Nick Rosen | |
Citizenre
Citizenre’s happy, shiny people

It’s like the early days of the Internet in the renewable energy business. The conmen and scamsters are coming out from under their stones – and in some cases it is the exact same people who did fake IPOs in the dotcom bubble. Solar expert Jeff Wolfe has exposed an apparently idealistic solar power company called Citizenre, which in reality is a multi-level marketing scheme.

Its stated plan is to build the world’s largest solar panel manufacturing plant and install 100,000 residential systems annually. The business model, which is not unique, is to promise householders solar electric power for the same price they currently pay for electricity. .

Sign up now and they will do the installation in September as long as your State offers net meteringBut as the company recruited thousands of sub-franchisees within weeks, Wolfe’s article at http://www.renewableenergyaccess.com/rea/news/reinsider/story?id=47419 generated hundreds of comments – some of them from old-style multi-level marketing sales agents who were concealing their true affiliation. In one case, a Citizenre marketing agent is a well-known renewable energy conman who has pulled similar tricks in the past, Wolfe revealed.

The approach (a.k.a. network marketing) is similar to Amway — early adopters at the top fo the pyramid became wealthy in the 1960s-70s.

After several weeks of reviewing this new company’s claims, discussing the manufacturing build out plan and its network marketing approach with others in the solar energy industry, plus reading online commentaries from a variety of sources and actually talking with representatives of the company, Jeff Wolfe pieced together enough information to express his opinion that Citizenre is not going to honor its promises.

There has been no financial announcement for a deal of significant proportion, which would be the enabling factor to meet the product or installation capacity required. This company is building is a “house of cards” and attracting a lot of customers who want a deal that’s too good to be true, says Wolfe.

So, you ask, what’s the problem if Citizenre is not real or if they fail, and the public just gives early buyers a told-you-so, buyer beware shrug of the shoulders? The answer is we all lose. As soon as someone signs up for a Citizenre solar system, they are removed from the pool of potential customers for other reputable solar dealers in the U.S. Already, photovoltaic (PV) dealers are telling me that they are losing business because potential customers are signing up with Citizenre — people are waiting until the reported 500 megawatt “largest fully-integrated PV manufacturing plant in the world” comes online this fall.

But it will be September — the deadline for the build out of the manufacturing facility and beginning installations will have come and gone — before reality sets in for these customers when they do not receive their solar system on time as promised. Plans seem poised to fall apart, and at that point we’ll have four results:

* A lot of very disappointed and upset people.
* A lot of traditional PV dealers who are out of business.
* Reduced or eliminated federal and state incentives for solar electricity due to a perceived lack of need.
* A solar electric industry in the U.S. that has been set backwards 5 years.

Questions & Issues: Citizenre is indicating publicly that they have raised $650 million, and are constructing the world’s largest PV manufacturing facility (PR Web, January 23, 2007, “Is the Sun Finally Rising on Solar Power? An Interview with Rob Styler, President of Powur of Citizenre. This would be the single largest investment in solar power ever, yet we’ve heard not one detail — not who, when, or where..

Summary Opinion: What I found is that construction has not even started on the proposed manufacturing facility — again the largest in the world. A ground breaking date is not set, nor a location. They will not break ground until they have closed on their major financing. They have not closed on their financing although they indicate it is lined up and they simply need to clear a few hurdles. Citizenre stated that they could have a plant on line in 12 months. In my opinion, that puts their available manufactured product supply out by at least 18 months.

Questions & Issues: The PV manufacturers worldwide are experiencing a shortage of polysilicon. Industrial-strength PV giants have been forced to their knees, and signed up in advance for long term multi-million dollar contracts for silicon. New-comer Citizenre apparently plans on making silicon appear on command, at pricing they dictate. There has been no announced contract like every other major silicon deal. Like “where’s the beef”, I ask “where’s the silicon”?

Summary Opinion: Rob Wills indicated that Citizenre has a source for silicon at “significantly below $60/kg”. My opinion is that when an established international PV companies like SCHOTT Solar cannot obtain sufficient silicon, there is no way for an unproven startup to obtain silicon, and certainly not at below market prices. Without public details, there is no way to justify this position.

