Report: Solar Homes Fetch Higher Prices

Does a solar electric system add to the sales value of a home? The Berkeley Lawrence National Laboratory decided to answer this question, and the result is a report being issued Thursday that showed that, indeed, solar homes command higher prices.

Build a Better Portfolio

If you want to hit 2010 running, you may well be planning to update your portfolio over the next month or so. It can be tempting to just gather together all the projects you’ve done recently and drop them into your portfolio alongside everything else, but this is unlikely to be the best approach.

Instead, take this opportunity to review your pitching strategy and shape your portfolio accordingly. Read More about Build a Better Portfolio

Can Oakland Startup Veranda Become the Apple of Solar?

Updated: Apple has developed a reputation for sleek, hip and user-friendly computers and electronics. Now, Veranda Solar, a startup based in Portland, Ore. and Oakland, Calif., developing small, easy-to-install solar-power systems, says it wants to become the Apple of consumer solar products. (Updated to reflect that the company works out of both cities.)

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How so? Instead of focusing on a new solar chemistry or production technology, the company hopes to differentiate itself with its aesthetics, appeal and ease of use, CEO Capra J’neva says. “We interact with real people to create our products, so we are reducing market risk by understanding the real needs of people who will buy [them],” she told us last week.

The Veranda Solar system “will appeal to the type of people who like Apple products,” J’neva said, though the company is also focused on the subset of those Apple aficionados who want to live a more sustainable lifestyle and do something positive for the environment. But unlike Apple, Veranda plans to offer affordable prices.

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SolarCity’s New Toys: Web Monitoring 2.0 & Slick Panel Mounts

Residential solar installer SolarCity is looking to differentiate itself from the herd of other installers serving homeowners in the West with its SolarGuard 2.0, an upgrade to its online monitoring service, and Canopy, a new panel mounting system. The Foster City, Calif.-based startup showed off the two new features at the Solar Power International Conference in San Diego on Wednesday.
SolarCity will roll out SolarGuard 2.0, an upgrade to its web-based monitoring service that allows customers to check energy production as well as local weather, carbon offsets and pollution reduction, later this fall. The beefed-up service includes demand monitoring, which overlays your panels’ energy generation on your home’s energy consumption. The revamped webware even starts working before your panels are on your roof by allowing users to track the progress of their installation online with updates starting with the initial site audit through permitting and installation to interconnection with the utility, providing some much needed transparency to the consumer.

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Sungevity Wants YOU to Text for Solar eSignatures

It takes more than 70 pages of tedious paperwork to get a residential solar system connected to the grid and properly rebated, residential solar installer Sungevity estimates. The Berkeley, Calif.-based startup is launching a campaign today to end this wasteful paper trail by asking the Public Utilities Commission to accept electronic signatures on rebate and interconnection applications. Sungevity is gathering support by having proponents text message the word “esignature” along with their name, area code and email address to 55333.

The campaign is being officially launched at the Solar Power International 2008 conference in San Diego. Sungevity hopes that with a critical mass of industry insiders they’ll be able to garner a lot of support very quickly. For a high-tech and supposedly environmental industry like solar to be locked into the documentation system of yesteryear is not only antithetical to the industry, it’s also costly.
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Standard Solar to Expand With $8.5M

Commercial and residential solar installer Standard Solar has raised $8.5 million in second-round funding, the company said yesterday. The Gaithersburg, Md.-based startup currently operates in Maryland, Virginia and Washington D.C., but plans to use this funding to expand throughout the mid-Atlantic region over the next two years.

With the recent extension of the investment tax credit, smaller players in the commercial and residential solar market are reacting quickly. Standard Solar tells us that even on the day that the ITC was passed, they noticed an uptick in calls about solar installations. The “land grab” for residential and commercial customers is back in effect.
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Solar Financier SunRun Scores a $12M Foundation

The solar supply chain is seeing capital flow all the way down to companies involved in putting panels on your rooftop. Today SunRun, a residential solar financier, raised $12 million in financing from venture firm Foundation Capital. As a “solar financier,” San Francisco-based SunRun sets up agreements to allow homeowners to buy the electricity coming off their roof from a third party that owns the panels (like Akeena Solar, which SunRun partnered with last month) — this arrangement, called a power purchase agreement, helps defer the upfront cost of putting solar panels on homes.

A confluence of events has given residential solar companies, especially in the Bay Area, a huge boost. The local utility PG&E recently notified the state’s Public Utilities Commission that it would be instituting a 4.5 percent rate hike in October and another 2 percent rate increase in January due to the rising cost of natural gas. In addition, the city of San Francisco just signed into law the country’s largest municipal solar incentive program, which is set to dole out $3 million for residential solar, up to $6,000 per rooftop.
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OStatic: Six Free, Open Source Tools for Mac Video Work

The Mac is storied for its ability to handle video, and many web workers are increasingly involved with video editing, using video for marketing purposes, and more. If you’re a Mac user who meets the profile, you probably already own some good video editing and production software. However, there are some really excellent free, open source tools for Mac videographers worth knowing about. We’re covering six of them over on the OStatic blog, dedicated to open source.

Some of the video applications covered in the link above are time-savers, some of them can broadly expand your arsenal of video capabilities, and some of them can help you reach new audiences. Here’s a little more info, below the fold.

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