Solar firm taps social-media expert to spur a 'rooftop revolution'
Patrick Crane was impressed by his solar roof. Now the former LinkedIn executive expects solar power to become a 'social phenomenon.'
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Sungevity also targeted passengers on Amtrak's Acela express rails in New York, Boston, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia. The solar firm bought all the advertising space on the trains and sponsored the Wi-Fi, encouraging riders to request an iQuote during the commute.Skip to next paragraph
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Back in May, Sungevity announced that Lowe's, the second-largest home improvement retailer worldwide, would offer in-store iQuotes to customers in the eight states where the solar firm now operates.
'They geek out over solar'
Crane said that Sungevity's next step is to develop web- and smartphone-based applications that enable customers to track electricity flows on their systems, share their savings, and interact online with fellow solar users.
"It turns out that whether [customers] have met each other or they haven't, they really want to talk solar," Crane said.
"They geek out over solar. The more you empower them to have those conversations, the greater the referral rates climb," he said, adding that personal referrals have proven to lead to sales more than traditional marketing strategies.
Danny Kennedy, Sungevity's founder, said that beyond growing the company's bottom line, he hopes the push for solar social networking can spur the mainstream adoption of residential installations across the globe.
"It is a very important base that we're building for the transformation of the economy into a clean-energy economy," he told Solve Climate News.
An energized network of solar users could also form a "political constituency" that clamors for better policy and regulation to encourage the uptake of solar power, he said.
Much like Crane's solar epiphany, Kennedy said he experienced a "crystal moment" in 2001 as manager of Greenpeace's California Clean Energy Campaign, whose success helped lead to the ongoing California Solar Initiative.
Greenpeace was working in San Francisco to pass a citizen-sponsored ballot initiative to finance $100 million worth of investments in solar and wind energy projects.
Sungevity's activist roots
"We won this electoral campaign by 73 percent," he said. "In my 20 years of running electoral campaigns, I had never seen anything get three-fourths of the vote. It was sort of this 'aha' – people just like this stuff."
Kennedy, who was born in Los Angeles to Australian parents, has long advocated the use of renewable energy sources over traditional fossil fuels through Greenpeace and Project Underground, a group he founded to fight environmental degradation in developing nations.