The Electric company in 2050.

For most of his career my Dad worked at a nuclear reactor in southern New Jersey, previous to that he was a lineman for PSE&G, the main electric utility in NJ. Now that I’m in the solar business with Tampa Bay Solar we have some interesting conversations; not only about energy, but also about electric cars and some of the other changes coming down the line.

The traditional electric company business model was to generate and deliver electricity. Most of the power in the United States comes from a mix of nuclear, coal burning and now natural gas burning generation facilities.

Some areas use hydroelectric, the generation facilities near Niagara Falls generate 2600 megawatts per hour, but hydroelectric facilities need a large source of falling water to be effective. The electric company is pretty good at generation and delivery, and the had a monopoly on your dollar for the last 120 years.

Out of 100 million homes across the United States about 1% currently have some form of rooftop solar. Here in Florida the systems that we sell generate power from about 10AM to 6PM (depending on the season) and some of that power gets sent back to the grid via a bi-directional meter.

If you do not have solar (yet) your meter only measures power from the electric company to YOU, with a bidirectional meter you can send kilowatts back to the electric company for a 1 for 1 credit. My Dad has a small 14 panel system on his roof, last month his system pushed about 75 kilowatts (kW) back to the grid.

Dad still has to pay a minimum fee of $31 per month to the electric company, because his system draws power from the utility at night.

This is also known as net metering, and it works really well here in Florida.

As more homes install rooftop solar there will be a need for energy storage during the peak daylight hours, and one way to implement this is through the use of plug in electric vehicles. My 2013 Volt has a 16 kilowatt battery, the newer Tesla models have 100 kilowatt batteries, and in the next few years cars with 200 kilowatt batteries (or larger) will become commonplace and affordable.

An affordable electric car with a 200 kW battery will have a 500 mile range per daily charge. These cars will be expensive as new models (in the $30,000 range) but on the used market they will go for the same price as a used 4 cylinder car like a Camry or Accord.

Imagine several million cars plugged into the grid on a daily basis with 200 kW of storage capacity. Some of these vehicles can charge at night (when electricity is cheaper and more plentiful) and sell back to the grid during peak usage.

My point? We still need to the electric company to move power from rooftops to charge stations to the rest of the grid.

The electric company in 2050 will manage the flow of energy, probably in some type of open marketplace that trades energy credits back and forth. Your car can sell 50kW back to the grid during the daytime, so will your rooftop solar. At night you can get those credits back.

I don’t mind paying a fixed monthly fee to the grid, especially if it allows me to sell energy back to the system in peak demand times.   

Some homes will never have solar, either because the homeowner refuses to install it or there is too much shade around the home. Older homes in communities with mature trees are normally not viable for solar. This is why we market to newer communities, normally with 2 story homes in the $300,000 to $500,000 range; higher rooftops, higher credit scores, a more educated demographic.

In the next decade the electric company should see an increase in demand as more electric cars replace gas powered vehicles. Some of that demand will be met by rooftop solar, but many electric vehicle owners will live in rental properties, and landlords will not in invest in solar if the tenant is paying the electric bill. Why would they?

Demand for electricity will also increase as new communities are built. In my part of Florida there is new residential and commercial construction all over the place.

The traditional electric utility will have to evolve, and the best way to do that is to add value to the marketplace in such a way that your customers don’t mind paying a modest fee on a monthly basis.

Ben Alexander

January 2018.

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Zipping into 2018!

On Wednesday I took my daughter Claire to TreeHoppers in Dade City. We spent a few hours 40 feet up in the oak trees, zip lining and working our way through obstacles.

It was hard, and even in the cooler temps we got sweaty, but it was a ton of fun as well. My muscles are still sore a few days later, but I’m tempted to buy a TreeHoppers membership and make this a part of my fitness routine….

Trying something new is a great way to start 2018. There were big changes in my life over the last 12 months, some good, some challenging. Change always happens in life, nothing stays the same.

At 43 years old I’m navigating the surreal world of online dating, technology that did not even exist that last time I was single back in 1995!

There are many parts of my life that I’ve worked on over the last few years; becoming a student of leadership, paying off a ton of debt, working on my faith… and I know that if I want to get into another long term relationship there are many options out there.

I envy those men who get married young and stay married for 50 years, like my parents, but that was not in the cards for me. I was married at 23 years old, and what I did NOT know at that age could fill volumes!

My sales team at Tampa Bay Solar is slowly coming together, last month was the first time I had several reps write multiple deals. There are people who will join my team in 2018 that I haven’t met yet, and I’m looking forward to that.

Balloon Distractions is still booking gigs in a handful of cities, but I’m no longer driving the growth of that business. It would require travel around the country, and I can earn far more from the solar business without leaving Tampa Bay.