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9 Responses to “Solar Hype”

  1. Les Taylor

    Citizenre is still around and is going beyond a pilot program. Citizenre closed on financing (read about it: http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Citizenre-Signs-Development-Agreement-1392962.htm)

    The plan is simplified: no security deposit and a rate lock of 10 years. Installations have occurred in California and territories are expanding in time. Citizenre is legit – it just took longer to get to market. But with dedication and hard work, corporate made it happen.
    Les Taylor
    Independent Ecopreneur

    Reply
  2. Frank Knight

    Howdy,
    It has been a long time since I have hit the blogs about Citizenre and am happy to say there is some great news!
    After a lot of passion and dedication of those of us who did not give up on the mission to bring renewable energy to the masses we have now got what we need to really make a difference.
    We had a press Release this morning and I am happy to share three of the links where you can read about recent developments:
    http://www.marketwire.com/press-release/Citizenre-Signs-Development-Agreement-1392962.htm
    http://newsblaze.com/story/2011020906124600002.mwir/topstory.html
    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/Citizenre-Signs-Development-iw-1095316263.html?x=0
    We are finally doing what we started out to do even tho’ we had to make many changes.
    Our plan is now even simpler… there is no longer a deposit required and all it takes to get a system is to be a home-owner in one of our service areas, have a home suitable for solar power, and the first month’s rent.
    No credit checks and a fixed rate for 10-years so many citizens can produce their own clean green energy.
    WE will be adding new service territories as time progresses.
    Peace,
    Frank Knight
    P.S. I have literally over 400 blogs to post to that basically wanted not to hear from us until there was some serious action so you may see this same message repeated… I certainly don’t have time to make individual posts right now and will have many hours just copying and re-posting!

    Reply
  3. Mike

    Interesting,

    I stopped following this Citizenre fiasco a couple years ago, and when I saw this post pop up, I had to laugh, they still are not ready?

    Too bad it took so long given the solar industry is about to meet its end next year, so for anyone considering any solar installation, wait for another couple months or you will regret it.

    I happen to have seen a system which will negate need for solar or wind and supply more than enough power for any residential or commercial application. Patents were accepted, awaiting issuing as we speak, so just simply put off any solar installation decisions for a few more months.

    Success to all,

    Reply
  4. Steve Ouriel

    CitizenRe is testing their pilot program in Anaheim California.

    Reply
  5. Steve Ouriel

    Just to let everyone know CitizenRe is 100% Legit and is now installing systems in the Northwest. I live in Rochester, NY and I am in the process of becoming certified to install solar PV systems.

    Reply
  6. klover_dso

    I was very skeptical about dropshipping and found a couple great companys that are not scams, Now I make an extra 1000-3000 a month selling world instruments on ebay and my website (www.themagicalmysterystour.com) I have always been very skeptical about any type of telemarketing, pyramid, sell insurance from home on your spare time type or start an eBay business and make 1000’s a week ;o}

    I first heard about this when I clicked on a link from one of my “Eco” Friend’s myspace page. Immediately I was redirected to http://www.jointhesolution.com/dunlap and saw that it was another friend of mine I hadn’t heard from in quite some time. I read it over, thought it was a good idea, and went ahead and filled out a contract (being careful what info was given) mostly to see where the catch was (I figured if Claudia was doing this then it must be somewhat safe/legitamate) She contacted me and we talked about it for a while.

    She said she had been reading alot about “what is wrong with the company” and how it is a “scam,” so I asked her….”is it?” Asking specific questions that would point to scam. She said she hasn’t had a bunch of spam mail sent to her, they never asked her for a credit card number, social security number, tand the deposit isn’t due until the system is ready to be installed. In fact most of the claims stating this company is a scam have been either A) False or exagerated or B) based on the fact that no production is currently being made (they seem to be waiting on the press release to tell the world when it happens. Understandable to protect yourself and your investors from big business terrorists Look into the Adam’s Pulse Generator to know more about what lengths electric and oil companys will go to keep the world from turning green) There have been statements about no press releases but that turns out not to be true after investigating myself I found a few news conferences and happened to see the name on a cable channel the other day during a home improvement show lol. The Better Business Bureau Has said nothing negative aout the company as of date and there are no current investigations made public that I am aware of.

    I signed up as a rep. mostly so I could see further into the inner workings (my interest had been sparked.) There is the obvious Pyramid incentive making you want to sign up new accounts under your name, and teach other likely people to make refferals and get new contracts, which usually turns me away, but I support the cause and see no real threat.

    Actually the people that are most uneasy with this are the big solar companies. It would seem they are afraid of losing possible customers that will decide to rent rather than buy.

    I looked at the petition to SEC and almost half of the people that signed claim to be from different solar organizations and/or companies most of the rest are anonymous (very brave eh?)

    I believe with the situations of global warming at hand and our newly elected Democratic House and Congress there will be alot of support for this type of technology.

    Who does have something to lose from this? Well the electric Company for one not to mention the major oil companys also the current solar companys will be forced to compete with this “mass production” So of course there will be millions of dollars paid to discredit, disrupt, and lobby against.

