Maximize Solar Power with Net Metering Aggregation in CA

Stewart & Jasper
The California Public Utilites Commission (CPUC) approved Net Metering Aggregation to go live, effective immediately in PG&E’s territory in California. The approval of PG&E’s advice letter and kick off of Net Metering Aggregation is a substantial milestone for California businesses. Commercial and agricultural customers now have an even stronger financial case to go solar.

Through Net Metering Aggregation in California, customers who have multiple electric meters can connect to a single central solar power system rather than building seperate solar power systems for each meter. This allows customers to benefit from economies of scale, reducing the cost of going solar and increasing the payback.

This opportunity is particularly interesting for customers who may have several small to medium sized meters on parcels adjacent to each other for whom the cost of solar seemed too high in the past. This includes agricultural operations, industrial complexes, campuses, and other similar configurations. With CA’s drought many farm operations will have to turn to wells to pump water. This will in turn increase their electricity costs. Through Net Metering Aggregation, these expensive well meters can be offset with one solar power system.

Net Metering Aggregation requires that all the meters being combined for the purposes of solar power meet the following criteria:

  1. The meters must be operated by the same customer
  2. The meters must be on land owned, rented, or leased by the customer
  3. The meters must be either on the same parcels or parcels that are contiguous
  4. The system limit for Net Metering Aggregation remains 1 MW

One unique aspect of Net Metering Aggregation is that the interconnection process will take center stage for any project utilizing Net Metering Aggregation. SPG Solar has instituted an interconnection program around Net Metering Aggregation to help make this process smoother for customers. To see if you are a good candidate for Net Metering Aggregation contact us today and we will help assess the feasibility.

Milking the Central Valley Sunshine

The World Ag Expo was another success with 100,000 individuals from 70 countries in attendance. SPG Solar spent the past few days with two of our top dairy customers in the Central Valley. Lakeside Dairy and Curtimade Dairy opened up their doors and solar power facilities to World Ag Expo press and attendees.

Monteiro brothers speak to the media about their solar power system

Monteiro brothers speak to the media about their solar power system

SPG Solar's Dylan Dupre speaks to AgNetWest

SPG Solar’s Dylan Dupre chats with AgNetWest

Owners of Lakeside Dairy, Mike and Manuel Monteiro, led more than 11 journalists through the dairy, highlighting the dairies history, operations and solar power system. With their solar power system in operation for 3+years, Mike was able to share the tangible benefits of solar:

  • $160,000 in annual savings.
  • Offsetting 75% of the dairies energy needs.
  • Hedging against rising electric rates, which increase on average 5.15% annually.

Mike also mentioned that he’ll see a large increase in his electricity usage because of the drought. Costs will increase because of the need to pump well water. Drought was on the mind of all the farmers and vendors at the World Ag Expo. The good news is that California has a new solar program that helps businesses with multiple wells and pumps to offset those meters with one solar power system. The program is called Net Metering Aggregation.

SPG Solar went on to join Curtimade Dairy and hosted an Agriculture Tour for the World Ag Expo. Over 100 attendees visited the dairy. It was a diverse group of backgrounds, businesses and geographical locations.

Katrina Rainey leads a group into Curtimade Dairy's milk barn

Katrina Rainey leads a group into Curtimade Dairy’s milk barn

The attendees were impressed with the size of the dairy, its immaculate grounds and the solar tracking system. A few common questions asked were: How much is the dairy saving with solar? How easy was the solar process? And would you do it again> The quick answers from Katrina Rainey, family member of Curtimade Dairy.

  • We are saving $145,000 annually with our solar power tracking system. We opted for a single-axis tracking system since it produces 25% more solar energy.
  • The process was easy. Once we found the right integrator the rest went quickly. The system was installed in just over 30 days and it requires no maintenance on our end, except for panel washing.
  • We would absolutely do it again. With the new Net Metering Aggregation program, we plan to expand our system and offset many of our expensive meters.

See you at the World Ag Expo

It’s the final countdown to the World Ag Expo, the largest annual agricultural show of its kind, featuring cutting-edge agricultural technology and equipment. It kicks off next week, Tuesday February 11th, 2014.

SPG Solar will be participating in the World Ag Expo, co-hosting an Agriculture Tour with Curtimade Dairy on Wednesday February 12th.

Come join and see how this 3,000 Holstein dairy with an 1,100 acre farm is saving $145,000 annually through their ground mount, tracking solar power system. Curtimade Dairy has been benefitting from their 4-acre solar power system for the past three years. Hear direct from Katrina Rainey on the solar process and the single axis tracking technology.

