Saturday, October 13, 2007

Robert Kennedy Jr. investor in Citizenre

It has come to GNB's attention that Robert Kennedy Jr. is largely invested in Citizenre, a company currently under fire for being nothing more than a photovoltaic pyramid scheme.
What Citizenre has done through lavish marketing and network of representatives, is enlist over 5000 people to become solar sales affiliates on their website, without ever selling a single solar panel to anyone.
This would be a beautiful thing if it were not for the fact, after a year of being online, solliciting investment capital, and building their affiliates network, they have yet to acquire and sell a single solar panel to anyone, anywhere in the country, and investors are getting antsy.
It's a wonderful dream, selling PVs to your neighbors, installing solar one house at a time. Problem is many independent solar dealers around the country are doing that already, establishing ground rules and territory, and Citizenre stands to upset the growth of these small companies, who are starting to make real headway into the first adopter market of affluent suburbs.
Citizenre has expressed plans to open a photovoltaic factory in New York state. But many fear this is just talk, as there has been no physical evidence of this taking place, considering the cheapest and best panels are coming from China. How do they propose to reverse the trend of outsourcing electronics manufacture to Asia?
For Kennedy Jr. to stand making a return on his investment with Citizenre, the company also needs to have a very good relationship with the utilities, who in New York are refusing to lift the netmetering cap, meaning nobody right now in the state can get money back for the electricity they send back into the grid. Sierra Club is fighting this limit in Albany. The Utility refuses to compensate for your meter running backwards, that's because they saw the writing on the wall... as PVs get cheaper, and easier to install, what the heck do we need the Utilities for? All we need is the grid. Something Barry Commoner predicted would happen in his book The Politics of Energy back in 1980.
So maybe the reason Robert is so silent about his opposition to the relicensing of Indian Point is because he doesn't want to tick off Entergy anymore than he has to, in light of the money he stands to make if Citizenre does succeed in penetrating the residential PV market in a substantial way. Green energy afterall now means solar, wind and nuclear in the minds of the brainwashed public!
Yesterday Robert was revealed as a co-signer on the NUKE FREE website as a co-signer opposing nuclear industry loan guarantees. Maybe it's time he also made his solar energy interest known, so folks can undertstand what he understands, that if Indian Point closes, it's going to mean a boom in solar electricity installation, whether Citizenre turns out to be for real or not. Except Robert wants somebody else to get his hands dirty, so he can come up smelling roses, in case Indian Point gets its new license. Politicians! All the same!
Right now to many journalists Citizenre is beginning to look more and more like a stock scam... so if Robert got himself wrapped up in this, he may not want it to become public knowledge. But we here at GNB are all about full disclosure and putting our cards on the table. So how about it Robert, what's YOUR grand master plan to shut down Indian Point? Or don't you care anymore, as long as you can make a profit from monopolizing residential solar installations in the state?


Frank said...

I see your mind is pretty set against Citizenre. If anyone would like to know more about Citizenre please feel free to contact me. I see your link above is a dead end.
Frank Knight

Porgie Tirebiter, Royce Penstinger and Pinto Bean said...

I went to the company website, and I'd say PONZI is a really good descriptor. It's a lot like RENT TO OWN.

Here's the basic plan, and its basic PIT FALL...they install the system...they show a home with eight panels...those panels can be bought ONLINE for about $800 bucks a piece. That's $6400 bucks, so lets be WILD here, and say such a system would cost you $20,000 fully installed and ready to roll.

On their web site, to discourage you from OWNING your own system, and creating FREE electricity once installed, they want you to think such a system could cost $40,000.

Now, read the fine print...if the system BREAKS, repair of it is your problem, as you are responsible for giving them the equipment back in perfect working condition! Further, if you cancel your contract, you lose your deposit, which they keep for as long as you are with them, which is 5, 10 or 25 years.

Now, lets do some math based on you signing a 25 year contract with this company. I pay $300 a month, or $3600 a year for my electricity. Buying and installing my own system at RETAIL, I am looking at a six year pay back period on my investment.

Owning my own system, I save myself that $300 a month for 19 of the 25 years. So, if I sign up with MR. Kennedy, in that 25 year period, even at todays utility prices, they are going to earn a profit for putting solar panels on my house of $70,000 dollars, and probably closer to $80,000 since they are going to be producing and installing their own panels.

HMMMM....$80,000 a home over 25 years on FREE ELECTRICITY! Now folks, lets do a bit of math here...if they find 100,000 suckers, I mean homeowners to buy into this PONZI Scheme, they stand to turn a profit in 25 years of EIGHT BILLION DOLLARS!

So, you have a choice to can go borrow the money to install your own SOLAR SYSTEM, or you can RENT TO OWN and let MR. Kennedy and his croonies make BILLIONS of dollars selling you FREE ELECTRICITY...which is it going to be?

MIke Bedsloe Phd. said...

I dont think I am ready to throw the baby out with the bath water . I had an installer come price my house for solar and it was $41,000 . My math was a 20 year break even and I have to keep up the system. I think there is a good chance my needs would change in the next 10-15 years ( read - change in energy source).If I bought the system I am stuck with it. I read up on Citizenre and it say that if I want the panels take off I just pay them my $500.00 deposit and they will take them off , AND they dont have to bury them a mile underground for 25,000 yeas because they are radio active. I dont care how much money they make . The offer would work better for me and better for the planet in the long run.

Karen said...

Isn't free speech amazing??? Anyone can open their mouth, spew forth tremendous amounts of pure drivel and make it sound as if they actually know what they are writing about... almost as if they had ACTUALLY done a modicum of RESEARCH. Did you have to do that in journalism classes?

I look forward to the photo of you with lots of egg on your face ;-) Karen

Chris Dudley said...

