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Solar news that directly effects homeowners.

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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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My Uncle went solar, and is already seeing the results!

In residential solar-related news, last month my uncle made a triumphant post to Facebook, showing off his home, newly adorned with a PV array.

A Massachusetts home with roof mounted solar panels.
A Massachusetts home with roof mounted solar panels.

The details are as follows:

  • 10.8 kW installed and active as of September 10, 2015
  • Total cost of $44,900
  • Federal and State tax credits of approx. $14,500
  • Total cost down: $30,400

The installer, All Energy Solar of Amherst, MA, estimated that the system will generate 10 SRECs per year, and provided a guesstimated value of $325 per SREC, or $3,250/year. That might be a too rosy assumption, at least for the long-term, but he’s looking at the long-term (life of system) benefits and not for the short-term.

Anyways – his first electricity bill arrived recently and he just shared it with me:

Energy bill post-solar panels
Energy bill post-solar panels

That’s right his bill went from $286 dollars to minus $14, or a $300 dollar swing. That’s $3,600 in savings annually, providing an 8.3 year payback period without accounting for the value of the SRECs that will be generated by the system. Once those are added in, the payback period will shorten dramatically.

Solars a unique proposition. No other investment that I can think of can pay for itself in such a rapid period, and then provide ongoing benefits for decades into the future. If you’re not investigation it, you really should. One of the windows that provides for such a great return, the Federal Government’s 30% Investment Tax Credit, is scheduled to close at the end of next year.

Projects like this need planning, panels and manpower – next fall is not going to be the time to start thinking about going solar, at least not if you want to qualify for the best incentives that you can.

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Why plug into solar power?

Why should you plug into solar energy? Solar energy is one of the many answers to our global energy needs. The sun is free and shining with limitless abundance everyday. Solar is a natural, eco-friendly answer to providing renewable, affordable power through an ever expanding array of different products. Whether you need to light up your patio, heat the pool, water the garden or run your home or business, solar has an inexpensive alternative that is worth considering. When you see a product that includes a photo voltaic cell, you know it’s powered by the sun. It won’t be necessary to run a cord to power that product because it is designed to run for a duration of time on free, independent solar energy.

It’s really a dream come true to be able to operate a device without paying to run it off the electrical meter that counts every kilowatt and sends a monthly bill. We know the potential of plugging into solar energy is just getting started because the desire to lower the use of fossil fuels is only increasing with every passing year. Solar proliferation could significantly reduce the world’s fossil fuel usage and slow the cascade of problems associated with carbon emissions and global warming.

Solar is a win – win energy option. It has become more efficient and affordable for both individual homes and professional buildings. Choose solar when making your next big purchase for the home or office, it will pay for itself and reduce our carbon based energy usage as a society.

This story originally appeared on JNA Solar Solutions’ blog. Read it here.

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We’re Experiencing the Lowest Prices for Solar Right Now

2015 has been the best year so far for installing solar into your home for many reasons. We’re experiencing the lowest prices for solar right now.

Lowest prices for solar, federal tax credit incentives before 2016

For one, homeowners are still able to claim to federal tax credit that is soon to expire in December of 2016, making your solar purchase much more affordable. This 30% tax credit incentive has been effectual to the solar energy cause, especially in California. The prices for solar energy are at their lowest point right now, and if you complete an installation before the tax credit expires, you get to take advantage of that great bonus. After all, if you have any inclination to switch to solar, why claim your 30% tax credit before you won’t be able to?

Additionally, researchers believe the cost may rise once the tax credit expires, since there will be less of an incentive to switch to solar, making the demand decrease and the prices increase. So not only are consumers switching to solar now to claim their federal tax credit, but also to act on the affordable costs that exist today.

Saving on energy costs in Southern California

Now, aside from the federal tax credit, there are other valuable opportunities available through solar. Los Angeles has experienced record high temperatures all throughout 2015, even back when it was “winter.” With record high temperatures sustained for most of the year, solar energy provides homeowners with a great way to save money on their bills. Running the air conditioning all year long is guaranteed to send a spike in your energy bills. Living in Southern California where this year long heat has become an expectation, having solar energy helps combat these large costs to stay cool — even during the holidays when the last thing that we can expect is cold weather.

