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Why Sunrun? What makes Sunrun the best solar and battery partner in Hawaiʻi for Alchemy Solar?

Updated: Sep 2, 2021

Why Alchemy Solar thinks Sunrun is the best solar panel and home solar battery partner for homeowners in Hawaii
Why Sunrun? What makes Sunrun the best solar and battery partner in Hawaii for Alchemy Solar?

Introduction: When we founded Alchemy Solar, we had one goal: expand access to the right solar solution to as many homeowners as possible. Immediately we realized that the best solar and battery provider to work with in Hawaiʻi is Sunrun.

Sunrun is not only the national leader in residential solar, but they have been by far the leader in solar and battery installations in Hawaiʻi, pulling five times as many permits as the next closest competitor.

At Alchemy Solar, we put the customer experience ahead of everything else. So let's take a look at why Alchemy Solar believes Sunrun is the best solar and energy storage provider in Hawaiʻi!

Sunrun History:

Learn about the history of Sunrun the nations largest solar companies
Sunrun History: How Sunrun has grown since it's founding in 2007

In January 2007, Lynn Jurich, Ed Fenster, and Nat Kreamer founded Sunrun with a revolutionary approach to residential solar financing.

The founders of Sunrun came up with the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) residential solar financing option that allows homeowners to pay for the electricity that the solar panel system produces while not having to purchase the solar panel system.

The Power Purchase Agreement model was revolutionary in that it allowed for homeowners across a larger economic spectrum to see the benefits of adding residential solar.

When Sunrun started, they partnered with solar installers to do the actual installation, but Sunrun was responsible for the quality of the installation, the maintenance of the solar equipment, monitoring, equipment replacement, and repairs. When combined with the PPA model, this piece of mind approach to Sunrun handling every step of the process helped make more homeowners comfortable switching to solar power.

One of the biggest challenges for solar companies is maintaining a financially healthy business. Unfortunately, these challenges have led many leading solar companies to go out of business and leave solar customers without anyone to maintain and warranty their solar panels. Since its inception, Sunrun has always understood the importance of financial health and has focused on maintaining a strong financial position.

In June of 2008, Sunrun raised $12 million in venture funding from investors, including Foundation Capital. A year later, they closed a Series B funding round led by Accel Partners and joined by Foundation Capital for $18 million.

As investors begin to understand how revolutionary the Sunrun PPA could be and the number of homeowners who would benefit from solar panels, the size of the investments also increased.

In 2008 U.S. Bancorp provided $105 million in project financing and the following year provided an additional $90 million in tax equity. However, it wasn't just venture capital and banks that understood the value of Sunrun. It was also utilities. In June of 2010, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) completed a deal with Sunrun for $100 million.

Over the next few years, Sunrun would continue to raise capital. In 2015 Sunrun went public on the Nasdaq stock exchange with an initial market capitalization of $1.36 billion!

2015 was a historic year for Sunrun for another reason. They launched the Brightbox solar battery backup product in Hawaiʻi. As a result, Sunrun became the national leader for residential solar, and the Brightbox solution was the first step towards becoming the energy storage leader.

Energy storage was also essential in Hawaiʻi. Hawaiian Electric had changed the policies making it mandatory to also add batteries when installing residential solar As a result, Sunrun's Brightbox was the first home solar battery solution that made economic sense for homeowners in Hawaiʻi and provided high-quality and reliable backup power solutions.

After the success of the Brightbox launch in Hawaiʻi, Sunrun began offering Brightbox in California in 2016. Brightbox is an incredibly well-designed product that provides protection against power outage while also helping protect California solar customers from the changes under Net Energy Metering 2.0 and Time-Of-Use rate structures that Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E), and Pacific Gas and Electric (PGE) would push onto customers.

Sunrun continued to partner with utilities to provide solar, battery, and grid service solutions and, in January 2017, finalized a strategic partnership with National Grid, one of the world's largest "investor-owned" utilities.

In 2018 Sunrun became the nation's largest solar and storage provider, taking the number one spot from Solar City. In 2018, Sunrun provided solar, battery, and energy storage in 23 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

2020 was another historic year for Sunrun when they acquired Vivint Solar. Vivint Solar was one of the largest solar companies in the nation, and with the acquisition, Sunrun's valuation shot up to over $22 billion!

