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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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Win some, lose some — Fossil fuel industry spent big in 2018 midterms to beat clean energy in states where it mattered most
Nov07

Win some, lose some — Fossil fuel industry spent big in 2018 midterms to beat clean energy in states where it mattered most

Midterm elections can be a mixed bag. There are a lot of competing interests, with seats up for grabs and power shuffling from the left to the right or vise versa. 2018 was no different, but when it came to ballot measures supporting initiatives for clean energy, there were clear instances where utilities and big oil companies outspent their rivals and won. The news doesn’t bode well for the future well-being and health of our fragile little planet, however not all hope is lost. State specific incentives in areas such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island, which can help residents payback a 5 kW solar system in just 4 years, and incentives in New Jersey, New York, Washington D.C., California, Oregon, Connecticut, New Hampshire and South Carolina, which can help residents payback a solar system in less than 10 years, continue to remain in effect pushing the mass adoption of clean energy. LOSERS WASHINGTON Washington’s second attempt at a carbon tax has failed. Initiative 1631, which would have helped fund investments in clean environmental projects with a rising fee on carbon initiatives was slapped down by a 56% “no” vote, mostly from rural and suburban parts of the state. Perhaps it’s not so much that the majority of Washington residents don’t love their nature as it is they were swayed by the $31.5 million “No on 1631” campaign funding that came from oil companies outside the state.   ARIZONA Prop 127, which would have required Arizona utilities to get 50 percent of their energy from renewable sources by 2050 was shut down by a resounding 70% vote “No!” Some proponents of the mandate have pointed to the biased ballot language written by the utility-friendly secretary of state for being one of the reasons the measure was so soundly defeated, while others believe it was the fact that the Arizona Public Service Co. spent nearly $22 million on ads (making it the most expensive ballot initiative in the state’s history) scaring consumers into believing the change would raise utility costs. One way to have avoided the scare tactics of such companies and broken free of their chokehold would have been to convert your home to solar, which is a trend many state residents are beginning to adopt. Who knows, perhaps in a few years more time, rising utility costs won’t be as much as concern to the majority of the population as more people switch to making their home’s energy needs more self reliant?   COLORADO Frack. You too Colorado!? Prop 112, which would have required oil and gas wells to remain 2,500 feet from any occupied building, such as schools,...

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Gov Jerry Brown Signs SB700, Providing Rebates for Energy Storage
Oct11

Gov Jerry Brown Signs SB700, Providing Rebates for Energy Storage

It’s been less than a month since California ratified its highly anticipated SB 700, and already the solar energy storage market is seeing a lively response. Jerry Brown Signs SB700 – California aims to be entirely green powered by 2045. The bill, proposed by Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco), extends the state’s Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) by an additional five years to 2025, paying rebates to customers for installing energy storage systems, just as California once did for solar panels. “We are one step closer to meeting our aggressive renewable energy goals,” said Senator Wiener about the bill. “By expanding our use of energy storage we will be able to use solar power every hour of the day, not just when the sun is shining. The California Solar and Storage Associate (CALSSA) estimates the passing of SB 700 will provide up to $800 million in additional incentives for batteries and other forms of energy storage. What that means for customers investing in solar energy storage is that their local energy companies will cut them checks for the energy they manage to store. The program is technology neutral so as to not pick winners and losers, and it is designed to lower over time to help drive down prices to the point where incentives are no longer needed. Renewable energy storage technologies range in price and are able to store more than enough excess power to keep a house functioning and EV charging when the sun isn’t shining. The current rebates offered by California’s largest energy companies are as follows: Small Residential Storage Step 5 Step 4 Step 3 Step 4 Energy Storage** $0.25/Wh $0.30/Wh $0.35/Wh $0.30/Wh Residential Storage Equity Step 3 Step 3 Step 3 Step 3 Energy Storage <= 10kW** $0.40/Wh $0.45/Wh $0.45/Wh $0.35/Wh Energy Storage > 10kW + ITC** $0.30/Wh $0.35/Wh $0.35/Wh $0.25/Wh [source: https://www.selfgenca.com/home/program_metrics/] The new funding for SB 700 will be made effective January 1, 2019. The CPUC is expected to implement the extended program and make changes to the rebate structure by late next year, to keep the market’s running smoothly. To learn which renewable energy solutions would be best for your situation visit gogreensolar.com or call (866) 798-4435 to speak with a solar...

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Why Go Solar Now?
Aug14

Why Go Solar Now?

You know solar is a good idea. You see the systems on your neighbors’ roofs and you may have even heard them brag about the savings on their electric bill. So why are you waiting? Now is the time to get your system installed. The cost of solar has been dropping each year, but this doesn’t mean you should wait for it to drop more. For one thing, the equipment costs are about as low as they can get. At this point more than half of the cost to install a system cost is labor and that is not getting any cheaper. You also need to think about the money lost while you wait. The overall cost of solar of a solar installation has dropped about 2% in the last year.  That means a $30,000 system is $600 less than it was last year. But that system will generate about $2,500 worth of electricity in a year. So, if you did not install last year, you lost $1,900 waiting for the price break. Don’t make that mistake again this year. Another reason to stop dragging your feet is that government incentives don’t last. If there is a state or local rebate you can get, take advantage of that now. Most rebate and SREC programs are designed to end when a certain number of megawatts of solar are installed. This means the sooner you get your application in, the more likely you are to get a piece of that pie. Even the federal tax credit is not forever. The current 30% amount is set to lower for systems installed after 12/31/19 before it ends completely in 2021. This means there is going to be a frenzy of installs next year as all the procrastinators get on board to get the full tax credit. Solar installers can only get so many installs done so it is best to call one now and beat the rush. If you are concerned because you don’t have a big tax liability this year, you should still get your solar installed now. Take what you can of the tax credit and the remainder can roll over to future years for as long as the tax credit is in effect. Also keep in mind, the tax credit matters even if you are planning to lease your system. When you go solar using a lease or PPA program, the lease or PPA company is taking that tax credit and factoring it into your cost, so it is still important to be mindful of the deadline on it. Some people put off solar because they are deciding about selling...

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