Solar energy is one of the most promising sources of clean, renewable energy and utilities are starting to take notice. For years, the biggest hurdle for the development of solar was cost, but that’s all changing now. Recently, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced that – for the first time ever – solar energy accounted for all new utility electricity generation added to the nation’s power grid in March. This milestone highlights solar’s rise and give credence to projections that solar will be the nation’s largest source of energy over the next four years. The demand for solar has largely been attributed to the decreasing costs in components and installation coupled with increasing energy efficiency.
While utilities were once an obstacle for the solar movement – viewing it as cutting into their revenues and profit margins - the tides are beginning to turn. The annual Utility Solar Rankings Report from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) ranks utilities across the nation in terms of how much solar energy they have incorporated into their user base.
- California’s PG&E topped the list in the Megawatt (MW) rankings for the fifth straight year with 805 MW installed, followed by Souther California Edision (194 MW) and Public Service Electric & Gas Co in NJ (144 MW).
- This year’s report also shows solar picking up momentum with new entrants from North Carolina, Ohio and Tennessee.
- Two municipal utilities from Ohio were among the Top 3 in the solar-watts-per-customer rankings that shows which utilities made significant strides in powering their customers’ homes and businesses with solar energy.
Thanks to the California Solar Initiative (CSI), thousands of local businesses have been able to earn cash rebates by installing solar energy systems, but time is running out on the state’s PG&E territory.
Fortunately, more utilities are starting to see the value in solar because it’s simple economics. When customers use fewer kilowatt hours (kWh), it cuts off utilities’ source of revenue. According to a new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), Commercial Rooftop Revolution, over 100,000 MW of unsubsidized rooftop solar will be able to match grid electricity on price by 2016. It will be 300,000 MW within 10 years – enough to provide 10% of the nation’s electricity. This challenge that solar poses has forced utilities to rethink their strategy moving forward. The report highlights a few utilities that have made positive changes. Austin (TX) Energy now pays a non-subsidy premium for solar because it helps them offset expensive peak power purchases. And in Hawaii, utilities have been managing to accommodate thousands more solar projects on their grid systems.
With energy rates predicted to soar over the next decade, more utility customers are turning to solar to help reduce costs. This puts even more pressure on utilities to evolve their thinking and adapt their practices. If they think it’s a passing fad, they’re wrong. The industry is growing with over 43,000 jobs in California alone and $10 billion in private investment into the economy. It’s high time utilities took a hard look at new policies that create incentives for renewable energy and change pricing that allows them to stay competitive and recover the cost of maintaining a grid infrastructure. So, how many more utilities do you think will see the light in 2013?
Solar developers, financiers and businesses find themselves under ever-increasing pressure to obtain an economic model to maximize a solar project’s return on investment (ROI). This pressure stems from a rise in demand for solar which has largely been attributed to the decreasing costs in installation and maintenance coupled with increasing energy efficiency. With energy rates predicted to soar over the next decade, more and more commercial and utility customers are turning to solar to help reduce their overall operating costs.
The simple installation of a single-axis tracking system increases a system’s output and maximizes a project’s ROI. The system follows the sun throughout the course of the day to help boost solar energy production by up to 30 percent, making single-axis trackers the “go-to” racking solution.
Today, most single-axis trackers require less than 16 hours of maintenance annually per megawatt. SPG Solar is seeing a great demand for our SunSeeker single-axis tracking system because it helps businesses, schools and municipalities reach their sustainability goals while also improving their bottom lines.
We engineered the SunSeeker tracker to be installed faster and perform under any condition, all year round. It allows us to streamline our processes while still maintaining a high quality product. And quicker installation times mean lower costs that we can pass on to our customers. For a 1 megawatt solar power system, the typical energy savings is $200,000 a year and that’s expected to grow over time.
Driving down the cost of solar hardware and increasing productivity are the sure ways to maximize the ROI of a solar power system. For more insight, check out Tim Cain’s article in this month’s issue of Solar Builder.
Haven’t taken advantage of the California Solar Initiative (CSI)? You’d better hurry up, because time is running out.
The CSI incentives program within the state’s PG&E territory is widely expected to end in the very near term. Currently, there are only 27 megawatts (MW) remaining in the PG&E CSI program and the number is dropping rapidly. In the last three weeks alone, 18 MW of commercial solar were reserved in PG&E territory. If this pace keeps up, the program for CSI incentives could end sometime within the next few weeks.
California has worked hard to create new solar-generated electricity to help move the state towards a clean energy future. Two years ago, California became the first state in the nation to install more than 1,000 MW of customer-generated solar energy, setting the pace for others to follow. And follow they have. So far, thousands of businesses have earned cash rebates by installing solar energy systems.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced that — for the first time ever — solar energy accounted for all new utility electricity generation added to the nation’s power grid last month. Let me say that again: solar energy accounted for ALL new utility electricity generation added to the nation’s power grid.