I agree with your stance on Indian Point. Entergy is not running it safely and incidents like posting solo guards at what is clearly a target indicate that they have no intention of cleaning up their act. But, your attack on Kennedy seems to me to be counterproductive. The company has denied that he is an investor and so you bring discredit on yourself for spreading unfounded rumors. Better to razz him about wind power.

To your other respondents: in your neighboring state of New Jersey, residential solar has cost about $8/Watt for the last 3 years so a 5 kWp system costs $40,000. With a $300/month electric bill (you need to change your light bulbs) you would likely need an even larger system, perhaps as large as 10 kWp. You can generally get pay back within the warranty lifetime of solar panels (typically 25 years) but many people look at the difference between what they could make by investing the money in the market and weigh that against what they will save on electricity, figuring that they'll need to replace the inverters once at $0.80/Watt, and decide to put their money elsewhere. Renting the panels, on the other hand, is revenue neutral and low risk since the only cost to breaking the contract is the security deposit, which you might decide to do if electricity becomes cheaper. Maintenance is included in the rent though there are a few condition, such as intentional damage, where the renter is responsible for the cost of repair. For many people, this works out better.

Hope this clears things up a little.

erskinedaniel said...

Aloha all,
I am a Citizenre rep. and I just want to give your readers a heads up that some of what is posted in the article is not quite accurate.
Citizenre is a private company so no stock has been issued and if Robert Kennedy Jr. has indeed invested in the company he has done so because he sees the value of the service Citizenre will be providing.

You make some valid points, but the simple facts are that the American consumer wants ease of purchase and that is what Citizenre will be offering.
Your comparison as to what a person can do on their own is valid but most consumers don’t want to do it on their own they want it done for them.
Citizenre systems will be monitored, if your system is over producing or under producing it will be Adjusted.
A benefit not enjoyed by a independent consumer installed system.

“Now, read the fine print...if the system BREAKS, repair of it is your problem, as you are responsible for giving them the equipment back in perfect working condition!”

Come on be real.. The system is maintained by Citizenre franchisees, if you get up on your roof and bust up the panels with a sledge hammer your going to have to pay for it!

Ponzie Scheme?
No way! Face to face, and word of mouth marketing is very effective and as the article indicates;
“many independent solar dealers around the country are doing that already, establishing ground rules and territory”
Many of these independent dealers will become Citizenre franchisees and benefit from the additional business within their territory!


Dan (a redirect to my citizenre site)

bonbayel said...

Way back in the 60's I started studying physics in college, because I wanted to work with peaceful uses for nuclear energy. (But I just wasn't good enough at math, so I switched majors to German!) I've always been tantalized by the powers of nuclear energy and eagerly read all the articles about it.
But then along came 3 Mile Island and Tchernobyl, etc. and the lurking realization that there wasn't much to do with the waste that anyone wanted in their backyard.

At about that time I got interested in the environment, waste, pesticides, etc. and learned a lot about environmental management and even worked as a writer with a number of environmentally related companies, including a large Danish wind turbine company.

Now that I'm semi-retired, I'm picky about the jobs I take. They have to be something I believe in and I don't want to commute any more.

A half a year ago I was introduced to Citizenre, and was intrigued but let it go the first time around, because the person didn't explain it well enough to me. Then I did join in January, and have since researched it well.

I can tell you that only top management knows who is investing in the company, and they have told us that Robert Kennedy Jr. is not one of them. I'd be leary of him anyway with his NIMBYism on Cape Wind.

I don't know why you think that this is a pyramid organization. I haven't paid a cent to be able to "help others to solar" pother than printing business cards and the like at cost price. There is no introduction fee, no training fee, no products we have to buy. We can be as active or inactive as we like and still be considered part of it. Of course, we're pretty much volunteers now.

We are "spreading the message of solar," even if people decide they have enough available money to purchase a system now from someone else rather than waiting a year to rent it.

The customers who sign our waiting list are doing just that. They're not paying even a small fee to be on the list. When the engineer has designed their system they will pay a deposit of between $500 and $1000 which will be returned at the end of the contract period.
For that they get an installed array and a monitoring system that they use to generate clean inexaustible solar electricity. If there are problems with the array, our installers will repair it. If the damage is external, their insurance will cover it, just like if they had bought it. Wince they are renting the system, they don't have to worry about getting a mortgage to finance it. (It's sort of like my free cellphone that I pay a monthly bil for.) And the rate they pay for their array is locked in for the length of their contract - up to 25 years. What more could you ask for?

Other solar companies are beginning to look at our concept and applying various versions of it already. There's nothing pyramid about it.

Anonymous said...

You should get your facts straight before you start blasting your opinions to the public. Mr. Kennedy Jr. has no investment or affiliation with Citizenre. I thought your choice of words describing our rental program as "rent to own", PONZI, and a pyramid was pretty funny as well. We are not Mr Kennedy's "croonies" as you stated. And what company do you know that isn't out to turn a profit, albeit not the figures that you throw around as true factual figures. Everyone has opinions and should but try to do some research before you post things as the truth.

Kim said...

In order for a pyramid scheme or "Ponzi" scheme, if you will, to take place, money has to exchange hands, that hasn't happened. First thing you've gotten wrong. Secondly, all the utilities are a form of rent to own if you think about it. I am renting gas lines to heat my house and water, water lines to to funnel water through to pipes to wash with, and wiring, so I can use the electricity to see at night. These utility stock holders have been getting rich off people for decades. Or, do you think these utilities are not for profit agencies? There's a wealth of information on the Citizentre website. All those interested in the facts should do their own due diligence. The movement to bring solar energy to the masses has begun. And it won't be stymied by a few nay sayers.