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SolarCity Installation Timeline

From dtype.org

While I picked SolarCity for a number of reasons to provide solar power, the installation timeline and process has been a bit frustrating. Note that this is a cash buy, and every invoice has been immediately paid, so there should be no financing approval process anywhere in this timeline.

And to be clear I'm a fan of my "Energy Consultant", and he has consistently been responsive and made internal queries on my behalf, but ultimately he still has to wait for responses from various teams within the SolarCity process, which is where things get gummed up.

Initial

  • June 10, 2017 -- Submitted initial paperwork while the very professional energy consultant was on site. Paid $500 deposit and scheduled visit (for June 16) by a surveyor to measure the roof, etc, so I could get an official proposal. Initial proposal with energy consultant ended up being the one I would want to go with (which put a set of panels on a less efficient but back roof to complement the main set of panels).
  • June 15 -- Got a call from the surveyor that he was available earlier if I was, and got the survey done early!
  • June 15 -- Received design proposal, which was different than the one I went through with the energy consultant, but was more efficient. I immediately responded and asked for a re-design, moving the 2nd set of panels to a different roof, and consistent with the initial design I went through with the energy consultant.

Redesign

  • June 15 - June 23 -- Energy consultant asked on my behalf, but radio silence from engineering team. No redesign in sight.
  • June 23 -- Posted to social media about delay. Got immediate response. Engineering hopped on things and I got new proposal on the same day. I signed off on the new proposal within an hour.
  • June 26 -- After finding out permitting wasn't submitted on new redesign (probably due to a process circumvention on the escalation), got installation scheduled for July 1.
  • June 28 -- Received timely and clear invoice from finops@, paid $14331.28 half-invoice within an hour over paypal.

Initial Install

SolarCity Installation
  • July 1 -- Installation team arrived right at the beginning of the scheduled window and were very friendly. But they proceeded to put mounting hardware on the roof differently than the documented design.
    • Rather than re-route an external plumbing vent pipe as proposed (and have a clean rectangular design), one of the panels was being mounted offset and avoiding the pipe, leaving a less desirable (and not agreed-to) design. After I informed them of the error, and received help from my energy consultant, who was on site immediately when I told him of the issue, they moved the mounts and put things up per the design.
    • (Note the yellow chalked out area in the upper left of the mounted panels in the picture.)
  • July 1 -- Was informed by installation team that they couldn't connect (tie-in) the solar array subpanel to the main panel because paperwork had not been submitted to PG&E as it usually would have been. Installation was left incomplete, with a promise that a followup team would be by to finish things.
    • On a positive note, the actual panels, once installed per the signed-off design, look great. Low to the roof, level, minimal visible hardware, and the skirt looks fantastic. This was one of the reasons I opted to go with SolarCity.

Install part 2

SolarCity Installation
  • July 1 - July 7 -- Radio silence. My energy consultant and concierge have asked several times on my behalf, but zero response nor scheduling communication from ops team, whom I'm told are overworked, but at this point I have an incomplete installation that sits this way because of a SolarCity process error. I can't even get to the expected wait for inspections, because my physical installation isn't complete.
    • July 5 -- A phone call made to main line resulted in concierge group telling me I'd have a callback to schedule the rest of the install in "less than 24 hours", which didn't happen.
  • July 7 -- Energy consultant talked to ops. Tie in has not been completed because we don't have permission from (still didn't file paperwork with) PG&E, due to process errors during my push to get things done. But pushing to get things done shouldn't cause abnormal process errors, and definitely shouldn't result in those errors lingering for >1 week at a time without being addressed. I should hear from them about finishing the install sometime next week.
  • July 11 -- I'm scheduled for the tie-in work to happen on July 12 between 1pm and 3pm.
  • July 12 - July 13 -- A crew came out in two visits to complete the tie in. Their conclusion on the need for a new ground seems to have differed from previous assessments, so there are a new pair of copper rods driven into the ground on the side of the house, but I'm quite fine with conservative assessments here.
  • July 14 -- I called the concierge desk. They checked with ops and told me that the tie-in is complete, and that I should expect to hear back on the scheduling of the building inspection, but it might be a few days. Onto the next step though.

Inspections

  • July 19 -- Received an email from the concierge that I'd been scheduled for a city inspection on July 31.
  • July 20 -- The SolarCity site updated my install status, and moved to an awaiting inspection state.
  • July 31 -- City inspector arrived but there wasn't a Solarcity tech to accompany. He arrived about 10 minutes later, but the inspector warned him to be present in the stated window, and we nearly had to reschedule a week or two out.
  • August 1 -- Received bill from finops@solarcity. Paid final $14321.37 within an hour of receiving invoice.
  • August 1 -- SolarCity submitted Net Energy Metering Application (Form 79-1151B-02) to PG&E.
  • August 2 -- PG&E sent permission to operate solar system. I'm in business! (And the PG&E timetable was significantly faster than the "up to 4 weeks" advertised window.)