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.
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:
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
Federal-Hocking Local Schools cut the ribbon on a new solar installation that will offset 70% of the school’s annual energy use with renewable power. Students “flipped the switch” on a 700 kW solar system for the first time at the Federal-Hocking Middle & High School campus on July 11th 2019 at 11 AM. Former Federal-Hocking Superintendent, George Wood will speak at the event.
“Solar and renewable energy are the way of the future,” said George Wood. “But getting from here to there will take big actions by big organizations and institutions, like schools. Our district is a demonstration of what other districts can do.”
Attendees were joined by Former Governor and clean energy advocate Ted Strickland, State Representative Jay Edwards and Athens County Commissioners. The event follows the recent appointment of Third Sun Solar’s CEO Michelle Greenfield, to the Governor’s Executive Workforce Development Board.
The rooftop array will deliver environmental benefits to the region, eliminating 583 metric tons of carbon emissions each year – the equivalent of the annual energy used by 70 homes – offsetting over 825,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity each year.
The array was built and installed by a partnership consisting of the installer, Third Sun Solar, New Resource Solutions, who structured the financing and Foundation Renewable Energy Company, the system owner and operator.
“Third Sun Solar has installed solar on more than 70 schools, but this project is really exciting because it is right here in our community, and many of the folks working Third Sun Solar,” said Geoff Greenfield, President and co-founder “While the financial benefits to the school are very attractive, we believe that the benefits to our local economy, like the growing number of solar jobs, are also very important.”
Several installers on this project were students at Federal-Hocking High School and Joint Vocational School.
“I applaud Third Sun Solar and New Resource Solutions for building this impressive solar energy project. There are so many benefits: the school district saves money, our air is cleaner, and high quality jobs are created here in Appalachia. Sadly, while other states are raising their renewable targets to 50% or even 100%, Ohio’s clean energy standards are under attack. A decade ago, my administration worked with a Republican-controlled legislature to create a strong clean energy plan for Ohio that has saved families and businesses billions of dollars and created thousands of jobs. It is my sincere hope that we don’t go backwards on this issue” – Former Governor, Ted Strickland
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.
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.
In sunny peak months in Ohio, solar systems often produce more energy than a home can consume. Have you ever wondered what happens to this excess electricity? Or how you, the homeowner, benefit from the extra energy your solar energy system produces? Net Metering is the process that accounts for this difference in production & use.
Net metering allows you to store energy you produce in the electric grid, in the form of credits. When you produce more energy than you need, excess electricity travels back into the power grid. Energy sent back into the grid goes to power your neighbors’ homes. The State of Ohio requires that the utility company credit you for that energy you produced and send along. These credits appear on your monthly electric bill to help you keep track.
During sunny summer months, when your solar system is producing more than the energy you are using, you bank up credits. During the winter months, your home uses more energy than your solar system produces, and you use up the credits you’ve earned.
You will be charged for the energy you take use from the traditional electric grid (when your solar panels aren’t producing). You can pay for that extra energy using the credits you accrue during times your solar system is producing more energy than you are using.
Why is net metering important?
Net metering increases the economic benefit of solar power by crediting you for the power your solar energy system produces. The amount of energy you produce and use will vary over the course of the year. Net metering helps you account for this difference by crediting you for the excess electricity your panels produce so you can use it later.
Your utility benefits from net metering because electricity is generated so close to where it is consumed. This diminishes the amount of electricity lost when power is transmitted across miles of wires. Additionally, it helps reduce strain on the grid during peak demand times: like on hot, sunny days.
Will I receive payment for the excess energy I produce?
You’ll get credits to be used on an annual basis to offset the cost of electricity that you take from the grid during times when your solar system is not producing energy. These credits roll over from month to month. You will not, however, receive a check from your utility for the excess energy you put back into the grid.
At what rate do utility companies credit me for my usage?
Electric companies credit you at a net excess generation rate. The State of Ohio’s net metering policy does not require utilities to credit energy you produce at the full retail rate.
