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15,000 solar jobs, $600MM in salaries at risk in Massachusetts

Time to look at the wider benefits of solar to the MA economy

The solar industry in Massachusetts has been cranking away for nearly a decade and is on the verge of grinding to a halt. With solar’s future hanging in the balance, we should examine what the wider benefits of solar have been for the state.

The State’s main utilities, National Grid and Eversource, enjoy the monopolistic power in the territories that they control, and as such, whatever the price of electricity, they will ALWAYS make a profit. But what happens to the money that their customers pay them every month could have wider implications for the State’s economy.

Three scenarios for solar in the state’s future.

In the “do nothing” scenario, where solar is left to flounder, we’re going to see 15,000 people leaving the work force. Some may continue to reside in Massachusetts and pursue opportunities that demand their skills in neighboring States, like Rhode Island, Connecticut, and, most likely, New York. Others might have to move out of State in search of opportunities as far away as California. And others will need to leave the work force to re-train for a new industry altogether.

In that scenario, Massachusetts loses out. We lose workers, we lose renters, we lose customers, and we lose tax payers. These are respected jobs – electricians, carpenters, engineers – these are the people and skills we want in our state. A recent study found that the state has at least 15,000 employed by the solar industry, and those people earn at least $600 million annually. The broader energy efficiency industry has almost 100,000 employees – this is a full 2.5% of our Massachusetts workforce.

Normandin-Middle-School-122.20kW1Our-in-house-electricians-perform-all-work-with-great-precision-1

Aerial Photography
Aerial Photography

And note that the cascading effect of money in the economy – $600 million in lost payroll will likely have a ripple effect. Less people buying groceries means stores need fewer products on the shelves, fewer employees to help customers, and smaller deliveries from distributors. Economists have a term called ‘velocity of money’ – this describes how many times that $1 you spend will move through the economy. When a regular person spends $1 on food, or with an electrician, or fixing their car – that same dollar will be spent by vendors and suppliers further up the chain. That $600M loss will actually be closer to a $1.5B dollar loss to our economy.

Also in that scenario, Massachusetts rate payers will continue to struggle under the burden of some of the most expensive electric rates in the country. After meeting payroll, paying taxes, and, yes, reinvesting in repairs to our State’s aging infrastructure, lets ask, where does the rest of that money go? Out of state – and in the case of National Grid, out of country – and to their shareholders.

In the “do something” scenario, the solar sector of Massachusetts’ economy can continue to thrive. What it needs is movement in the states net-metering caps, to allow for larger-scale solar farms, which could be owned by the many residents who don’t have rooftops adequate for solar. This can be for any number of reasons – from tree cover or other rooftop obstructions, to the many condo dwellers whose HOA’s disallow on-premisis solar.

With the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station scheduled to shutdown in a few years, the State is going to lose it’s biggest carbon-free electricity generator. Options for replacing that capacity are natural gas, with all of its CO2 implications or buying hydropower from Canada, which, while carbon neutral, would have the effect of sending Massachusetts’ dollars not just out of the state, but out of the country.

A third option that would keep as much of Massachusetts’ citizens money in the Massachusetts economy is to encourage battery-backed solar to fill that void. One of the biggest “gripes” against solar has been the fact that it is an “intermittent” power source, where panels only produce power when the sun is shining. Battery-backed solar solves that issue, and even better, the State is home to some promising battery companies (Aquion Energy that just won a $500,000 award from MIT for one).

We’ll need people who are smarter than me to figure this out, but what if an SREC-III program was designed that compensated owners based on their minimum hourly output over a 24-hour period? Utilities wouldn’t have to worry about net-metering any longer as homes and businesses would be able to use the power generated by their systems when they needed it, rather than send it on to their neighbors. By writing legislation that specifically promotes battery-backed solar, National Grid’s and Eversource’s suppliers could see much reduced load on their plants, alleviating the need to contemplate adding dirty generation sources to replace Pilgrim.

It could be a win-win for everyone. The utilities are going to have to invest in significant amounts of infrastructure to replace the shuttering of Pilgrim, and that money is going to come from Massachusetts rate-payers. With an SREC-III that specifically incentivizes battery-backed solar, that money would finance the next phase of the solar revolution, and revitalize an industry that’s about to come to a grinding halt.

It’s money that we’re going to have to spend anyways – why wouldn’t we want it spent keep existing jobs in the state, creating new jobs, support our local high-tech sector, reduce our carbon foot-print, and catapult Massachusetts ahead of California in leading the next phase of the solar revolution. I can’t think of anyone that would be opposed that isn’t in the pocket of one of a Big Utility.

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Is the outlook for Solar cloudy in Massachusetts?

By almost every imaginable measure, Massachusetts’ solar movement has been a resounding success, yet its future is in doubt

Pushed forward by a number of tailwinds, including the Federal Investment Tax Credit, the State-imposed Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards (which created the SREC and SREC-II Programs), and some of the highest retail prices for electricity in the country – solar in Massachusetts has helped lead the way for the country in moving towards more environmentally sustainable energy generation.

In addition, job growth in the Bay State has been robust. The state has added over 15,000 solar employees and almost 100,000 clean energy and efficiency professionals. In fact, Massachusetts ranks only behind the much more populous California among states with the most people employed in the solar industry.

Unfortunately, this means that the Massachusetts’ solar industry has become a victim of its own success. Absent legislative support, what was a vibrant industry for the greater part of the last decade, is currently experiencing a dramatic slowdown. Parts of the state have been feeling it since last summer. Some view it as ironic that this is happening on the heels of December’s Congressional action at the Federal level, which recognized the environmental and economic benefits of solar, and encouraged the further growth in the industry, by extending the Federal Investment Tax Credit for another five.

What happened?

First, State-imposed net-metering caps for National Grid’s territory were reached (almost a year ago), foreclosing the viability of most commercial-scale solar projects in National Grid’s service area, and killing off any hope for off-site community solar projects. Secondly, the Mass DOER announced in February that, thanks to an avalanche of applications received in the beginning of the year (two years worth in two weeks), the SREC-II program had reached its goal for larger 25kW sized projects, while limited space remains for projects smaller than 25kW.

the Bourne Solar Farm, as it appeared during construction.
A Community Solar farm built by Beaumont Solar in Bourne, Massachusetts
(project has since been completed)

Because of the way that the State has carved up the utilities territory, a solar facility in Williamstown can apply net-metering credits towards an energy meter in Worcester, while Pelham and its neighbor Belchertown are in different territories altogether.

This means that National Grid, which serves the most populous portions of the state, long ago reached its net metering capacity (indeed, should the caps be raised, there is a huge waiting list ready to gobble up anything that becomes available), while the more sparsely populated region served by Eversource WMECO has hundreds of usable sites for large-scale solar installations but relatively fewer potential customers. Additionally, the Eversource NSTAR territories have many potential customers, but no available land or roof space to put such systems on.