Besides, both of my daughters live with me (Grace goes to college at CMU in Pittsburgh, but she stays with me over the breaks). As a single parent I want to be here for my girls, even though they are both technically adults now.

For 2018 I’m broadcasting tons of hope, love and enthusiasm out there into the ether.

There will be MANY unexpected blessings this year, and I welcome those blessings wholeheartedly!

Ben Alexander

January 2018

An Unusual Christmas.

Rachel

2017 was a huge year of transition for me.

My 20 year marriage ended. Rachel and I parted ways amicably, no lawyers were hired. We both agreed to allocate those funds to help Claire and Grace pay for college.

I’ll always love and care about Rachel, so I’m glad that we could stay friendly during this process. If she is happier not being in my life I wish her all the best, really.

The girls live with me, so I’ll see them Christmas morning, but then they will go to Rachel’s place for Christmas dinner.

I don’t have any plans for the rest of the day. I might swim laps, read, work on the yard.

My parents are up North helping my sister and her family (my sister’s husband recently had a stroke).

I was always surrounded by family, and then I got married right after college and Claire was born soon after.

I used to think being alone was tragic. It’s really not.

There have been many times when I’ve been on my own. Living in Asia back in 1995…  traveling the country building Balloon Distractions over the last 15 years… and more recently knocking on doors selling solar around Tampa Bay.

As a man of Faith I know that there will be another partner in my life eventually, but there is a process that requires discernment and patience. I know who I am much better NOW than when I was getting married at 23 years old.

It takes time to make a major life transition.

During these next few months I’m developing my sales team at Tampa Bay Solar with one goal in mind: get to $1 million per month in gross sales. This means that several reps on my team will earn in excess of 100K, and this will bless their lives.

My professional goals are in alignment with my spiritual purpose, by helping my team reach their financial goals it helps me do the same.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

-Ben Alexander

December 24rth 2017

From knocking doors to Sales Director.

About a year ago I decided to get into the solar business.

I called a bunch of installers and none of them would talk to me, I was getting blown off. But I didn’t give up.

I bought a $3 clipboard at Walgreens and printed up a “solar info” form.

Without anyone to represent I went out and knocked doors.

I kept calling installers, I kept getting dismissed, and I kept knocking doors.

I finally got Steve Rutherford on the phone, the owner of Tampa Bay Solar. I told him that I had a clipboard full of leads “I want to meet you Steve, where are you right now?”

Steve was installing an impressive commercial array on 1810 West Kennedy. When I got there I showed him my clipboard full of leads. He probably thought I was a little nuts, but he gave me a shot.

In the next few months I doubled the sales volume at Tampa Bay Solar. Steve no longer had to run around selling all over Tampa Bay, now he could focus on the operational side of the business. He bought 2 new work trucks to handle the increased volume.

Today I’m the Sales Director for the company, training the team, designing our sales training system and teaching my team how to earn a six figure income.

I’ve personally closed over $1.4 million in deals… and I was turned away by at least 20 other solar installers.

By not taking my call those other companies made a very expensive mistake.

You can’t wait for it to come to you, sometimes you have to just get out there and make it happen. I was rejected by installers, rejected at the door, but I didn’t let that curb my determination.

The key here is that I’m still out there knocking doors, still out there making it happen.

I’ll knock 500 doors today, to fill up my Friday / Saturday schedule.

Speed of the Leader, Speed of the Team!

Ben Alexander

November 2017

Wanna Buy a nationwide Balloon Company?

 

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PLEASE SHARE on Social Media, Thanks!

When I started Balloon Distractions back in the Fall of 2003 I only had one goal: earn $1,000 per week, pay my bills, support my wife and 2 daughters.

Balloon twisting was never really my PASSION, but it was pretty easy to sell restaurants on the idea and build a team here in Tampa. From 2003 to 2011 I traveled all over the country building teams in Chicago, Charlotte, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, and all the major cities in Florida.

When I was home I could chill out, read (and write) books, and as you already know there was that Shark Tank thing…

Early in 2017 I was really bored with balloons so I teamed up with Steve Rutherford at Tampa Bay Solar and began selling solar all over this area. Steve promoted me to Sales Director, so know I have a team and we’re really putting up strong numbers.

I love solar, I love what we are doing for the environment, and I love working with Steve and his amazing install team. The money is secondary for me, and I’m now earning enough to live on about ONE THIRD of what I earn each month.

For this reason I want to clear the runways and sell Balloon Distractions out right. I would entertain any sane offer.

Balloon Distractions still does a healthy monthly volume, with long term teams in Tampa, Sarasota, Orlando, Jacksonville, Atlanta, Houston, LA and Seattle.

I will teach you how to run the business, and stay on as an unpaid advisor during the transition.

