Tag Archives: energy

Financial Incentives: Impact on Property Value

Solar Homes Sell for a Premium

Buying a solar energy system will likely increase your home’s value. A recent study found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades, just like a renovated kitchen or a finished basement, and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without. In 2008, California homes with energy efficient features and PV were found to sell faster than homes that consume more energy. Keep in mind, these studies focused on homeowner-owned solar arrays.

Source: Energy.gov

Going Solar: Adding to Existing System

As always contact Solar Chief to discuss the best option for the most efficient, reliable, and cost effective system. Solar Chief offers Free Site Evaluations and Free Quotes.

Why add to a existing solar array?

  • Increased Electrical Usage: becoming more relaxed about energy use, example- purchasing an electric vehicle, expanding your home
  • Smaller Installments: expand system slowly, offsets electrical bill, financial position

When upgrading your solar panel system, selecting identical solar panels is the best bet to ensure your solar array is efficient. The type of inverter is based on your system size, so your original inverter might not have the capacity to handle additional electricity. There are many different options when adding to your solar arrays. If your home’s roof is out of space for your expansion, you might consider a ground-mounted system. Consult Solar Chief to understand your best options for solar expansion.

Going Solar: Ground-Mounted vs. Rooftop-Mounted Solar Panels

Ground-Mounted vs. Rooftop-Mounted Solar Panels

When thinking about going solar, one main thing you will want to consider is if you want ground-mounted or rooftop-mounted solar panels. While both are good options, they both offer different benefits and it is important that you choose the one best suited for you and your needs.

Ground-Mounted Panels

If you have a large yard or a lot of space near your home, ground-mounted panels could be the right choice for you. Having a large amount of space can allow you to install a much larger solar energy system, and will free you from any sizing restraints due to the size of your roof.

Installing ground-mounted panels can help ensure that you are getting maximum solar energy out of your panels. Solar panels are supposed to face either south or west to get the most sunlight possible. If your roof does not face either of these directions then ground-mounted panels could be a good option for you. Since they are not restricted to the direction of your roof, you can install ground-mounted panels in any direction which could potentially allow for more sunlight.

While solar panels are typically low maintenance, there may be a time when you need to clean them or have a repair done and since ground-mounted panels are low and easily accessible this will be an easy task. The only thing to keep in mind is that owners of ground-mounted panels will need to be sure to keep them free of snow in cold weather since the snow will not be able to slide off if it has built up high on the ground around the panel.

Ground-mounted panels can be a great option for someone with lots of space, however, a couple of things to keep in mind are that they tend to be a little more costly and can sometimes be very noticeable in your yard. Installing the panels on the ground requires additional time, materials, and labor so they can tend to be more costly. They also typically sit a few inches to several feet above the ground and can tend to look bulky, so you may want to consider rooftop panels if you have a very manicured lawn and garden.

Rooftop-Mounted Panels

With rooftop-mounted panels costs are usually lower than ground-mounted panels. Rooftop panels are much more common and they are usually easier and faster to install. One of the only extra costs you may want to consider is the condition of your roof. Panels must be installed on a roof that is in good condition and is expected to last at least 20 years, so if your roof is in bad condition you may have to have it fixed before you can install your panels.

Rooftop panels also offer the benefit of being less noticeable, and can even sometimes be installed on the back of your house so that they are not as visible from the front. They can also help save you space in your yard by being installed on your roof instead, however, this can sometimes limit you on how large of a system you are able to install.

With rooftop panels, two of the main issues that could arise are positioning and cleaning. Since they are being placed on your roof, the panels are restricted by the type of roof, the angle, and the direction of the roof. Also, with the panels being up on the roof owners will have to be more cautious when it comes to cleaning their panels and will possibly need to invest in a professional cleaning and check up each year.

Dominion Energy Rebate Disaster: SC Ratepayers Not Getting Rebate Check

Article Here

Author: By JEFFREY COLLINS Associated Press

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — For more than 700,000 customers of a private South Carolina utility, the $1,000 rebate checks aren’t in the mail.

A year ago, Dominion Energy proposed writing the average South Carolina Electric & Gas customer a $1,000 one-time cash payment if lawmakers facilitated and regulators approved their merger. They spent millions of dollars touting the checks in ads that seemed to run on every TV newscast and local show.

During merger negotiations, Dominion executives, consumer groups, and regulators decided on lower power rates over 20 years by roughly $20 a month instead of the rebate. They said it would be a bigger benefit over a much larger period of time than the one-time payment.

But those $1,000 checks remain burned in the minds of many customers, and Dominion finds itself doing another advertising blitz over the next several weeks, this time introducing the Virginia-based company to its new South Carolina customers and explaining to them that the checks aren’t coming.

“We understand some customers will be disappointed that refund checks are not included in the final approved plan, but we believe customers and South Carolina will benefit from the lower payments,” Dominion spokeswoman Rhonda Maree O’Banion said in an email.

