CitizenRe, real or imagined -- a challenge
Recently I opened up a surprising can of worms with a blog post about CitizenRe wondering if they had finally solved the problem of making solar power compete with the electrical grid. At that post you will see a substantial comment thread, including contributions by executives of the firm, which I welcome. At first, I had known little about CitizenRe and the reputation it was building. I thought i should summarize some of the issues I have been considering and other elements I have learned.
CitizenRe's offer is very appealing. They claim they will build a plant that can make vastly cheaper solar. Once they do, they will install it on your roof and "rent" it to you. You buy all the power it produces from them at a rate that beats your current grid power cost. Your risks are few -- you put down a deposit of $500 to $1500 depending on system size, you must cover any damage to the panels, and they offer removal and replacement for a very modest fee if you need to reroof or even move. You lock in your rate, which is good if grid rates go up and bad if grid rates go down or other solar becomes cheaper, but on the whole it's a balanced offer.
In fact, it seems too good to be true. It's way, way cheaper than any offering available today. Because it sounds so good, many people are saying "show me." I want to see just how they are going to pull that off. Many in the existing solar industry are saying that much louder. They are worried that if CitizenRe fails to deliver, all their customers will have been diverted to a pipedream while they suffer financial ruin. Of course, they are also worried that if CitizenRe does deliver, they will be competed out of business, so they do have a conflict of interest.
Here are some of the things to make me skeptical. * CitizenRe is marketing through a "multi-level marketing" system. MLM has a very shady reputation. It is used in some legitimate businesses (like Amway) but even in those cases it comes with a taint. It has recruited all sorts of "Ecopreneurs" to market CR to their friends and neighbours, and elicited the aid of major green charities as well.
MLM has this taint for a good reason. It inspires unscrupulous marketing, often exploits the lower level people in the pyramid, and provides little value to the customer. It's great for those high on the pyramid. * CR's offer is already so good that people are skeptical about its validity. It hardly needs MLM to promote it. As I have said, if this is real, people will shout it from their panel-covered rooftops for free. I can't imagine why a good company with a truly incredible product would want to throw up a wall of doubt by using MLM. Perhaps, if MLM is such a useful marketing tool for solar, they can consider adopting it if they find they can't sell all their capacity with other methods. * CR is a fairly secretive company. They promote that they have lined up $650M of financing from major banks in order to pay for all these solar installs. However, closer probing reveals the financing isn't closed, though they don't say that very loudly. They claim they will close soon and then disclose about it. * Their new plant, which they claim will be the largest in the world, is also shrouded in mystery. They have not yet broken ground. Their original projections of delivering systems in September of 2007 are now abandoned, but this message has not gotten out fully yet. With permitting, construction and more it seems it will be some time before they can deliver systems, and they are starting to admit that. Yet they have 7,500 customer signed up, and around 750 MLM agents still selling. * If CR is any example, PV is going to get cheaper and cheaper with time, and eventually grid power has to get cheaper with it or be unable to compete. (Grid power will start coming from PV if nothing else.) Most of CR's math and marketing rely on the belief that power is going to get more expensive over time, so now's a great time to lock in. However, they do leave the choice up to the customer. * On the previous thread, you'll see a link to a powerpoint presentation made by one of their sales affiliates. He's very worried about how the company will deliver on its promises, and makes some compelling arguments. The company has said an answer is forthcoming. * They claim if you want out, for example because new panels are even cheaper, they will let you go for just your security deposit. I'm astounded that their backers would allow such an attitude. That doesn't just sound too good to be true, it is too good to be true. A company following that sort of approach will be bankrupted by any serious drop in the price of solar below their own claimed low price. If I were a banker, and I believed they could make the panels for what they cost, I would consider investing but would be worried about customers cutting loose even if they weren't allowed to do that.
Investors put in money and expect cashflows back. CR's customers are bound to buy all the output of their panels at a fixed rate, which could deliver those cashflows. But not if a reason develops for a sizeable number of them to want to bail, if there is no disincentive beyond the deposit.
RECs and other credits
I did find some positive things. For example, a market is coming in RECs -- Renewable Energy Certificates. These exist because some states demand that their utilities do a certain fraction of their generation from renewable sources. In some states, they can "accomplish" this by buying proof-of-generation from other suppliers, including solar arrays. Where these credits are tradeable, they can range up to 15 cents per kwh, and even higher. This is enough to make solar highly commercially viable.