“We had to pencil it out,” says Katrina Rainey, family member and spokesperson for Curtimade Dairy. “We’ve been looking for ways to be progressive and to ‘go green.’ The solar panels are producing right where SPG Solar said they would and are one way to help us to continue a family operation and be able to pass it on to the next generation.”

Get a little more background on this leading dairy from a recent article by the Visalia Times Delta.

We look forward to seeing you at the tour and sharing the bottom line benefits of solar energy and reasons why now is the best time to go solar.

Solar Energy Costs Continue To Fall in the U.S.

Sysco Riverside Solar Power System

Sysco Los Anglese Solar Power System

Solar energy costs continue to fall at a healthy clip, making now the right time to go solar

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBNL) released a report which finds that the cost of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) systems fell 6-14% in the U.S. in 2012, and another 10-15% in the first six months of 2013, according the the California Solar Initiative.

What is the cause of these substantial cuts?

  1. The primary driver is the steep reduction in module prices, which accounts for 80 percent of the total price drop. However, it’s worth noting that panel prices may have bottomed out; we are starting to see creep in price.
  2. Headway is also being made in non-module costs, including inverters, mounting hardware, permitting and fees, and other costs.

Businesses are taking advantage of the current economics

Many of our customers are taking advantage of these solar price drops and are adding more solar to their facilities. There is a clear financial argument for why solar makes sense. Buying solar results in tax credits, lower operating costs, increased property value and a hedge against anticipated rising electricity prices, among other benefits.

Sysco Invests in More Solar Energy

Take for example Sysco – the largest North American distributor of food and related products. We installed a 1 megawatt rooftop and ground mount single axis tracking system at their Los Angeles facility last year. Operating costs were dramatically reduced, with an annual savings of nearly $150,000. Noticing the clear financial benefits, Sysco decided to add solar to their newly built facility in Riverside, CA. We are just finishing the construction of this additional 1 megawatt rooftop system.

Our customers actions — adding more solar energy — prove that solar is a viable, affordable option today.

So what’s next?

To coninue this downward price trend, we need public policy to help address the “soft” costs – customer acquisition, permitting and interconnection fees, and taxes. “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,” said Galen Barbose, Berkeley Lab’s Environmental Energy Technologies Division and co-author of the report.


Twelve States Blazing the Solar Energy Way

Solar energy is growing rapidly in America. In fact, in the first three months of 2013, solar power accounted for nearly half of the new electricity generating capacity in America. So which states are leading this charge? A new report highlights twelve states winning the solar race in the U.S. They are called the “Dazzling Dozen.”

So what is Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, and Vermont doing? It’s not necessarily direct sunlight that makes these top states leaders.

Dazzling Dozen

They are capitalizing on the new economics of solar. With the rapidly decreasing cost of solar (prices have come down 27 percent since last year) and the improved efficiencies, solar makes financial sense.

Now take the current economics and bundle that with good policy and you have a solar pathway. The Dazzling Dozen are blazing a solar path, providing easier access to solar energy for residents, businesses, public entities and utilities.

Solar Energy is on the Rise in States with Smart Public Policy

Below are the top four policies that any state can adopt to supercharge their solar adoption rate.

1. Renewable Electricity Standards

Eleven out of the dozen states have renewable electricity standards (RESs), while nine have solar carve-outs that ensure that a set percentage of the state’s electricity portfolio comes from solar energy. These policies work since utilities are required to increase procurement of solar into their energy portfolio.

2. Net Metering

Eleven of the Dazzling Dozen provide net metering – a program that gives customers credit for surplus solar energy they send to the grid. This program provides full market value for the excess solar electricity that homes, businesses and public agencies generate and feed back to the grid.

3. Interconnection Procedures

Ten of the states have implemented interconnection procedures that ease the interconnection process, allowing for higher penetrations of solar while maintaining a safe and reliable grid.

 4. Creative Financing Options

The name of the game is to make solar affordable for communities. These states offer unique financing options. Those that have cash to buy a system out front gain all the long term benefits of solar. However, some businesses or public entities need other vehicles to make solar viable. Solar integrators partenered with banks provide solar leases and solar power purchasing agreements (PPA). These methods provide either a 10-year lease payment or a 20-year risk-free term through a PPA, eliminating up-front capital costs and providing predictable energy prices.

While the Dazzling Dozen are seeing great success, solar still has a long way to go. They have created a successful framework through policy and solar energy programs that other states can follow. As long as states encourage smart public policy and private companies continue to drive solar innovation, solar will continue to increase its foothold in Americas energy mix.

