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How to cash in on the IRS’ Investment Tax Credit
Mar24

How to cash in on the IRS’ Investment Tax Credit

Anticipating that the solar-plus-storage market could experience the same type of expansion the PV market did in the last decade, the IRS recently updated an eligibility ruling for a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on renewable energy storage.   The updated rule, passed before the start of 2016, extends the 30 percent ITC until 2021 and aims to clear up some of the confusion with regards to when solar energy storage qualifies for the tax credit.   “The federal government does not want to incentivize people to arbitrage energy from the grid,” Senior Consultant at the Engineering consultant firm DNV-GL Mike Kleinberg explains. “You cannot charge from the grid in the evening and then discharge during the day to supplement your PV — and also qualify for the ITC, because you’re not then really charging from renewable energy.”   In order to accomplish this, the IRS dictated that in order to be eligible for the ITC, taxpayers must not draw more than 25 percent of stored electricity from the grid. Additionally, if they draw more than 25 percent of power from the grid during the first year of applying for the credit, they will not be allowed to collect any portion of the energy tax credit in later years even if the system improves and complies.   In order to prevent batteries charging more than 25 percent from the grid, homeowners have taken to installing inverters on both their PV systems and their AC/DC power systems, linking them to a site master controller that monitors when and how fast storage units charge.   While the updated 2015 rule might seem more strict than the original one set forth two years earlier (which was much more vague about solar battery two-way grid charging) it also expands its definition of what constitutes “storage technology”, allowing for greater flexibility when applying for the credit.   For example, smart water heaters or ceramic heaters that know the weather and draw 25 percent or less from the grid would qualify....

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Cash in on net-metering while you still can!
Mar14

Cash in on net-metering while you still can!

The rationality of net-metering is hard to deny: If your home generates more energy than it consumes and that energy is added back into the grid, it’s only fair you should be compensated for the contribution. However utility companies, who usually end up footing the bill, are of a different opinion. As of January 2016 more than half of the 40 U.S. states with net-metering incentives have had their policies come under scrutiny. At the start of the year, homeowners in California breathed a collective sigh of relief as state regulators narrowly voted to uphold the existing net-metering benefits. However their neighboring solar enthusiasts in the state of Nevada weren’t so lucky. As more people are switching to using solar and generating their own power, state regulators have been forced to balance on a high wire of encouraging the trend while also pacifying the big energy companies that power houses during non-daylight hours. Check out the map below to see if you’re in one of the blue states where net-metering incentives are still applicable. If you are, and haven’t yet made the switch to solar, time might be running out to cash in on making more sun energy than you...

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What’s in a Gigawatt?
Mar11

What’s in a Gigawatt?

In the power industry, the word “gigawatts” is thrown around like confetti during New Years. But if you’re like most people, you might only have a vague idea about what a gigawatt actually is. And, if we’re being honest, mostly likely the only reference for that power measurement is a mad scientist named Doc:   So let’s set the record straight and unravel the mystery of gigawatts…besides 1.21 of them being able to launch a 1988 Delorean back to the future.   Starting with the latin root “giga” we can deduce that: 1 gigawatt (gw) = 1 million kilowatts (kw) = 100 million watts (w)   One gigawatt also happens to power about 700,000 homes a day, each consuming a monthly average of about 911 kw according to the US Energy Information Association. To produce this much energy with coal takes about 4.7 tons of the stuff–about the same weight as an adult elephant. Luckily for us, people have stopped ignoring this dirty elephant in the room and are harnessing the cleaner and more affordable energy of the sun. In 2015, the Solar Energy Industries Association calculated the United States reached a total of 24.1 gigawatts of installed solar capacity. 24.1 Gigawatts! That’s enough energy to send Doc through the space time continuum 19 times. To put things in perspective, the US Energy Information Administration says the average nuclear reactor in the United States produces between 11,000 to 100,000 Megawatts of energy per a day. A facility like the Hoover Dam produces between 1 to 2 gigawatts of energy per a day depending on its water level (which has become increasingly low). US Bureau of Reclamation And about 5,000 hamsters running on a wheel will produce enough energy to power the average...

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USA Today Features GoGreenSolar Customer’s Dream Home!

GoGreenSolar.com customers Philippe and Thao Jeanty have received national attention after purchasing a 9.4 kW solar system with GoGreenSolar.com.  The couple from Tennessee was recently featured on USAToday.com. and mentioned in the New York Times.  Here’s their story. Philippe Jeanty is a radiologist in Nashville, Tenneessee, though he was actually born in Congo and lived in Belgium for some time.  Philippe lives with his wife Thao, who grew up in Vietnam. Philippe made a trip to the United States in the late seventies, where became interested in energy efficiency.   This curiosity eventually became the driving force behind the development of the couple’s sustainable dream home that most clean energy enthusiasts will only passively dream of.   Their home now has geothermal heating and cooling, it’s own drip irrigation system to water their garden, solar hot water heating, and a photovolatic (PV) system. Philippe he received help from a local solar guru with the photovoltaic (PV) installation, but he designed the plans for his home with an application called Google SketchUp.  Philippe bypassed the typical method of hiring an architect, allowing him to channel his DIY work ethic.  The SkechUp plans were converted to blueprints by Scott Jenkins, and the house was built by Green Homes (Johnny and Travis Johnson). Local springs supply the couple with usable water for their quaint farm. Their home is even set up with a drip-irrigation system to water their orchard and garden!  To heat their water, they make use of an evacuated tube solar heating system by Apricus.  According to Philippe, the water heater produces an excess of hot water in the summer.  “We have to flush out some hot water from time to time,” comments Philippe.   The interior of the home is equipped with LED lighting and clerestory windows that provide great light in the summer with no insolation.  They oriented the house on an East-West axis to get the best insolation possible.  South-facing windows are shaded during the summer months by the roof overhang, and are fully insolated during the winter to help passively warm the house.  In addition to designing the home for passive solar, the six and a half inch walls are insultated with a corn-based spray foam. They have also installed a geothermal heating and cooling system under their hickory wood floors, which they haven’t had to use the past three winters, even with outside temperatures of five degrees Fahrenheit! Philippe and Thao held onto wood, windows, bathroom fixtures, and just about anything from their previous home that could be repurposed.  By collecting fallen trees on the property for their wood-burning stove, Philippe and Thao keep their home toasty during the winter months.   Wood that was once part of their old house...

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the scoop on energy efficiency mortgages

A new wave of energy efficiency mortgages are being introduced today by the FHA which allow you to borrow 5% more to upgrade a home you buy with energy efficiency products such as solar panels, LED bulbs, weatherization and other energy efficiency appliances. According to the FHA, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are under pressure from the federal government to develop new mortgages which include more flexible underwriting guidelines to reward energy conscious borrowers and builders. Energy friendly loans would increase incomes of applicants by dollar for every dollar of projected energy savings from green energy upgrades and efficient design. For the program to work correctly, State governments need to provide professional training to licensed appraisers so they can value highly efficient buildings correctly. What do you think about the federal support for energy efficiency...

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