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SMA central

Register here

Tue, May 25, 2021 2 p.m. EDT

Maintaining a fully operational PV plant to ensure maximum uptime is a major undertaking that often comes with unforeseen challenges. Wouldn’t you like the insight to proactively identify potential issues and develop a mitigation strategy?

You’re in luck! In our next Solar Builder webinar, SMA, will explore the top five overlooked service considerations and better prepare you to address challenges throughout the lifetime of your utility PV plant including options for repowering distressed or underperforming plants.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Insight into frequently overlooked considerations when selecting a service partner
  • How service and O&M decisions can affect the profitability of a PV plant
  • When and how to address an underperforming PV asset with repowering solutions

SMA has an installed base of 100+ GW and an O&M portfolio exceeding 4.5 GW, so they have a ton of service experience and expertise to share.

Register here

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Allied Energy and Generac

Since 2019 when PG&E enacted the Public Safety Power Shutoff program, California’s aging electrical grid has become so unstable that many California homeowners regularly lose power for extended periods. The idyllic area of La Jolla, near San Diego, is no exception to the outages. Santa Ana winds in February 2021 caused one of the many recent outages in this area — outages that can last for days. Many homeowners are powerless to protect themselves against these outages — but those who have the means are adding backup power systems to their homes. While generators are often the first backup solution that comes to mind, solar plus storage systems are quickly becoming a popular solution for energy-insecure homeowners.

The Install

One homeowner in La Jolla asked Allied Energy Inc. to design a solution that would back up an entire 3,500-square-foot home equipped with four air conditioning unit compressors and a large swimming pool. The system would need to meet code requirements for the home’s location in an earthquake zone, and it had to help mitigate energy costs, despite the area’s tiered time-of-use (TOU) rates, all while staying on budget. The solution: a robust solar plus storage system.

“This install was particularly interesting because of the sheer magnitude of what the homeowner needed to have backed up,” said Simon Allan, president of Allied Energy. “The homeowner was [uncertain] about how much backup power they wanted in the beginning, so as we got further into the design, we needed to accommodate a much larger load than we’d originally planned for.”

Despite shifting goalposts, Allied Energy’s professional team was able to design and install a system that met the customer’s significant energy needs. The system design required two 200-amp automatic transfer switches (ATSs), two 7.6 kW inverters and four Generac PWRcell batteries for a total of 68 kWh of energy storage capacity – enough to run the average American home for over two days without sunshine or grid power. Due to the uncommon scale of this installation, the project took over two weeks to complete. For comparison, a typical PWRcell installation can be completed in one to two days.

One of the challenges that Simon’s team had to overcome was the unique arrangement of the home’s electrical panels.

The home features a giant 400-amp service panel, twice the typical size, feeding two 200-amp sub-panels, each located at opposite ends of the home. Usually, this would mean installers would have to cut into the drywall and re-route a sub-set of the home’s existing circuits into additional sub-panels for partial home backup, a task that could balloon project cost and complexity while reducing performance. However, PWRcell’s installer-friendly architecture and whole-home backup capability, Allied Energy was able to integrate the system without the need for any major remodeling and renovation, keeping the installation on schedule and under budget.

Over the years, technologies like car engines and mobile devices have seen massive increases in performance. Thanks to optimizations and advances, the technology we use today is smaller and more powerful now than ever before. Home energy storage, however, is a relatively new technology and performance-enhancing technologies are not yet commonplace. With most solar plus storage platforms, the only way to protect more loads is by adding more battery storage, which can quickly double or triple project costs. Allied Energy selected the PWRcell system for this project because of its size and load management capabilities that allow for a relatively small amount of battery storage to perform like a much larger battery system, protecting more loads and extending backup power over a longer period of time. 

California State of Mind

Allied Energy and Generac

For the average homeowner, it may appear that installing a solar plus storage system is out of reach. However, homeowners should consider long-term value, benefits, and rewards in their calculus – particularly in California.

Solar plus storage installations are heavily incentivized by both state and federal governments. The Self Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) offered by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) can incentivize qualified homeowners to install batteries along with their solar energy systems. Another significant savings: the federal government offers a tax credit to the tune of 22% of the total project cost in 2021.

Many California utilities feature a tiered rate structure, charging different amounts for energy based on the time of day that energy was used. This is called time-of-use, or TOU billing.  Homeowners are charged a higher rate during peak demand hours and lower rates during off-peak hours. This system provides a financial incentive for homeowners to shift their energy consumption habits to off-peak hours by penalizing consumption during the evening.

