Friday, April 23, 2010


I am just too busy to write in my blog these days. The stories posted are all old and out dated, BUT, my clients have been sending me really great emails. With their permission I am posting these emails on the blog. Enjoy

This came in my inbox on Earthday, 4/22/10:

"Hey Kevin - Steve and I hope you and your family and Sun's Free are all doing well.
I have just gotten the lowest electric bill ever but I can't figure out how they calculate it. I'm sure you can . I'm including pdfs of the bills for this month and last month. The house meter number is 50041. The solar meter is 63515. For some strange reason they put the electricity I generate under the category of usage even though we know it is not. In March the house meter used 1192 kWh and we generated 631. They charged us for 1192 kWh which I guess is what we actually used [1823] minus the 631 we generated.
On the April bill the house meter used 879 kWh and we generated 1216. They charged us for 879 kWh which I guess is the actual usage [2095] minus the 1216 we generated.
Do I have it right? Right or wrong, I couldn't be more delighted. Please feel free to share my electric bills with any potential customers. I will share them with my neighbors."

-Dr. Posner, (42) Sanyo 215 watt modules with Enphase Micro Inverters, commissioned in December 2009.

And this on April 10th, 2010

"I remember when my dad used to get on me about leaving a door open because the heater was on and I was letting the inside air escape out into never never land. He would get upset because us kids would have every light on in the house letting dollars evaporate into atmosphere. I didn’t really understand but went along with him even into my later years because he was dad. Even though I have taken a few electronic courses and some science in college I don’t think I ever really got the concept of a kilowatt until these last couple of days. Yesterday when the sun was just coming up I went out to watch for when the solar panels would slow down and eventually reverse the wheel on the electric meter. It was just barely crawling along when all of a sudden it picked up speed. It only lasted for a few seconds so I figured someone had turned something on. When I realized Maryann was in the shower and Loretta was at work I figured it was probably a refrigerator compressor or something that turned on and off. I had to have a test. I went into the kitchen and put my coffee in the 1000 watt microwave. I set the timer for 30 seconds and started counting one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three…, as I walked back to the meter. One thousand twenty five and the meter was spinning around at a pretty good clip. One thousand 30 and boink. It immediately slowed down to a crawl and was almost at the point of reversing. I could tell exactly when the microwave timer went off. I see kilowatts everywhere now."

-Dan, (34) Sharp 235 watt modules with Enphase Micro Inverters, commissioned 4/1/10

I have a client, Sue in Oakland, that refuses to use email, but she loves to tell me about all the money she is saving. She has prepared a spread sheet for me to show potential clients in sales meetings. Too cool.

That's it for now. I gotta go.


Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Standing on the hills of the mountains and dreams, telling myself it’s not as hard as it seems….