It’s true that even within the constraints of net metering caps, the truly motivated purchasers will still benefit from installing solar panels by reducing the amount of power they draw from the grid during daylight hours. However, that constraint has essentially foreclosed the hope for community solar, where the financially disadvantaged, those without homes and businesses without their own roof space, could have their energy needs served by off-site solar arrays.

Additionally, in the not-so distant future, the Pilgrim Nuclear Station, the state’s lone nuclear generation facility, will be shutting down. While some environmentalists have applauded the plants imminent closure, others that are focused on lowering CO2, say it will create a significant gap in the amount of clean electricity coming into Massachusetts’ power grid. The Pilgrim closing doesn’t slow what Massachusetts resident use, and without new legislative support for wind and solar, it would be too easy for utilities to use much more damaging coal and natural gas to fill that need, much like has happened in Vermont when Yankee Nuclear closed. This, in the end, means we will be releasing more CO2 than our fair share.

When the state legislature began discussing the future of net-metering in Massachusetts, it became clear that this would not be an easy task. This discussion was going on in the summer of 2015 when the Massachusetts Senate voted on a solar bill – moving on the Net Metering issue. The House ‘responded’ with a vote on the last day of fall session that offered drastically reduced energy credits to future solar owners Today, due to this brinkmanship, it is now a dire situation.

CEC's Community Solar Farm in Adams, MA
CEC’s Community Solar Farm in Adams, MA

If we want to continue leading the way in the nation’s push toward a future driven by clean energy, we need to address the net metering situation immediately, and both sides need to be prepared for some give and take.  If we want our solar professional to be able to maintain high quality, trained and experienced teams we need legislative consistency – the market does not appreciate uncertainty. There are plenty of successful Net Metering programs that we can research from around the globe if we need suggestions in how to structure. The Utilities, like Eversource and National Grid, are fighting tooth and nail against Net Metering – for obvious reasons: it’s a successful program driving competition.

More importantly, with the highly-successful SREC-II program having met its goals, the State should begin drawing out a follow-up program. Again, a lot has changed since SREC and SREC-II were devised, namely with the looming closure of Pilgrim, we will need to further incentivize the production of clean energy lest the utilities replace the lost capacity with high-carbon sources. Because of its Renewable Portfolio Standards, utilities in the State of Massachusetts have a legal requirement to meet energy efficiency goals.

Lastly, and this would probably require the most work from the legislature, we should work to devise  support for community solar projects, and allow solar installations to net-meter against any electric meter in the state, regardless of which territory the target meter and the distributed generation facility are located. Community Solar is the genius of our State Solar programs – continual evolution and support of this program is the utmost importance.

Solar has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade. The price of panels has fallen rapidly thanks to China’s manufacturing might, while the efficiency of solar panels has grown by leaps and bounds thanks in large part to ingenuity from U.S. based firms such as SunPower and SolarCity. For Massachusetts in particular, the last decade has seen the birth of dozens of successful companies and the creation of a large, skilled workforce. We have to ask ourselves, do we want to see Massachusetts continuing to lead the clean energy revolution, or witness an exodus of the jobs and businesses that have been serving Massachusetts so well for the last decade?

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The Utilities OWN the Massachusetts House

It amazes me that something so important to the State of Massachusetts can be manipulated and controlled so easily by a couple of power companies.

“…the truth is the House squandered an enormous amount of time, probably by design.

The Senate voted to lift the cap during the summer, but the House waited until the day before the Legislature recessed for the holidays before reporting its bill out of the House Ways and Means Committee.”

Projects will be cancelled, I see them not move through on a daily basis, due to our Legislature not doing their job. And these people – still getting paid – will now force other people out of work. Electricians, salespeople, engineers and more. Because politicians purposely ignored their responsibility. One of the few programs in the country that bring solar power to those less well off, to those who cannot afford a home – that’s what we’re allowing our politicians to cut the throat of. They did it coolly – by simply not doing their job.

And of course – this ignores that more pollution will be put into the atmosphere, that more people will die of lung disease and that just a little bit more of our coastline will be given to the Fossil Fuel gods.

Stay Classy Massachusetts.

 

Stay Classy

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PV Solar House

LADWP increases rates yet again, solar users continue to save

A severe drought in the state of California over the past couple of years has caused many conscious citizens to cut back significantly on their water use due to fines for excessive water usage and environmental consciousness. Though these measures taken by Los Angeles improve the condition of the state’s drought, residents are clearly unhappy with their cut back on water as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) increases rates.

Recently, LADWP increases rates on water yet again by 4% for homeowners in Los Angeles. While residents have worked hard to conserve water, less consumption of water resources have led to lower revenue for LADWP. In fact, they allegedly suffer losses of about $110 million from what they usually collect. With no other option to recover the loss, LADWP was forced to increase rates on residents. Beyond the control of users, situations like these pose trouble to our pockets. Disturbing our monthly balance, it forces us to look around for ways of conservation.

Homeowners who utilize solar panels offset how LADWP increases rates quite often on water and electricity alike.  Along with offering a clean source of renewable energy, making use of solar energy to generate electricity has many financial benefits. It is essential to create as much expense certainty as possible while utility companies charge unpredictable rates. Solar panels lower overall monthly cost, use of solar energy for powering our appliances shall definitely help us in the long run.

Uncertain costs vs. Fixed costs

The only thing consistent about the way that LADWP increases rates is how inconsistent they are in doing so.

With solar energy minimizes uncertainties and as homeowners can expect a fixed monthly plan. Flexible options offered by solar companies make it possible to invest into this renewable resource with total ease. Though installation of solar panels involve initial cost, they provide unlimited independent energy for homeowners with locked in rates, so they avoid unpredictable expenses on their energy bills as much as possible.

Adding value to your home while combating how LADWP increases rates

Installation of solar panels add to the value of your house. Offering an edge in the market, these clean options command an indisputable increase in value. With increase in resale cost of houses, it benefits the homeowner when they decide to sell their home. Learn in depth how solar panels increase the value of your home.

Cutting back your bills, with tax breaks, too

State of California offers numerous tax benefits in the federal tax domain. With federal income tax breaks up to 30%, it definitely serves as a motivational factor. Encouraging more residents to switch to solar power, such incentives offered by the government certainly help our pockets. So not only do solar panels help combat when LADWP increases rates, but when a homeowner installs them, they receive tax breaks themselves.

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Tax credits, reduced costs make solar power shine in Florida

Fields and rooftops filled with reflective slabs soaking in the power of the sun and converting it to energy appear to be all the rage this year with utilities and businesses throughout Tampa Bay.