Cutting expenses, earning more profit

Saving money on your energy bills at home is great. In fact, it’s a miracle considering that it’s not always easy to trim down your monthly expenses. But saving money with solar isn’t just limited to your household expenses. Businesses constantly ask themselves how they can cut costs to increase profits. Well, decreasing your overhead isn’t easy, but solar energy provides a great outlet for eliminating astronomical energy bills. In 2015, more businesses than ever have seen the value of solar energy and invested in order to save money in the long run. Did you know you could generate extra income by selling your extra power back, too?

As solar energy becomes increasingly commonplace in residences and businesses alike, the prices will continue to drop over the long term. However, experts advise consumers to take advantage of the current low prices that exist in 2015.

This post originally appeared on JNA Solar Solutions blog. Read it here.

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Hawaii ends net metering for new residential solar installs

Advocates of Net Energy Metering call it the most successful method so far to get people off fossil fuels. Now the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission has ended the program for new solar customers.

“The energy industry is not static. We have to continue to evolve our policies, our initiatives and our programs,” PUC chairman Randy Iwase said.

The PUC’s order cuts the credit new PV customers will get for sending excess energy to the grid from 26.8 cents per kilowatt hour to about 15 cents under a new Grid Supply program.

“That 15.07 cents on Oahu is an incentive,” Iwase said.

Net Metering. Image from energypedia.info
Net Metering. Image from energypedia.info

But RevoluSun’s Colin Yost believes it will make it harder for consumers with low to moderate incomes to afford solar. and solar companies will suffer.

“Just as we’re getting going and hiring more staff and hiring more crews, once again we’re hit with a policy that will likely slow us down,” he said.

Sierra Club’s Marti Townsend believes the PUC order is counter-productive.

“At this stage in the game when it’s crucial that we get everyone off fossil fuels as soon as possible, we should be expanding policies to encourage renewable energy use not ending them,” she said.

Read the rest of the story at Hawaii News Now

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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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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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Rising above the flood

Driving home from work on a chilly night, Kandace Donovan sees that the power has gone down again in her Lyons, Colorado neighborhood. She passes the darkened homes and then there is her house – lit up like a Christmas tree! It is with a sense of satisfaction that she opens the door to her home and steps into the cheery interior greeting her noisy children.

Provost-Kandace-Donovan

In December 2013 Independent Power Systems installed a grid-tied solar electric system complete with battery backup at Kandace’s home. When the power goes down, there is a seamless switchover from the grid-tied solar system to the battery backup system.

I decided to have a chat with Kandace about her system to get the information straight from the source. Here’s how it went:

What initially motivated you to consider a solar electric system for your home?

Getting a home solar PV system has long been of interest to me. I’m pretty environmentally conscious and wanted to cut back on my use of fossil fuels. I’m well aware of what the intensive use of fossil fuels is doing to our planet. There is also that I didn’t want to throw money away. I’d rather rely on the steadiness of the sun than on the volatility – in price and geopolitics – of fossil fuels. I knew that going solar was fundamentally the right thing to do.

When we had the huge rains and flood here on the Front Range – in September 2013 – many people, including us, had to leave their flooded homes. We were out of our home for three months as there was no water or utilities for over two months. We got our sys-tem installed the December after the flood, right after power came back on in Lyons.

During that time away from our home, we were concerned about looters as security sys-tems were not functioning.

What allowed you to move forward on deciding to invest in a PV system?

With the federal rebate – which was the only rebate available to us here in Lyons – we were able to get a third of the cost of the system back. The flood was the real factor in our deciding to go for the solar and battery backup system. If we’d had this system be-fore the flood, we would not have had to leave our house. We could have put a compost toilet in the back yard and used electric heaters. The flood destroyed the infrastructure of this town.

Your system has a battery backup component. In your words, could you explain how it works and what it has done for you?

