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Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy
Jan07

Flat Solar Rebates Stir Up Controversy

A new method to calculate solar rebates in San Antonio, Texas has stirred controversy between home installers and CPS Energy, the region’s energy supplier. Until recently, CPS Energy has determined rebates according to a renewable system’s power-generating capacity. However all that has now changed as the energy company stated it will only be issuing rebates as a flat amount per renewable project, regardless of how much power that project produces. The changes are part of San Antonio’s 2009 Save for Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), which aims to “aggressively” reduce customer electricity use by 2020 by providing renewable incentives to residential and commercial structures.  A new $15 million pool of funding added to the $849 million plan allowed CPS Energy to update its rebate structure. Home solar advocates, such as executive director of the San Antonio Solar Alliance Ben Rodrigues, are concerned that the changes will slow residential adoption. Going forward, the amended STEP will offer a flat $2,500 rebate to eligible projects until it has exhausted $9 million in funding, whereupon the rebate offer will drop to $1,500. Rick Luna, the administrator in charge of CPS Energy’s rebate program pointed out that the gradual reduction in solar incentives is not out of the ordinary. Rebates in San Antonio used to be priced at $3 per watt, but as the cost of materials decreased and more people have outfitted their homes with solar, the incentives have also declined. Before the new STEP was initiated, residents in San Antonio could get up to $0.60 per watt, making a 10 kilowatt system eligible for a $6,000 rebate. Rick Luna, CPS Energy interim Director of Technology and Product Innovation, said the company’s new flat rebate structure allows it to stretch funding for more residents switching to solar While the new rebate plan cuts the incentives by more than half, CPS Energy says it will allow them to offer financial support to an additional 6,200 projects. While opponents of CPS might argue that the energy company acted unilaterally with San Antonio’s utility board and disagree with the latest STEP modifications, there’s little they can do. The flat rebate energy structure is already in effect and San Antonio’s City Council does not seem inclined to change it back, creating a time sensitive countdown for the $2,500 rebate to exist until it is reduced even further. To lock in the latest solar rebates before they’re cut again, home solar and DIY solar installation companies such as GoGreen Solar, which specialize in securing the best rebates for a home solar installation systems, continue to provide a valuable resource for homeowners looking to get the most bang for...

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QCell Q.Peak DUO-G5 Advantage
Jan03

QCell Q.Peak DUO-G5 Advantage

Everyone knows solar panels are a good idea but are there certain ones that are a better idea than others? The answer is a resounding yes. Let’s take a look at the new QCell Q.Peak DUO-G5 as an example of a superior and award winning PV module. There are many innovations that have gone into improving the power output of the Q.PEAK DUO-G5 solar panels.  One is that the solar cells are interconnected with wires instead of flat ribbons on cells. These wires take up less surface area allowing the sunlight to hit more of the cell area. The innovative design also allows light reflected off the wires to be redirected back onto the module surface. This alone increases power production by 2.5%. Another design advantage was QCell’s choice to use six busbars on each cell. This decreases the space between busbars which means that the individual electrons have a shorter path to the busbar, decreasing losses to resistance. The extra busbars also allow better electron flow as there are more busbars to carry them. The six busbars result in a 1% increase in power production. Half-size solar cells in the Q.PEAK DUO G5 module increase power production by 3% by reducing the current which reduces the resistive losses within the cells. The half cell design also increases stability against pressure on the module, reducing the risk of the cell cracking. The chance of cracking is further reduced by the way the cells are cut with a smoother edge than typical solar cells. Plus, with the if a cell does crack, the six busbars mentioned above help mitigate the effects of the cracks causing resistive losses. Creating a much more stable design over all. This more stable design means a lower degradation rate of only .054% annually. QCell offers the guarantee of at least 85% production after 25 years on these innovative solar panels. The DUO-G5 PV modules are also different in their cell interconnection design. The upper and lower sections of the modules are connected in parallel instead of series. This results in higher power production when the module is partially shaded because the unshaded half of the module can still perform at 100%. Other technology that increases the performance of these solar panels is the Anti PID technology that reduces losses in wet climates. Hot-spot Protect (HSP) eliminates cells that have a high risk of creating hot spots from the production line keeping the modules hot spot free. As a matter of fact, all the solar cells on the production line are tracked with laser markings that are part of QCell’s TRA.Q traceable quality system. Anti LID...