Company officials say they’re adding solar arrays because they want to be a good environmental partner, but building them now, by most accounts, just makes financial sense.

Several factors play into the trend that has rooftops and parking lots glistening with mirrored panels at Tampa International Airport, Great Bay Distributors in St. Petersburg, Lockheed Martin in Oldsmar and other local sites.

The growing trend reflects a dramatic drop in price for an alternative energy source long thought too expensive to be cost efficient. The reduced costs have been attributed to the mass production of solar panels, with some being manufactured in China.

The median upfront project costs for solar arrays have dropped from about $6.3 per watt in 2009 to $3.1 per watt for projects completed in 2014, according to a report released by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) earlier this year.

The other significant factor: a 30 percent federal tax credit on a solar project’s costs — a tax break that expires in 2016.

Read the rest of the story at the Tampa Tribune

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Hardware shortages may slow solar growth in 2016

Dive Brief:

  • The rush to install solar before the 30% federal investment tax credit (ITC) reverts to its pre-2006 10% levels at the end of 2016 has sparked a backlog of orders for modules and inverters that could slow solar growth, ECT reports.
  • The shortage is causing scheduling difficulties for electric cooperatives developing utility-scale and community solar projects with average delivery times set at six months from large manufacturers and distributors, and could be fully booked for 2016 by early December.
  • The National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives urged members to place 2016 solar hardware orders before the year’s end.

Dive Insight:

The bottleneck in orders has birthed concern from 14 electric cooperatives participating in the Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) project, which aims to increase co-op deployment of solar.

If the U.S. Congress doesn’t extend the ITC, it will drop to 10% for commercial solar investments and zero for residential solar investments in January 2017. Such a concern has pushed installers and customers to throw up solar panels before the tax credit sunsets, which is causing a backlog for orders and might depress growth in the solar sector.

For the co-ops and DOE program, the backlog could hurt the co-ops. The program developed a standardized development package of engineering designs, business models, financing and insurance options and optimized procurement. The goal: Cut engineering design costs 25%, consolidated procurement costs 10%, and insurance costs 25% and bring the total installed cost down to $1.60 per watt.

Read the rest of this story at Utility Dive.com

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Massachusetts

2015 Cost Of Solar Index For Massachusetts Released By Solar To The People

A new study providing data on the cost of home solar in Massachusetts was recently released by Solar to the People — the purpose of the release being to spur greater price transparency in the state.

The new study offers data on the costs paid by homeowners for solar installations in the state for dates between 2008 and May 2015, with figures for both full installations and also for cost per kW (kilowatt) of installed installed.

Costs both before and after state + federal incentives + rebates are provided. The study sourced much of its data from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center’s Commonwealth Solar II Rebate Program database.

Here are some of the key findings of the study:

  • The average price of installing residential solar in Massachusetts in the first part of 2015 was $20,180, after rebates and incentives.
  • This price equates to $2,776 / kW (kilowatt) installed, after incentives and rebates.
  • Rebates and incentives reduced the cost of home solar by 38%
  • One of the main Massachusetts rebates (Commonwealth Solar II) is no longer available. This rebate reduced the price of solar by an average of 6.8% in the first part of 2015.
  • The average cost per kW of solar in Massachusetts before incentives and rebates has fallen 47% since 2008.
  • The average cost per kW of solar in Massachusetts after incentives and rebates has fallen 13% since 2008.

Average cost of solar per kW (kilowatt) across Massachusetts metro areas for the first part of 2015 were:

  1. Cape Cod – $3,191 / kW
  2. The Berkshires – $2,849 / kW
  3. Boston Area – $2,734 / kW
  4. Springfield / Pioneer Valley – $2,710 / kW
  5. Worcester County – $2,656 / kW
  6. Franklin County – $2,652 / kW

This post originally appeared on CleanTechnica.com

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Today’s Consumers (and Legislators) Prefer Green Businesses

There are a wealth of reasons to take your company in a new, green direction. But the main ones most businesses consider are about increasing profits and attracting clients. From a business owner’s perspective, here are some points you may not have considered regarding the benefits solar has on a business:

  • We’ve reached the point where governments have started to take action against companies with high emissions outputs. So depending on your business, if your company isn’t environmentally friendly, you could be at risk. By reducing your emissions, you’re protecting your business against the potential of these costly regulations.
  • Conversely, green businesses can take advantage of state and federal legislation that provide rewards/benefits to companies that exhibit themselves as environmentally friendly “low polluters”.
  • Polls have shown that between 50% and 80% of today’s customers will choose an environmentally friendly company over one that is not. Going green makes you more attractive to your existing and new clients.
  • Marketing your business as an environmentally friendly business enhances your ability to attract more customers.

Conserving energy and preserving the environment use to be something most would let “the other guy” worry about. But now, it’s a concept that’s become commonplace, a lifestyle that’s more mainstream not just in the operating decisions of business owners but in the purchase decisions of their customers.

For a financial analysis of how solar energy can benefit your business, contact Beaumont Solar at 508-990-1701 for an expert analysis focused on your business’ unique financial model.

This post originally appeared on Beaumont Solar Co’s Photon to Grid blog

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PGE Makes Solar Power Available to Customers for $5/mo

Portland General Electric customers can now purchase output from a new, large-scale solar installation in Oregon under a renewable power option PGE announced today.

For just $5 a month, customers can purchase a 1 kilowatt block of Green Future Solar from energy produced by a 2,935 kW solar installation just completed in Willamina, Ore. Blocks will be available until the capacity sells out.

“Green Future Solar helps customers who’ve wanted to go solar, but couldn’t because they rent their homes, installation costs are too high, or they just don’t have a good spot available to install solar panels.”

“This renewable power option is the newest way PGE is helping our customers who want to support solar power,” said Carol Dillin, PGE Vice President of Customer Strategies and Business Development. “Green Future Solar helps customers who’ve wanted to go solar, but couldn’t because they rent their homes, installation costs are too high, or they just don’t have a good spot available to install solar panels.”

The new project is the largest solar facility in the PGE service area, one of the five largest solar installations in Oregon, and the first utility-scale solar project in Polk County. It contains 9,468 solar panels and covers approximately 10 acres. Revenue from the program will support the development of new renewable energy facilities in Oregon.

Each block of Green Future Solar equals 1 kilowatt of solar power, about the same as 4 typical panels on an Oregon-based array, or about 14 percent of the average residential renewable energy customer’s monthly energy use. At the end of the year, each customer will receive a report showing how much solar-generated electricity they contributed to the regional grid and the environmental benefits resulting from their participation. Starting in December, they’ll also be able to track the project’s solar output on a monthly basis.

