Welcome to our Green Partners series, highlighting our partners in the community that help make Montgomery County Green Bank a success.
We talked with Daren Weatherby, Solar Analyst with Solar Energy World, to learn about their latest successes and why they are proud to partner with the Montgomery County Green Bank.
Tell us about Solar Energy World and your work there.
Daren Weatherby [DW]:
Solar Energy World has been around for about 11 years and has completed around 12,000 installations just in the DC-Maryland-Virginia Region. It’s the largest solar company in Maryland and has recently begun new expansions into New Jersey and Florida. We are proud to have partnered with the Montgomery County Solar Co-op, going on three years now!
My role is a solar analyst. I’ve been working in solar for over 5 years and been with Solar Energy World for 2 years. I am here to guide people interested in solar in the right direction, help them design a system to fit their needs, and advise on installation choices. I provide consultation with customers, answer questions, and if they are ready to move forward, I stay with them and become the project manager for their project and shepherd it through the process. At any given time, I’m working on 30-40 projects. I enjoy building and maintaining the relationship with customers, and of course, growing the businesses and bringing more solar online!
What’s something exciting you’re working on now?
DW: Being selected for the Montgomery County Solar and EV Coop is exciting work. In fact, we also won our bid to do the Northern Virginia Solarize Coops! These Coops are another way we reach out to the community and spread solar in different ways.
We’re also recently Tesla Powerwall certified. We’re excited to be ramping up battery installations and can currently offer a couple different battery options – Enphase and Tesla Powerwall technology.
Why do you choose to partner with the MC Green Bank as an Authorized Contractor with the Clean Energy Advantage program?
DW: I like to find new ways to reach out to the community. We’ve known about the Green Bank for a couple years now, and when the Montgomery County Solar Coop presented an opportunity to partner with the Green Bank and give back to the community, we joined. The Coop is beneficial for customers, but partnered with the Green Bank, customers can get group pricing, good rates, and there’s no contractor fee. We can offer better programs than we would without that partnership, and we have a handful of customers in the Coop working with the Clean Energy Advantage program to get great financing from the Clean Energy Credit Union, thanks to the Green Bank.
What are the key decisions your customers make when moving a project forward?
DW: Placement and arrangement of the array is a big decision for customers. This is an area where I can offer to guide them in the right direction, advise on ways to maximize the value of their roof space and panel orientation. Customers also need to know their long-term future, since this can determine how they want to go solar: own or lease? Many will lease knowing they are producing clean energy, saving money, while not having to make the investment of ownership. I will do a lot of discovery with each customer to find out about what is bringing them to solar and find the right solution to fit their needs.
What do your customers reflect on as the most surprising or rewarding when the work is completed?
DW: Above and beyond, customers have an enormous sense of pride knowing they are contributing to a
positive carbon footprint – that as they look up at their solar panels, they see concrete demonstration that they are part of the solution. They revel in knowing they are producing their own power and that it’s coming from the sun. Also, when they see that first utility bill after the solar comes on, they are positively shocked. After paying a utility bill their whole life, to receive a bill that is so low, or even negative, is a huge takeaway.
What benefits of CLEER do you most promote most with your clients?
DW: With Montgomery County Coop customers, these folks want solar and have signed on for the aggressive discount, but many still don’t have the cash to pay for it all upfront. We were delighted to find that the Green Bank had a solution. The Clean Energy Advantage program currently offers loans without the contractor fee, which allows us to pass on even more savings to the customer. We think it’s great to work with the local Clean Energy Credit Union while giving our customers access to capital that wouldn’t be there otherwise.