Do you like acronyms? Here are a few to warm up with:
I attended a meeting for the SEE Green Careers (SGC) group that targeted getting ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) money by way of Oakland’s WIA (Workforce Investment Act) and OPIC (Oakland Private Industry Council). Wow! Is that enough acronyms for you?
In other words:
*SGC= green jobs/solar training for underserved youth
*ARRA= Federal $/Obama Stimulus
*WIA and OPIC= distribution of Federal $ to green jobs programs
And here’s one more, Sun’s Free Solar (SFS)=me (Kevin Good), Joel Baron and Sheldon Norberg, owners and operators of a solar contracting company.
Actually, it’s hilarious, let me digress. I was at the meeting in Oakland City Hall (hosted by OPIC) to give public comment on how the WIA money would directly affect my group, SGC, and thus please consider fully funding the program. Man, this was a dysfunctional meeting. People accusing board members of giving favor to their pet projects and emotions flared….By the time it came to public comment, the meeting had run over by 30 minutes (like, it was supposed to be over half an hour ago). I was given the opportunity to address the board and all I could say was, “you folks in public service, you sure make my job look attractive”.
The Federal dollars did make it to SGC and what that means is Uncle Sam is going to pay the tab for the eligible young men and women to work for employers like myself this summer (8 weeks/24 hours a week @ $8+ an hour). Whatever your politics are regarding social programs is neither here nor there. The program is law, and, for better or worse, I have resolved to be a part of the implementation. So I went to the Spanish Speaking Citizens Foundation (SSCF, another acronym…sorry) to meet with the SGC collaborative members and the graduates from SGC. This was a job fair, in which I was going to interview the graduates individually and determine which one I could hire for the summer.
Ok, another digression. I had been sent detailed emails from the directors of SGC regarding the ARRA/WIA/OPIC program and the actual cost, BUT, because I can be very George Bush in my reading comprehension or lack thereof… I didn’t fully understand the Federal Government was picking up the whole tab. My take was that the Fed would pay half the cost per hour (which is another program piggybacked to the program mentioned above) and Sun’s Free Solar would pay the 50 cents on every dollar these guys and gals earned. So I figured I could reasonably hire one graduate and keep them busy for the 8 weeks.
You see? Hire one person for the summer, right? Wrong! I did the interviews and, I gotta tell you, some of the answers I got from my questions just blew me away. Like, Lewis responded to my question, “Why do you want to be a solar installer?” with, “to be a super hero…to let kids see what you can do… to be a role model”. This is true, every installer feels this. I then met with the other potential employers from the job fair to discuss who was going where. Rising Sun Energy, the East Bay YMCA and the SSCF were present and offering summer positions. Although several other solar contractors were invited to attend, I was the only one that showed up. All the graduates listed what would be their first, second and third pick. Nearly all listed Sun’s Free Solar as their first pick.
There simply weren’t enough positions in the trades (Rising Sun and Sun’s Free), so the YMCA agreed to take the balance of the candidates (six men and women I think it was). Well, in this post-interview confab it became clear that the entire tab was being paid by the Fed. I then volunteered to take six SGC grads. Six is the number of people I can fit in my ’87 Mercedes station wagon.
I just couldn’t see these people that wanted a life in the building trades getting further removed from the prize…gainful and fulltime employment as a skilled tradesperson. I knew I didn’t have nearly enough work on the books. I knew this was going to, in fact, cost us (my wife and me) quite a bit of time and money. And, I knew I really don’t have the skills to manage six young people while trying to make the living I have become accustomed to.
So here’s what I propose to do:
1. Bring on the six SGC grads for 8 weeks paid for by ARRA
2. Fill the work calendar with as many paying clients as possible
3. Compensate my crew for all work performed that generates revenue for Sun’s Free Solar an additional $4 an hour (totaling $12+ an hour).
4. Contact any and all clients from my former company (Well Grounded Electric) and potential clients that have asked us for proposals but haven’t signed the contract and let them know that Sun’s Free Solar will have 3 other human beings available (3 on the roof with Joel Baron and myself installing solar) for insulating their crawl spaces and attics, wrapping their pipes, adding weather stripping to doors and windows, or just about any punch list items that fall in the spirit of the ARRA program. This additional service will be provided “pro bono” for any client getting solar installed by Sun’s Free. If we are providing this service to a former client, the cost to the homeowner is only $4 an hour per worker!
5. Each worker provides me with the contact information of a friend or family member that could use the 7 of us rolling up to their house and putting in a day’s labor. This would be at no cost at all to the loved one (except lunch for the crew). Again, as long as our troops are learning professional skills, I believe we have done a great service to these young people and the community they live in.
6. The balance of their time midweek (Monday and Friday) they are contacting other contractors to get fulltime employment.
Now, anyone that has experience contracting will immediately note that this is a logistical nightmare, and they’d be right. But my partners and I have made a commitment to bridging the gap between green jobs training and employment. You see, quite honestly, you would be amazed at the flood of resumes we have gotten in the last year. Most of these come from white males with several years experience in the building trades. The rest of the resumes are generally from white males from the tech industry. How are my guys gonna compete with that? I plan on taking a very close look at each one of the SGC grads to find their strengths and what they bring to the table that is distinctly unique to their life experience.
As for our group and Sun’s Free Solar, what we really need is a couple commercial contracts. Large flat roofs with lots of time to get real jobs skills. If any of you reading this know of a property owner thinking of going solar, we can make that happen. Sun’s Free Solar will not charge any materials mark up and we will pass the savings on labor straight through to the client.