This rate depends on your electric company. Your experienced Solar Consultant can help you understand what your utility’s net excess generation rate is.
Can my energy bill be $0?
In many cases, yes!
Some utility companies have a single fixed cost, or customer charge, that all customers are required to pay each month. However, in many cases you can use credits to pay down the fixed monthly costs. We often see $0 electric bills sent to us by our customers!
How much energy from my electric company will I purchase annually, when I have a solar system?
We don’t design all solar systems to meet 100% of a homes electric usage over the course of the year. Why? This depends on many factors, but primarily the amount of space a home has for solar panels. Your solar consultant will work with you to design a solar system that makes sense for your homes annual electricity usage.
Third Sun Solar has worked with hundreds of homeowners across the state of Ohio and beyond. We have close working relationships with all of Ohio’s many rural cooperatives and public utilities.
For the past 20 years, Third Sun Solar founder and CEO Michelle Greenfield has contributed tirelessly to the advancement of solar. These contributions include the increased participation & contributions of women in the solar field. Her leadership can be seen in many areas, as a contractor, policy advocate and educator. Over the years, Michelle’s leadership has had a ripple effect. Her work has opened doors and driven female participation across the industry.
Michelle is a woman on a mission, working to Accelerate the Shift to Clean Energy.
Founding Third Sun Solar
In 2000 Michelle and Geoff Greenfield built their own sustainable home on a piece of rural Ohio land. This land did not have access to utility power. Instead of making an investment to bring the utility out, they chose to generate their own power: solar power.
In the early 2000’s there was not a solar installer in their area. Geoff decided to move forward and become a solar expert himself. He designed and installed his first high performance solar array on their home.
The Greenfields founded Third Sun Solar that same year, in 2000, out of their attic. Today, 19 years later, Michelle is the CEO of Third Sun Solar. Along the way, Michelle has had the opportunity to direct the growth of a blossoming economic sector in Appalachia Ohio, all while influencing the green energy movement in the state of Ohio & beyond.
Women in Solar at Third Sun Solar
Third Sun Solar has hired women into many roles over the years. Michelle’s current staff housed at the Third Sun Solar headquarters is half female employees. She has hired women into Third Sun for various roles, and is a decisive advocate for inclusion, ongoing recruitment and creating opportunities for female candidates in hands on labor, sales & administrative roles. It is impossible to tally the influence she has had over the past 20 years. But, it’s certain Michelle’s leadership has led to many women entering the solar and other technical fields.
Accomplishments over the Years
- Michelle has had dozens of speaking engagements over the last 20 years to many groups such as the Sierra Club, the University System of Ohio Sustainability conference, Ohio University’s Environmental Education program, Rotary Clubs, Earth Day events and most recently, the Rural Action annual member meeting.
- Michelle Served as a Board Member of Green Energy Ohio for 10 years and President of the Board for 2 years.
- Michelle received a 2009 “Keys to Success Award” from the Ohio Department of Development.
- In 2012, Michelle spearheaded the effort for Third Sun Solar to become a Benefit Corporation (B Corp). This process emphasizes and holds her company accountable to a triple bottom line approach. Third Sun gives equal footing to planet and people, as well as profit. At that time, Third Sun was only one of 3 B Corps in the State of Ohio.
- In 2013 Michelle was an Innovation Award Winner from TechGrowth Ohio for “Outstanding Woman in Innovation”, a recognition of her accomplishments in promoting the growing clean tech sector in the state & of her continued advocacy for inclusion of and leadership by women in the field.
The Clean Energy Credit Union
In 2014, Michelle joined the Organizing Committee for the founding of the Amicus Solar Cooperative’s initiative to start a Clean Energy Credit Union. It might not be a coincidence that Michelle once started and managed a community development credit union in southeast Ohio. This experience combined with her solar experience was key to navigating the founding of this institution.
After nearly 4 years organizing, the Clean Energy Credit Union was federally chartered in September 2017. At that point, she became a Member of the Board of Directors and serves on the Credit Committee.