When Lynn Jurich and her co-founders started Sunrun in 2007, the world of residential solar was a very different one. Sunrun has evolved with the solar industry during its fourteen-year history and has helped shape how homeowners across the country and, more specifically in Hawaiʻi, add solar and home batteries!

Why Sunrun in Hawaiʻi?

Sunrun has proven itself to be a business leader during its fourteen-year history, continuously growing and financially strengthening itself. However, what truly separates it is how Sunrun has pushed the solar and energy storage industry forward by innovating and developing new products.

When we were looking for the right solar and battery partner for our customers in Hawaiʻi, we understood that consumers have specific needs and challenges. For example, most homeowners are looking to protect themselves against rising electricity costs. So when we put together the list of things our solar and battery partner for our Hawaiʻi homeowners, we came up with the five things we needed our partner to have.

  1. Financing and product offerings

  2. Installation quality

  3. Reliability and service

  4. HECO partnership

  5. Long Term Customer Focus

Financing And Product Offerings:

Year after year, Hawaiʻi continues to rank first in the country for the most expensive electricity in the nation. For our customers, this has a genuine impact on their quality of life. Between the cost of housing, food, and fuel, many homeowners in Hawaiʻi cannot use the electricity they want because of the cost associated with paying the rates that Hawaiian Electric charges homeowners on Oʻahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island.

We want to make sure that we have product offerings that fit every type of solar customer for our customers. Sunrun brings to the table a variety of solar and battery solutions that allow nearly every homeowner on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi Island, Maui, and Kauaʻi to find the solution that works for them.

Sunrun can provide the most comprehensive solar financing solutions for homeowners in Hawaiʻi with a $0 down monthly option, a Prepaid Power Purchase Agreement, cash purchase, and a solar loan.

Many people assume that solar is too expensive, but with the options that Sunrun has available, solar can fit into almost any budget. Let's quickly review all the solar financing options that are available to customers in Hawaiʻi.

How do the Sunrun financing options compare for homeowners in Hawaii
Hawaii Solar Finance Options: Lease VS PPA VS CASH VS Finance
  • $0 down monthly lease -- Currently, homeowners do not have an alternative for purchasing electricity. That means they are at the mercy of HECO's increasing electricity costs. With a $0 down monthly lease, homeowners can get solar installed and owned by Sunrun at their home without paying anything upfront. Once the system is installed, the homeowners purchase electricity from Surnun at a significantly lower price than HECO. This allows homeowners to save thousands of dollars over the life of the agreement without having to pay anything upfront. Homeowners in Hawaiʻi also receive backup power from the batteries that are installed. Sunrun provides a 25-year equipment warranty, 25 years of workmanship, 25 years of monitoring, and -- essential in Hawaiʻi -- 25 years of replacement on batteries installed at home. Solar batteries also help homeowners in the case of power outages to avoid losing power if there’s a utility outage. The Sunrun monthly option allows for an easy switch from expensive and dirty HECO power to clean and affordable solar and battery power.

  • Prepaid Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) -- For homeowners who have money available but want the security of the 25-years of service that Sunrun provides, the Prepaid PPA gives homeowners in Hawaiʻi an incredible option. The Prepaid PPA allows homeowners to pay for 25 years of electricity upfront because of the advantage of buying in bulk (think Costco) and the fact that Sunrun can take advantage of the Federal Solar Tax Credit. Consumers who do the Prepaid can get the lowest cost per kilowatt by making the switch to solar. With the added benefit of the 25 years of battery replacement, monitoring, and workmanship, the Prepaid PPA not only provides a low cost but massive value.

  • Cash Purchase -- Many homeowners like the idea of owning the solar panels that are installed, and if they have money available, the cash purchase option can make a lot of sense. With a cash purchase via Sunrun, a homeowner can take advantage of the Federal Solar Tax Credit, the Hawaiʻi State Tax Credit (lawmakers are trying to reduce), and any additional rebates to help increase savings. With the warranty and service that Sunrun can provide, Hawaiʻi homeowners looking at a cash purchase have access to the best value possible for purchasing a solar and home battery system.

