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Foresight is 2020 – 3 compelling reasons to switch to solar this year
Feb13

Foresight is 2020 – 3 compelling reasons to switch to solar this year

Financial success doesn’t happen by accident — it takes planning and foresight. When it comes to determining how solar will fit into that equation for you and your home in 2020 three compelling reasons are encouraging many to make the switch before the earth completes yet another migration around the sun.  1. The Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit If you’ve considered going solar over the last few years, you’ve no doubt come across the most lucrative environmental subsidy in America’s history, the Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit, or ITC for short. 2019 to 2020 saw the credit step down from 30% to 26%, causing a sudden rush of homeowners looking to lock in the rate before the year’s end. The same pattern will repeat again this year, with the ITC dropping another four points to 22%. The average homeowner stands to lose approximately $1200 by procrastinating another year to make the change.  The 26% Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit expires at the end of 2020 2. Increasing Electricity Rates Lost money in the form of a federal tax incentive isn’t the only financial motivation putting pressure on homeowners to install solar. Since 2008, the average electricity bill has increased by 29%. In some states, rates are rising fast as 2-6% per year, with utility companies passing on the costs of repairing their outdated grids and lawsuits onto the customer. The best way to ensure your utility spending remains consistent is by generating your power with solar.  To partially quote the famous 1967 film The Graduate, “I want to say one word to you. Just one word…are you listening?”  3. Batteries. Solar plus storage is gearing up to be the biggest game-changer and influential factor in the coming years. In states where net-metering is coming under attack, the ability for a homeowner to better store the power he/she generates for later use is finally coming into fruition. Add to this that some states are offering additional incentives to offset the costs of renewable batteries, and you’ve got yourself a winning combination. 4. Added Bonus Installing solar is now cheaper than ever, with the installation cost dropping over 70% since the last decade. Companies such as Planet Plan Sets have streamlined the process of getting municipal approval and government subsidies, making the project more effortless than ever as well. When you consider that utility bills are all but guaranteed to rise year after year, the 10 to 20-year investment in a solar system for a home has an ROI that easily outperforms keeping the money in a traditional savings account. It helps home equity and keeps monthly energy costs predictable. The...

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The Decade of Solar
Dec27

The Decade of Solar

Raise a glass to a successful 2019 in solar, as the final Q3 of the calendar year has proven to be the most successful one of the decade. Heck, with a statement like that, it might be better to raise the entire bottle!  But first, a quick overview of how the story played out. After steady double-digit-percent increases in the early years of this past decade, U.S. residential solar experienced growing pains from 2016-17, as that nation’s presidential leaders changed from being more coal than solar-friendly, diverting subsidies towards fossil fuels over renewables. Tariffs on Photovoltaic hardware loomed ominously on the horizon and national installers pulled back in critical solar territories such as California and the Northeast. It seemed that the solar market was receding from its peak-installation crest, reaching its high-water-mark of annual installed capacity of 687 MWdc, set in Q1 2016. That all changed in Q3 2019, however, as the Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) ticked out its final remaining months of a 30 percent payback, before beginning to phase out according to the following schedule: (CREDIT: Image provided by SEIA shows the gradual phase-out timeline of the Solar Investment Tax Credit.) Enacted in 2006 the ITC offsets the cost of solar for residential consumers by 30 percent. Experts estimate the subsidy has helped the solar industry grow more than 10,000% creating hundreds-of-thousands of jobs and generating billions in revenue. Next year’s phase-out of the ITC has inspired many home-owners on the fence about installing solar to seize upon the financial opportunity. The result was that in Q3 2019 consumers installed 712 MWdc of solar.  (CREDIT: Image from SEIA WoodMackenzie Power and Renewables Insights Report) Now, as the solar market readies to step into a new decade and matures out of its early product adopters in many North American states, a new report by Solar Energy Industries and WoodMackenzie Power and Renewables gives a glimpse into what the future of solar might look like.  California Love When it comes to being a national leader for residential solar installations, Tupac’s California Love lyrics are fitting: “Now let me welcome everybody to the Wild Wild West A state that’s untouchable like Eliot Ness…we in that Sunshine state….” Well, you get the idea.  The point is that California was and is projected to remain the state leading the residential solar market charge. In the big Q3 solar market performance of 2019, California accounted for approximately 41% of the nation’s installs which is roughly the equivalent of 300 MW.  Even though the ITC will begin phasing out in the subsequent years, the residential solar forecast for California is still promising. Fueled...