We have two inverters. We can program them; the IPS system designers set it up this way. We have it set up so that there’s automatic switchover to the battery system. Nor-mally, the solar energy generated via the grid-tie inverter feeds our house and extra goes out to the grid. When the power fails, the battery inverter immediately takes over power-ing the house and then the grid tie inverter’s extra energy goes into charging the battery. We can manually shut if off if we want. We’re not yet in a position where we make more electrical energy than we use over the year – we’re currently supplementing about 75% of our energy from the solar panels – but when we’re producing more than we’re using at any given moment, the excess electricity generation gets pushed back to the grid and earns us credit with the utility at the retail rate. This arrangement is called net-metering. We have room on our roof to add more pan-els later.

Has your system worked as you expected it to?

It has worked better than expected. We didn’t really understand at first how seamless it would be – that is, the battery-power switchover. It’s instantaneous. We don’t even notice it except for maybe a flicker of light. In those months after the flood, power surges were going on in the neighborhood. Some neighbors had to have all their appliances replaces. As I said earlier, we never even knew when the power went off in the neighborhood since our inverter flips immediately over to battery backup. We had people coming over to our house to charge their cell phones.

If you had to put a value on never losing electrical power, what would that be? Do you feel you have or will get your ‘money’s worth’ from the battery backup system?

$35,000 – the cost of my system. Yes, I do feel I’ve got my money’s worth. Obviously, the system has not paid off financially yet. But I can tell you, the peace of mind is invalu-able. I get tremendous emotional satisfaction from our significantly reduced electric bill; it rarely pushes $100 now.

Are you happy with IPS’s performance in working with you and delivering as you expected? 

Yes, super happy. The company delivered as expected on time. When the electrical in-spector showed up, we were a little worried as we’d heard he was a hard ass. But he had former experience with IPS installations; he said he knew he’d have no problems with a system installed by IPS. His exact words: “You guys are dealing with a class act.”

What would you say to someone considering going solar? 

Do it!! And if you can’t do it big, start small. You don’t need to go for a full off-grid sys-tem right away. Just waking up in the morning knowing you’ve done the right thing, that you’ve made the responsible choice … your day will be better. It’s easier than you think. It’s not a lot of work at all.

Anything more you want to say?

Just that I’m proud to be a solar system owner. There’s room on our roof to expand the PV array – and I expect we’ll eventually do that. I’d like for my family to get even more self-sufficient. I’ve considered getting an electric car. Like I said, it has been tremendous-ly emotionally gratifying knowing that my house is powered by the sun. And I know we are far less likely to be negatively impacted by future floods and power outages.

System Specifications:

•   4.9kW SunPower PV array
•   6.0kW battery inverter power
•   20kWh battery capacity
•   Grid-tied and instantly battery backed upon grid failure
•   Absolutely maintenance-free

This post originally appeared on Independent Power Systems’ blog and is republished with their permission.

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Officials welcome solar power company to West Norriton

The staff at SolarCity couldn’t have picked a better day to welcome guests to their new facility on Boulevard of the Generals Thursday morning. Under cloudless skies, state and local officials were invited to tour the 20,000-square-foot operations center of the nation’s top solar provider, which opened in May.

IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SOLARCITY - SolarCity Founder & CEO Lyndon Rive, Chairman Elon Musk, and SolarCity Founder & COO Peter Rive celebrate the companyís IPO by posing for a photo at the NASDAQ Stock Market on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 in New York. SolarCity is a leader of distributed clean energy and will trade under SCTY. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for SolarCity)
IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR SOLARCITY – SolarCity Founder & CEO Lyndon Rive, Chairman Elon Musk, and SolarCity Founder & COO Peter Rive celebrate the companyís IPO by posing for a photo at the NASDAQ Stock Market on Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 in New York. SolarCity is a leader of distributed clean energy and will trade under SCTY. (Mark Von Holden/AP Images for SolarCity)

The operations center employs close to 50 salespeople, residential designers, surveyors and installers and is projected to more than double that number by adding a commercial design division and expanding to accommodate the region’s burgeoning solar market.

Founded in 2006 by technologist brothers Pete and Lyndon Rive and their cousin, Elon Musk, the CEO of electric automotive giant Tesla, California-based SolarCity provides renewable electricity to homeowners, businesses and municipal entities through a business model that allows customers to save up to 20 percent on energy expenses by utilizing solar systems installed with no up-front costs .

