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Utility Companies’ Masochistic Policies
Dec22

Utility Companies’ Masochistic Policies

2016 was a good year for solar. The year saw a five year extension of the federal solar Incentive Tax Credits (ITC), allowing homeowners to write-off up to 30% of the costs of a home solar installation. Then there was a record number of solar installations, which beat 2015 by 191% according to a SEIA and GTM Research paper. Add to this the enjoyable stat that in 2016 a handful of countries saw the price of solar drop drastically below the price of gas and coal. Taking into account all of the solar industry’s positive achievements over the year, it’s no wonder that many of America’s state sanctioned utility companies have had a knee jerk reaction, pushing to increase their “fixed charges” fees up to 80% in some states. A 50 States Solar report for 2016 shows that utilities in 18 states outlined such proposals, attempting to charge customers more for fixed charges, despite the fact many of them consumed less energy either by switching to renewables or installing energy saving appliances. These backwards and short sighted tactics to subtly and dissuade people from switching to solar might have short term financial benefits for utility companies, but harmful long term consequences. As solar technology exponentially improves, and KW per hour energy prices decline, utility companies are turning a blind eye to the global trend of switching to renewable energies. As utility companies try and pressure consumers to stay by increasing fixed costs, these companies are only hurting themselves. Building new coal plants is a 30-50 year investment costing millions and one that is likely to pay less and less dividends in a future fueled by renewable energies....

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Utility companies are slowing the advancement of first world countries
Dec15

Utility companies are slowing the advancement of first world countries

Much in the same way many third world countries such as India and Africa leapfrogged building a landline infrastructure and switched straight to mobile phones, Bloomberg Technology recently reported that the same trends are now starting to happen with solar and other renewable energies. The difference? Landlines didn’t have powerful companies fighting tooth and nail to stop first world nations from advancing. When it comes to the majority of established utility companies in the US, most of these entities are doing their best to deter customers from pulling the plug and declaring their independence from fossil fuels. Take Florida’s anti-solar ballot, for instance, which utility companies misleadingly tried to advertise as “pro-solar” until grass-root movements of actual pro-solar advocates exposed the misinformation campaign. Luckily, such actions led for the ballot to be overwhelmingly defeated, opening the state’s flood gates to solar competitors to provide people with clean, affordable energy. Other states like Nevada, however, weren’t so fortunate. There, utility companies successfully won a court decision to repeal promised state incentives to people who had already switched to solar–effectively stunting the industry’s growth there for years to come. The result of such aggressive efforts by gas and coal-fed utility companies throughout the US and other first world nations has slowed the spread of solar energy enough to the point where, for the first time ever, second and third world countries have surpassed their first world counterparts for capital spent on emerging energy markets. A report entitled “Climatescope” by Bloomberg Technology shows the emerging markets of China, Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and India outspent wealthier countries on renewable energy growth by nearly half a billion dollars! This is due to the fact that oil pipelines and power plants aren’t as predominant in less industrialized countries, making the costs more expensive and volatile than the steadily declining costs of PV solar. Such countries didn’t install solar because they were trying to do good by way of the environment, but because the cost per a KW hour was, in some cases, nearly half as cheap. One can’t help imagining what it might have been like 20 years ago had there been powerful landline companies trying to restrain Americans from switching to mobile phones while the rest of the world advanced ahead. When it comes to renewable energy, however, that seems to be the case, and their motivation is no mystery: If everyone in the world suddenly became energy dependent, they’d be out of a...

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Utah residents rush to install solar before prices increase
Dec09

Utah residents rush to install solar before prices increase

“Utah homeowners install solar in the dead of winter as they rush to lock in better net-metering rates before they increase on Dec 9. Photo courtesy of The Salt Lake Tribune Chris Detrick” A new net metering rate for Utah solar homeowners sparked a explosion of last minute customers rushing to sign up for Rocky Mountain Power’s program in the month leading up its Dec 9 cutoff. The Salt Lake Tribune reported that the utility company had received more than 2,000 residential solar applications in the last month since the proposed rate change was announced. Previously it had averaged just 1,300 applications a month. “Applications are definitely up,” Ryan Evans, president of the Utah Solar Energy Association said, pointing out that some residents even submitted net metering applications before committing to purchase solar installations so that they might “get in line” before the deadline. Under the proposed rate change, Utah customers switching to solar after Dec 9 could see up to a 35 percent increase on their monthly bill due to increaed “sevice charges” and a new “demand charge” It comes as no surprise Utah’s solar proponents have opposed the utilities rate hikes. Dim hopes that the state’s Public Service Commission would delay or reject the cutoff line before Dec 9 looked less likely as the day drew to a close. Other states experiencing similar push backs from utility companies to increase monthly rates for new solar homeowners has been the norm in 2016 and is only expected to get worse during the following years under a Trump presidency. If you want to know whether you’re home is in an area that still has healthy incentives and rebates, which haven’t yet been curtailed by anti-solar policies, contact GoGreenSolar.com or call (888)...