Positive Response for the SunSeeker Single Axis Tracker

Intersolar North America was a success and allowed SPG Solar to share with developers and large EPC firms the high performance of the SunSeeker solar tracker. It is clear that single axis trackers have become the accepted ground mount technology, particularly in Southwestern US. In fact the share of tracker-based installations for the coming year could range from 50% upwards. As SPG Solar’s Bill Elwell mentioned in PV-Magazine, “Over the last two to three years, the tracker industry has grown significantly, by about 50 percent.”

The two main themes during our meetings at Intersolar were how is the SunSeeker tracker more efficient and how is it easier to install.

Our answers are straightforward and proven in the field.

1. The Sunseeker tracker acutates the most kilowatt hours per motor – up to 700 kilowatt-peak. Therefore there are fewer moving parts and lower O&M needs. The SunSeeker tracker was designed and engineered to have the majority of the components pre-assembled with no field welding or cutting proving more efficient stating and faster install times.

2. With seven primary install steps, the SunSeeker is fast to install and quick to scale. At SPG Solar our goal is to simply solar and mamimize reutrns for our customers.

Companies in the solar industry no longer need to differentiate between fixed tilt and single axis trackers. The benefits of a single axis tracker are clear: more energy production at a lower lifetime cost. The education emphasis is now about differentiating one tracker technology from another. SPG Solar has opened a Technology & Training Center to provide this education and hands on learning experience for customers.

Solar Energy Industry Doing Its Part to Fight Climate Change

SunSeeker Tracker Components Panels

Obama climate change plan calls for investment in renewable energy – solar

Regardless of your stance on climate change, one thing that’s not up for debate is the fact that it’s become a hot button issue. Environmentalists have hounded President Barack Obama for not addressing this topic sooner, but yesterday, Obama silenced those critics by announcing a long-awaited plan to tackle the challenges of pollution and global warming in the U.S., and prepare Americans for its effects. As part of his comprehensive plan, the President proposed $8 billion in federal loan guarantees to spur investments in innovative, clean energy technologies that includes solar.

It’s good to see the President’s climate change strategy finally come into play. With electricity rates predicted to skyrocket over the next decade, now is the time to invest in solar and lower your overall operating costs. The demand for solar continues to increase thanks in part to decreasing costs in components and installation coupled with increasing energy efficiency. Administration officials said that by expanding permitting on public lands, Obama hopes to generate enough electricity from renewable energy products to power the equivalent of 6 million homes by 2020, effectively doubling the electric capacity federal lands produce now. The plan has set a goal of installing 100 megawatts (MW) of energy-producing capacity.

In his speech, President Obama highlighted America’s strengths — innovation, research and technology — as factors that make the U.S. poised to take on the challenges of climate change. Solar technology, in particular, has seen a vast improvement over the past decade, becoming more efficient, more reliable and less expensive so communities can take advantage of lower costs while still meeting sustainability goals.

SPG Solar Continues to Improve Solar Tracking Technology

SPG Solar continues to demonstrate its commitment to providing customers with the latest cutting edge solar technologies that deliver more solar energy and help  drive the greatest cost savings. Our SunSeeker® single-axis tracker follows the sun throughout  the course of the day to help maximize solar energy production. We engineered the SunSeeker tracker to be installed faster and perform under any condition.

This month, SPG Solar launched a new Technology and Training Center as the next step in our mission to have the lowest install costs and highest quality single-axis tracker on the market. The new facility in Sacramento offers a unique hands-on experience for construction crews, engineers and designers to assemble and install our SunSeeker tracker. As the Obama administration urges Americans to take action in the fight against climate change, municipalities like The County of Sonoma are already leading the charge in the sustainable realm. Earlier this year, Sonoma teamed with SPG Solar to unveil one of the first municipal zero net electricity (ZNE) campuses in California. The Los Guillocos campus, home to the Juvenile Justice Center, the Valley of the Moon Children’s Home and the Sierra Youth Center, was designed to meet 100 percent of its electricity needs and save an estimated $1.4M over the next 20 years with the innovative 708 kW solar tracking system. The system is producing more solar power by leveraging our SunSeeker tracker technology.

With the latest solar technologies, incentive packages and supportive solar financing options, SPG Solar is making it easy for companies to offset the burden of rising energy prices. To learn more about the SunSeeker tracker technology and turnkey services, contact us today.

A Bright Outlook for Solar Energy

Maddox Dairy

It’s becoming clear that solar energy is starting to play a larger part of the nation’s energy mix. The latest SEPA Utility Solar Rankings report observed that the market share for large-scale solar projects in 2012 grew by 160% percent. In 2013, utility based projects in Arizona, California, New Mexico, and Texas will increase demand for US solar PV panels. By the end of 2014, demand is expected to exceed 5 GW; this would result in a 70% compound annual growth rate since 2009. To say it simply: the sun is shining bright on solar.