  • Solar Financing -- For those customers who want to own but do not want to spend as much money upfront, Sunrun can provide various solar loans. Working with the nation's largest solar finance provider Good Leap (formally LoanPal), Alchemy Solar and Sunrun can provide various term lengths and interest rates to fit different customer's needs. Good Leap works hard to approve as many homeowners as possible for solar, doing its best to have a credit approval process that considers different factors. Alchemy Solar thinks this financing flexibility helps more Hawaiian homeowners get approved for a solar and battery loan, which allows them to accomplish the specific financing objective that makes sense for them.

The Sunrun Lease and Power Purchase Agreement have been principal factors that have led to Sunrun becoming the largest solar installer in the nation. In Hawaiʻi, where HECO, HELCO, MECO, and KIUC have mandated the inclusion of batteries for homeowners who want to install solar, the Sunrun Brightbox solution has been crucial to expanding affordable solar batteries in Hawaiʻi.

The Sunrun Brightbox is one of the most advanced battery management systems that allow consumers to see utility power savings and get battery backup. Battery backup is essential in Hawaiʻi because of the frequency of power outages across the state.

With the Sunrun Brightbox, customers can get a Tesla Powerwall 2 or LG Chem RESU 10H without paying anything upfront. By removing the financial hurdle of adding energy storage, the Sunrun Brightbox allows Alchemy Solar and Sunrun's customers who might not have otherwise been able to install solar and batteries to get the advantages of backup power and HECO savings!

Sunrun Installation Quality And Process:

One of Alchemy Solar's biggest things when picking our partner was the quality of the installation expertise. Across the country, Sunrun has handled over 575,000 installations, and in Hawaiʻi, they have done nearly five times more installations compared to the next largest solar installer. This quantity of installations has provided Sunrun with a level of installation experience that provides our customers across Oʻahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, and Kauaʻi with the highest quality installation throughout the state.

Why Sunrun's solar and battery installations in Hawaii are the best for Alchemy Solar customers
Sunrun Hawaii Solar installation expertise for Alchemy Solar customers

The quality of a solar installation begins at the site survey. Sunrun undertakes one of the most detailed site survey processes in the industry. To ensure that the solar panels and batteries will work, Sunrun requires that over 150 photos of the home's roof, electrical equipment, attic, and exterior are taken. The site technician is also responsible for taking detailed measurements of the roof, rafters, and any other pertinent information.

Sunrun also utilizes drones for the solar site survey to better understand the home and any obstructions (trees, other homes, vents, etc.) that could impact the solar system's production.

In Hawaiʻi, where microclimates can dramatically impact sun exposure (think about the difference in sun exposure between Ewa Beach, Pahoa, and Kihei), this data allows us to make sure that projected production will be accurate. In addition, most homeowners are looking at adding solar for financial reasons, so this extra step by Sunrun helps to ensure that the installed solar and home batteries will accomplish the homeowner's goals.

After the site survey has been completed, a dedicated team of project managers and engineers on island work to finalize the system design to meet the customer's needs while still being inline with utility requirements. Once the customer approves the design, Sunrun handles the submission of the necessary documents and permits.

This step is significant and something that many other installers do not do. It is essential for two reasons. The first is that we want to make sure that all our customers are 100% happy with the solar system. Second, by requiring customer approval, Sunrun and Alchemy Solar make sure that our customers understand how the solar system will work and where it will be installed, helping to ensure customer satisfaction.

The second important thing is that by handling the paperwork and submittal process, Sunrun makes the installation process a lot easier for our customers. Again, it might come as a surprise, but some solar companies make customers handle the permitting and utility connection, which can be a massive headache for people with a limited understanding of how these processes work.

Once Sunrun receives the go-ahead for the project, it leverages its size and buying power to ensure that it has access to the necessary equipment. Product availability might sound minor, but this can be a massive issue in the solar industry in Hawaiʻi.

Many solar installers are unable to purchase the needed batteries they sold because of product scarcity. These product issues can lead to installation delays or even customers having to cancel because the solar company they picked cannot acquire the needed equipment.

At installation, Sunrun is exceptionally detailed in its approach to installation. On the roof, Sunrun makes sure that all the racking is designed for the right roof type. For example, asphalt shingle and tile roofs require very different installation techniques to ensure that the solar panel installation will not impact the roof's structural integrity.