However, the REC market is young. It is uncertain where trading in these will go. CR, however states their plan does not depend upon RECs, though they do plan to exploit them where they can. They even suggest that customers may get some benefit from them.
There are other credits as well. In many states, there are rebates for solar installs. ($2.50/watt in California from PG&E for example.) Federally there is a 30% tax credit on solar which corporations can claim fully while homeowners are capped. This helps the CR plan make much more sense, as it's an economy that only works with their plan. In addition, you can write off the cost in just a few years, even though the panels would normally be depreciated over 25-30 years. That's something you can sell in the world of finance.
There are also a few clean generation credits, of around 1.5 cents/kwh and a few other credits. Together they help a lot, but they don't bring today's real $8/watt installed cost of solar down to the und er $2/watt cost CR requires to sell power for 7 cents/kwh in the midwest.
The financial magic
Many customers are attracted to CR by the idea of getting into solar without much money down. They are told they are "renting" the panels. That's a bit misleading however, since at least in the contract it's a long term rental with a commited price. It's really very much like buying the panels with a loan underwritten by the vendor and secured by the panels -- not unlike a car loan. This is fine, and it is why it makes me doubt their ability to just let you out of the contract for your deposit as their CEO promised. You certainly can't get out of a car loan just because your car depreciated very rapidly. You still owe the money no matter what.
Unlike a car loan, however, they own the panels when the term is done. It's hard to say what their value will be then, of course. Most people don't seem particularly concerned about that.
My challenge to CitizenRe
I don't know if CR is real or not. Some people are hopeful, some accuse them of deliberate fraud. Some just say they are taking a dangerous gamble with the future of the PV industry. I don't know which is right.
What I do know, as a businessman, however, is that if the company is real, they should at this point jump through hoops to make everybody feel good. They need to admit that their earlier policies like MLM and extreme secrecy, while they seemed like good ideas at the time, are just generating negative goodwill, distrust, fear and all levels of doubt and accusations. They might not have planned for people to become so skeptical, but that they are is a reality. And the reality must be dealt with.
It's possible it can be dealt with by allowing it to stew, and then boldly proving all the doubters wrong. But that's a pretty risky course. The safer course is to take the risks that come from opening the kimono a bit earlier. Letting the competition see things a bit earlier is not your biggest danger. It's not letting the public see it and conclude the worst. Threads like the one on my blog are springing up everywhere. Customers and investors who type your name into search engines will not be hidden from these questions.
If you are real, show it sooner rather than later. You don't have to show everything but you should also give credible reasons why you must hide things. Consider halting sales or the taking of deposits until you get back on track -- I doubt you will lose any business over that, it might even make you more desired. Much of the world would love your promise of cheap, grid-competitive solar to be real. Don't disappoint them.
Update: This Telegraph Story outlines some of the future hopes for cheap PV, which would indeed beat CitizenRe's planned price and give us economical solar. It's not quite here yet, though.
I've produced a solar economics spreadsheet to help people understand the math behind solar energy.
(Once again, while I welcome contributions from CR ecopreneurs and especially officials, MLMers must not put affiliate links in their comments or as their home page. All financial interests should be disclosed.)
Thu, 2007-02-22 07:58
Fraud or incompetence?
I agree that this whole thing doesn't compute for a variety of reasons. To me, it smells more like a half-baked business plan than intentional fraud.
My guess is that the principals of the company just don't have much experience with this sort of business. There are a lot of intricacies and hidden costs in this sort of a leaseback scheme, and something that looks good on paper may be totally unworkable in the real world.
As just one example, CitizenRe will have to maintain a fleet of maintenance vehicles to install and fix roof panels. Nationwide. Ask any phone company or cable TV operator how expensive that is. Even if the customer is ultimately responsible for panel maintenance expense, the expertise will be hard to come by locally.
I suspect that the people involved did some back-of-the-envelope calculations which showed this to be a modestly profitable business, got excited, and decided that they had to start building excitement and a sales network before someone else beat them to the punch. But when they started approaching investors and bankers for the financing, they started running into some tough questions, which is why they haven't closed any financing yet. They may ultimately discover that when they build a proper business model, their costs are 2-3x what they originally calculated over the lifetime of a panel.
