Categories: Solar Economics, AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding, AB 920 Payments, Feed-in Tariff, Solar Rebates, BWP Rebates, GWP Rebates, LADWP Rebates, PWP Rebates, SCE/CSI Rebates, Solar Tax Incentives

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01/29/15

  06:36:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton, Projects Coordinator, Run on Sun   , 406 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, Residential Solar

Its Official...Solar Boosts Home-Owners' Property Values!

Selling into the SunMany solar stakeholders have always assumed rooftop solar systems add to the resale value of a property. Homeowners and residential solar companies frequently use this benefit as one of the many reasons to invest in solar even though until recently there had been little statistical evidence to support the assumption.

So we were thrilled to read the new study, “Selling into the Sun: Price Premium Analysis of a Multi-State Dataset of Solar Homes,” which finally quantifies the resale value of residential photovoltaic  (PV) solar systems. The study was a collaborative effort including esteemed scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Adomatis Appraisal Services, Real Property Analytics/Texas A&M University, University of California at San Diego, San Diego State University, and Sandia National Laboratories.

The team analyzed some 22,000 home sales, of which nearly 4,000 had PV rooftop solar systems (more than double the number in previous studies), in eight states over a 12-year span including the housing market boom, bust, and recovery. This is by far the largest and broadest dataset ever analyzed on the subject.

Results prove that homebuyers are consistently willing to pay more for homes with host-owned solar systems — averaging about $4 per watt of PV installed — across various states, housing and PV markets, and home types. This amounts to a premium of about $15,000 for a typical rooftop system. Other important conclusions the team discovered are as follows:

  • PV premiums had little variability between new and existing homes.
  • The dollar per watt premium decreases incrementally as system sizes increase - with the best value at 4 kilowatts (average household PV size) or less.
  • As systems age, the PV premium depreciates sharply from $6/watt for systems less than two years old to $3/watt after about eight years.
  • PV premiums correlate to the net cost of the solar system — which take into account rebates and incentives — and appear to be independent of the PV system gross cost estimates.

As residential solar systems become more and more common, it is important to be able to value them accurately. The evidence of the added investment value shown from this study is a critical step for the growth of residential solar. And PV premiums are obviously a benefit homeowners should consider when doing their cost-benefit analysis of going solar.

Please note that this study only focused on host-owned solar, not those with leased systems. It would be interesting to see a future study including this growing portion of the PV market.

01/16/15

  11:52:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton, Projects Coordinator, Run on Sun   , 417 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, State of Solar

The Numbers are In...Solar Means Jobs!

Velvet installs a solar roof.If you pay any attention to clean tech news, its no surprise to hear that the solar industry is growing. But the record-breaking results from the National Solar Jobs Census, released by the Solar Foundation (TSF) yesterday, are pretty astounding. The study found that the sector grew nearly 20 times the rate of the overall economy. One out of every 78 jobs added in the US in 2014 was in the solar industry! 

The Solar Foundation, an independent nonprofit solar research and education organization, has been conducting the annual National Solar Jobs Census since 2010. The 2014 report, derived directly from inerviews with more than 7,600 U.S. businesses, measured employment growth in the industry between November 2013 and November 2014.

We’ve pulled out a few highlights from the report:

Solar is Hiring!

Solar Jobs

  • As of November 2014, there were 173,807 solar workers employed, 1.3% of all jobs created in the U.S.
  • More than 31,000 new workers were hired in 2014, representing a growth rate of 21.8% since November 2013.
  • This means the Solar sector was hiring at nearly 20 times faster than the national average employment growth rate of 1.1% in the same period.
  • Between 2010 and 2014, employment in solar has grown by 86%, resulting in valuable domestic skilled living-wage jobs.
  • Installation continues to account for the largest share of solar jobs, currently employing over 97,000.

Solar Jobs ComparisonClean Energy is Speeding Past Fossil Fuel Sectors

  • The solar sector (173,807 jobs) is now larger than coal mining (93,185 jobs).
  • Indeed, more folks go to work each day installing solar panels than go into mines to dig out coal.  (And we know which job we’d rather have!)
  • In 2014 the solar industry created more jobs (31,000) than both the oil and gas pipeline construction industry (10,529), and the crude petroleum and natural gas extraction industry (8,688) combined.

Solar Welcomes Diversity

  • Women, African-Americans and Latinos are hired in solar at a higher rate than oil, gas, coal and construction industries.
  • Over 37,500 women worked in solar (21.6% of solar workers), up from 26,700 in 2013.
  • Nearly 17,000 veterans are now employed in the sector, up from 13,000 in 2013.