Some lawmakers, especially those who represent poorer districts, feel like Dominion pulled a bait-and-switch on their constituents, pushing hard to get support among African-Americans, then backtracking on promises. The original ads touting the rebates urged viewers to call their legislators and give their support for the merger.

“It seems that you were trying to advertise to the black community to impress upon us on this $1,000 charity,” said Democratic Sen. Margie Bright Mathews of Walterboro told Dominion officials attending a meeting of the Black Legislative Caucus.

“Your first order of business was to get a couple of black lobbyists and go to black colleges and advertise in black medium radio,” she said.

SCE&G’s parent company, SCANA Corp., was looking to sell because it spent $5 billion on construction and design of two nuclear reactors that never generated a watt of power. South Carolina law allowed the utility to put all that debt on the backs of its customers, although the merger deal cut the customers’ share of that debt about in half, leading to the monthly reduction in bills.

But the lower bills might not last for long. Dominion can ask for a rate increase for its base costs of generating and distributing power at the start of 2021. Old SCE&G customers haven’t seen the base costs for power increase since 2012, even though there were several rate hikes to pay for the failed nuclear plants.

Consumer advocates warn that any such increase could be massive and if the rebates had been paid, electric bills would have ended up even higher without any monthly relief.

“In the longer term, it was more important people pay lower rates,” said Frank Knapp, president of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and a frequent critic of SCE&G’s management.

The hearings on additional rate changes will start in 2020.

In the meantime, there doesn’t appear to be any effort among a majority of lawmakers or regulators to revisit the terms of merger and the possibility of rebates, although the Public Service Commission has asked Dominion to explain exactly what it is doing to tell customers there was a change in plans.

Democratic Rep. Wendell Gilliard of Charleston said the bad taste over no rebates has left some of his constituents asking if anything with the power company will change even with SCE&G and SCANA out of the picture.

“Dominion is coming in on the same tide that SCANA left out on,” Gilliard said. “That’s not good.”


Next Cash Crop for Farmers? Solar Panels

Farmers are now harvesting the sun for produce and power. As weather conditions change and the prices of crops increase farmers have turned to solar energy to make an income. Solar energy offers opportunities to farmers, where they can lease land for solar, sell back excess electricity, and/or offset their electrical bills. Are you a farmer looking into solar? Contact Solar Chief today!


Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants

Solar Chief is here to make sure you are aware of any and all solar incentive benefits. Contact us and we can help assist you and/or contact your State Rural Development Energy Coordinator for more information on if your business or farm may qualify for this grant program.

Source: https://www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency


An analysis by researchers at Michigan Tech found that solar farms are more profitable than tobacco farms.

The southern United States is a vast expanse of fields and undeveloped land, much of of which has been used for growing tobacco for hundreds of years. Tobacco is a terrific cash crop, and tobacco farmers make lots of money selling it but a new analysis from Michigan Tech finds that these farmers could make even more money harvesting sunlight.

The Michigan Tech researchers looked at tobacco farms in South Carolina, where much of the country’s tobacco is produced and calculated the point at which farmers could make more money farming energy given the falling rates of tobacco use in the United States.

The researchers factored in a lot of variables for their analysis, including the dropping price of solar panels and the increasing value of electricity in the future. They also took into account that the price of tobacco would likely drop in the future, given the decreasing popularity of smoking.

The researchers expected to find the crossover point for solar versus tobacco profits somewhere in the future but, to their surprise, their analysis showed that solar was already more profitable than tobacco.

“We looked at likely trends in all of the major economic factors,” says researcher Joshua Pearce, “but were surprised to find that because the cost of solar has dropped so dramatically it is already economically advantageous for tobacco farmers to replace tobacco with solar in many situations.”

Crunching a few more numbers, Pearce and his team found that switching every tobacco farm in South Carolina to solar would generate 30 gigawatts of power, enough to run the entire state. This could also save two thousand lives per year by removing air pollution produced by fossil fuel plants. Of course this all assumes that the new solar tariff does not significantly impact the math.

There’s also the benefit from reducing the amount of tobacco people smoke. If every tobacco farm in the country became a solar farm, the researchers say that over half a million lives could be saved every year. That might be a little optimistic, but a reduced supply of available tobacco products could hardly be a bad thing for public health.

“The economic benefits for ex-tobacco farmers going into solar is nice,” says Pearce, “but the real payoff is in American lives saved from both pollution prevention and smoking cessation.”

Source: Farmers Might Want to Swap Tobacco Plants for Solar Panels

Innovations in Solar: Disney’s New 270-Acre Solar Farm

Disney added a 50-megawatt solar system in Florida. This solar farm includes more than a half million panels that cover 270 acres. This will considerably reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by more than 57,000 tons per year. As reported by the New York Times, Disney estimates the amount of energy the facility can produce would be enough to power 10,000 homes annually. That’s also as much as getting 9,300 cars off the road.