All this is speculation at this point--either they'll ultimately deliver or they won't.
In my mind, though, the most half-baked piece of the scheme is the idea of building their own panel plant. Most companies have abandoned this sort of vertical integration, for good reason. If you actually can build panels cheaper than you can buy them on the open market, then you're better off just selling panels on the open market and not having to pay for this huge distribution and marketing operation. On the other hand, if you can't build the panels cheaper, then what business do you have building your own panels? The only time vertical integration makes sense is if there's some unique expertise or specification which needs to be applied to the manufacturing--but solar panels seem to be very much a commodity business.
Thu, 2007-02-22 12:09
Actually I think that panels are going to become less of a commodity. We're on the verge of whole varieties of technological innovation in all areas of "cleantech" including solar panels. And that's good.
Indeed, CR may need to consider what their true innovation is. Is it cheaper panels? Is it the use of leaseback as a selling tool combined with the ability of corporate ownership to claim more tax credits and RECs? I agree it's not simply vertical integration, nor is it MLM. Those are just icing if they are good at all (I think MLM can be a net negative.)
There are some good ideas in here:
These are good things, but they don't bring solar down to CitizenRe's price. The RECs might do so for a time, but they have claimed the RECs are not in their financial model.
An interesting question is this. If a company offered customers the CitizenRe deal, but based on today's panel prices -- meaning an electricity cost of more like 17 cents/kwh -- how would they react? That's what every customer who puts in solar today is effectively buying. Those customers have to finance their own deals, of course.
CitizenRe offers a price lower than your local grid power, and of course customers will jump at that -- they don't have to have any interest in being green to do that. Perhaps they can cut that number a bit, get it down to 14 or 15 cents. Should there not be a chunk of customers, willing to pay more for their electricity in order to go solar. (Aside from being green, going solar also means backup power during the daytime.)
Fri, 2007-02-23 10:48
Existing panel technologies
Existing panel technologies are badly overpriced, in what is, at present, basically a very small, egalitarian niche marketplace. The number of residential PV systems currently installed and operating in the US is under 100k, total. To contrast, more Americans own an expensive European sportscar (Porsche, Ferrarri, etc).
BP's panels (an example) cost less than $1.75/watt to manufacture, yet sell for nearly 3 times that to suppliers/installers who are often little more than amateur hobbyists themselves. Little has changed since 1980, and buyers are still not getting much for their buck.
A breakthrough into what amounts to a larger market by any company would render this business approach non-viable, and drive down prices across the board, in much the same way as has occurred for residential alarm systems over the last 20 years. This has not happened with PV, despite 30 years of promise that it could and would, and despite 30 years of rising annual wholesale energy prices, because it remains a niche market player.
Fri, 2007-02-23 13:39
At the $5/watt panel price we have seen, there is no financial justification for buying solar except for some niche off-grid applications. (This does not include off-grid homes which usually use very wasteful battery storage, and can get power cheaper via other means that don't do their generation whether you are using the power or not.) So the only real reason to get it has been a desire to be greener. Thus limited sales. A drop in price would cause a radical increase in sales.
However, it's quite common in manufacturing to have a base manufacturing cost that is 1/3 or less of the retail cost because there are other costs.
Solar has a magic threshold, however, which is the price of grid power. Get solar below the grid price (and the grid price is quite high in some places, like California) and suddenly it's not an ecological gesture, it's a sound financial decision. So there should have been a lot of incentive to hit that magical price, as long as demand can be met. (If demand can't be met, you might as well charge what the market will bear for what you can produce.)
Thu, 2007-02-22 14:22
Thoughts for Brad
Good research, here's my additional thoughts.
1. To your point about easy-in easy-out. I have asked for the clause which allows customers to opt-out if the price of energy drops - no answer. I therefore propose the scheme is an energy futures play - there is no opt out, and CR stands a 50/50 chance of going broke on a market rise, or windfall on a market fall. In no case will they have the financial resources if their futures get called in a rising market.
