Thomas Neyhart’s Niche Approach to Solar Energy
PosiGen is pitched as solar energy and energy efficiency for everyone, on any budget, for any lifestyle, but how do the results stack up against the company’s claims? Are PosiGen and the vision of founder Thomas Neyhart any different from other solar providers?
According to PosiGen Founder and CEO Thomas Neyhart, electrical billing and metering can be difficult to understand, unless you are an engineer. It is rare to have what you pay for, how much electricity you consume, and how rates change with consumption clearly outlined for the consumer. This applies to most public grid systems, as well as a fair number of solar energy providers.
With solar, however, an additional complication is the cost of installing, maintaining, and running the photovoltaic equipment used to generate solar energy. Because of the long-term savings of solar energy, providers can charge a substantial amount of money upfront for this equipment. While consumers will save in the longer run, they typically have to pay a lot to get started.
An unfortunate consequence of this is that many lower-to-moderate income families are precluded from enjoying the benefits of solar and energy efficiency. Unable to make the costly lump-sum payments upfront to install solar equipment, they have no choice but to continue to use expensive energy from the public grid – which, for the most part, is still powered by fossil fuels.
A final issue we see in the solar space is that many programs aimed at accelerating solar adoption target affluent households that can already afford solar installs. Without considering the unique needs, challenges, and financials of lower-to-moderate income families, a large swathe of society is left out of the solar loop.
Thomas Neyhart’s Vision for Global Solar Access
Thomas Neyhart founded PosiGen to address these issues. With a focus on providing job opportunities to the communities they serve and supporting growth in underserved districts, PosiGen and Thomas Neyhart have come up with a unique way to help accelerate solar adoption in different communities irrespective of the economic standing of their clients or the access – or lack thereof – to existing services.
By offering easy payment plans and only installing solar equipment if a customer can save money, Thomas Neyhart ensures that the customer benefits from a move to solar. Furthermore, there are no credit or income requirements to install a PosiGen system. All that is needed is the opportunity to save by going solar.
By providing job and growth opportunities to local communities, PosiGen helps client families and underserved communities connect with and build multiple relationship lines with the company. Also, by providing home energy efficiency audits as part of the pre-installation assessment process, Thomas Neyhart aims to help families install the equipment and make the home changes that deliver the highest energy savings possible.
By providing hassle-free insurance and maintenance and fixed monthly payments, Thomas Neyhart helps his customers better forecast their energy needs and save more in a predictable way. This helps his customers with financial planning and helps them know where they stand on a month-to-month basis – no more surprise expenses and no more unexpected payments.
How Successful has Thomas Neyhart’s Approach Been?
The question now is whether the company has been successful in reaching the goals and achieving the mission it set out to do.
According to company sources, PosiGen has installed solar systems for over 18,000 families across the country and installs several thousand new units every year. While PosiGen is still a small, more localized player in a sea of much larger fish, the company may be on to something in terms of serving communities and families that tend to be ignored or marginalized when it comes to solar access and the benefits that accrue therefrom.
Large companies and affluent nations overwhelmingly contribute to greenhouse emissions, so the argument of tailoring solar solutions to such customers makes sense. However, low-to-moderate income families and communities cannot be ignored. There are millions of lower-income households that can benefit much more from a few hundred dollars of energy savings per month than higher-income families that save proportionately the same. By investing in local communities, hiring locally, providing growth opportunities to hires from client families, and spurring investment in local businesses, PosiGen can help disadvantaged communities make significant strides forward toward financial independence.
Playing the Long Game
Thomas Neyhart set out on a mission to bring solar to everyone. With a steady pace, he and his company continue to deliver solar solutions, energy efficiency upgrades, hassle-free maintenance, job opportunities, and energy savings to thousands of families across the country every year. About two-thirds of the company’s employees are women or people of color, and it is not uncommon for workers to join the company in trainee positions and then move up the ranks to become managers, community leaders, and directors serving their communities.
With solar energy, you have to play the long game; it takes years for small annual savings and incremental improvements made today to grow into substantial savings and better benefits down the road. At PosiGen, it seems the same applies to its teams and how it approaches new clients and communities. Only if the client can save will an installation be performed, and by ensuring cost savings, investing in local talent, and providing services to traditionally underserved markets, Thomas Neyhart and PosiGen are meaningfully changing best practices in the solar industry.