The new solar farm joins other Disney efforts towards its green goal. In 2016, the company opened a 22-acre, 5-megawatt solar facility that’s shaped like Mickey Mouse. Its Tokyo Disneyland also uses solar power from rooftops to generate more than 600 kilowatts for its electrical parade light. Disneyland Paris is also in on the green game, utilizing geothermal energy for the power needed in two of its theme parks as well as a hotel. Disney’s Shanghai Resort makes use of a cooling and heating plant that cuts emissions by 60 percent.

Source: Disney, The New York Times

Ask the Experts: Maintenance of Solar Panels

Welcome to a new feature on the Solar Chief Blog called Ask the Experts! I will ask our Solar Chief experts to answer common questions that many customers have. Solar Chief is here to answer your questions. If you ever have any further questions, call us today!

Solar Chief Expert: Trip

Trip is the lead installer at Solar Chief.
Trip is a great installer. He knows every detail in the solar installation process. Our customers love Trip and he always tells them the straight truth and even will give his personal phone number if they need any help.

Question: What maintenance do you recommend to your customers?

Expert Answer: I always tell them “don’t do anything.” The rain takes care of the dust and dirt that gathers on top of your panels. Solar Chief monitors your PV system so we can catch any problems and come fix it. (The solar monitoring system is something you see and get sent to our system.)

*Stay tuned to here the interview done with Trip on solar installation.

Solar Myths: Environmental Impacts

There are many misconceptions about Solar panels impact on the environment. Keep reading to learn more.

Making solar panels causes more pollution than the clean energy they produce.

No. A study by the US Department of Energy shows that, depending on your solar panels, the energy payback is 1 to 4 years. Solar panels usually last 25 years, so solar manufacturing is very green. That said, if you buy American made panels, it saves more carbon from the transport costs. Something to consider in choosing your panels.

Solar panels will cause more harm to the environment when they’re thrown away in 25 years.

Actually, most panel manufacturers will recycle the panels after you’re through in 25 years. If they don’t, don’t buy those panels. However, it’s hard to say whether people will actually recycle them because most panels are still being used today. So it’s up to you find out about the manufacturer’s panel recycling program. From what I understand, they will come to you and take them away at no charge.

Source: Solar Power Rocks

Your Solar Guide: How many panels for your project?

Investing and transitioning to solar can seem complex but Solar Chief is here to help. Our company prides itself on educating customers on everything solar. Solar Chief wants to ensure every project is successful in producing the amount of energy needed. Faults can occur when using an online app to calculator the number of panels needed because the app doesn’t calculate all the circumstances. Solar Chief offers FREE proposals and FREE site evaluations to provide an accurate estimate.

How many solar panels is needed for your project?
Depends on the amount of electricity used and location of the panels.

How to estimate your energy needs

Energy Efficiency of Home

Make energy-saving upgrades to maximize efficiency before adding solar. Completing a home energy audit can significantly lower your energy bill. The process is not costly and many adjustments can be done yourself. Local utility companies offer energy saving tips, discounts, and rebates. SCE&G offers free Home Energy Check-ups. Below are some examples of energy upgrades.

  • Inspect doors, windows, roof, and attic for leaks
  • Replace your old bulbs with high-efficiency bulbs (SCE&G Discounts)
  • Update to energy efficient appliances (SCE&G Appliances Recycling Rebate)
  • Install energy-saving smart thermostats (example: Nest)
  • Replace air filters

Assess Solar Potential and Limitation

The location of your project determines the solar potential of the solar array. PV systems use direct and indirect sunlight but the efficiency can be impacted. Look at your areas yearly sun exposure.
The limitations of your solar array can be created by shading (trees or buildings), roof conditions (age, size, material), and HOA (homeowner association) restrictions. Ask Solar Chief to provide recommendations to reach a peak efficiency of your system.

Assess Options of Solar

The solar option chosen could affect the number of panels in your system. Determining your use for solar energy will help configure the amount of electricity your system needs to produce. Price and ownership play a role in planning your array. Some panels can produce more electricity than others. Do you want a rooftop or ground-mounted solar system? Do you want to be connected to the grid?

Estimate Projects Solar Electricity Needs

Estimating the amount of electricity a system needs to produce is the last step. Addressing the efficiency of your home will lower the amount of energy needed to be produced. Solar Chief wants to create the most accurate energy estimation. Analyzing your power bill can determine the number of kilowatts per hour used per month. Then we will determine what your system would need to be in kW in order to meet your kWh needs.

Factors to Consider

Importance of knowing peak usage. Some homes use more energy in summer or winter and you want to have a system prepared for peak loads.

Consider any planned changes. If you will be purchasing an electric vehicle or are planning a home addition, your electricity needs may increase.

Importance of your home’s energy efficiency. If you are continuing to make significant changes to improve your home’s energy efficiency, you may need less electricity than you used in the past.

Net Metering. If you want to sell back power to the electric company, then you need to produce more power than you consume.

There is a regulatory cap on the system KW size permitted on top of your roof.

There are so many factors determining the size of your system. Contact Solar Chief to find out more. Thanks for reading!

Source: Energy.gov