A Case Study in Compassionate Transition from Coal to Solar

How is Athens County leading the way in Ohio? In solar workforce development! Employing former coal miners as solar installers has been an added benefit to situating our solar business in Appalachian Ohio. Read more here. 

10.5 kW system in Central Ohio

All Your Home Orientation, Roof Slop & Shade Questions Answered

When we design your solar energy system, First, we use satellite imagery and your electric bill to give you an initial review of your solar potential.

We discuss system sizes, locations, and costs. We review all system plans with you before installing, connecting, and commissioning your solar electric. Here are some guidelines to help you determine whether solar can work well for you:

 

Orientation

 

 

South-facing is best. Either the front or back of the house faces directly south.

 

 

South-east facing can also work well, either the front or back of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

South-west facing can also work well, either the front or back of the house.

 

 

 

 

 

A house facing east-west can also work—panels on the east side will get morning sunlight, those on the west will get afternoon sunlight.

 

 

 

 

Shade

A Completely un-shaded house is best. Sunlight covers the roof all day.

 

 

 

 

A lightly-shaded house can work for solar — we can position the solar panels to avoid shade.

Module level optimizers prevent the old problem of losing the output of an entire string of panels when one module gets shaded. However, shade is still an important factor in good solar design.

 

 

A heavily-shaded house will not work for rooftop solar—but, give the amount of available space, we can do a ground-mounted system in that case.

 

 

 

Roof Slope & Shape

On a flat roof, solar panels can be easily mounted on ballasted racks that tilt them toward the sun.

 

 

 

 

A 30-degree roof pitch is ideal. We can flush-mount the solar panels for best sun exposure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A 15-degree pitch works well. Our racking can tilt the solar panels slightly steeper to get the best sun exposure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Complex roof lines can also work well, depending upon the size and orientation of the different roof facets.

 

 

 

Energy Offset

A properly-sized solar electric system is a function of 3 factors: How much energy do you typically use? How much available space do you have? What is your budget?

A good solar installer will have system designers & solar consultants who will optimize these variables find the “sweet spot” for your system—the best size for your available electric needs, space and budget.

By right-sizing your system, a good installer will shorten your payback period.

  • How much energy you use – your home’s energy consumption tell us the maximum limit of how much solar energy you will need to power your home. This is why many installers request an electric bill with your homes annual usage to create a solar estimate.
  • How much space you have – How much space do you have on your roof or on the ground for solar? We look for space that is free from shade, is free from roof obstructions and is not facing northward.
  • Your budget – How much do you plan to spend on solar? Do you want premium solar panels or our more cost-effective option?

How Ohio’s House Bill 6 Impacts Residential Solar  

Summary 

On July 23rd 2019, The Ohio House of Representatives approved and Governor Mike DeWine signed House Bill 6, legislation to subsidize two failing nuclear power plants and reduce Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standards.   

House Bill 6 in Ohio does the following:   

  • Through rate-payer charges, $150 million per year will go to fund two failing FirstEnergy nuclear power plants   
  • $50 million a year will go to fund two aging coal-fired power plants  
  • Lowers the states Renewable Portfolio Standards, the mandated percentage of renewable energy utilities provide to rate-payers, from 12.5% to 8.5% by 2026  
  • Eliminates mandates for solar specific energy purchasing, or SRECs, from 2020 onward  

House Bill 6 does not represent the end for residential solar – not by a long shot. What Ohio’s House Bill 6 means for solar homeowners, is that the price of Solar Renewable Energy Credits in Ohio will drop. For the most part, the fluctuating, often already low prices of SRECs do not affect the economics of our customer’s solar projects.  

Additionally, HB6 indicates that there will be no state incentives for solar in the foreseeable future. Incentives would have boosted the market for solar and made renewable energy more accessible in Ohio.  But Ohioans have been without any robust solar incentives for many years now, and the economics of installing solar have gotten better during this time because of the naturally declining price of solar modules and equipment. 

