Need to get up to speed on solar or roofing? Ameco has deep reach and insights into the latest and greatest technology and innovations.
When speaking about solar power systems, most people immediately picture panels. But a solar power system consists of much more than just the panels; it consists of several parts, which we’ll discuss today.
Many individuals find the solar installation process to be very intimidating. However, if you have enough knowledge about the essential parts of a solar panel, you’ll be more self-confident going into the installation process. Additionally, we will discuss one of the solar panel companies known for providing quick and stress-free installation processes and first-rate customer service.
Now, let’s get into the components.
The part of a solar power setup that most people are familiar with is the solar panel. Photovoltaic or solar panels are highly visible and essential components of any solar energy system.
Each solar system typically consists of numerous solar panels, collectively referred to as a solar array, and each solar panel uses several sun cells.
Although they can also be positioned on the ground, solar panels are typically mounted on the roofs of buildings and automobiles. In a sense, they serve as solar's "face." You can likely determine who uses solar energy to power their home by looking for a solar panel system on their roofs.
In order to capture as much sunlight as possible during the day, they can be adjusted at various angles.
Solar panel functions because sunshine, or solar irradiation, encourages electrons to pass through solar cells built into the solar panels, which causes the solar panels to produce direct current (DC) energy. Contrary to popular belief, sunlight, not heat, creates electricity.
One of the solar energy advantages can be provided by using inverters. They serve the function of converting the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into 240V AC electricity, which powers every appliance in your house. The inverter is a robust piece of machinery that operates continuously for the duration of your system, making it the component most prone to develop problems. This indicates that they typically only have a 10-year warranty.
Practically speaking, an inverter enables you to use other main electrical items that can be plugged into the electrical outlets of your solar panels, including computers, vacuum cleaners, lamps, and so on.
String inverters and microinverters are the two primary categories of inverters. The energy from a string of panels (for residential systems, this is often the whole system) is converted into AC electricity by a string inverter and used in your house or other properties. The best solar panel has microinverters mounted on the rear, enabling the energy produced by the panels to exist separately from one another.
In a string inverter system, the performance of the other panels is likewise impacted when partial shadowing occurs on one panel. This is when microinverters come to help by raising the cost of the system while letting the panels work independently and allowing you to gain the benefits of solar energy fully.
A solar power meter, commonly referred to as power system metering is an additional optional component. Using a solar power meter, you can track how much solar power your panels are supplying to your home. A power meter lets you understand and follow your system's performance. You can analyze, modify, or repair your system to ensure optimal effectiveness.
The racking/mounting is the third key part of a home solar power system. This is how your panels are firmly fastened to your roof. You won't have to worry about your selection of mounting or racking if you hire a reputable company for your solar panel installation, as they only use high quality equipment.
The extra energy your solar panels produce can be sent back into the grid if it is greater than your home needs. On the other hand, energy will be extracted from the grid if you use power during periods when your solar panels aren't generating it or if you use more energy than they generate. This is where the electric meters come in. The meter tracks the amount of electricity coming into and leaving your house, enabling homeowners with solar panels to reduce their monthly energy costs. Thanks to this, grids are important for achieving an all in one solar power system.
Batteries are one of the most convenient solar energy solutions, as they store daytime energy, which may be used at night when the system is not producing electricity. Battery technology is gradually becoming a more practical solution for people who largely utilize their energy at night.
First and foremost, AMECO Solar & Roofing, a leading solar panel company based in California, partners with top-tier manufacturers. We want the best for our customers; that's why we use goods that will function for decades, requiring no upkeep from our consumers.
Additionally, AMECO makes things simple for its clients by acting as a one-stop shop that handles many services simultaneously, saving you a great deal of time and effort.
So, if you’re planning to go solar, contact AMECO now for a reliable and high-quality solar power system.
One of the most effective incentives for promoting homeowners and business owners to go solar is the solar investment tax credit (ITC), sometimes known as the federal solar tax credit. It enables you to deduct 26% of the overall cost of your solar project from the federal taxes you must pay, helping to mitigate the upfront cost of solar.
Most of us know that the federal government has been supporting solar growth for the past decade, so what's so special about the ITC?
A tax credit is a decrease in the income tax you would have otherwise owed, dollar for dollar. For instance, getting a $1,000 federal tax credit lowers your outstanding $1,000 in federal income taxes. The federal tax credit is occasionally referred to as an Investment Tax Credit or ITC, although it differs from the ITC provided to companies that operate solar systems.
The federal residential solar energy credit is a tax deduction that can be used to reduce a portion of the price of a solar photovoltaic (PV) system on federal income taxes. (Although they are outside the purview of this advice, other types of solar energy are also eligible for comparable credits.)
The system must be installed and produce power for a US-based residence during the tax year. The IRS has equated "put in service" with "finished installation" even though it lacks a clear-cut definition.
Congress extended the ITC in December 2020; it now offers a 26 % tax credit for systems installed in 2020–2022 and a 22 % tax credit for solar panels and other systems in 2023. (Systems, before December 31, 2019, qualified for a 30 % tax credit.) If Congress doesn't extend the tax credit, it will end in 2024.
However, the ITC has experienced some sizable modifications recently, and greater ones are on the way. And if you're considering going solar, you must comprehend how these changes will affect your decision because the California solar tax credit is anticipated to decline over time.
Using Tax Form 5695, you can submit the Solar Investment Tax Credit just once for the tax year in which your system is installed. The credit is then divided by the amount of your federal tax due, so if you receive $1,000 in credits, your tax liability will be reduced by $1,000.
There are incentives to support the launch of new sectors and promote broad adoption, and the solar ITC has done just that for the solar industry. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the federal solar tax credit is known for helping the sector grow by more than 10,000% since 2006, with an average annual growth rate of 50%.
Some argue that the sector needs subsidies like the ITC less and less as solar use increases. A home solar system is becoming more and more affordable for households around the nation as a result of ongoing cost reductions over time. These price reductions have made switching to solar energy more accessible, enabling those with limited financial resources to save money on their power bills and lessen their environmental impact.
At the end of 2019, the ITC for residential and commercial solar installations was lowered from 30 to 26% in response to falling solar costs. The 26% rate was expanded for all solar systems (residential and commercial) to the end of 2022 when it was initially intended to decrease even lower by the end of 2020. Your solar system must be in your property by December 31, 2022, to be eligible for the 26% incentive.
It's vital to remember that for all solar projects starting construction 2023, the ITC will once more decrease to 22%. The ITC permanently lowers to 10% for commercial solar projects after 2023. The ITC always reduces to 0% for residential consumers.
If you've been considering installing a new solar energy system in your house, you might be tempted to put off your purchase to benefit from even more discounted rates later. The solar panel of the future may be less expensive than today's, but the loss of significant solar incentives like the solar ITC may completely negate those savings.
If you act soon enough, you may save 26% on the overall installation cost by the end of 2022. But if you hold off too long, you run the risk of having to pay full price for a system that the government is now prepared to subsidize. So, it’s time to contact solar panel companies, and have your solar panel system installed now.
Now that we understand how solar tax credit works, it's time to talk about a solar panel installation company that offers long-lasting, low-maintenance, and reliable services. AMECO Solar & Roofing can be the best choice to assist you in going solar.
AMECO Solar & Roofing has come a long way from its beginnings in 1974. Offering trustworthy, cost-effective solar solutions to secure a future powered by clean energy and enhance the environment for everyone has been the fundamental goal of our solar panel company throughout the years.
AMECO Solar & Roofing only partners with the best solar panel manufacturers in the industry. Each potential partner must meet our high quality, convenience, and aesthetics standards.
AMECO specializes in all types of residential and commercial roofing.
It's time to take advantage of the solar panel tax credit! Contact us to see if you qualify to save 26% of your installation cost. AMECO is here for all your solar and roofing needs.
California's net energy metering (NEM) 3.0 was postponed indefinitely in February. Now, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is reviewing the matter and seeking input on a structure acceptable to the country's largest solar businesses, which accounts for half of all US solar rooftops and its residents.
But what is net energy metering, and how does it work?
Net metering is a billing technique that helps owners of solar energy systems add electricity to the grid. It is, by far, the most cost-effective technique for using a solar panel. It ensures that each additional kilowatt-hour (kWh) produced by your solar panel system is utilized to balance a kWh you need from the grid when the sun isn't out.
For example, a PV system on a residential customer's roof may create more power than they consume during daytime hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backward to offer a credit against the power used at night or when the home's electricity consumption exceeds the system's output. Only 20-40% of a solar energy system's production ever makes it into the grid.
Solar net metering provides many benefits, such as owners getting credit for the energy they contribute to the utility company when their energy demands are surpassed during the day. Consequently, the utility company purchases the power generated by your solar panels at the same price as it is sold to the consumer.
The utility providers first claimed that another customer gains no economic advantage from their neighbor's decision to go solar, probably because they do not earn from the transaction.
On May 9, the CPUC stated that it is "reopening the record" on its net energy metering 3.0 case to obtain information on some aspects of the decision. The reopening of the records pushes the CPUC's intended decision on net metering 3.0 back to July at the earliest.
The CPUC has been considering modifications to the net metering program for over a year, backed by utility interests. The CPUC's first proposal, which included a hefty tax on rooftop solar and an immediate gutting of the subsidies solar customers receive, would have rendered solar expensive for most consumers, particularly those in working and middle-class communities where solar is increasing at an extraordinary rate. It would also harm the solar markets for commercial, government, and agriculture. Following widespread public outcry and Governor Newsom's vocal opposition, the controversial intended decision was held indefinitely.
According to ROTH Capital Partners, the CPUC is currently commenting on the glide path method, and non-bypassable charges. The CPUC is seeking feedback on an alternate glide path that would provide customers with a fixed export adder. Over time, the export adder would decrease.
The deadline for opening remarks to answer the group's inquiries is June 10, and the deadline for reply to comments is June 24.
In response to the CPUC'S decision, the California Solar & Storage Association's executive director, Bernadette Del Chiaro, said they're happy that the CPUC realized how far out of sync the initially proposed judgment was with California's clean energy goals and equality ideals. Californians favor rooftop solar and will not accept a decision that taxes the sun or slows their state's progress toward clean energy by making solar costly.
She added that, at the same time, they know that special utility interests have a lot of clout and a vested interest in preventing rooftop solar from gaining traction. They'll keep working to ensure that no one is duped again by the utility profiteering that raises power prices for everyone and threatens the net metering California system's resiliency.
California's shift to a greener, solar-powered DG (Distributed Generation) future has relied heavily on net metering. Net metering will disappear unless clean, efficient, non-toxic, and affordable battery technology is produced quickly. Solar panel owners will suffer when traditional fossil fuel and nuclear reactors are built to satisfy our future power needs.
So, it is safe to say that we can celebrate the delay of the proposal and go solar as soon as possible!
And for that, it is important to choose the top solar panel company that offers high-quality services.
AMECO Solar & Roofing is one of the solar panel companies hoping that clean energy supporters and the solar power industry will succeed in their battle with the utilities.
Since 1974, completing a successful solar panel installation has been our specialization. Thanks to our team of trained and qualified experts, you can get a long-lasting and reliable solar system for your home or business.
We understand how significant it is to build a reliable connection with our customers. This is why we treat each customer as an individual and assure them that we will be there to help them even after the project is completed.
As a top solar panel company in California, Ameco Solar & Roofing works with top-tier manufacturers whose products will last for decades so that our customers won't need much maintenance.
So, if you’re looking for the best solar panel installation, contact us at (818) 751-0797.
As solar panels are becoming more common in the homes of California, many homeowners feel like they should use the newly created smart solar technology that integrates all the electrical devices in the house. That’s exactly what Span Smart Panel is for.
According to Span, their product helps homeowners control the energy flow inside their houses. It can be used for solar panel batteries, solar panels, and EV charging. The panel will help you use your energy more efficiently and intelligently.
The panel is a white rectangular box. All of the electronics inside your house get wired to the Span Smart Electric Panel, and then you can control each of them individually using their mobile app. Each Span Electrical Panel can be attached to 32 separate circuits, allowing the Smart Panel to monitor and operate the entire home. As it is weather-resistant, you can place it outdoors.
Read this Span Panel review to learn more about the features of the panel and the advantages it offers.
Span Panel is a pretty effective product itself. However, paired with a home battery system, it can be more useful and tell you how much energy is left in your battery. Furthermore, it can efficiently handle electricity during a power outage. If the outage lasts more than a day, the smart panel will help you determine whether the battery can power your home till the sun rises the next day. If you feel like any unnecessary circuits are taking away the energy from your battery, you can use Span’s remote control to turn them off.
As you will be using an electrical panel, learning further about some technical specifications is important. It accepts 1-in residential breakers and has a 100A-200A breaker.
You can connect Span Panels to WiFi, Bluetooth, and LTE/4G Internet, which means you can control the power flow inside your house even if you’re somewhere else.
The model supports a current-carrying capacity of 90 amps for each circuit. That means that the power input makes about 2,000 amps per circuit.
Besides controlling the house’s electrical system, Span Panel’s mobile app also analyzes the connected devices. If the appliances happen to malfunction, the analysis will help you understand the issue better and come up with a solution. To have better control over your battery, the app has three defined levels of priority, where you can place any circuit within those levels:
In addition, it can also be integrated into a solar panel for EV (electric vehicle) to track how much power your vehicles receive. You can also monitor how much energy you’re sending to the grid if your solar panel system is grid-tied.
Span is modern-looking and equipped with a glass door, so it will look great no matter where you install it. It can also be customized according to your preferences, so it looks nice with the interior design of your house. It is weather-resistant and can withstand sun, rain, and snow. So, if you feel like putting it outside, you can do that too without worrying about it getting spoiled.
Read about the latest updates on smart span panels. Find out how it works, its benefits, and why to choose it.
First, you need to find the right solar company that can assist you in integrating Span Smart Panel into your home. We specialize in residential and commercial solar panel installation in Southern California and provide our customers with long-lasting and reliable solutions. The services our company offers are efficient and trustworthy.
We also understand how important it is to provide great customer service. We approach every one of our customers with special care and understand their needs and expectations.
We recognize the value of building a trustworthy relationship with our clients. We not only make sure the solar panel installation goes smoothly, but we also want our customers to know that we’re always there if they need help after the project is completed.
As a solar panel company that has been in the industry for forty-eight years, we have gained decades worth of knowledge that helps us during our operations. However, we never stop learning and looking for new ways to improve our services. Span Smart panel is one of the innovations we offer that helps us stay up to date.
We ensure that the solar items we choose are long-lasting so that you don’t have to spend money on maintenance. We have agreements with manufacturers whose goods promise to serve for decades. That is why we are considered a first-rate solar panel company in Southern California.
So don’t hesitate to contact our solar panel installation company for further information about Span panels and other services we provide. We will be more than happy to assist you in your journey of going solar.
Your roof is your primary physical layer of protection for your most precious belongings. Underneath it, your family is safe, and your hard-earned furniture and memories are safe from destructive forces of the elements. Add in solar capacity, and your home’s value shoots up. The importance of the right contractor for this job is undeniable, so to help you choose the right provider, here are a few important points, because the last thing you want is to pay someone to do a lousy job, it’s a vital investment, and you deserve the best service.
Solar roofing can be pricey, but rather pay more now and ensure that you are set for a good number of years. Companies who skip steps or don’t use the right tools, always lead to the client paying more in the long-run. Watch out for companies who overpromise and under-deliver. If there’s no record from previous clients to back up their services, rather search for another service provider.
Publicly available references are the best evidence of a successful business. Check websites and do your research before employing a contractor.
What should I be on the lookout for?
When you hit the search on “solar roofing companies near me”, there are a few guidelines to bear in mind. Searching in the right places and knowing what you want in specific detail is how you will get in contact with the finest local roofing service provider. The more research you do, the better your chances of success.
Determining whether you need a replacement or just patching up is important to consider. Getting quotes from a few different professional local solar roofing companies can help you to figure out exactly what you need, bearing in mind that most roofs last about 20 years before the structure needs to be completely replaced. Even with your research, a professional will be able to see fine details in your roof that you might not be aware of. To make sure you are on the right track, rather call a solar roofing contractor with a good reputation.
What will they look at?
The contractor will have a close look at the whole structure, from the top side of the wall, up to where the roof starts, all the supports, the entire roof cavity, as well as the outside. Leaks are a sign of damage so don’t ignore it if you spot it! Dents are cause for concern about leaking, as is swelling. Some solar roofing companies near you can do a lousy job and leave you with more problems than what you started with – be cautious. Others will understand the value of a solid roof before attempting other installations.
I’d like to contact a solar roofing contractor close to where I live – are they trustworthy?
Luckily, there are lots of roofing companies around, so you should be able to find a good one. It’s always a good idea to support a local contractor, but sometimes it could end in poor service. To avoid mistakes, get in touch with a few different companies for quotes and advice. This way, you can figure out who knows what they’re talking about and who is simply improvising to gain business.
Be on the alert if your closest solar contracting agency doesn’t have online references and recommendations to avoid disappointment. You could also have a look at their registration to make sure everything is above board. In hazardous seasons, with heavy weather, it’s crucial to find the best in the business.
What type of roof is for me?
It all depends on your taste and the environmental conditions that prevail in your area. Metal roofing can give your house a long-lasting, stylish, modern look, while shingles can be more rustic and classic.
Metal is often more expensive than shingles. Either option is strong and trustworthy, both with positives and negatives to consider before making the final decision. It all depends on what you need and what look you are going for. This is why you need a professional’s touch and advice.
How long will my roof last before I need to replace it?
This is always a tough one to answer, because every roof has a different structure and layout. However, generally, asphalt shingles can have a lifespan of about 25 years while metal roofs can go up to 65 years, or even more! It all depends on local weather conditions, the baseline structure and maintenance of the condition over the years. Occasionally contacting a roofing contractor near you now and then can save a lot of money and extend the longevity of your roof. No one likes being surprised with a huge invoice that you can’t avoid, so stay a step ahead, and plan.
If my roof is leaking, do I need to replace it?
Leaking can be a serious sign that you need a replacement. The longer you leave the problem, the worse it gets. If you leave the leaks for too long, it can lead to extensive damage and even collapse, which makes it very dangerous to ignore. If you weren’t informed how old your roof is by the previous owner, calling local roofing contractors to get an estimate might give you some peace of mind. It can also help you plan and budget for expenses.
Depending on the degree of damage, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to replace your roof due to leaking. In some cases, you might just need a little patching up to stop further damage.
Roof replacement can be completed within only a day, depending on the size. It sounds like a big ordeal, but it’s not as bad as it seems when working with a professional company.
The shingles on my roof are changing color. Why is that?
The discoloration of shingles is usually caused by a lack of upkeep and maintenance. It can also occur in humid or wet conditions which causes mold, fungus and algae growths. Research how to keep it clean and well-maintained. If you struggle, don’t hesitate to phone a contractor. It might just save you plenty in the long run.
An estimate of a new roof?
There are too many factors to get a precise estimate online. Most companies give free quotes. Do your research and make a few calls!
Roofing is a big deal – after all, most of what you own and value will be housed underneath it, and therefore the value of a good roof cannot be underestimated. Much of what will make a roofing job successful, lies with picking the right company – but how do you know who will be the right person for the job? Given the cost of such an investment, you mustn’t waste your time with the wrong company – let’s talk about how that works.
The cost of services is often the main influencing factor in the decision-making process. Although the budget does play a role, you are likely to get services to the value of what you pay for, which is why a cheap job is often not a good idea. Look at references – if the company offers great prices, but no former clients to back up their claims, stay away.
Look at all your choices and check, check, and check again for references and happy clients. Even if the cost is slightly higher, you will never regret employing a reliable roofing company. Better workmanship means fewer problems in the long run, which is ideal.
What should I look out for when looking for roofing companies near me?
To get the most bang for your buck, you need to ask the right questions to ensure that you employ the best out of the local roofing companies near you.
You need to determine whether your roof needs to be replaced, or whether some repair work will be adequate to cover your needs. Most roofs need to be replaced after about 25 years, as this is the approximate timeline for vital materials to start wearing out. By googling for the best roofing contractor near me phrase you'll be able to find a list of possible roofing contractors for you to pick from.
What should I be looking out for?
Anything from shingles that are either missing or no longer holding, to suspicious roof leaks, additional water damage, inexplicable dents or swelling and even bald spots are all cause for concern. If you have recently had work done on your roof and you are noticing these issues, the company responsible for the work should be held accountable.
I’d like to make use of a roofing contractors close to my house – how do I know they are legit?
Supporting the local economy is a great idea, but if it comes at the risk of shoddy workmanship, don’t hesitate to call in help from further afield. Particularly in high-risk seasons (storms, wind etc) or after regional damage, such as in the extreme case of a tornado, many unreputable local roofing companies tend to try and sell their services, often at a lower rate, to undercut the reputable roofing companies near your area.
While there is nothing wrong with supporting your closest roofing company, you need to be 100% sure that they can deliver the services they claim to offer. It also helps to check their company registration, if the work turns out to be faulty. Make sure you get as much background as possible about online references and warranties.
What type of roof should you go for?
This is a layered question, as many factors will influence the answer. New roofs are often made out of either asphalt shingles or metal. Each type of material comes with its own set of reasons why it may or may not be suitable for certain applications. Metal roofs tend to be the material of choice for a more sleek and modern look, but don’t make the decision based on looks alone.
There is no one answer to this question. The most common options for new roofs include asphalt shingles and metal. Both types have pros and cons. If you’re looking for the most affordable option, shingles may be a good choice. If you’re looking for something modern and unique, a metal roof may be better.
My roof leaks – at what point does repair become replacing?
The type of leak will provide an answer to this question – and it is not a question that can be answered by a layman. Telltale signs on older roofs, such as a worn-out area or missing shingles can give a lot of evidence about the roof’s overall condition, but depending on the extent of the damage, the chances of the roof needing to be replaced are quite high.
If the damage is limited to certain areas, you may be able to get away with only repair work. Consult your roofing company for advice about the best way forward.
What lifespan can I expect from my roof?
As a guideline, asphalt shingles can last between 20 to 30 years, depending on the maintenance that is performed during this time. If your roof is already this age, hitting the search button for “best roofing companies in my area” might not be a bad idea. Even if the roof is still in good condition, you will not regret getting a free assessment. Being ahead of the game with your roofing situation can save you a lot of heartache and damages in years to come.
The lifespan of a metal roof can be anywhere between 30 to 70 years. While it is a very durable option, the local climate, and maintenance over time all play a role in its longevity. This option might cost more but is worthwhile in the end.
Replacing a roof doesn’t take as long as you might think. Depending on the size of the building and the size of the roofing team, an average house can be re-roofed in a day or two. Larger buildings like office blocks or very large houses will take longer.
The shingles on my roof are a strange color – why?
Shingles can be susceptible to many influencing factors, from growths like fungus, algae or mold, which are very likely in a humid climate, to discoloration on account of weather conditions. If these problems are not addressed, the discoloration will continue and can be destructive. Get a pro in if you cannot manage to control it on your own!
What does a new roof cost?
A huge variety of variables influence this question, from the size of the roof to the materials used. Your best bet is to get a free quote that considers all these factors.
If you are a homeowner in Southern California Edison territory, you probably know how high the electricity cost can get there. Not only are rates increasing more often, but it seems like they’re being raised higher each time.
Let’s take a further look to understand this situation and try to find alternative solutions.
The main reasons for rate increases are the growth of natural gas prices because of the economic changes and the fact that the utilities have to cover the costs of paying employees and services and buy new materials and equipment to avoid staying behind. As SCE has claimed in their latest notice, the rate increase is made for daily operations and affording equipment and electricity grid. Additionally, It also will cover the anticipated costs for the next two years (2021-2024).
SCE has already applied for a rate increase in 2021 and the next three years. According to that application, the rate increase was equal to $14 in 2021, will be $4 in 2022, and $6 in 2023. Compared to the previous year, the rate of increased growth will be 14%. To understand how big this number is, it is important to know that the increase was only 18% over the last ten years. It will be difficult to manage such abrupt rate increases.
If you live within the SCE territory, you might consider it a more efficient source of energy. So what can you do to pay less money for electricity? The answer is evident – you can consider going solar. You can produce power from the sun, which is low maintenance and a reliable source of energy. To do so, you will need to use a solar panel system. Their usage significantly reduces the number of bills you pay for electricity, helping you save thousands of dollars annually.
First and foremost, you will pay significantly less money for electricity. Besides the fact that it will help you pay fewer energy bills, solar energy is much better for the environment. Today, most of our energy is still created by burning fossil fuels, accelerating the emission of greenhouse gasses, which, in part, are responsible for causing air pollution. So, if you’re thinking of having a more environmentally friendly life, then going solar can be a great start.
It will be even better if you start using solar panels for EV. You can charge your electric vehicle using the sun’s energy and save even more. Considering the SCE rate increase, this could be the perfect time for going solar.
If you are trying to figure out which solar panel is more appropriate for your house and the reason for different solar panel types, then you have come to the right place. However, there are two systems, in particular, we’re going to discuss here; commercial and water heating solar panels.
A commercial solar panel system consists of multiple photovoltaic (PV) solar panels, which allows the system to generate even more energy. It is perfect for larger buildings to meet their power needs. Commercial solar panel is also low maintenance and has zero greenhouse gas or carbon emissions. They generate enough energy during the day so they can be used at night too. And the best part is, they last for about 15-20 years. So, if you are looking for a system appropriate for a larger building, then commercial solar panel installation is exactly for you. You can contact AMECO Solar and Roofing for the best commercial solar panel.
Many homeowners in Southern California choose to heat their pools with gas or an electric heater. As a result, they spend twice as much money as they would if they went for a solar panel pool heater. Since it uses energy from the sun, you won’t have to spend money on expensive gas or worry about the SCE increase rate.
Moreover, you will get the chance to enjoy swimming in your pool for four to six more months.
The solar panel hot water heater works through its circulation pump, which pours the water into the solar collector and then runs into the riser tubes where the water gets heated by the sun. This is an automatic process that continues until the water reaches the appropriate temperature.
With a hot water solar panel, you can have warm water in your house AND your pool. No need to worry about running out of hot water ever again. And you can use water for house chores, cleaning, and meal preparation as much as you want. With solar panel company AMECO Solar and Roofing, it is possible to enjoy long-lasting warm showers without worrying about spending too much money, because of SCE increased rate.
As a homeowner who wants to switch to solar, it is important to understand the difference between solar panel batteries and chargers; regardless of how similar these two items sound, there’s actually a slight difference.
The solar panel battery has one important function: to store power. It accumulates and keeps the excess energy generated during the day that you can use later. Especially after the increased energy rate, having stored power will be beneficial.
One of the worries that homeowners with even the best solar panel have is how it will generate energy during relatively colder days and power outages. That is why we have solar panel batteries.
On the other hand, a solar panel charger can be used to charge the various electrical devices in your house, such as a cell phone, laptop, fans, etc.
Founded in 1974, we have decades worth of knowledge as a solar company. In addition to being proficient with the services our company offers, we understand the value of providing excellent customer service. As a commercial and residential solar panel company, the solutions we provide for homeowners in Southern California are reliable, trustworthy, and long-lasting.
Throughout forty-eight years of experience, we have been open to innovations in solar panel installation and learned how to adapt to them.
As one of the most prominent solar panel installation companies, our approach is unique for every customer, as we prioritize their needs and visions. As a family-owned company, we understand the importance of establishing a trustworthy relationship with our customers. Not only do we ensure that the solar panel installation is a smooth process, but we want our customers to know we’re always available if they need assistance even after the project is complete.
When choosing solar products, we want to be sure that they will be long-lasting, so you won’t have to spend money on constant repairs. As the best solar panel company in Southern California, we have partnerships with manufacturers whose products guarantee decades of energy production.
We specialize in commercial and residential solar panel installation in Southern California, so don’t hesitate to contact us for further information.
We take care of every step of your solar journey by designing the solar panel, installing it with our team of specialists, arranging an inspection, and taking care of the paperwork. And last but not least, with us, you won’t have to worry about the SCE rate increase, as the energy produced from the sun is completely free.
Using solar energy is always a good idea, as it helps reduce air pollution caused by fossil fuels and is beneficial for the environment. But why is now the best time for going solar?
The latest solar panel news states that vast economic challenges in 2021 have resulted in increased solar costs, perhaps the highest ever. According to a Solar Energy Industries Association report from last year, some aspects of the solar industry experienced a price growth of 18%.
Across the board, the solar panel installation price has gone up by 30%.
One of Australia's largest solar panel installation companies reported that their supply agreement with the panel brand they cooperate with has increased by 50% in the last three months.
It also appears that having a fixed-price supply agreement is no guarantee, as Chinese manufacturers are canceling those deals and offering new, higher pricing, despite the threat of a lawsuit.