“That’s the unique thing about what SolarCity does. We sell you the power, not the panels,” said Lee Keshishian, SolarCity’s East Coast regional vice president, noting that more than 90 percent of the systems are owned by the company.

Read the rest of the story at the Times Herald.

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Saving Money With Solar Panels

It’s hard to find precise data about how much you can save with a solar installation. Sure, everyone says “Yeah, you can save money with solar panels! Switch to solar. It’s worth it.” But do people actually know the numbers to behind saving money with solar panels?

Finding these stats isn’t easy on the internet, but according to the NC Clean Energy Technology Center, homeowners who switch to solar can expect to save a great average amount of money every month on their energy bills.

Their report states that “Solar PV customers in America’s 50 largest cities that invest in a 5kW solar PV system save an average of between $44 to $187 per month (before a loan, lease, or PPA payment) during the first year that they own their system.” This makes the switch to solar powered energy an immediate savings. Every month on your bill you will notice a lower amount, meaning more room to save your money. Or spend it on something else.

The good news doesn’t stop here.

If you reside in California, you’re in even better luck. Savings with solar panels are the highest in this state. The highest monthly savings nationwide are in San Francisco, at $187, San Jose next at $186, San Diego at $137, and finally Los Angeles at $101.This equals a total of almost $12,000 in savings a year, give or take.

What’s more is after the solar panels are finally installed, you can expect your home to increase in value at an average of $18,000. Depending on where your home is located, along with other specifications, this home value is likely to increase and make your home more desirable to buyers.

Not only will you save money on your electric bills every month but you can also sell back the energy your panels generate to other consumers. In the long run, you end up saving money on your bills and you make money for selling extra power.

Independent energy is not only good for the environment but it helps save you money.

Sources:
http://nccleantech.ncsu.edu/wp-content/uploads/Going-Solar-in-America-Ranking-Solars-Value-to-Customers_FINAL.pdf

Originally posted at JNA Solar Solutions.com

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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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Myths And Facts About Net Metering For Solar Energy

MYTH: Net Metering Is Costly

  • The Helena Independent Record published a letter from the executive director for governmental affairs at NorthWestern Energy, who wrote that net-metered electric generation from solar panels “is not efficient and very expensive” and “will only increase the cost of electricity to other customers on the system.” [Helena Independent Record1/6/15]
  • The American Enterprise Institute’s Benjamin Zycher wrote in a FoxNews.com op-ed that the adoption of net feeds “more expensive power” into the grid, “and prices are forced up.” [FoxNews.com, 9/24/14]
  • The South Mississippi-based Sun Herald published a reader’s letter that said, “Want your power bill to triple? Then support net metering.” [Sun Herald, 6/30/15 via Nexis]
  • The Las Vegas Review-Journal editorial board wrote: “Let homeowners who want to generate their own power pay full price for solar panels — and subject their surplus power to market conditions. If [public utility] NV Energy’s customers don’t need the solar power, its customers shouldn’t have to buy it. The people deserve energy policies that make power cheaper.” [Las Vegas Review-Journal4/25/15]

FACT: Net Metering Brings Significant Economic Benefits

Environment America Study: Economic Benefits Of Net Metering Outweigh Costs. A report from the Frontier Group for Environment America details the different benefits that arise from net metering. Net metering provides economic benefits to the electric grid, including savings from reduced electricity transmission (net metered solar energy is provided on-site), avoided capital and capacity investment, reduced financial risks, increased grid resiliency, and avoided environmental compliance costs. The report also explains benefits for “the environment and society at large,” including avoided greenhouse gas emissions, reduced air pollution, and increased economic development and job creation. [Environment America, Summer 2015]

Analyses By Multiple Utilities Found Benefits Outweigh Costs. Several studies done by utility and non-utility groups alike found the net benefits of net metering to be approximately equal to, or greater than, its costs.

