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3 Reasons To Go Solar After PG&E’s Bankruptcy
Feb07

3 Reasons To Go Solar After PG&E’s Bankruptcy

If you haven’t yet heard, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the country’s largest power utility filed for bankruptcy last month as a result of more than $30 billion in liabilities incurred from wildfires ignited by its grid. Surprisingly, this isn’t a first. PG&E declared bankruptcy in 2001, but the circumstances surrounding the company’s bankruptcy this time around are different and, once taken into account, make some of the best reasons yet why it’s time for Californians to decentralize their grid and switch to residential solar. RATE INCREASES ARE COMING When it comes to going solar, money is often the strongest motivator, and $30 billion in outstanding liabilities is no small sum to cover. But who is going to foot the bill? A recent article by Bloomberg reports that ratepayers who don’t generate their own electricity will eventually be the ones stuck with PG&E’s tab, getting charged a higher monthly cost for power. “A 15% rate increase would raise an extra $1.9 billion (for PG&E), enough to fund a $20 billion 5 yr amortizing bond at 4.5 percent,” Liam Denning of Bloomberg states. “That would cover much of the immediate liabilities pertaining to previous wildfires…” What that hike would look like for the average Californian is about $17 more a month, or a power bill that’s around $127. Paying that much for power would give PG&E’s service territory the dubious honor as being one of the three most expensive in the country. By switching to solar, not only will homeowners get the cost benefits of the federal government’s 30% tax credit before it expires at the end of this year, but they’ll be able to avoid having to pay for a company’s mistakes. MASSIVE WILDFIRES ARE THE NEW NORM Climate change isn’t some distant boogie-man lurking in the near future — it’s here now, and has made devastating wildfires the norm, and not some freak event. In 2018 California wildfires burned 1.6 million acres and killed 100 people. In 2017 PG&E reported 1,552 equipment related fires according to an article by the Los Angeles Times. But PG&E is not alone in the blame. California’s other utility companies are responsible for igniting thousands of fires over the past three years, costing property loss and lives, and incurring billions in fines from state regulators. With nearly 300,000 miles of power lines to inspect, both state legislators and utility companies are struggling to maintain a centralized grid in the face of chronic wildfires. While short term solutions include using drones and AI to monitor more power lines than the human cost permits, the long term solution is clear — a more flexible, decentralized...

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Is it safe to DIY solar?
Feb04

Is it safe to DIY solar?

Solar saves you money. Installing it yourself is a great way to save even more money. But that only works if you don’t end up with an emergency room bill because you weren’t careful. There is a reason that solar contractors pay higher workers’ compensation rates than any other construction trade. So let’s talk about the dangers and how to avoid them. First, let’s tackle the most obvious hazard which is falling. If you are installing your solar panels on a ground mount, you can skip this part but most solar installations are on a roof and therein lies the danger. The angle of the ladder is important, too steep of an angle and you can go over backwards when you are at the top of the ladder, too shallow of an angle and the ladder can slide out from under you. Before you get onto the roof, you should be aware of ladder safety.  The angle of the ladder is important, too steep of an angle and you can go over backwards when you are at the top of the ladder, too shallow of an angle and the ladder can slide out from under you. The way to get the right angle it to make sure the distance between the wall and the bottom of your ladder is 1/4 the height of the surface you are climbing to. For example, if the edge of your roof is 12 feet high, the bottom of your ladder should be 3 feet out from the wall. If the edge of your roof is 20 feet high, the ladder should be 5 feet from the wall. Once you have the ladder in the right place, you should tie it off. Once you have the ladder in the right place, the first time you climb it you should tie it off. If there isn’t already something to anchor it to, a big eye hook screwed firmly into a rafter in the eave will do it. Generally gutters aren’t sturdy enough so using them to hold the ladder will only give you a false sense of security which could be more dangerous than no tie off at all. Okay, now that we have you safely on the roof the best way to mitigate the risk of falling is a harness, rope and anchor set up. These can be a bit pricey, but your life is worth it. There are also safety concerns to address for getting things besides yourself on the roof. Climbing the ladder while carrying things is not the best idea, so let’s look at other options. Tools and smaller racking parts...

