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Three Reasons Why Commercial Solar Sales are Lagging and Three Software Tools That Can Help

Updated: Jun 1, 2020

Selling commercial solar isn’t rocket science, but there are still many challenges to launching and landing on a solid deal. Historically, the commercial solar market has lagged far behind residential and utility solar installations. There are many complex reasons for this gap, but I’d like to offer three simple ones:

The first challenge is that commercial installers have to find a viable building with good solar potential, high electricity bills, and an aligned building and business owner. Second, even when the building is a perfect solar candidate, solar financiers may reject the financing application. And third, even when you find a great deal with a great financier that rubber stamps a business owner with great credit… this perfect prospect may be unimpressed by the solar-only ROI due to a utility’s high demand charges.

It’s no wonder that commercial solar sales take months or even a year to complete.

Three Software Solutions

So how can commercial solar EPCs and developers accelerate sales and solve these three commercial solar challenges? Extensible Energy invited two other “solar plus” software providers to participate in a Powerhouse-moderated webinar about three digital solutions:

  • Station A solves the first problem. Their software makes it easy to find good commercial solar deals by mining public data and revealing targeted building, energy, and ownership data, reducing customer acquisition time and expenses.

  • Energetic Insurance solves the second problem. Their EneRate Credit Cover software reduces the risks to solar financiers, enabling unrated or below investment grade businesses to obtain solar PPAs, leases, loans, and other financing.

  • Extensible Energy solves the third problem. To make going solar worthwhile when all the other factors are addressed, our DemandEx software reduces high demand charges by 20 to 40%, impressing solar prospects with improved ROI and shorter payback times than with solar alone.

The three CEO and founders presenting were Extensible Energy’s CEO John Powers, Station A’s CEO Kevin Berkemeyer, and Energetic Insurance’s CEO, Jeff McAulay. As you’ll see from watching the full recorded presentation, these three CEOs developed their solutions based on their own frustrations and experience with the commercial solar market. In other words, they understood the frustrations of commercial solar installers and found a way to help. Similarly, Octavi Semonin came from the solar hardware world where it’s increasingly difficult to reduce manufacturing costs. At Powerhouse, he’s excited to be supporting new software solutions that are reducing costs in areas where hardware cannot.

We encourage you to watch the full webinar. You’ll get many insights into the commercial solar market, but below the video are my personal top three:

Insight #1: COVID-19 downtime shouldn’t be wasted. These three challenges aren’t going away after the COVID-19 crisis is over. Any COVID-19 downtime can be used now to learn and test new solutions like these and others, such as our solar software friends at UtilityAPI, Energy Toolbase, Helioscope, and PV Complete, to name just a few.

Insight #2: It’s all about the data. We love data, but data isn’t useful unless it is easily applied within your sales and installation processes. These three solutions are using data in new ways to make commercial solar easier, faster, and less expensive. In fact, we hope that some of our solar installer partners watching this webinar will one day measure acquisition costs and closing times before and after using Station A, Energetic, and DemandEx. If you try that experiment, please let us know.

Insight #3: Solutions must evolve with the market. As much as these solar plus software solutions will help accelerate the commercial solar market, they’re only parts of the solutions. Many more software solutions are needed. Some exist and some are yet to be invented. Rates, rules, and sentiments change. At Extensible Energy, we are always listening to our installer partners, and we’re working on even more dynamic, intelligent, data-driven software solutions to help accelerate the market.

We genuinely hope your commercial solar business takes advantage of these software tools today and in the future to increase efficiency and sales. If you have more questions from any of the panelists, please let us know.

Deepa Lounsbury is Extensible Energy’s Director of Products.

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