To help protect the roof, Sunrun takes the additional step of flashing the roof penetrations. Flashing is the process of sealing any roof penetrations with a special polymer and covering that polymer with an additional covering (usually a piece of specially designed metal). The flashing process helps to limit the possibility of roof leaks and is one of the factors that allows Sunrun to provide such a strong roof warranty.

Sunrun maintains the most aesthetically pleasing and safe installation of the electrical equipment and solar battery on the electrical side. Because of the importance of batteries in Hawaiʻi, Surnun makes sure that the batteries are installed to extend the life and efficiency of the batteries.

It might seem obvious, but many solar companies in Hawaiʻi do not install batteries correctly because they lack the volume to get accreditation and training from the battery manufacturers. With Sunrun's volume, they work closely with companies like Tesla and LG Chem to ensure that all batteries are designed and installed in line with the manufacturer's specifications.

After the installation is complete, the installation team takes back photos to the Project Manager to get another set of eyes to review the installation. If everything looks good, the project is moved along to ensure that all the building permits and Hawaiian Electric interconnection are completed as quickly as possible.

Once everything is completed and signed off, the solar project is given Permission to Operate (PTO), which allows the solar and battery system to be turned on. Once PTO is granted, the solar panels will be producing electricity, and the battery will be storing energy to be utilized when the home needs it!

Reliability And Service:

One of the big selling points of installing solar is that solar does not have any moving parts. Of course, the lack of moving parts helps limit the points of failure, but when looking at a partner for our customer's solar and battery projects, it was essential for Alchemy Solar that our partner be prepared to service the specific needs of homeowners in Hawaiʻi.

Sunrun is uniquely positioned to provide best-in-class service and support to customers across the state of Hawaiʻi. To help identify issues before they become problems, Sunrun monitors the solar performance of our customers who go with a monthly or prepaid solar financing option. This monitoring is done for the customers, so they do not have to spend time keeping an eye on the solar and batteries.

If Sunrun identifies an issue, they have a dedicated team of solar and battery technicians explicitly trained to identify, address, and fix solar and battery issues.

Unfortunately, most solar companies rely on installers to fix issues, which leads to delays as customer repairs have to be scheduled around other customer's solar installations instead of having techs who only work on customer support.

Why it is important for Alchemy Solar that Sunrun has a dedicated Hawaii customer care team (808) 657-3307
Sunrun dedicated customer care team for Hawaii

People all over Hawaiʻi know how frustrating it is to have to call the mainland to get customer support. Sunrun understands this challenge, and to help better support homeowners all over the state, they have a dedicated Hawaiʻi customer care phone number. The Sunrun Hawaiʻi Customer care number is (808) 657-3307, and if our customers need it, they can call the number and get support from someone in Hawaiʻi to help answer the questions they have or start the process of addressing the problem.

In regards to the support that Sunrun allows, this is an area where Alchemy Solar also separates itself. In addition to the Sunrun support team, customers can also work directly with their Alchemy Solar consultant. Our team is trained thoroughly to help customers if they have questions or issues with their solar and battery system to expedite and simplify getting these concerns addressed. By having Alchemy Solar involved, our customers have an additional level of customer care to make the experience of working with Sunrun even better!

Solar service goes beyond just support, and this is where the Sunrun warranty becomes so essential. Historically, many solar companies in Hawaiʻi offered extended warranties, but many companies went out of business as the solar industry has experienced ups and downs. This leaves customers susceptible to expensive out-of-pocket repairs if they run into an issue with their solar or battery.

For our customers who go with a Sunrun monthly or prepaid option, they receive a 25-year workmanship warranty in addition to the 25 years of monitoring. Sunrun is the most financially secure solar and battery company in the nation, which means that Sunrun is positioned to stand by the warranty that they provide. This financial strength gives our customers the additional peace of mind to know that their solar panels and batteries will be covered for the entire length of the warranty.

The importance of long-term financial stability becomes even more essential when customers have home solar batteries like the LG Chem RESU 10H and Tesla Powerwall 2. Solar panels usually have a product warranty of 25 years, while solar batteries have a product warranty of 10 years. Like the battery in your smartphone or laptop, solar home batteries usually start to decrease in efficiency over time.

