08/06/18

  08:02:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 177 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, PWP Rebates, Electric Cars that Run on Sun

PWP Offering Rebates for EVs and EV Chargers!

We just learned that Pasadena Water and Power is offering a series of rebates for electric vehicles and for their chargers - how cool is that?  Here’s the scoop…

PWP EV Rebates

EV Rebates

New or used EVs, whether purchased or leased, qualify for rebates.  The rebate is $250, but that doubles if you get your EV from a Pasadena dealership.  (And if you participate in PWP’s income-qualifying programs, the rebate can be as much as $750!) 

To qualify, you must have an active PWP electric account, be the legal owner of the EV and permanently reside at the address shown on the PWP account. 

The rebate is limited (if you can call this a limitation!) to two EVs every three years!

EV Chargers

Now that you have an EV, you need a charger and PWP is offering rebates on those as well!  A standard Level 2 (240 VAC) charger qualifies for a $200 rebate, but a Wi-Fi enabled Level 2 charger qualifies for a $600 rebate!

You must complete the online rebate application within 180 days of purchase.  To get started, check out PWP’s EV rebate page here.

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08/04/18

  09:01:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 199 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar, Non-profit solar

Introducing Victoria Villalobos!

Victoria VillalobosRun on Sun is excited to introduce Victoria Villalobos as the latest member of the RoS Team!

Victoria comes to Run on Sun with more than ten years of project management experience.  Although new to the solar industry, Victoria is a very quick study and is already looking to help streamline operations - an area of particular expertise!

A dog lover herself, Victoria has already bonded with Prosper, the Solar Dog, and we especially were drawn to her passion for building relationships, connecting with folks from diverse backgrounds, and finding common ground.  

Victoria is also a ten-year Army veteran with deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan - so Southern California heat doesn’t phase her.  In her spare time, Victoria is studying to be an instructor for a national organization dedicated to healing the trauma of United States military veterans, and she takes great pride in doing what she can to strengthen the veteran’s community and welcome them home from service.

Bringing Victoria onboard increases our resolve as a company to do more to integrate vets into our operations, and we are eager to work with Victoria to make that resolve a reality.

Please join me in welcoming Victoria to the Run on Sun family!

07/30/18

  08:45:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 500 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, Residential Solar, Ranting

Think Your Solar Investment is Safe? Think Again!

Those of us involved in solar in sunny Southern California generally think that we have it pretty good.  The climate is just about perfect for solar - and by that I mean the political climate, every bit as much as our abundant sunshine.  From the Governor, to the legislature, to the CPUC and the CEC, generally those forces support the growth of not just solar power in general, but distributed, on your own rooftop solar in particular.  But we become complacent at our peril - both to the jobs of those in the industry as well as the investment value of all of those solar installations out there.

A recent story from Columbia, South Carolina brought this peril to mind.  As portions of the state edged closer to the existing 2% cap on net metering installations, the legislature was working on a compromise to lift the cap,  allowing more residents the opportunity to install solar and take advantage of net metering.  The utilities had other ideas - from the Greenville News:

Deep-pocketed power companies outspent the solar industry nearly $3 to $1 as part of an intensive lobbying effort during an S.C. legislative session that included efforts to curb rooftop solar’s expansion in the state.
Electric utilities spent nearly $523,000 from January through May to hire more than three dozen lobbyists to advocate for them at the State House as lawmakers decided what to do about solar incentives.

Yikes.

The result of all that lobbying?  The effort to lift the net metering cap was defeated - and local solar companies are going to be laying off employees (if not closing altogether) while affected residents will either have to forego solar, or find it far less financially viable.

Solar Rights AllianceWe delude ourselves if we think that it can’t happen here.  Utility lobbyists are in Sacramento just as they are in Columbia, and the recent forced change to net metering 2.0 in SCE territory is a reminder that our progress is not guaranteed.

Which brings me to the Solar Rights AllianceWe have written about this important organization before, and will do so in the future.  But I wanted to use this post to show how we are putting our money where our mouth is.  Starting today, we are modifying our solar installation contracts to provide an opt-in checkbox for new clients to be signed up for the Solar Rights Alliance, with Run on Sun making a donation in their name to help support the important work of organizing solar clients statewide.

We are never going to be able to match the money coming from the utilities and their allies.  But what we do have is tens of thousands of happy solar owners all across the state.  If we can organize even a fraction of them, we will be able to speak directly to policy makers and let them know that the value of installed solar power systems must be protected.  That is a fight that we need to take on, and the Solar Rights Alliance (along with our wonderful trade association, CALSSA) is key to winning that fight.