We have existing training systems for selling restaurants, building regions, training artists and running the day to day schedule and billing. It takes about 4 days to learn these systems, a few weeks to master them.

I’ve been spending about 3 hours per week running BD, since March of 2017!

I could just maintain what we have now, but as my sales team grows at Tampa Bay Solar I don’t want any “distractions” from my success in that arena.

If I focus 100% on solar I have no doubt the return will be really high.

Also, I want to master commercial solar sales…. and the commissions on that are off the chain, for sure.

If you have a real interest email me:   BenToddAlexander@MSN.com

Thanks,

Ben Alexander

October 2017

 

 

 

Bolting around…

About a week ago I got a text from Tim at Wesley Chapel Chevy: “Ben, I got a new Bolt in stock, come over and check it out.”

I bought a used 2013 Chevy Volt from Tim in January of 2017, and I had asked him to let me know when the all electric Bolt arrived on the lot. My 2013 Volt is a plug-in electric car with a gas generator, 35 miles of electric range, about 285 miles on gas alone.

As you can see from the picture above the Bolt has 238 miles of range, NO gas engine at all. Like the Tesla or the Nissan Leaf this is the real deal.

My 2013 Volt is fast, but the new Bolt is REALLY fast. It jumps off the line like a jack rabbit, feels solid on the road, and I was very impressed. MUCH faster than any four cylinder gas powered vehicle, and probably even faster than most cars with a V-6!

The only electric car faster than the Bolt, that I’ve driven, is the Tesla Model S. I’ve test driven the Cadillac ELS, the Leaf, the Prius (ugh) and even the Fiskar Karma…. the Bolt beats them all, hands down.

The Bolt sells in the $30,000 range, which means used versions of this car will be on the market in the next 2 years for under $20,000.  

This means that the new Bolt can be a car for the masses, in some households a gently used Bolt will replace that old 4 cylinder Camry or Accord. If a Prius driver takes a look at the Bolt they will be blown away by the amazing acceleration.

The new Chevy Bolt is a game changer, most middle class people will never pony up $70,000 for a Tesla, but the Bolt puts a great electric car in the range of anyone who makes an average middle class income. If there are 2 cars in your household the Bolt can be used for commuting to work, while you can use your gas powered Ford Explorer to visit Grandma in Atlanta next weekend.

If you look at most married couples earning 2 incomes there is always one partner with a shorter commute, maybe 40 miles each way to work. With 238 miles of range the Bolt can cover that round trip easily, with another 140 miles of range for errands. If you charge your Bolt every night you will wake up every morning with another 238 miles of range.

I sell solar here in Tampa Bay for a living, so cars like the Bolt give solar buyers yet another reason to get solar on their roof.

Your new Bolt can run 100% on sunshine….

The future is here folks, brought to you by Chevy, who woulda thunk?

-Ben Alexander

TampaBaySolar.com

October 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma, Solar, etc.

This was my first hybrid car, a 2009 Prius that I bought used back in 2011…

May 2011 , car, Pigfest 060

I’m writing this on Friday September 8th as CAT 5 hurricane Irma bears down on Florida. Today I’ll be out and about putting up plywood on my buddy Craig’s house, as well as my home and my parent’s place over in Wesley Chapel. I won’t use a drop of gasoline today, even though my 2013 Chevy Volt will probably travel 20 to 25 miles.

Is Irma (and hurricane Harvey) the result of global warming? At 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere the answer is probably YES. Irma is setting records… strongest hurricane EVER RECORDED in the Atlantic? Is that a random accident?

I’ve been selling solar and driving a plug-in Chevy Volt since the beginning of 2017, so I’m talking about, writing about and making a living off of green tech every single day. I was recently promoted to Director of Sales for Tampa Bay Solar, so now I’m building a sales team that will help even more Floridians add solar to their home.

There have been gas shortages across Tampa Bay since Tuesday, and some people are freaking out a bit. I put 9 gallons in my Volt on Monday… but I charge my car every night, so there are 38 (full electric) miles available every morning… I don’t NEED gas to get around.

I’ve had knuckleheads on Facebook make fun of my 38 miles of range, but 38 miles in a car beats ZERO miles of range in your gas powered vehicle if there is a long term gasoline shortage.

I can charge my Volt off solar every single day. My solar panels are RIGHT HERE, getting powered by the sun even on cloudy days (I get about half the output vs. a sunny day). I won’t be stuck, even if the local utility loses power for a MONTH.

Do I make a commission if you buy solar? Only if you do it through my company. And I don’t earn a DIME if you buy an electric vehicle… but combining rooftop solar with at least one (plug-in) electric or hybrid car gives you more pragmatic options than depending upon gasoline supplies and the local electric utility.

I hope everyone stays safe out there!

Ben Alexander

Friday, September 8th 2017