History  

In 2008 Ohio passed a law (SB 221) that, among other things, requires the four investor owned utilities to add solar to their energy mix, at an increasing rate each year. The law also addressed wind and other renewables but called out a special category for solar. It established a financial penalty for the utility for any shortfall (called the ACP, or alternative compliance payment), and various rules of the policy. Ohio is one of 24 states with Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), all of them different, and controlled at the state level.   

Ohio has seen this mechanism be an effective and flexible way to spur solar development in the state. The utilities have built their own solar plants to achieve these annual benchmarks, or they meet all or part of their obligations by encouraging the private development of solar projects through the purchase of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) from the owners of the solar projects. An SREC is simply the intangible “green energy attributes” associated with 1,000 kWh of solar power. The law allows the purchase of SRECs from projects in contiguous states as well. There is no obligation for homeowners and private solar projects to sell SRECs, but they can sell them to the utility or private buyer (aggregator, traders or other middlemen) with the best price and terms.   

What are SRECs?  

Solar Renewable Energy Credits are annual credits for the clean electricity produced by your solar PV system. For every one megawatt-hour of electricity produced by your system each year (one megawatt-hour is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar) one SREC is created. A general rule of thumb in Ohio is 1kW of solar capacity will produce approximately 1 SREC per year.  Therefore, a 5kW solar PV system will produce about 5 SRECs per year and a 10kW system will produce about 10 SRECs per year.   

What gives SRECs their value? 

The state governments Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) create the market for SRECs. These are shaped by both federal and state policy. These policies aim to reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and carbon emissions that are contributing to global climate change.    

At a state level, SB 221 created the Renewable Portfolio Standards in Ohio.  Another example of policy that shapes states renewable energy standards is the 2015 Clean Power Plan. This federal legislation required states to meet specific standards with respect to reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. This federal legislation informed Ohio’s goals and bolstered the case for the 2008 plan.   

In Conclusion…  

The state government can create the market for solar incentives. In Ohio this has been done by a special carve out for solar in the form of Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) in the Renewable Portfolio Standards. With the elimination of the special carve out for solar, House Bill 6 will keep the pricing for SRECs low. But this doesn’t move the needle too much. Individuals who are thinking about going solar will not be greatly affected by this change in policy.   

While HB6 does not pose a threat to residential solar homeowners, the state of the Renewable Energy Standards in Ohio is something to pay attention to. Renewable energy is a growing sector, as of 2018 employing 112,486 Ohioans, and with job growth 12 times as fast as the rest of the US economy. There is great economic opportunity presented by renewable energy and energy efficiency. House Bill 6 is a setback for the clean energy economy and the jobs that are created for Ohioans in this industry.  

According to the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance, from 2009-2017 the Renewable Energy Standards established in SB 221 have created $5.1 billion in energy bill savings for customers. Additionally, Ohio’s energy efficiency programs have saved Ohioans 49 MWh for electricity, enough to power every home in Ohio for 10.5 months. Losing these benefits will cost consumers money, but if homeowners install a solar power system on their home, they will be able to save even more than they have lost. 

At third Sun Solar our mission is to accelerate the shift to clean energy. We are advocates for strong renewable energy standards that keep the market for renewable energy flourishing. We will continue to advocate for strong renewable energy standards and educate our customers about their importance as we go about our daily business installing solar on homes and businesses across Ohio & beyond.   

  

 

Unpredictable Utility Bills Make Budgeting Hard  

Does it feel like your electric bill gets higher every year? Does it feel like your electric bill changes every month and is unpredictable? You aren’t the only one! We talk to homeowners every day who are experiencing the same problem.  

You wonder: Why do my electric bills increase? What can I do to stop them from increasing? Read on to learn about how solar provides a solution to fluctuating energy costs.  

Energy Costs on the Rise  

Residential solar energy systems are gaining momentum quickly. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of 2019, the United States has 2 million solar installations. This reflects major growth in the solar sector in the U.S., which just 3 years ago reached 1 million solar installations 

What is fueling the demand?  

As you know, electricity prices have been on the rise over time. Each state has seen this increase with price rises that are felt by homeowners. Monthly, these prices rise and fall– which means that your utility bill is pretty unpredictable. Even if you use the same amount of electricity every month, you can’t predict what your electricity bill will be. When you add in seasonal variables that are also unpredictable (heat waves in the summer, cold spells in the winter), it’s almost impossible to predict what your energy consumption during these months will be.  