  • In a report by the Massachusetts Net Metering and Solar Task Force, task force member Eric Krathwohl stated that economic benefits of solar installation exceed $14 billion, or 20 cents/kWh — close to the residential price of electricity in Massachusetts of 19.52 cents/kWh, according to the most recent data from the Energy Information Administration. Further, a report from the Acadia Center on the “value of solar” – which factors in climate benefits — found that the value that solar photovoltaic systems provide to the grid ranges between 22 to 28 cents/kWh, with additional societal benefits of 6.7 cents/kWh. [Mass.gov, 4/30/15; EIA.gov, 7/27/15; The Acadia Center, April 2015]
  • A report carried out by Crossborder Energy for VoteSolar found California’s net metering policies bring $92.2 million in economic benefits per year [Vote Solar, accessed 7/16/15, Crossborder Energy, January 2013]
  • A study conducted by Energy and Environmental Economics for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission found that net metering systems “benefit all ratepayers by a total of $36 million,” including non-participants in the state’s net metering program. [State of Nevada Public Utilities Commission, July 2014]
  • A study by Synapse Energy Economics for the Public Service Commission of Mississippi concluded: “Net metering provides net benefits (benefit-cost ratio above 1.0) under almost all of the scenarios and sensitivities analyzed.” [Synapse Energy Economics, 9/19/14]
  • The Missouri Energy Initiative, a nonprofit association of public and private sector entities, found that “the net effect of net metering in Missouri is positive. This is because, even valuing cross-subsidization effects at their full estimates and including administrative costs as if they were a flow instead of a stock, benefits in every year (2008-2012) are greater than the costs.” [Missouri Energy Initiative, Winter 2015]
  • The Natural Resources Council of Maine (NRCM) reported that a study by the Maine Public Utilities Commission found that the “value of solar power produced in Maine is 33 cents/kilowatt-hour. In comparison, customers who put solar panels on their roofs only receive a credit on their bill worth about 13 cents/kilowatt-hour.” NRCM concluded, “Net-metering is the policy, used in Maine and many states, that allows homes and businesses with solar arrays to be credited for power they provide to the grid at the same rate they pay for power they take from the grid. Electric utilities in Maine and elsewhere have attacked net-metering because they have undervalued the benefits that solar provides. The Maine study, like others conducted around the nation, provides evidence that net-metering is providing a substantial public benefit.” [Natural Resources Council of Maine, 3/3/15]

Environment America: Majority Of Cost-Benefit Analyses Show Positive Benefit. Environment America compiled 11 cost-benefit analyses that have been carried out on solar net metering and found that most show the economic benefits outweighing the costs:

  • All 11 analyses reviewed here found that solar energy brought net benefits to the grid.
  • Eight analyses out of 11 found that the value of solar energy was worth more than the average residential retail electricity rate in the area at the time the analysis was conducted. The three analyses that found different results were all commissioned by utilities.
  • Of these 11 analyses, the median value of rooftop solar energy was 16.90 cents per kWh, compared with an average U.S. residential retail electricity rate of 11.88 cents per kWh in 2012.
  • The studies that estimated lower values for solar energy consistently undervalued, or did not include, important environmental and societal benefits that come from generating electricity from the sun.

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[Environment America, accessed 9/14/15

DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab: Net Metering Impacts On Retail Rates Will Be “Relatively Modest.” In a report that looked at the financial impacts of net-metered energy on utilities and ratepayers, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that while high use of net-metered solar generation may decrease utility shareholders’ earnings, it will have a “relatively modest” impact on ratepayers. The report examined solar penetration levels that are “substantially higher than exist today” — 10 percent compared to today’s 0.2 percent — and concluded that the “impact of customer-sited PV on average retail rates may be relatively modest (at least from the perspective of all ratepayers, in aggregate).” The report said that utilities and regulators “may have sufficient time to address concerns about the rate impacts of PV in a measured and deliberate manner.” [LBNL, September 2014]

Read the rest of the Myths and Facts For Solar Net Metering at Media Matters

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Why Plug Into Solar Energy?

