Southern Florida is getting rocked by COVID-19 right now, and local solar installation company Goldin Solar says that has made business busier than ever, except with a twist — more people want battery backup.
In this episode of the Contractors Corner podcast, Solar Power World editor-in-chief Kelly Pickerel talks with Daren Goldin, CEO and co-founder of Goldin Solar, about why Floridians, who are used to power outages through hurricane season, suddenly find backup power an essential need during the coronavirus pandemic.
A portion of the interview is below, but be sure to listen to the full podcast for even more insight, including more about Goldin Solar’s relationship with local utility Florida Power & Light, how AC-coupled battery systems allow many Floridians to finally back up their essential air conditioning loads and how Goldin took lessons learned from building utility-scale solar to start a residential company.
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How is COVID-19 affecting business?
We shifted to Zoom meetings for our consultations and we have masks and keep our distance, but we also shifted in terms of our products. We used to do more standalone PV systems. Now we’re doing more residential PV systems and battery backup as one contract and battery backup as an addition to folks that already have a PV system. I think it really comes down to being in South Florida. The pitch for storage has always been for hurricanes. Every Floridian has lived through hurricanes. They have a game plan — normally driving a couple cities north and staying in a hotel for a week or two and ride out the power outage. But when there’s a hurricane and a pandemic, that totally changes what you think about. Since March, the mantra has been to shelter in place and stay home. Your home is your fortress. It starts to increase the appeal factor of having battery backup. It makes it less about convenience and comfort and more about just fundamental survival. If you think about Hurricane Katrina — people huddled into sports stadiums to find shelter. That’s the last thing you want to do in a pandemic.
Goldin Solar likes to stick with the same product lines. What’s the advantage there?
There’s something to be said for brand loyalty, but there’s also something to be said for always going with the best product. One of the things about Goldin Solar that makes us unique is that we’re a company owned and run by engineers. We didn’t pick products randomly. We spend hours on the phone debating the merits of this panel vs. that panel or this inverter vs. that inverter. We’re asking very particular questions.
Is the Investment Tax Credit still a strong selling point?
We definitely hurt in sales in January after that first step-down (of the ITC). November and December 2019 sales were really going well. Then in January, there was a significant drop because anyone that was serious had already signed up in the months before. That time sensitivity went away. I’m foreseeing in the last four or five months of this year is the same thing that we saw last year because of the uncertainty. For all we know, next year it’s going down to 22% and after that it’s gone forever. All we can do is hope that it gets extended. More Americans are waking up to the fact that renewable energy is our inevitable future. It’s going to benefit the country in every way imaginable — fighting climate change, creating jobs, increasing our national security, reducing our reliance on foreign energy. I’m hoping that we wake up and see that and do the right thing and rebuild our infrastructure and economy with renewable energy.