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Southern Californians Hurry for Solar Before Edison Changes its Energy Payout Policy in March
Jan24

Southern Californians Hurry for Solar Before Edison Changes its Energy Payout Policy in March

Customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) are rushing to switch to solar and lock in grandfathered rates for producing more energy than they use before the company changes its policy March 1st. The utility company’s amended Time Of Use rate plan will cut the benefits new solar customers receive from producing their own electricity by up to 50 percent and threaten to double the utility bills of those customers that are still on the traditional grid during peak hours. Time of Use, or TOU as it’s commonly abbreviated, is a pricing model in which power rates vary depending on when a customer uses electricity. During peak times of day when people use more energy, the cost for electricity increases.  Designated as “Peak Hours”, Edison currently charges these increased TOU rates from 2 – 8 PM, Monday through Friday, when the cost of a watt more than doubles from $0.22 to $0.47. Under this policy, if you are generating more energy than you consumer with solar during peak hours, Edison will pay you the increased peak hour rate of $0.47 for adding power back to the grid. Blue = Solar Power GeneratedGreen = Energy Consumed After March 1st, however, Edison will change the peak hours to 4 – 9 PM, during a time when solar generating capacity has drastically declined. Additionally, Edison plans to only pay energy generating customers $0.41 per watt they add back to the grid. March 2019 TOC Policy for SCE Customers Under Edison’s new TOU policy, homeowners that go solar will have fewer hours of sunlight to generate excess energy with their system, and get paid less for it. Companies like Go Green Solar can help southern California customers install high effeciency systems on their house and get grandfathered into Edison’s current TOU rate structure for 5 years. California’s other state utility San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), has already made a similar TOU change to the one Edison is planning, much to the frustration of homeowners in the area. Multiple San Diego news outlets, such as San Diego News 8 and The San Diego Tribune, reported that when SDG&E shifted its peak hours from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. to 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., customers saw their energy bills more than double. All southern California utility customers must be on a TOU plan. Switching to solar with Go Green Solar before Edison’s new plan takes effect this March will allow homeowners to get paid more money for the power their energy system generates, but the sun is setting fast on the opportunity to lock in rates....

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Expiring Tax Incentive Spurs Blitz for Home Solar
Jan21

Expiring Tax Incentive Spurs Blitz for Home Solar

A popular federal tax incentive that saves homeowners thousands for installing a home solar system will significantly decrease at the end of this year. Known as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), or the Federal Solar Tax Credit, the program has been in place since 2005 and allows people to deduct 30 percent of the cost of installing a solar energy system from their taxes. On average the savings are about $6000 per a customer. After this year however all that is set to change. Following 2019, a rate decrease will reduce the deduction to 26 percent in 2020 and then 22 percent in 2021. After 2021 and onwards, people will not receive any tax credit for installing a residential solar system (just a 10% for installing a commercial solar system). Home solar suppliers and installation companies such as Go Green Solar are seeing an increased interest from people looking to secure the 30 percent ITC before it expires. A similar surge of interest occurred in 2015 before congress voted to extend the tax credit. With the current oil friendly executive administration in charge, a repeat of 2016’s ITC extension is considered highly unlikely, bringing an end to the 30 percent reimbursement rate that has lasted for 14 years. The ITC was first passed under the Bush administration’s Energy Policy Act in 2005. It was extended in 2008 to help stabilize a crashing economy, removing the $2000 residential rebate cap. Since its creation, the cost of solar equipment has declined by more than 73 percent. Once the 30 percent rebate begins its steep decline, it will be years until solar is this cheap again. This knowledge, coupled with significant electricity rate hikes expected from most electricity companies this year, has created a surge of homeowners rushing to seize the investment opportunity to switch to solar. Recent changes to the ITC in 2016 have made it so homeowners can claim the tax credit on their returns as soon construction of the system begins, as long as its operational by December 31, 2023. Additional amendments to the bill allow homeowners to roll over credits into the following years if they are due back more on their taxes from the ITC than they owe. For example, if a homeowner owes $4000 in taxes for 2019 and has a $6000 ITC, that means the homeowner doesn’t have to pay taxes for 2019, and will earn a $2000 tax discount to put towards the following year. If you’re thinking of switching to solar, companies like Go Green Solar can help you lock in your 30 percent ITC rate before it comes to an end. Call...