Fluctuating energy prices and weather conditions can have a dramatic influence on monthly energy bills. 

 

What is the cause of fluctuating energy rates? There are many factors but here are a couple:  

  • The Rise of Natural Gas – in recent years, natural gas has become the new go-to fossil fuel for energy production. Between changes in extraction methods to stored reserves and demand, natural Gas fluctuates in price more than coal and nuclear power.   
  • Coal & Nuclear Plants Closing – with the rise in natural gas production, coal and nuclear power are on the decline. This adds to the instability in the energy market and leads to higher and more unstable rates.  

Budgeting for Stability  

Solar helps you budget for stability by controlling a portion of the electric spend with known costs. 

Solar can help by reducing this variability in pricing that you see month to month. If you choose to finance your solar system and pay it off over time, your monthly solar bill will be fixed. You’ll have your loan locked in at the same monthly payment. So your utility payments, more or less, will be at frozen rates for the next 5-20 years.  

How will solar effect my monthly bill payments?  

When you go solar, the number to kilowatt-hours you purchase monthly from the utility goes down. This is accounted for through a process called net metering. Every month you are only billed for the amount of energy you have used in excess of what your solar panels have produced. If you’ve over produced, you are credited for this excess generation. This credit will be applied to future bills in months when you use more energy then you have made.  

Your energy charge- or killowat hours consumed-  is often the largest part of your bill. Other line items on your bill, such as the “delivery service charge” which is the fee the utility charges of the use of their grid will also be impacted by how much solar you generate.  

Some Math… 

Lets imagine your home uses 1,000 kWh per month. If your solar system generates 800 kWh per month, you’ll be left with 200 kWh that you’re paying the utility for. So you will still see rate increases, but only on that 200 kWh that you’re still getting from the utility. The other 800 kWh are free, after the cost of the system itself. 10 years from now you’ll still be getting that 800 kWh for the fixed cost of your solar energy system, no rate hikes. You will certainly be paying more for that 200 kWh of utility power that you use, but again, paying an increased % on 200 is much better than the full 1,000 kWh. Additionally, the money you will have saved by avoiding these increases will have paid for the panels themselves… and then some.  

What Can We Do?  

All in all, you will be paying substantially higher rates for energy in the next ten years. The more control you have over your power supply, the more you control your electric bills.  

Conservation is important: turn the lights off, keep the AC and furnace at a reasonable temperature, run full loads of laundry. We talk with customer who are taking these steps but not seeing results. Why? Because of the described fluctuations in electric rates.  Utility rates will continue to rise and at home energy conservation measures won’t be enough to keep your bill steady.  

Solar energy is a solution to unpredictable and rising energy rates.  

Give us a call today to talk to a knowledgeable Solar Consultant. They’ll explain how much you pay for energy now and how much you’ll be paying for energy in the future- if you do and if you don’t go solar. Fill out your information here to speak with a Solar Consultant.

Buying A Solar Home Checklist

Congratulations!

Maybe you bought or are thinking about buying a home with a solar energy system. We’re not surprised. With the growing popularity of solar, you may encounter solar on some of the houses you see.  

So, what do you need to know when considering buying a house with solar? If the previous homeowner owns the solar array, they will be transferring all the benefits to you. These benefits come in the form of reduced electric bills and clean, renewable power. You may pay a little more for the home itself due to the increased home value that comes with solar. But, think about it this way: would you rather pay $200,000 for a home with electric bills that cost $300 per month or $225,000 for a home with electric bills $50 or less.  

New-To-You Solar Homeowner Checklist  

 

1. Get Educated About Solar 

Because you didn’t purchase the solar yourself, you didn’t go through the solar buying process that would have educated you on the many facets of solar homeownership. Here are a few resources to get started: 

 

 2. Learn About Your New Solar Array 

How old is the solar system on your new home? What type of solar panels make up the solar array? How much is it worth? We recommend requesting the following documents from the company that installed the solar energy system to find answers to these important questions.  

