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Solar is now cheaper than natural gas, new study shows
Oct07

Solar is now cheaper than natural gas, new study shows

Solar storage has reached an inflection point in cost with new Natural Gas Combined Cycle (NGCC) plants in many regions of the United States, competing both operationally and financially. The findings are part of a study by Fluence and a group of MBA candidates at the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, which analyzed data from 435 NGCCs across America to see how solar financially measures up against natural gas.  “In recent years, a consensus has emerged across the energy industry – and among regulators –that utility-scale solar-plus-storage (S+S) is now an economically viable alternative to natural gas peaker plants, “ the report states. S+S is a battery that is charged and holds the energy generated by a connected solar system such as a photovoltaic one.  The study uses the levelized cost of energy as the standard unit of measurement for comparing different forms of energy generation and assumed a project lifetime of 30 years, beginning in 2020.  Factoring in a 30% federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC), the researchers concluded solar is more cost-effective in four out of the five grid service areas it identified. Using an example of a hypothetical S+S facility in California, the paper shows that the energy generation cost per megawatt-hour (MWh) would only be $39-48 using solar, as compared to $60-116 per MWh when using natural gas.  While the 30% ITC rate is only available for systems placed in service through December 31, 2019, before its rates phase out to 26 percent, 22 percent, and then zero percent each subsequent year, the research claims that S+S can still compete with NGCC financially in locations such as California and mid-continental US, with high solar irradiance or attractive prices for ancillary services.  Unlike natural gas, homeowners can generate their energy with solar, allowing them to become more independent from the fluctuating prices of utility companies. GoGreenSolar has professionals and DIY assistance for those looking to enjoy the benefits of utilities and take advantage of the ITC and S+S energy...

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Massachusetts follows California, requiring new buildings to have solar
Sep23

Massachusetts follows California, requiring new buildings to have solar

Massachusetts state legislators are hoping to follow in the footsteps of California this month with a bill that would require new commercial and residential buildings to be equipped with solar panels. Democratic Senator James Eldrige, and Democratic representatives Jack Lewis and Michael Connel, jointly filed bill S.1957 entitled “An Act Increasing Solar Rooftop Energy” in both the state Senate and House on Sept 16, 2019.  If approved, the legislation will make changes to Massachusetts building code within a year to require all new buildings to have minimum construction standards for solar panel systems. The energy requirements for solar systems will be dictated by the type of structure each building is classified as, with single-family homes needing a system that would be large enough to meet 100% of its energy needs. In 2018, California approved a similar mandate requiring solar on all new construction, which is scheduled to roll out Jan 1, 2020. The California Energy Commission expects the bill to increase the upfront development costs of new homes by $9,500 while saving homeowners on average $19,500 over the life of the system. California’s mandate is part of an initiative to produce at least 50% of the state’s energy from renewables by 2030.  Likewise, Massachusetts has similar goals with regards to renewable energy production in its crosshairs. The state hopes to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 80% in 2050, according to the states Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020.   “At just under 3% of the U.S. economy and 1.2% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions, Massachusetts could not, on its own, stop global climate change even if it reduced statewide emissions to zero instantly,” the state website reads. “However, Massachusetts is in a position to show the way to a clean energy economy – and reap direct benefits in economic growth – through the development of smart, targeted policies that reduce emissions by promoting greater energy efficiency, developing renewable energy, and encouraging other alternatives to the combustion of fossil fuels.” To help meet these goals the state already has several solar incentive programs in place. The Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target Program, which started in Nov 2018, pays solar energy system owers a fixed block-rate per kilowatt-hour of solar energy produced. Once blocked thresholds are fulfilled, the subsequent tier of kWH rates declines.   Massachusetts’ latest bill is what many environmentalists and solar proponents hope will soon become a trend on the state level to take ownership in the fight against climate change. Together with states such as California that are gearing up for its 2020 Solar Mandate to take place, the future’s looking bright. Installing a new...

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Home Solar Keeps Power On During Upcoming PG&E Outages
Sep11