Trouble Ahead?

While surveyed solar employers are optimistic about 2015, expecting to add another 36,000 jobs, the solar boom may not last forever… 72% of employers surveyed noted that the federal tax credit significantly boosted their sales in 2014. Dramatic downsizing in 2017 after the federal tax credit expires is not out of the realm of possibility. (Are you listening, Washington?)

Studies like this one prove that solar is providing a tremendously valuable boost to our economy while meeting public demand for choice, competition, and cleaner, more affordable energy. Hopefully some form of incentives post-2016 will continue to keep this valuable ball rolling.

01/15/15

  09:32:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 722 words  
Categories: Solar Rebates, PWP Rebates, SCE/CSI Rebates, BWP Rebates, GWP Rebates, LADWP Rebates

2015 Solar Rebate Update

Solar rebates are rapidly becoming an endangered species, but there are still a handful of refuges out there for the lucky few who reside in those areas. Here is our update on who is offering what as of January, 2015.

Solar rebates

Although there are lots of ways to approach this, we figured that the most entertaining would be to rank-order each utility in the Run on Sun service area from best to worst in terms of their rebate program (and we will toss in a handy summary chart at the end).

Pasadena Water & Power (PWP)

Beyond a doubt, the best run solar rebate program in our service area is provided by our hometown utility, Pasadena Water & Power.  The folks at PWP have figured out how to provide generous rebates on a predictable schedule while keeping bureaucratic annoyances to a minimum.  Boy could its neighbors learn a thing or two from PWP!

Here are their numbers as of today:

Residential: $0.85/Watt EPBB; 12.9¢/kWh PBI.
Commercial: $0.85/Watt EPBB; 12.9¢/kWh PBI.
Non-Profit: $1.60/Watt EPBB; 24.2¢/kWh PBI.

Keep in mind, those numbers have been in place for a long time (since 2012!) and we expect them to drop some time this year.

Anaheim

Anaheim is offering some big rebate numbers, but they offer a ridiculously small window of opportunity for snagging them.  Specifically, the window is about to open and you need to submit a rebate application between today, January 15, 2015 and two weeks from today as the window closes on January 29!  After that you are out-of-luck until the next window is set.  For those who can jump on the opportunity, here are the numbers:

Residential: $1.25/Watt EPBB; n/a PBI.
Commercial: $1.10/Watt EPBB; 11.0¢/kWh PBI.
Non-Profit: n/a.

Which brings us to the problem children…

Azusa

Azusa has a rebate program, maybe.  But what it really has as of now is a waiting list.  Good luck with that.

Burbank Water & Power (BWP) and Glendale Water & Power (GWP)

Burbank and Glendale feel like the same city so its not surprising that their local utilities seem to act in lock step.  Both utilities arguably offer rebates, but unlike PWP - their more intelligent neighbor to the East - neither BWP nor GWP can figure out how to keep a rebate program open for more than a few weeks (days?) at a time.  They say they are victims of their own success, but we see it as a sign of bad planning.  (Oh, and don’t get us started about GWP’s alleged Feed-in Tariff program which after a year and a half is yet to have a single application submitted! Genius!)

As for now, all the unfortunate residents of these two communities can do is wait until the new fiscal year in July and hope that some funds will be allocated.

Southern California Edison (SCE)

In SCE territory the party is officially over - there are no more rebate funds available, and despite the Governor’s call for 50% of electricity to come from renewables by 2030, there are no moves a foot to refund the CSI program.  This is unfortunate beyond the lack of funding - with the demise of the CSI rebates, so goes the CSI data since that was only gathered as part of the rebate process.  As a result, we lose a major solar incentive along with a major source of market data for the largest solar market in the country!  More genius!  (Here’s a thought - since SCE still requires us to go through the interconnection agreement process - via email - why not collect the data that way?)

Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP)

LADWP offers a rebate, but they have the most excruciating process ever for getting it.  (Think of that wealthy Uncle who could easily help you out, but is going to make you bow and scrape before he cuts loose with some ducats, and you get the picture.)  Moreover, non-residential rebates are going away in favor of the Feed-in Tariff program, but for small commercial or non-profit customers, that option simply doesn’t pencil out. 

For those residential customers with the patience to outlast the bureaucrats, here’s their rebate:

Residential: $0.40/Watt EPBB; n/a PBI.

Frankly, that’s just not worth the trouble.

In Summary

So here’s the overall results for all of these utilities:

Solar rebate rates in Run on Sun service area, January 2015

While rebates are going away, the 30% federal tax credit is still in place, and will continue through the end of 2016. Carpe diem!