For the homeowner in La Jolla, it was incredibly important for the system installed to mitigate the local TOU rates and lower their average monthly electricity bill from $2,000. A solar plus storage solution allowed the homeowner to mitigate the TOU rates by using stored energy during peak hours. After two months of operation, the homeowner is already beginning to see a reduction in their electric bill.

“Most people install solar to offset energy through PV production off of the roof and achieve net-zero over the year,” said Allan. “The battery has major benefits for offsetting time-of-use rates, and at the end of the day, homeowners just want to have power during a power outage.”

As the power grid continues to age and extreme weather events like wildfires continue to pose a threat to homes, it is becoming more evident that homeowners need energy security; especially now that families spend more time at home than ever. Solar plus storage solutions have evolved in recent years and are now scalable to supply power to an entire home. For the homeowner in La Jolla, even with a 3,500-square-foot home, a solar plus storage system provided the energy security and cost savings necessary to free themselves from the threat of power outages and rising energy bills.

Jeremy Niles is Channel Marketing Manager at Generac.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=946072_MzUY
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solar installer survey

SolarReviews and UC Berkeley’s BEACN consulting group analyzed findings from more than 400,000 U.S. homeowners who submitted a request for a quote from SolarReviews.com between 2016 and 2020 and released their findings in celebration of Earth Week 2021. The Solar Consumer Insights Report relays quantifiable insight into the key drivers and barriers that influenced U.S. homeowners’ decision to install rooftop solar, including questions about financing choice, permitting, and battery storage.

The survey was then used to identify which factors affect the adoption of residential solar, including bottlenecks in the installation process, customer perceptions of the process, and customer knowledge of financial and non-financial benefits. Choosing such a long period of time to analyze reveals an especially important tidbit on the potential value of old, cold leads.

“As solar energy costs continue to plummet, and the need for disaster resiliency becomes more urgent, homeowners are increasingly looking at rooftop solar as a proven solution,” said Andy Sendy, Founder and President of SolarReviews. “This report uncovers valuable insight into the installation process, and identifies potential opportunities and barriers to deploying solar power across the country. We’re excited to share these findings with the solar industry and continue to help homeowners save money while transitioning to clean energy.”

Key report findings include:

  • The primary motivation for installing solar was potential savings on electricity bills, followed by disaster resilience and reduced emissions.
  • Interest in battery storage, specifically for the purpose of energy resilience during natural disasters, is increasing.
  • Of the respondents that have solar, just 11.5% also have a battery storage system installed - but this percentage is expected to increase following a confirmed year-over-year growth since 2016, with 60% of battery installations in the last five years taking place in 2020.
  • The upfront cost of solar is the most significant barrier to install solar, with 72.5% of respondents rating it with a score of “important” or higher.
  • Increased home value was rated as “Important” or higher by 59.8% of respondents.
  • The federal tax credit was the single-most important financial incentive to respondents, followed by net metering.
  • Three months is the most common lead-to-installation timeline. Yet, people who received solar quotes in 2016 were installing solar panels into 2020, debunking the claim that homeowner leads can only convert within a few weeks or months.

The results of the survey are examined in five case studies that highlight trending developments in residential solar, including findings in storage and energy resilience, effects of homeowner awareness of financial incentives, and other areas. 

For example, one of the most interesting findings of the report shows that leads surveyed from the earliest time period (January 2016) were still getting solar installed nearly 5 years later, at the end of 2020. 68% of survey respondents who had not yet installed solar indicated that they were still interested in installing a solar system in the future. These results debunk the claim that homeowners only install solar within a few weeks or months of receiving a quote, and offer exciting possibilities for installers looking to enhance their long-term marketing strategies and business models. 

Another case study found that the upfront costs of solar installation is the most significant barrier to installing solar, followed by lack of financing. Yet only 52% of survey respondents were aware of at least one financial incentive for installing solar. Resources like SolarReviews.com that provide easy to understand, streamlined information on financing, permitting and other consumer information will be critical to accelerating the adoption of home solar.

