Selling Homeowners a Solar Dream

by louabbott on February 21, 2007

Wired – Published February 21, 2007

Energy startup The Citizenrē Corporation’s haikulike Google ad says it all. “Solar for free,” it headlines. “No initial investment needed. Just monthly payments for power.”

Instead of making you spring for $25,000 or more in gear, Citizenrē says it will loan you a complete rooftop solar power system, install it for free and sell you back the power it generates at a fixed rate below what your utility charges. The company hopes to make back its investment with those monthly payments, augmented by federal tax credits and rebates.

Founded by a solar power veteran and a former tech company executive just 18 months ago, and still officially in a pre-launch phase, Citizenrē says it has $650 million in bank funding behind it. Enviro-actorvist Ed Begley Jr. has cut an eight-minute video for the company website, and more than 7,000 people from Maine to San Diego have already signed up for systems. And why wouldn’t they? With no upfront costs — aside from a modest security deposit — consumers can save on their electric bill and help roll back global warming at the same time.

If you own a home and saw An Inconvenient Truth, you’re already sold. You’re also wondering if the deal is a little too good to be true. Indeed, Citizenrē’s offer is generating a furor in renewable energy circles, fueled by the company’s own secrecy and an unusual business plan that combines serious technological expertise with an exuberant multilevel marketing campaign in the style of Amway, Mary Kay and Tupperware.

Read the entire article at Wired

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