An inquiry by the US Commerce Department led to an investigation of whether solar manufacturers utilized companies in Southeast Asia to avoid American taxes on Chinese imports. The investigation might impede the ambitions of some utility-scale developers and installers.
Some solar panel components manufactured in Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam could face the same export control imposed by the investigating agency on Chinese manufacturing companies. In October 2021, the four nations made-up 85% of all solar panel shipments into the United States.
According to experts, broadening tariffs might worsen pricing and delivery delays, which already negatively affect the solar industry of the United States.
Research released on March 10 by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie states that manufacturers of solar projects have already canceled at least 5% of their intended production for 2022 and delayed at least another 8% until 2023 or later. This can lead to the supply-demand mismatch factor discussed above, which will lead to having a more expensive solar panel for sale.
While solar panels are still affordable, you should take this opportunity and go solar. It is important to find the top solar panel company that'll provide you with trustworthy and affordable solar solutions. One of those solar panel companies is AMECO Solar and Roofing.
AMECO began its operation as a solar panel company in 1974 and, since then, has been the epitome of excellent customer service and first-rate installation work.
Throughout 48 years of work, we have put our belief in technology and the benefits it provides, creating the top-performing solar panel system. As the industry evolves, we continue to expand our knowledge and sharpen our skills so we may provide you with quality solar panel installations.
AMECO Solar and Roofing makes sure that the transition to go solar is a smooth and stress-free process. Our professional team of installers considers our customer's needs, expectations, and concerns and provides personal customer service to every one of them. Even after the installation process is complete, our customer service team is always ready to assist our clients in case they have any questions or concerns. These are the top qualities of the best solar panel company.
Don’t lose the chance to go solar now, and contact us at (562) 633-4400!
As Enphase has announced its release of solar inverters, it is important for people who use solar panels to learn its benefits. Enphase IQ8 upgrade, which is an exciting update, promises to be the most advanced battery backup for stabilizing power. It will also make sure that you will not come across power interruptions every time in case of bad weather.
Of course, backup power without the need to use batteries would be ideal and much more convenient. But before explaining the benefits and why you should consider getting a solar panel inverter, it would help to understand how solar panels work. This basic understanding will allow you to utilize them more efficiently.
The inverters’ main function is that converts the AC (alternating current) energy into DC (direct current). DC energy can be stored in batteries. In the future, when the power in your house suddenly goes off, you can rely on your inverter to convert the AC energy into DC and stop worrying about not having enough energy for your appliances to run. This function can also serve you well during rainy days. Even though they don’t occur that often, still using an inverter will be a backup for not running out of energy during rainy days. It will allow you to use the restored power in your grid during winter.
Besides, the IQ8 series provides six models, all of which have their own power capacity. With this wide range of models, you won’t have to worry about finding the appropriate inverter for your panel.
For example, IQ8A (max input is 295 W – 500 W), IQ8H (max input is 320 W – 540+ W), or IQ8M (max input is 235 W – 460 W) which are higher capacity models, can be used for larger solar panels.
If you have a smaller, more residential solar panel, then the model IQ8+ (max input is 235 W – 440 W) will be the right choice for you.
Another important aspect of this is when you convert the DC energy into AC energy, you are also ensuring you are not wasting any energy. In case of the panel produces more energy than needed, a solar panel kit with a battery and inverter stores the energy back in the grid. This way, you can use it later for your electronics, during days that are not very sunny. This feature is not only useful economically and financially but also is beneficial to the environment. So when using inverters and saving energy, you’re doing good to yourself, nature, and future generations. And if you want to learn how much energy you are consuming and producing, you can do that with the app specifically designed for that. The app helps you to track the management of the Enphase systems. You can also turn on and off your appliances with this app.
The first type of inverter is the string inverter. It connects a series of panels (strings) to the inverter and converts the energy generated by the whole string into alternating current (AC). This way, if you encounter any difficulties with your panels, you will have less produced energy on the string.
Next, we have microinverters. As their name suggests, they are smaller in size. They must be installed on every panel. This way, if one of the panels experiences any problems, it will not affect the functionality of the other panels.
The high-performance inverter Enphase IQ8 is equipped with a special chip. This makes switching between on-grid and off-grid more coherent. Its special breakthrough is Burst Mode.
The technology ensures you have electricity even during cloudy and gray days. In case of new features, the system does the automatic update itself through the Internet so you won’t have to spend any time doing it yourself.
What IQ8 Enphase does that has actually never been done before, is allowing the installation of any kind of battery storage. Prior to this upgrade, the amount of storage your batteries had depended on how large your solar panel system was. Enphase IQ8 inverter is able to act without a battery and provide you with sunlight backup. Not only that, but Enphase IQ8 availability in your house gives you the ability to control the flow of the energy. Its technology is smart enough to understand the overall energy flow inside the house and adjust its functions based on them. If it sees the panel catches more energy but consumes less, it will immediately understand the situation; it will shut the system down until the excess energy is completely finished.
In case of an emergency or accident, the system’s Rapid Shutdown will immediately turn off the solar power, which would allow first responders and utility employers to do their job safely.
IQ8 can serve its duty, whether it is connected to the utility grid or not, due to its fast processing. Its speed helps its system create an AC microgrid that directly processes the panel’s output. As a result, you will have your own power grid wherever your solar panels are installed, so the DC to AC inversion process will go without having to send electricity to the utility grid.
Another important aspect is Enphase IQ8’s cutting-edge battery technology. The Recharge battery does the important function of storing power. As it keeps the excess energy accumulated throughout the day, you can let go of the worry of not having electricity during the night or power outages. So, you will no longer need to have a solar panel kit with a battery and inverter. Though the microinverters of Enphase IQ8 cannot store as much energy as batteries do, you can generate and consume solar power even when there are grid outages.
Finding the most experienced solar panel provider will take care of your installation process and provide quality products. AMECO Solar and Roofing, which is one of the best companies in the industry, can find the right solution for you. Having over 50 years of experience under our belt, we can provide service that meets your needs and offer solutions using advanced technology. Our competitive rates give you the opportunity to shop around before you decide to move forward. Additionally, we can provide online consultations if you would like to learn more about the installation process remotely. After that, you can go ahead and start doing your Enphase IQ8 review, as using an inverter is beneficial. We would be more than happy to accompany you on your solar journey.
Hopefully, you understood the importance of using inverters with your solar panel. Enphase IQ8 is a great investment for homeowners who want to upgrade their solar energy production as it is sustainable and includes 25 years of limited warranty. After you have gotten your solar panels from AMECO Solar and Roofing, consider looking for Enphase IQ8 for sale, as it will give you better value over time.
If you’re considering going solar and trying to figure out how many panels you need for your home, you’ve come to the right place. The number of solar panels needed for any given property depends on various factors such as geographic location, climate, family lifestyle, and much more. We can guide you through this entire process so you have all the necessary information to make an educated decision before choosing among solar panel types or installing a solar panel system.
You’ve probably figured out why cardinal directions would be relevant for a solar panel installation and may have a good hunch as to why architectural factors would be important.
Most of us know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. However, it would take an expert to properly explain why solar panels are the most efficient when they face south, and to quantify the impact shading will have on performance. The good news is that you don’t need to hire an architect or a scientist – a solar specialist can show you exactly what needs to be installed where in order to dodge most of the shadows cast upon by trees, chimneys, and other objects that might hinder direct sunlight. AMECO’s Energy Experts will be able to create a 3D rendering of your property and advise on the optimal layout given your home’s specifics!
If you live in beautiful sunny SoCal, then you’ve won the solar lottery. Whether you need a commercial solar panel for your business or a residential solar panel for your home, AMECO will calculate the panels needed based on usage, desired aesthetic features, and some formulas they need to compute, giving you the most advantageous outcome possible. Given the microclimates in Southern California, your solar production can vary drastically depending on your specific microclimate. AMECO’s Energy Experts take this into account when determining how many panels your system will require!
A common question we receive is “my neighbor has 20 panels, but you are recommending 30 panels. Why do I need more panels when we live in the same size house?” Let’s do a side-by-side comparison between two families who are neighbors and live in identical 3,000 square foot homes. In Family A, we have a young married couple who work long hours during the week and enjoy weekend getaways outside of the house to wind down and relax. Since they barely spend any time at home, they usually end up with an electricity bill of $100/month. Family B, however, is on the other end of the spectrum. They consist of middle-aged parents who love entertaining guests on a regular basis and two teenage kids who are either glued to their electronics or are inviting their own friends to swim in their pool on the weekends. Family B is paying $400 a month! How is this possible? Yes, they both live in 3,000 square foot homes, but their usage differs tremendously.
Oftentimes, buying a new electric appliance triggers clients to look into solar to avoid the increased electricity bills. The question is – how much energy will we consume with this new appliance? Our Energy Experts are trained to provide highly accurate projections no matter the appliance. We have formulas for EVs, Pool Pumps, Pool Heaters, Central Air, Heat Pumps. You name it, we’ve got it!
With over forty years of experience under our belt, AMECO Solar & Roofing is considered one of the best solar companies in Southern California. We take pride in our work and guarantee customer satisfaction. All you have to do is call us at (818) 751- 0797 or email email@example.com. In a 30-minute Virtual Consultation, our Energy Experts can explain how solar works, assess how many panels you will need, and review potential layouts, equipment options, and financing options! Gone are the days of waiting for hours for a solar panel company rep to show up to give a high-pressure sales pitch and no information. We look forward to assisting you!
Reduced electricity bills, environmental sustainability, 24/7 renewable energy supply, and more is possible with a solar panel system. The solar energy that’s generated thanks to a photovoltaic panel (PV) system has no equivalent. Imagine how precious it is; just one hour of consuming the sun’s energy is enough to meet the energy needs worldwide for one year. Isn’t it insane? Now, imagine how useful it will turn out for your household or business? Yes, let’s not forget that you can conduct a solar panel installation for your business (commercial solar panel system) and your house (residential solar panel system).
But do you know much about solar panels? Well, it’d be great to learn a lot about PVs alongside solar energy to know what you will pay for. Let’s explore the solar world together!
Solar Panel 101
Not to overwhelm you with all the details about solar panels, let’s just acknowledge the basics and equip ourselves with the apt knowledge.
About Solar Energy
Have you ever admired the sunlight? When the sun shines, it radiates a palette of beautiful colors and makes even the worst day feel like a blessing. Turns out, it is also a source of energy. The sunlight turns into energy – solar power – through the photovoltaic effect. Put scientifically, the photovoltaic effect is the process of generating electric current and voltage in a material when exposed to light – when exposed to the sunlight in the case of solar energy. And this magical process provides the world with a renewable resource to consume. To access solar power, you need to purchase a solar panel system.
But do you know that there are many types of PVs? So, which one should you choose?
Solar Panel Types
The most common types of PVs include monocrystalline, polycrystalline, thin-film, amorphous silicon, and biohybrid. There are a few factors that you should consider while going for a particular type of solar panel. No matter which one you choose, you should ensure how affordable it is for you, whether it suits the space you’d allocate, and what you want to get from the solar panel installation. So, let’s go one by one to figure out which suits you.
These PVs are less spacious, more expensive, yet efficient enough.
These ones are cheaper due to the simpler manufacturing processes; however, they require more space. You can consider these as a residential solar panel system rather than a commercial one because it is not efficient enough to be used for a business.
These PVs are so flexible due to the materials they’re composed of that you can choose thin-film ones no matter why you go solar. A considerable advantage is that thin-film modules provide partial coverage the best – no matter the shade, snow, dirt, etc.; these ones work almost equally efficiently like during times of total exposure to the sunlight.
#4 Amorphous Silicon
The layers that these ones have increase efficiency. However, compared to other types, these are still less efficient. Plus, these require a lot more space yet can handle higher temperatures.
Even though this may sound exaggerated, the truth is that these PVs provide 100% efficiency. To imagine how blessed you are to have biohybrid solar panels, I’d note that traditional photovoltaic panels (PVs) provide solely 40% efficiency. Don’t rush to assume that this type is costly – thanks to being created from plant-based materials rather than metals, biohybrid solar panels are a lot less expensive.
#6 Solar Shingles
Roof solar panel is a trend nowadays. Solar shingles look modern and shinier on the roof, while still delivering the same solar energy to the consumer. If you’re the kind of person who prefers design over everything else, then you’ll love these. Of course, the price is higher for this type but definitely worth it.
Of course, it’d be better to consult the solar panel company of your choice not to be misled. I’m pretty sure that the company you choose will provide you with additional information about a pool solar panel, hot water solar panel, solar panel pool heater, electric solar panel, and other extravagances present in the solar world.
The 4-Step Mechanism Behind Solar Panels
Step 1 – Absorb Sunlight
The process of sustaining solar energy starts from absorbing sunlight. Initially, PVs absorb the sunlight as direct current (DC) electricity during daylight. The method of absorbing the sun’s energy comes into play because of the silicon cell layers that solar panels have. Every photovoltaic panel (PV) has one positive and one negative silicon cell layer forming an electric field. Such a controversial mechanism inside the solar panel creates the possibility of producing the electric current.
Step 2 – DC to AC
Alternatives exist for the second step. For the first scenario, if you live or work in a building sustaining DC electricity, then just skip this part.
However, if where you live or work doesn’t sustain DC electricity and instead sustains alternative current (AC) electricity, then keep reading. The second step is all about converting DC electricity to AC electricity. This happens with the help of an inverter or so-called AC Drives. These electronic devices are responsible for converting DC electricity to AC electricity to put solar energy into functioning. By the way, an inverter can either be installed on the solar panel or come separately. Clarify it with the solar panel company of your choice to know every little thing about your purchase.
Step 3 – Energy Distribution
Seems like everything is in place: the sunlight is absorbed, DC electricity is converted to AC electricity. So, what’s missing? Now, it’s the time for the building to light up – the current runs through the electrical solar panel. Nothing special happens as after being converted to AC electricity, the solar energy gets distributed all over the space as it is in the case of electricity from the utility company.
Step 4 – Energy Surplus and Shortage
Similar to the second step of this process, step 4 comes with alternatives. Here, it’s all about solar energy surpluses and shortages. It is important to know how solar energy can be balanced to ensure that you are sustained with enough resources every day.
The first solution is net metering. Some days are sunnier than others, right? PVs absorb abundant energy during those sunnier ones and send the surplus energy to the local electric grid. On the contrary, during other days, when it is impossible to get enough energy from the sun, the solar panel system takes saved energy from the grid and sustains you with power regardless of circumstances. As a result, no energy gets lost, no money gets spent – everything stays balanced.
The second solution is the solar panel battery – an energy-storage system. If you install one alongside the PV system, you will have nothing to think about. With a PV battery, you start capturing excess energy to consume when needed. The simplest example is to capture solar energy in the daytime and consume it at night. Such a system helps save energy, money, and time. If you decide to install one, be confident that you will maximize solar energy generation and consumption by at least 60%.
The Benefits of Solar Panels
The science behind which solar panel type to choose or how solar panels work is good to comprehend. However, the best part is to know the benefits that purchasing a PV system will bring to you.
#1 Reduction of Energy Bills
There is no charge for producing electricity. If you were obligated to pay monthly fees to the utility before consuming solar energy, you have no obligation while consuming solar power. The only thing you should take care of is solar panel installation alongside an incremental cost for kWh per square meter of panel surface. That’s it!
#2 Tax Credits and Rebates
Imagine consuming a resource and getting a return on investment – a possibility if you go solar. Different types of tax credits and rebates exist, depending on your location. For instance, the federal income tax credit provides 30% of total system costs from installation and equipment. Or, Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) get generated throughout the whole year, providing you the opportunity to sell the accumulated amount to utility companies and get a significant return on the initial investment. Such tax credits and rebates are many – just take your time to find ones that work in your city. You can even take your time and get a consultation with Ameco – a viable solar panel company for you.
#3 Accumulation in Savings
This benefit is a two-way thing. On the one hand, by lowering your energy bills, you have the possibility to save money. This means that you can save it with the bank, right? Great! On the other hand, installing PVs on the roof increases your house value substantially. With such a house value, you get the chance to sell the house at a much higher price than you could ever think of. This means that the resale value of your property rises, which is a long-term investment, right? Perfect!
#4 Environmental Sustainability
Most importantly, when you go solar, you become environmentally sustainable. The primary benefit is that by consuming solar energy, you take the opportunity of combating greenhouse gas emissions and reducing pollution. People who always think about making the world a cleaner and greener place can consider switching to electric vehicles (EVs) and start using a solar panel for EV. These people will fight greenhouse gas emissions and reduce fossil fuel pollution on the road. And all of this without spending excess finances because you use solar energy.
From design to functionality, roofs are an integral part of your house. Not only do roofs help you live a worriless life without leakage or moss growth problems, but they also add value to the overall look of the home. However, roofing is not as simple as it may seem. If not done right, the home will be ruined regarding its overall look and safety. That is why it is essential to do your research before choosing roofing companies. Besides, it is crucial not to get misled by trending roofing types and select the one that suits your house and preferences. Today, many people think about choosing between solar roofing and traditional solar panel roofing. The choice isn’t as easy as it seems as there are many differences between the two types.
I suggest exploring roofing overall and then going over the key aspects of both types of roofing, including solar and traditional. Plus, later in the article, we will not only have an inclination towards one roofing type but will also get an understanding of which company to trust with roofing for our houses. Let’s go!
Roofs sustain your house. The roof’s peak is called a ridge, the bottom – eave, sloping edges – rakes. The valley is the inner intersection of two roof planes and the outside corner is called a hip. The frame underlies everything. Trust me, your house will suffer from the slightest weather change without all these parts.
To hinder leaks, roofs have a slope to shed water. Interesting fact: all roofs have slopes, no matter if we talk about flat roofs or the most common A-framed gabled roofs. For you to imagine, flat roofs have a slight incline that sustains the required drainage. Plus, flat roofs provide homeowners rooftop space for allocating different items and implementing different designs for the location. In the meantime, A-framed gabled roofs have the most significant slope capable of shedding snow and water, which manages to keep the house safe during hurricane winds too.
Did you know that some roof types come from ancient times? Yes, you read it right. For instance, Mansard roofs come from the Empire period, which is why they have a curved hip look. This type has been the favorite one of the Adams family. Why is that so? Because with Mansard roofs, the family had an opportunity to craft the additional living space with the preferred luxurious design on the roof.
Roofing material choices are infinite. The asphalt shingles, for instance, come either with three-tab shingles or architectural shingles. Nowadays, the solar industry flourishes, many solar panel companies take up roofing too. The best solar panel companies offer customers a mix of solar panel systems and roofing services – solar roofs with solar shingles. However, their offer doesn’t end with their specialization. Still, these companies offer traditional solar panel roofing with solar panels. Here, you also need to choose. But, unlike the situation with asphalt shingles, there is much more to consider before going for this or that type of roofing.
Solar panel companies provide roofing services encompassing the installation of solar panels on roofs separately. That’s one of the best things to consider as, in that way, you tap into the world of environmental sustainability no matter the roof type you own.
Nevertheless, solar panel companies didn’t limit themselves to providing roofing services encompassing the installation of solar panel systems on roofs separately. They decided to deliver fully-integrated solar roofing services that include an entire solar energy system in an existing roof. Instead of doing the roof installation in a traditional way with solar panels, companies conduct it with exclusively designed solar shingles.
So, should we go for traditional roofing with solar panels or take the new solar roofing with solar shingles?
To tell the truth, there is no evident visual differentiation between solar shingles and solar panels on the roof. Solar roofs that get installed with solar shingles provide the home with the look of consistency, minimalism, and sleekness. On the other side, solar panels have a plethora of options for roof design. If solar shingles don’t have a wide range of design selections, solar panel systems come with color variety, including panels with all-black frames, black with silver frames, etc. This is to tell you that if you love controlling everything, then you should definitely go for a traditional roof with solar panel systems. In this case, you will be able to choose the color of the solar panel’s frame that will sit on your roof for a while.
Well, well, there is a slight inconsistency regarding the pricing of these two roof types in the solar industry. Considering that different solar panel companies price roofing services differently, we will dig deeper into how they decide the cost rather than how much they put on the price tag. With solar roofs, pricing is multilayered. This means that solar panel installation companies take into account roofing materials alongside solar components while providing a price for solar roofing. To put it in another way, you should pay for solar energy in $/watt plus for roofing in $/square foot. Here, it is crucial to keep in mind that the price will fluctuate depending on the design you choose for solar tiles. The higher the number of solar tiles used in the roofing, the higher the price for the service.
Everything is way more straightforward with traditional solar panel roofing. Solar panel companies don’t need to conduct multilayered calculations. What they do is charge the client $/watt plus the solar panel installation cost. This means that regardless of what roof design you go for, you still pay for the solar energy that gets added to the rooftop of your house. Also, when you go for traditional solar panel roofing, you don’t sacrifice solar energy production capacity, but you cut the cost of roofing services.
Like every other service, roofing also has its limitations. In the case of solar shingles, these won’t work for flat roofs and roofs with multiple architectural features. Plus, as long as we discussed, solar shingles are exclusively designed in recent solar technology, right? Well, that’s why many buildings either don’t accept the installation of solar shingles on the roof or prolong the acceptance process. With this, the timeline for installation gets prolonged too.
Considering the name of the other roofing type – traditional solar panel roofing – you may think it has no limitation. Well, to some extent, if compared to solar shingles, the limitations for solar panels on the roof are much fewer. It’s better to say that it has only one limitation – design. Modern people tend to go after impeccable design and prefer not showing that they own solar panels on the roof. But don’t you think that solar panel systems on the roof are an indicator of a sustainable lifestyle? To put it in another way, for some, the way solar panel roofs look may be a limitation, but for others, it may be an opportunity to tell the community that environmental sustainability is important for them. Regarding the timeline, as it is widely accepted technology to install on the roof, there is an average period for installation – 3-5 months.
No matter which roofing type you go for, Ameco can provide you with the roofing experience you were looking for. The secret lies in almost 50 years of expertise in solar panel installations and roofing with solar shingles and solar panels. Everything is simple with Ameco, as what you want gets implemented in a professional manner. Plus, the process of getting roofing services from the solar panel company is automated for you to save time on the initial stage of the partnership. To get the service you need, you have to take four simple steps:
Congratulations – you are done with roofing procedures!
Of course, further guidance and assistance are always available for you, no matter your needs or concerns.
Plus, Ameco provides:
So, with Ameco, your solar experience will be worth it!
No matter which type of roofing you choose, ensure that your house fits that type. Even though your preferences for roof design are essential, roofing has its limitations. Note that if you want to install a solar roof with solar shingles, then there are quite a few limitations that may impede you. If a limitation comes your way, don’t get upset because you always have the option of traditional solar panel roofing!
Choose your roofing type wisely and ensure that the solar panel company you partner with has the experience in the solar industry to provide you seamless roofing experience.
Take your time, choose the best solar panel company, and go solar with Ameco!
Getting credits for the solar energy that you own aka net metering is one of the most pleasant aspects of going solar, right? Having access to more electricity than the solar panel system generates during the daytime brings a plethora of benefits.
One of the primary benefits is the reduction in electricity bills. When you have excess electricity generated during the daytime, there is no need to pay utility bills for consuming electricity at night. It’s already there, generated, let’s say, for free.
Another benefit regards the environment – do you realize that you contribute to preserving natural resources and protecting the environment by utilizing net metering?
Plus, net metering allows a neighborhood to be secured with electricity even when power outages or blackouts occur. The thing is that net metering provides the opportunity of powering several other homes with the excess electricity you already have. So, if something happens in the neighborhood, one solar owner can share solar energy with others. At the end of the day, sharing is caring!
Well, well, as you can see, net metering is a solar-type blessing for solar owners. But is it for the government? The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recently brought up a proposal for implementing changes to net metering in the state. Beneficial for solar owners, the decision regarding accepting the proposal or rejecting it got postponed by the CPUC.
Yet, in December 2021, CPUC proposed Net Energy Metering 3.0 (NEM 3.0). As Tyson Siegale, the Energy Analyst at the Protect Our Communities Foundation notes in NEM 3.0 Tariff Proposals, the A-E document, the proposal shows how climate change impeded the need to implement the clean energy transition in California. For the implementation, it is crucial to take into consideration not only environmental but also societal benefits, i.e., health benefits, carbon social costs, etc. Altogether, climate change costs for California will round up to 1.1 trillion per decade. Yes, the number is enormous, and to tackle such finances, measures should be taken, which is why the transition from NEM 2.0 to NEM 3.0 has been requested.
There is an urgency to maximize the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The schedule for solar ITC is:
As it can be inferred from the numbers, ITC is maximized. Moreover, as Los Angeles Times reports, “rooftop solar could save Americans $473 billion.” This is great from the government’s point of view, but do we, solar contractors and solar owners, get the best out of it? Let’s see.
The NEM 3.0 proposal would:
These changes mentioned above would address new customers and the ones that are already solar owners (both commercial solar panel owners, i.e., businesses and residential solar panel owners). As a solar customer, these changes don’t seem advantageous. So, delaying the decision regarding passing or rejecting the NEM 3.0 proposal is to the benefit of solar owners. But what is the reason behind postponing such an important milestone for the state?
Accepting the NEM 3.0 proposal could have resulted in one of the two consequences:
Assumedly, while bringing the proposal about, the government thought that it would definitely result in initiating the solar energy growth era. However, the situation turned out the other way around. No need to worry as the decision is postponed, and, fortunately, the solar market in California still functions at its best. However, such a proposal triggered the emotions of environmentalists, solar panel companies, working Californians, and these people highlighted the proposal as a plan to kill the solar market in California.
The Vice President of State and Regulatory Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Sean Gallagher, had a say regarding the proposal. Mr. Gallagher highlighted a plethora of reasons why the proposed changes are absolutely absurd.
In addition to such a sequence of reasons why the proposal shouldn’t be passed, solar panel installation companies started conducting interviews to measure consumers’ willingness to pay for solar energy and solar equipment after the NEM 3.0 proposal gets a pass.
Guess what? 95% of solar owners mentioned that they would stop purchasing solar energy because of the proposal. They just called it an absurdity that should never be accepted. Don’t be surprised when 95% of respondents agree with the grid expert, Dr. Ahmad Faruqui. He made an interesting comparison between the NEM 3.0 proposal and grocery shopping. He said, “Why should someone buying carrots at the grocery store have to pay more because they also grow carrots at home?” For real, why?
Nevertheless, the biggest concern in the whole story for solar panel companies is the increase of the payback period because of the policies offered in the proposal. Imagine the payback period, which stands for the time period that it takes a customer to have a return on the initial investment, jump from an average of 4-5 years to 10 years. The increase is huge and runs the risk of establishing the highest solar tax in the history of the California solar market. Such a change will bring a catastrophe to California because, as Abigail Ross Hopper, the President, and CEO of SEIA, mentions, “The last thing we need is to go backward on our climate goals…Today, the only winners are the utilities, which will make more profits at the expense of their ratepayers…California is now on the wrong path.”
As can be inferred from the whole story above, a lot more work needs to be done on the proposal before the decision is made. Even Gov. Gavin Newsom mentioned, “That draft plan that was recently released, I just had a chance to review, and I’ll say this about the plan: We still have some work to do.” And that is the right path to take. The plan needs to be revised based on the feedback that solar panel installation companies, solar experts, solar consumers, environmentalists, and sheer working Californians provided.
Even though Mr. Gallagher mentioned his disposition towards the proposal, he noted, “We look forward to continuing to work with the California Public Utilities Commission as it considers any changes to net metering.” Considering such a positive statement in this strained situation, Gov. Gavin Newsom called for writing an alternative proposal and taking it into consideration before going for the final decision.
At the end of the day, one proposal affects over a million Californians who are solar owners, as well as another huge group of people who thinks of going solar in 2022.
In December 2021, the excellent billing mechanism called net metering could have vanished because of the NEM 3.0 proposal. With the net metering billing mechanism, 1.3 million solar homes representing 50% of the US residential market would struggle with solar charges. Not to mention, solar owners that specialize in manufacturing both a residential solar panel system and a commercial solar panel system would have suffered, too. However, thanks to opposing views towards the proposal and expert feedback on it, the decision regarding the proposal got postponed for an indefinite period of time.
When the solar panel companies, environmentalists, working Californians, and, most importantly, the Vice President of SEIA highlight such a sequence of reasons why the proposal is absurd, there is a need to rethink it and understand whether the financial benefit is worth the loss; the loss of customer trust in the solar industry, the loss of economic growth from solar renewable energy, and, eventually, the loss of the robust solar market of California.
Although the proposal also offers a $600 million fund directed towards helping moderate to low-income customers access the solar market, do we want:
And a lot more?
Definitely not! So, let’s celebrate the delay of the proposal and fight for the right decision.
Ameco Solar, as the best solar panel company and a solar owner, ascertains that the solar market of California should prosper, and the opposite should never happen!