PGE is ranked the top renewable program in the nation for number of customers enrolled and renewable energy sold by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. More than 120,000 PGE customers are enrolled in one or more renewable power options, and PGE supplies them with over 1 million megawatt-hours of electricity per year. Green Future Solar joins the variety of renewable power choices available to PGE customers, including Clean Wind and Green Source.

To enroll or learn more about Green Future Solar and other PGE renewable energy options, customers can visit PortlandGeneral.com/Renewable or call PGE customer service at 1-800-542-8818.

Read the rest of the story at 1059thebrew.com

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Largest Indoor Basketball Facility in New England is 100% Solar Powered

Beaumont Solar has completed one of the most significant solar projects in the region with the design, engineering and installation of a 389.40kW rooftop solar system at Mass Premier Courts in Foxboro, MA.  The 73,000 square-foot indoor basketball facility will be 100% powered by the 1320 solar panels installed on the metal standing seam roof.

Mass Premier owners wanted to have the system fully operational by the end of 2012 to capture the 50% bonus depreciation.  With an in-house staff that is vertically integrated, Beaumont Solar designed and installed the system with the speed necessary to achieve this goal.  Key to maximizing ROI and meeting this timeline was the in-house Beaumont Solar design team, who were able to avoid the huge financial and time delay costs of utility upgrades for the customer by matching the size of the inverter to the existing utility transformer.

In combination with energy savings, Mass Premier wants to take a leadership role in teaching the next generation about energy responsibility, since 95% of their client base is children.  Beaumont Solar is providing an interactive touch screen monitor for the building’s lobby to show young people how much energy the solar system is saving the basketball facility every minute.

“Great businesses are focusing on innovative ways to achieve energy efficiency and cost savings today,” said Beaumont Solar President & CEO Phil Cavallo.  By evaluating their rooftops, parking lot areas, we can help them reduce or eliminate their electric bills entirely.”

Rewind! The was originally posted on Photo To Grid in 2013

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How tax breaks are driving Vermont’s rush to solar

Solar is the fastest-growing source of energy in the country, and Vermont’s solar industry is growing dramatically. The solar industry is booming nationwide because of multibillion-dollar federal tax breaks, and developers have their eyes on Vermont because of its additional cash incentives.

In 2014, the state ranked at 22 out of 50 states for total solar capacity nationwide. Vermont’s industry employs about 1,500 people at 72 companies, and produces $76 million in output, making it the state with the most solar jobs per capita.

In just the past eight months, Vermont’s Public Service Board has approved 79 nonresidential solar projects across the state, including 11 commercial-scale installations. Last year, the board approved 138 nonresidential solar projects, including 23 commercial-scale installations.

Over the past 10 years, the total number of net-metered solar projects in Vermont has grown exponentially. The number and proposed size of commercial projects is also shooting up. The Public Service Department is now reacting to a handful of 20-megawatt commercial projects — which are 10 times larger than any of the existing projects in Vermont.

The growing size and amount of solar arrays is directly related to a 30 percent federal tax break for unlimited investments in solar projects. The tax breaks are designed to drive the nation away from fossil fuels, and supporters hope that solar energy use will help to combat climate change.

While state incentives pale in comparison, Vermont offers a tax structure that keeps solar developers rushing in, and a net-metering program that requires utilities to buy solar at a higher rate.

The federal government’s Business Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, which lets corporations write off 30 percent of construction costs, is set to drop to 10 percent at the end of 2016. That means if developers want to write off one-third of each solar project’s installation costs, they need to get their applications in as soon as possible and make sure their projects are built by Dec. 31, 2016.

Read the rest of the story at VTDigger.com

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Big utilities entering market for small-scale solar power on customer rooftops

Traditional power companies are getting into small-scale solar energy and competing for space on your rooftop.

The emerging competition comes as utilities and smaller solar installers fight over the future of the U.S. energy system. While the market for residential solar power remains a financial drop in the bucket for a big utility, the installation of solar panels overall grew by more than 50 percent in 2014 and is on track for another record-breaking year at time when the traditional utility business is pretty flat.

“The whole theory is you need to serve your customer or someone will serve them for you,” said Raiford Smith, a vice president at CPS Energy in San Antonio, Texas, where 3,000 customers are interested in getting utility-owned rooftop panels. “I think the entire market is in a race for rooftop.”

These moves may have a range of effects for customers. The utilities experimenting in Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Texas could make solar more affordable for average consumers by energizing competition and driving down prices. Some utility programs may be beneficial to people who cannot afford big up-front investments, get affordable loans or find existing solar leases too cumbersome.

Smaller solar companies fear the incumbents will use their power to drive competitors from the market. After all, every time an installer puts solar panels on a home, a utility company sells less power and makes less money.

These experimental programs are one part of a bigger, yearslong battle between the solar industry and utilities. Since 2013, legislation to limit rooftop solar has been introduced in nearly two dozen states.

Some utilities like NV Energy in Nevada and PNM in New Mexico have debated charging solar customers special fees since they still buy electricity from the traditional utility system but end up paying less money to support common infrastructure. Even small fees could have big consequences since the financial decision to install solar panels can be a close call for many consumers.

Read the rest of the story at US News.

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North Carolina solar generation now exceeds 1 gigawatt

A North Carolina sustainable energy group announced solar power capacity in the state has passed 1 gigawatt of power and accounts for $1.6 billion in revenue.

Solar has been a fantastic economic driver

“Solar has been a fantastic economic driver in North Carolina’s clean energy industry for the past several years, and reaching 1 gigawatt is the latest impressive milestone for this growing market,” Robin Aldina, manager of energy research at the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, said in an emailed statement.

The NCSEA credits a strong climate of support for renewable and energy efficiency with stimulating the low-carbon sector in the state. By its estimates, the solar power industry accounts for roughly 4,000 jobs in North Carolina.

The organization said it would continue pressing state lawmakers to support tax breaks for the industry as they debate next year’s budget.

The federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, meanwhile, said it scheduled a task force meeting Oct. 7 in Wilmington to discuss the future for wind energy development off the state’s coast.

BOEM said last week a multi-year vetting process concluded there would be no significant environmental impacts associated with developing wind farms off the coast of North Carolina.

The U.S. Energy Department and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found total installed wind power capacity in the United States is near 66 gigawatts, an 8 percent increase since last year. All of that is onshore as there are no offshore wind farms in commercial operation in the United States.

Read the rest of the story at UPI.com

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Is there work as a solar installer? Advocates say future is bright

Companies installing solar panels see payroll growth ahead, with or without subsidy help.

Can the Southern Tier grow jobs with the sun? Advocates of solar power think so, and the handful of companies venturing into the emerging solar design and installation business say that’s what they’re doing.