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community solar

Community solar is a growing, important segment of the solar industry that still struggles at efficiently gathering said communities. At last count by NREL, community solar projects are located in 39 states, and 20 states have policies that support it. That’s all pretty good! But about 74 percent of the total market though is concentrated in the top four states: Minnesota (663 MW-AC), Florida (593 MW-AC), Massachusetts (436 MW-AC), and New York (243 MW-AC).

Community solar is a “push” market still. Intensive marketing and education is needed to get potential customers. That is expensive. Customers are also needed in bulk during construction, before a project goes live -- somewhat of a trust fall by the developer.

Two other customer acquisition challenges:

  • Potential customers are fatigued by years of other “green plans” and RECs marketed by other companies that end up pricing renewables at a premium rather than saving ratepayers money.
  • In its infancy, the community solar industry was a culprit in peddling bad deals too. Long, legal-heavy contracts that locked customers into 20 year deals.

“I remember reading some of these legalese-heavy community solar contracts years ago, and my head was spinning for a 10 percent discount," says Vikram Aggarwal, CEO of EnergySage.

Community solar is essentially in the same predicament that rooftop solar was 10 years ago, but fortunately, it won’t need a decade to catch up.

Marketplace Proves Itself

EnergySage sees this potential. EnergySage, as you may know, is the top residential solar marketplace in the U.S. This year, the company opened up a Community Solar Marketplace to serve the same role, a conduit to connect solar developers more efficiently with interested customers. To date, consumers in nine states (CO, IL, MA, MD, ME, MN, NJ, NY, and RI) can choose from 70 projects currently listed on the Community Solar Marketplace, totaling over 300 MW of capacity.

“We are focused on customer acquisition, helping people subscribe and providing feedback to developers,” Aggarwal says, "We make it easy for consumers to find projects and see how they compare.”

The comparison function is crucial. A customer hits the site, enters their ZIP code and is presented with all of the potential options nearby with transparent terms such as discounts, termination clauses, and even customer reviews. Project listings include other attributes too, like pollinator-friendly vegetation or dual-use.

The conversion rate of the marketplace thus far has proved its effectiveness, with Aggarwal placing it “higher than what we were expecting and even multiple times higher than what we’ve seen on rooftop solar marketplace.”

That last note is illustrative of the potential. Unlike rooftop solar, once people “get it,” it’s a no-brainer, easy-peasy decision. Sign up, support local renewable energy and save yourself some cash, regardless of your roof, property size, rate territory or income level. Solar especially needs more ways to benefit low-income communities.

The cycle time from hitting the website to subscribing is also “significantly shorter” than what they expected upon launch. “It proves this is a self-serve marketplace here,” Aggarwal says. “Come in, evaluate, filter them however you want and subscribe right then.”

Deal makers and breakers

Thus far, EnergySage has found these to be the key decision factors for subscribers.

1. The discount. Most community solar projects offer a discount compared to what you pay vs. a utility, somewhere between 5 and 15 percent (10 percent on average). Some projects offer bigger discounts for low- to moderate-income households (LMI) in areas where policy makers have made that a priority.

2. The cancellation policy. Is it a 30- or 180-day cancellation policy? Is there a penalty, and how much of one? How much notice is needed to cancel? These factors are all listed and a big deal. Projects without a cancellation policy (if they still exist) are not eligible to be listed in the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace.

“The area where we really focus and give advice to developers is the termination clause,” Aggarwal says. “The duration has to be low, but also how easy is it to cancel? We are paying close attention to that.”

3. Proximity. Consumers are typically looking for projects near them. They want to feel they are supporting local solar energy.

4. This might be more of an observation than a decision-factor, but the site’s go-live date and "percentage until it’s sold out" stat are also emerging as drivers. The closer it is to going live or being sold out, the faster subscriptions accelerate. 

It’s too early to know the impact of the review function, but one would assume, over time, this will play a big role as well.

What’s next?

Considering all of the above, Aggarwal thinks we’ll see discounts get bigger over the next decade as costs go down, driven in part by a marketplace-based approach to lessen customer acquisition costs. The marketplace could also become a feedback loop for future community solar development. What ZIP codes are being searched the most that don’t have sites near or available to them? That data is available to developers in the EnergySage marketplace. Developers interested in joining the Community Solar Marketplace to list projects can head here.

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SMA central

Register here

Tue, May 25, 2021 2 p.m. EDT

Maintaining a fully operational PV plant to ensure maximum uptime is a major undertaking that often comes with unforeseen challenges. Wouldn’t you like the insight to proactively identify potential issues and develop a mitigation strategy?

