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Column: Using gloom and doom to sell solar

David Williams / Taxpayers Protection Alliance, The (Prescott, AZ) Daily Courier on March 10, 2015

Can gloom and doom be used to sell something as seemingly perky and positive as solar energy? Of course it can be, and it frequently is in Arizona, as solar companies try to scare potential customers into making hasty decisions on a rooftop solar purchase, lease or loan. At last, Arizona's leaders are beginning to awaken to the dark side of Big Sun.

If your friendly solar salesman promises to lock-in future electric bill increases at a fixed annual rate of 2.9%, for the duration of a 20-year rooftop solar lease, that might seem tempting, as compared to the 4.8% annual increases non-solar customers are likely to see in that same period. That nearly 2% difference represents a lot of potential savings over time. It's one of the industry's biggest selling points.

But what if the salesman's 4.8% prediction is way too high, based on historical trends? What if, confounding those predictions, future rate increases are significantly lower than the solar company estimates? That dramatically changes the equation. That makes the promised savings from such a system much harder to achieve.

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