Installer sees coronavirus concerns driving interest in residential storage

While national solar and storage projections fall, the opposite has been true for Bret Biggart and Freedom Solar Energy, with more and more customers looking for residential storage to weather uncertain times.

“Today, more than any time, we’re seeing that the world is a volatile place. Whether it’s the economy, the grid or our public health, all of these things are more fragile than we thought two months ago. Today, more than any time, people have a sense of what they can take back, in terms of providing some predictability to their future.”

And while that quote by Bret Biggart, CEO of Freedom Solar Energy, a Texas-based residential and commercial solar contracting firm may seem to echo much of the doom and gloom surrounding the solar industry in the coming months, the truth is that Biggart believes Freedom Solar is in a unique position to weather the upcoming storm.

Tanjent's PowerBanx X battery storage, in pale grey enclosure (Image: Tanjent)

Tanjent’s PowerBanx X battery storage, in pale grey enclosure (Image: Tanjent)

This belief is founded upon another unusual trend: Freedom has seen consistent installation interest since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, interest which has yet to show signs of slowing down.

“We’ve had no cancellations thus far. We’re installing solar today in every market… Our deployment levels have been relatively unchanged, and the number of people who are inquiring about solar has not really fluctuated that much over the last couple of weeks, which is interesting. I expect that to not be the trend going forward, I expect there to be a dip. The really interesting part is the number of people that set an appointment and didn’t cancel it.”

Biggart notes that a number of customers have pushed appointments back, many referencing an uncertain financial future in the immediacy. Another trend that he noticed? In this time of uncertainty, many customers and prospective customers are turning to battery storage.

“I had a customer call yesterday, a more high-profile kind of customer with a 60 kW system on his residential home. He called me and said: ‘Hey, can you get out here and get some batteries on this thing? I want to make sure I’ve got a battery backup system in case things get really sideways.’”

It’s not just one customer, either. While Texas is not the most lucrative market for residential battery storage, the state has not implemented time-of-use rates or other policies that incentivize storage, Biggart cites what he can most closely describe as a ‘Cowboy Mentality.’ This mentality comes from a desire for energy freedom, a desire which, in the last year, has driven five times more battery attachment among freedom customers than the previous year. That number is still low when compared across all Freedom installations, but growing fast in the face of the virus, with more and more new and returning customers inquiring about storage by the day.

Read more: PV Magazine

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