Newport Solar THINK OUTSIDE THE GRID 2018-04-20T14:56:54Z http://newportsolarri.com/feed/atom/ Eric <![CDATA[Talk of the Town – WADK Interview]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1992 2018-04-20T14:56:54Z 2018-04-20T14:47:08Z On Tuesday, April 17th 2018, AM 1540, WADK hosted the “On-Air Home and Garden Fair”.  On WADK’s Talk of the Town, Bruce Newbury interviewed Doug Sabetti, Owner of Newport Solar, live in-studio.  See below to Listen In! Doug and Bruce had a great discussion about the solar industry in Rhode Island, and how it is […]

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On Tuesday, April 17th 2018, AM 1540, WADK hosted the “On-Air Home and Garden Fair”.  On WADK’s Talk of the Town, Bruce Newbury interviewed Doug Sabetti, Owner of Newport Solar, live in-studio.  See below to Listen In!

Doug and Bruce had a great discussion about the solar industry in Rhode Island, and how it is the changing way that National Grid is doing business.  Electricity is no longer flowing in one direction; solar arrays are producing electricity at the end of distribution lines, allowing National Grid’s customers to also become their vendors and free themselves from a one-way money flow to the monopoly that is National Grid.

On Talk of the Town, Doug and Bruce also discussed how switching from fossil fuel driven devices in the home to electric driven devices allows homeowners to up-size their solar array and take control of a larger portion of their overall utility expense.  Common devices include high efficiency heat pump hot water heaters, high efficiency mini-split AC and heating units, and even switching to electric cooking options.

Have a listen below and let Newport Solar know if you want to learn more about taking control of the energy in your home!

 

Newport Solar WADK Interview – Part 1

 

Newport Solar WADK Interview – Part 2

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Eric <![CDATA[WADK On-Air Home and Garden Fair]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1986 2018-04-16T19:14:28Z 2018-04-16T19:09:42Z WADK On-Air Home and Garden Fair On Tuesday, April 17th 2018, AM 1540, WADK will host the “On-Air Home and Garden Fair”.  On WADK’s Talk of the Town, airing from 9am-11am, Bruce Newbury will interview Doug Sabetti, Owner of Newport Solar, live in-studio. Newport Solar – Listen and Learn During Doug’s WADK interview you will […]

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WADK On-Air Home and Garden Fair

On Tuesday, April 17th 2018, AM 1540, WADK will host the “On-Air Home and Garden Fair”.  On WADK’s Talk of the Town, airing from 9am-11am, Bruce Newbury will interview Doug Sabetti, Owner of Newport Solar, live in-studio.

Newport Solar – Listen and Learn

During Doug’s WADK interview you will learn about what it is like to have solar on your Rhode Island home or business.  The show will focus on how a quality installation from a local solar installer can save you money, increase your property’s value, and lower your electricity bill.

The Whole Show

Also on the show you will hear people from area businesses who cater to lawn and garden, household goods and home improvement products. These interviews will include helpful hints and information about topics related to all aspects of these categories.

 

Thank you for listening to Newport Solar on the “On-Air Home and Garden Fair”!

-The Team at Newport Solar

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Eric <![CDATA[RI Renewable Energy Growth Program – 2018 Update]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1971 2018-03-14T17:40:31Z 2018-03-13T20:45:22Z RI Renewable Energy Growth Program – 2018 Update The RI Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program is a feed-in tariff program that allows Rhode Island residents to install a profitable solar array on their home.  On April 1st, 2018 the program will be back in full-swing; National Grid will start accepting application for interconnection of Renewable […]

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RI Renewable Energy Growth Program – 2018 Update

The RI Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program is a feed-in tariff program that allows Rhode Island residents to install a profitable solar array on their home.  On April 1st, 2018 the program will be back in full-swing; National Grid will start accepting application for interconnection of Renewable Energy Growth Program solar arrays at this time.  The REG program will allow for 6.55 Megawatts of residential solar installation on Rhode Island homes in 2018; this amounts to about 1,000 solar arrays of 6.5 Kilowatts in size (an average assumed size).