12/11/14

  10:19:00 am, by Laurel Hamilton, Projects Coordinator, Run on Sun   , 428 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, SEIA

Rapid growth in the solar industry made 2014 the best year yet!

It has been a great year for solar in the US! As the year comeRun on Sun crews to an end, we like to take a look at the numbers to get a sense of how the industry is doing as a whole. The first statistic I came upon stated that through just the first half of 2014, 53% of all new electric capacity installed came from solar!

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, utility-scale solar as of September, 2014 had sent 14.2 gigawatt-hours of electricity to the U.S. grid, up 110% compared to 6.7 GW in 2013. California is leading the way with a whopping 7.8 GW generated in 2014, 188 percent change from 2013!

That means solar generation was enough to meet the electricity needs of 1,513,703 average U.S. homes, and represented about 0.4 percent of the nation’s total electricity. However, these numbers don’t take into account residential and private commercial solar.

“There are now more than half a million homes and businesses nationwide with a solar installation,” reported the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

With continued growth and accounting for these additional sources of generation, solar electricity could easily account for 1 percent of U.S. generation by the end of this year. That might sound like small potatoes, but as recently as 2008 the energy contribution from solar was virtually zero. Rapid growth in the sector points toward continued gains in the near future.

What’s spurring this remarkable growth in the industry? For one thing, it is becoming more and more affordable with the average price of a solar panel declining by 64% since 2010. We also cannot overstate the role of effective public policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) among other state and city-specific policies.

Growth in the solar sector has far reaching positive impacts for the US economy as well as the environment! While the numbers are not yet in for 2014, as of 2013 the industry had already provided 143,000 much needed jobs for Americans or more than 50 people hired in solar each day. Looked at another way, nearly $20 billion a year was invested back into the economy due to the industry.

On the environmental side Rhone Resch, CEO of SEIA, noted that solar will “help to offset an estimated 20 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions in 2014, which is the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off U.S. highways, saving 2.1 billion gallons of gasoline or shuttering half a dozen coal-fired power plants”. Needless to say, converting to solar or other renewable energy sources is paying huge dividends for both our economy and the environment. We look forward to sharing this great resource with continued growth in 2015 and beyond!

09/28/14

  08:43:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 441 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, SCE, Residential Solar, Ranting

Support Solar!

Regular readers of this blog will know that solar-friendly policies are under constant attach by the utilities, especially the three Investor-owned utilities (or IOUs as they are known), PG&E, SDG&E and our own SCE.  Well they are at it again, with rate proposals before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that could harm both solar and energy efficiency measures alike.  Fortunately, we have an opportunity to have our say - here’s our take. (H/t our friends at CalSEIA.)

Support SolarCurrent policies in California, most notably net metering, along with a tiered rate structure (whereby you pay more for electricity as you use more) have provided powerful incentives not only for consumers to install solar, but to also take proactive measures to reduce their energy consumption.  As a result, energy use in California over the past twenty years has grown slower than the growth in population despite the explosion of new electronic devices in homes and businesses during that time.  Indeed, California has lead the way for the rest of the Nation, proving that you can have a twenty-first century lifestyle and still reduce your energy demand.

In other words, these policies have been a success.

The proposals being floated at the CPUC would change rates throughout the three IOU service areas (i.e., much of California) and threaten that success.  In particular, they are seeking to add a flat, monthly fee to everyone of $10 to all bills, regardless of use and to reduce the number of tiers from four to two.  In addition, the rate for the lowest tier would increase, making this a double-whammy not just to solar owners, but to the poorest electric customers who will see a rise in their rates.  (So much for the utilities’ concern over hurting the poor!)

Fortunately these changes are not yet cast in stone and the public, particularly advocates for solar and energy efficiency, have a chance to have their voices heard.  The CPUC is holding a series of public hearings, some in the Run on Sun service area, as well as others around the state.  Here are the upcoming hearings:

FONTANA

September 29, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Fontana City Council Chambers
8353 Sierra Avenue
Fontana, CA 92335

TEMPLE CITY

September 30, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm?

Temple City Council Chambers
5938 Kauffman Avenue
Temple City, CA  91780

PALMDALE

October 2, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Palmdale City Council Chambers
38300 Sierra Hwy, Suite A
Palmdale, CA  93550

CHICO

October 9, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Holiday Inn Chico – Conference Center
685 Manzanita Ct.
Chico, CA 95926

FRESNO

October 14, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Fresno City Council Chambers
2600 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA  93721

We are planning on attending the hearing in Temple City.  If you attend one of these important hearings, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
In addition, Run on Sun offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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