The number of solar-related jobs in the United States grew from about 25,000 in 2007 to 175,000 in 2014, according to estimates by the Solar Energy Industries Association and the Solar Foundation.

And for every megawatt of new photovoltaic capacity installed, or about 120 houses worth, a solar-industry rule of thumb is 10 jobs are created, though that’s more likely to be seven or eight locally because the panels aren’t manufactured here, said Adam Flint, program manager at the community non-profit organization Southern Tier Solar Works.

Flint’s organization will host a meeting Tuesday evening at the state office building in Binghamton on promoting solar electricity’s economic-benefits potential. Assemblywoman Donna Lopardo, D-Endwell, and a panel of people in the industry will discuss state and federal incentives and tax credits available to homeowners and small-business people for installing systems that create electricity from the sun. Jobs are a big part of the push.

“It’s obvious: Hitch our economic wagon to the sun,” said Gay E. Canough, founder of ETM Solar Works of Endicott.

Conough’s company employs 12: two sales people, two office staff and eight installers, who can make anywhere from $12 to $22 per hour depending on experience and job level, with crew chiefs making the most.

She is working to hire a part-time social media marketing person right now and expects to need another installer in the spring.

Nationally, the solar industry is growing 30 to 40 percent a year, according to Conough.

Regionally, it may be growing faster. Flint is based in Binghamton but works across a broad swath of the Southern Tier and points north and west to Ithaca, where residential and small-commercial solar power has grown faster, for a possible glimpse into the region’s energy-economy future.

Read the rest of the story at Press Connects

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Maine town approves initial commercial solar rules

The Winslow Town Council on Monday gave initial approval to an ordinance that would allow the construction of large-scale commercial solar farms in certain parts of town.

A first read of the ordinance, which regulates large-scale principal solar energy systems, was overwhelmingly approved by the council. The council still needs to take a second and final vote on the ordinance at its October meeting.

Town officials were encouraged to draft the regulations after being approached by Ranger Solar, a Yarmouth-based energy company interested in constructing a 10-20 megawatt power station on Heywood Road. If it moves forward, the 100-acre project could cost as much as $25 million and could be the largest solar project in the state.

The ordinance requires any project to conform to industry design and installation standards, be screened from view by nearby residential properties and be enclosed with a chain-link fence, among other requirements. Power transmission and utility lines have to be buried underground, and a maintenance and operation plan has to be submitted to the town. Projects will be charged a $1,500 application fee and permits will cost $500 per megawatt of power the project generates. A solar project would have to comply with the same noise and decommissioning rules that wind projects do.

The council also gave initial approval to amendments to the town’s zoning ordinance to allow commercial solar projects in the low density residential, rural and industrial districts in town. The considerable amount of land needed for a solar farm restricts where they can be installed, Town Manager Michael Heavener said.

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Ogdensburg solar projects could produce 90 percent of city’s municipal power

A consortium project led by Jefferson-Lewis County BOCES could help Ogdensburg generate more than 90 percent of its municipal power with solar panels saving millions of dollars over the next 25 years.

Ogdensburg recently agreed to participate in a solar project that would allow the city produce up to 2.2 MW of power with solar panels.

A separate solar project that should be up a running October will produce 1.1 to 1.2 MW of solar power.

Ogdensburg City manager John Pinkerton says the city’s total usage is 3.7 projects and if things go well the city could be producing 3.4 MW of that power with solar panels.

Although the consortium only recently finalized it’s membership and executive committee, Pinkerton said he believes the projects could be completed in fall of 2016.

The consortium includes 30 to 40 municipalities and school districts spanning Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Lewis Counties. Ogdensburg School District is also part of the consortium.

The goal is to produce a total of 60-70 MW a power, which should be enough to significantly cut costs for all entities involved.

Under the consortium plan, multiple solar farms capable of producing a maximum of 2.2 MW each would generate the power.

Read the rest of the story at North County NOW News

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Solar Panels installed in a Massachusetts landfill.

Ground Solar Arrays: Examining the Return on Investment

You’ve likely heard of Brownfields and landfills being turned into solar farms as they have $0.00 value to ever be utilized for any other purpose.

Likewise, with the subdivision market for land remaining weak and real estate development still far below pre-economic downturn levels, there is now an increased number of residential and commercial land owners now looking to solar as another profitable alternative use for their land.

Ground arrays can range from 5kW to 30MW to 50MW and more, but for perspective, it takes approximately 5 acres to accommodate 1MW of solar. And the advantages of ground arrays are numerous, with just a few of which being:

  • As opposed to other developments, they do not require water, sewer, road development, produce no noise or emissions.
  • Panels can be faced in the ideal southern direction, no worrying about roof orientations.
  • Calculable return: The sun shines – the system generates a predictable amount of power
  • Should you decide to lease your land to a developer, today’s land lease prices average $2,000 per acre annually. (Source: LandVest)

There are still many factors to consider though requiring a company experienced in all faucets of solar farm development.

Contact Beaumont Solar (508-990-1701) and we will evaluate your site for elements such as proximity to 3-phase power lines, potential off takers of the power, evaluating PPA and leasing options and calculated ROI.

This was originally posted on Beaumont Solar’s Photon To Grid blog in 2012.

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Excerpt from “Harness The Sun”

Finally, someone has to get the equipment installed and make sure it runs properly. For several of the New Bedford projects, that key role has been played by a century-old sign-company-turned-solar-integrator. When Phil Cavallo bought Beaumont Sign Company in 2006, it was a frugal operation run by the family’s third generation. Its customers ranged from chain stores to area banks, and its revenues were about $2 million per year. A native of greater Philadelphia who had logged in nearly three decades as a self-described serial entrepreneur, Phil had done everything from designing missile guidance systems for Raytheon to launching telecom start-ups. It was time, he felt, to go local. “I had flown all over the world doing business for big corporate America;” he tells me. “I wanted more of a community-based business where I could give back in ways and develop a relationship in ways that I hadn’t been able to do in any other job”

Harness the Sun, by Philip Warburg
Harness the Sun, by Philip Warburg

Phil’s initial intention was just to keep on selling big commercial signs. It only took a few months, though, for his entrepreneurial drive to kick in. He looked at Beaumont Sign’s 1,800 loyal customers and said to himself, “There’s something else we can sell to those customers besides signs.” Initially he thought of small-scale wind turbines. Turning to a colleague at Beaumont, he asked: “Hey, is there a big difference between putting up a wind turbine and putting up a billboard? It’s got a foundation, it’s got a tower, it’s got a sign at the top.” The colleague was OK with the idea, so they gave it a try. After being hired by the State to take down twenty-two turbines that were improperly permitted, they set about building some new ones, but the slow pace of moving wind proposals through local planning bodies sapped their ardor.

