SF Passes Largest City Solar Program in U.S. (Finally)

After six months of hard-fought politicking, the San Francisco board of supervisors has finally approved the Solar Energy Incentive Program, the country’s largest municipal solar program. The program has been greenlighted for 10 years and has an annual budget of $3 million dollars. The money will be doled out as rebates in the form of tax incentives for private solar installations. Now the ordinance just needs approval from Mayor Newsom, who has been pushing for this program; it’s expected that the solar energy incentive program will be operational in the coming weeks. Update: For our interview with Mayor Newsom this afternoon, read here. He’s expecting the solar program to be ready as early as July 1st.

The program is designed to reduce the cost of solar for city residents and leverage private dollars to get more solar on San Franciscans’ roofs. Local solar installers, including Sun Run, Akeena Solar and SolarCity all made appearances throughout the lengthy six-month proceedings to voice their approval of the program, explaining it would provide jobs and clean power for the foggy city. Now the installers can start including the large new rebates, which can cut the cost of going solar by 20 percent, in their promotional materials and cost estimates.
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Marketing Residential Solar to the Masses

How do you convince home-owners to pay you to install solar panels on their roof tops? Even though solar is one of the biggest buzz words this year, it’s still tough. While we often discuss the market dynamics of silicon supplies, panel manufacturing and installation costs, we spend a lot less time on customer adoption. But the fact is for every on-site evaluation a solar installer does, Sungevity President Danny Kennedy estimates only 10 percent actually sign up for panels.

Not such good odds. So what are solar installers doing to get more potential customers aware of their offers? Below are a few different approaches solar installers are taking in their marketing. Take a look and let us know what you think.

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TaskPaper: Sometimes Simple is Best

ScreenshotTrue confession time: I get plenty of things done, but based on the last six months or so of trying to use it, the Getting Things Done system doesn’t work for me. Or rather, the sort of heavyweight task management that would have me categorize everything by project and context, and then focus only on the next action, doesn’t work for me. I find I spend too much time maintaining my GTD system compared to the time it saves me. And somehow, no matter how carefully I categorize things, the action that should have been next ends up buried somewhere.

Now, this may just be because I’ve never been properly trained in GTD. But for the next while, at least, I’m going to go back to a simpler tracking system, where I keep my tasks in a relatively easy-to-read list and let me natural ability to scan the list and pick things take over from a system designed to hide things from me. After casting about a bit for software to use, I’m trying out TaskPaper. Read More about TaskPaper: Sometimes Simple is Best

PhoneTag Supports GrandCentral for Text-Based Voicemails

logoWeb Worker Daily readers are likely familiar with GrandCentral, a service that gives you a single phone number that can ring multiple phones including your office, cellular phone, and home number simultaneously.

However, if you’ve ever thought it would be nice to read your voicemails either in as a text message or email, PhoneTag has a service in mind for you.  With this add-on PhoneTag service, you can have all your phones ring at the same time, and if you call goes to voicemail – ready your voicemail through PhoneTag.

These voicemail to text services have been around for quite some time, but before this integration between PhoneTag and GrandCentral, you had to choose between the two services. No more.

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Akeena and Sun Run Team Up for Residential Solar

Following yesterday’s cloudy performance by solar stocks, this morning some solar players announced a deal that could help them weather the storm. Residential solar designer and installer Akeena is teaming up with residential solar financier Sun Run. The partnership will connect Akeena’s “LEGO-like” Andalay panel system with Sun Run’s power purchase agreement financing, maintenance and monitoring services.

Los Gatos, Calif.-based Akeena, one of the larger solar installers, has invested in creating an integrated racking and mounting system, and had previously not been using power purchase agreements to sell its systems. San Francisco-based Sun Run has developed a business selling fixed power rates amid rising energy costs, focusing on the residential market. Using PPAs to sell solar is popular in the commercial business — Tioga Energy, MMA Renewables and Sun Edison all use a PPA model — but not so in the residential space. Sun Run’s main competitor, SolarCity, offers solar lease agreements, allowing the startup to offer residential solar with no money down.
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Open Thread: Would Visual Search Be Valuable To You?

If you have a mobile phone, you’ve probably tried to type on it; finding it to be a frustrating task.    This is the problem KDDI, a cell phone maker, is trying to tackle with their inclusion of a visual search application in upcoming mobile handsets.  The software works when the user takes a photo on with the camera phone and sends the picture to a web service.  The software sends back relevant search content around the photo, all without having to enter any text.

It will be interesting to see how this service plays out and how else the photo recognition/search market is exploited by the mobile phone market.

Is this type of service of any use to you?  Would you use it?

[via IntoMobile]

Fujitsu P1620 update

I visited the Fujitsu site today and was pleasantly surprised to find that the estimated shipping date for my P1620 was moved up from the original Feb. 29 date to Feb. 19 so with any luck I may actually have this baby next week.  It is shipping 2-3 days because Fujitsu drop-ships it direct from Japan.  I can’t wait!

Gasping for more than Air

Features_hero20080115Ok, the wave of hysteria should now be subsiding over the MacBook Air. Everyone who hasn’t already done so, please take your seats so we can move on. Thanks. Let’s now get past the on-stage presentation of the device and look a little closer. I see a few aspects in the official specs that might have some folks gasping for more than Air…
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