2. To your point about why MLM. There is no shortage of demand for PV components at $5 per watt. No smart investor would favor $1.50 a watt with risks when they can get $5 per watt at infinite volume with very little risk or complexity of say managing a national sales and install force. If CR can make solar panels that much cheaper than the market, they hardly need to waste time competing with local installers, as they have very little competitive advantage on the service of installation (They'll end up hiring the same installers, with the same costs, as anyone else).
3. My conclusion is that CR is trying to create a Scientology style social network - a blend of Celebrity, secrecy, progress-by-promotion, and science-fiction by playing on two social motivators: 1) owning the epiphany, or being smart in a world of relative idiots, or being right/righteous in a world of relatively wrong/godless/pagan/evildoers, and 2) reserving one's place in line for the new world order/eternal glory/next administration/next Microsoft.
Thu, 2007-02-22 17:07
Actually, the point is that Rob Styler has said customers can get out of their contract at the cost of their security deposit, which seems to be set at around 10 to 20 cents/peak watt so it's pretty small. That seems far too risky to me, if I were investing. I doubt they would really set up their business plan so that they go broke if energy prices rise. I don't agree that investors would not be interested in $1.50/watt with risks over $5/watt. It's based on the risks of course, but $1.50 is very attractive and I would tolerate a fair bit of risk to get that price.
I'm not sure Ed Begley counts as a lot of Celebrity. Scientology is quite a step beyond the worst I would imagine for CitizenRe.
Sat, 2007-05-26 12:47
Give it a chance its a 6 mth old company! where was microsoft in the early 80's. Who thought that we would be able to drive and talk at the same time in the early 90s or even drive down the road in your car and you passenger is logging on to the internet. Cloning human beings and body parts OPEN YOUR MINDS PEOPLE!!!! THE ONLY LIMITATION IS YOU. SMALL MINDS = A SMALL WORLD!!
Mon, 2007-08-20 17:06
Talk about open minds. Open your mind to the real world of business and manufacturing. MS never made claims like this company is making, they worked on their products and built them over the course of a number of years to get to where they were the dominant player in an emerging marketplace.
Citizenre is making outlandish claims to be able to do more in less time than any other corporation of any type in history. It is a great idea, and something everyone would like to see some day, but to be selling people on this futures market is more than troublesome. It is great to have dreams but you have to face the facts.
They claim they can get financing, locate a building site, put together all the building plans, go through all the submittals required for building permits wherever the location will be, actually obtain the permits, build the massive manufacturing facility, hire all the people required to man it, then produce more PV modules and inverters than have been installed in this country in total, over the last 30 years. All of this and still allow for hiring installation companies to install all this product, contract the customers, apply for local permits (and for the credits in the states that offer the cash subsidy), get the approvals and permits, and have it installed, all within one year from however many months ago they started making this absurd claim. This is more than any major multi-national corporation has been able to accomplish, after pouring many, many, millions of dollars into R&D, manufacturing and marketing.
If anyone can show me a company that has gone from zero to several billion dollars of completed manufactured product and installation within one year or even five years, please show me verifiable facts. No dreams - reality.
Wed, 2007-08-22 08:17
Citizenre Financial Team Press Release
Yesterday, Citizenre released a press release announcing their “financing team” that will help them raise funding. Citizenre does not have any funding. You don't make this announcement if you have already closed financing. If you have funding, this is not news.
My analysis from six months ago that Citizenre is a highly unethical attempt to prove that there is sufficient demand (e.g. FRAs) to justify financing remains valid. Unfortunately, Citizenre's timing is lousy and they are extemely vulnerable because they tried to sell first and only after they succeeded in selling, finance and build long-lead time infrastructure (PV and inverter manufacturing plant; thousands of installations dependent on equipment made in the plant).
We are several weeks into the worst credit crunch since 1973 and possibly 1929/1930. Lending has largely stoped - particularly for sub-prime and alt-a mortgages, jumbo mortgages, asset-backed securities, junk bonds, commercial paper, M&A takeovers, and pretty much all lending below AA or AAA. Major banks and investment banks have several hundred billion worth of loans made in the last couple of months (mostly for M&A deals and asset securitization deals) that they are unable to sell to investors without taking major losses. Everyone is scared and pulling back right now. For the little bit of lending that is available, credit spreads have increased by several hundred basis points. This means that if you were expecting a 5% interest rate in July, you may be paying 7% or 7.5% in August if you can still get the loan. Any assumptions about financing that are more than two weeks old have to be revisited. A month ago, GE Money was willing to finance PV systems for single family homes at rates between 7.5% and 14+%, but wanted 5 to 7 year terms. However, even then, they were more interested in commercial PV loans than residential loans. GE is still trying to value the collateral value of home PV systems - there are a lot of technical challenges and costs associated with removing PV systems and a used system may only have value for the first five years.