Phil then turned his focus to solar. Reading Inc. magazine, he was impressed to see that PayPal tycoon, Tesla creator, and SolarCity bankroller Elon Musk had been named 2007 Entrepreneur of the Year. What really struck him was the scuttlebutt that SolarCity might go public, even though it had only been launched the previous year. “From VC [venture capital] and working in the Valley, I knew that, to go public, you need to have an unfair competitive advantage, you have to be in discontinuous innovation, and you have to have huge market cap potential:’

Phil’s vernacular swings sharply between the heady lingo of a venture capitalist and the down-home jargon of a community entrepreneur. One moment he’s back “in the Valley.” The next he’s in gritty, workaday New Bedford. ‘I’m lookin’ at this install business, and I’m goin’ Hey, we can install signs on rooftops. We can do this all day long-laggin’ ‘em into roofs. Why can’t we install solar panels? “‘ He lost no time jumping into this new field. In a training program for solar installers offered by a leading PV manufacturer, he remembers a moment when one of his classmates quipped: “You know the definition of a successful solar company?” The guy paused for effect before answering his own question: “An electrical engineer with a backhoe.” As a trained electrical engineer with a yard full of sign-installation equipment, Phil had a somewhat different response: “I got a crane truck- better than a backhoe! “

Starting small, Phil sent Beaumont crews to install a few arrays on residential rooftops in neighboring Dartmouth, Massachusetts. He calls this the “off-Broadway performance scenario.” Soon enough, he had twenty-plus home solar contracts on his desk, and his new line of business was drawing the attention of the local media. It was the right moment to make the leap to larger projects, and to give the company a new name: Beaumont Solar. The timing was perfect, as BlueWave’s DeVillars and Morrissey were ready to move New Bedford’s solar initiative forward. The transformed sign company landed several plum jobs.

One of Beaumont’s breakthrough projects was a 350-kilowatt PV facility just across the street from New Bedford High School. Like the school itself, the solar array was built on a closed, capped landfill. It now supplies a quarter to a third of the high school’s electricity, but Phil says this may increase if the building’s roof passes muster as a secure spot for additional panels. We peer through a chain-link fence at several dozen orderly rows of panels before heading out to Sullivan’s Ledge, a former waste dump so polluted that it remains an actively treated, EPA-designated Superfund site.

Once a quarry, Sullivan’s Ledge was used by local industries through much of the twentieth century as a dumping ground for waste oil, PCB-laden electrical capacitors, other volatile chemicals, and demolition materials. It was fenced off in 1985, but it wasn’t fully capped for another fifteen years. Even today, an on-site treatment plant pumps and decontaminates groundwater while a network of vent stacks channels the release of landfill gases. When Phil and I arrive, a specially trained crew is ever-so-gingerly preparing the earthworks for a 2-megawatt PV array. We walk out onto a muddy stretch of land where two guys operating miniature excavators are carefully digging a trough for the electrical cabling. To protect the clay contaminant barrier that is buried just 36 inches underground, there are strict weight limits-s pounds per square inch-on all equipment allowed at the site. The excavator operators know that their small, smooth-edged shovels can dig no deeper than r8 inches as they work the soil.

The first few hundred ground mounts for solar panels are already in place along a stretch of Rat land abutting a cluster of self-storage sheds and a gas station. Hefty, above-ground concrete blocks hold tri­ angular steel braces in place-a safer mounting technique for panels than driving steel poles deep into the ground given the site’s pollution hazards. Ultimately this facility, with its eight thousand PV panels, will save New Bedford about $2 million in electricity costs over a twenty-year period.

In all, New Bedford’s solar initiative is expected to supply about 6o percent of the municipal government’s power needs, reducing its electric bills by about $I million annually. Better still, the city has incurred no capital costs because the solar installations are all owned and operated by a third party. Power purchase agreements with companies like SunEdison and Con Edison Solutions set fixed electric rates that are well below what the city has been paying for its power. And on top of those financial benefits are the local jobs at firms like Beaumont Solar. Fifty people are employed at Beaumont today, and quite a number of them have come straight out of the vocational education program at New Bedford High. Beaumont has paid for others to attend night school, to get trained as licensed electricians. Several have come from troubled homes. “It’s sort of a shot in the arm to get these kids feeling good about themselves;’ says Phil.

This excerpt originally appeared on Photon To Grid, the blog maintained by Beaumont Solar Co.

Order Harness the Sun: America’s Quest for a Solar-Powered Future from Amazon!

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Tiny municipal utility in Ohio pioneers ‘benefits stacking’ solar-plus-storage pilot

A small municipal utility will be the recipient of what is thought to be one of the first US projects to try out a combination of revenue streams from a storage battery linked to a solar farm.

Village of Minster, the local utility for Minster, Ohio, is the somewhat unlikely sounding location for the biggest combined solar-plus-storage project to date, according to grid system integrator and storage specialist S&C Electric. S&C has been asked by Chicago-based developer Half Moon Ventures to build a 7MW storage facility linked to a 4.2MW solar power plant.

The 3MWh of lithium-ion batteries will allow Village of Minster to add backup power to its network and help it manage energy demand during peak times more effectively, shaving the peak demand experienced by the local area by using solar power.

At the same time, the device will be used to bid into the PJM frequency regulation market, which has been seen by the worldwide storage industry as an effective example of how energy storage with batteries can be financially rewarded, through competitive tenders, for the fast acting grid-balancing services it can provide. PJM’s service area extends through numerous US states and the company serves more than 60 million people. The local utility will also use the battery system to defer the cost of upgrades to its transmission and distribution networks.

Read the rest of the story at PV-Tech.org

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Commercial Solar: How to Unlock an Underserved Market

Open Energy’s Graham Smith on how to get more capital into commercial solar

Solar has entered the mainstream: there are now over 20 gigawatts of cumulative solar capacity operating in the U.S., and that figure is expected to double over the next two years. Growth in 2014 was led by the utility-scale sector, which grew 38 percent over 2013 to reach nearly 4 gigawatts, and the residential sector, which crossed the 1-gigawatt barrier for the first time, growing 51 percent over 2013. Commercial solar was the only sector that did not see growth in this time period, instead decreasing by 6 percent.

One of the main obstacles to growth in the commercial industry is limited access to capital. Commercial solar financing faces a lack of standardization (disjointed applications for finance, no clear communication on financing terms, different legal contracts) and high transaction costs relative to deal sizes. These factors translate into challenging due-diligence processes and complex finance negotiations, which wind up costing a great deal of time and money. Furthermore, this is all done offline, against the backdrop of a world where borrowers can apply for almost any loan/finance online (think credit cards, SME business loans, mortgages). Commercial solar financing is further affected when monetizing the ITC through a tax equity partner, which increases legal fees because of an added layer of due diligence and finance negotiations.

