The renewable energy market, and especially solar, is a highly unregulated industry. There are no controls in place that stop vendor from being overly aggressive when it comes to stating items like production and savings. Having a highly educated and experienced consultant is the best way to protect you and ensure that, if you do move forward with installing a system, you are making that decision based on facts and trusted information.
Starting from the day we are engaged, the entire process averages about 8 months to have your system installed and turned on. This process can be accelerated if needed. Our philosophy is that we move at a steady pace and keep the process moving, but not get hasty or quick. We have found that this is the best way to end up with a project that you can be proud of.
The process is simple. ACIP has a short form contract that formally engages us to start in on the project. We will have a kick-off meeting where you will introduce us to your team and we will recap the process so we will all be on the same page. We will set our milestone goals based on your schedule and agree how you would like the flow of information to come in. We work for you and will work around your schedules and goals.
The key with this is the formal process. There are two main reasons that make this true.
- Solar companies employ people that are on their sales and development teams. When a customer seeks a price from a solar company, that company has to spend thousands of dollars to figure out the details of the system, and tens of thousands of dollars in commissions to the sales person who is working with the customer. By hiring ACIP to do all of this groundwork for you, the solar companies are able to cut all of those overhead items out of their costs and deliver you a lower price.
- The second reason, and the bigger reason, is that when solar companies go through a formal RFP process, and especially one where we hold a formal “job walk”, they are able to see their competition and know that they need to get more aggressive with their margins. Pricing through this formal price always ends up coming way down compared to individual solicitation. However, with ACIP on your team this reduction in pricing doesn’t come with sacrificing quality or service from the chosen vendor, so you can be rest assured you end up with better products and a better quality installation, all at a much lower price.
Just like any other industry, manufacturers can be very different from brand to brand. The quality of the silicon used, the quality of the components, the care of manufacturing, all contribute to the quality and efficiency of the panel. Additionally, when choosing a panel manufacturer, we also need to look into the health of the manufacturer. Most solar panels come with a 25 year warranty and, as we know, a warranty is only as strong as the company behind it. Looking for third party warranty insurance is another nice piece that we look for when shopping for the right brand.
Choosing the right vendor is extremely important. Different from many other industries, you are not just choosing a vendor, but you are choosing a partner. Most solar vendors will have a minimum of 10 years of warranty on their systems. This means that you will have at least a 10 year relationship with them on the service side. Looking into the strength of their company, the quality of their installations, the quality of their service, the size of their O&M departments, and many other factors matter. ACIP and our formal process will be an integral part of helping you to choose the right partner.
Absolutely, and we can do this two separate ways. There are local EPC (Engineering, Procurement, & Construction) companies in the area and we will go through and decide which of them have the capabilities and experience to submit pricing. Additionally, there are several other large EPC’s that use a sub-contract model. In the RFP we will list that local participation is important to us and encourage the respondents to look to local sub-contractors to work with them on the project. This is a great way to get great pricing and still make sure dollars and work are being kept in the community.