Guest post from JNA Solar

Why should you plug into solar energy? Solar energy is one of the many answers to our global energy needs. The sun is free and shining with limitless abundance everyday. Solar is a natural, eco-friendly answer to providing renewable, affordable power through an ever expanding array of different products. Whether you need to light up your patio, heat the pool, water the garden or run your home or business, solar has an inexpensive alternative that is worth considering. When you see a product that includes a photo voltaic cell, you know it’s powered by the sun. It won’t be necessary to run a cord to power that product because it is designed to run for a duration of time on free, independent solar energy.

It’s really a dream come true to be able to operate a device without paying to run it off the electrical meter that counts every kilowatt and sends a monthly bill. We know the potential of plugging into solar energy is just getting started because the desire to lower the use of fossil fuels is only increasing with every passing year. Solar proliferation could significantly reduce the world’s fossil fuel usage and slow the cascade of problems associated with carbon emissions and global warming.

Solar is a win – win energy option. It has become more efficient and affordable for both individual homes and professional buildings. Choose solar when making your next big purchase for the home or office, it will pay for itself and reduce our carbon based energy usage as a society.

Read the original article at JNA Solar’s website.


JNA Solar offers grid-tied and off-grid residential and commercial solar systems, custom tailored to your needs. We have been serving California since 1996.

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4 Simple Benefits of Solar Energy

Guest post from JNA Solar

Are you thinking about going solar? You are not alone in this movement, as many others in the world are embracing solar energy. Solar energy is good for the environment and saves you money. Using solar energy to power your home or workplace has many benefits, including economic, personal, and environmental. The following 4 simple benefits of solar energy will help you understand the immense benefits of solar power.

1. Solar energy saves you money – The cost of electricity is constantly on the rise, and multiple independent studies paint the same gloomy picture; electricity prices will continue to rise indefinitely. Switching to solar can drastically cut the cost of your electric bill. Over the long-term, you will save a large amount of money. The only question that remains is, what will you do with all of those savings?

2. Solar energy creates jobs – Solar energy jobs are created in many different ways, such as manufacturing, installing, administrative, monitoring and maintaining solar panels, researching and design, developing, and policy jobs. The solar power industry creates job growth that we desperately. According to CNBC, the U.S. solar industry employs nearly 174,000 Americans, which is up by 22 percent since the previous year.

3. Real estate value goes up – The value of your real estate increases, increasing the amount of return of investment inherent in purchasing your own solar system. The solar energy savings are also attractive to potential home buyers. Your real estate becomes more enticing to the buyers relative to other properties that do not use solar energy. In other words, in dramatically increases your home’s marketability.

4. Solar energy saves the environment – Solar energy production will not harm vital ecosystems, primarily because it does not generate damaging green-house gases. It helps to reduce damage to the ozone and global warming. Solar energy is created by conducting the sun’s radiation. The process is free of any smoke, gas, or other chemical ramification. Solar energy is a clean, green resource that will never be exhausted.

Read the original article at JNA Solar’s website.


JNA Solar offers grid-tied and off-grid residential and commercial solar systems, custom tailored to your needs. We have been serving California since 1996.

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The Case for Net Metering

Residential solar power systems are usually designed so that the owner produces more energy in the daytime than they use in the daytime in order to balance out the electricity used during non-sunlight hours at night. This is the fundamental benefit of net metering – a homeowner generates extra in the daytime, which is delivered to other nearby users (typically commercial users), while getting a credit for that electricity that is then applied to their nighttime usage.

Image Source: FPL.com
Image Source: FPL.com

The electricity grid is one of the most under-appreciated resources in modern life. People plug in their device, or flick a switch on the wall, with the expectation that electricity will flow through and provide a result, forgetting that behind the electrify is a complicated system of machines, power lines, humans, materials and fuel, and that the settings need to be constantly adjusted. If a homeowner installs a battery system (big $$) – no complex work by experienced professionals need be done, the hardware just sits there once you install it the first time. Net metering adds yet another aspect to this, where electricity users who used to only pull energy out of the system, can now not only push that electricity back into the system, but can do so for compensation.

There is a debate. The default argument from the utilities will likely be that solar power producers should only be paid the at the same rate  as other electricity producers – the wholesale electricity price.  Remember, that the job of utilities is not only to provide electricity on their demand – it’s their job to invest in, expand, and maintain the broader grid, and to do this, they need revenue. Not just to pay the actual costs, but to provide investors with a reasonable return on their investment. Longer term, solar will have impacts that we can’t yet foresee.