  • The original quote or contract for your solar energy system including the scope of work, equipment, sale price and warranty information.  
  • The built drawings of your solar energy system.   
  • Information about the specific equipment that makes up your solar system.  
  • With the help of the previous homeowner or your solar installer, learn how to log in to your online monitoring platform to track the performance of your solar array. 

 

 3.  Set up Solar Renewable Energy Credits in Your Name  

Solar Renewable Energy Certificates or SRECs (pronounced “ESS-rek”), are annual credits for the clean electricity produced by your solar PV system. They represent “the renewable energy attributes” associated with one megawatt-hour of electricity produced by your system each year (one megawatt-hour is equal to 1,000 kilowatt hours of solar). 

A general rule of thumb in Ohio is 1kW of solar capacity will produce approximately 1 SREC per year.  Therefore, a 5kW solar PV system will produce about 5 SRECs per year and a 10kW system will produce about 10 SRECs per year. 

When you buy a home with a solar system, the SREC certification, registration and agreements are transferable to the new owner. To do this, the SREC broker who currently holds the account will need the contact information of the new property owners and associated closing documents showing the transfer of ownership.  

There are different buyers, brokers and aggregators to choose from to sell your SRECs.  Third Sun Solar suggests Knollwood Energy, or Sol Systems to our customers. 

 

4. Add your solar system to you homeowners insurance 

Using the information you’ve collected, add your solar energy system to your homeowner’s insurance. This is a good way to protect the system in the case of damage. 

 

5. Switch your interconnection agreement 

Give your solar installer a call and ask them to switch the name on your interconnection agreement with the Public Utility Commission of Ohio (or your states Public Utility Commission). 

  

Interested in more?  We are always willing to help you with any questions you might have about your new solar array. Give our office a call and we’ll set up a time for you to talk to knowledgeable people. 1-877-GO-SOLAR

 

 

 

Selling A Solar Home  

Selling a Home with a Solar Energy System

In addition to the many benefits that solar adds to a home, increased property value can be found among them. Let’s face it – the home you’re in now might not be the home that you live in for the next 25 or more years. With solar system lasting at least 25 years (and some system functioning even after 40 years) you may wonder: what happens if I move? You may relocate for work or choose to downsize. Should you still consider solar if you aren’t sure you’ll be in your home forever? YES! Do not let a future move keep you from living your renewable energy dreams now.

As solar becomes more mainstream, real estate agents, appraisers and homeowners are looking to know more about what a solar energy system does to the value of a home. We’re glad others are asking this question too, which has resulted in several studies published on the topic.

The findings:  

  • A recent report by Zillow shows that on a national average, homes with solar sold for 4.1% more than homes without solar. So by investing in solar, you’re both saving money now AND increasing the resale value of your home.
  • The Berkeley National Laboratory & U.S Energy department (Appraising Into The Sun) found “strong, appraisal-based evidence of PV premiums in each of seven market areas in six states.
  • The Berkeley National Laboratory (Exploring California PV Home Premiums) concludes that “each 1-kW increase in size equates to a $5,911 higher Premium”

Much of the research to date has been done on the west coast, a leader in the solar energy movement. As the burgeoning solar movement continues, we will see more data to analyze in the Midwest. At Third Sun Solar we have known customers to purchase and sell homes with our solar systems installed, and all parties have been happy with the results.

Return on Investment

Solar provides more to a home purchase than any other home improvement:

  1. The ROI is much higher for the purchasing homeowner, who benefits from reduced electric bills
  2. There is environmental ROI seen in the reduction of carbon emissions
  3. The ROI on long lasting solar equipment increases as traditional electric costs rise
  4. Existing solar installations can be grandfathered into older and more lucrative Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) plans that are no longer available. In some cases, picking a home with solar can occasionally get your buyers even more SREC savings than the current pricing.  

Solar Stands Out 

Solar can help you stand out in a crowded market. A solar energy array is an important marketing piece. You will attract the attention of home buyers interested in solar and renewable energy. Make it pop! With a national increase of attention on renewable energy – solar is quite popular. Highlight the benefits. And be prepared to answer any questions potential buyers might ask. Who installed the solar system? What is the size of the solar system? What is the warranty period?  