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A “Federal Tax Credit” in Hand is Worth Two “State Tax Credits” in the Bush
Dec04

A “Federal Tax Credit” in Hand is Worth Two “State Tax Credits” in the Bush

It’s better to seize the 30% Federal Tax Credit rather than wait for new solar-friendly legislation. There was a brief period on the west coast of America when the future of solar-legislation looked bright.  California was on the brink of passing a Solar Bill of Rights (SB 288), shielding solar and storage customers against any future discriminatory fees. Oregon was teed up to enact a statewide cap-and-trade bill (HB 2020), taxing carbon emissions and other pollutants, and Washington was ready to give a straight-forward investment tax credit to homeowners that installed solar systems. As the dust now settles from the combative legislative arena of 2019, however, it’s clear that only remnants of each west coast state’s high-hopes remain. “What’s behind the meter is the customer’s own business,” said Brad Heavner, policy director at California Solar & Storage Association about Californias SB 288 at the beginning of the year. “If I want to generate and store my own power, you can’t force me to buy power from the utility.”  The statement seems straight forward enough. If you make energy, you should be able to profit from it. But it’s an idea that California utility companies didn’t like since it would be an outright attack on their profits. Their pitch? Paying fees to ratepayers with solar systems wasn’t fair to the rest of their customer base. Never mind that encouraging such policies would help mitigate their centralized grid-load and reduce the impact of rolling blackouts or fire-hazards. The long-term effects of a residential solar trend would cut into their profits and therefore, couldn’t be good.  California’s SB 288 had the support of more than 70 organizations, but after emerging through the state senate, it now makes no mention of solar, storage utilities, or energy. The story follows a similar arc in the neighboring state of Oregon. HB 2020 was poised to be the state’s first carbon pricing program to ever pass through the House. But then it got to the Senate, spurring republican senators to stage a nine-day walkout until state police were deployed to bring them back into session. On June 29, 2019, Oregon’s Senate put the bill to rest.  The state of Washington’s case had a bit more of a happy ending. This time the bill in question was SB 5939, and it extended the state’s investment tax credit from 2017 to 2021. Legislators complicated the bill, however, deeming it necessary to require new solar modules to have a “takeback” plan submitted to the state’s Department of Ecology before they can be sold, thereby increasing the cost of materials.  It remains true to claim that perhaps one of the...

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Homebuilders Seek Solar Contractors To Comply With California’s Newest Solar Mandate
Nov18

Homebuilders Seek Solar Contractors To Comply With California’s Newest Solar Mandate

Starting next year, California will require the construction of all homes to include solar systems that offset their expected energy usage.  California’s new home solar requirement is part of the state’s Title 24 Building Energy Efficiency Standards, which the California Energy Commission updates every three years. The mandate is an attempt by the state to achieve Zero Net Energy in all new homes by 2020. Such demands will create new challenges and opportunities for home builders looking to comply with the state’s law while maintaining competitive prices and offering unique value propositions to potential customers.  As of 2019, approximately 15,000 solar systems were installed on new homes. By next year that number is set to quintuple to nearly 75,000.  To keep pace with California’s growing demand for residential solar, building contractors are looking to partner with established home solar companies such as Go Green Solar, which have both the experience and track record necessary to help them streamline the transition while keeping a lean budget. Offering a wide selection of solar equipment and roster of subcontracted roofers, electricians, and engineers to help get the job done, Go Green Solar has the following traits that building contractors will want to consider when working with a home solar installer: Comprehensive knowledge of California building code and Title 24 requirementsGo Green Solar started in California and has over 13 years experience in the solar industry. Its sister company Planet Plan Sets specializes in making the solar permitting process easy for any home builder in the nation — meaning that when it comes to the tedious details such as building codes and laws, the company has a long-standing track record of success. Flexible and easy to work withMost DIY solar companies sell the equipment for a person or company to convert their building to solar and the relationship ends there. Go Green Solar is a hybrid of sorts, offering the freedom of choice and ownership that comes with DIY along with the additional help and assistance of installing should it be something a customer requires. Quality workmanshipGo Green Solar’s reviews speak for themselves. Having helped thousands of customers nationwide make the switch to solar, the company has a roster of full time and subcontracted workers that have been stringently vetted to do their work, and do it well. A wide selection of BOMs Not every home is the same. Different locations and budgets require different materials. Go Green Solar has a variety of photovoltaic panels, inverters, microinverters, and energy storage solutions for contractors to choose from, knowledge of how to install them, and a nuts and bolts understanding of how they will perform.  California’s Title 24 requirements...