Don’t wait until it’s too late and replace your roof now. Most homeowners do not have their on their minds, until it springs a leak! Don’t wait until you have to bust out the buckets to save your things and put your roof top-of-mind. Our team of roofing experts outlined the top 3 signs you need to think about replacing your roof now. Check it out and contact us if you want to get started on your roofing project!
The first and best place you should look to see if you need a new roof? If you guessed getting on it, you would be making a very common mistake among homeowners. In fact, rather than tiring yourself with an unnecessary and potentially dangerous trip to the roof, just go to the attic.
So, arm yourself with a flashlight and climb up under the eaves. Pro tip: do this during the day to look for beams of light coming through the top of the house or stains and streaks. Depending on the type of flooring in your attic, you may need to step carefully as you walk from joist to joist. After you get your bearings, take your flashlight and analyze the roof from the inside.
That said, even if you get up in the attic, spotting an unhealthy roof may prove more difficult than expected. This is especially true when a leak already exists. Water damage can easily hide behind the insulation so make sure you thoroughly check your roof for even the slightest water damage or light leaking through.
Now, this step may either excite or bore you, depending on your enthusiasm for adventure. If the steps outlined in the first entry on this list seemed a bit daunting, this next option should make you a lot happier!
Review your home improvement records to see how long ago the roof was replaced or reshingled. Knowing when a roof was installed, and the materials used, offers insight into how much life it has left. For instance, a typical asphalt shingle roof lasts 20 to 25 years, while a roof installed over an existing layer of shingles should be replaced after 20 years.
If you still aren’t sure if you need to replace your roof now, you need to check your shingles. This is especially important after major storms or high winds, as they can wreak havoc on your shingles.
Shingles should lay flat on your roof. An easy way to inspect your roof to see if now is the time to upgrade your roof is to look for patches that are:
Also, don’t forget to check the gutters and downspouts for shingle granules—a roof that is losing a lot of granules may be at the end of its useful life.
These three tools do not serve as the end-all be-all as far as your roof life is concerned. That being said, they should give you a pretty decent understanding of how your roof is doing.
If it all seems like too much or if you found some signs that you need to replace your roof, then the next best thing to do is to reach out to roofing professionals. Companies like AMECO, who have been in the roofing game for over 45 years, can take the guesswork out of roofing.
Ready for a roofing consultation? Want to get started on your roofing project?
Then reach out to our team of roofing experts to see if you need to replace your roof now!
Solar + roofing really is a match made in heaven. If you have going solar on your list of priorities, you may have your roof and roof life top-of-mind as well. And it makes sense!
Solar panels should power your home for 20 to 25 years, depending on the materials used and maintenance provided throughout their lifespan. That means decades of savings for you and your family!
As a result, it is only natural that you think of your roof and roof life when considering making the switch to solar. Commonly, homeowners will ask themselves a ton of questions relating to their roof:
Will my roof support my solar panels?
Is it worth it to install solar on my roof if it will need to be replaced or should I consider alternative installation areas?
How can I both upgrade my roof and install solar at the same time?
How much will a solar + roofing installation set me back
Do tax credits and rebates apply if I get a solar + roofing bundle deal?
Who even offers solar + roofing bundles? Is that a thing?
Any reputable solar company will tell you that the first thing you should do when looking into solar for your home is evaluate your roof. Our team of experts have been bundling solar + roofing for over 45 years and want to help your home improvement upgrades as seamlessly as possible.
Evaluating your home includes a number of factors. Your solar company should help you analyze your current and projected energy usage, natural obstacles as well as roof type and health. In order to facilitate this, you should probably know how your roof works!
Knowing all the parts of a roof can help you save money, diagnose heating and cooling issues and protect your home from water damage
There are many components that make up a roof, and these will vary depending on the style, age, region and materials of your home. You can learn about a few of the most common components that make up a roof below:
Rafters: Think of the rafters like the skeletal system of your roof. Rafters give your roof its shape and serve as an integral part of any roofing upgrade.
Trusses: Some roofs use trusses instead of rafters. Because trusses require fewer materials, they are often more affordable than rafters but just as strong, which is why many newer American homes use them.
Covering: When most people think of their roof, they think of the covering. Your roof’s covering is the part that’s most visual from the outside. It’s also primarily responsible for protecting your home from weather damage.
Today, roof coverings consist of a variety of materials, including:
Fascia: Roof fascia is a series of wooden boards that give structure to the side of your house.
Without fascia, your gutters and downspouts would virtually have no support and would just hang off the side of your home.
Gutters: Gutter systems guide rainwater off your roof and direct it away from your home. They prevent water from pooling on your roof and channel water away from the area right next to your home, so rainwater doesn’t seep into your home’s foundation. Gutters are one of the most important factors to preventing water damage.
You will also hear about components such as flashing, ridge, drip edge, fascia, chimneys, downspouts, soffits, skylights, etc.
If any of the parts that make up your roof have damage or if your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, you will need to replace it before going solar.
If you do decide to install solar but opt out of a solar + roofing bundle, you will need to keep in mind that your solar panels will likely outlive your roof. What does that mean? It means that, without doubt, your roof will need to be replaced while you still have functional solar panels on them. This also means that you will need to remove your solar panels before replacing your roof. As a result, your roof replacement will likely cost a lot more, considering the additional labor, time and expertise required. It may also result in you having to contract two different companies: one to remove and replace your solar panels, and one to redo your roof. You also have to consider the increase in electricity bills that you will see when your solar panels are off your roof and offline.
Considering all of these factors, we cannot stress enough how important it is to avoid having to replace your roof after installing solar on your home.
While bundling your solar + roofing projects may seem to increase your upfront cost, by choosing the right installer, you can find great deals to drive down prices.
If you think you may need to replace your roof before installing solar, then find a company that will bundle your solar + roofing projects for the best deals! This will allow you peace of mind knowing that your new roof can support your state-of-the-art panels and help cut down on the inevitable costs of having to install solar and replace your roof!
A house without a roof is just a set of walls, and a roof is often one of those things that people take for granted – until it malfunctions. A solid and reliable roof is worth its weight in gold, so when the time for repairs or even replacement comes around, you want a roofing contractor that knows what they’re doing, to avoid wasting your time and your money. But where do you find such an elusive unicorn of a service provider?
Most people decide whose services they are going to use based on the figures. A quote that comes in too high is more likely to be ignored, but the opposite is an equal risk – a quote in which the contractor doesn’t charge enough can come with additional complications, like poor workmanship and in the worst-case scenario, dishonest dealings. This is why checking references at every point of the selection process is vital.
Carefully weigh up all the options once you reach a shortlist of local roofing contractors, and remember to also check the company’s social media pages for reviews and feedback from former clients – this is one of the easiest ways to get real-life references and check the veracity of the service provider’s claims.
I would like to find a roofing contractor near me
Finding a reputable roofing contractor near you is almost like employing someone, so in your selection process, you need to ensure that you ask the right questions to help narrow down your options. The first step is to determine the condition of your roof. The average roof’s lifespan is anywhere between 20 and 30 years, so a professional assessment of the crucial components’ wear and tear is generally considered the best place to start. Some signs could give you a clue that it’s time to call in the professionals.
What are the warning signs?
Loose or missing shingles, any leaks in the roof (and any stains or marks that may have formed as a result), as well as swollen roof components or any areas that appear dented or about to collapse are all cause for concern. If these symptoms persist even after work was done, the blame lies with the team who did the work.
How do I choose the best roofing contractor near me?
Local businesses depend on their communities for patronage, but if you are not 100% comfortable with the services on offer, there is nothing wrong with looking for help that is not as local as you might have hoped. Choosing local for the sake of local, without doing your homework, leaves you at risk of ending up with a nearby roofing contractor who doesn’t have to travel far, but whose work might leave much to be desired. Also take care if you are looking to replace your roof after natural disasters, like storms or tornadoes – this is the traditional time for disreputable companies (and even fraudsters!) to appear, where they either undercut the prices of regular contractors, or simply disappear with your money after no service has been delivered.
When you choose a roofing contractor, take note of what guarantees and warranties they offer – you’ll thank yourself later.
What is the most advisable roofing type?
The answer to this question lies in what your requirements are, and you need to factor in several factors, like your local climate and likely weather conditions, your budget and personal preference into consideration. Asphalt shingles or metal are the most popular choices for the construction of modern roofs, and each type has its own set of positives and negatives, based on individual circumstances. Many people go for metal roofing for the aesthetics it provides, but you need to bring everything into consideration before making your final choice.
Should I repair or replace a leaky roof?
Again, the “real” answer will be addressed only if you look at the full picture, such as what type of leak it is, what caused it, how big it is, and how much damage of what kind it caused. Your best bet would be to consult a professional to do an assessment, but the overall condition of the roof and its supporting hardware will greatly determine the need for replacing vs repairing.
How many years can I expect to get out of my roof?
While your prevalent local weather conditions, as well as the amount of maintenance you put in over time will change the answer, asphalt shingles are expected to last for approximately 20to 30 years. If your roof is nearing this part of its lifespan, you might want to start looking for a roofing companies near your area to give you some competitive quotes. Perhaps you get a pleasant surprise and find out that your roof is still in good condition, but rather be ahead of the curve and avoid guesswork in the later years of your roof’s expected lifespan.
Metal roofs can last up to 70 years if properly maintained. It may be a more pricey option, but what you pay for upfront will be made up over time in longevity.
Although it is a big job, the good news is that it doesn’t take as long to replace a roof as you might imagine. Of course, building size and structure will affect this calculation, but an average-sized home can be reroofed within a day, with the help of a good contractor. Larger buildings, like those for commercial applications will, by their very nature, take longer.
Am I seeing things, or are the shingles on my roof changing color?
Mold, algae, fungal growth and other invasive guests love shingles, especially in a humid climate, and this can play a large role in the discoloration of this material. You need to address them as soon as you become aware of them, to prevent further issues or damage later on. If the job is too big to handle, call in a pro to halt the damage in its tracks.
Is a new roof going to bankrupt me?
The size of the roof, the material you choose and other factors will modify this answer. Chat to your local roofing contractor about getting a quote that best addresses your needs.
Is everything alright in sunny California? On the surface, it might seem like a strange question to ask. And one that’s completely out of context. But a closer look at the uncertain fate of Net Metering 3.0 indicates otherwise. While California’s utility industry has long been rallying against the state’s net metering laws, the current state of affairs leaves a lot to be desired.
But what is net metering? Why’s there such a hue and cry over it? How does Net Metering 3.0 affect California’s booming solar industry?
For answers to these questions, we need to start at the beginning.
In 1979, architect Steven Strong incorporated solar panels in two of his projects – the residential Granite Place and the government-funded Carlisle House. Strong’s projects worked on a simple principle. When the solar panels generated more power than was being used by these buildings, the utility meter ran backward. When the photovoltaic cells didn’t generate enough power, the meter drew on electricity.
Thus, Strong accidentally triggered the first instance of net metering in America. But all this happened in Massachusetts. Yet, the environmental promise of net metering made most states put forth their own net metering laws. Minnesota became the first American state to implement net metering laws in 1983. California joined the bandwagon pretty late, in 1996.
The first-ever NEM law was stipulated by the SB 656 legislation with a few goals in mind. The state was pushing for economic growth and wanted private investors to finance renewable energy sources.
Over the past 20 years, the interest in NEM and renewable energy resources has grown. California, too, revised its NEM law multiple times. After a fair share of changes, the California Public Utilities Commission gave the green signal to NEM 2.0.
Implemented on January 28, 2016, NEM 2.0 initiated the following changes:
In short, customers who were feeding solar power from their rooftop solar grids into utility service providers saw a decline in financial rewards. Despite that, NEM 2.0 became successful enough to make California the highest solar power generator in America by October 2020.
But, NEM 2.0 was mired in controversy.
As California’s solar prowess and industry continued to prosper, the voices of dissent kept rising too. Utility companies claimed that net metering gave undue advantages to customers.
So, was NEM 2.0 good or bad?
The utility industry pressed forth their demand of implementing major changes to NEM 2.0. They were joined by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Utility Reform Network, Public Advocate’s Office, and other groups.
Their argument was simple- they believed that NEM 2.0 only benefited the rich who could make upfront investments in cutting-edge solar panels. Low-income families, on the other hand, had to put up with net metering induced price fluctuations. Given that most of these low-income families comprised persons of color, the issue took on racist tones, becoming a matter of grave concern.
Utility industry giants, including Sempra Gas Company, PG&E, Southern California Edison, and a handful of investor-owned utilities (IOUs), pressed for changes in NEM 2.0.
But the rooftop solar installers disagreed. They had good reason too. After all, middle-class working neighborhoods comprise half of California’s rooftop solar market. These tensions between customer producers and utility companies prompted the present-day debate.
The Newsom Administration initiated California’s controversial shift to implementing NEM 3.0.
By August of 2020, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) started the NEM 3.0 proceedings. Although the legislation has not issued its verdict yet, NEM 3.0 could:
However, the effectiveness of NEM 3.0 remains debatable. But if the IOUs’ demand of allotting fixed charges to customer-producers is implemented, it could sound the death knell for California’s solar industry. The question on everyone’s mind is – Will the CPUC be able to offer a ‘sustainable tariff’ that still prompts enough growth in the state’s solar industry?
Customer producers will need to wait till January 2022 to know if the odds are in their favor.
But one thing’s for sure – NEM 3.0 could either kill or boost California’s solar industry. There is simply no middle ground.
The utility industry may have put its foot down, but California’s solar users give no indication of backing out. 347 organizations comprising businesses, housing, environmental advocacy, citizen’s welfare, etc., came together to form the Save California Solar Coalition. The coalition addressed an open letter to the Newsom Administration and the California Public Utilities Commission to protect California’s solar industry. They also demanded that solar power be kept affordable in the state.
According to Dave Rosenfeld, Executive Director of the Solar Rights Alliance – “Net metering is helping bring costs down and making it possible for more people to access the savings, resilience, and other benefits of solar power while also moving California closer to our clean energy goals. Voters of all backgrounds want to continue that progress. They know the utilities do not have their best interests in mind.”
Go solar before the year ends to qualify yourself under NEM 2.0. Support activists and groups pushing for sustainable net metering. Go the extra mile because clean energy is needed for a cleaner world and a brighter future.
Over the past two years we have been helping the residents at Leisure World save money with solar energy. We have worked with many Mutuals in Leisure World and have made this video to highlight our work with Mutual 6 in Seal Beach, California.
Mutual 6 has been mostly solarizing their laundry rooms with carport solar installations, a residential system, and future EV charging expansion capabilities. Mutual 6 has focused on their laundry rooms because it is a common energy load that all of its residents must bear. By going solar, Mutual 6 won’t have to raise member dues because of increased utility bills. The additional benefit is that Mutual 6 is ready to add electric vehicle charging stations for its residents, providing green retirement plan for future Leisure World residents to also enjoy.
Last week, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) finally voted on the current state of the net energy metering program for solar owners. As a locally-based solar contractor (and solar owners ourselves!), we’re happy to report the commissioners voted in favor of those who use solar energy.
Net energy metering allows solar owners to sell overproduction back to their utility company. It’s an important benefit that helps people keep their electricity bills low.
This moment of victory for the solar industry is a long time coming. During the past year or so, we’ve been following the outcome of this vote.
Here’s a play-by-play of how it has gone down:
Now current solar owners (and anyone who installs rooftop solar before July 1, 2017) can rest happily and know that they will enjoy the benefits of net metering for a full 20 years. This victory is sweet as the utility companies were lobbying for a much shorter time period (some say as low as 6-12 years).
Moreover, the CPUC also announced that current Californian solar owners will be eligible for Net Metering 2.0 once their 20 years is up.
Though this battle was won, the war isn’t over yet. The details of Net Metering 2.0 still need to be worked out and the CPUC has until the end of 2015 to do so. In the coming year, solar owners and advocates in California will need to rally once again so that the collective solar voice is heard.
GAF partnered with leading roofing and solar manufacturers to offer an elegant, low-profile GAF solar solution. The solar installs like a skylight, ensuring a water-tight roof that generates clean energy. GAF solar offers one warranty for the roof and solar panels. And, GAF-certified roofers will do all the work on the roof, including a seamless solar installation.
While seeing major brands recognize and leverage the value of bundling solar + roofing, other installers have offered consumers similar solutions for decades now. AMECO is no exception. Since the 1980s, AMECO has provided bundled solar + roofing solutions to help homeowners cut down on costs and time when replacing their roof and choosing clean energy generation via rooftop solar panels.
When a homeowner goes solar one issue that can derail the process is unexpectedly finding out they first a roof replacement. Our solar and roofing experts always recommend a thorough roof inspection before going solar to avoid any surprises. This is especially critical for older roofs.
If you do need a roof replacement before going solar, traditionally this often means double the effort: managing two projects with two sets of budgets, contractors and timelines. In short, it means more money and effort on your end coordinating between two installers.
Fortunately, GAF Energy’s new roof-integrated solar system provides a better option. The GAF solar + roof solution. This comes with a solar system that’s installed simultaneously by one contractor.
The best things about GAF’s solar + roofing bundle are:
As mentioned before, this solution is incredible for homeowners. However, GAF is by far the first company to offer services like these. Although, they may be one of the biggest roofing companies to finally embrace this approach.
Bundling your solar and roofing just makes sense.
Sometimes additional upfront costs can save you in the long run. If you think you need to replace your roof before going solar, you can cut down on the costs by finding an installer that does both. This eliminates the headache of coordinating between two different vendors and can cut down on the cost.
Installers that specialize in roofing and solar, like AMECO, offer great deals for homeowners looking to upgrade their roof and install solar in one fell swoop. We also have the expertise to ensure you can take full advantage of federal, state and local rebates and incentives.
GAF found a way to create an integrated rooftop solar solution, not unsimilar in functionality to Tesla’s solar roof. The biggest difference? Accessibility.
The GAF solar roof seamlessly integrates with their roofing, which makes for an extremely visually appealing final product. And, based on their current number of installations, they seem to offer a reliable solution!
GAF Energy, part of GAF, one of the world’s largest roofing companies, has installed more than 2,000 integrated solar roofs. This is significantly more deployments than the higher-profile Tesla has pulled off for its solar roof tile product.
Martin DeBono, president of GAF Energy, told Canary Media he expects 10 percent of all GAF roof installations to also feature solar. Considering their estimated 1 million new roofing installations annually, DeBono hopes to see 100,000 annual solar roof installations from GAF.
While Tesla installs a similar product, they have nowhere near the roofing infrastructure to compete with GAF’s solar solution. Also, considering the recent outpouring of negative reviews of the Tesla Solar Roof, GAF Energy’s solar + roofing installation numbers, current and projected, look that much more impressive.
Seeing one of North America’s most prolific roofers embracing solar + roofing should cast away any doubt that the future of roofing is solar. As one of the companies to spearhead this approach, the solar and roofing experts at AMECO are ready and excited to help you with your solar and roofing needs. We offer full-scale solutions at prices you can afford. Leveraging almost 50 years of experience, coupled with a unparalleled dedication to innovation, you cannot go wrong by choosing us as your solar + roofing partner!
The city of Irvine in the heart of Orange County has been going solar with AMECO since we began installing solar water heating systems in the 1970s.
Check out this video we made and see some of our installations in the Irvine neighborhoods of Orchard Hills, University Park, Northwood, Turtle Rock, and Woodbridge.
Solar offers Irvine residents an opportunity to reduce their electricity or their natural gas bills. Homes in Irvine tend to be larger and use more electricity for air conditioning, but it doesn’t mean solar is simple in Irvine. Many homes have tile roofs, and even more homes belong to an HOA. AMECO Solar is familiar has worked with many of them and are familiar with your solar rights and respectful of the HOAs wishes.
If you’re thinking about installing solar on your home, look no further than AMECO Solar. We offer a multitude of solar technology options whether you are reducing your Southern California Edison bill, or if you want to look into SoCal Gas Company solar rebates. Call AMECO today! 562-633-4400
This August was a very warm month for California. Did you know that it was the hottest August Earth has ever recorded? These hot months unfortunately contribute to much higher electricity bills. Luckily, having gone solar, hot days don’t have as drastic an effect. With the hottest days on record however, everyone’s electricity bills went up. Unfortunately, utilities limited the size of your solar system to your previous annual use. When you use more, the utility will charge you accordingly.
Southern California Edison redesigned rates to eliminate the top tier. Edison announced this summer that rates were increasing 8% for homes. That’s the average increase however, and the energy conscious are getting a worse deal. Customers who stay within the tier one and two will see those rates increase 12% and 17%, respectively.
We’ve come up with a few ways to help use your air conditioner (AC) less and keep your wallet happy, even if you don’t have solar, yet.
Efficiency is usually lost to heat. If you put your hand next to an incandescent light bulb and an LED light bulb, there’s a big temperature difference. More efficient appliances expel less heat, but it’s better if you can turn it off! If you’re not using your printer or DVD player, you’re generating unnecessary heat in your home.
Simple enough. Open your windows at night to cool down your house and close them during the day. You can help by closing your blinds during the day as well.
This one is counter-intuitive to the drought problem we’re facing. Plants can actually cool the air through evapotranspiration. This means that as air flows over their leaves, the small amounts of water evaporate and cool the air. Placing large leafy plants in areas with air flow or near windows can help cool the air flowing through the house. It can also purify the air naturally! Check out English Ivy and other options on NASA’s air purifying plants list.
You’re going to need incense, matches, and some caulk. Even with your windows and doors shut, your house isn’t air tight. There are tiny holes in your windows, doors, and frames that are letting your conditioned air out! Light a piece of incense and run it along your windows and doors. When the smoke wavers, you have a hole. Use the caulk to plug up that hole. This is best done on windy days or there’s a large temperature difference inside/outside.
Those dastardly windows are letting all that warm sunshine in! However, there are many fixes. The easiest option is to install blinds. Tinting your windows can block a significant portion of heat coming through. Upgrading your windows to low-emissivity (low-e) will block the heat without blocking nearly as much light. A better insulation rating for your window will also improve performance.
Insulating your house helps it maintain a constant temperature. This stops extra heating in the summer and extra cooling in the winter. Attic insulation can be easily installed and have a dramatic effect.
There are actually lots of options out there including evaporative cooling AC units as well as single room units. Be sure to get the one that best fits your needs. You may be eligible for some utility rebates!
This concept is technically called “Evaporative Cooling”. There are also some highly efficient evaporative cooling air conditioners that can lower your bill, but that isn’t as fun as justifying a pool! If you have a pool in your backyard, the temperature around the pool is a little lower. Create a draft from your pool by opening windows and turning on fans. The air that passing over the water is cooled before it enters your house. If you open an upstairs window, you can create a stacked ventilation effect that pushes hot air out as it drags in the cooler air from your pool. This doesn’t work in every situation, but it’s fun to try.
You thought we were going to say solar, right? We’ll get to that, but an attic fan is a great way to vent excess heat from your house. A whole house fan is another option, but is a little more complicated than an attic fan, which can also be solar powered.
When you’re at home, you’re not using every room in my house. Why cool the guest room if you are napping on the couch? The easiest option is to just close vents to specific rooms. Another option could be a single room air conditioner or a smart thermostat.
Criminals are aware of this, but did you know a lot of houses are empty during the day? Luckily, we have security systems, web cams, and cute dogs to protect us. Similar to only cooling what you use, make sure you aren’t cooling unnecessarily. A programmable or smart thermostat, like a Nest, can make sure you only cool when you’re home and it changes the temperature for cooling at night. Nests even help the compressor on your air conditioner work more efficiently.
Obviously we were going to put this in…but please hear us out. When you install solar, it turns your meter backwards. The best part is that it reduces the most expensive electricity first in a tiered rate plan. This means that the solar being produced isn’t worth the average $.12/kWh, but it’s worth $.30/kWh. Solar protects you from paying the highest tier’s prices. On commercial buildings, it was found that having solar helped reduce their cooling costs by shading the building. In other words, they didn’t have to cool as much, and they wound up saving 5% of the system’s initial cost. Thanks UCSD for studying this!
We understand efficiency upgrades can be expensive. Never forget, there is financing out there to help you. Want to find out if you qualify for a free solar estimate? Click here
FYI: If you have an existing solar system that isn’t producing enough, you can add panels to your system. In SCE territory, you can add 10% or 1 kW of capacity without changing your net metering contract. If you add the capacity before NEM 1.0 is over (July 2017) then you can add as much capacity as needed.
Recently, Barry Cinnamon (Spice Solar) had a conversation with Pat Redgate, President & CEO of AMECO. Pat has been working with Barry through CALSEIA since 2001, and Barry hosts a weekly radio talk show and podcast in San Jose. Barry discusses the founding of AMECO with Pat, the starts and stops the industry experienced in the 80’s, the 90’s and later (what we refer to as the “solar coaster”), and what he recommends to look for in a good contractor. They even fit in some discussions about the current issues regarding a C-10 Electrical and C-46 Solar license and why you should trust a C-46 contractor to design a proper solar system for you.
The Solar Energy Show, hosted by Barry Cinnamon, is a weekly 30 minute talk show that runs every Sunday morning at 11 AM on KLIV Radio in San Jose, and the Renewable Energy World Network. Every week Barry provides practical money-saving tips on ways to reduce your home and business energy consumption.
Barry Cinnamon heads up Cinnamon Solar (a San Jose residential C-46 solar contractor) and Spice Solar (suppliers of built-in solar racking technology). After 10,000+ installations at Akeena Solar and Westinghouse Solar, he’s developed a pretty good perspective on the real-world economics of rooftop solar — as well as the best products and services for homeowners, manufacturers and installers. His rooftop tinkering led to the development of integrated racking (released in 2007), AC solar modules (released in 2009), and Spice Solar (the fastest way to install rooftop solar modules).
The first video in a series that we will release throughout this year. This video highlights a number of our installations in Long Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Orange County and Seal Beach.
Don’t forget to set the quality to HD!
AMECO Solar has been installing solar electric, hot water, and pool heating systems in California since 1974. We’re one the oldest and most experienced solar contractors in Orange County. We stay on the forefront of technology offering customers many ways to go solar and many ways to finance solar. If you’re interested in going solar, simply fill out this form and we’ll be in touch!
Solar once again celebrated a very successful year for 2014! With paybacks continuously improving, more people employed, and the best year for solar ahead of us, we’re excited to shout out for solar in 2015! Show your support by uploading a photo and using the hashtag #GoSolar on your favorite social media website! Or can you show your support by liking or sharing our photos!
Happy Holidays, everyone! During this time of year, we reflect on many things. We spend time with family and remember the simple things that make us happy. We reflect on the year that has passed and the year ahead. This last year was a wonderful success thanks to our fabulous customers and dedicated employees! We look forward to 2015 and better serving the Greater Los Angeles area and fighting to protect solar in our great state. Happy Holidays and have a great New Year!
This happy little video shows why you shouldn’t let reindeer install your solar. Reindeer have a very poor understanding of building and fire codes, as you can see they clearly did not account for proper setback. Not to mention, the reindeer appear to lose two of the panels! But, we’re happy they’re bringing solar and not coal!
The AMECO Solar Experts
The best year to go solar will be 2015 because at its end, on December 31st, “Net Metering” in California will expire. Net Energy Metering (NEM) is shorthand for the PUC rule which instructs utilities to credit a customer’s consumption for the generation of CLEAN energy on a one-to-one basis. A new version of NEM is in the works but it will not give you full or equal credit for the power you generate. At the end of 2016, the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit is scheduled to expire for individuals and businesses. It may be renewed or reduced, but that will require joint action by Congress and the Executive branch, a degree of cooperation we doubt is likely. The combination of these two events will severely impact the economic value of going solar for businesses and homeowners, as the new NEM pricing structure will diminish the value of the savings and the lower or non-existent tax incentives will increase its cost. The good news is that any person or entity going solar during 2015 will be guaranteed full value for their energy for the next twenty years and receive a 30% tax credit. Solar will still make sense, just for fewer people: people who have high consumption, can make Time-of-Use rate tariffs payoff, people want to “fix” their costs, people who want to help the environment or protect their energy future. Visit our Hero Program page for more information.
What will happen after the incentives that stimulated the growth of California’s solar industry have disappeared? We can look to the past because this is actually California’s third solar boom.
The year was 1986, and on January 1st the solar tax credits expired and rebates were not extended. But maybe we should go back even further, so let’s start in 1978. The federal and state governments started giving away up to 55% tax credits to go solar and provided rebates in a program administered by the utilities. The solar industry was in its second boom! By 1985, there were over 50,000 Californians employed by the sun when solar thermal was the technology of choice. Using solar energy, water would be heated by the sun. We still do it today, but using solar to make electricity has become more popular. Going back even further, solar heating actually had its first boom in the early 1900’s. It was the first time you could have hot water without using your stove. The LA Times states one third of Pasadena homes had solar in 1907. In 1915, we discovered oil and natural gas in Southern California, and solar fell to the wayside until the 1970’s, a period called the Energy Crisis, which was hallmarked by gas shortages and lines at the filling station. During the subsequent solar boom, AMECO opened two more offices to serve the demand. One of our ads from the time went like this:
Is your electric bill killing you?