Take a look at the types of things a solar home-buyer is thinking about when looking at your solar home. 

Even if you have a portion of a solar loan to pay off, the premium price you get on your home due to the solar array could offset that cost & potentially create a profit 

 

Third Sun Solar is interested in working with you to generate a free solar estimate for your home. We’re Ohio’s oldest & most trusted installer. We’re proud of the work we do.  

If you’re interested in getting a free solar estimate for your home give us a call during office hours at 740-249-4533 or fill out this form to be put in touch with a knowledgeable Solar Consultant.  

Denison University Solar Pollinator Garden

  • Denison University’s pollinator-friendly solar array is the first of its kind in the State of Ohio! 
  • Nationwide, bees, monarchs, and other pollinators are disappearing, and scientists agree that loss of habitat is a primary concern. 
  • This pollinator habitat provides natural sources of food, water and shelter to wildlife and is sustainably maintained with the incorporation of native plants instead of pesticides. 
  • The habitat is part of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, a national effort to grow a million gardens that foster habitats for threatened insects such as butterflies and bees. 
  • The 10-acre, 2.3 megawatt solar system is big enough to power 300-350 average Ohio homes.   

 

Working With Your Homeowners Association

The History of Solar + Homeowners Associations

In some neighborhoods, a homeowner looking to install solar must get prior approval from their Homeowners Association (HOA).  When it comes to addressing solar proposals from homeowners, the HOA will typically rely on its restrictive covenants, or “deed restrictions” to guide their decision making.  Covenants describe how a property can be used and what can be built on it.  HOA’s use this tool to maintain uniformity and aesthetics in a neighborhood.To begin the approval process,  submit a proposal to the HOA architectural review person or committee.  Sometimes the entire HOA board will vote to approve or disapprove a proposal.

HOA deed restrictions often do not address solar panels. The documents were written many years ago when residential solar wasn’t as common as it is today.  So, in most cases, one will find that HOA deed restrictions do not include language that prevents solar.  However, this does not mean that HOA boards will approve solar projects.  There may be hesitancy by the HOA board to approve anything that is deemed to alter the “uniformity” of the neighborhood.  Some HOA’s have restrictions on roof color which solar panels may not conform with.  Even without roof color restrictions, HOA’s may see solar panels as altering the uniform look of the neighborhood.

Besides the issue of uniformity, HOA’s can typically block solar panels by invoking a clause in the deed restrictions pertaining to “aesthetics”.  Since this is subjective, HOA boards can simply say that the panels will detract from the aesthetics of the neighborhood.

 

Before submitting your solar proposal to your HOA:

 

1. Become familiar with the HOA restrictive covenants.
    • Is there any language that is specific to solar panels?  If so, are there certain restrictions or guidelines?  If not, is there language regarding maintaining neighborhood uniformity?
    • What is the HOA approval process for home improvements?  Can the HOA reject a proposal solely for aesthetics reasons?
2. Develop a proposal for the homeowner that addresses the possible HOA concerns.
      • If aesthetics and/or uniformity are a concern, consider: all black panels and/or careful placement of panels ( to make sure design layout is optimal from an aesthetics standpoint)
3. If you think immediate neighbors will be supportive, talk to the them so that this support can be included in a proposal letter to HOA. HOA boards may be fearful of backlash from neighbors, so if homeowner has spoken with them and has their support, this will be beneficial.

 

4. Find out what other neighborhoods nearby are doing with regards to solar.
    • Talk to other HOA’s in the area. Contact information for HOA presidents may be available from the city in which the neighborhood is in.  For example, the City of Powell, OH has a list of contact information for all 29 HOA’s in the city.
    • Are HOA’s in the area allowing solar? If not, what restrictions are in place?
    • Are there any solar homes in surrounding neighborhoods?
    • There is a chance that not many HOA’s will have experience dealing with solar. However, this also means that there is a high probability that no HOA’s in the area will be restricting solar.  This fact can be highlighted when the homeowner submits a solar proposal to the HOA.  If other nearby HOA’s are not restricting solar, this may influence the homeowner’s HOA to allow solar to go forward.

