After we got a house, hardware stores suddenly gained a kind of mystical, temple-like power. As someone who had only ever been loosely involved with a few small-scale construction projects in my life, I had always felt a bit overwhelmed and out of my league walking in to peruse the implements of creation and destruction that are doled out at such places. So I didn’t think much about taking a quick trip to one in order to pick up some supplies a couple weeks after we moved into our new home.
But seemingly overnight, something had changed. The nails and drills and pipes and caulk that line the walls of these hallowed institutions had gained a newfound purpose. The two-by-fours shimmered with possibility—the dreams of future compost enclosures and raised beds in which to grow vegetables. The paint buckets were ways to coat our walls with colors and moods and fuel our dreams. Everything that came into view was a way to repair or amend or supplement the place that would keep me warm in winter, shelter my friends and housemates, and surround the songs and stories that we would craft there.
I had already learned the hard way that an old used ax from the flea market is liable to break after about fourteen swings. So it was that I found myself entering the great kingdom of Home Depot to buy an ax (for splitting logs for our wood burning stove), loppers (for pruning our apple trees), and a snow shovel (for…shoveling snow).
But before I reached the shelves to retrieve my journey’s boon, I saw a woman greeting people at the door to tell them about solar panels—they being the newest development in the human manipulation of time and space to benefit daily life (for that is the great mission to which hardware stores are solemnly dedicated). At this time, I was in prime solar panel research mode, so I stopped in to hear what she had to say.
The company was NRG Home Solar. They’re a national company, and while they’re not exclusively focused on green energy (they have a good number of plants powered by nuclear, coal, oil, and natural gas), they have become a leader in green energy, reducing their carbon emissions by 40% since 2005 with plans to reduce them by another 90% by 2050. NRG acquired Rooftop Diagnostics last Spring to get into the home solar market. They offer various financing options both to consumers and enterprise customers, including a solar leasing option.
The woman who had greeted me to talk about NRG was very kind and knowledgable, and wrote down their website for me. While they do have a great 1-minute pitch video (laced with Matthew McConaughey’s dulcet baritone voice-over), in the end I decided not to go with NRG. Largely it was personal preference. The type of solar lease that NRG offers is quite similar to other options I had researched, and the rates and system design may have been comparable (though I never got far enough along in their sales process to get an estimate).
By this time, I had taken the appearance of a solar salesperson on my street in the first week of owning a home as a sign. I had established a good one-on-one relationship with my solar company of choice, and I was happy to let the various options stew while moving steadily down their sales funnel.
So I got my ax, loppers, and snow shovel, and went home to split some wood.
By various turns of events, I am now technically a customer of NRG. Just a couple weeks back they acquired Verengo’s Northeast operations. I think it speaks to Verengo’s well-crafted business model and excellent customer service that NRG would bring Verengo’s forces on-board to bolster business.
It’s part of a larger trend across the industry where solar and green tech companies are being consolidated together. This wave of consolidation is driven, in particular, by the renewable energy tax credits that are set to be reduced at the end of 2016, but it’s a practice seen in just about every market as growth becomes powerful enough that the larger companies want to maximize profits and add fuel to the fire by acquiring other smaller established companies.