These hurdles are specific to the commercial and industrial market. By contrast, the residential market is highly standardized, and residential borrowers are more homogeneous because they can be differentiated and segmented by FICO score; the risk value is the same across the nation, whether the homeowner is located in New York or California. Residential solar borrowers also have online borrowing sources available. At the large scale end of the spectrum, the utility-scale projects also lack standardization but project sizes are large enough to support high transaction costs, which are small relative to the capital involved.

Read the rest of the story at Greentechmedia

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Maryland’s SREC Market: Nothing to be Crabby About

(Editors note: This is a link to an older story from May 2015, but it still very relevant and informative)

Maryland SREC Prices – On the Rise

Despite consistently ranking in the top 15 state solar markets, Maryland has long flown under the radar for most developers. Due to moderate electricity prices and thin margins, the Maryland market does not command the same level of attention from developers as do the frothy markets of California, Massachusetts, or New Jersey. However, things may improve for The Old Line State’s market due to a rise in solar renewable energy credit (SREC) prices. Over the last six months, prices in Maryland steadily rose from $130 to $170 per SREC. Even more shocking than the 30% increase in pricing is the fact that 2016 forward SRECs are also trading at $170. All of this bodes well for the market, but many analysts are looking for answers as to why the Maryland market has seen such a pricing increase, and if this increase is sustainable. Has Maryland finally broken out as a star solar market, instead of the moderate performer it has always been or is this rise in SREC prices just a short-term fluctuation?

Why the Rise in Prices?

There are three competing theories as to why Maryland SREC prices are on the rise. No one explanation seems to be able to capture the entire phenomenon, indicating that perhaps the rise is due to a confluence of factors, or that the rise will be short lived. The three theories are:

  1. The Maryland Public Service Commission (PSC) will only approve the Exelon – Pepco merger if Exelon agrees to invest in additional renewable energy infrastructure beyond what is required in the state’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS).
  2. SREC supply is lagging behind demand, and therefore necessitating a rise in prices. However, even a review of the market fundamentals does not provide complete insight into the price rally. The installed capacity of solar in Maryland has kept pace with expectations, and the market has a similar SREC supply and demand relationship as what it saw in 2014, while maintaining a much higher price relative to the Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP). (The ACP is a fine levied against compliance entities if they do not meet their SREC purchasing requirements.)
  3. Compliance buyers are purchasing SRECs ahead of the expiration of the investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2016. With the expiration of the ITC, most analysts expect that PV deployment will drop precipitously, and new projects will be few and far between. As the RPS continues to rise, compliance entities may be concerned that there will not be enough supply in the market to satisfy demand, and are purchasing SRECs now to avoid this outcome.
  4. Project fundamentals will also be altering towards the end of 2015, as Maryland’s small, but not insignificant, $8.50 / MWh, renewable energy production tax credit expires.

While none of these theories fully encapsulates the rise in prices, perhaps when taken in sum, they can provide insight into market dynamics. It would appear that a combination of future price and market expectations is coupling with current market and design fundamentals to rally the price from $130 to $170. That said, perhaps the rise in prices is just a temporary blip, and will soon fall, finding resistance at or around where they originally started. If the pricing is indeed sustainable, it will help to reframe the market for developers, and could attract more attention in 2015.

Read the rest of the story at the Energy Collective’s website. 

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Solar energy is poised for yet another record year

The U.S. solar industry is on course for a new growth record in 2015, according to a new report that finds that solar photovoltaic installations now exceed 20 gigawatts in capacity and could surpass an unprecedented 7 gigawatts this year alone across all segments. A gigawatt is equivalent to 1 billion watts and can power some 164,re000 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

The new report, from GTM Research and SEIA, covers the second quarter of 2015, which set a new record for residential rooftop solar installations in particular, a category that saw 70 percent year-over-year growth. 473 megawatts of residential solar capacity were installed, or nearly half a gigawatt.

“It’s setting records every quarter,” says Shayle Kann, senior vice president of GTM Research and lead author of the report, of the residential segment.

The report comes just weeks after President Obama traveled to Las Vegas — a particularly fast-paced solar market — to sing the industry’s praises and cast solar, and particularly “distributed” solar on rooftops, as an icon of progress and technological innovation.

Read the rest of the story at the Washington Post

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California firm funds 2 solar projects in isles

Santa Barbara, Calif.-based Wiser Capital said Wednesday it has funded two large-scale commercial solar projects in Hawaii as it looks to service more commercial photovoltaic in the state.

Wiser Capital, a financial services firm specializing in solar, has invested more than $3.6 million in five solar systems in three different states with nearly half of that going to Hawaii

Read the rest of the story at the Star Advertiser (Registration Required!)

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Colorado’s Arion Energy to develop several solar energy projects across Hawaii

Arion Energy LLC, a Colorado-based developer of wind, solar and biogas projects throughout the United States and Canada, has plans to develop 21 solar projects in Hawaii totaling nearly 7 megawatts of power, the head of the company confirmed to PBN Friday.

The Greenwood Village company, which has an office in Honolulu at 410 Atkinson Drive, has filed several new businesses for each of the commercial and industrial solar projects, according to public records.

“We are working on a whole bunch of commercial and industrial projects,” Nick Azari, president and CEO of Arion Energy, told PBN. “We are finalizing these deals.”

Each project is between 100 kilowatts and 400 kilowatts, mainly located on Oahu, Kauai and Maui.

“We already have done a couple of commercial projects in Hawaii,” Azari said. “We are just trying to do our share of greening the planet.”

Read the rest of the story at BizJournals.com

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North Adams to be 100 percent solar powered

North Adams is the smallest city in Massachusetts. As of now, that tiny city, in the northwest corner of the commonwealth, is generating more solar power then the entire state of Massachusetts did just eight years ago.

What otherwise would have been a forgotten hillside on the outskirts of North Adams, 6,000 solar panels are now in place, which have literally energized the community.

“Time will tell but this will hopefully make the city 100% solar powered,” said Mayor Richard Alcombright, at a ceremony Tuesday morning to mark the grand opening of the solar collecting facility.

And with 100% of North Adams running on solar energy, the mayor says he’s now looking forward to the savings since schools, street lights, the library, and other municipal buildings “won’t cost taxpayers a dime.”

“If it goes the way we think,” Alcombright says, “it could provide us with about $400,000 per year in credits which eats up our municipal electric bill.”