You could travel 12,000 miles in your car on the energy needed to heat your water by electricity for 1 year!
Towards the bottom of the ad, we actually state, “This is not a scam! There are no gimmicks here!” The industry was tainted with deals that were too good to be true. Some companies offered a 95% “discount” for going solar, the business was a magnet for shady operations intending to join the gold rush and reap quick profit. Businesses would inflate the price and offer cash discounts because their revenue was from the rebates.
“Everybody who had a garage was beginning to manufacture hot water systems for your home, so the reputable companies got lost in the shuffle with the non-reputable,” said Susanne Garfield of the California Energy Commission. We’re proud to say that some of our home-made solar panels are still working today!
Anyone who could sell was trying to sell solar. Les Nelson, the former president of CalSEIA, put it best, “The systems were sold with impossible promises about what they could do, and when the tax credits expired, so did the vast majority of companies.” Sound familiar? Some of these companies went out of business the old-fashioned way with bankruptcy, but many companies simply pulled out of solar and went on to the next big thing, MLM’s selling hair spray! Their only value proposition, 55 to 95% in tax credits and rebates, were gone and so were they. The consumer protections California puts in place such as long term warranties were no good after the companies disappeared. Customers were left with leaky plumbing or roofs and cold water because a warranty is only as good as the company behind it.
How come our competitors claim there’s no way we’ve been installing solar since the 1970’s? Well the industry crashed. California lost 96% of the solar jobs within a year. 48,000 people had to find alternative employment because the fair-weather companies had gone with the wind. How did AMECO make it through? We scaled back down to one office. We had value propositions that surpassed price and our quality installations meant that we weren’t wasting our time with warranty related repairs. We also adapted to installing more solar pool systems. As far as household domestic hot water we had an uphill battle explaining the economics in an era of high interest costs and low energy price prices. However, if you’re heating a lot of water, it’s going to cost a lot of money to heat it. If you have a family of 5 – that’s a lot of hot water and solar thermal would make sense for you. If you want to spontaneously swim in your pool and not spend $500 a month for that privilege, solar pool systems would make sense for you. Our competition was never other solar companies – it was always the utility monopolies whose never-ending price hikes were muted by their pay-pay-pay as you go business model. When we worked with CalSEIA to promote NEM rules, we helped to develop and promote the solar electric industry in our state. We also helped the Contractor’s State License Board form the specialized solar contractor’s license your installer should have (C-46). By the late ‘90s and early 21st century, we had already installed the first grid-tied solar electric system in in many Los Angeles area communities (including Catalina)!
Our industry has swelled to employ 140,000 Americans. We outnumber steelworkers, coal miners, ranchers and many other industries. By 2017, there may be many fewer jobs in the Green Energy sector but this is true – The best companies will continue. Electricity isn’t going to be cheaper in 2017, and the pay-as-you go plan will still make sense for many. The industry is going to become more honest with better educated employees. The horror stories of leaking roofs, and poorly installed systems will hopefully become a thing of the past as the bad installers who were just in it for the money die out. Most of the roofers, electricians, carpenters or siding companies that became solar installers will go back to their core business.
On a national level, solar will lose any footholds it gained in solar-averse states like Ohio. States with strong incentives like New Jersey won’t be nearly as hurt if the states recognize the threat to their economy. States like California and Hawaii won’t be hurt as much because our electricity is already pretty expensive with climate change legislation already on the books. Many optimistic studies show that solar energy will be at parity with conventional fuel in a majority of states by 2016 or soon thereafter.
The solar industry is going to be hurt, but those affects should remain relatively domestic or within the US. Solar demand around the world is great enough that it won’t be affected as much and prices should remain relatively stable. Domestic solar panel manufacturers might not see too hard of a hit as they switch from the US domestic market to an export market. There will still be a large market for domestic utility-scale solar to meet RPS goals. During the supply shortages several years ago, even American-made solar products were being exported to Europe while the domestic market scrambled for supply. This global market will help keep materials at a stable price nowadays & in the future allowing solar to still be viable, especially for high energy users.
We should also see growth of solar-repair businesses. The solar market grew exponentially over the last decade, and with original installers going under, many more companies will be specializing in servicing for those systems, a service that will be especially needed by those orphaned by the original installer.
AMECO is ready for 2017 because we’ve gone through this before. We didn’t succumb to explosive growth during this solar boom because we’re in it for the long run. We knew incentives would leave, and we know it won’t be pretty. Our customers know the value of a quality solar system and have been referring us to friends and family for the past 40 years. Over this time, we have many repeat customers, sometimes three times and more, as they outgrew their homes and offices, but knew that going solar with AMECO had been a great investment!
1993 LA Times Article & Other Sources Used
Next week is National Drive Electric Week! EV drivers will be setting out for events throughout the country to celebrate electric vehicle adoption! Long Beach held a large event at Palm Beach Park last year where many enthusiasts and manufacturers offered free test drives. Even Irvine-based Pedego Bikes offered their electric bikes for a test drive around the beach.
There are many events across Southern California this year. Some regular auto clubs are inviting EV’s to their regular meetings and at the bottom of the page, you’ll find our favorite events for National Drive Electric Week for the Los Angeles area.
The automobile has been around for over a century so where have all the electric vehicles been hiding? Aside from the EV1’s hiding in the desert, they’ve had a similar history to solar power. Did you know solar panels and electric vehicles are best friends? Packed together, they make an unstoppable machine. Literally, solar planes, trains, and automobiles power themselves for months on end. If you are producing power from the sun, your EV is not only using super clean energy to move, but the cost for fuel is $0.00 a gallon!
The EV’s Shocking History
PV (Photovoltaic Solar) & EV history shares the same sad start. Both technologies were originally explored in the 19th century. They both saw interest after the Oil Embargo, but didn’t start gain headway until the 1990’s. But EV’s were stillborn due to efforts by the auto/oil/bureaucrats’ efforts to squash their “new” technology by convincing enough people we didn’t need them. Even when EV’s gained mandatory traction, GM violated the basic kindergarten rule of “No Take Backs” and piled their EV1’s in the desert. If you’re looking for a tear-jerker, I’d recommend watching the documentary, “Who Killed The Electric Car?” However! EV’s are back with a vengeance, which is probably best captured by their sequel, “Revenge of the Electric Car!”
There were many reasons why the electric vehicles “died” as the film will show you. People were concerned about range, technology, speed, and utility of electric vehicles. Companies were concerned that people weren’t ready for electric cars because of their price and they didn’t want to pay $0 for gas. On a CAFE Standards fueled caffeine high, California mandated auto manufacturers to produce electric vehicles. General Motors famously produced the EV1. A car that they leased to Californians and eventually repossessed in 2003. GM had beaten California’s mandate and was no longer required to build EV’s. In General Motors’ defense, the parts used to make the EV1 weren’t used in any other GM
cars. When a manufacturer makes a product, they need to continue to produce those parts. It was easier for GM to collect and demolish the EV1’s. The Toyota Rav4 EV was a great success that Southern California Edison continues to use them as service vehicles.
We’re Ready Now!
Even if you don’t work for AMECO, you’re lucky enough to see PV & EV’s every day! That didn’t happen overnight though… Similarly to solar becoming more efficient and affordable, so have electric cars. Hybrid cars, which complement their gas engines with electric motors, helped pave the way for more real-world battery testing and seeing if the market really cares about saving money on gas. (We’ll need to see the evidence –EV1 Development Team) Prius hybrids use an innovative nickel metal-hydride battery that was only first used in the second generation EV1’s! A hybrid offers you the freedom of a gas engine with the efficiency of compact car. For most of us, our daily commute is less than 40 miles. This would mean that a vehicle with a range of 70-90 miles would be ideal. (The range of the EV1 & modern EV’s)
The experience of an electric car has greatly improved, as well. With lighter materials for EV’s, luxuries like a backseat can now be seen in modern electric cars! (The EV1 was a sporty 2-seater) The lighter materials and better motors have also meant our EV’s are much faster! Tesla’s Model S boasts a speedy 0-60 in 5.4 seconds and a top speed of 125 mph! The turtle-like EV1 clocked in at a steady 9 seconds in its 0-60 and was limited to 80 mph. The EV1 also had this ridiculous digital dashboard! Almost as crazy as a 17-inch tablet for a dashboard! EV1’s should be compared to regular EV’s and not a luxury Tesla Model S. The one’s that only cost one year’s college tuition instead of a whole degree. The Nissan Leaf & Mistubishi iMiEV boast a speedy 0-60 in 10 & 13 seconds, respectively. Leaving the EV1 in the dust… oh wait.
It’s Time to Embrace
All passive aggressiveness aside, it’s time to embrace the industry. The fact that most auto manufacturers now have an electric or hybrid option makes it easy. The fact that it came ten years after General Motors killed the electric car (Spoiler to the aforementioned documentary!) was not soon enough. Elon Musk may be headed to the bank, but I’m just on my way in our solar powered Volt.
Things were done in the past that hurt the industry, but Tesla is disrupting the auto industry they tried to protect. Business as we know it has changed. EV’s, like solar, have introduced different utility rate structures as well. Your utility really prefers if you charge your car at night when it’s cheapest for them to produce power. Southern California Edison’s domestic electric vehicle TOU-rate structure (TOU-D-TEV) charges five times more for electricity during the day than at night. This goes great with solar because it’s only producing during that 5X period! Remember, your EV is only as green as your grid. If you actually want a green EV, you need to go solar
Photo Credit: Wikipedia Commons, AMECO Collection
Huntington Beach: Huntington Beach Drive Electric is sponsoring an event at City Beach across from the Hyatt. They have one of the most impressive pages for their event. With almost every EV company attending as a sponsor, it’ll surely be a great event! The event kicks off with a moderated panel. UC Irvine has electric race cars that will be racing preliminaries at 11 am and the finals at 2 pm. We hope to see you there! More info on Huntington Beach’s EVent.
September 20th, 10 am to 4 pm
21500 Pacific Coast Highway
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
UCLA: There is an event on Tuesday that is being hosted by UCLA’s Smart Grid Energy Research Center and UCLA’s Transportation division. They have an impressive list of speakers including the Ed Begley, Jr! More information on UCLA’s EVent.
September 16th, 2014 12 pm to 4 pm
365 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Diamond Bar: The South Coast Air Quality Management District is holding an EV event in Diamond Bar at their headquarters. There will be test drives, EV Parade and many other things. We are going to try to make it to this event. More info on the Diamond Bar EVent.
September 20th, 12 pm to 4 pm
21865 Copley Drive
Diamond Bar, CA 91765
Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are another third-party financing option that has helped solar. Basically, a power purchase agreement is a contract to buy the electricity produced #Synonyms. Typically, there is no money down and it’ll be less than what you’re paying your utility. PPAs are how most big energy is financed. A power plant is built, and the investors determine how much it will cost them to produce electricity over the next 10 or 20 years. It trickled into the consumer market because of large scale solar adoption by corporations. This is how large companies have gone solar because there’s no capital investment and little risk.
Big Companies Like It
Insert Broken Record: “Solar is a financially smart decision.” You’re able to control and predict your costs of your energy for the next 20-30 years. Companies like this for the obvious reason – rate inflation ( rate deflation is possible but more likely ‘in your dreams’). Electricity represents a rising cost that lowers their profit margins.
Companies choose PPAs because they make sense in the right condition.
Cannot Afford to Purchase
If you cannot front the cost of a solar system, you should weigh every financing option. There are a lot of options out there including PPA’s, loans, equity lines of credit, PACE financing, and leasing. Some savvy consumers will look at the cost of the life of the system and choose financing from that.
They Don’t Need a Tax Break
Really? I’m jealous. Even if you can’t use all of your tax credits from solar in the first year, the credits roll over to the next year as well. If you still don’t want tax credits, you should look into a lease and a PPA, oh, and I’d like the name of your accountant!
They Want Someone Else to Own It
This can be for a whole host of reasons. If the company can’t use the tax credits, then they’ll need someone else who can use them to take ownership. They may not want to add value to their assets for tax, insurance, or some other reason. The other reason might be maintenance. Solar does not have moving parts, so the maintenance required is minimal. If you go with reputable companies, you don’t have anything to worry about. Companies have workmanship warranties to cover when equipment is most likely to malfunction. Equipment failure after that is sparse. But, if you have hundreds of thousands of solar modules on your roof, percentages don’t work in your favor. The assurance that the occasional repair will be covered by someone else is nice, but it comes with a cost.
Companies choose PPAs because they need to show their shareholders they are building a more profitable business. A PPA increases the profit margins in the short-run without a capital cost or debt. In the long-run, Walmart will not save nearly as much money as they could’ve buying solar.
There Are Better Options
As long as you can afford it, I would not recommend a PPA and even then, there’s probably another option out there. Personally, I just don’t like the idea of saving XX percent over the life of the system versus getting FREE POWER after the payback. Many PPA’s have an annual or regular cost adjustment. Usually these are done in relation to current retail electricity prices or a pre-determined multiplier. This means you don’t get the full “benefit” of rate inflation.
Over the last four decades, electricity prices have risen 6.5% per year. Edison recently announced 8% increases for its residential customers. By the way, when’s the last time rates went down?
A PPA also doesn’t avoid interest rates. A PPA is another way to pay a loan with less risk for you, which means a higher return for the investor. The investor is banking on the fact that a certain number of people will default, he’ll have to repair a few systems, and that he’s going to make his money back with interest. And then comes your savings. If anyone is telling you a PPA price before looking at your house, they’ve built a lot of cushion into that price. They don’t know how much it’ll cost to install it yet.
However, you can actually take control of your electric bill with AMECO Solar.
There are cities that don’t have running water, and it’s past time to think about making big changes. Our water problem is out of hand and our energy use is making it even worse. We live in a democracy with freedoms, which means we can’t shout “Fire!” in a theatre but we really need to yell when our water resources are becoming victim to the never-ending search for cheap energy. Ironically, we have renewable energy goals at 30% in California, but no state goals for water conservation. Our state regularly needs to import water and we’re in the worst drought! Should we just rip-out landscaping, let lawns go fallow and replace them with drought tolerant options? Shorter showers, dirty cars, ban water thirsty crops such as cotton or rice or grapes, or go solar? Did you know that solar can conserve 87% of the water associated with your electric bill?
Back To Electrifying our Drought
We all know fossil fuels pollute, and we’re ignoring that they pollute our drinking water. The fact that we have very little drinking water left and we’re fracking it up for natural gas is ridiculous. California stopped 7 drilling sites this month after learning they had been illegally dumping their fracking waste into drinking aquifers. The kicker… The state and EPA allows them to pollute aquifers that are too expensive to reach for drinking water. This is a brilliant plan, because ECON 101 taught me if something is too expensive at one time, it will never be cost effective in the future… like deep-sea oil rigs or any technology. The drought is expected to cost $2.2B & 17,000 jobs… but the cost doesn’t matter anymore, the water is polluted. We don’t just use exorbitant amounts of freshwater for extracting fossil fuels, but we also use a ton of it when we eventually burn it too!
The Sustainable Point
We should be desperately reducing electricity consumption, as well. Ninety percent of global electricity generation comes from a water intensive source. It doesn’t seem intuitive until you really understand steam generators. Conventional sources of electricity create heat that turns water into steam that spins a turbine to generate electricity. The faster the steam moves, the more electricity generated. The steam is kept in a closed loop because that would be a ludicrous waste of water. By creating a larger change in temperature (delta) for the closed loop, the steam will move the turbine faster and generate more electricity. You have two goals, generate as much heat as possible to make the closed loop super-hot and cool it down to create a large delta.
There are two commons ways to do this. The gigantic cooling towers you see next to large power plants are actually giving off steam – NOT radioactive gasses like The Simpsons led me to believe. Another alternative is to run your pipes through a larger body of water… say a lake or an ocean to cool down your closed loop. Doesn’t this create warmer micro-climates that will disrupt local ecosystems? Yes.
Solution? Renewables, as always. Not every renewable is right (HUH?). Solar thermal and geothermal can use a lot of water because they use steam generators. Solar PV & wind are usually the best options. Solar PV uses a teensy bit of water during manufacturing and cleaning, but otherwise is very water conscious as seen on the above diagram.
If you use as much electricity as the average US household, you will end up wasting about 2,000 gallons of water. If you went solar, you could reduce that by 87%! The average Californian home uses 360 gallons per day. Comparatively, 2,000 gallons seems like a drop in the bucket #PunIntended, but we’re still using 190 gallons per day on landscaping and another 18% is lost to leaks.
AMECO Save Water Plan:
|Gallons Saved per Year||Activity|
|1,700+||Go Solar with AMECO|
|69,350||Accept you live in a desert and remove grass|
|26,280||Stop Leaks in Home*|
Justification & “Math:”
In 2012, the average US household used 10,800 kWh, which we’ll round to 10 megawatt hours. If you got all your electricity from solar, you would use 260 gallons of water to power your home each year. This is 4% of the water consumed by an all coal house. The water use mostly comes from cleaning them once or twice a year. During a drought, you might decide to suspend cleaning your solar system and use less then 260 gallons.
Californians get a diverse mix of electricity: Coal 7.5%, Hydro 8.3%, Natural Gas 43.4%, Nuclear 9%, Renewables (sans Solar) 14.5%, Solar .9%, and Mystery 16.4%. The mystery mix from California’s Energy Almanac website is a combination of imported electricity that did not have a specified source. For the sake of argument, the unspecified “mystery” electricity didn’t use California water, so we’ll leave it at 0. We used basic algebra & a weighted average to figure out the average use was about 1,980 gallons/year.
*Weird way to find leaks: Find a leak and re-use the water by putting a bucket or cup underneath a potential leak. Use the water for plants or fill your toilet’s reservoir. You can’t really do that with a toilet though. Try putting some colored food dye (not yellow) in the toilet’s reservoir and check the toilet bowl in a few hours for any discoloration. You can also put a water bottle in your reservoir to turn the 2.0 gallon flush into a 1.5 or 1.0 gallon flush! Or, learn to read your water meter. Check it after you make sure that everything in your home that uses water is turned off, including the ice-maker in your fridge. Then check it a few hours later to see if it has moved.
Going solar is also going to slow down the race for fossil fuel resourcing, such as fracking, which will help us preserve aquifers that the human race will need in the future.
Solar isn’t going to get much cheaper if we don’t do anything about soft costs. Soft costs involve things other than the equipment and labor. They include permitting, interconnection regulations, customer acquisition, and so on. Permitting adds time and cost to solar systems. Plenty of communities have streamlined their solar permit process to make it easy to go solar while also reducing operating costs for the city or county. Germany is famous for its double-sided one page for solar permitting.
Standardizing the permit process across multiple jurisdictions would be very helpful for installers. Many times a contractor needs to wait at the building department or make an appointment to speak with an inspector or plan checker to know what each permit application requires. If no appointment system is available, it’s hit or miss and if you are lucky and the relevant official will be there when you show up. There are at least 423 building departments in California, and each one is different in procedure. “Getting information on how to file a permit in California shouldn’t be more complicated than applying to college” says Pat Redgate of AMECO Solar. “Imagine having to travel to each school to learn what information is needed to apply or finding out you needed to meet with an admissions officer who left for the day or is simply too busy to see you. Certainly most would never apply to a school out of state…or drive very far to apply – it would cost too much. This is how solar installers feel. It takes a lot of time to get anywhere, especially in LA and Orange Counties, and having to make multiple trips can add significant cost to a system.”
Patrick Redgate, AMECO’s President & CEO, is working with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research (OPR) to make the permit processes more efficient and less costly for solar companies and building departments. OPR’s eventual goal is to create a standardized version of a permit application to submit to any Californian city. It will be limited to residential solar systems that are under 10 kW, which can be uncomplicated and pretty similar. There’s no reason that permits should vary from city to city if we, as a state, can determine what is safe and appropriate. It takes time and teamwork to agree on what is safe and appropriate since solar photovoltaic has only made an impact on California residents since the turn of the 21st century. This is why OPR’s first goal is to standardize the required information on a permit. If an installer knows what each city needs, that is the first step to a truly streamlined application process.
Another effort to reduce administrative soft costs for PV and Thermal solar adoption is Assembly Bill 2188, which recently passed two senate committee hearings. Senate Finance Committee. AB 2188 is a step in the right direction. Although it allows cities to opt out of particular features of expedited permitting it will direct cities to follow “best practices as defined in SunShot permit streamlining documents.” OPR and CALSEIA are working to make AB 2188 a more effective piece of legislation by helping to define best practices and standardize the application process.
We need renewable energy moving forward and distributed generation is one of the most sustainable ways to accomplish our climate goals. At the end of the day, we will all be enjoying cleaner air and better karma or will we go dark because we couldn’t meet peak demand on a sunny day.
Did you know we’re a better business? Like we’re actually accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB)? Pretty awesome, right? Not so much because what do they do? When I was a child, I thought they were part of the government like the Department of Labor protecting worker rights. Thank you California public education for not teaching me that bureau also refers to non-government organizations and a chest of drawers. The BBB is a consumer watchdog group that accredits businesses and fights corporate corruption… at least it used to. Nowadays, we have Yelp, Angie’s List, and dictionary.com.
The BBB still has its place. I still check it for companies that cold call me for advertising, but I’m checking that no one has reported a scam on BBB, Yelp, Angie’s List, Ripoff Report, Glassdoor, or any other websites out there. Internet Lesson 1: If you’re trading currency for goods and services, search the company name and review to see what comes up. Click here for an example. The internet will tell you who to trust! Take everything with a grain of salt, anyone can publish to the internet, even me! (That’s lesson 2)
Over a year ago, the Los Angeles BBB chapter got a bad review from the national BBB. So bad in fact, they kicked the BBB of Southland out of the national BBB. Turns out they were selling good ratings, and that even Hamas had an A+ rating! Yeah, that Hamas. The businesses served by the Southland chapter have been absorbed into other chapters until Southland is re-established. We’re now part of the Silicon Valley chapter #Exotic! We worked 14 years to maintain that A+ rating and now… well it seems pretty worthless. The best part, the former BBB-Southland people started their own Business Consumer Alliance… so if you trust an organization that sold their top seats, check out BCA or Congress.
BBB re-accredited all of the businesses in our area, but is it still worth it to be on the BBB? To give you an idea, we got 11 people to come to our website from the BBB. On Yelp, we got 7 people. The kicker, it took 52 times longer for those 11 from BBB people than from Yelp. This is how society is changing though. We’d rather hear from a collective’s anecdotal experience than a chest of drawer’s aggregated rating. It’s cool though, we’ve got good ratings everywhere. Check out Yelp, Angie’s List, and SolarReviews.com. When your business does good work, society will reward with success, growth, and reviews… somewhere in the world.
The right time to go solar might not surprise you. There isn’t a specific day like, Tuesdays when you should buy airplane tickets, or Super Bowl Sunday to buy a car. Solar construction can happen year round, so if you’re looking for the best month… it was in March #Sorry. March gives you the best year one production because it’s right before the summer, and the panels are fresh and clean. But you should know (and probably already do…)… the best time to go solar is NOW!
Equipment costs have steadily decreased for decades, but we are at the bottom and have been there for most of 2014, as can be seen in the graph below. Asian manufacturing brought prices to an all-time low because of their scale, and fierce determination to own the solar market… Some have said that there may have been some shady trade practices #Dumping as well. The US Commerce Department has made steps to end this trade war and is planning to levy varying tariffs on some foreign made solar products. When the levies are imposed, solar module prices (not system prices) are expected to rise 18-35%, and we’ll see this take effect during the next 6 months. Even with more expensive solar panels on the horizon, you’ll still want to go with an experienced company #40Years because there’s going to be a lot of misinformation, possibly counterfeit brands or non-CEC certified products on the market soon, as the IOUs (SCE, PG&E, SDG&E) rebates have ended across the state. These rebates required the verification of modules being installed. The Solar Program Administrators and the PUC do not want to be forever in the business of policing the solar industry.
Solar’s unprecedented growth has been due to lower prices and to new financing options like long term low interest personal loans, other third-party financing such as hero program, leases, property tax loans and power purchase agreements . I have good news and bad news though. Our economy is improving which usually means that loan and lease interest rates are going to come back up which will affect your payback and return on investment.
California installed more rooftop solar last year than they have in the last 30 years! The industry has grown rapidly and will continue to grow, but the most cost effective time to go solar, is NOW. Solar boomed in 2013 because of good incentives, lower costs, and improved financing. Incentives are meant to help industries get started and test business plans with less risk, like Mosaic , but they don’t last forever. Almost all of the local utility rebates have been claimed and the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit will be reduced at the end of 2015.
If you’re still not convinced to go solar, your future bills should convince you. Electricity rates go up 5-8% per year. LADWP customers will see their rates increasing 11%. The sooner you go solar, the more you’ll start saving and sooner. The average Californian that goes solar will save over $50,000 over the life of the system. What could you do with that extra pocket change?
Give us a call because NOW is the right time to go solar (888) 595-9570
Location: Long Beach, CA
Solar System Type: Solar Electric (PV)
Solar System Details: 5.3 kW installed in 2008 & 2.1 kW installed in 2013
Previous Average Bill: $220/month
Previous Christmas Bill: $600/month
Present: “Having no bill at all for the whole year, makes it really nice.”
Richard originally went solar with Ameco in 2008. He was looking to reduce his bills to SCE after seeing a $600 bill during Christmas time. With his family using more electricity, Richard upgraded his system in 2013 to keep his electric bill virtually nonexistent.
“We started looking around, we went to a few other companies and it just seemed like they were trying to get on the bandwagon to do solar.
So, when we found Pat with AMECO, he had been in the business for years and had a lot of experience. I also found out that he was connected with the lobbyists and he was doing a bunch of the negotiations for solar…and that impressed me.”
– Richard Bowman, Long Beach, CA
Finally there is an event for the Solar Day of Action in Southern California! There is a national event in DC on June 21st celebrating the Solstice and the solar industry. It was actually really starting to bug me that there wasn’t anything in the sunny area… obviously not to the point where I would actually do something about it. #Lazy
Come join Organizing For Action’s West Los Angeles Solar Day of Action! “Join OFA volunteers for a brief talk on the economic and environmental benefits of solar power and a free screening of the documentary ‘Here Comes the Sun’ at the Mar Vista Public Library on June 21st. Learn about how solar energy is part of the solution to climate change, and how the switch to solar energy is not only possible, but can generate significant benefits in our communities and in our pocketbooks. #PutSolarOnIt” says the event page.
Why should you attend? Solar is growing and benefits society tremendously. Aside from the countless environmental benefits, solar creates thousands of jobs and securitizes us for the future. Solar has already grown at crazy rates, but it’s still under attack. Utilities and politicians nationwide are continuously trying to put limits and fees on solar installations. Help us show the support solar deserves on the longest day of the year!
Lazier than me? Don’t worry, I’ve created three levels of laziness participation:
“Back Scratchers Double as Reaching Sticks” Level
o There is a Cute Pet Photo Contest with the prize being $1,000 credit to solar! Good luck beating Cody!
“But the Remote is Over There” Level
o Climate Reality is also running a #PutSolarOnIt Selfie campaign. Check out ours and create your own!
“It’s Sunday Already?!?” Level
o Be sure to post and share the social media statuses on Saturday and include #PutSolarOnIt in posts. Maybe schedule one so you can sleep in though.
They did pass their traction tests, but the excitement for solar roadways is a little premature. Is the product innovative? #Totally. Here’s a quick rundown of what the Solar Roadways phenomenon is about. Several years back, the Federal Highway Administration funded a project for roadways that could pay for themselves. Solar Roadways’ prototype provides modular roads with solar panels integrated within them to generate electricity. They will also be fitted with heaters and LED’s to clear roads of ice and warn drivers of conditions ahead. There are many other features that make it great, and we’ll save reality for last.
Good public relations and a revolutionary new type of road. Solar panels last for 25 years and often see a payback within ten years or less. That concept alone of a road that can last 25 years and create a return on investment is already better than stinky asphalt. I’ve been told that in other parts of the country; their roads get covered in frozen water and become difficult to drive on. This prototype contains heaters that will melt all of that frozen water that will eliminate ice related accidents and snow plows. Pretty awesome if you’ve been stuck behind one or have seen the salts eat away at your car.