Sunrun goes above and beyond with the way it supports customers who add batteries in Hawaiʻi. With the Sunrun Brightbox Solar Energy Storage solution, customers receive a 25-year warranty. The Sunrun Brightbox Battery coverage means that customers can expect battery repairs and replacement over the 25-year warranty if the solar battery does not perform correctly. This battery coverage can add tens of thousands of dollars of additional coverage than batteries purchased from other Hawaiʻi solar companies.

Hawaiian Electric Partnership:

Hawaiʻi, in many ways, has been at the forefront of residential renewable energy. As a result, Hawaiʻi and California have seen some of the highest solar adoption rates. However, as solar became more popular, HECO mandated that if homeowners on Oʻahu, Maui, Hawaiʻi island (and Kauaʻi under KIUC) wanted to add solar, they could not send electricity back into the grid. This meant that installing solar became significantly more complex and, in some cases, impacted the savings that customers could experience.

Because of Sunrun's size, experience, and expertise, they realized that the addition of solar batteries could help HECO address many of its grid and power production issues. In addition, Sunrun can work with Hawaiian Electric on unique solutions that help Hawaiʻi and improve the economics for our customers who add solar and home batteries.

On Oʻahu, Sunrun helped to develop the Kukui Hele Pō Grid Service program. The Kukui Hele Pō allows HECO to pull a small amount of power from a homeowner's Sunrun Brightbox to help stabilize the grid, helping to reduce power outages and the need for dirty power plants to produce more power. In exchange, HECO and Sunrun provide customers with financial incentives and other benefits. In exchange for homeowners joining the Kukui Hele Pō program:

How Sunrun Brightbox works with the HECO Grid Service Kukui Hele Po program
5 Advantages of Sunrun Hawaii Battery BrightBox Grid Service Kukui Hele Po
  1. Sunrun provides them a $300 gift card (increased from $200)

  2. Sunrun donates $50 in the homeowner's name to 'Aha Pūnana Leo, a nonprofit that runs 12 Hawaiian language schools across the islands

  3. Homeowners save additional money on homes monthly HECO bill

  4. Homeowners gain access to future Grid stabilization programs

  5. Homeowners reduce Hawaiʻi's utilization of fossil fuels

After the success of the Kukui Hele Pō program, HECO and Sunrun began work on other programs to address other challenges that the Oʻahu electricity grid was having. HECO is closing down the AES Hawaiʻi Power Plant in Kalaeloa to reduce its reliance on carbon-emitting power plants. It is in the process of transitioning to the Kapolei Energy Storage Project energy storage facility as a renewable energy solution.

Because of the timelines of closing the AES Hawaiʻi Power Plant and completing the Kapolei Energy Storage Project, HECO would lose a fifth of the energy production on Oʻahu. This loss in production presented a significant issue for the stability of the grid and a potentially massive cost increase for ratepayers across the Island.

Sunrun used its expertise in grid services to work with HECO to find a solution that would allow it to use homeowners’ batteries and solar to make up for the lost production. In response, Sunrun and HECO developed the Demand Response and Scheduled Dispatch.

The Demand Response and Scheduled Dispatch program allow homeowners to add up to 5 Kw of solar power under a Net Energy Metering Agreement (NEM) and provide them with an upfront cash payment or "Battery Bonus" of up to $4,250 per battery.

These two factors dramatically improve the economics and savings for homeowners on Oʻahu looking at solar and battery solutions. When combined with the Federal Solar Tax Credit, the cash payment for the battery can cover a majority of the cost of adding a battery to a home. In addition, by allowing homeowners to add solar under Net Energy Metering, homeowners get the best possible financial return for sending electricity back into the HECO grid.

So what is Hawaiian Electric's objective for providing homeowners with the upfront cash Battery Bonus and additional financial incentive for homeowners who send solar power back into the Oʻahu electricity grid?

First, HECO understands that the fastest way to get more electricity production is by having homeowners add solar and batteries.

Second, the solar power homeowners send back during the day can make up a large percentage of the lost production from the AES Hawaiʻi Power Plant.

Third, in exchange for the financial incentive for adding the battery, HECO can pull power from the battery as needed. This ability to pull power from the homeowner's battery would help support the grid at night when solar is not sending electricity back into the grid or when needed to help keep the grid stable.