You’re in luck! In our next Solar Builder webinar, SMA, will explore the top five overlooked service considerations and better prepare you to address challenges throughout the lifetime of your utility PV plant including options for repowering distressed or underperforming plants.

In this webinar you will learn:

  • Insight into frequently overlooked considerations when selecting a service partner
  • How service and O&M decisions can affect the profitability of a PV plant
  • When and how to address an underperforming PV asset with repowering solutions

SMA has an installed base of 100+ GW and an O&M portfolio exceeding 4.5 GW, so they have a ton of service experience and expertise to share.

Register here

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OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

April 22, 2021

OMCO Solar, through its partnership with Arkansas-based Entegrity Energy Partners LLC, will supply its OMCO ORIGIN tracker for 15 MW of solar projects in the state. Since its premier at Solar Power International in 2019, OMCO Solar’s ORIGIN factory-direct tracker has offered operational benefits and economic value for more thanRead More

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

April 22, 2021

OMCO Solar, through its partnership with Arkansas-based Entegrity Energy Partners LLC, will supply its OMCO ORIGIN tracker for 15 MW of solar projects in the state. Since its premier at Solar Power International in 2019, OMCO Solar’s ORIGIN factory-direct tracker has offered operational benefits and economic value for more thanRead More

Case study: California home adds 68-kWh of storage capacity in massive PV system upgrade

Case study: California home adds 68-kWh of storage capacity in massive PV system upgrade

April 20, 2021

Since 2019 when PG&E enacted the Public Safety Power Shutoff program, California’s aging electrical grid has become so unstable that many California homeowners regularly lose power for extended periods. The idyllic area of La Jolla, near San Diego, is no exception to the outages. Santa Ana winds in February 2021Read More

Environmental justice priorities added to new SEIA policy platform

Environmental justice priorities added to new SEIA policy platform

April 19, 2021

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) unveiled its environmental justice priorities in a new policy platform that will inform the organization’s advocacy efforts. The document lays out policies that expand access to clean energy and create industry jobs and workforce development training. It includes possible tax, climate, energy access andRead More

Large, long-term solar customer survey shows value in old, cold leads

Large, long-term solar customer survey shows value in old, cold leads

April 20, 2021

SolarReviews and UC Berkeley’s BEACN consulting group analyzed findings from more than 400,000 U.S. homeowners who submitted a request for a quote from SolarReviews.com between 2016 and 2020 and released their findings in celebration of Earth Week 2021. The Solar Consumer Insights Report relays quantifiable insight into the key driversRead More

 
OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

April 22, 2021

OMCO Solar, through its partnership with Arkansas-based Entegrity Energy Partners LLC, will supply its OMCO ORIGIN tracker for 15 MW of solar projects in the state. Since its premier at Solar Power International in 2019, OMCO Solar’s ORIGIN factory-direct tracker has offered operational benefits and economic value for more thanRead More

Wapello Solar Project becomes largest solar project in Iowa

Wapello Solar Project becomes largest solar project in Iowa

April 22, 2021

Sungrow has supplied 34 inverters completing a 127.5 MW solar facility in Wapello, Iowa. The Wapello Solar project, developed by Clēnera and constructed by RES, progressed with little to no delays despite beginning construction during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the largest solar project in Iowa, Wapello Solar entered into commercial operation on March 8, 2021. “WapelloRead More

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

April 22, 2021

OMCO Solar, through its partnership with Arkansas-based Entegrity Energy Partners LLC, will supply its OMCO ORIGIN tracker for 15 MW of solar projects in the state. Since its premier at Solar Power International in 2019, OMCO Solar’s ORIGIN factory-direct tracker has offered operational benefits and economic value for more thanRead More

News

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

OMCO Solar, Entegrity Energy partner on 15-MW Arkansas solar portfolio

April 22, 2021 at 10:56 am 0 comments

OMCO Solar, through its partnership with Arkansas-based Entegrity Energy Partners LLC, will supply its OMCO ORIGIN tracker for 15 MW of solar projects in the state. Since its premier at Solar Power International in 2019, OMCO Solar’s ORIGIN factory-direct tracker has offered operational benefits and economic value for more thanRead More