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The Go Green Solar Difference
Dec13

The Go Green Solar Difference

Everyone is selling the same solar equipment, but which distributor you choose can make a world of difference. If you have doubts about that, ask Tony Panos in Desert Haven, Texas. Tony could not find a contractor to quote a turn-key solar installation for him so he went the do-it-yourself route. Tony purchased his solar kit from Go Green Solar who was there to help him every step of the way. Go Green Solar prepared the permit documents that Tony used to pull the permit for his DIY project. Every time Tony had a question during his installation, he contacted Go Green Solar and got an answer right away. These things would have been enough to make Tony a happy customer, but it turned out that building his ground mount, racking his 45 solar panels and making the electrical hook-up to his home was the easy part. The real difficulty for Tony came after he had completed his installation and applied to his utility company, Rio Grande Electric Cooperative, for permission to operate his new grid-tied solar system. The co-op refused to grant permission unless Tony provided proof that he had a $500,000 commercial liability insurance policy for connecting his solar to their grid. Tony called several insurance agencies and because he did not own a business, none of them were able to provide him with a commercial policy that met the requirements. Tony tried to get help from the co-op. According to Tony, “Rio Grande Electric claimed they had other residential customers that installed solar and provided the required insurance, but they would not give me any info on what insurance companies they used. I literally had my system up for two months and could not use it.” This is where Go Green Solar stepped in to save the day. They worked directly with Rio Grande Electric and their own insurance company to solve the problem. In the end, Go Green Solar added the required insurance for Tony’s system to their own insurance policy and gave Tony the insurance certificate that satisfied Rio Grande. Tony was finally able to turn on the solar system he had worked so hard to install. Tony said it best, “I am extremely happy with Go Green Solar’s performance and I am so thankful I chose them. If I had bought my solar system from someone else, it would have been delivered with a message saying ‘good luck’ and that’s it. Dealing with the co-op was a huge headache and I don’t see how I could have accomplished it without Go Green Solar’s help. They really went above and beyond.” If you are...

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Illinois eyes a 2000% increase in solar energy projects by 2025
Dec10

Illinois eyes a 2000% increase in solar energy projects by 2025

Illinois is hoping to become the Midwest’s solar energy leader, increasing its solar projects by 2,000 percent in the next 7 years, thanks to a state law that has been slowly rolling out. “It’s going to catapult Illinois to the forefront of the solar market, and put our state on the path to the renewable future we need to limit the worst impacts of climate change,” quoted MeLena Hessel, policy advocate for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. The ambitious goal is part of the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act, a 2016 law that set the target for Illinois to get 25 percent of electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Currently the state gets 98 megawatts, or less than 1 percent of its energy from solar power. In order to hit its 2025 target, the Illinois has been hustling to build a renewable energy infrastructure by training more workers and subsidizing more solar projects. Of note is a legislative emphasis placed on smaller, home solar projects. Section 8.6.1 of Illinois’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan spells out how the state plans to set aside a quarter of its available funding to help low-income single-family households reduce electric bills by funding photovoltaic projects on their homes. Together with the falling price of solar components, increased panel efficiency, and generous state and federal subsidies, going solar in Illinois has never had a higher Return on Investment. The biggest hurdles, however, that many single-family households face is getting their projects selected for the state’s subsidies. GoGreenSolar specializes in both home solar installation and navigating the bureaucratic topography of detailed proposals to get solar installations approved, is one of the more popular resources homeowners have been turning towards to get the best financing and upfront costs for outfitting their homes with photovoltaic panels....