    Let’s take a quick look at the California Clean Air Act, It was a model for clean air that could have gained support from several other states and countries, requiring automobile industry to produce a certain amount of cars sold passing very strict emmissions testing guidelines. The “plug in electric car” was created and destroyed after the destruction of the Clean Air Act by the major Oil and Auto industrys Lobbyists.

    To me that is the biggest concern, not the company taking my money and running, but instead the Major business Energy and Oil Destroying the company before it even gets off of the ground. I raise my hand in support of the idea. If for some unfortunate reason the company does not make it off of the ground I will know that I tried and supported for the good of the world and not the greed of humanity.

    Reply
  7. klover_dso

    I was very skeptical about dropshipping and found a couple great companys that are not scams, Now I make an extra 1000-3000 a month selling world instruments on ebay and my website (www.themagicalmysterystour.com) I have always been very skeptical about any type of telemarketing, pyramid, sell insurance from home on your spare time type or start an eBay business and make 1000’s a week ;o}

    I first heard about this when I clicked on a link from one of my “Eco” Friend’s myspace page. Immediately I was redirected to http://www.jointhesolution.com/dunlap and saw that it was another friend of mine I hadn’t heard from in quite some time. I read it over, thought it was a good idea, and went ahead and filled out a contract (being careful what info was given) mostly to see where the catch was (I figured if Claudia was doing this then it must be somewhat safe/legitamate) She contacted me and we talked about it for a while.

    She said she had been reading alot about “what is wrong with the company” and how it is a “scam,” so I asked her….”is it?” Asking specific questions that would point to scam. She said she hasn’t had a bunch of spam mail sent to her, they never asked her for a credit card number, social security number, tand the deposit isn’t due until the system is ready to be installed. In fact most of the claims stating this company is a scam have been either A) False or exagerated or B) based on the fact that no production is currently being made (they seem to be waiting on the press release to tell the world when it happens. Understandable to protect yourself and your investors from big business terrorists Look into the Adam’s Pulse Generator to know more about what lengths electric and oil companys will go to keep the world from turning green) There have been statements about no press releases but that turns out not to be true after investigating myself I found a few news conferences and happened to see the name on a cable channel the other day during a home improvement show lol. The Better Business Bureau Has said nothing negative aout the company as of date and there are no current investigations made public that I am aware of.

    I signed up as a rep. mostly so I could see further into the inner workings (my interest had been sparked.) There is the obvious Pyramid incentive making you want to sign up new accounts under your name, and teach other likely people to make refferals and get new contracts, which usually turns me away, but I support the cause and see no real threat.

    Actually the people that are most uneasy with this are the big solar companies. It would seem they are afraid of losing possible customers that will decide to rent rather than buy.

    I looked at the petition to SEC and almost half of the people that signed claim to be from different solar organizations and/or companies most of the rest are anonymous (very brave eh?)

    I believe with the situations of global warming at hand and our newly elected Democratic House and Congress there will be alot of support for this type of technology.

    Who does have something to lose from this? Well the electric Company for one not to mention the major oil companys also the current solar companys will be forced to compete with this “mass production” So of course there will be millions of dollars paid to discredit, disrupt, and lobby against.

    Let’s take a quick look at the California Clean Air Act, It was a model for clean air that could have gained support from several other states and countries, requiring automobile industry to produce a certain amount of cars sold passing very strict emmissions testing guidelines. The “plug in electric car” was created and destroyed after the destruction of the Clean Air Act by the major Oil and Auto industrys Lobbyists.

    To me that is the biggest concern, not the company taking my money and running, but instead the Major business Energy and Oil Destroying the company before it even gets off of the ground. I raise my hand in support of the idea. If for some unfortunate reason the company does not make it off of the ground I will know that I tried and supported for the good of the world and not the greed of humanity.

    Reply
  8. Nick Rosen

    Thanks Gunner – it is very valuable to have your reponse.
    I have amended the story to take account of your viewsand I hope others will also report back here on their experience with the company. I remain sceptical fo the endeavour, despite the number of perfectly legitimate executives that Citizenre has hired, because it does seem like a something for nothing deal, and when I contacted them they seemed to be a bit flakey, to say the least.

    Reply
  9. gunner4375

    After reading the article on Citizenre I went to the sight to check them out. I read through all the info and actually ended up signing up as an ecopreneur. Why? Because the information was clear and to the point. They asked for no money from the ecopreneurs or even fom the customers. The deposit is not due until the home site engineering is done and that is not done until at least some panels are being manufactured. I quess you can question the economics and financing because this is so new and bold. But calling this a scam is a little reckless. Don’t you have to make money for something to be labeled a scam?
    Infact, I read that Citizenre made available 5million to pay part of the ecopreneurs commissions until money is flowing from the system! So I signed up!
    Anything can fail in business but I hope this one makes it.

    Reply

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