This latest milestone highlights solar’s rise and gives credence to projections that solar will be the nation’s largest new source of energy over the next four years. The demand for solar has largely been attributed to the decreasing costs in components and installation coupled with increasing energy efficiency.
To shed some light on the financial benefit of the CSI incentive program, for a 1 MW project, the incentive can be worth over $250,000. So, please do your business (and the environment) a big favor and take advantage of this solar rebate program before it’s gone forever. If you contact us, we would be happy to help you with the CSI application. Just click here SPG Solar.
Perhaps you read the recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) report. For the first time ever, all new electricity generation added to the nation’s power grid in the month of March came from solar installations.
In fact more than 44 megawatts of solar electric capacity was brought online from seven projects in California, Nevada, New Jersey, Hawaii, Arizona, and North Carolina. The FERC report noted that all other energy sources combined added no new generation capacity.
So why the great momentum for solar?
The rise in demand for solar has largely been attributed to the decreasing costs in installation and maintenance coupled with increasing energy efficiency. The FERC report demonstrates the momentum we’re seeing in solar; it took awhile to get here, but the economics are even more compelling. We’ve seen an increase in demand for our SunSeeker single-axis tracking system because it generates the most kWh per acre at the lowest lifetime cost.
In 2012 alone, the U.S. brought more solar capacity online than in the three prior years combined, giving credence to projections that solar will be the nation’s largest new source of energy over the next four years.
And on top of that, solar is becoming of one the fastest-growing job sectors in the nation. America’s solar industry employs 119,000 workers throughout the country. That’s a 13.2 percent growth over 2011′s jobs numbers.
At SPG Solar, we continue to improve the business case for solar and generate local green jobs.
With energy rates for California valley farmers going up by an average of 2.5 percent every year for the last decade, many growers, processors, packers and distributers are looking to solar to help buffer the cost. In fact, by going solar farmers are realizing an annual savings of over $200,000.
“The typical savings we’ve seen on 1 megawatt solar power systems is $200,000 to $250,000 a year in energy savings and that’s expected to grow over time,” said SPG Solar’s Robert Schwartz.
The business case for solar is compelling. California famers see it as a way to:
1. Immediately lowers operating costs.
2. Provide a long-term energy plan. Since farmers have a multi-generation outlook, solar provides a solution and hedge for decades to come.
3. Have a worry-free asset. Solar is easy. As Ben Curti from Curtimade Dairy says, “It’s the easiest crop we have; it just sits there, produces and I can count on it to keep making me money.”
A typical solar installation in the Valley covers four acres and offsets 80 – 85% of the farms electricity needs. To boot solar energy production, farmers are turning to SPG Solar’s SunSeeker single axis tracking system. This ground mount tracking system is motorized and follows the sun through the course of the day, improving solar output by up to 25 percent.
“I’m very happy with it,” said Mike Monteiro, owner of Lakeside Dairy. “The solar contract has been fabulous. SPG Solar provides a 10-year warranty on it, they guarantee the kilowatt production in writing. All I’ve had to do is keep the panels clean and clean the weeds.”
Take a moment to read the recent article from The Business Journal, highlighting the benefits of solar for the agriculture community.
Since 2008, we have been partners with Xanterra Parks & Resort – the National park and resort concessioner. Their Furnace Creek Resort in Death Valley Calif. was an early adopter of solar and our SunSeeker single axis tracking system.
The business case for solar was pretty clear, even five years ago. As Andrew Todd, president and CEO of Denver-based Xanterra says, “It proves that doing the right thing environmentally can make good business sense. The project is fiscally viable. With the savings on energy costs, we expect to break even in just a few years.”
SPG Solar designed a customized a 1.2 megawatt tracking system, covering five football fields and engineered to withstand the hard conditions of Death Valley. The tracking system follows the desert sun, reliably generating more solar energy. Today this system has produced more than 10 million kilowatt hours (kWh) and is meeting the company’s goal of reducing purchased electricity from the utility by 30 percent.
What does 10 million kWh’s mean?
- It is equivalent to powering 1,056 homes for one year.
- Or preventing 7,777 tons of CO2 emissions, which is equivalent to taking 1,470 cars off our road or planting 5,783 acres of forest.
Xanterra Parks & Resorts has been a true trail blazer in sustainability, continually setting the standard for hotels and resorts worldwide. We are proud to be their solar partner.
Take a moment to read Environmental Leader’s recent article on Xanterra.
Today’s best companies are looking to be sustainable over the long term, not only as a business, but in their environmental choices as well. Why? Because it’s just plain good business to reduce your carbon footprint, as long as you can do it without breaking the bank.
An obvious choice when looking at sustainability is solar. More and more businesses are turning to solar to reduce operating costs and protect themselves from unpredictable future energy rate fluctuations.
SPG Solar has created efficiencies, simplifying the solar process and making it faster for businesses to turn to solar and meet their energy needs. With an abundance of roof and ground space and high-energy requirements, it simply makes sense for large commercial properties to turn to solar power.
