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Andrew Burger headshot

Solar Seniors Help Realize California, U.S. Renewable Energy Goals

California seniors are increasingly helping realize the goals of Gov. Jerry Brown's clean, renewable energy and energy security initiatives, one central aim of which is to install 12,000-MW of local renewable power generation across the state by 2020.

A growing segment of the US population, 64 percent of Americans 65 and over have a "favorable impression" of solar energy, according to a Pike Research report. In other research, Pike found that 58 percent of Americans ages 55-69 are interested in installing a solar PV system.

The growing number of so-called "solar seniors" is likely to have an increasingly broad and deep effect on the course of the U.S. clean, renewable energy transition, "pointing to the decentralization of power generation and how it's already in motion in California," according to Gen110, a leading-edge distributed electricity provider based in San Francisco.

"Solar Seniors" Power U.S. Distributed Renewable Power Drive

Gen110 today (July 25) announced it has "brought cost-effective distributed [solar PV] power to more than 1,200 households" in the San Francisco's South Bay area. San Jose ranks as California's third-largest solar PV market, and Gen110 now "powers more than 40 percent of solar installations in the San Jose metropolitan area," the company says.

An example of America's growing number of solar seniors, Gen 110 highlights the experience of 100-year old San Jose, CA, resident Ida Petracci. In order to start saving on energy bills right away, Ida took advantage of Gen 110's program to have a solar PV system installed on the roof of her home-- which she thought of as a centennial birthday present to herself. Ida and her family expect to save more than $37,000 over 20 years by making the switch to producing, as well as consuming, their own clean, renewable electricity, according to Gen 110.

Living off fixed retirement incomes, American seniors are "the most at-risk segment of homeowners" when it comes to foreclosure, Gen 110 points out. "A growing segment of folks of retirement age are becoming increasingly energy savvy, making investments in their homes in order to save significantly on energy bills and avoid utility rate hikes," the company notes.

Ida and the Petracci family are among a growing number of Americans taking advantage of solar leasing programs that make the costs of installing a home solar PV system easier to afford and manage. "She's among the first of many folks who are turning to home-generated solar -- especially heavy energy users (think McMansion, Hummer-driving types of families) that normally aren't inclined to go solar -- in order to save over the long run," Gen 110 commented.

Clearing Up Misconceptions, Making Home Solar Power More Affordable

Unfamiliarity and confusion over the actual costs and performance of solar PV systems, along with substantial upfront costs and qualifying for a varied mix of paper and process-heavy state and federal subsidy and incentive programs have made it difficult for many U.S. homeowners to make the decision to purchase and have a solar PV system installed. That's been changing, and fast, in recent years, however, with the advent of companies, such as Gen110, SolarCity and SunRun, offering solar leases, in some cases for zero down payment.

“Many South Bay residents don’t know they’re overpaying for energy, or that alternatives exist to help lower their bills. That’s where Gen110 comes in,” said Michael Abramovic, director of Gen110’s South Bay office. “Savvy South Bay customers have been quick to understand that our solution makes smart economic sense, and we’re pleased that so many have decided to replace their higher-tier energy use with distributed power.”

For Ida Petracci and family, that translates into energy self-sufficiency, doing right by the environment, and saving on energy bills. “You’re never too old to go solar,” she said. “I’ve lived in Alum Rock for decades, and for the first time my electricity bill will stop going up. And while the price is right today, solar will continue to benefit my family for years to come."

Photo credit: Gen110

Andrew Burger headshotAndrew Burger

An experienced, independent journalist, editor and researcher, Andrew has crisscrossed the globe while reporting on sustainability, corporate social responsibility, social and environmental entrepreneurship, renewable energy, energy efficiency and clean technology. He studied geology at CU, Boulder, has an MBA in finance from Pace University, and completed a certificate program in international governance for biodiversity at UN University in Japan.

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