in the residential market, Enphase was #2 at 26.5% (up from 21% the year before), but surprisingly, in the commercial market Enphase was actually #1 at 13.2%! up more than 9% from the previous year!

    Moreover, when you looked at who was using what, considering all 24 installers with more than 100 installs during the six-month analysis period, Enphase was the preferred vendor by 8 of those companies (the best performance of any manufacturer) with an astonishing loyalty rate of 87%. By comparison, Power-One was second, being preferred by 7 (loyalty 58%). You can read that analysis here:

    3) As to warranty repairs - the author states that installers incur the cost of making the replacement. That is not entirely true since Enphase provides a reimbursement payment to make that trip. That payment doesn't cover our entire cost, but then, the large string inverter company that we used to use, paid us nothing.

    Next, to suggest that actual failure rate is "not important" is to live in a very different world than the one where installers are trying to make a living. If Enphase was experiencing anything close to a 20% failure rate in the M210's I would have written about it a long time ago. Our failure rate is closer to 3%.

    The author claims to have spoken w/two large installers who won't go with Enphase - but declines to name them, as he declines to name himself. He suggests we talk to SolarCity - another company, btw, that is yet to make a profit and I would wager that Enphase will do so first - about why they don't use Enphase. While you are at it, ask them why they don't use Unirac mounting gear or anything other than Chinese solar modules. Hint: it is not because of their quest for excellence.

    Bottom line - I don't own Enphase stock, or that of any other solar company. But I do use Enphase microinverters because I believe they provide the best value for my clients.
    Dec 10, 2013. 08:29 PM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Dark Clouds Ahead For SolarCity [View article]
    One risk factor rarely mentioned is the growth of PACE - Property Assessed Clean Energy - financing programs. Although they were blocked at the residential level a few years ago, that is starting to change (see the HERO program here in SoCal) and commercial PACE is really starting to pick up steam.

    With a PACE program, property owners can install solar and pay for it via their property taxes over 20 years. No upfront costs and no hassles if you sell the property since the obligation to pay "runs with the land." Oh, and the property owner gets the rebate and tax incentives. This is way more attractive than the type of lease that SCTY is offering and these programs will seriously cut into the leasing business model.
    Sep 18, 2013. 10:07 AM | 2 Likes Like |Link to Comment
  • Solar City (SCTY) - The Emperor('S Cousins) Have No Clothes [View instapost]
    As the author of the analyses of CSI data cited in this article, I would appreciate it if the report's author(s) would contact me. Please send your contact information to me at this email address:

    info AT runonsun DOT com

    Regards, Jim Jenal, Founder & CEO, Run on Sun
    Jun 22, 2013. 03:33 PM | Likes Like |Link to Comment