Because of Sunrun's ability to provide homeowners with a $0 down option that still allows them to collect a cash Battery Bonus, some experts project that the Scheduled Dispatch program could see as many as 10,000 homes adding more solar and batteries to their homes. This ability to rapidly expand solar and battery deployment while also supporting homeowners and the grid is only possible because of Sunrun's ability to work with HECO.

Smaller solar companies cannot develop these programs and do not have the sophistication to install and program the batteries to provide customers access to these programs. This means that as similar programs start to be offered on Maui, Hawaiʻi Island, or Kauaʻi or as new programs come online, only Sunrun customers will be able to take advantage of the beneficial financial savings future utility programs can provide.

Long-term Customer Focus:

Solar and energy storage is a long-term decision for homeowners. So when looking for our solar partner in Hawaiʻi, we prioritized a partner who understands that over time things can change.

In the past, many solar finance and installation companies in Hawaiʻi offered products that seemed good upfront but caused issues for homeowners in the long term. Many solar options made it very hard to sell a home because of liens and the need to pay off solar financing fully before selling. These situations understandably angered people who had added solar and made realtors hesitant to take on homes that had solar.

Sunrun understands that people often need to move, especially in Hawaiʻi, with a sizable military population. To simplify this process, they now guarantee that all solar Monthly and Prepaid options can be transferred to the new homeowner. In order to help make this process easier for homeowners, Sunrun has a team of realtors and lawyers to help make the transfer as smooth and straightforward as possible.

On the other hand, many people in Hawaiʻi stay in the same home for decades or generations. In these cases, Sunrun provides a unique set of solutions for what they can do with their solar panel system as it ages. For local solar installers who only provide cash or financing options, at the 25-year mark when solar panel and inverter warranties come to an end, the homeowner is responsible for all the costs associated with the solar system. If these customers want to remove the solar panel and battery system, they are responsible for paying to remove it.

Sunrun understands that this isn't the best solution for most customers. Sunrun, in response, provides three options for customers who select a Sunrun prepaid or monthly lease option:

What options do homeowners have at the end of the Sunrun solar agreement
3 Sunrun Options At The End of The 25 Year Solar Agreement
  1. Extend the agreement: For many homeowners, the fixed monthly electricity payment, monitoring, service, and savings Sunrun provides are significantly better than paying for electricity from HECO, MECO, Kauaʻi Utility (KIUC), or HELCO. For the customers happy with the agreement, they can extend the agreement they have for as long as they make sense.

  2. Purchase the system at fair market value: If the customer wants to no longer have payments to Sunrun, they can purchase the solar panel and battery system. Doing this will allow them to have a minimum payment to the utility and retain increased benefits from the solar panel system on their roof.

  3. Remove the system at no cost: If the customer wants to have the solar panel and battery system removed to look at new technology or a different option, they can have Sunrun come out and remove the system at no cost to them. The option to have the solar panels removed at no cost provides significant savings to homeowners and allows them the flexibility to explore new options.

Between these three options,Sunrun provides our Alchemy Solar costumers with a level of flexibility that cannot be matched by any other solar installer in the nation or more importantly Hawaiʻi. With this and the support for homeowners who do need to move, we think Sunrun provides an experience that is the best within the solar industry!

Conclusion: Why did Alchemy Solar pick Sunrun to provide solar and battery solutions to our customers in Hawaiʻi?

When we started Alchemy Solar, our founding goal was to expand the best solar option to as many homeowners as possible. When looking for the right partner for our customers in Hawaiʻi, it became obvious right away that Sunrun was the company that we wanted to work with.

For most of our customers, going solar is a new experience. We want to make sure that when we are educating our customers on the options that are available we are not just taking into consideration the needs they have today but also the needs they will have down the road. Because of Sunrun's size, expertise, experience, and creativity, we know that now and in the future they will be able to take care of the specific needs that homeowners in Hawaiʻi have.

By working with Sunrun, we know that Alchemy Solar clients will get an unmatched level of service, the best solar and battery equipment in the industry, unique financing options that allow them to see the best financial return for their needs, and long-term support to make their experience as smooth as possible.

If you are a homeowner in Hawaiʻi who is interested in learning more about solar and battery storage with Sunrun, schedule a free consultation with Alchemy Solar today!

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