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California upholds its vision to build all new homes with solar in 2020
Nov14

California upholds its vision to build all new homes with solar in 2020

The ink has yet to dry on California’s paradigm-shifting new proposal, Title 24, which will require solar on all new homes, and, already, utility companies are looking for ways to undermine the decentralization of power. Unfortunately for utility companies, California state commissioners doubled down on their vision of a state powered with a more decentralized grid.  Most recently, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) submitted a proposal to the California Energy Commission (CEC) that would create a loophole in the state’s solar mandate making it ineffective. SMUD’s proposal attempted to exploit the community solar option in California’s Title 24 mandate, allowing new homes to use power from far-off centralized solar farms, rather than requiring them to be built with self-sufficient solar systems.  During a time when power utilities have begun shutting off electricity to millions of consumers to avoid wildfires caused by downed power lines, many believed that SMUD’s efforts were an attempt to hold on to power and keep consumers paying high-utility rates. “This will be the end of the new home solar mandate as we know it,” said Benjamin Davis, a staffer at the California Solar & Storage Assn. The CEC voted to turn down SMUD’s proposal on Nov 14, securing a victory for California’s distributed solar and storage. The decision sends a loud and clear message that the state is serious about seeing its new buildings outfitted with solar power, drafting a more restrictive definition of community solar as it exists under Title 24.  A projected 2020 increase in demand for solar systems in California, coupled with the 30 percent Federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which is scheduled to phase out over the course of the next few years, has inspired a sudden uptick in homeowners contacting solar installers such as Go Green Solar, hoping to become more independent from large scale utility...

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3 Big Benefits of Microgrids
Nov11

3 Big Benefits of Microgrids

Wildfire season in Southern California has become synonymous with rolling blackouts for homes relying on grid power, shinning the spotlight on microgrids as one of the best solutions to providing the state with its energy needs and spurring a significant increase in inquiries about solar + storage.  Solar microgrids work as a localized source of energy generation, which is connected to a more extensive energy network, but can disconnect, or “island off,” from the system.  While numerous benefits come with microgrids, we’ve condensed it down to the top three reasons they rock. 1. COST Installing an energy storage solution and microgrid along with PV panels allows a solar system to store energy during peak sunlight hours and ration it for when power companies increase the time of use rates for electricity. Not paying a premium for electricity can save homeowners up to $1000 a year or more.  The development of better and more affordable batteries, coupled with lower-priced solar systems and government subsidies, makes the homeowner’s cost of going solar competitive with paying for energy generated by a coal or nuclear power plant at a centralized location.  Because solar microgrids allow people to work as a decentralized network, producing power close to its point of use, they cut down on the need for long-distance infrastructure. Reducing the need to build new transmission towers, power poles, transformers, and power lines will allow utility companies to improve the infrastructure they already have. On a macro scale, the cost of utility-scale solar has dropped to around $36 per megawatt-hour, which is cheaper than the MWh cost of building new power plants and equivalent with the cost of running existing ones.  2. AGILE ENERGY SOLUTION TO CALIFORNIA’S BLACKOUTS AND FIRES Recently PG&E chief executive, Bill Johnson, said it could take a decade for the company to improve its electrical system enough to reduce the number of customer blackouts. California’s Energy Commission can read the writing on the wall and has invested over $100 million in microgrid projects.  Solar microgrids provide homeowners with enough backup power generated from the sun to continue with their lives as usual in the ever more frequent instances when energy suppliers such as PG&E and SCE need to shut down.  The change would be beneficial for utility companies, too. Currently, in California, such companies are caught between a rock and a hard place. If a high wind is forecasted, companies are incentivized to be overly cautious and shut off power to millions of people so that downed lines won’t cause another wildfire. But leaving paying customers in the dark is not a viable long-term solution. Smaller microgrids can be...

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