Home Solar Keeps Power On During Upcoming PG&E Outages

Tens of thousands of California residents were affected by power outages this summer, as Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) company shutoff electric lines in order to mitigate fire hazards in high-threat zones.  Only those generating their own power with such systems as home solar were among the few that maintained access to electricity and could continue with life as normal.   PG&E Public Safety Power Shutoff map showing potential power outage areas for California residents.  Warnings leading up to the outages were abrupt, as PG&E’s system relies on variable weather conditions such as the wind to determine when and where to turn off the power. Cities in Northern California regions are currently among the areas hit worse, with the utility company alerting 5.4 million customers with texts, robocalls, and emails that power shutoffs might be happening in less than 24 hours.  One such shutoff that took place in August left more than 54,000 people in Santa Cruze, San Jose, and Marine County without power, spoiling food and disrupting businesses and lifestyles. “We ask that all our customers use this event as a reminder to revisit their emergency plans and build or restock their emergency kits to prepare for potential power outages during wildfire season,” said PG&E official Michael Lewis to the Sacramento Bee. PG&E expects this to be the new normal, with the scope of its grid outages and blackouts expanding across California and parts of Nevada in order to preempt wildfire risks, such as the state’s deadliest fires that occurred last summer due to historically hot conditions and downed electrical lines during high winds.  Having a reliable source of power combined with a generous 30% federal tax credit, which is scheduled to significantly decrease at the end of 2019, has spurred many California residents to install home solar.  Home solar companies such as Go Green Solar help provide people with some of the best cost solar install options in the country, offering professional and DIY options. For some in California, the era of reliable electricity in the wildfire-plagued state is coming to an end, while for others that are taking matters into their own hands, the future is looking...

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Price increase expected for solar panels — but not for the reason you might think
Aug23

Price increase expected for solar panels — but not for the reason you might think

The cost of solar panels has steadily decreased over the years but now some analysts are predicting an increase for the first time in nearly two decades — but not for the reasons you might think. A sudden rush to buy solar panels has created a rare seller’s market for panel manufacturers as U.S. solar developers are stockpiling resources for future projects to lock in the 30% solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that starts phasing out next year.   Among those hoarding inventory to claim the full subsidy are big hitters in the utility world, such as Duke Energy, 8minute Solar Energy, and Shell-backed Silicon Ranch. The demand has caused module prices to spike more than 10% from earlier in the year, according to a U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie and SEIA.  Consumers who purchase residential solar before the end of 2019 will also be eligible for the full tax credit, however, unlike firms that only need to spend 5% of a project’s capital cost by the end of 2019 to lock in the subsidy, residential projects have to begin solar installation before the year ends. Current subsidies for residential solar will decrease to 26 percent in 2020, then to 22 percent in 2021, and finally, drop to 10 percent in 2022.  DIY home solar companies that sell directly to homeowners such as Go Green Solar are one of the few available resources for those not wishing to pay a premium for panels that have been marked up amid the blitz to beat the expiring ITC.  The U.S. solar industry has urged lawmakers to extend the solar tax credit, which has helped solar deployment grow by 10,000 percent since it was introduced by a Republican-controlled Congress in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. Last week Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) sent Congress a letter signed by nearly 1,000 U.S. solar companies to extend the credit, however, the recent spike in solar panel purchasing suggests the outlook for the credit’s extension is not favorable. Luckily for homeowners, direct to consumer home solar companies such as Go Green Solar can help people lock in their 30 percent ITC before it expires while giving them some of the lowest rates for panels on the market.  Check out their website to get a free estimate on how much you will save making the switch or call (866)...

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Solar helps you sell your home faster and for more money
Apr02

Solar helps you sell your home faster and for more money

If you’ve read pretty much any article on the benefits of converting your home to solar, you’re probably well aware of the great ROI it provides by paying itself off over the course of several years, decreasing energy bills to zero. But what if you’re thinking about selling your house and don’t have several years to wait for that return? Turns out, the benefits of owning solar panels don’t just pay dividends on energy bills, but can also significantly increase your property’s value and help it sell faster, too, A study by the Lawrence Berkely National Lab (LBL) titled “Selling into the sun: Price premium analysis of a multi-state dataset of solar homes” found that on average home buyers are willing to pay a premium of $15,000 more for homes with a standard 3.6-kW PV system. Surveying over 20,000 homes throughout California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New York, and Pennsylvania, the research shows that premium prices for PV homes are a national trend. The general breakdown for increasing a home’s value comes to about $4 per watt in California and $3 elsewhere. For example, homeowners in California installing a 5kW (5,000 watts) system could fetch up to $20,000 more on the market when selling their home. This chart shows the premium prices above market value that a home with a PV system will fetch Together with state incentives and a 30% Federal Tax Credit, the financial benefits of selling a home with solar could equal or outweigh the costs of the system itself. Companies such as Go Green Solar, which allow homeowners to install PV systems for less with DIY assistance and offer competitive professional installer pricing, help people looking to sell homes with PV systems recuperate higher profits when reselling their homes while paying lower energy bills in the interim. In terms of resale, John DiStefano, president of First Fidelity Appraisal Services of New England, said about PV panels, “They definitely add value to your home as long as they are purchased. If they are leased, the banks do not recognize a value.’’ One reason for increased home value is that buyers view solar panels as upgrades, such as a new kitchen or bathroom. Unlike the aforementioned living amenities, however, the government will actually give you money back for this PV home improvement, with some states even offering the bonus incentive of not calculating the value of the upgrades into additional property taxes. That means that going solar will increase the value of your home even though you won’t get charged extra taxes for it.   Even though going solar will increase the value of your...

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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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