Next awesomeness, the LED warning system. Personally, this is my favorite feature of the solar roadways and is totally viable for particular situations. From this picture, you can see that the roadways will replace the painted stripes, crosswalks, etc. In the middle of the photo, you can see someone crossing the street and the crosswalk turns red. You can also see the speed limit displayed and the bike path illuminated. We could instantly change the speed limit, warn drivers of pedestrians or wildlife, or any other emergency situation.
They want to put these roadways everywhere. Installers have a general rule of thumb, don’t install solar where the sun don’t shine. Here’s a quick list of things that cause shade, everything that is not transparent like a tree, a building, or a car. The designers have danced around the question of which solar technology they will use. Photovoltaic crystalline panels actually have serious performance issues even in partial shade because of weird physics voodoo that exponentially messes up production. Thin film solar does not share this issue and only loses ten percent of production when ten percent is shaded. Thin film is flexible and theoretically cheaper, but it’s less efficient. I would feel more confident with them using thin film while we put efficient PV on the roofs. They are currently using microinverters and from pictures it appears as they are using crystalline cells. This adds cost and more components that can break. They have been working the numbers though, and microinverters might be the most cost-effective solution to increase production.
Roads get shade from just about everything because they are the lowest point. A lot of things are built next to roads because that’s um…. #convenient. Buildings cast huge shadows. I think Solar Roadways have potential in downtown intersections to safely alert drivers of pedestrians, bicyclists, and snow.
There are a lot of other cool possibilities with these from cabling conduits, wastewater treatment, piezoelectric generators, etc. My sort of problem is that it shouldn’t be seen as a solution to climate change or meeting renewable energy requirements. It is a solution to a safer society. There is no possible way that these road modules will be more efficient than a roof or ground mounted solar system. The roadways have thick textured glass, that can withstand 250,000 POUNDS, that will get dirty and obstruct light from hitting the solar cell.
After reading a few other critical roadways articles, it’s apparent they aren’t there yet. The sound alone from the textured surface makes a silent, clean technology annoying. We need to take a step back and remember that this is still in its prototyping phase. Lots of stuff can change and lots of stuff can prevent it from coming to fruition. Sit back and join Ameco in installing effective, affordable solar solutions.
Analytical look at the cost, durability and installation
Founders reply to the “haters”
Media From Solar Roadways
Trumpets are blaring and drums are rolling because AMECO Solar has a new website!
Our new, fresh design was planned with a straight-forward layout that is much easier to navigate. Just one look at our new homepage and you can easily tell that AMECO Solar is a full-service solar installation company. We have options for anyone interested in solar panels from residential solar electric and solar pool installations to medium-sized commercial systems and large-scale solar installations.
You may click through our pages to learn more about solar energy by checking out step-by-step explanations of how it works or reading our pages on residential solar installation and commercial solar installation.
Of course, you may already know that our company blog is a great resource about solar installation. Plus, we would also like to highlight our new Solar Installation Photo Gallery. It features photos of our recent solar installs, and new photos are being added all the time.
Give the new AMECO Solar website a spin…we hope you’ll like it!
If you ever peruse the headlines of science publications, one phrase you will come across for any research involving solar energy is “thin-film solar cells.” These photovoltaic modules are similar to those that AMECO installs on homeowners’ rooftops.
While they’re considerably thinner and could potentially be sold at a lower cost, the technology is still in the early stages and not available for residential installation just yet.
The major issue holding back thin-film solar? Efficiency. A typical solar electric panel can convert about 20 percent of the sunlight that hits them into electricity, while thin-film solar cells currently in development only have efficiency rates in the single digits.
As a result, one of the main focuses of renewable energy researchers is to develop thin-film solar modules that can match or improve on the efficiency of conventional panels.
Many studies have been published on the subject showing the possibility of higher conversion rates, but one of the most interesting is a report published in the academic journal Advanced Optical Materials.
Scientists at Purdue University in Indiana, have used light diffraction properties in gemstones, specifically opal, to come up with a molecular structure that does a more efficient job of capturing sunlight. They referred to this structure as “inverse opal.”
In simpler terms, the gemstones cause the sunlight to spread out within the thin-film solar panel instead of bouncing directly out. By keeping the sunlight within the solar cell, the solar cell therefore creates more usable energy. This technology could result in solar panels that are 100 times less expensive than conventional solar panels.
Innovations such as this are important for the solar industry, as panel prices have already dropped significantly in the last decade. This has led many industry observers to speculate that silicon PV modules could soon “hit bottom,” at which point further reductions simply wouldn’t be possible.
That would mean that price decreases would have to come from other areas, such as eliminating inefficiencies in the supply chain or even lowering administrative costs. These aspects of solar pricing are referred to as “soft costs,” and they’ve remained relatively flat while panel prices have come down. To reduce prices further, it will be necessary to develop thin-film modules for commercial use.
Homeowners may have to wait a few years for thin-film solar to become commercially available for residential solar energy systems, but that doesn’t mean residents can’t take advantage of solar power today. AMECO can provide your family with a solar electric system that will lower your monthly energy expenses and help you reduce your carbon footprint. For more information, contact us today by calling (888) 595-9570 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org!
Happy Anniversary to AMECO Solar! This year our solar installation company is celebrating our 40th anniversary.
That’s right, forty years! We’ve officially made it over the hill and are taking a look back on the history of our company. From our humble beginnings in 1974 to our many solar successes today in 2014, it has been a bright and sunny journey. Read on below for details on some of our highlighted accomplishments.
1974: Our company is founded under its original name Link (& Sun) Solar. Shortly thereafter, the name is changed to AMECO Solar, Inc.
1978: Congress passes the Energy Tax Act giving homeowners a tax credit for installing solar thermal panels. The law is seen as a way to promote energy conservation and shift away from using oil and gas.
1980: AMECO Solar joins CALSEIA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading solar technology in the state. Later on, Patrick Redgate (our CEO) serves as an elected member.
1982: Thousands of Californians go solar taking advantage of the federal tax credit and the state’s generous rebates. AMECO Solar adds two offices to our original location in Long Beach.
1985: California’s Contractors State License Board (CSLB) creates a license specifically for solar contractors. AMECO Solar is one of the first solar companies to receive it and is given License #483280.
1996: Thanks to Governor Pete Wilson and the State Legislature, California offers solar rebates and incentives through the Emerging Renewables Program for solar electric systems.
2004: Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger promotes the Million Solar Roofs Program, challenging Californians to install 3,000 megawatts by 2017 to cut down on the output of greenhouse gasses.
2007: Authorized by the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Solar Initiative launches with new solar rebates for homeowners and businesses who are customers of SCE, PG&E and SDG&E.
2008: Now that the cost of solar is low and significant rebates are available, AMECO helps even more Californians go solar. We outgrow our offices yet again and move to our current location in Paramount.
2010: Because customers rate us so highly and write such great reviews on Angie’s List, AMECO Solar is awarded our first Angie’s List Super Service Award. We also receive this award in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
2014: AMECO Solar celebrates 40 years of installing solar panels for homeowners and businesses in Southern California. As we look back on our solar success, we are also looking forward to an even brighter future.
The following sources were referenced for this solar infographic: California Energy Commission, California Solar Initiative, Environment California, Wikipedia, Angie’s List, Contractors State Licensing Board, and The Capital Environmental News.
Putting solar panels on your roof in Southern California? It’s very likely that you are installing solar electric panels (or PV panels as we say in the solar industry).
However, there is a whole world of solar energy outside of solar electric systems! The different types range from solar thermal systems to large-scale “CSP” installations, some of which have been around for more than a century! Today we are discussing the top four types of solar that are widely used by Californians.
Solar electric systems are by far the most common type of solar energy system installed in California. Often referred to as photovoltaic panels or simply “PV”, solar electric panels convert the energy of the sun into usable electricity using the photovoltaic process.
In recent years, the price of solar electric installation has become more affordable thanks to government incentives and rebates, favorable clean energy policies and solar financing. This has led to a surge in residential and commercial solar installation! In fact, California added about 2740 megawatts of energy in 2013. This is an incredibly large amount of solar energy, more than enough to power 600,000 homes.
Sometimes called Domestic Hot Water or DHW, solar hot water is a very mature, reliable technology that has been used in Southern California since the early 1900s. Most homeowners need only 2-4 panels in order to provide the majority of the hot water used in their home. This will provide you with the majority of hot water needed to do your laundry, wash your dishes and keep that shower nice and warm!
Currently, the California Solar Initiative is now offering substantial rebates for residential installs. Combined with the Federal Tax Credit, our recent solar hot water customers are saving 50-60% on their installation costs.
Ever leave your garden hose out in the sun and notice that the water runs warm as a result? That’s pretty much how solar pool panels warm up your pool’s water. First, water is pumped from your pool and circulated through the solar pool panels on your roof. As the sun beats down on the solar panels, the water within the panels warms up. Then, it drains back to your pool and increases the water to a comfortable temperature.
The majority of pool owners in Southern California can use unglazed solar pool panels made of polypropalene. Not only is it the most affordable, but the material is stronger than plastic panels and can hold up for 20 years or longer.
Concentrated solar power, often shortened to the acronym CSP, is used for large-scale installations that supply solar energy to a utility company. By using thousands of mirrors, sunlight is concentrated onto a small area and creates a large amount of heat (or thermal energy). This heat drives a steam turbine and that converts it into electricity.
CSP’s current poster child is the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in the Mojave Desert of Southern California. It went live in February 2014 and is expected to provide enough energy to power 140,000 homes.
One of the tragedies of the recession was that it resulted in steep cuts to educational institutions nationwide.
California in particular dealt with dramatic decreases in school funding at the primary, secondary and university levels, which led to shortened school years, fewer textbook purchases and higher tuition for college students. As a result, these institutions are constantly looking for ways to cut expenses in other areas so that the cuts will have a smaller impact on their students.
Enter California solar energy. School campuses use a lot of power during the day, which leads to very high electricity costs that could be significantly offset by a greater reliance on renewable energy. Various renewable projects have been developed for campuses across the state, but the most viable technology for these purposes is definitely solar photovoltaic (PV).
Not only will switching to solar reduce energy expenditures, it will also provide students and faculty with a clean, renewable source of power that produces no carbon dioxide and helps educate students about the subject of sustainability.
Solar already has a presence on a number of campuses. In fact, the University of California, Riverside, will begin construction on a solar plant with a generating capacity of 3 megawatts (MW) this summer. Experts estimate that it will produce enough power to cover 30 percent of the school’s baseline electricity needs. The panels will take up 11 acres of land on campus, but they’ll be virtually invisible to the public, according to the school’s website.
Now that the price of solar is competitive with electricity rates, UC Riverside decided that solar energy would be both the cleanest and most cost-effective energy to use. This is partly due to a power purchase agreement (PPA), which is a financing arrangement where the solar panels are owned by a third-party and the school purchases the electricity produced by the panels. PPAs typically provide a rate competitive with that of grid electricity.
The best part is that UC Riverside’s solar plant has the potential save the school $4.3 million over the course of the 20-year PPA. That’s money that can be repurposed for other projects, including expanding the school to accommodate more students and hiring more professors to teach them.
Of course, schools weren’t the only entities affected by the recession. Many homes, businesses and other public institutions took a big hit when the economy went south. This is why solar is such a vital resource: It provides a terrific money saving opportunity at a time when people are still looking to cut back on whatever expenses they can.
Although solar panels for homes have dropped in price over the last decade, they still require an investment to purchase outright and install.
While this is an affordable possibility for many middle class families, especially given the long term energy savings, it may be difficult for low income households to save money and make such a large upfront investment.
What are the options for those homeowners who don’t have that kind of cash on hand, but want to enjoy the benefits of Los Angeles and Orange County solar power?
After all, these families have as much to gain from renewable energy as wealthy households. And often, low income citizens are disproportionately affected by problems like climate change, rising electricity costs and pollution from coal power plants located near their neighborhoods. There are a couple possible solutions to the problem of affordability for these families.
The California Solar Initiative (CSI) set aside some of its budget to fund SASH, a program that pays for solar panel installation on the roofs of single family low income housing.
So far, the program has helped more than 4,000 families go solar and use clean, renewable energy in their homes. In the fall, the California government extended the program through 2021, which means that Grid Alternatives will be helping thousands more install solar panels at an affordable price.
Those interested should review the eligibility requirements on Grid Alternative’s website to see if you qualify for a solar installation through SASH. You may also contact the organization at (866) 921-4696 or email@example.com for more information.
By leasing panels, you are able to avoid a large upfront installation cost for your solar electric system and spread out the cost through monthly payments. If the savings on your electricity bill offset the lease payment, then it’s a worth investment.
As an example, one of our customers was previously paying electric bills as high as $800 a month. With such a large monthly expense, the family was having a hard time making ends meet. Now that they have installed solar panels, their combined monthly electric bill and lease payment costs about $350.
While still seemingly expensive, it’s a big difference when compared to their previous electricity costs without solar. They now save anywhere from $300-450 a month, which helps relieve pressure from the family’s monthly budget. Much more, they are happy to be using clean energy from the sun instead of dirty energy from coal, oil or natural gas.
If you would like to find out more about leasing solar panels, contact us at (888) 595-9570 or firstname.lastname@example.org. After understanding your electricity usage and surveying your roof, our solar consultants can run the numbers for a solar lease and present you with an affordable proposal that will fit your needs.
During the past year, our company has been following AB 327, a bill that may affect current and future solar owners. Last time we checked in, AB 327 had just been passed and left the fate of the net energy metering program in the hands of the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission).
[Editor’s Note: For those who don’t know, net metering is when a solar customer is able to sell back overproduction to the utility company at the same rate that you buy it back at night.]
In the past couple months, there has been a lot of movement surrounding the “grandfathering period” for current solar owners who are already enrolled in a net metering program.
First, the utility companies lobbied for short term net metering contracts that would only last 10-15 years. However, CALSEIA and other solar advocacy organizations were successful in getting 50,000 Californian signatures for a petition that demanded a 30 year grandfathering period.
As announced earlier this week by Commissioner Michael Peevey, the CPUC decided that a compromise of 20 years would make the most sense. They primarily based their proposal on the lifetime of a solar array. While most solar systems can last up to 25-30 years, they are expected to function for a minimum of 20 years. It was also kept in mind that most solar leasing agreements are 20 years long.
The commissioners are scheduled to vote on this proposal in late March to make the decision official.
Though the solar industry was fighting for 30 years, most experts observe that the CPUC was fair in proposing 20 years. This period still gives current solar owners plenty of time to take advantage of the benefits of net energy metering.
Currently, net energy metering is being debated in 25 states including two of California’s neighbors: Arizona and Oregon. Our hope is that California’s decision has a positive effect on heated debates across the country and a fair approach is adopted.
The CPUC still has to make many decisions on “Net Metering 2.0”, the program for future solar owners who buy a system on July 1, 2017 or beyond.
Now that we are two months into 2014, we are taking some time to reflect on how 2013 was for the solar industry and what lessons can be learned from the biggest developments. By almost all counts, it was a big year for solar power.
Across the nation, residential solar installation became more popular thanks to general education of the public about the advantages of the technology and available rebates that help make it more affordable. Additionally, utility companies made a big effort to get large-scale installations up and running (such as Ivanpah in Southern California’s desert). All of this lead to a surge in solar panel installation and a number of record breaking quarters in 2013.
Of course, California continues to be one of the leading states for solar expansion. Our state doubled its total generating capacity for rooftop solar, adding as much photovoltaic (PV) power in 2013 as it had in the 30 years prior. In total, we now have 2,000 megawatts (MW) of rooftop solar.
When you consider utility-scale installations such as the California Valley Solar Ranch, the Golden State actually has a grand total of 4,000 MW of capacity. This makes California by far the state with the most solar, and accounts for a little under 40 percent of all U.S. PV and concentrated solar power.
Having established that the solar industry is growing at a rapid pace, it’s worth understanding why this happened and how we can continue expanding:
In order for Los Angeles and Orange County solar to remain competitive in the future, it is essential for the trends outlined above to continue. That way, the state, and the nation, can move closer to a more sustainable and energy-independent future.
This past Sunday, Bill Nye went on the NBC News show “Meet the Press” to discuss climate change with Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, a representative from Tennessee.
Of the popular TV show Bill Nye, The Science Guy, Nye is a respected scientist who has never shied away from controversial topics. During this segment, he makes some strong statements about climate change and what can be done to help reduce it.
While he sprinkles scientific facts throughout the 13 minute long segment, the true gems are Nye’s inspirational call-to-action at minute 11:20. He says, “The longest journey starts with but a single step. We all have to acknowledge that we have a problem…it would be in everybody’s best interest to get going, as they like to say, do everything all at once.”
Nye then lists out actions that we can take that will help us move away from climate change. These actions include having fewer coal-fired plants, producing less energy waste, requiring more efficient transportation systems, and making more reliable electricity transmission systems.
He continues with an important statement where he says “We want to do more with less.” As he begins to touch on solar energy production, he’s cut off by the debate mediator and the segment ends shortly thereafter.
Nye’s comments are a great reminder about why some of us got into the solar industry. Sure, a solar panel installation can save a homeowner or a business a great deal of money. There’s no denying that this is an important benefit of solar energy.
However, relying on the sun for your electricity is undeniably good for our entire planet. For us, one solar installation in Southern California means that we are one step closer to closing a dirty energy plant and helping to reduce climate change.
Solar energy comes in three different forms, all of which amount to serious savings for homeowners and businesses alike. By relying on the sun for your electricity and water heating needs, you can reduce your energy expenditures and cut down on your carbon footprint.
If you’re unclear why so many Southern Californians have made the switch to solar, check out our new solar infographic featuring the swashbuckling Three Solar-keteers!
A rooftop photovoltaic (PV) solar electric system allows you to run your home on sunlight rather than relying solely on power from the grid. By taking advantage of a net metering program, you can earn credits on your bills by selling power back to the grid. In addition, the federal government will cover up to 30 percent of the cost of your system through the Renewable Energy Tax Credit.
With AMECO Solar, you have the option to lease your solar panels or take out a loan for the installation costs. Both options will allow your family to switch to Los Angeles or Orange County solar power without having to make a large upfront investment. And you’ll still save thousands on your electricity bills over the life of the system!
Solar water heaters are a great option for those who want to save even more money on your energy bills. By providing up to 80 percent of your hot water needs, you can cut your energy expenses by as much as 70 percent.
Government incentives and solar thermal rebates allow you to save money on the installation costs. At this point in time, you can potentially get 50-60% of your money back by cashing in on the available incentives. In addition, these systems typically last 25 to 30 years, which means you won’t have to worry about replacement for quite some time.
Heating a swimming pool is a considerable expense when relying on a gas or electric heater. Even in the summer when the sun is shining, keeping a large pool warm can cost hundreds of dollars a month.
But with a solar pool system from AMECO Solar, you’ll be able to heat your pool to a reasonable temperature while saving all the money you would have spent on utility bills. Plus, once the solar pool heater is installed, there are little-to-no costs to keep it running each year.
Solar energy has grown substantially in the past few years due the incredible savings that families will realize by making the switch.
If you’re interested in finding out how you can benefit from this technology, contact AMECO Solar by calling (888) 595-9570 or emailing us at email@example.com today. We can perform a free solar evaluation on your property and give you a rundown of the installation and financing processes.
As electric vehicles become more mainstream, consumers are making the connection between electric vehicles and solar energy. It’s an easy marriage: both technologies save you money on energy costs while also reducing your reliance on dirty energy.
In the last couple months, we have kept our eye out for news on the combination of these two technologies. To date, the idea of using an electric vehicle as solar battery backup and Ford’s solar concept car have proved to be the most interesting.
A year ago the University of Delaware introduced a fleet of retrofitted Mini Coopers that act as a mini power plant. The electric cars can be plugged in to get charged, but they also have the ability to send electricity back to the grid.
Many solar experts see the university’s experiment as a solution to the battery backup woes of solar owners across the nation. Ideally, an EV owner could charge their car with solar energy during the day and then use any excess energy to power their home at nighttime.
Getting approval is undoubtedly the largest obstacle in spreading this innovative idea across the nation. In order to receive authorization, the vehicle-to-grid project relied on the help and support of many different companies and organizations. It may not be as easy to get approval from utility companies and local cities based in Southern California.
Though we are partial to our Chevy Volt, we’ve had our eye on the Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept Car that is powered by solar panels. Engineers adapted the highly-efficient SunPower solar panels that are typically installed on homes and businesses to make special, thin-film panels for the car.
On its own, the solar panels need a week’s worth of sun in order to charge it completely. However, Ford has partnered with the Georgia Institute of Technology to help solve this problem with a special parking canopy. Essentially, the canopy magnifies the sun’s rays so that the charge time is condensed into a 6-7 hour time period.
The solar vehicle is still in development, and much work still needs to be done to make the car more affordable and efficient. With consumer demand and a push for car companies to become more sustainable, we’re hopeful that the concept car will become a reality sooner than later.
Online news articles sourced for this blog post: CES 2014: Ford to debut C-Max solar concept car, Let the Sun In: Ford C-Max Solar Energi Concept Goes Off the Grid, Electric cars may hold solution for power storage, and Technology milestone reach on UDaily.
Harry, our solar customer in Long Beach, previously worked as the financial manager of the Energy Supply and Management Department at the Southern California Edison company. It was his department that did all the buying and selling of SCE’s power needs to the Power Exchange. Because of his position, Harry experienced the California electricity crisis of the early 2000s firsthand.
The crisis made him realize that the price of electricity from the grid was not going to be reliable in the future. “I saw the writing on the wall. Energy prices were only going to go up,” he explained. By installing solar panels on his home, he could generate his own solar energy and avoid the rising costs of electricity.
AMECO installed his first solar system back in 2002. Since then, Harry has become even more energy independent by installing a solar hot water system and adding more solar panels to the original solar electric system.
After 12 years, Harry decided to replace the original SMA Sunny Boy inverter even though it was doing fine. Most inverters are expected to last for ten years, so Harry’s inverter had already lasted two years longer than expected and could have potentially lasted longer. We at AMECO Solar aren’t surprised that the equipment was still working well; the inverter manufacturer, SMA, is known for their reliable and advanced inverter technology.
Harry asked AMECO for advice on which inverter he should choose. “Pat is very knowledgeable about solar technology and one of the smartest guys in the business,” said Harry.
Pat recommended a new, groundbreaking inverter called the Sunny Boy TL-US from SMA. Not just an efficient transformer-less inverter, it also allows for a small amount of secure power supply when the electric grid goes down. Since it is cheaper and easier to install than a battery backup system, this specific inverter serves as a good alternative.
When your inverter is installed, a special electric plug is connected to it. If the grid goes down, you simply flip the switch on the plug and turn it on. It uncouples itself from the grid (for safety) and powers a 120-volt AC electric outlet. As long as the sun is shining, you can use the plug to power small appliances up to 1500 watts (such as a laptop, gaming devices, small fan or cell phone charger). Once the electric grid is back up, just flip the switch to the off position and the inverter will go back to its normal operation.
SMA has implemented certain checks to ensure safety. One safety feature is that the plug will automatically disconnect if you try to draw more than 1500 watts. Then, it will try to reconnect every 20 seconds until the load is below 1500 watts.
In the event of a blackout, Harry has some peace of mind now that he has the new SMA Sunny Boy TL-US inverter. While his neighbors will be out of electricity during a blackout, he’ll be using energy from his solar panels to power some of his electricity needs.
Want to install a solar system or replace your old inverter with the new Sunny Boy TL-US ? Contact the experts at AMECO Solar by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling us toll-free at (888) 595-9570.
Last month, 60 Minutes aired a segment where one of the program’s anchors, Lesley Stahl, tried to make the case that clean technology and renewable energy were “dead.” In her report, Stahl makes a number of claims about the energy industry and the future of renewables that have been proven false by a number of other news organizations.
To begin with, demand for renewable energy is at an all-time high, and continues to grow year in and year out. As RenewableEnergyWorld.com notes, renewables, including California solar power, provided 19 percent of global energy consumption in 2011, the latest year for which such data is currently available.
In addition, it should be made clear that solar energy in particular, which was a special target in the 60 Minutes segment, has been thriving over the last decade and continues to grow at an exponential pace. The Solar Energy Industries Association reports that 2013 was a record breaking year for solar installation in the United States and 2014 promises to be even better.
Additionally, California added more solar energy in 2013 than it had in the previous 30 years combined. None of these facts sound like symptoms of an industry that is dying.
Furthermore, the 60 Minutes report gets a number of smaller facts wrong, including its description of Vinod Khosla, a venture capitalist featured heavily in the segment. Khosla is held up as an example of an investor who lost faith in renewable energy after having plowed over a $1 billion into the industry and seeing no returns.
However, Khosla himself has published an open letter to CBS claiming that the network got the facts completely wrong: Not only has he invested nowhere near $1 billion, he has seen a solid return from his interests and will continue supporting the renewable energy sector.
It’s not known why 60 Minutes and Stahl got so many facts wrong, nor why they pushed an agenda that is firmly against the expansion of renewables. However, it’s indicative of the continued struggle that the solar industry faces to demonstrate its importance for achieving renewable energy goals.
It’s important for clean technology advocates to enumerate the benefits of solar power, which include lower pollution levels, job creation and improved finances for both households and businesses.
The University of California, Riverside will be hosting a conference in February where state energy officials and private citizens will gather to discuss the solar industry and its prospects for growth in the future. The conference, which is being hosted by the UC Riverside Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SCRICE), will be held at the Bourns College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology.
Riverside is one of the most active areas in the state in terms of solar energy development, and has become a major industry focus. The university itself has announced plans to build a large solar panel array on its property to provide the school with a third of its energy needs.
Therefore, its little surprise that such a conference would be held at UC Riverside. The event will include several speakers including David Hochschild, a member of the California Energy Commission, Sarah Kurtz of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and V. John White of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies.
“This conference is meant to be a one-stop for officials interested in the latest trends and developments in the solar energy industry,” said Alfredo Martinez Morales, managing director of the SCRICE.
There’s certainly a lot to talk about when it comes to solar power in California. Our state continues to lead the nation in solar installations by a significant margin. It doubled its rooftop generating capacity from 1,000 megawatts (MW) to 2,000 MW in 2013, adding more solar installations in one year than had been built in the previous 30 combined.
Overall, about 40 percent of the country’s solar power generating infrastructure is located here, and it appears that this trend will continue well into the future as the state movies closer to its Renewable Portfolio Standard goals. These benchmarks require that the state’s utilities derive one-third of the electricity they produce from renewable sources such as Orange County solar and wind power.
The key to this growth has been a public policy environment that has aggressively supported the solar industry. Programs such as net metering and federal tax incentives have lowered the cost of solar for those who want to convert their homes. In addition, the availability of leasing options and power purchase agreements has given homeowners more flexibility in choosing how they want to pay for their panels.
Hopefully the conference yields dividends in terms of generating ideas and educating the public about this terrific technology, which is helping Southern Californians save thousands of dollars on their electricity bills.
For more information about how your family can also lower your electric bills, contact AMECO Solar today by calling (888) 595-9570 or emailing GoSolar@AmecoSolar.com.
Mark Ferron, an outgoing commissioner on the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), voiced strong support for California solar incentives in a farewell letter he sent on his final day in office. Ferron is stepping down due to an ongoing fight with prostate cancer.
In his letter, he urges the commission to resist efforts by the state’s utilities to curb the growth of distributed generation (DG) and instead represent the interests of solar customers and renewable energy in general.
The CPUC, which regulates our state’s investor-owned utilities (including Southern California Edison), is tasked with determining the rates that customers pay for their power. They are also in charge of approving incentive programs that are designed to encourage the growth of DG resources.
Utilities companies must first ask permission of the CPUC in order to increase their rates or change the types of rebates they offer solar customers. Because of this, the CPUC plays a pivotal role in determining whether solar power will continue to grow in California.
Ferron urged caution in dealing with AB 327, a new law that gives the CPUC authority to determine whether utility companies can charge a flat fee to all customers (including solar customers) and set guidelines for the California’s Net Energy Metering program (a program that allows solar panel owners to make solar energy and sell it back to the utility company).
“…Recognize that this is a poisoned chalice: the Commission will come under intense pressure to use this authority to protect the interests of the utilities over those of consumers and potential self-generators, all in the name of addressing exaggerated concerns about grid stability, cost and fairness,” Ferron wrote in his letter. “You – my fellow Commissioners — all must be bold and forthright in defending and strengthening our state’s commitment to clean and distributed energy generation.”
Utility companies have generally been reluctant to support rooftop solar power because they believe that solar customers are not paying their fair share of the “soft costs” of operating a grid, namely transmission and maintenance. However, solar industry advocates have made the case that solar rate payers are in fact providing positive benefits for the grid by allowing the utility companies to spend less on building more plants.
Solar advocates also point out that utility companies have been relatively slow when it comes to construction of new solar panel plants. If California is to meet its renewable portfolio standard (RPS) — which requires the state to derive 33 percent of its electricity from renewables by 2020 — it’s going to need more rooftop solar generating capacity.