Wapello Solar Project becomes largest solar project in Iowa

Wapello Solar Project becomes largest solar project in Iowa

April 22, 2021 at 10:37 am 0 comments

Sungrow has supplied 34 inverters completing a 127.5 MW solar facility in Wapello, Iowa. The Wapello Solar project, developed by Clēnera and constructed by RES, progressed with little to no delays despite beginning construction during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the largest solar project in Iowa, Wapello Solar entered into commercial operation on March 8, 2021. “WapelloRead More

Oklahoma Gas and Electric is doubling the PV at Choctaw Nation, OG&E Solar Energy Center

Oklahoma Gas and Electric is doubling the PV at Choctaw Nation, OG&E Solar Energy Center

April 21, 2021 at 5:28 pm 0 comments

Oklahoma Gas and Electric (OG&E), a subsidiary of Oklahoma City-based OGE Energy Corp. (OGE), is expanding its Choctaw Nation/OG&E Solar Energy Center in Durant, Okla., by an additional 5 MW, bringing the total solar capacity to 10 MW. OG&E will construct, own and operate the additional 5 MW expansion, which is expected toRead More

Top Five Overlooked Service Considerations in Utility PV Plants: What You Need to Know

Top Five Overlooked Service Considerations in Utility PV Plants: What You Need to Know

April 21, 2021 at 4:58 pm 0 comments

Register here Tue, May 25, 2021 2 p.m. EDT Maintaining a fully operational PV plant to ensure maximum uptime is a major undertaking that often comes with unforeseen challenges. Wouldn’t you like the insight to proactively identify potential issues and develop a mitigation strategy? You’re in luck! In our nextRead More

Energix and RPCS working on over 90 MW of solar tracker projects

Energix and RPCS working on over 90 MW of solar tracker projects

April 21, 2021 at 4:11 pm 0 comments

RPCS has partnered with Energix for the installation of trackers at three of Energix’s solar projects, Hollyfield II (17 MW), Mt. Jackson (22 MW), Buckingham II (28 MW), and Leatherwood (25 MW), and intends to collaborate on two additional projects, totaling approximately 50 MW. RPCS, a trusted partner of leadingRead More

Amazon signs PPA with Lightsource bp for 375-MW solar project in Ohio

Amazon signs PPA with Lightsource bp for 375-MW solar project in Ohio

April 21, 2021 at 4:07 pm 0 comments

Lightsource bp has executed a power purchase agreement with Amazon for a new 375 MWdc solar project under development in Ohio, as part of Amazon’s long-term commitment to power its global infrastructure with renewable energy. Once complete, the solar facility is expected to deliver nearly 600,000 MWh annually of additionalRead More

Baltimore County converts two landfills into solar energy via SunPower

Baltimore County converts two landfills into solar energy via SunPower

April 21, 2021 at 3:39 pm 0 comments

SunPower announces plans with Baltimore County, Maryland to cover two closed landfills with solar panels. These projects are expected to generate approximately 30 MW of clean energy, equivalent to the power used by one third of the County’s municipal buildings including government facilities.   “Electricity savings from solar can help municipalitiesRead More

ForeFront Power completes solar install at San Luis Obispo County Operations Center

ForeFront Power completes solar install at San Luis Obispo County Operations Center

April 21, 2021 at 3:29 pm 0 comments

The County of San Luis Obispo and ForeFront Power celebrates the completion of a 1.2 MWdc solar energy project at the County Operations Center. The project includes a total of 3,294 solar modules ground-mounted on 6 acres of land behind the County Honor Farm and parallel to Calif. State HighwayRead More

Prairie Grove, Arkansas and Entegrity turn on 498-kW solar array

Prairie Grove, Arkansas and Entegrity turn on 498-kW solar array

April 21, 2021 at 9:01 am 0 comments

A Flip the Switch ceremony by the city of Prairie Grove, Ark., and Entegrity celebrated the city’s new solar array. Entegrity designed and installed the 498-kW array that will generate $28,000 in yearly savings for Prairie Grove. The array is located onsite where the majority of the city’s energy usageRead More

Clearway completes first Illinois community solar farm

Clearway completes first Illinois community solar farm

April 21, 2021 at 8:58 am 0 comments

Clearway Energy Group announces the completion of its first Illinois community solar farm, energizing the 3 MWdc Southland Solar Farm, just outside of Kankakee, and will activate eight more community solar farms in the coming months. Each of Clearway’s Illinois solar farms is subscribed to roughly 350 residential customers, withRead More