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Installing Solar? Your State Might Require This Certification If You Want Incentives
Mar04

Installing Solar? Your State Might Require This Certification If You Want Incentives

When it comes to home solar installations, the number of certifications, acronyms, and obscure bills bombarding your research can be enough to cause the sort of migraine you might get from staring too long at the sun. But after slogging through all that work of shopping for the just the right panels, inverters, and a battery storage solution, it would be a shame to miss out on state rebates and incentives because you didn’t have someone involved on your project with this one, crucial, certification: North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Founded in 2002 as a non-profit, this accreditation was established as an industry stamp of approval to let homeowners know which installers have the specialized knowledge and expertise to install a solar system correctly. The requirements to attain a NABCEP are so rigorous that it quickly became the industry gold standard. It wasn’t long before some states made it a preferred or mandatory for a contractor with this certification to be involved in solar systems installations to be eligible for incentive programs. “What most of these states are looking for is that person with a NABCEP-cert is engaged somewhere along the process to look at the equipment and say whether it’s legit or not,” explained Go Green Solar’s NABCEP Certified Senior Design Engineer Dave Donaldson. “If a state is going to pay you for the solar energy you’re generating they want to make sure it’s been installed or reviewed by someone that knows what they’re doing.” Go Green Solar’s NABCEP-certified Senior Engineer Dave Donaldson (purple shirt) directing city of Los Angeles workers how to mount the solar panel In Utah the NABCEP-certification is a prerequisite to qualify for a state solar contractor license and Austin, Texas won’t allow electricians to build a grid-tied system without it. Minnesota, Maine, and Wisconsin are among the states that require a NABCEP-certified professional to install PV solar systems to make it eligible for rebates. And still, other states including California, Massachusetts, and Delaware, take a less stringent approach “recommending” PV solar systems are installed by a professional with NABCEP certifications making permits and rebates much easier to attain. For its part, NABCEP does not encourage or discourage state regulatory efforts. The credentials, which much be renewed every three years, are voluntary and are intended to act a professional differentiator in the same way a realtor that sells houses is able to become a broker after passing his/her license exam. An opinion blog post published by NABCEP argues why the organization feels its certifications should not become mandatory as there might not be enough certified professionals in America to keep up...

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Californian’s to pay for SCE $1 Billion Gaff
Feb21

Californian’s to pay for SCE $1 Billion Gaff

When utility companies come up short on annual profits, ratepayers are the ones expected to foot the bill and make up the difference. Such is the case for customers of Southern California Edison (SCE) this month, as the state’s Public Utility Commision (PUC) gave the company permission to increase energy bills by approximately 5% in 2019 to recover a $983.8 million deficit. The decision comes as another blow to California residents not generating their own electricity with solar power systems, following Pacific Gas and Electric’s January bankruptcy filing, which is expected to cause 15% rate increases for its clientele.    “The gas market is no longer competitive,” Commissioner Martha Guzman said after voting in favor of the PUC’s unanimous decision. Public Utilities Commissioner Martha Guzman voiced her disappointment with Southern California Edison after it recommended raising its energy bills to pay for a nearly $1 billion deficit. Comments made by members of the PUC in their official findings and at the public hearing make it clear they are disappointed with SCE for the nearly $1 billion revenue shortfall, but don’t have much wiggle room when deciding how to finance it. SCE writes that the reasons for its undercollection are “due to various factors, mostly related to the limited availability and increased cost of natural gas, especially over the summer.” Constrained gas supply and higher prices coupled with aging fossil fuel infrastructure is good reason to believe that such annual rate increases to cover operational costs will happen again. For its part, the SCE didn’t get in hot water by incurring a deficit, but rather got in trouble for not reporting the event to the PUC sooner. California Assembly Bill 57, passed in 2002, allows investor owned utility companies to recover fuel and purchase costs from ratepayers by raising their bills, but must notify the PUC if they need to cover more than 4%. SCE states that it didn’t notify the PUC in May when accounting showed there might be a problem, because it thought the market would correct. It never did. As a result, Californians in SCE’s region will be the ones paying a higher tab, seeing a increase in their energy bills. Luckily for residents that converted their homes to solar, utility bills will see a minimal change, if any, thanks to the self-generating energy ability of renewables. Events such as the PG&E bankruptcy filings and, now, SCE’s eleventh rate increases have generated more interest than ever before of homeowners looking to break free from utility companies unpredictable changes to their monthly energy bills. Companies such as Go Green Solar, which offer Do It Yourself solar systems and...

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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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