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Home solar: To buy or to lease, that is the question?
Dec05

Home solar: To buy or to lease, that is the question?

Africa, India, Australia, England, The Netherlands, The Middle East, America — large scale solar farms are beginning to take root around the world. Industrial sized sun mining operations like the one in Morocco and Southern India are now seen as a viable and more cost effective alternative to oil, even in some of the more oil rich nations. As the trend continues to take off, it’s worth exploring the idea of whether it’s better to install your own panels or purchase the cleaner and cheaper energy from a large utility scale operation. Firstly, who doesn’t love their independence. When you home is able to generate its own power, you don’t have to bow to the fickle whims of a utility company every time they decide to raise the rates. Another benefit of installing your own solar is that through net-metering programs and federal income tax breaks, you’re able to recoup much of the installation costs and completely pay off your system in a matter of years, enjoying monthly energy bills where the energy company might be paying you (with credits) rather than the other way around. For many people who don’t own their own homes, renting solar makes sense. However, for those that do own the deed to their houses, the decision to install their own system is worth the extra work and pays much better in the long term. Contact GoGreenSolar.com or call (888) 338-0183 to learn if your home is a good candidate to convert to...

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Oregon lawmakers aim to extend state tax credits for solar
Nov28

Oregon lawmakers aim to extend state tax credits for solar

Oregon lawmakers recently voiced their intent to extend the state’s Renewable Energy Tax Credit (RETC) for an extra two years, according to the Portland Business Journal. The RETC, which currently allows Oregon homeowners to get up to a $6000 tax credit for installing a photovoltaic system, is set to expire at the end of this year. Due to the program’s success in stimulating homeowners to switch to renewable energy, however, the Joint Interim Committee on Department of Energy Oversight (DEO) decided that suddenly pulling the plug on the incentive would not be beneficial for the state’s environment or renewable energy economy. “There was some real uncertainty about abruptly ending the program and just pulling the plug on the good things that are happening,” the PBJ quoted Committee co-chair Rep. Paul Holvey. Over the past several years, the DEO has reduced the cost of its incentive program from $3 per a watt to half that without seeing a change in consumer demand. Solar advocates are seeking to align future solar incentives in the state with the federal Investment Tax Credit, which allows homeowners to write-off up to 30% of the cost of their home solar installation. The federal ITC was recently extended by a bipartisan vote in congress and its rates are set to incrementally decline to 26% in 2020 and to 22% the following three years. The combination of Oregon’s state incentive, combined with the federal ITC and the declining material costs for a PV system will likely make the price tag of switching over to solar the cheapest it’s likely to be for the next few...

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Americans Overwhelmingly Love Solar
Nov15

Americans Overwhelmingly Love Solar

What has a higher approval rating in America than kittens and apple pie? According to a survey by The Pew Research Center: Solar power. Last month a survey conducted by the research center found that an overwhelming 89 percent of voting age citizens in the US want to see the solar industry expand. Considering the forecasted shift in the wake of the 2016 elections of putting more legislative power in the hands of states, many solar advocates are guardedly optimistic that the industry will continue to see growth despite having a climate change denier in charge as the country’s commander-in-chief. “People want more solar; they want more solar business in their state,” Scott Hennessey, the head federal lobbyist for SolarCity Corp recently stated to The Hill. Besides the promise of guilt free energy (as far as CO2 levels in the environment are concerned), the solar industry is responsible for creating one out of 83 jobs in America, according to the Solar Foundation. What these numbers supporting solar expansion equate to is increased pressure on the federal government to uphold its pledge to the investment tax credit (ITC), which recently got an extension to 2019 and has aided the industry’s growth by allowing solar homeowners to deduct up to 30 percent of the installation costs from their federal taxes. So while solar is on a health trajectory to continue its continental expansion, the window for securing more lucrative solar incentives at the federal level might not stay open as long as people hoped. To find out how you can write off 30 percent of your home solar installation before the ITC expires, contact GoGreenSolar.com or call (888)...

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