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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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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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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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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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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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