By allowing electric companies to slow the growth of this technology, Ferron argues, it will make it less likely for the state to accomplish its RPS goals. Hopefully, the CPUC takes Ferron’s letter to heart and protects California’s environmental and economic future by backing California solar rebate programs.
It’s been a record-breaking year for solar energy. In the past twelve months, the United States installed an estimated 13 gigawatts of solar energy across our 50 states. That’s enough to power 2,000,000 homes!
Not to mention, the solar industry is now employing almost 120,000 people at more than 6,100 companies. Solar panel installation is not just good for your pocket book, it is also great our economy.
There’s no sign that the solar industry will slow down. Many project that 2014 will be even more successful! More great facts are at SEIA’s America Supports Solar website.
The Solar Energy Industry Association (also known as SEIA) invited solar enthusiasts across the country to celebrate by posting photos of their support online. Some of our employees joined in the fun and took photos with our signs of solar support. Check out our photo galleries on the AMECO Solar Facebook page.
Location: Westminster, CA
System Type: Solar Electric (PV)
System Size: 6.09 kilowatts
System Details: 21 LG Solar Panels with 21 Enphase Microinverters and Online Monitoring
Year Installed: 2013
Electric Bill Before: $389
Electric Bill After: $155
Bill Reduced by 60%!
Each year Yvonne and Tim’s neighborhood turns into a holiday wonderland where all the homes are decorated with elaborate Christmas light displays. Though they loved getting in the holiday spirit and putting up their own lights, they did not like receiving their electric bill afterwards. Sometimes their holiday bill would run as high as $375 or more!
Though they had looked into solar a few years before, a close friend convinced them that it was a good time to consider solar panel installation again. They began looking for a solar installer in the early fall and found AMECO Solar.
Being a contractor herself, Yvonne had high standards for her solar contactor. AMECO was able to meet her requirements by showing proof of the necessary insurance and workmen’s comp, using trained solar panel installers instead of hiring sub-contractors, and backing up our solar technology with competitive warranties. Both she and Tim were also impressed by the fact that our company has been installing solar panels since 1974.
Shortly after meeting with Todd and listening to his informational, no-pressure presentation, they signed a contract and scheduled the solar installation. Since they wanted to power their holiday display with solar energy, they asked that the system be installed and working by December 15th.
“The installation process was very organized and went smoothly,” said Tim. He enjoyed working with David, our Operations Manager, who was flexible and very responsive whether by phone or email.
By December 9th, their solar system was turned on and feeding solar energy to their home. Just in time for the holidays!
Since the solar system was turned on, they have enjoyed logging onto the online monitoring system to check in on the energy production. “We chose to install microinverters so that we could track the efficiency of each solar panel and make sure that it is performing as expected,” Tim shared.
So far, their solar panel production is off to a great start. The panels have produced enough solar energy to bring their electric bill down to only $155. Compared to past bills of $389 or more, this is a significant savings! And so, Yvonne and Tim end the holiday season differently than most — with more money in their pockets than expected.
In December, AMECO Solar reported on Environment California’s campaign to convince government officials that solar energy should be a priority for Los Angeles. We’re proud to announce that just one month later their efforts have been recognized by Mayor Eric Garcetti and solar energy will become more abundant in Los Angeles.
A few days ago Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti called on the city to raise its amount of solar-generated power to 20 percent of peak demand by 2020.
His statements indicate that he is firmly committed to the growth of the city’s solar resources, which currently meet about 2 percent of its total electricity needs. Garcetti is hoping that Los Angeles can install 1,200 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity, a little less than one-fifth of the 6,100 MW of peak demand that the city experiences in the summer.
Garcetti’s statements come at an uncertain time for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP). The agency is currently looking for a new general manager after Ron Nichols stated that he will be stepping down for personal reasons. The hope is that the new General Manager of the utility company will prioritize the growth of solar energy so that Mayor Garcetti can meet his ambitious 20 percent goal in six years.
“Southern California is practically a synonym for sunshine,” Emily Kirkland of Environment California said in a statement. “But here in Los Angeles, we’re still getting less than 2 percent of our power from the sun. Mayor Garcetti showed tremendous vision in calling for 20 percent local solar power by 2020 last January. Now, it’s time for him to make that promise a reality.”
The source reports that adding 1,200 MW of generating capacity will create 32,000 jobs and offset the carbon emissions created by over 1 million cars.
The LADWP currently has an incentive program that provides a lump sum payment to customers who decide to switch to a home solar system for their electricity needs. The program had a declining incentive payout, meaning that as more solar energy systems come online, the incentive goes down and those who receive funds are given a smaller per-watt rebate.
Currently, the LADWP rebate program is in its eighth tier (out of ten), with an incentive of 40 cents. This means that for the typical four-kilowatt system, homeowners will receive a lump sum payment of $1,600.
These rebates don’t include the Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit, which covers 30 percent of the cost of installation for qualifying systems.
In order to reach Mayor Garcetti’s goal, the LADWP and federal government need to continue these programs and help homeowners realize savings on their solar installations. Doing so will not only benefit their individual’s household finances and the economy, it will also help the region become more sustainable and less reliant on fossil fuels.
At some point, solar panels got a bad reputation of being ugly. With so many unsightly solar panel installations out there, we’re not entirely surprised. Sometimes it is the solar installation that sticks out like a sore thumb that tends to stay in our minds. We have even seen just one ugly solar installation change the mindset of an entire neighborhood!
However, a skilled solar company will always keep aesthetics in mind. It is important not only to seriously consider the concerns of the homeowner, but to arrange the panels so that they blend in or appear balanced with the architecture. Over the past 40 years, our solar consultants have designed solar systems that appear in sync with a home’s roof or are hidden from view.
As proof of how solar systems can actually be pleasing to the eye, we are going to highlight beautiful solar installations on our blog every once in a while. Each post will include “Before and After” photos, and a brief description of the techniques used during the installation.
First up, we have this solar project that was recently completed in Newport Beach. As you can see in the “Before” photo above, our customer owns a beautiful two-story house with a Spanish tile roof.
Taken from the backyard, this photo shows the most south-facing part of the roof. A roof with southern exposure is best for solar panel installations because it receives the most amount of sunlight throughout the year and therefore produces the most amount of solar energy.
And here is the “After” photo! Now, we not only have a beautiful Southern Californian home, but we also have 28 solar panels that are providing our customer with solar energy.
Working closely with a roofing company, we first removed the Spanish tiles where the solar panels would be placed. Then, the mounting hardware was installed at the same time as the roofing paper and comp shingles. This ensures that there will be a watertight roof underneath the solar panels.
Finally, we installed the solar panels in line with the Spanish tile. We made sure to leave a certain amount of space between the roof and the solar panels. Not only does this meet city code but it also allows air to flow beneath the solar panels, which helps with efficiency. The space will also still prevent debris (such as leaves) from building up underneath.
Since the solar panels and Spanish tiles are roughly at the same level, the sight line of the roof is not disrupted and the final look is sleek.
Another thing that contributes to the sleek appearance of the solar array is this particular solar panel from the SunPower E-Series. The design is known as “black on black” meaning that they are black solar cells on a black background. Most people find this all black design to be more aesthetically pleasing than “black on white” solar panels.
By choosing a high wattage solar panel (the SPR-E20-327 has 327 watts per solar panel), the customer only needed 28 solar panels to offset their electricity usage. If we had installed a more conventional 200-250 watt solar panel, then more solar panels would have been required and the roof would have looked more crowded.
There you have it! Yet another beautiful solar panel installation from AMECO Solar located in sunny Newport Beach, California. Those interested in seeing more solar installations may visit the solar electric system photo gallery on our website or read articles about our solar customers that are featured on the company blog.
California solar energy installations are sometimes seen as a luxury that only the rich can afford. This misconception is fueled in part by the fact that, many years ago, it was indeed very expensive to have solar panels installed on your roof.
But this is no longer the case. The solar industry has been advocating and raising awareness about the sustainability and affordability of the technology for all families, not just those who are wealthy. In fact, for many low-income Californians, solar could be a useful tool for saving money and increasing disposable income.
Solar power has already been integrated into many affordable housing complexes, including Tassafaronga Village in Oakland, California, originally built in 1964. Tassafaronga has been completely rehabilitated with sustainable building techniques and energy-efficient apartments.
The most notable improvement is the solar panel array that covers the rooftops of the apartment buildings. In addition, there are pylons scattered throughout the complex with photovoltaic modules on top to collect extra energy. The solar panels are already paying dividends for residents of Tassafaronga, whose energy bills range from $10 to 15 a month, according to news publication OaklandLocal.com.
Prior to its rehabilitation, residents of Tassafaronga, many of whom receive assistance through Federal Section 8 subsidies, suffered from the same problem that afflicts other low-income citizens: high energy costs. In most cities, affordable housing units are in dilapidated and outdated apartment buildings are inefficient when it comes to energy consumption.
In 2013, the Rocky Mountain Institute found that energy costs in public housing were 40 percent higher than in private homes. In addition, apartments built before 1970, which comprise much of the affordable housing stock throughout the country, use 55 percent more energy than those built after 1990.
The people who end up paying the price for the inefficiencies are low-income residents, who are often in no position to afford the high costs of energy.
However, it’s important to note that the solar energy industry and lawmakers are making efforts to reverse this trend and make more renewable energy available to low-income families.
Two of the most notable public programs are Single Family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) and Multi Family Affordable Solar Homes (MASH), which were passed as part of the California Solar Initiative (CSI) in 2006. These programs set aside part of the solar rebates that were made available through CSI to be used specifically for low-income housing.
Making solar power available to low-income families solves a number of problems all at once. It sharply reduces energy costs for those receiving subsidies, while also helping to move the state’s energy infrastructure in a more sustainable direction. Hopefully, Tassafaronga can serve as a model for other communities that are hoping to go green to save their residents money.
One of the most popular methods of financing a Los Angeles or Orange County solar project is a lease agreement from a third-party institution. Solar leases allow homeowners to pay for their solar panels over time while still saving money on electricity costs.
In fact, over 75% of California’s new solar installations in 2012 were paid for with a solar lease, rather than being purchased outright with a large cash payment. Many speculate that 2013 and 2014 may show an even higher percentage of leased solar systems.
But some solar installations, particularly mid-sized projects that would be put on the rooftop of a school, church or other nonprofit institution, have trouble securing such solar leases or loans. This is mainly because banks are less likely to fund a larger project unless the borrower has both a good credit score and considerable equity — something that many organizations lack.
Enter Mosaic, a startup based in Oakland, California, that helps institutions across the United States convert their facilities to solar. Similar to Kickstarter, Mosaic is a crowdfunding platform that aims to connect investors with solar projects.
The idea is that anyone can invest in a solar project, and once the system is completed, they receive both principal and interest repayments on the power that is produced from the solar panels. Projects typically pay about 4-7 percent annual interest.
One of the biggest strengths of the Mosaic platform is that the loaning system is flexible. Investors can decide how much they are willing to invest in each project.
Getting involved in a Mosaic solar project is fairly easy. Log on to the platform on their website and then browse through the different investment projects. Once you choose from the options (previous projects include solar panels for military housing, schools, and a local convention center), you can finance a local project in any amount from $25 up.
Since the company began soliciting money a year ago in January of 2013, they’ve raised $5.5 million for solar projects from thousands of investors. These funds have led to the completion of 27 solar projects in six different states so far.
Among the funded solar installations are a photovoltaic (PV) system with 400 solar panels at an affordable housing facility in San Bruno, California and 120 solar panels for the Asian Resource Center in Oakland, California.
There are a few limitations that Mosaic will need to sort out to become more useful for organizations looking to acquire a solar electric system. Certain states have securities regulations that prevent residents from investing. However, these restrictions do not apply to Californians. Any California resident may invest in a Mosaic solar project and earn real income back on their investment
In one short year, Mosaic has already proven itself to be a revolutionary way for institutions to switch to clean, solar energy. They will be a “green” corporation to watch in the coming years.
As the year comes to a close, we’re reflecting on everything that has happened in the past twelve months. Since 1974, AMECO has been promoting solar energy as a clean, renewable source of power for our planet. These top five moments remind us why we have made solar our priority and why we dedicate ourselves to it each and every day.
Pure joy. Those two words can explain the look on the face of every child at the Solar Grand Prix earlier this year. As we snapped photos of the kids before the races, each team held up their car with pride. Though a few teams encountered some disappointment after the races, all of the students came away as winners who had learned something new about solar energy.
AMECO was honored to be awarded the solar project at the California Aquatics Therapy & Wellness Center in North Long Beach, just minutes from our office in Paramount, California. After installing nearly 50 solar pool panels on the roof, the organization has been heating their pool with solar energy and saving on their monthly gas bill. All the more to go to their great programs!
For years we’ve wanted to attend the Solar Decathlon, so we were pretty excited when it was announced that this year’s event would be in Irvine, California. While touring the 19 solar homes displayed, we couldn’t help but feel inspired. Not only were the university teams innovative and creative about their solar home designs and use of the technology, but they were passionate about promoting the clean, renewable energy source. Seeing their enthusiasm gave us an extra hop in our solar step that week.
Throughout 2013, Environment California has been pushing the idea that Los Angeles should aim to use 20% solar power by 2020. They have rallied politicians and local community members alike to accomplish this renewable energy goal. We were happy to interview a couple of our customers for their recent report, Solar in the Spotlight: Stories of Angelenos Investing in a Clean Energy Future. Check out our customer who made the final cut on page 19.
It may be cheesy, but there is nothing that makes us happier than our happy solar customers. Each time that someone contacts us to tell us that they happy with their solar panel installation, we’re reminded why we work so hard to provide reliable, quality solar systems. Whether someone is ecstatic about their lower electric bills, pleased that their pool was nicely heated for their weekend pool party or paying a compliment to our professional installation team, we’re overjoyed every time we receive positive feedback. You may read some of our customer testimonials on our website or see our interviews with customers on our blog.
During the past few years, the price per watt of solar panels has been dropping. As a result, California solar energy installations have grown exponentially, and show little sign of slowing down.
However, the actual cost of a solar panel can only go so low. It will be essential for the solar industry to whittle down soft costs in order to accomplish wider adoption of solar energy in the United States.
There are other costs that go into the final price of installing solar panels on your home or business including labor, marketing, administrative costs and permitting fees.
Commonly referred to as “soft costs”, they have remained relatively flat when compared to the drop in price of “hard costs” (i.e. solar panels and inverters).
Though roughly the size of New Mexico and with a population about the quarter of the United States, Germany has been the worldwide leader in solar for over a decade.
By reducing their soft costs, the Germans have lowered the price of solar installations to $2.24 per watt (compared to an average of $4.44 in the U.S., according to GreenTech Media). This is likely a result of easier permitting processes, which allows solar contractors to spend less time on each system and avoid high fees for obtaining permits.
Even though solar soft costs are higher in the United States, solar panel installation has become increasingly popular in our country. In fact, the solar analysts from SEIA and GTM Research predict that 2013 will be the first time in 15 years that the United States will beat out Germany in total solar capacity installed.
With the Sunshot Initiative, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Technologies aims to make solar energy competitive with traditional forms of electricity by 2020. They fund research projects and market studies that provide solutions for solar price reduction. In time, their efforts could reduce the soft costs enough so that the United States will be competitive with Germany when it comes to price per watt installed.
Even without such reductions, solar power in California is still an excellent way for families and businesses to save money on energy costs. Additionally, those who install a solar electric system will be able to take advantage of the 30% federal tax credit, which is set to expire about two years from now on December 31, 2016. For more information, contact AMECO today at (888) 595-9570 or email email@example.com.
May 2014 be a happy, healthy and very sunny year!
Yesterday we explained how to access your online account on the Southern California Edison website. Now that you can see your electricity usage in a variety of ways (monthly, daily, hourly, etc.), we will explain how it can be useful when it comes to solar panel installations.
For those who have already installed solar panels, seeing this type of data can help in many different ways:
1. Keep Track of Usage: While your electricity usage is much lower now that you are using solar energy, checking in online will help you keep an eye on your net usage. SCE keeps track of your usage for 12 months and then bills you for any leftover usage. If you check in online, you will have a better idea of how much you may owe at the end of the year. That is, if you owe anything at all!
2. See How Usage Has Changed: If you recently bought a new electric vehicle or have installed central air, you may be curious about how your electricity usage will change. By comparing monthly usage to previous months and years, you can get of an idea of how much it has increased and if you need to add more solar panels to your array to offset the additional usage.
3. Troubleshoot Possible Changes: Have you noticed a big change in your electricity bill and can’t figure out why? Looking at hourly usage may help you solve the problem. For instance, you may see that you are using more electricity during the afternoon than you were before. This could lead you realize that it’s because a tree has grown over the years and is now casting some shade on your solar panels.
If you are considering solar energy for your home or business, you can use the online data to get an idea of when you use the most electricity.
After reviewing the hourly data, you might notice how much electricity the air conditioner uses during the day or see a large spike when you plug in your electric vehicle in the early evenings. Perhaps, you’ll notice that you tend to use a lot of electricity during the winter months when you put up Christmas lights or the spring is more expensive because you are heating your pool with an electric heater.
Either way, getting a handle on your electricity usage will help you decide whether you would like to install solar panels and offset it with solar energy instead.
Now that you have access to real time data, you may consider adding panels to your existing solar array or installing a new solar system on your roof. Contact us at (888) 595-9570 and one of our solar consultants. By review your recent usage, we can figure out how many solar panels you will need to power your home with solar energy and provide you with a cost.
Every month you receive an electric bill from Southern California Edison. Though some data is provided on the bill, you may not know that you can access a wealth of information through your online account.
Since some of our solar customers have found it difficult to navigate their online SCE accounts, we’ve written this step-by-step guide (complete with screenshots!) to help you view your electricity usage data online.
Step 1: Once you are logged into your SCE online account, click on “My Account” in the top right hand corner.
Step 2: Under “Amount Due” there should be a green rectangular bar that says “List Service Accounts”; click on the words in this bar.
Step 3: Click on the green “+” sign at the top right of the same box as your Edison Service Account number. This will bring up data on your electricity account.
Step 4: Now you will see a box with some basic information. Click on the black button titled “View Recent Usage” to access more information.
Step 5: At this point, you can choose different buttons to see data in different ways. The buttons circled in red below allow you to look at your usage by the hour, day or month. Note: when you click on the small calendar icon, you can scroll around and choose different days.
Disclaimer: While this blog post is meant to be helpful, we cannot claim to be experts on the SCE website. If you run into any issues or have questions, it is best to contact an SCE representative at 1-800-655-4555.
Now, when it comes to solar energy and solar panel installation, we can definitely say that we are experts. Feel free to call or email us at AMECO Solar if you would like to learn more about how to offset your electricity usage with solar energy.
Otherwise, stay tuned for our next blog post to find out how the data in your SCE online account can be useful for solar customers or those who are considering solar panel installation.
They say that good things come in threes, but this week six great things happened here at AMECO Solar.
To start things off, one of our recent customers emailed us about their first “solar” bill. Now that they have installed solar panels and are using solar energy, their electric bill was only $24.79 (plus a $1.76 tax). This is down from a whopping $353.00 for this same time period last year, which means they are saving more than $325.00 this month!
In addition to this positive news, we had a record breaking week for reviews. Five customers reviewed us on Solar Reviews in the past week. They gave us 5 star ratings in categories including sales process, price charged as quoted, and quality of installation.
Here is what they had to say about their solar panel installation experience with AMECO:
#1 “Our September 2013 installation went very smoothly. We had our roof replaced at the same time. The solar installation crew worked closely with the roofer. Overall it was a positive experience. Everything went along on time and as promised. I am very pleased with the result.”
#2 “I’ve had my solar system for over 5 years now. The installation went smooth, and the system is performing better than projected. I highly recommend Ameco Solar.”
#3 “We have had Ameco install the solar arrays on our home as well as our apartment building. They were on schedule for the installations and the team was very good installing and cleaning up the job sites. Both arrays are working well with our home array outputting a little more power than we were estimated. We have recommended Ameco to a friend who is also pleased with the quality of their work.”
#4 “Ameco installed my solar system 5 1/2 years ago. I was very pleased with the execution of the project then and continue to reap the benefits. I recently had a solar tune-up and was pleased to learn that the system is performing so well.”
#5 “Ameco put solar panels on our new construction 4 years ago, and they are still performing in top condition. They were extremely professional, and a pleasure to work with. I would highly recommend Ameco to anyone considering solar panels.”
You may see more reviews about AMECO Solar on our Solar Reviews profile. So far, 57 customers have reviewed us for a solid 4.91 rating out of 5.
AMECO Solar recently joined community leaders and local residents to kick-off the release of Environment California’s new report about the importance of solar energy in LA County.
It was an inspiring event complete with stories told by Angelenos who have solar panels on the roofs of their homes or businesses, a letter-to-the-editor writing workshop, and a compelling speech in support of solar from Senator Kevin De Leon.
A big highlight of the meeting came from some of LA’s tiniest solar advocates. After the first graders from Betty Plasencia Elementary School gave their reasons for liking solar energy, they sang a song titled “Solar Power to the People” eliciting a lot of “awwws” from the audience.
The community meeting served as a kick-off for Environment California’s latest report, Solar in the Spotlight: Stories of Angelenos Investing in a Clean Energy Future. The intent of the report is two-fold.
First, it’s written to spread awareness of the benefits of solar power to all Angelenos. There are many misconceptions about solar panel installation, one being that many still believe that it’s only for the rich or those with large utility bills.
As you read about the 23 solar success stories highlighted in the report, it’s easy to see how the solar energy clientele has become diversified and is now accessible to people at all income levels. From churches to low-income housing and local business to homeowners, almost everyone mentions how the solar panels are saving them money and how happy they are to be relying on a clean, renewable energy.
Second, the report can be seen as a reminder to Mayor Garcetti about his welcome support for solar energy. While running for mayor, he endorsed the idea that Los Angeles should install 1200 MW of solar power to generate nearly 20 percent of the city’s needs. Now that he’s in office and putting together the plan for his term, Environment California hopes that the report will inspire Garcetti to continue to work on the “20 by 2020 campaign” an official city goal.
Though Los Angeles has huge potential for solar installation, the city uses solar energy for only 2% of its electrical needs. We have a long way to go to meet the 20% goal.
If you have a couple minutes, please fill out a brief form at Environment California’s website to sign the petition and help get Garcetti’s attention.
For those who are active on Facebook or Twitter, you can spread the word about solar in LA by posting or tweeting to your friends and followers. Use the @ericgarcetti and @EnvCalifornia handles to make sure that the Mayor doesn’t miss your post.
The market for solar microinverters has grown substantially this year, and experts predict that it will quadruple in the next four years. Researchers from ISH, a market research firm, estimate that microinverter sales will reach 500 megawatts in 2013, and global shipments are expected to hit 2.1 gigawatts by 2017. That’s an overwhelming 306% increase.
Much of the expansion is coming from overseas and commercial markets, which have lower penetration rates for microinverters than the residential sector. This is the result of manufacturers such as Enphase seeking out new areas of growth.
“Microinverters have reached very high adoption rates in the United States, particularly in the residential market, where penetration will reach more than 40% in 2013,” Cormac Gilligan, PV market analyst at IHS, said in a press release. “However, in order to grow or maintain market share, microinverter suppliers now are striving to expand to new regions that at present don’t use the technology.”
Inverters are some of the most important components of any home solar system. The inverter takes the direct current (DC) power produced by solar panels and converts it to alternating current (AC) so that it can be consumed by a home’s electrical system.
For many years, the only type of inverter available for a solar electric system was a central inverter (sometimes referred to as a string inverter). It’s a mature, sturdy technology that is still effective for most of the solar arrays that we design today.
However, there are certain situations where a microinverter may be a better option. Most specifically, microinverters are best used when a roof receives intermittent shade throughout the day.
Since a central inverter combines the power from multiple solar panels in one unit, power production can decrease if a few of the solar panels are obstructed by shade. Microinverters are able to overcome this obstacle because a small inverter is attached to each solar panel. Then, if one panel is partially shaded, the rest of the system will still perform to its usual standards.
It is worth mentioning that microinverters are significantly more expensive than central inverters at this point in time. Also, it’s a fairly new technology and some solar experts question its ability to continue performing year after year. Thankfully, the microinverters that we offer come with 25 year warranties that give our customers peace of mind.
IHS estimates that the U.S. accounts for about 72 percent of all microinverter shipments. However, that number could fall to 50 percent in the next four years as more units are sent to overseas solar installations. In particular, the Japanese market has heated up in recent years now that more suppliers are located in that country (Japanese developers tend to prefer domestic manufacturers over imports).
Reinforcing the success of the microinverter industry, Enphase recently reported record-breaking revenue for their third quarter. Although prices for microinverters have been falling as of late due to increased competition, Enphase has experienced considerable growth due to the expanding demand for its high-quality products.
By keeping up with technical innovations in the solar industry (like microinverters), solar installers like AMECO can continue to provide better service to our customers. Those in Southern California who are interested in installing solar panels with microinverters should contact us and request a solar evaluation.
Instead of waiting in long lines and buying new things, Giving Tuesday is a day where people are encouraged to spend money on nonprofits and make charitable donations. This year, AMECO Solar suggests making a donation to a solar-focused nonprofit who is making our world a better (and brighter!) place.
We Care Solar is an organization the promotes safe motherhood and prevents infant mortality rates by providing a solar energy kit to health workers. Dubbed the “solar suitcase”, each kit includes a small solar panel and rechargeable battery that powers basic medical equipment. Though originally designed for delivering babies in rural settings, the solar suitcases are now used in health centers and clinics all over the world for a range of medical situations. CNN recently nominated Dr. Laura Satchel (We Care Solar’s Executive Director) as a top 10 CNN Hero. When you donate through the CNN website, Subaru will match your gift and your impact will be doubled!
Having met during an Environmental Analysis program in college, the band members from Trapdoor Social have always bonded over two things: music and clean energy. They have taken a creative approach to the release of their upcoming album. All proceeds will go towards the new solar installation project at Homeboy Industries, a nonprofit in Los Angeles that provides job training support for prior gangmembers. Plus, when you give a little, you’ll get a little in return! Every donation from $15 to $5,000 comes with a reward from songs on the B Side of the album to your own private concert. Make a donation to Trapdoor Social’s campaign and help them reach their $20,000 goal.
Since 2001, the team at Grid Alternatives has been installing solar panels as a way to empower communities in need. Not only do they provide solar energy for families struggling to make ends meet, but they also train workers from local communities to become certified solar installers. The majority of their work has been in California, but they recently expanded to Colorado and are hoping to open offices in other states soon. Support their mission of making solar energy accessible for everyone by donating online.
Each year, it seems as if the temperatures in Southern California rise higher, and the summer season becomes even longer. In fact, a couple weeks ago Los Angeles registered highs in the 90s (extremely warm for November). Many scientists claim that increased temperatures are just the first signs of climate change and global warming will continue to get worse as time goes on.
On November 13, the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs released a report titled “Los Angeles Solar and Efficiency Report (LASER)”. It suggests solar energy as a solution to Los Angeles County’s climate (and financial) woes, revealing how the considerable untapped solar power resources could lead to a boom in both renewable energy production and economic activity.
The researchers analyzed building data across Los Angeles to determine that, if even a fraction of the city’s buildings were equipped with solar panels, the subsequent installation work would create thousands of jobs and the resulting clean energy would put a major dent in carbon emissions. Two major wins for the county that everyone can agree on.
Another important point, LA’s undeveloped solar roofs (meaning those without solar panels installed) have the potential for a generating capacity of 22,984 megawatts. To give our readers an idea of just how much power that represents, the state of California currently has 3,761 megawatts of solar capacity currently installed and the entire United States has less than 10,000 megawatts.
Even if the county of Los Angeles were to realize just 5 percent of its solar potential, it could generate enough electricity for over 287,000 homes. In addition, the installation work for undertaking such a project would create over 29,000 new jobs.
“This study sends a clear message to Angelenos – the potential to invest in LA’s clean, renewable energy economy and build healthier communities is huge,” said Jorge Madrid of EDF in a press release.
By investing in more solar installations, Los Angeles and surrounding areas could help support economic activity in the region and put in place a good foundation for continued prosperity. The organization hopes the report can be used as a tool for elected officials in the area to enact real change through legislation in favor of solar energy and energy efficiency.
In recent years, solar companies have advertised that a $150 electric bill qualifies you for solar panel installation. So much so that many in Southern California believe they do not qualify for a solar electric system if their bill is under $150. As it turns out, almost everyone “qualifies” for solar energy whatever the cost of your utility bill.