In its first full year of operations and lending, they have:
- Over 700 members
- $6.5 million in assets
- Granted nearly 400 loans for PV systems for electric vehicles & green home improvements
- Over 50% of loans granted have been for solar energy systems
- Granted loans totaling more than $6.4 million
The Himalayan Light Fund
In 2018 Michelle had the opportunity to spread her leadership and impact beyond the US. As part of a team with the well–regarded non-profit Himalayan Light Fund, Michelle planned, raised money for and installed a solar power system at a school in a remote village in Nepal. This village is far from the tourist centers or the utility grid. Her leadership and technical skill on the roof undoubtedly planted seeds of opportunity in the onlooking community.
Michelle Greenfield is a tireless advocate for Solar in Ohio, a large emerging market with huge potential for growth. She has progressed from being an early consumer of solar energy to a business pioneer – advocating and educating about both solar power as well as leadership roles for women in the solar industry.
More about Third Sun Solar
The dreary Ohio winter is behind us. That means it’s the perfect time to think about solar for your roof! Take advantage of peak solar production months by choosing to go solar this spring.
Many homeowners choose to get repairs done on their roofs or replace the whole roof in the springtime. Right after a roof repair or replacement is the best time for solar panel instillation. Why? Because you won’t have to worry about your solar panels outliving your roof.
And while you’re thinking about springtime home improvement projects, remember: solar is an easy way to improve your utility bill! Take full advantage of the peak production months by reaching out today.
1. Get a system in time to soak up the sun during peak solar production months
Even though we’ve got a fantastic install team, if everyone buys solar at once, there can be delays. Spring is your chance to beat the rush!
Here at Third Sun Solar we’re in the highest demand in the summertime. Why? Once those long days of sunlight are upon us, people remember why solar in Ohio works! Calling now is the best way to get scheduled to maximize peak production months.
What is a peak production month?
The longest day of the year is coming: June 21st The Spring equinox! This means that the days will be longer and will remain long into the summertime and fall. Peak production months are months with the most amount of peak sunlight hours. A peak sun hour is defined as an hour of sunlight that offers 1,000 watts of PV power per square meter. These peak hours occur when the sun is highest in the sky. The number of peak sun hours increases during the summer months. In Ohio, our peak production months are May- October, when days are long and sunny.
2. Get the paperwork over with
Solar installations are a little more complicated than installing a new central AC unit. It’s important to allow time for the whole solar process. From permitting with the utility company to the local municipality, we process a lot of paperwork before your solar system can go live. Because we’re often waiting on responses from energy retailers and utility companies, this process can take a while. It’s important to start planning early.
3. Enjoy the summer without worrying about choosing a solar installer!
What do you like to do in the summertime? You probably want to be relaxing, spending time away from work and with your family. Maybe you enjoy barbecuing, hiking or canoeing. You don’t want to be spending hours researching solar installers or on the phone with your utility company. Choosing your solar installer now guarantees that you won’t have to spend relaxing summer days researching!
4. The FTC end this year
Ensure that you purchase your solar energy system before the end of 2019 to qualify for the 30% Federal Tax Credit. This Solar Tax Credit allows you to deduct 30% of the cost of your solar system from your federal taxes. Remember: the average homeowner will save approximately $1,000 more when they buy in 2019. In 2022 the tax credit drops permanently to 0% for homeowners.
Who is eligible for the 30% Federal Tax Credit?
- Individuals and for-profit businesses in the U.S.
- Those that pay federal taxes
- Those who have purchased a new solar system and placed it in service prior to 2020.
What costs are eligible?
- Solar panels
- Racking/Mounting equipment
- Balance of system (wire, conduit, junction boxes, etc)
- Installation labor
- Sales and use taxes
A case could be made that anytime of the year is a good time for installing solar. BUT if you’re currently enjoying the rays of the sun, now is the right time! Give us a call today: 740-249-4533