07/24/18

  09:52:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 306 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar, Ranting

Order Restored: Run on Sun Rejoins Top Solar Contractors List for 2018

2018 Top Solar Contractors ListAfter a narrow miss last year, Run on Sun has rejoined the ranks of Solar Power World’s Top Solar Contractors list for 2018.  This is our fifth appearance on the list in the last six years.  Talk about punching above your weight!

The Top Solar Contractors list was developed by Solar Power World to recognize the work completed by solar contractors across the United States. Produced annually, the Top Solar Contractors list celebrates the achievements of U.S. solar developers, subcontractors and installers within the utility, commercial and residential markets, and ranks contractors by kilowatts installed in the previous year. The 2018 list was released on July 24.

Solar Power World is very excited about the 2018 class of Top Solar Contractors,” said Kelly Pickerel, editor in chief of Solar Power World. "Our 2017 list showed impressive installation numbers after 2016’s huge rush to meet ITC requirements, and many companies were hesitant to show unavoidable installation dips after last year’s high. We’re happy to feature a strong group of thriving U.S. solar installers on the 2018 Top Solar Contractors list. These companies truly are at the top of their markets.”

Two things stand out in my mind as I look back on these past six years.  First is the incredible dedication, passion, and plain hard work that has been provided by the Run on Sun team.  We may be small, but together we are mighty!

The second, and ultimately more important (to say nothing about humbling), thing is the trust that our clients have placed with us. Every kilowatt installed represents a client’s belief that we will fulfill our promises to them.  Every referral demonstrates that we have met that challenge.  I know that the RoS crew is working hard every day (even in this heat!) to meet our commitments, and to help our clients move forward with a clean, solar-powered future.

Now bring on the Gala!

07/09/18

  09:08:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 623 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar

I've Got Solar, So Why am I Suffering in this Blackout?

Our recent heatwave is a potent reminder of a sad solar fact: generally speaking, if you have a solar power system and the grid goes down, or even just drops really low as it did in Altadena this past weekend, your solar power will also go out, leaving you sweltering in the heat with everyone else. 

Even the Sun is sad when your solar goes down!

But why?  And what can you do about it?

Anti-Islanding

Every system that Run on Sun has installed is what is known as grid-tied.  Those systems are designed to shut down when the grid goes departs from a fairly narrow range of voltage and/or frequency.  The reason for this is simple - safety.  Imagine this scenario: a tree snaps in the wind and takes down a power line.  What does the utility do?  They shut off power in that area - causing any grid-tied solar systems to shut off -  and then they send a crew out to restring the line.  Once that is done, they restore power to the area and all is well.  The grid-tied systems sense the restored grid and turn back on automagically.

But now consider this - what if your solar system didn’t shut off when the grid failed?  Well you might be happy because your A/C would still be running, but what about that excess energy that your system is feeding back to the grid?  It is possible that you would energize the very line that the utility workers are coming to repair.  Your solar system is now its own “island” of energy production, and it could pose an extreme hazard to the unwitting linespeople.  And that would be bad.

Thus the need for “anti-islanding” - the intelligence built into your inverter to keep workers safe.

Comfort is just a Microgrid Away!

So what can you do about it?  How can you keep your solar investment running even when the grid fails?  The answer is in a microgrid which requires two key features: isolation and self-starting.  The isolation follows from the anti-islanding discussion above - you need to make sure that your system cannot export power back to the grid.  This is generally handled by installing a “transfer switch” which can be either manual or automatic.  

The second step is harder - you need something to emulate the grid.  In off-grid systems that involves a bank of batteries and a special battery inverter that can use the power of the battery bank to start-up and create what appears to be a grid.  Now the solar system “sees” what looks like a stable grid and can come back online.  That sounds pretty easy, but there are complications.  In particular, the inverter that forms the grid must also be able to match the output of the solar system precisely to the needs of the house.  Remember, there is no grid out there to absorb excess energy, so you need a way to throttle the output of the array up and down to avoid over production.  

Storage is generally a key component here, as it can absorb excess power (at least until the battery is full) and help smooth out the energy flow.  All of which has historically made for an expensive addition to a solar system just to hedge against an infrequent occurrence.

Perhaps this past weekend’s outages will cause some folks to reconsider.

Cue Intersolar

Which makes the timing of this year’s Intersolar trade show ideal.  Running Tuesday-Thursday of this week (in cool San Francisco, thank you!), Intersolar is bringing together solar and storage manufacturers as they demonstrate their latest and greatest gear.  Finding a cost-effective microgrid solution is our number one mission this week, and we will be pressing our friends at Enphase for as many details as possible about their approach to solving this problem - watch this space!

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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.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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