Why do the solar marketers focus so much on $150? Typically, the more money you pay for electricity, the more solar panels will be able to save you. It is at about the $150 dollar mark that the payments for investing in solar panels may be equaled by the monthly savings. Many marketers have discovered that if the monthly savings are greater than your electricity costs from day one, then the odds are better for making a sale.
By weaving the $150 limit into solar advertising, some companies are using a clever tool to weed out people with smaller electricity bills. If they were truthful, they should be saying, “If your electric bill is $150 or more, then you qualify for a solar sales presentation!”
Everyone has a different motive for going solar and it’s not necessarily all financial. There are other reasons for installing a solar array.
Many people are concerned about what they can do to reduce their carbon footprint. Lifestyle changes (like recycling and being a conscious consumer) are an important way to make less of an impact on the earth, but it is hard to live without electricity or hot water, so solar energy is the natural choice for producing clean power.
As an example, two of our customers who own solar panels in Long Beach were only paying about $30 a month to SCE when they decided to go solar in the early 2000’s. Since their electric bill was on the smaller side, the estimated payback wouldn’t be until the 20th year that they own the system. However, it was important for them to use clean, renewable energy to power their home instead of relying on the fossil fuels delivered by the utility company.
Another reason people install solar panels is to take control of their energy future. Historically, electricity rates have risen by about 6% every year, and there is no telling when the utility companies will decide to raise prices even higher. By producing energy with their own solar panels, homeowners and businesses won’t be victim to the price increases of electricity during the entire lifetime of the solar array (about 25-30 years).
Your energy bill is simply a continuing and never ending expense. When you go solar, you are converting an expense into an asset. For those that choose to purchase their solar system, your energy usage will be an investment instead of a monthly cost. No matter the size of your bill, if the solar system pays for itself within its lifetime (usually 25-30 years), then it’s a much better deal that can be had from any utility company.
Having an electric bill less than $150 shouldn’t stop you from considering solar panel installation. Most people with smaller bills can still take advantage of the benefits of solar energy whether financial or not.
A solar PPA is a financing option available to homeowners or businesses who want to use solar energy at their property.
Basically, the solar PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) allows you to lock in your energy rate for the term of the financial agreement. This rate is typically lower than what the utility company would charge you, which could result in a significant savings over the term of the PPA.
There are three main parties involved in a solar PPA: the customer, the solar installation company and the investor, or solar system owner. Here’s how it works in Orange County and Los Angeles:
Note, the customer only pays for the solar energy used to power their property; there are no payments if the system fails and the customer would instead pay the utility company at a presumably higher rate.
Most people choose to finance their solar project with a solar PPA because of the following four benefits:
We’d like to point out that solar electric systems do not usually need maintenance since they are a sturdy technology with no moving parts. The benefit of free maintenance and servicing is more about peace of mind than actually saving on the cost to maintain your solar panels.
It’s also worth mentioning that one major downside of a solar PPA is that you won’t be eligible for any state/local rebates or the 30% Federal tax incentive. Since the investor is the technical owner of the solar panels, they are the ones who take advantage of these discounts.
Often, people confuse a solar lease with a solar PPA since they are very similar and share many of the same benefits.
A solar lease allows you to rent the solar panels themselves (and therefore, the energy they produce as well), usually with a fixed or predictable monthly payment. Read more about the specifics of getting a solar lease in LA or Orange County in our prior blog post if you care to learn more.
On the other hand, a solar PPA allows you to pay for the energy produced by the solar panels, which is hopefully pegged to the present and future utility cost. If the cost for your solar energy is lower than the electricity the utility would have provided, you will be saving money. But if the cost of conventional electricity stabilizes or decreases, you may end up paying more in the future.
Depending on your financial situation and energy usage, a PPA may be the best way to finance your solar project. This educational article should shed some light on how a PPA works and how it could benefit a solar panel owner.
Frequently people want to know how many solar panels they will need based on the size of their home. However, the amount of electricity you use is more important for solar electric system design than the square footage of your home. This is mainly because people’s use of electricity varies in so many different ways.
Same House, Different Energy Situations
For instance, let’s say two families live next door to each other in 2,000 square foot homes. A young man lives in Home A with his fiancé; they both work long hours and often spend evenings out with friends. As a result, they don’t use much electricity and pay about $40 a month.
In Home B, two parents live with their two teenage children. They are either running the heater or air conditioner and use electricity to filter their pool, meanwhile the teenagers are always on their iPads, opening the refrigerator or watching TV. Since more people live in the house and their lifestyle requires more energy, their electricity bills run at about $325 a month.
Importance of Electricity Usage for Solar Panel Design
Even though they live in homes that are the exact same size, the family in Home B would most likely need to invest in more solar panels to bring down their electricity usage than the couple living in Home A. Even if the households were identical in electric consumption, one home may have better solar exposure or less shade than another, which can mean more or fewer panels.
Electricity usage is also important because most utility companies in Los Angeles and Orange County limit the size of your solar system based on the amount of energy you currently use. This number is usually determined by looking at how much electricity you have used in the last 12 months.
Just Moved or Building Your Home? Here’s How it Works
Of course, there are always some exceptions to the rule. If you have only lived in your home for a few months or want to install solar panels on a home in construction, then most utility companies let us estimate usage based on your home’s square footage.
As an example, LADWP calculates this type of average at 2 watts for every square foot. So, a 2,000 square foot home would be allowed a solar array of 4,000 watts. Depending on the type of panel that you choose, a system of this size would be anywhere from 12-18 solar panels. Keep in mind, this formula to estimate consumption varies depending on who provides your electricity.
Another exception is sometimes made for people who are anticipating that their electricity usage will go up. If you are planning to buy an EV (electric vehicle) or install central air, for example, we can estimate the additional usage and factor it into the solar panel design and cost. But, the utilities are sticklers! They will make us submit proof of purchase along with the solar system application.
Find out How Much Solar Panels Cost
Interested in how many solar panels you will need for your roof and energy situation? Call us at (888) 595-9570 or email firstname.lastname@example.org, and have your electricity bills handy. We can typically provide a rough estimate based on your usage and a quick glance at your home on Google Earth. For those who would like a more specific price, we can schedule a solar evaluation where we meet at your home and evaluate your roof in person.
For years, those against the widespread adoption of solar power for homes have argued that solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are too expensive for the majority of homeowners. They claim that the only families who can take advantage of the cost savings from solar energy are those with high incomes.
Not so, says the Center for American Progress (CAP), a think tank based in Washington, D.C. By analyzing data about solar electric system installations across the country, they found that in many areas, including California, the distribution of rooftop PV mirrored the population in terms of income distribution.
The study used information from three principal sources:
The study evaluated the median household income of each zip code where solar panel systems were installed and compared the distribution of the installations to the way income is spread over the population. They found that there was a significant overlap between the two.
In other words, those communities that make up the largest portion of the state’s population, the middle class, accounted for the largest percentage of PV installations.
In California specifically, the think tank found that 67.16 percent of the systems installed under the program were within communities with median household incomes between $40,000 and $90,000. Communities exceeding $90,000 in median household income accounted for only 28.63 percent of the installations, while areas with median incomes under $40,000 made up about 4 percent of those receiving rebates under CSI.
Similar results were found in Arizona and New Jersey.
CAP also determined that the percentage of solar panel installations for middle class households under the California rebate program has grown from 65 percent of installations in 2009 to 70 percent in 2013.
Solar energy provides benefits for customers on both a micro and macro scale. Of course, individual families and businesses can enjoy lower electricity costs by switching to solar power. On a greater scale, the advantages of solar power can benefit our communities as a whole with improved air quality, local job growth and lowered carbon emissions.
However, this will only be realized when as many people as possible invest in solar panels for their rooftops. As solar power becomes even more accessible to the middle and lower classes, achieving these economic and environmental goals will become more of a reality.
Orange County and Los Angeles solar energy shouldn’t simply be a luxury that only high-income Californians can afford. In order for renewable energy to make a significant impact on the state economy and greenhouse gas emissions, it needs to be accessible to the majority of residents.
Due to the fact that solar panel prices have come down so steeply in the last decade, as well as federal, state and local government incentives, more families have been able to switch to solar and save on their electricity bills.
Low-income earners still struggle to gain access to this technology. That is why Governor Jerry Brown recently signed Assembly Bill 217 (AB 217). This law directs the California Public Utilities Commission to extend two measures that have been crucial to providing low-income families with the opportunity to adopt solar energy solutions for their homes and apartments.
Those two measures consist of the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes (SASH) and Multifamily Affordable Solar Homes (MASH) programs. Managed by nonprofit Grid Alternatives, the goal of each program was to set aside funding from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) funding to be used for low-income families.
In total, these communities would receive $108 million in rebates for the purchase of solar panel systems, facilitating the installation of 50 megawatts of solar generating capacity.
The initial time frame for the SASH and MASH programs was set to expire on December 31, 2016, at which point funding would no longer be distributed. AB 217 extends that date by five years to 2021.
Additionally, the law makes provisions to provide job training and education for low-income workers who would like to pursue a career in the solar installation field.
The benefits of a solar electric system for low-income families are clear, as these citizens have the most to gain from saving money on energy consumption. By deriving their energy needs from sunlight and selling excess power back to the grid, they’ll be able to effectively run their meter backwards while also claiming federal and state tax credits and rebates, including the California Solar Initiative incentives described above.
It should also be noted that low-income communities are often disproportionately affected by the public health issues that arise from burning fossil fuels to produce electricity. Los Angeles and Orange County solar are the best ways to mitigate and eventually eliminate such externalities.
Solar energy is beneficial for many reasons. Not only does it lessen your environmental impact, but it can save you a great deal of money while also adding resale value to your home.
If you are reading this, you may already be convinced that it’s time to install solar panels. But is your roof ready to go solar as well? By answering the following four questions, you will find out if solar panels can be easily installed on your roof.
1. What type of roof do you have?
Asphalt shingle (sometimes referred to as a comp or merely shingles) is the most common roofing material around and, luckily, is the easiest type for solar installers to work on. Flat roofs also provide a good situation for solar panel installation, though you may have to factor in additional costs for mounting and racking equipment so that the panels can be angled towards the sun. AMECO Solar can install panels on most roofs with concrete or ceramic Spanish tile; check out some examples in our solar installation gallery.
Depending on the condition of your roof, our solar installers may be able to work on more delicate roofing materials like slate or wooden shake. We can usually tell if it’s a possibility by checking out your roof on Google Earth, but sometimes a more in-depth roof evaluation is needed.
2. How old is your roof?
If your roof does not need to be replaced for another 10-15 years, then it’s a great time to consider going solar.
Aging roofs can prove to be challenging and sometimes increase the chance of damage occurring during installation. The biggest challenge is that it will significantly increase your costs in the long run. When you decide to reroof, it’s costly to remove and reinstall the solar panels. If you find yourself in this situation, we recommend waiting until you are ready to lay down a new roof and coordinate the solar installation to occur at the same time.
Not sure when your roof was last replaced? One of our consultants can survey your roof and determine if it provides a good situation for solar panels. If your roof needs to be replaced in order to accommodate your solar system, there is a possibility that this added expense will qualify for the federal 30% solar tax credit.
3. Which way was does your roof face?
Since more energy will be produced if the solar panels are exposed to sunlight all day long, south-facing roofs produce the highest amount of solar energy in California. East or west facing roofs also allow solar panels to soak up a significant amount of the sun and provide enough energy to power your home. If the best part of your roof faces north, you may not have the best situation for solar.
4. Do you have enough room on your roof for solar panels?
It is a solar installer’s dream to have a roof that is perfectly sloped with yards and yards of uninterrupted space. Then, solar panels can be laid down in nicely organized rows to offset your electricity usage.
A roof with a lot of obstacles (such as roof vents or skylights) can make solar installation complicated. This will most likely increase the price. Some roofs may have so many obstacles that we can only install a small number of panels and they won’t make much of a dent in your electric bill.
What is the best roof for solar panels?
In a perfect world, a south facing roof made of comp shingle with 10-15 years of life in it would be the best roof. But the world ain’t perfect! Really, many roofs with different angles, made of different materials, and of different ages, make great candidates for solar panel installation.
In nearly 40 years of business, we’ve come across a lot of different roofs and have been able to install on the majority of them. If your home is in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas, you can get our expert opinion by contacting us and scheduling a solar evaluation.
Recently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a division of the U.S. Interior Department, held an auction for the first group of Solar Energy Zones (SEZ) on the western side of the United States. SEZs are areas of federal land that have been designated as prime locations for the construction of a solar generating plant.
The SEZ at the San Luis Valley site in Colorado was chosen due to its proximity to existing transmission infrastructure and the minimal environmental impact that it would have on the land.
It seemed like a great place for a developer to invest in a solar plant that would deliver clean, renewable energy to the electric grid. Even though many developers expressed interested in the project beforehand, the auction did not attract any bidders.
Some industry observers have speculated that potential developers were dissuaded from bidding because the rules and project specifics had yet to be finalized at the time of auction.
This was only the first of several auctions the BLM will be holding in the coming months for its 19 Solar Energy Zones (three of which are located in California). Because of the recent no-bid conclusion, the BLM will go back to the drawing board and revise their strategy for upcoming auctions.
While solar installations of all sizes are important for our energy future and allow us rely less on dirty energy, smaller scale solar installations are typically easier to complete than utility scale solar projects.
Often, environmental obstacles and opposition from local interests result in considerable delays for utility solar projects. For example, developers of the Ivanpah Solar Project in California came across multiple delays and had to adapt their plans many times in order to preserve the native desert tortoise population.
In contrast, most residential and small commercial solar installations only take a few months to install and connect to the electric grid. Additionally, they often receive little-to-no opposition. In fact, most rooftop solar installations are applauded for their environmental benefits that are good for the solar panel owner and their surrounding community.
If you’re interested in learning how your family can benefit from adopting solar power as your main source of electricity, we invite you to contact AMECO today by calling (888) 595-9570 or emailing GoSolar@AmecoSolar.com today to schedule an evaluation.
On October 24, the U.S. Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will begin auctioning off the first of its Solar Energy Zones (SEZ), areas that it has designated as prime real estate for the development of utility-scale solar power plants.
The BLM will be accepting bids from developers for the rights to begin the process of designing and constructing new solar installations, part of a larger effort to promote renewable energy sources.
<h3>What is a Solar Energy Zone?</h3>
SEZs are large parcels of land that have been selected as ideal spaces to create new solar energy generating stations. Typically, they are selected because they are not used for other types of develop such as residential, commercial or industrial facilities, or because they are located on old landfills, garbage dumps and Superfund sites that are unfit for human habitation.
<h3>Solar Energy Zones in California and Other States</h3>
The first two sites that will be auctioned off are located in Colorado. However, there are two SEZs in California located in the Imperial East and Riverside East regions. The latter is the largest zone currently listed for auction, offering almost 150,000 acres of developable land (originally it was over 200,000, but about 50,000 acres were removed to reduce the impact on nearby Joshua Tree National Park).
The SEZ plan is an attempt to tackle two problems simultaneously:
1) Find enough land to build large scale projects.
2) Make use of areas that are otherwise uninhabitable due to environmental and sanitation factors.
While there is still plenty of progress to be made on the small-scale, distributed generation front, AMECO Solar is happy to see that the federal government continues to advance an agenda the prioritizes solar power over fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has announced that pools for commercial or public use will now be eligible to claim rebates from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) for installing solar pool heater systems. The CPUC expanded its definition of eligible facilities to include any pools for multifamily residential housing, hotels and motels, therapy, educational, governmental and non-profit institutions.
The CSI Thermal Program will pay $7.00 for every therm that is displaced annually by the installation of a solar pool system. As more of the funding for this program is subscribed, the per-therm rebate will decrease. Participating pool owners will receive a one-time payment that is based on a calculation of estimated future therm displacement.
The expansion of the CSI-Thermal program for hot water to public pools could be a major benefit for recreational and educational facilities throughout the state. Water heating costs for these institutions are typically one of their biggest expenses, so any way that they can save money will benefit those who use the community pools.
Organizations such as the YMCA and other community centers can realize significant savings. AMECO Solar recently completed the installation of a solar pool heating system on the roof of the California Aquatics Therapy & Wellness Center in Long Beach, California. Now that they are heating their pool with solar energy and the organization is saving upwards of $13,000 a year, which will add up to almost $250,000 in savings during the life time of the solar pool heater.
In mid-August, the CPUC also approved commercial facilities to receive rebates from the Thermal Program. This decision opens the doors for gyms, water parks and other enterprises to lower their expenses and help steer the state toward a renewable energy future. The final details of the program are scheduled to be finalized at the California Public Utilities Commission by November, 2013.
A new report titled “Solar Heating & Cooling: Energy for a Secure Future” lays down a plan for the expansion of solar heating and cooling (SHC) systems.
By educating the public and policymakers about the benefits and availability of solar thermal water heating solutions, SEIA hopes to expand the rebates available for the technology as a way to increase the amount of solar energy usage throughout the United States.
Media coverage of the solar industry tends to pay more attention to its impact on the energy sector. Although this is certainly a crucial area where photovoltaic (PV) power can have a positive effect on energy consumption and carbon emissions, it should be noted that 44 percent of energy consumption in the U.S. comes from heating and cooling applications, such as water and space heating, air conditioning and steam generation. This is where solar thermal applications can play a larger part.
SEIA recommends that the United States set a goal of increasing its solar thermal capacity from 9 gigawatts (GW) to 300 by 2050. Doing so could provide the American economy with $61 billion in annual savings, while helping to create over 50,000 jobs and increase manufacturing output by $1.9 billion. It would also offset 226 million tons of CO2 emissions annually, which is similar to take 47 million passenger cars off the road.
Among the policy prescriptions that Pilgaard and his colleagues propose is an expansion of incentive programs that are already in place to encourage more homeowners, businesses and institutions to adopt solar energy for their heating and cooling needs. These include renewable energy tax credits, rebates for SHC systems and ensuring that renewable portfolio standards, which require utilities to procure a certain amount of their energy from renewable sources.
They want to make sure that when homeowners decide to rely on Orange County or Los Angeles solar power for their water heating and temperature control needs, they receive similar credits and rebates as if they had installed a solar electric system.
In the past few years, the United States has made great strides to better integrate solar energy into the electric grid. Hopefully, the American public and elected officials can make similar efforts to expand the role of SHC systems.
Last Sunday, the AMECO Solar team attended the Solar Decathlon at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California. We walked through the Solar Village where 19 solar-powered, energy efficient homes were designed and built by collegiate teams from around the world.
While it was inspiring to see the students’ innovative approach to solar electric and thermal installation, we were most impressed by their enthusiasm about solar energy and energy efficiency. You could see they took pride in their work and were enthusiastic to share the knowledge gained over the two years it took to prepare for the competition. AMECO Solar staff came away from the event with some favorites.
West Virginia University’s PEAK
The home was designed as a modern take on a typical Appalachian home with cabin-like features and lots of wood detailing. It boasts a living garden on the rooftop along with a PV array and solar hot water panels. Energy usage from the entire home can be accessed through a tablet or mobile device so that home owners can track their consumption and adjust their usage accordingly. This home has a particularly cozy atmosphere and seemed the most live-ready. Also, we felt that the overall design has a wider appeal than some of the other uber modern homes in the Solar Village.
University of Southern California’s fluxHome
When you first walk up to the USC solar home, you immediately notice the metal-like covering. It’s a thermally responsive envelope around that house that regulates air flow and provides additional insulation. Inside, the bedrooms open up to the main living area where the kitchen, living room and dining room are all in one large space with a loft-like feel. We like how the solar panels were installed in a discrete way so that they were not visible from the walkway. But, sometimes it’s the little things that count. We were most impressed by the retractable skylight in the bathroom that automatically opens and closes. Not only is the skylight a beautiful architectural accent, but it’s also built for function as it lets warm air exit easily to keep the house cool.
Stanford University’s Start.Home
Knowing that all families are different, Stanford designed a modular home built around a mechanical room that houses the equipment for the solar electric and thermal systems. Home owners can easily customize the home by adding additional bedrooms or offices as needed. We were most intrigued by the prototypes that the team created. For example, each room has a special light switch where you can turn lights on and off with quick swipe (similar to a swipe you would use on an iPad or mobile phone). By swiping the switch with four fingers, you can turn the power off in the specific room allowing for more energy conservation (a lot easier than unplugging all your devices when leaving a room).
Each solar home is measured in 10 different contests ranging from architectural design and market appeal to affordability and energy balance. As of today, Santa Clara University is currently in the running for first place with University of Nevada Las Vegas not far behind.
You can see photos of the solar homes on the AMECO Solar Facebook page. If you are in the Los Angeles or Orange County areas, you still have time to see the event in person. Public viewing hours for the Solar Decathlon start up again today and will extend through the weekend. Visit the Solar Decathlon website for more info.
The most recent numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that new housing construction is rising as the economy recovers from the recession and existing housing stock fills up. As the housing market picks up and more single family and multi-family residences are built, Americans may notice that many of the new units will come with solar panels on the roof.
SunPower — a manufacturer known for its highly efficient solar panels offered for installation by AMECO — conducted a survey and found that six of the ten biggest home builders in the country, are including solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on newly constructed houses. Because of rising demand for clean energy technology and favorable public policies, solar power is becoming more of a priority for these firms and their customer base.
There are a number of reasons for this trend. First and foremost is the fact that Net Energy Metering and government rebates and incentives have made solar an extremely popular investment that guarantees a positive return on investment. Another is that it tends to be less expensive to install solar panels at the time of construction, rather than after the home is already built. Lastly, it’s easy to fund the solar project by embedding the cost into a mortgage.
The inclusion of solar panels on new homes is largely a California phenomenon, according to Megan McGrath, a real estate analyst with MKM Partners LLC who was interviewed by Bloomberg News.
This is due to our state’s more solar-friendly regulatory environment and favorable outlook towards renewable energy. A few cities, including Lancaster, California, have even begun requiring that all new homes within the town limits be built with solar panels already installed.
Having solar panels installed on your home at the time of construction is a great way to take advantage of the numerous benefits of solar power. You’ll be able to claim the various local, state and federal incentive programs that make California solar energy such a great investment, while saving money on installation costs if you decide to purchase the panels.
Earlier this year, AMECO Solar applied for LADWP & SCE’s Net Energy Metering program on behalf of two of our customers who had wanted to install solar panels along with a battery storage system. Since it was a process that had been allowed in the past and was previously acceptable to these utilities, we were surprised to receive notice that the applications were rejected.
Shortly thereafter, we received a memo from the utility company that was sent to all solar contractors in Orange County and Los Angeles. In this letter, SCE stated, “If a renewable generator is modified so that the battery storage system is integrated into the generator, SCE cannot separately meter the energy from the renewable PV generator and the non-renewable battery”.
In simpler terms, the utility claims that there is no way of knowing whether the solar owner is selling back power that was originally generated from the solar panels or from the electric grid itself. SCE assumes that solar owners are “gaming the system” by charging their batteries with nonrenewable power and then selling it back to the utility during peak times as if it was generated by their PV systems.
The accusation seems ridiculous to both solar owners and companies. Most solar customers install a battery storage system so that they can use solar energy in the event of a power outage. Moreover, the majority of battery backups do not have the capacity to send power back to the grid. The few dollars “saved” by selling nonrenewable energy back to SCE would not make up for the large investment needed for such back-up batteries used in a household.
As a result of this new interpretation, future solar owners would be denied entry into the Net Energy Metering program if batteries are also installed. Even worse, it is probable that any solar NEM generators with battery backup who had previously been granted entry would now be denied participation in the program as well.
Currently, the only solution is to redesign a solar electric system so that the batteries are metered separately. It’s an expensive undertaking and adds significant costs to installation, which will most likely deter solar customers from pursuing this option.
The California Public Utilities Commission is trying to work out a deal with utilities that would let customers who have purchased solar battery backups participate in Net Energy Metering programs without the possibility that they could be selling grid-produced power back. Though, there is no clear indication of when the issue might be resolved.
Since these types of systems make up only a small portion of the overall solar market, SCE’s recent efforts to deny battery storage systems can be seen as another way to attack solar customers and the solar industry. Without the benefits of the NEM program, the payback period of solar system installation is extended and owning one becomes less attractive. Less solar customers producing their own renewable energy means more customers for Edison using non-renewable energy, which ultimately means more money for the utility’s bottom line.
Because of the obstacles detailed in this article, AMECO Solar does not currently offer solar battery backup systems as part of our solar installation services. While we aim to provide the most comprehensive solar experience possible to our customers, we do not want to place our clients in a position where they may not be able to realize the full potential and value of their solar panels because of utility rate policies.
Location: Fullerton, CA
System Type: Solar Electric (PV)
System Size: 19.3 kW
System Details: 56 SunPower PV Panels with 2 Central “String” Inverters and Online Monitoring
Year Installed: 2013
Electric Bill Before: $1,000
Electric Bill After: -$10.53
Clay and his wife couldn’t have been more excited to move into their new home and start remodeling it into their dream home. Then, they received a few of their first utility bills. The larger space and lack of insulation was driving their utility costs up to $1,000 and higher. They made it a goal to install a solar system and bring down their bills before the heat would hit in the following summer.
In May of 2013 they started talking to a few companies, AMECO Solar being one of them. Between the high-efficieny of the SunPower solar panels and our company’s reputation as a reputable, long-standing solar company, the couple chose to go with AMECO.
Though they were convinced of the financial savings that solar would bring them, they were very concerned with how the solar installation would look. They drove around the neighborhood to see other installations and weren’t too impressed with the results. One house even had a similar style to their own home, but the solar panels (installed by another company) were an eyesore.
Since aesthetics were important, AMECO made sure to design and install the solar system with this in mind. “We’re very pleased with how it turned out,” Clay explained, “You can’t see the solar panels from the street and most of the equipment is hidden, too.”
Throughout the entire installation process, Clay was in constant contact with AMECO Solar’s Operations Manager, David Saltzman. He helped coordinate the solar installation with the roofing company, pulled all the necessary permits, and worked with the city inspectors to make sure that the install passed Fullerton’s notably difficult inspection procedure. “David was fantastic, his service couldn’t have been better,” Clay said.
Now that the system is installed and running, Clay checks in on the production at least once a day. He’s found the SunPower interface incredibly easy to use. With a just few clicks, he can pull up a range of information such as how much energy the system is producing by the day or even by the hour!
Since he knew the solar panels had overproduced in the first month that it was turned on, he wasn’t surprised to see his electricity bill come in at -$10.53. Still, after months and months of owing Edison such high amounts, there’s nothing sweeter than to receive a bill and see that the utility company now owes him.
Typically, electricity companies are not big fans of Orange County and Los Angeles solar power. They see distributed generation (DG) and particularly Net Energy Metering (NEM) as threats to a long-standing business model that relies on a regulated monopoly to generate profits and earn income for investors.
The utility companies have argued that as more customers migrate to solar power, the fixed costs of running an electricity grid (things like maintenance and transmission) will be spread over fewer rate-payers. This will raise electricity prices, which will make solar more attractive and convince even more customers to make the switch. And then, the price of electricity will rise once again.
Because of this belief, utilities spend a lot of their marketing and lobbying budgets trying to persuade policy makers and the general public that solar power is an economic disaster. One of their strategies is convincing people that NEM policies, which allow customers to receive a credit for the solar energy they feed back into the grid, act as a subsidy for solar customers at the expense of non-solar rate payers.
Actually, the utility companies almost succeeded in eliminating the NEM program in California with the introduction of AB327 using this exact argument. Thankfully solar advocates were successful in getting specific amendments made that not only protects the current NEM program but also extends the program for what is now being called “Net Metering 2.0”.
Though the solar industry won this small battle against Big Energy, we expect the utility companies will try to get similar legislature passed using the same argument that solar customers make electricity more expensive for everybody.
For this reason, we decided to revisit a study published by Crossborder Energy earlier this year that analyzed the effects of California’s NEM policies on overall electricity rates. It found that there was actually a positive effect for non-solar customers.
“On average over the residential markets of the state’s three big [investor-owned utilities], NEM does not impose costs on non-participating rate payers, and instead creates a small net benefit,” state the report’s authors. “In the commercial, industrial, and institutional (C&I) market, NEM results in significantly greater benefits than costs for non-participating rate payers.”
How does NEM help non-participating customers?
Most importantly, while Big Energy has claimed that solar customers in the NEM program cost non-solar customers big bucks, the study proves that it actually brings $92 million dollars in benefits to non-solar customers.
The report’s authors stress that the results of their study may not necessarily apply to other utilities, and more research needs to be done to understand how DG truly effects energy costs for non-participating entities.
Still, it seems clear that the story of how solar affects other customers is much more complicated than the narrative that electric companies are trying to sell. It’s important to note that utilities are invested in protecting their profits and shareholders, regardless of whether doing so might negatively impact their customers. When making choices about the future of California solar energy, we hope that the public will consider other priorities than those of the electric companies.