For Citizenre, they have the assumption that they can essentially give low interest, no documentation, 25 year loans to their customers (a lender's view of the FRA cashflows). This is essentially a sub-prime, unsecured loan, and any asset-backed security based on a pool of these FRAs would be extremely hard to value right now. The default rate on FRA's is unknown. Likewise, the cancellation rate and the effective duration of the FRA stream (e.g. how long the average customer has the system on their roof given the easy cancellation terms) are also unknown. Right now, investors do not trust the investment bank valuations of asset-backed securities because 1) there is really no liquid market for these, 2) everything is marked-to-model (where the model is an investment bank spreadsheet) based on investment bank assumptions that may be questionable and overly optimistic, 3) there are major conflicts of interest by the rating agencies and investment banks, and 4) there has been way too much fraud in this space (as much as 50% of all sub-prime loans may have been tainted by frauds committed by one or more of the parties involved - the borrower, the broker, the originator, the rating agency, the investment bank, the appraiser).
If you change the assumptions, Citizenre's model will break down. There are four major vulnerabilities to Citizenre in this credit crunch:
a) Customer Credit Worthiness Risk: Since no customers have completed credit checks, we don't know what percentage of them have prime credit. A significant portion of the 19,700+ customers may not have acceptable credit scores and their FRAs may not be financeable.
b) Interest Rate Risk: If Citizenre has to pay higher interest rates, their margins will decrease, making the service uneconomic for them to offer in some locations. This means that they either a) have to raise the rates they charge (which could make the KWH cost of electricity higher for their customers than they pay their utilities) and/or b) have to exit certain markets - particularly those with low interest rates. Again, a large percentage of customers could be lost if entire states have to be abandoned or if Citizenre is forced to change the rates promised.
c) Geographic Risk: Lenders may avoid investing in asset-backed security loans from certain regions that are particularly hard hit by real estate mortgage foreclosures. 50% of the sub-prime mortgages in the past three years were issued in California and Florida. Unfortunately, California is the most attractive solar market in the country (~80% of the US solar market).
d) Contract Language Risk: Lenders may object to certain terms in the FRA contract and require changes. The financing term has the greatest impact on the economics of FRAs. If lenders require shorter terms (e.g. 5 to 7 years, instead of 25 years), Citizenre cannot offer FRAs at their current rates.
Even if we assume that this deal was fundable in the second quarter of this year, today it is toxic and unfundable given the credit crunch. When one adds the other risks in the deal (execution, inexperienced management team, technology risks, manufacturing risks, MLM marketing scheme), it becomes even less likely to get funded.
Finally, Structured Growth Partners is a no-name, two-person fundraising company with no history or verifiable information. It is unlikely that they are registered with the SEC as a broker-dealer (legally required if they take commissions or success fees from Citizenre on any funds raised). If you are trying to raise hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, you don't use a no-name firm, you use either a major investment bank or specialty boutique (energy) investment bank with a proven track record in the field. The little advisors are typically used by startups and small businesses to help them get between several hundred thousand and several million dollars. They also frequently want excessive fees that scare away legitimate investors - particularly venture capital firms.
Wed, 2007-08-22 08:30
Citizenre Financial Team
mdsolar from slashdot here (a disclosure). I notice in you last comment that you probably meant that the risk is that electricity rates would fall rather than rise. I would say that so long as this is a local phenomenon, the risk can be managed. If electricity rates nationwide fall faster than the cost of solar is falling I would be very suprised because electricity is currently dominated by sources that will have flat (hydro) or increasing costs (coal, nuclear and gas). Wind tends to moderate rates and it has a high growth rate, but its cost curve is less favorable than solar's.
I also think that you may be confusing Begleys. Might want to check that. Ed's show had been renewed for a second season and shooting of CR's first installation was completed last week in under a day, despite retakes, for inclusion in the show.