Read the rest of the story at News Channel 13’s website

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Indian Government Calls for Utilising Rooftop Space for Solar Projects

NEW DELHI: The Centre has asked its ministries, States and all educational institutions across the country to utilise the space available with them to install grid connected solar rooftop systems.

The government has set a target of 40,000 MW of grid connected rooftop solar power generation capacity by 2022 under the National Solar Mission.

In a recent letter to all central ministries, States, public sector organisation, educational institutions, schools and colleges, New and Renewable Energy Ministry has urged to install grid connected solar rooftop systems/projects in their buildings.

“Huge rooftop space is available in government buildings..even if a part of this space is utilised for setting up rooftop solar systems, thousands of MW of solar power can be generated, ” the letter suggested.

About ten square meter space is required for installing one kWp of solar rooftop system. Rooftop solar system can help reduce electricity bills besides cutting down carbon emissions from conventional sources like coal.

Read the rest of the story at NDTV.com

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Commercial rooftop solar could be the key to preventing business black-outs

From SolarPowerPortal.Co.UK

The National Grid is set to quadruple the amount of electricity available in order to balance the network this winter. Earlier this year, the grid operator had predicted a 10-year low of spare energy capacity levels of just 1.2% this winter, meaning the risk of black-outs across the UK would have been a real possibility. Three years ago the margin of spare electricity capacity was 17%.

In light of the warnings, short-term measures have been taken to safeguard the UK’s supply. The nation’s buffer of spare capacity will be boosted to 5.1% in the six months until March by paying for a reserve of plants. This winter’s reserve will cost the National Grid £36.5 million pounds for 2.56GW supplied by companies including Centrica Plc, SSE Plc and Engie. That compares with £31.3 million spent on 1.6GW last winter.

But short-term (and costly) fixes are not going to sustain the energy needs of UK business in the long-term. Will the bailout be available next year and thereafter? If just one major utility supplier went down or a sudden surge in requirement arose, Britain’s business would come to a grinding halt. It is imperative to implement measures now to ensure the future security and sustainability of our energy supplies.

Ensuring that UK homes remain lit and warm requires 330TWh of energy a year and, with old generators being switched off and gas plants mothballed due to the abundance of cheap coal, data suggests that the UK’s energy supply margin will continue to be challenged winter-on-winter. Since 2012, 15 power plants have been closed or partially closed, taking out a large chunk of the UK’s energy-generating capacity. According to forecasts by Ofgem, the UK’s supply margin was predicted to fall from a tight 6% at the peak of winter demand in 2014/15 to a possible low of 2% this year. Although a small risk, the combination of a stronger than expected economic growth coupled with a particularly cold winter could have pushed the country over the edge had it not been for the purchase of additional capacity.

Read the rest of the article at SolarPowerPortal.Co.UK

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Does it make financial sense for a business to install solar power in Massachusetts?

The easy answer? Yes. Now, send me a deposit so I can start engineering. Right?

The hard answer? Still yes for many, but also a “no” for some.

We need to figure out if that is actually the case. And that is what I do for a living. I’ll start with an analysis of a commercial solar power installation in Massachusetts (that’s where I work). Arguably, this analysis is heavily biased toward the “Yes” window when we consider Massachusetts. Visiting SolarPowerRocks.com we see that The Spirit of America is rated #2 in the nation for its level of solar hospitability. Here’s why…

Solar power is financially smart
*All of these numbers are estimates. Your company will have unique financial and structural details that change some of these assumptions. A direct  A 250kW Solar PV System will cover its initial investment in under three years

Some definitions to help you better under things.

System Wattage – this is the peak wattage of the solar module at peak sunlight. On a bright summer day, your solar power system will be pushing at least this number.

Price per Watt Installed – the numbers we use to help you judge the pricing of your system other than the total price. This price per watt helps us better breakdown costs by sub-components, and also helps us compare our system costs to other fuel types and their industry vernacular.

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) – power companies have a legal requirement to buy a certain amount of SRECs. An SREC is 1,000kWh delivered of clean solar energy – about the amount of energy that three solar modules will produce in one year. The going rate (and it is a variable market price supported by regulatory requirements) is at least $250/MWh (check out SREC Trade for up to the minute pricing).

Tax CreditBusiness Investment Tax Credit might be the greatest reason for the success of solar power in the United States. If you pay Federal Taxes you’ll have a chance to benefit here – exactly 30% of the system price will be counted against your final tax bill. Essentially, functioning and successful businesses are given great motivation to install solar power for 30% off.

Depreciation – Solar Power is part of a class of items that allows you to depreciate your hardware in five years.

As you can see, a solar power system will both save you on your electricity bill – but it will also give you a revenue stream through selling your clean energy credits, and it will save you significant money with the IRS. All of this while protecting your company against future energy price increases.

So, yeah, now you can send me that engineering deposit. 🙂

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Solar Advocates Look For Answers On Net Metering

Phil Cavallo surveys a large plot of land off MacArthur Drive in Bourne, not far from the Bourne Bridge. Bulldozers hum in the background, clearing the 7-acre tract, which, by mid-October, will be covered with 4,300 solar panels. This is the future home of the Bourne Community Solar Farm, and Cavallo’s company, Beaumont Solar, is handling the installation. Cavallo said community solar farms are perfect for people whose homes don’t meet the criteria for solar panels.

“This is sort of a non-invasive version of it, which is, ‘Hey, I can get the solar power. I can get it as cheaply as I could get it if it was on my roof, but I don’t have to drill holes in my roof.’ So it’s an innovative way and an alternative to doing solar,” said Cavallo.

Community solar arrays produce solar power remotely for customers’  homes. The Bourne facility already is 90% leased. Cavallo explained that anyone can participate – there’s no initial charge to sign up. The Gallo Ice Arena in Bourne will use half the array’s energy, and the rest will go to power approximately 130 homes in the area.

Read the rest of the article, or listen to the podcast, at capeandislands.org

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Why Are Americans Switching to Renewable Energy? Because It’s Actually Cheaper

“Gone are the days when solar panels were an exotic plaything of Earth-loving rich people,” Tom Randall writes for Bloomberg Business. “Solar is becoming mainstream.”

Currently, the federal government allows a 30 percent investment tax credit for solar, but it is set to expire at the end of 2016, at which point it will decline to 10 percent. A report from Deutsche Bank says that even without additional subsidies, solar is already cost competitive in 14 states. If the credit is renewed and costs for solar continue to fall as predicted, then we could see solar electricity as cheap as average electricity bill prices in 47 states within the next two years, according to Deutsche Bank’s report. If the credit is not renewed, we could still see 36 states at grid parity.

 

Source

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Go Massachusetts! SolarPowerRocks.com thinks the state gets an A+

A 29% Return on Investment?

Massachusetts-State-Report-Card

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