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Arizona: Last call for solar?
Jul14

Arizona: Last call for solar?

Opposition to the solar industry in Arizona by its largest privatized public utility company could effectively eliminate monetary incentives for homeowners that aren’t grandfathered in under current rates.   For the past three years, Arizona Public Service has fought relentlessly to either eliminate or reduce net-metering credits and incur additional costs on solar homeowners in the state.   This past July the company filed for a solar rate review with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), increasing new solar homeowner’s bill by an average of $133 and seeking to end net-metering.   What separates APS’s recent efforts from attempts in the past, is that it has positioned politicians into some of the five elected seats on the ACC.   The move, however, did not go unnoticed: State news outlets slammed the ACC for its allegedly shading dealings, bringing it under scrutiny from the FBI.   Still, if history is any indication, it’s that the APS is not one to back down. In 2013, the utility company was the first successful one in the United States to impose discriminatory charges on solar customers. Sources indicate that the APS’s current attack has a good chance of getting its desired legislation moved through the ACC, all current commissioners, of which, are Republicans.   If there is a bright side to this dark period Arizona solar homeowners are facing, it’s that the proposed bill would not be retroactive. This means that changes to the state’s net metering and additional rates would not go into effect until July 2017, giving solar homeowners and homeowners thinking of changing to solar the chance to be grandfathered in under the old benefits for 20...

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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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Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar 101
Jun28

Grid-Tied and Off-Grid Solar 101

Will I need batteries for my solar system?  How much does it cost to go completely off the grid? Let’s take a look at main differences is between a “grid-tied” solar system and the less common “off-grid” solar system. Grid-tied Solar Most photovoltaic (PV) systems are connected to the utility grid, hence the name “grid-tied.”  When your solar system is connected to the grid, you still have access to energy after dark without batteries.  Your grid-tied system simply pulls the electricity you need from the utility grid.   Here’s how it works:   A group of solar panels, known as the array, generate direct current (DC) electricity.  An inverter changes the DC electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity, which is the grid-quality electricity that comes from the power outlets in your home. When the grid-tied system produces more energy than your home is consuming, the excess electricity is sent into the utility grid, spinning your meter backwards as credit toward your next electricity bill.  When your load requirements exceed the electricity being produced by your photovoltaic (PV) system, your home will draw electricity from the grid.  This is called net metering. Grid-tie solar systems are a cost-effective way to reduce your net energy consumption. Grid-tied solar systems are ideal for those whose utility provider bill them according to a tiered rate structure –  where rates you pay are higher when you’re consuming more energy (kWh). Grid-tied solar gets you out of the higher tiers on your electric bill to save you money. If you need help designing a grid-tied solar system, request a no obligation quote today. Will I still have power during a blackout? Not with a grid-tied PV system.  You’ll still experience blackouts when the power goes out in your neighborhood because your are connected to the utility grid.  Sending electricity into the grid during a power outage would be especially dangerous if the utility company has workers repairing power lines. For most people, a power outage here and there isn’t too much of a concern.  Just keep your refrigerator closed and charge your iPhone with a JOOS Orange Portable Solar Charger. But what about Armageddon? Or the zombie apocalypse?! I’ll need power to fight off the living dead! If you live in an area that is plagued by frequent blackouts, hurricanes, or maybe the living dead chewing on power-lines, battery backup may be an option for you. Keep in mind, battery backup is for critical loads, or the appliances that are imperative to survival.  So you really can’t blast the AC and leave the television running 24/7 in the aftermath of a natural disaster. In most cases,...

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green mountain energy paying retail rates

Net Metering is the term which describes your utility giving you a credit when you send extra electricity generated back into the grid. Green Mountain Energy based out of Austin, Texas is an environmentally friendly electric utility that focuses on generating electricity through renewable energy such as solar and wind power. Today the company announced they will be buying electricity generated from a customer’s solar panel rooftop at retail rates. This means customers receive a credit equal to the amount they buy electricity for per kWh (kilowatt-hour) up to 500 kWh. A customer will receive half the retail rate on any electricity contributed into the grid over 500 kWh. New electric meters that have increased functionality can measure both inflow and outflow at any give time of a building which allows electric utilities to pay solar customers a rate closer to the wholesale price of electricity. A couple customers have already signed up for the pilot program, do you think programs like this will encourage more people to install solar...

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6 new york utilities improve net metering policy

On Thursday, the NY State Public Service Commission made changes to the net-metering policies of six investor owned utility companies to encourage more homes and businesses to install solar panels or wind turbines to generate clean electricity. The term net-metering, means an agreement with your utility company that specifies the terms of what type and size of clean energy system you can connect to the grid and the value of the credit you will receive for every kilowatt-hour (kWh) from your utility company. The Central Hudson Gas and Electric Corporation, Orange and Rockland Utilities and New York State Electric and Gas Corporation will allow customers to sell back clean electricity generated at retail value. The changes included allowing non-residential entities to benefit from the net-metering policies and also increase the limit to 25 KW from 10 KW for residential solar power systems. These changes allow more people to participate, which encourages the community to support clean energy thus helping our country become more energy independent and provides new opportunities to create local jobs here in the US. What do you think about net-metering policies in general? How do you think we can get more people to contribute to the grid versus being a liability to...

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