You have been hoping for more information from CR. They have announced their finance team and there is a news item linked at my Real Energy blog (repeated here). I think you'll agree that the timing could not be better given the flight of money from real estate. Other, more secure, structured finance sectors should be finding reduced costs in the near term.
Thu, 2007-08-23 00:31
Why grid power could go down.
Quite simply, if solar power becomes cheap to buy and put on a house, it also starts becoming cheap to buy and put in a power plant not too far from the house. If you could generate solar for 5 cents/kwh, why would you burn a fossil fuel that ended up costing more? If grid power is 40 cents/kwh and solar is 10, then people will just put up solar plants on the grid.
Now there are ways it's not quite that simple. Grid power suffers from grid losses and the cost of the grid. The closer you can put your plant to the customer, the better. Home solar takes advantage of a "free roof" and "free land" and power plant solar doesn't do that as easily -- though it might well be able to lease existing land being used for parking lots, or otherwise wasted roofs.
Solar only provides power when sunny. You have to have a grid for cloudy days and for night, and that grid has to come from power that works reliably then, such as hydro and fossil fuels. However, there might be enough of them.
But in the end, grid power can't get vastly more expensive than solar. And new techs will appear on the grid as well.
Thu, 2007-08-23 10:39
I thought that was what you meant. I agree that solar is the only developed technology that could substantially reduce grid costs. In some sense CR could be a victim of its own success. I think for a contract written today, there is not much of a worry. Solar has to come down further in price and be much more widely deployed to see a big effect on rates and since monetary policy attempts to keep a couple of percentage points of inflation, in 25 years, even reduced real grid costs may not be lower in inflated dolars than a rate offered today. And, one would expect to see the largest effects where grid rates are currently the highest and systems are paid off the soonest, i.e. where natural gas is being displaced. A system that is payed off sooner has basically fulfilled its mission and moving it to the after market is just gravy since the cost of removal is included in the contract in the case of early termination. As to new technology, if it works in a distributed generation model, CR plans to offer it so this also covers risk. I don't think we'll be seeing any widely deployed new central generation technology in the next 20 years that is much cheaper than distributed solar will be just because there is nothing on the horizon now and a break through tomorrow would still require a long development timescale in a central generation model.
The biggest risk I see is that net metering goes away. If that happens before low cost storage is available there could be a problem. But, if in 15 years net metering is ended without paying attention to customer's stranded costs (bait-and-switch governmental practices), and grid rates are also higher than at present, it may be possible to offer a storage solution at a price that still saves customers money relative to the grid. Customers will certainly be ticked off enough in that situation to consider disconnecting from the grid I think.
There are risks in any business but one of the things that CR seems to be doing is managing that risk and at the same time reducing risk for customers. It is not the same as ownership, but it does have some advantages.
Wed, 2007-08-22 17:37
For Dr. George
Howdy Dr. George,
I have copied the only response you will get for now. I got it from our internal Forums with permission of course.
Here is Rob Stylers post:
Some people (ie Richard George) have posted critiques of our press release claiming that we will not be able to deliver because of the stock market, etc. At first, we were planning to spend the time with Brown Rudnick and our other partners to refute all of those concerns, but upon reflection we decided that this would just take more time and could easily turn into a waste of "no you can't," "YES, we can."
If it was one simple response, no big deal...but once you engage, it often creates a life of its own that consumes an ever increasing amount of energy.
The best use of our time right now is to focus on delivering, not arguing with those who say we can't.
One of my favorite quotes is, "Those who say it can't be done, annoy those of us doing it."
We don't have much longer before all of these concerns will be mute.
We will continue to release more information.
Thanks for your patience and for hanging tough.
Sun, 2007-10-21 21:31
I came across a CitizenRE rep at the state fair this weekend and spoke with him for a while before giving him my name and address for more information. I received an email this evening saying my new account has been set up and I can log in to review my account. The following is a cut and paste of some of the information in that email:
"you will have the ability to view your system's operating status in near-real-time. Data is updated on a daily basis. Use this feature to see how much electricity your REnU has generated for you and at what time of the day, how much of it you used and when, and how much you delivered to your utility. Even see how much energy you took back from the local utility and when. Additionally, this daily data translates directly into your monthly bill"
Ok, so I logged into my "new account" and guess what I found...a "contract status" section indicating that I had requested a 25 year contract and that it was pending (I had, in fact, told the rep I specifically would NOT sign the 25 year contract but may consider the one or five-year contract). There was also a section of graphs headed up with my personal information, a contract number and colorful displays of my current energy consumption, energy generated by the panels, energy sold and energy bought back...all with colorful displays. Keep in mind, no one has been to my house to even consider a solar installation let alone begin any type of solar installation. THERE ARE NO SOLAR PANELS INSTALLED ON MY HOUSE.