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Planning Your DIY Solar Installation
Jan15

Planning Your DIY Solar Installation

Whether you are a professional installer or a Do-It-Yourselfer, planning ahead is the key to a hassle-free solar installation. The planning should start with system sizing. Before you purchase your system, you should make sure it is the right size for your home. With a grid-tied system this means checking the estimated system output and comparing that to your electric bills. This process may be more complicated than it sounds, but if you start by calling Go Green Solar (866-798-4435), a knowledgeable solar consultant will help you with the calculations. Though the labor to install the solar equipment can be a DIY project, the generation of plans for a permit is NOT a DIY project. The National Electrical Code (NEC) has had numerous significant changes in the last few years. We keep track of which ones apply to your project. Go Green Solar offers a permitting service, that is mandatory.  If the building department has questions on the plans we generate, we will respond and revise the plans to meet their requirements. Solar Plan Set The plans will have the setbacks required for your local fire codes so you know how much roof area can be dedicated for solar and will show exactly where the solar panels will be so you can follow our layout when it is time to install. Keep in mind that you need to add the spaces between the panels in your measurements and that many solar racking types require 2” of rail past the last solar panel frame to support the end clamps. During the development of your plans, Go Green Solar will work with you to make sure that your main service panel can accommodate the system. NEC code section 705.12 limits how much solar can be installed based on the main service panel busbar rating and main breaker rating. The solar system will also need its own dedicated circuit breaker installed as far as possible from the main service breaker so you may have to move some loads or replace some of your breakers with slimmer ones to make room. Solar Conduit Run Another thing to plan ahead is your conduit run. The wires have to get from the solar panels to the ground level equipment. You can transition from the roof by running conduit through the attic, through the eave or around the eave. Each of these choices come with their own set of challenges. Going through the attic or eave will require flashing and weatherproofing that roof penetration. Running conduit around the eave can be awkward, especially considering that the NEC code only allows for 360 degrees of conduit bends between...

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Do Batteries Make Sense with Solar?
Jan09

Do Batteries Make Sense with Solar?

We all know installing solar makes sense, but should you install batteries with it? In a grid-tied system, the solar produces electricity which will save you money on your electric bill. Batteries are not required to make this happen and a battery system such as the LG Chem with SolarEdge will increase the system cost by at least $12,000. So, what good are they? The purpose of batteries is to store the electricity produced by the solar which could be helpful in a few different situations. One argument for batteries is that they could save you more money than solar by itself. This is dependent on how the electric company is charging you for power. If you are on a Time-of-Use (TOU) rate, you are going to be charged more for energy used in the between 4pm and 9pm, after your solar stops producing for the day. With batteries in place, you can store excess solar power generated during the day, when the electric rates are lower and use that power during those peak evening hours. This may increase your solar savings if the differences between lower energy rates and peak rates are greater than $.30/kWh. Your electric company’s net metering policies can also affect the battery decision. When you install solar, you will be feeding your excess solar power to the grid during the day and pulling electricity from the grid at night. If your electric company credits you a full kWh for every kWh you give them, there is no need for batteries unless you want backup power. A scenario where batteries can help is when the electric company charges you “demand charges”. These are more commonly seen in commercial electric rates but many electric companies are considering adding demand charges to residential rates. The demand charge is a dollar amount based on the largest amount of power drawn at one time during the month calculated in 15 minute intervals. A battery system can be set up to provide power when your demand spikes, which would reduce how much of that spike comes from the electric company, thereby reducing the demand charge on your bill.  On top of the savings on your electric bill, there may also be a financial incentive like a rebate to install batteries. California’s SGIP program and the Federal 30% tax credit is a prime example where the cost of the batteries is partially mitigated with a rebate or tax incentive.  Setting aside financial incentives, another good reason for batteries is power outages. A grid-tied system will not provide power to your home during a power outage. The one exception to this is...

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