We can look at Germany to see how much impact the generation electricity could potentially have on the price of electricity – (see this chart of the old vs new daytime electricity rates), but we haven’t yet been able to see a plan as how the electric grid will be managed and maintained if the company that has traditionally done so has seen their primary source of revenue dry up. This forms the basis of the argument against net metering in its current form.

Because homeowners with solar panels are able to buy and sell electricity at the same price, it is perceived that they are receiving an unfair subsidy from the power companies. After all, residential solar users generally do not use the power they actually generate – it is transported along the power companies lines to businesses who need it. Likewise, when a residential solar user turns on their television or computer at night, they are not actually using power from the solar panels on their rooftops, but instead they are receiving power from their local utility. All of this means that residential solar users are still dependent upon the power grid. That is a true and real service that needs to be accounted for. A $0 electricity bill does not mean zero services were delivered.

However – solar power generates significant benefits for the broader grid. Arguably – the benefits are greater than the cost of net metering by almost 75%. Taken to the extreme, this could mean that residential solar producers should be paid more for the power they provide than the power that they consume.

There are also many people arguing against solar power generation on the basis that solar power producers, whether residential or commercial, significantly benefit from handouts and subsidies. No one argues against fossil fuel subsidies, which benefits those producers to the tune of $5.3 trillion a year. No one considers the 1.4 million a year that die from air pollution. What about the three feet of ocean rise coming? The melting ice caps? We could go on for a while. In the end, this argument is the giant pile of big energy calling a little tiny teapot black.

Our lives are dependent on the power grid. However, our planet is dependent on the grid evolving. We see that German electricity pricing and subsidies for solar are falling as their experiment moves on. And we see that their CO2 pollution is falling as well. The same thing will be repeated around the world.

How you make your decisions about your responsibility to the future – and what you believe about technology, climate science and humanity will push you one direction or another on this issue.


John Fitzgerald Weaver has worked in the Finance and Solar fields since 2005. He is currently employed by Beaumont Solar Co. with a focus on Commercial and Utility Development. John is a hands on salesman, with a strong engineering background who got into solar power because he felt a lack of inspiration in banking:

“Solar power aligned with many needs – my interests (technology), my morals (I think solar is important on multiple species wide levels), my need for growth (there is a lot to learn in this growing industry), and my desire to be part of something important (energy is one of the most important and fundamental – if not the fundamental – of human needs). I chose the Solar Life”

If you have a solar project in mind, you can reach John at 508-990-1757 extension 209

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Why is Solar so Complicated?

Guest post from JNA Solar

The evolution of solar energy is growing exponentially. When technological breakthroughs come into the marketplace, the research and development enters a fast track that expands very quickly. This is why people often ask themselves, “Well, why is solar so complicated?” We are witnessing that expansion happening every day in the solar market now. Solar is becoming integrated into so many different products that are flooding the home improvement stores from patio lighting and water drip systems to solar powered HVAC allowing homeowners to use the sun to cool their house.

It’s expected that solar will be the energy answer for many Southern California homes and businesses in the decades to come. We have already seen how the efficiency of solar panels have improved and costs have lowered just in the past few years. The United States is manufacturing the highest quality photovoltaic cells in the marketplace with the greatest efficiency, which is why we only install the best, highest rated products for the customer who seeks to use solar on their home or business.

When consulting with our clients, we offer the most versatility in the configuration of the system. To gain the best efficiency, it is necessary to consider the best way to affect the most savings from the use of solar. With numerous variables, each client has specific needs and we take pride in making sure we consider all aspects of the installation before we estimate costs and savings. We want to design an installation for maximum savings to the customer. The best way to get the most out of every kilowatt varies based on many factors so we adjust and calculate every installation carefully before making a recommendation.

Read the original article at JNA Solar’s website.


JNA Solar offers grid-tied and off-grid residential and commercial solar systems, custom tailored to your needs. We have been serving California since 1996.

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