If this is the data that will be comprising my bill and the data is fabricated, as it must be since CitizenRE has no record of my energy usage today and, especially, since they have data on my solar energy production when I have no solar energy system, I am deeply concerned.
I also noticed, in the contract information displayed on the "account" I logged into, that there may be additional fees as outlined in section 1.2 of the contract. Under section 1.2 of the contract, it simply has the word (reserved) in parenthesis and nothing more. Who would agree to such a contract?!
I want to make all of you aware I am posting this message to inform you of my current experience with the company CitizenRE and to allow Rob or any other representative of their company to explain what is going on and why I am seeing the data I am seeing in the "account" created for me.
I have been hesitant in responding to comments made about CitizenRE until this point because I have been trying to be positive in thinking they may actually be a legitimate company, however, I am rapidly deciding to agree with the nay-sayers and look forward from a response from CitizenRE which would actually make me consider doing otherwise.
One further comment to CitizenRE: If I receive a bill, invoice or collection statement of any kind, you will see legal action and media activity that will give your company more attention than any rep at the state fair.
Thanks for your attention to this matter.
Fri, 2008-07-18 16:54
Obviously you did not read
Obviously you did not read the "Daily Estimated Usage" line above the graphs. They show you an estimate of what an appropriately sized system would generate based on the historical usage information you provided and how the PV system generation lines up with actual electrical demand. As for the contract term, you have nothing to sign or agree to until someone has come to your house to do an inspection and actually completed a project proposal and you have accepted everything. You would have ample opportunity through that process to correct any mistake such as the contract term. There is no need to blow things so out of proportion and create "drama."
Fri, 2009-06-19 21:41
can't stand all the
can't stand all the hydrogen????
Wed, 2011-02-09 14:08
what do you have to say now???
Feb 09, 2011 09:12 ET
Citizenre Signs Development Agreement
SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwire - February 9, 2011) - The Citizenr? Corporation today announced that it has received and executed a funding commitment with Adam Capital, a private investment fund based in Sonoma, CA. Adam Capital has agreed to provide Citizenr? with an initial $20 million in funds, and subsequent funding rounds, over the next 18 months to fund Citizenr?'s goal to install 15 megawatts (MW) in residential solar photovoltaics (PV) systems.
Citizenr? has been providing homeowners the use of solar electric systems with immediate savings and no out-of-pocket costs throughout California since late 2009. This new agreement with Adam Capital will enable Citizenr? to expand in California and enter other favorable markets throughout the U.S.
Wed, 2011-02-09 14:27
That's a start
Hardly the $600M that was coming "any day now" several years ago, but if they pull it off it's a start.
Some things have changed since then. First of all Chinese factories have cut the cost of panels way down, allowing solar to become more competitive, especially with the tax breaks. And other companies are doing things somewhat similar to CitizenRe so it's certainly something that can be done.
I still think multi-level-marketing is a poor way to go about this, and given the history of grand but undelivered promises, I would probably recommend people exercise caution dealing with this company. I had indeed presumed them dead after years of nothing much taking place.
Thu, 2011-02-10 16:39
I have been involved with Citizenre for a while and I am excited that they have raised money. When I first became involved I thought the MLM was a bit strange also. Now that I understand it and I think it is a good strategy. The MLM sales force is really just about reaching out and educating people on solar and the company offer . Easy stuff to learn. Many go beyond that to really get into the nuts and bolts of solar installation. After the initial contract/show of interest has been signed a certified site designer comes out to design the system. The customer does not enter an agreement until the complete site design has been done and the customer signs off on all of the details. From my point a view it is a effective system with the sales person making money and customers getting solar. They have a much better offer than the other leasing companies and the sales force can create amazing results. I think the next couple of years will be very good for the company and the industry.
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