After submitting your solar proposal to your HOA:

After submitting proposal to homeowner, have the homeowner provide proposal along with a letter that he/she writes to the appropriate HOA architectural review person/committee, etc.

  • Points to consider including in this letter:
    • Reasons for wanting to go solar (electricity cost savings, making an investment in the home, environmental stewardship).
    • Make note of research showing substantial increase in home resale value for solar homes. This point is crucial, since the aesthetic concerns of HOA’s typically stem from concerns about neighborhood value.
    • Briefly show data regarding environmental benefits (i.e. emissions avoided: equivalent number of trees planted, pounds of coal avoided, miles driven by car avoided, etc.). Check out this EPA Calculator tool to do this.
    • Discuss any findings from talking to other HOA’s. Your proposal will be strengthened if the letter can state that “other nearby HOA’s are allowing solar” or “of the HOA’s I contacted, none have any restrictions on solar” .
    • Solar is becoming more common and widespread, so this is an opportunity for the neighborhood to set a precedent — with a reputable solar firm who will ensure the installation maintains the aesthetics of the neighborhood. In other words, present this as a chance for the HOA to set a high standard for solar in the neighborhood.
    • Consider proposing a set of solar guidelines that the HOA can use if desired. This may make it more palatable for the HOA to approve a solar installation if it knows that certain standards will have to be followed going forward.  The HOA may be ok with the solar proposal of the current homeowner with regard to aesthetics, etc., but is concerned that this will open the door to all types of solar installations that may not be done as well by other homeowners.  Northwest Solar Communities has developed residential solar guidelines that can be used as a template for HOA’s.  Guidelines may need to be modified somewhat – i.e. take out language regarding ground-mounted solar, etc.
    • Stress at the close of the letter the desire to work closely with the HOA.
    • Provide contact information for yourself and your Third Sun Solar Consultant for any questions.
  • Offer to present proposal to the architectural review committee/board.
    • Consider bringing in a panel to show, but know that it will look quite large up close compared to what it would look like on a roof from ground level. This may actually be more of a negative to show the panel up close.
    • In presentation, show photos of high quality residential installations. Your Solar Consultant would be happy to provide you with photos to use.

If your solar proposal is not accepted…

If HOA does not approve the solar proposal, homeowner may consider obtaining a supportive opinion letter form an attorney that addresses concerns brought up in the HOA restrictive covenants.

  • This letter can describe how the solar proposal is in line with the HOA restrictive covenants and can speak to specific concerns raised.
  • The point of the letter is not to appear as a threat of possible litigation against the HOA. Rather, it is to provide a supportive legal document to facilitate the HOA approving of solar.
  • Note: this step can be taken prior to initial submission of proposal to HOA, but will add to the total cost to the homeowner and possibly be an unnecessary one.
Homeowner may consider modification of HOA restrictive covenants.
    • Often this entails obtaining approval from 75% of homeowners in neighborhood.
    • One possible approach is to circulate petition in neighborhood for approval of solar guidelines (as mentioned above).
    • The HOA attorney will need to write an amendment to the restrictive covenant.
    • Prior to petitioning the neighborhood, send out email to neighborhood explaining the petition process and attach the proposed amendment, sample guidelines, etc.
    • Likely most successful approach is going door-to-door in order to facilitate in-person conversations.
    • Along with petition, take around copies of proposed amendment documentation, proposed solar guidelines, and rendition of homeowner’s house with panels.
    • If petition is successful, HOA board will need to formally adopt amendment to restrictive covenants, then submit documentation with county recorder.
    • Homeowner will now be able to resubmit solar proposal.

Bi-Directional Metering in Ohio

All residential solar systems that maintain a connection with their utility company require a bi-directional meter. A bi-directional meter measures the flow of electricity in two directions. It measures how much energy you’ve consumed and how much solar energy you’ve fed back into the grid. Read more about net metering here. 

When do I turn my solar system on?

Before you begin the operation of your solar system, wait until your utility installs your bi-directional meter . This is to avoid any generation fees.

Why do I have to wait for the bi-directional meter to be installed?