Take JMB Realty, for instance. One of our loyal repeat customers, JMB Realty installed a total 902 kW solar power systems on the rooftops of the parking garages of the MGM Tower and Century Park West in Los Angeles. This customized solar solution supports JMB Realty’s commitment to environmental leadership, as well as lowering the company’s operating costs and generating local green jobs in an urban environment.
Or take our customer, Sysco and their Los Angeles-based food distribution center. In an effort to maximize their solar fooprint, SPG Solar designed a customized solar power system on the roof of their distribution center and a solar tracking system at an adjacent open field. The 1.13 MW solar power system meets 15 percent of Sysco’s electricity needs and saves the company $136,000 per year. Moreover, the customized roof and ground mount SunSeeker® single-axis tracking system was integrated into the building and field with absolutely no interruption to Sysco’s daily operations.
These are just two examples of the forward-thinking companies who have called on SPG Solar to help them stay at the forefront of their industries, as both business and environmental leaders. We’re proud to be able to help them reach their sustainability goals while at the same time helping improve their bottom lines.
How do we make more jobs? Granholm’s big idea: Invest in new alternative energy sources.
The jobs market and the environment are two topics sure to spark conversation and debate at any dinner table or cocktail party. While the U.S. unemployment rate is drifting downwards, it’s still at 7.4 percent, meaning many people who could be gainfully employed are not. Also, while the exact causes of climate change are still hotly contested, it is widely acknowledged that the earth is getting warmer and there’s been an undeniable uptick in severe weather events around the globe. So, is there a way to address the former and — at the same time — alleviate some of our growing environmental issues?
Former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm explores this very idea at the TED2013 conference in her talk “A Clean Energy Proposal – a Race to the Top!” Granholm raised two main problems: First, how do you create good jobs in the U.S. in a truly global economy? Second, how do you solve global climate change when this country lacks a national energy policy and Congress and the Administration seem hopelessly deadlocked on most major issues?
The first question Granholm asked herself one year after taking office in 2002. At the time, the Greenville, Mich., Electrolux refrigerator factory decided to close its doors. The factory employed 3,000 of the Greenville’s 8,000 residents – roughly 40 percent of the city’s population. Some employees were third-generation factory workers and had no skills outside of refrigerator work, thus couldn’t be employed elsewhere. Desperate to keep the Greenville factory running, Granholm met with the city’s mayor, city planner, the head of the local community college and the UAW to offer Electrolux unprecedented concessions, like zero taxes for 20 years and financing for a new factory. They could not, however, compete with the $1.57-per-hour wage that was offered in Juarez, Mexico.
Welcome to the new online home for SPG Solar.
The goal of this new website is to make it easier for our customers to go solar through our turnkey solar services and for our commercial and utility customers to produce more solar energy with our bankable SunSeeker tracker product.
Throughout the site you’ll find information on what we do, how we do it, why we’re different, and who’s been saving with our services and products.
At SPG Solar we have many repeat customers who validate what we do:
- SPG Solar optimizes the entire solar process – from design and engineering, to financing, installation and maintenance
- SPG Solar engineers the bankable SunSeeker® single-axis tracker designed for faster install and great solar production
We’ve stocked our house with an interactive finance calculator, more case studies and an updated blog experience. Don’t just take our word for it, go explore it for yourself and tell us what you think.
We’ve been saying it for quite some time now: The time for going solar is today.
Solar is helping businesses lower current operating costs and deliver more predictable energy costs for the next 30 years. Given that significant increases in electricity rates are predicted over the next decade, now is the time to take advantage of favorable solar conditions. For instance, the 30 percent federal tax credit will be available for another three years, but local rebates and incentives will soon expire in a number of markets. And then there’s the 50 percent first-year bonus depreciation allowance; it is set to expire at the end of 2013. And if all that isn’t enough of an economic argument that now is the right time to turn to solar, consider this: solar PV pricing is low right now, but it’s on the rise.
According to Shyem Mehta’s article in Greentech Media, demand for solar, specifically in Japan and China, combined with reductions in PV inventory, means that PV pricing is now starting to rise across the board – something that hasn’t happened since Q4 2010. Manufacturers shedding inventory toward the end of 2012 not only pushed prices down significantly, but also reduced their excess production. Given the laws of supply and demand, lower production in the face of strong demand in China and Japan means that PV pricing will increase. And it is starting to do just that.
Price increases thus far have been a mere 3-5 percent, but Mehta says it’s unclear whether this is a lasting trend or whether it will accelerate. Additionally, unknown ramifications from anti-dumping tariffs (penalties imposed on low-priced imports to protect local industries from unfair competition) that are being levied in China and Europe will also factor into pricing.
Obviously, the PV industry will have to wait and see how the situations in China and Europe play out before they can accurately predict whether PV pricing will continue to rise or not. But given the incentive packages and supportive financing options currently in place, why take the chance? Customers who go solar today can enjoy the benefits of clean energy at a very attractive price. Carpe diem!
So what’s keeping you from going solar?