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Tale of Two Ground Mounts
Nov27

Tale of Two Ground Mounts

It could save you money or it could cost you more. It could be easy or it could be hard. Do it yourself solar is more than just strapping on a tool belt and swinging a hammer. There’s technical paper work that often gets overlooked in the excitement of building your own solar power system, which can be more arduous a task than the physical labor. When roofing contractor Ray Ragsdale decided to take his energy destiny into his own hands and build a 9.3kW solar ground mount at his home, he quickly discovered that the most challenging part of the project was getting the system approved for interconnection with PG&E’s energy grid. Ragsdale was surprised to discover that his neighbor, who purchased a similar system from GoGreenSolar, already had his system fully up and running even though Ray installed his system first. The neighbor informed us of Ray’s challenges and we stepped in to lend a hand with what many consider to be the most complicated part of the job — the paperwork.  “If it wasn’t for GoGreen I’d probably still be battling PG&E to get everything approved” said Ragsdale. An experienced roofing contractor, Ragsdale had installed solar power systems before. Much like his neighbor, his property was in a rural area and more suited for a ground mount install. The appeal of not having to climb around on a roof made the project appear easier. Ragsdale would soon learn that the paperwork for ground mount units would be an unexpected hurdle to surmount. “I’ve pulled plenty of permits as a contractor, but this was more complicated than I initially thought,” Mr. Ragsdale recalled. Purchasing 32 290W Solarworld panels with Enphase Microinverters from a “wholesale” solar company seemed like a good deal to Ragsdale on the surface. A freight truck delivered the items to his door on time, dropping everything off on a pallet rack. For Ragsdale, the plans and install were paint-by-the-numbers. When it came time to connect the system to PG&E’s grid to get his net metering rebate, the real challenge began. “PG&E rejected my application if there were any minor mistakes in the paperwork,” Ragsdale said. “For example, a missing dash in a part number didn’t match what was in their system so I got rejected and had to wait for their delayed response.” The vendor he had purchased the system off was a one and done deal, so he contacted the experts at GoGreenSolar to help interconnect his system to the grid. Details such as the proper signature, annual electrical usage, and a proper list of dated modifications were all squared away properly and submitted...

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Pennsylvania seeks more sun in 2019
Nov26

Pennsylvania seeks more sun in 2019

The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Department of Energy has thrown down the gauntlet for Pennsylvania, encouraging the state to produce 10 percent of its electricity from solar by 2030. While the goal might not seem like much, especially when compared with states like California and New Jersey which have a 50% renewable target by the same year, the Keystone state faces a much bigger hurdle — currently, it only gets about 0.25 percent of its energy from the sun. Unlike states like California and New Jersey which are more than halfway towards accomplishing their renewable goals, the DEP mandate requires Pennsylvania to increase its solar production by a whooping 11,900%. The the feat would require installing approximately 11 gigawatts of new solar projects, compared to the 0.3 gigawatts that the state currently has. A recent study, however, led by the DEP has shown the mandate is not that far-fetched. The DEP study reveals that Pennsylvania has more than enough rooftops and daylight to succeed in reaching its goal. What it previously lacked were the right policies and incentives to encourage home homeowners to switch. But with the recent election results, all that is poised to change as a blue wave flipped many of the state’s congressional seats previously held by incumbents less friendly towards renewables. Solar proponents are hoping to see the state adopt more renewable loan opportunities, increased access to tax incentives to lower the upfront costs of installations, and a more aggressive carbon program that would support solar installs. Looking at the costs associated in the DEP’s study, even candidates that are more fossil fuel friendly and fiscally conservative would have to agree that the numbers add up in favor of the state making some changes.  The total investment to expand solar only be about 1.4 percent more than the state would otherwise spend on building new fossil fuel infrastructure — and those numbers are crunched before any of the more esoteric health and environmental benefits are calculated into the cost. This change in momentum coupled with a 2017 budget bill rider passed by Pennsylvania’s General Assembly, which requires the states electric utilities to buy home-grown solar credits rather than the out-of-state-credits it had been purchasing, has led to an optimistic climate for home solar to take root in near future. Previous to the 2017 change the SREC prices in Pennsylvania were based on a shared market value across a region known as the PJM, encompassing a cluster of states in the North Eastern United States. The massive saturation of SRECs gave an advantage to states that already had a head start, seeing...

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