California generates the most power from solar energy in the nation and continues to break new solar records. This comes as no surprise, with an average of 260 sunny days a year. Just in the past week, California set new records hitting an all-time high output of 2,071 megawatts (MW) of electrical generation last Friday, only to break that record on Monday when output reached 2,104 MW. These latest milestones show the tremendous progress the state is making in meeting its renewable energy goals. But the solar boom isn’t just shining on the west coast.

Banks & Investors Gain Confidence – Rising Demand For Solar Energy

With electricity rates predicted to soar over the next decade, more U.S. businesses are taking advantage of solar energy to help lower overall operating costs and reach their sustainability goals. Even heavy hitters like Goldman Sachs and Berkshire Hathaway are taking notice and putting their money where their mouth is, investing billions over the next 10 years in giant solar projects, renewable energy initiatives, and affordable financing options Another big reason for this momentum is the improvement in technology. It’s become more efficient and reliable, and thus less expensive to go solar.

This month, SPG Solar unveiled a new Technology and Training Center in Sacramento offering a unique hands-on experience for construction crews, engineers and designers to assemble and install our SunSeeker single-axis tracker. The SunSeeker was designed to be installed faster and follows the sun throughout the course of the day to help maximize solar energy production.

The future looks bright for solar energy. To learn more about how solar can offset the burden of rising energy prices, contact us today.

California Earns ‘Golden State’ Title, With Focused Efforts on Solar Energy

Point Loma Nazarene University_3


Solar Generation

Image Credit: California ISO

The demand for clean, renewable and affordable energy continues to increase rapidly. California continues to rise among the leading states in the country that have adopted a strong advocacy for renewable energy, particularly in solar.

According to a recent report from the California Independent System Operator, solar energy will account for the majority of California’s energy in second half of 2013. Solar energy has proven to be the most accommodating form of renewable energy that the state has invested in, which is why California has been focusing efforts on promoting the benefits of solar.

With campaigns such as Go Solar California and state programs like the California Solar Initiative, the state continues to devote more resources to solar energy, making other forms of clean power less prevalent. According to the report, solar energy is starting to overshadow other forms of energy, with a total of 1,581 megawatts of new solar energy capacity expected to come online in the second half of 2013. This would potentially account for 100% of new energy capacity in the state for this time period.

The Golden State’s increased efforts in going solar come to no surprise. California is home to a large agriculture community that is investing in solar energy as a long term energy asset. Amongst the many benefits of solar, installations are becoming more affordable, more reliable and easier to maintain throughout the years.

SPG Solar’s service team helps businesses and the public sector all across the state, from Sonoma to Tulare and down to San Diego, go solar. Recognized for solar achievements, including the first 100% solar school district in the U.S. and the first solar waste water treatment plant in the U.S., SPG Solar is simplifying the solar process, driving more savings and allowing California businesses to reduce their operating costs faster.

We look forward to seeing California’s future continue to grow brighter. Take part in California’s solar initiative and learn just how much you can save by going solar.

Net Metering is a Net Positive for Solar


Point Loma Nazarene University

Incoming U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz said he is “bullish” on solar in the US, as heard in the DOE’s online video. He states solar is “going to be a lot bigger than a lot of people think, sooner than they think.”

To ensure his statement is accurate, one piece of legislation needs to remain intact – net metering. Net metering, the process where residents and businesses generating their own electricity can run their meter backward and sell any excess electricity to the grid for a bill credit, has become a common solar industry policy with 43 states and the District of Columbia hosting net-metering programs. Net metering has been a catalyst for solar adoption.

Utilities don’t see it quite in this light. They see net metering as an attack on their revenue stream. Customers generating their own electricity of course buy less from the utilities. The utilities argue that this will raise electricity prices for those without solar because the utility still needs to invest in transmission lines and generation facilities. However, in order to protect their own self-interest, the utilities fail to tell the whole story.

The underlying question is the value and price attached to the solar generated. The utilities have focused their direct attacks on the residential sector where, due to higher retail cost of energy, solar can sometimes be overvalued. However, in the commercial space, solar electricity is actually undervalued.

By helping to postpone or eliminate hefty transmission upgrades and providing local generation in places that are often difficult to serve with new generation, solar actually provides benefits to the grid beyond just the energy it provides users. When coupled with lower commercial and industrial rates reimbursed through net metering, this becomes a great deal for rate payers statewide.

Bottom line, net metering needs to remain in place and a standard needs to be set for the value of solar. With the preservation of net metering, Moniz’s statement will ring true. Solar energy will be a lot bigger than anyone thinks.