Some standard meters may include a feature that prevent it from turning backwards and registering reverse power flow. In this case, even though your facility should reduce the amount of electricity the electricity your facility generates in relation to your current consumption would not be measured or subtracted from your overall electrical energy use.

Unfortunately, turning your solar energy system on before the bidirectional meter is installed can lead to extremely large utility bills. In the case that your solar system is on and the bidirectional meter is not yet installed, you could be charged for the energy your solar system produces. This is because your current meter understands all the energy you’ve created as energy used.

Third Sun Solar’s Role

Following installation and inspection of your system, Third Sun Solar will submit a request for bi-directional meter exchange.

Typically, the utility company will install the bidirectional meter anywhere from a week to a month post notification. Unfortunately, your solar company does not have control over when the utility will replace your meter. Additionally, your solar installer and you, the homeowner, are not always notified by the utility that the meter has been swapped! This can leave you waiting and checking your meter regularly, in anticipating of turning on your new solar array!

At Third Sun, we will be persistent in trying to make this happen! If it takes an unusually long time (over a month) we will file a case with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (or your state’s Public Utilities Commission) to have them intervene and help accelerate the process.

The Solar Homeowners Role

Be vigilant! Check on your meter! Because the utility company might not notify you or your installer about the meter swap, it’s possible that they install it while you aren’t looking. For the first month, go ahead and check on your meter every once in awhile to see if it has been switched out.  This is what you’re looking for:

Fine Print Information about Net-Metering and Meter Exchanges

Be aware, as a net-metering customer, you are required to report yearly excess generation credits that total $600 or more to the IRS as miscellaneous income and your utility is required to report this information to you and to the IRS.

Please note that you are responsible for operating the facility safely, in accordance with the terms of the Application/Agreement and the manufacturer’s instructions. You also are to perform regular maintenance and inspections in accordance with accepted practices and the manufacturer’s instructions.

Useful Links:

 

The Summer Solstice & Why We Celebrate  

The Summer Solstice marks the first day of summer. This is the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere.  

Ever wondered why the days are longer in the summer and shorter in the winter? Or why we have seasons at all? We experience seasons because of the tilt of the earth as it circles the sun. The tilt also accounts for the change in sun hours throughout the year. As the earth tilts slightly towards the sun, our days get longer. Our peak tilt towards the sun in 2019 is June 21st! 

How much energy does the sun produce?  

At any moment, 173,000 terawatts (trillions of watts) of solar energy strikes the Earth. That’s more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use. This summer solstice we’ll experience 15 hours of exposure to powerful & bountiful sun energy.

Why do we celebrate?  

The Summer Solstice means that we are in peak summer production months for solar. This means that solar panels in the northern hemisphere have even more energy to soak up through the day. 

Why celebrate in 2019?  

In 2019 we‘re celebrating because there is more solar PV capacity worldwide than ever! This summer solstice the world has more solar infrastructure to soak up sunlight for use as energy than ever before!  

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), as of 2019, the United States has 2 million solar installations- on homes, business, industrial buildings, and utility-scale solar installations. The energy generated by these solar systems combined would produce enough to power more than 12 million American homes. That is now greater than 70 gigawatts.  

This reflects major growth in the solar sector in the U.S., which just 3 years ago reached 1 million solar installations. Additionally, the cumulative operating solar PV capacity is about 75 times more than what was installed at the end of 2008 (SEIA).  

What has caused this growth 

The growth in the solar industry in recent years is a result of cumulative efforts by policymakers, solar customers, advocates, and business. The progress shows us the potential solar has to be a clean energy solution. Fueled by the incentive to create a better future for the planet, create jobs, reduce reliance on energy sources with harmful emissions and lower electric bills, we plan to see future growth in the solar market. 

What next? 

The Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that by 2024 2.5% of all US homes will have a home solar energy system installed. And we believe it. We are seeing solar become more and more mainstream. Between the federal Investment Tax Credit dropping to 26% at the end of 2019 (before it’s eventual drop to 0% in 2022) and the commercial tax credit eventually dropping to 10% for commercial projects, there are certainly incentives to go solar now. 

To request a free solar evaluation, click here or give us a call during office hours: 877-GO-SOLAR