The Ivanpah Solar Generating Station, located in the Mojave Desert near the Nevada border, has completed its first synchronization, which is a major step toward full production. The plant’s operators, NRG Solar, announced the “first sync” on September 24, hailing it as a milestone for the California solar energy industry.
The Ivanpah solar thermal plant is the largest generator of its kind in the country, covering 3,500 acres. With a total generating capacity of 392 megawatts (MW), once completely operational the station will provide enough electricity to power 140,000 homes annually.
“Given the magnitude and complexity of Ivanpah, it was very important that we successfully complete this milestone showing all systems were on track,” said Tom Doyle, President of NRG Solar, in a press release. “We couldn’t be more excited about achieving ‘first sync,’ and we share this success with our project partners, BrightSource and Google, as well as Bechtel, which is responsible for engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning on the project.”
Synchronization is an important part of integrating new power sources into the electric grid. In order for these plants to begin producing electricity for California rate payers, the operators must ensure that the voltage, current, frequency and phase angle matches that of the grid.
Ivanpah generates electricity from sunlight using a solar thermal technology called Concentrating Solar Power (or CSP), which is different from the rooftop solar panels that AMECO installs on residences and businesses throughout Southern California. With CSP, thousands of large mirrors, called heliostats, concentrate sunlight and focus it onto a giant furnace in a tower hundreds of feet above the ground. The heat from that sunlight causes water to boil and generate steam, which spins a turbine connected to a generator. This technology is useful for utility scale power plants because it can run 24 hours a day with the use of thermal storage technology, whereas photovoltaic (PV) panels create electricity only when the sun is up.
However, solar thermal requires a massive system of mirrors that can track the movement of the sun, which makes it infeasible for use in homes.
There are three separate generator towers at Ivanpah. The first one, where the synchronization was performed, will deliver electricity to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) under a power purchase agreement (PPA). Tower three is also contracted under a PPA with PG&E, while the second generator will provide power for Southern California Edison customers.
In addition to NRG Solar, Brightsource Energy, Inc., Bechtel and Google all served as co-developers and investors in the Ivanpah project. It will help California meet its renewable energy goals, while also providing a source of electricity that emits no carbon dioxide and helps improve air quality. When the plant goes into full production mode sometime in 2014, it will be a major step in the state’s ongoing efforts to derive more power from the sun, and less from conventional fossil fuels.
The Solar Decathlon is coming up soon and will be taking place in Irvine, California, from October 3 to 13. Hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the competition challenges teams of college students to design and construct houses that are energy efficient, affordable and aesthetically pleasing. Most importantly, the houses must be powered by California solar energy and produce more electricity than they consume. Each entry will be judged in several categories by panels of experts from the renewable energy and environmental industries.
The goal of the Solar Decathlon is two-fold. First, the DOE is using it as an opportunity to encourage college students to pursue careers in alternative energy, engineering and design. Second, the competition gives the public a chance to learn about solar energy and green building techniques, as the houses will be on display at the Orange County Great Park for 10 full days. Attendance is free, and each team will be offering tours of their houses. The DOE is hoping the homes will demonstrate that energy efficiency, solar power, comfort and aesthetics are not mutually exclusive concepts.
This will be the sixth time that the DOE has put on a Solar Decathlon. The first event was held in 2002, and subsequent competitions have taken place every two to three years. There will be 20 participants this year, with students hailing from universities all over the world, including Stanford, Santa Clara, Czech Technical University and Arizona State University. We’ll be attending this year to root for our two local teams: USC and another team made up from students at Sci-Arc and Caltech.
“The Solar Decathlon is the Great Park’s first-ever international event,” Jeffrey Lalloway, Chair of the Orange County Great Park Corporation, said in a news release. “We are excited to welcome the students representing the 20 competing teams and their creative energy, innovation and talent as they prepare to build solar houses that will allow the public to see the future of energy, today.”
Each house will be judged in ten separate areas relating to efficiency, design and affordability. Judges will analyze the water heating systems, temperature controls, comfort levels and even the public relations campaigns of each team, such as the quality of their website and press releases. For each category, a score out of 100 points is awarded, and the team with the highest aggregate score from each criteria will walk away victorious.
Winners will be given name recognition, along with invaluable contacts and networking opportunities from the Solar Decathlon Alumni Network. Members of the jury include executives from the home building, architecture, interior design and energy industries, journalists, marketing professionals and public policy experts.
The winners of the most recent Decathlon, from the University of Maryland, will not be participating this year, so the competition is wide open. If you live in Orange County, make sure to set aside a few hours during the first part of October to visit the Orange County Great Park and tour the houses on display. We hope to see you there!
The California legislature has approved Senate Bill 96, which authorizes the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to collect revenue from the Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC).
Funding from EPIC will be used to finance research, development and deployment (RD&D) of clean energy technology, including California solar energy, with the goal of improving the state’s energy infrastructure and saving rate payers money.
Pending the governor’s signature, the CPUC will be able to authorize the state’s utilities, including Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, and Southern California Edison, to begin collecting $162 million for the EPIC program.
The approval of this bill was crucial to the state’s renewable energy future. Prior to its passage, funding for clean energy RD&D was set to expire, bringing to a halt the California’s leadership on this issue. As far back as the 1970s, California has been setting an example by requiring that utilities reinvest some of their revenue back into research.
However, after restructuring of the utility industry in 1996, there was some question as to the permanence of RD&D appropriations. At the time, the legislature put in place a system benefits charge, which would be used to provide a minimum level of funding. This charge expired in 2012.
Senate Bill 96 ensures that funding for clean energy technology will continue until at least 2020. The California Energy Commission will administer 80 percent of the revenue collected through EPIC, while the utilities will manage the other 20 percent. Both institutions will need to submit plans to the CPUC every 3 years, and in 2016 the program will be reevaluated by an independent auditor to determine its strengths and weaknesses.
The EPIC will primarily focus on problems that represent the biggest obstacles to reducing California’s emissions and meeting its renewable portfolio goals while also aiming to devote as much of its revenue to RD&D as possible.
The approval of this program shows that California is still leading the way when it comes to clean technology and renewable energy. The outcomes of EPIC research could result in billions of dollars in benefits for utility customers and the environment, so passing the bill is definitely good news for our state.
The Great Recession has left a lot of Americans approaching retirement in a bad position, as many investors and 401K holders have seen their assets drop in value. Adding to this problem is the fact that interest rates are historically low, and one can only earn so much on certificates of deposit (CD) and other types of savings accounts.
Diane Hammond, a resident of Sudsbury, Massachusetts, found herself in a similar situation when she researched options for investing $30,000 to earn income for retirement. Forbes explains how Hammond could only hope for an interest rate on a CD of about 0.4 to 0.5 percent, a low monthly income that couldn’t possibly support her when she retired. So, she looked for an alternative that would help save money and generate a decent return on investment.
Hammond has found the solution to her problem by investing in solar energy and pre-paying a 20-year lease on a solar electric system. The savings on her energy bills, coupled with renewable energy credits and other government and utility incentive programs, are far greater than what she would have earned from a savings account.
“I figure I’m going to pay off my original investment in about five years and make 20% on my money (in total, savings and [solar renewable energy credit] payments come to about $2,500 annually),” Hammond told the source. “I thought, ‘Wow, this is much better than a CD. I’m killing two birds with one stone – lowering my electric bill and getting money with interest.”
While leasing works well for some consumers, purchasing a solar system is another option that can lead to great savings for future retirees. For example, AMECO Solar customers Linda and Dan bought solar panels as a way to save money on their monthly utility bill and free up their budget in preparation for their future retirement.
Now that their solar panels are installed, they have reduced their bill to almost nothing and estimate a savings of $3,000 each year. Over the lifetime of the solar system (typically 25-30 years), their annual savings will add up to a significant amount and will result in an impressive 19% return on investment.
Current and future retirees should consider solar installation as an investment alternative that produces a healthy ROI. Whether leasing or purchasing, solar panels could be a good investment alternative to traditional investments. For more information, contact AMECO Solar at (888) 595-9570 or email us at email@example.com. We would be happy to evaluate your energy needs and show you how a home solar installation could give you a good return on your investment.
Last week, the Senate and Assembly passed AB 327 with a majority of the vote. Now, the bill is headed to California Governor Jerry Brown’s desk for the final signature. The bill marks some losses for the solar industry, but thanks to the hard work of CALSEIA and other solar advocates certain amendments were made so that the bill shines bright for solar as well.
A few weeks ago, AMECO Solar wrote about AB 327 and how it could negatively affect individual solar system owners along with the solar industry as a whole. At this point, there were two parts of the bill that were a cause of worry: 1) the future of the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program and 2) the possibility of a mandatory monthly charge for all utility customers.
One loss is that the monthly surcharge has passed. Whether you own solar panels or not, you will have to pay $10 a month for merely accessing the grid and using electricity.
It’s possible that solar owners will not have to pay the charge initially and will be grandfathered in, but the details of the “grandfathering provision” will be hammered out in the coming months before the bill turns into a law.
Amendments were made to the net metering portion of the bill that accomplished goals for the solar industry.
Current solar owners enrolled in the NEM program can rest easy for now. AB 327 was amended so that your contracts will be protected and you will be granted a reasonable pay-back period based on when you originally enrolled in the program.
Even better, the amendment removed the 2014 deadline of the NEM program and extended it so another 5,500 MW of solar customers can enroll in the program between now and July 2017. This extension means a lot for residential solar installation companies as NEM is a huge incentive for potential solar customers, especially as utility rebate programs are entering their last steps and closing down.
The bill also demands that the CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) develop a new net metering program, which solar advocates have dubbed as “NEM 2.0”, by March 2014. While the prospect of a future net metering program seems like a win, it’s uncertain how the CPUC will design the program. Due to this uncertainty, CALSEIA and those that support the organization will need to be a constant presence at the legislative level so that “NEM 2.0” will be beneficial.
All eyes will be on California during these next eight months. As a solar leader in the nation, the solar policies and legislature that develop in our state inevitably have an effect on solar in other states. Once needed, AMECO Solar will request that our customers and other solar enthusiasts take action so that our voice is heard by state leaders.
If there’s anything that the city of Lancaster, California, is known for, it’s sunlight. The community located in the high desert north of Los Angeles county gets approximately 300 days of sun per year, which makes it the perfect location for widespread integration of solar power. Mayor R. Rex Parris has made it a goal for the city to be completely energy independent, or “net zero” as it’s known, within the next three years.
Among the various policies that have been adopted to make this happen is a law the requires new homes to be built with solar panels. The city has also made it clear that they will accommodate developments and commercial projects that promise to rely on renewable energy for power production.
“We would be the deepest well if you were to imagine that [sunlight] was oil,” Parris told CBS News. “And what’s oil but power? And what’s solar but power?”
Currently, the city derives about half of its electrical needs for solar power, and leads the state in terms of solar power produced per capita. Over six thousand panels have been installed on the city’s buildings, including its baseball stadium, schools and local malls. The increased reliance on photovoltaics has also helped the municipal budget situation. Deputy City Manager Jason Caudle states that Lancaster pays about 10 cents per kilowatt-hour for its solar power, a major improvement over the 18 cents it was charged by utility companies.
And contrary to popular belief that such aggressive renewable energy goals can be a hindrance to economic development, Mayor Parris reports that the city’s residents and businesses have been extremely supportive of the idea, as California solar energy has helped them make their companies more cost-effective. Here’s to the citizens of Lancaster and hoping that many cities follow their example.
Location: Los Angeles, CA
System Type: Solar Electric (PV)
System Size: 5.6 kW
System Details: 32 Sharp PV Panels with a Central “String” Inverter and a Wireless Display
Year Installed: 2007
Electric Bill Before: $450
Electric Bill After: $30
Reduced by 93%!
Townson and his wife had considered going solar before, but it wasn’t until they moved into a new home that it became more of a reality.
“When we moved in 2006, we inherited recessed lighting that consisted of 40 ceiling lights throughout the entire house,” Townson explained. Combined with an aging air conditioner and the usage demands of a growing family, they were suddenly looking at electricity bills upwards of $450.
It was then that they seriously researched solar panel installation. Todd Fanady, AMECO Solar’s representative, visited for a site visit and found an ideal roof for solar. “Todd was practically salivating when he saw our roof. He told me that we had the perfect location, perfect angle and more than enough roof space for a solar system that would fit our needs,” Townson said, “He presented us with many different options and really seemed to know what he was talking about.”
Ultimately, Townson choose AMECO from the three companies that sent him solar quotes. While he appreciated Todd’s low pressure approach, he also wanted to install with a company that had been in business for a while.
Their 32-panel Sharp solar electric system was installed over two days in the summer of 2007. Since then, Townson began tracking production with wireless display that came with installation. He would watch the production start in the morning as the sun came up and enjoyed seeing the curve of the graph increase dramatically as the day went on and more solar energy was produced.
However, one day in 2012 he noticed that something was off. Production would start off as usual in the morning, but then the graph revealed huge spikes instead of the normal upward curve.
He immediately called AMECO Solar and the team looked into the issue. As it turned out, the inverter was slightly malfunctioning and clipping production at peak times. Since Townson had purchased a 10 year warranty on the inverter, it was quickly replaced and installed at no cost to him. “The entire process was pretty painless and our production was back to normal in no time,” he said.
Townson is happy with the decision he made to go solar with AMECO back in 2007. As predicted, the cost of electricity has gone up since the system was first installed. While others continue to pay more and more for their electricity, he and his family are able to produce their own solar energy and avoid rate hikes.
California is continuing its march toward a renewable energy future. New statistics show how the growth of the solar industry has accelerated and shows little sign of slowing down for the rest of the year.
The Golden State added a record-breaking 521 megawatts (MW) of solar generating capacity from April to June of this year. This was an all-time high for any state over a three month period, and made up 53 percent of the total amount added by the nation during the same time frame.
The growth in California was fueled, in part, by the completion of large-scale projects such as the California Valley Solar Ranch near San Luis Obispo. The other 41 percent came from residential and commercial solar arrays on rooftops and private property.
After California, the next four states to add the most solar energy installations were North Carolina, New Jersey, Arizona and Texas. Many solar experts speculate that the increase in solar expansion is related to favorable state policies and more progressive energy policies.
California, in particular, has made aggressive efforts to reduce dependence on fossil fuel sources such as coal and natural gas. Other regions of the country, such as Arizona and New Jersey, have fostered growth of solar in their states with similar laws and incentive programs.
It’s paramount for the solar industry and its customers to continue pursuing legislative efforts at the state and federal level. Programs like Net Energy Metering, rebates for California solar panels, and the Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credit need to be extended and renewed until solar costs become competitive with conventional power in the absence of subsidies.
Unfortunately, utility companies have stepped up their efforts to prevent solar incentive programs from being extended. Mainly because they’re concerned that their profits will decrease and they’ll lose control of the way residents generate and use electricity.
Hopefully, the state legislature can recognize that it is in the best interest of Californians everywhere, whether they have solar energy at home or not, to spur more growth in renewable energy sources. Then, perhaps, California can look forward to leading the nation in megawatts of solar energy installed not just in Q2 of 2013, but for many years to come.
Now that you have gone solar and have a Net Energy Metering (NEM) contract with Edison, you will be receiving a monthly Edison bill that is different from what you are accustomed to seeing. We think it’s important that you understand what these bills are telling you, and hopefully this explanation will help you quickly assess your charges or credits.
On the first page of your new Edison bill, there is an item that has created a great deal of confusion. It is the item called “Net Generation.” This is the amount of electricity your solar system has generated that has exceeded your consumption; it is NOT the amount of energy that your system has produced in that billing period. The LCD display on your solar inverter will tell you how much electricity your solar system is producing right now and also how much it has produced since the first day it was turned on.
Edison has their Smart Meter in place only to measure how much electricity they send to your home, or how much electricity you may send back to them. This Smart Meter actually has no idea what your solar system is generating. It simply measures the amount of electricity that you take from Edison (when you are using more than the solar system is producing), or the amount of electricity that you send back to them (when you are using less than the solar system is producing).
Typically, during the daytime your solar system is producing more electricity than your house is using and you are sending the excess back to Edison for a credit. When the sun goes down and the lights in the house go on, the solar system turns stops producing energy and you are now taking electricity from Edison. Some months have more sunshine than others and in some months you use more electricity than in others. So, at the end of the month you may have either a credit or a charge on your Edison bill.
The summary of net charges and credits is usually displayed on either the 3rd or 4th page of your Edison bill and is highlighted in a square box on the upper right hand section of the page. Within the box a sentence states:
Additional information regarding your Net Consumption/Generation
This is important information and will inform you as to the status of your financial position with Edison’s billing.
At the end of the billing year (starting from when your solar system was first turned on) you will receive a bill which tallies all of the credits and charges from each month. If you used more electricity than your system has produced in that year, then you must then pay this total. If your solar system has generated more electricity than you have used over the year, Edison will actually pay you. It is important to pay attention to the information on your monthly Edison bills so that you are NOT surprised if you still owe Edison a substantial amount of money at the end of the billing year.
If you have any questions with regard to Edison billing practices, you may contact one of the Edison representatives who understand NEM at (866) 701-7868.
Rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems that deliver California solar energy to homes and small businesses are a great way lower or even eliminate utility bills, but each panel array represents only a small part of the overall energy infrastructure.
This has led many electrical companies, developers, investors and governments to press for the construction of utility-scale solar farms that can add hundreds of megawatts of generating capacity to the state’s renewable energy portfolio.
Projects like the Ivanpah Solar Generating Station in the Mojave Desert and the California Valley Solar Ranch (CVSR) in San Luis Obispo, California, promise to expand solar power in the Golden State, but these plants are difficult to get off the ground for a number of reasons.
The Ivanpah facility ran into delays because of those concerned with the native desert tortoise population. The CVSR and other plants often face heated opposition from local residents who fear the stations will create “visual pollution” that could lower property values.
On the other hand, rooftop solar installations on homes and small businesses face none of these problems. Though smaller in size, they can be constructed quicker and when adopted on a wide scale, could end up contributing to the electric grid as much as utility-scale projects.
If the number small-scale solar installation projects continue to grow, it will be good news for the economy and environment. Solar power provides a clean, renewable and steady source of energy unaffected by the price instability that plagues fossil fuels, and could help mitigate the effects of air pollution and anthropogenic climate change.
NerdWallet, a financial advice blog, recently reported on a study about the solar industry and market in all 50 states to determine which ones provided the best conditions for homeowners who want to install solar panels on their rooftops. There are a number of factors that guide someone’s decision to go solar, and while other states may provide certain advantages such as more sunlight or better tax incentives, it’s important to aggregate all of these measures to determine which one produces the ideal conditions for a photovoltaic (PV) installation.
NerdWallet used four main criteria in determining the best state for solar power:
Based on scoring for all four of these measures, California leads the way with its favorable regulatory, tax and natural environment that combine to create ideal conditions for any customers who are planning on going solar.
Fourteen schools in the Jefferson Elementary School District (JESD), located in Northern California just south of San Francisco, will be going solar in an effort to stabilize finances and dramatically reduce its carbon footprint.
The San Francisco Examiner reports that this $12 million project will save the district $17 million over the next 25 years, an important accomplishment given the fact that so many education institutions have suffered from major budget cuts and limited financial resources over the last several years.
The solar installation will provide clean, renewable energy to 14 schools while also producing energy for the district’s administrative building and central kitchen facility. This will reduce the amount of electricity that the district purchases by 85 percent. In addition, the use of California solar energy will prevent 1,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being emitted.
Funding for the project came from a number of sources, mainly a local ballot measure that authorized the district to borrow money to pay for energy improvements, as well as appropriations from the California Solar Initiative (CSI).
Additionally, the district has designed a curriculum that will promote solar energy to its students and educate them about the virtues of solar technology. Teachers will be given resources to help their pupils better understand how this move will benefit their schooling, and each school’s main office will be equipped with an LCD display showing data on energy production.
The JESD’s solar project serves as an excellent model for any school administrators who are hoping to implement a similar effort to help their district become more energy independent and financially stable.
Due to a sharp decrease in the price of solar panels, the cost of installing solar energy in California continues to fall. A new report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, located at U.C. Berkeley, found that the per watt cost of small rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems with less than 10 kilowatt capacity declined nationwide from $12 in 1998 to $5.30 in 2012.
In California, the price per watt of installation for small systems dropped from $6.40 in 2011 to $5.70 in 2012.
The report credited 80 percent of these price reductions to the fact that solar panels themselves are becoming cheaper. Between 2008 and 2012, panels dropped by $2.60 per watt. Other factors, referred to as “soft costs” which include employee wages, permitting fees and other equipment needed for installations, remained relatively flat over the same period. The study’s authors pointed out that further reductions could be achieved if these expenditures were lowered through public policy.
“Soft costs are especially important from the perspective of public policy efforts,” said Galen Barbose of Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division, and one of the report’s co-authors, in a news release. “Unlike module prices, which are established based on global supply and demand, soft costs can be influenced more directly by local, state and national policies aimed at accelerating deployment and removing market barriers.”
Among the proposals that have been put forward by solar energy industry advocates and lawmakers are reforms to the licensing and permit process to make it more streamlined. There have also been calls to reinvest in the California Solar Initiative, funding for which has largely been spent. But even absent these solutions, it’s clear that a solar electric system is becoming more affordable and accessible to a larger share of the population.
Since the beginning of the year, utility companies have been making headlines with their efforts to eliminate the Net Energy Metering (NEM) program for solar in California. But now, the utilities are making headlines with a new topic: AB 327. This bill can also be seen as a direct threat to the solar industry.
Sponsored by California Assemblyman Henry Perea and backed by Big Energy, the two main goals of the bill is to 1) eliminate the NEM program and phase out the thousands of solar customers who are currently part of the program and 2) level out the tiered pay structure for utility companies including Southern California Edison. In order to accomplish the latter, the utilities would charge all ratepayers a mandatory $10 monthly fee or $120 annually. This fee is for merely accessing the grid and would be in addition to the charges for monthly electricity usage.
Those behind the bill argue that a monthly surcharge is necessary to pay for fixed costs lost to customers who utilize solar energy. Additionally, they claim to need the funds to maintain the state’s transmission grid and prevent outages.
However, solar advocates and those in the solar industry interpret the bill differently. In effect, the utilities are proposing to shift costs now incurred by high rate payers by increasing costs for low rate payers.
What makes this effort unusual is that this charge will be placed into law by the legislature, rather than through due process at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). If passed, legislating similar fees will certainly be considered a path to success in the future by utility lobbyists, and may lead to additional surcharges for whatever utility stockholders believe is possible or necessary to improve the monopoly’s bottom line.
It should come as no surprise that energy monopolies are pushing so strongly for a bill at this point in time. In the last few years, residential “rooftop” solar has experienced explosive growth as many households have chosen to go solar and generate their own renewable energy.
The Net Energy Metering program — which allows solar owners to receive credit for any over-production — has been a large incentive for many to go solar and since the program was instituted in 2007, thousands of solar customers have signed up. By eliminating the NEM program, the utility companies will not only take away a major incentive for potential solar customers but will also renege on a contract that they already signed with those already enrolled.
In addition, the monthly mandatory fee will affect many potential solar customers whose incentive is largely financial. Many of those who are currently interested in solar are getting charged a lot for electricity in the higher tiers. Therefore, they install solar panels in order to reduce their consumption and lower their utility bill.
If AB327 does in fact pass, then the financial incentive to go solar will be severely reduced for small and modest users of energy, and diminished as well for larger users. The average ROI (return on investment) in the first year will decrease by as much as 10% for average consumers (from a modest first year return of 9.7% to 8.6%). Moreover, the payback period for a solar system (now around 5-7 years for most solar installations) will increase to 8-10 years or more, hindering many potential consumers from going solar.
What can we Californians do to fight against AB327? Join AMECO Solar, CALSEIA and thousands of solar supporters by calling your Senator (find out who your Senator is by visiting this website) and asking them to, “Protect All Net-Energy Metering Customers”. Then, spread the word to your friends and colleagues by tweeting, posting on Facebook or sending an email with a link to this blog post. The bill will be voted on this Friday, August 30 so be sure to take action today.
A major challenge for states like California that are trying to meet renewable portfolio standards (RPS), standards which dictate the minimum percentage of electricity that a state needs to derive from renewable sources, is to find energy storage options that are both affordable and effective.
The main issue is that renewable technologies such as Los Angeles solar and wind power generate a lot of electricity at certain times of the day, and none at others. Particularly with wind energy, the electrical grid needs to be able to handle massive fluctuations in electrical production in a way that it is currently incapable of doing. This is due to the absence of battery technology that can be scaled to such sizes that it can handle gigawatt-hours of energy.
Reuters reports that California Governor Jerry Brown told attendees at the InterSolar Conference in San Francisco that Californians can’t simply rely on sunlight for power, saying that “we’ve got to bottle the sunlight.”
Fortunately, many companies are entering a heated race to develop batteries that can handle large amounts of grid electricity. These include LG Chem, a large-scale battery maker, in addition to more well-known companies such as General Electric, and investors Peter Thiel and Bill Gates. Brown put forward a proposal that would increase the state’s commitment to funding battery tech, which many see as the principle obstacle to wider integration of solar energy into the electric grid.
The more progress these firms can make on this front, the more Californians will be able to benefit from this great energy source.
Location: Long Beach, CA
Solar System Types: Solar Electric (PV) and a Solar Hot Water System
Solar System Details: 10 PV Panels with a Central “String” Inverter and 2 Solar Hot Water Panels
Electric Bill Before: $35
Electric Bill After: $5
Reduced by 86%!
“Our electric bill wasn’t that expensive before we went solar, only averaging about $35 a month,” said Debbie, “We made the change to become a ‘sales tool’ for solar and hopefully motivate others to explore it as a renewable energy option.” With the couple’s solar electric and solar hot water panels easily visible from their corner home on the Alamitos Bay Peninsula in Long Beach, they have the perfect set-up to promote solar energy.
Joe explained further, “It’s a good conversation starter — many people see the panels and come up to ask questions. We’ve noticed a lot more homes in the neighborhood with solar since we had ours installed in 2006. While we can’t claim all the credit, we think we may have played a part in inspiring them to go solar.”
The couple has been happy with AMECO service from Day 1 when company owner Patrick Redgate visited their home for the initial site survey. He evaluated their shake roof to make sure it was in good condition and would hold up long enough to make solar financially viable. Then, he took the time to explain how solar electric would reduce their electricity bill and the solar hot water panels would provide the majority of the hot water used in their home.
Since they trusted his opinion and solar suggestions, the couple didn’t even look into other companies and signed a contract with AMECO. Afterwards, the AMECO installers arrived to install the two solar systems. “They were very polite and quick, the installation was complete in a few days,” Debbie commented.
During the past 7 years, the solar panels have not required any maintenance at all. Moreover, there has been no need to clean the panels either. They merely allow the rain to wash away any dust that might have accumulated in the past months and the panels continue functioning at peak performance.
Whenever questions have come up, they appreciate that AMECO is very responsive and calls them back with answers in a timely manner. “The best part about working with AMECO has been the people. You can tell that they are passionate about solar and really believe in what they are doing,” she continued, “It’s nice to be working with like-minded individuals.”
Debbie and Joe are hoping to invest in a plug-in vehicle soon, and are considering a Toyota Prius plug-in hybrid or the BMW i3. They are planning to install additional solar panels to offset the electrical use of the EV. Though they haven’t made up a decision about which car to purchase, there is no doubt in their minds about who they will hire for the solar installation — AMECO Solar, of course.
The two main arguments that are often cited in favor of Los Angeles and Orange County solar power are economic and environmental. By going solar, residents and businesses can reduce and potentially eliminate their electricity bills. In doing so, people also help improve the planet’s climate by decreasing carbon dioxide emissions.
Those two reasons alone are enough to justify widespread adoption of solar power for electrical generation, but something that often goes unmentioned is the way that solar technology can help boost public health.
The reasoning is simple. Burning fossil fuels not only produces carbon dioxide but other forms of air pollution that can cause serious respiratory illnesses in children, adults and seniors. Even natural gas, which burns much cleaner than coal, still releases toxins into the air that can exacerbate health conditions such as asthma and obstructive pulmonary disease. According to Scientific American, particulates emitted from fossil fuel power production is estimated to cause 59,000 cases of acute bronchitis and 603,000 asthma attacks annually.
While this is a problem in many communities spread throughout the U.S., EarthTechling, a clean technology news site, points out that seven of the ten worst counties in the nation in terms of air pollution are located in California. Much of this air pollution comes from the production of electricity, and could be eliminated through greater reliance on solar power.
When considering the merits of having a rooftop PV system installed on your home or business, along with the environmental and financial advantages, keep in mind that you’ll also be contributing to improved public health.