The New 2018 REG Rates

The Renewable Energy Growth Program is designed to enable a simple, customer-friendly process with standard pricing for residential and non-residential solar photovoltaic systems.  This incentive is an alternative to Net Metering solar installations and the accompanying Renewable Energy Fund Grant (REF Grant).

The highest incentive in the Renewable Energy Growth Program is offered for Solar arrays under 11.0 Kilowatts in size.  Homeowners can select one of two contracted rates for National Grid to pay them for the electricity they produce:

  • $0.3225 per kilowatt-hour for a 15-year contract
  • $0.2855 per kilowatt-hour for a 20-year contract

Generally Newport Solar clients have selected the higher paying 15-year contract in order to increase their cash flow early during solar ownership.

REG Running out of Capacity

As many RI residents have heard, the small-scale residential REG program ran out of capacity in October of 2017.  This meant that interested RI homeowners needed to wait for new capacity in 2018 in order to participate in this popular program.  In the past the REG program had remained open year-round.  During 2017, the unexpected early depletion of all capacity slowed down installers like Newport Solar.  In addition, it frustrated homeowners interested in solar.

The Need to Improve the RI Renewable Energy Growth Program in 2018

We are fortunate to have policies in place that promote and incentivize renewable energy projects. Keeping with this trend, Newport Solar has been working with policymakers in Rhode Island to improve our most popular incentive program: The Renewable Energy Growth Program (REG). This great program has one major flaw: it imposes limits on the total nameplate capacity of renewable power generating devices (like solar PV) that may become eligible to sell their power under the program per year; in 2017 this limit was 6.55 MW of capacity for small-scale installations.

The Proposed Improvement to the REG in 2018

To help prevent this type of problem from occurring in 2018, state representatives have introduced a bill in the RI General Assembly (H.B. 7050). This bill represents an immediate action by elected officials to support the local solar industry.  Additional capacity of 2 Megawatts will be added into the 2018 program in the event it becomes oversubscribed, as it did in 2017.

This would allow about an additional 300 Rhode Island homeowners to go solar in 2018; the ability to earn money through the REG would be available to them. While this bill represents a big step in the right direction, the caps on capacity still exist in future years, and lifting the cap in 2018 may actually lower the cap in 2019.

Newport Solar regularly works with the Rhode Island legislators and we are hopeful that future legislation will increase or eliminate these annual caps and allow the renewable energy industry to grow with market demand.

Changing the REG rates due to the 30% USA Solar Import Tariff

Rhode Island policymakers and the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (RIPUC) have also made changes to the 2018 REG program in direct response to the impact caused by President Trump’s 30% import tariff on solar modules. Originally, the per kWh price to be paid to homeowners for the Small Solar REG program was going to be 31.25 cents/kWh. However, the RIPUC increased this rate to 32.25 cents/kWh for new projects that enter into a 15-year contract.  This increase in system cost will be offset by the increase in per kWh payment.  Way to go little Rhode Island!

Summary

The REG program will open on April 1st of this year with the new, higher compensation.  Rhode Island’s popular REG Program can generate a positive cash flow for homeowners.  It is a great way for Rhode Island residents to go solar; an efficient, well installed REG system generates enough cash flow to service a solar loan and leave money in a homeowner’s pocket.

The RI Renewable Energy Growth Program is back on its feet in 2018.  Contact Us today; with the Renewable Energy Growth Program, we will help you go solar and save money in the process.

 

This article was researched and written by Newport Solar employees, Kara Kilmartin and Eric Martin.

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Eric <![CDATA[Trump’s 30% Solar Import Tariff]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1959 2018-02-16T17:57:32Z 2018-02-16T17:38:56Z 30% Solar Import Tariff On Monday, January 22nd, the Trump administration announced a 30% Solar Import Tariff on solar cells and modules.  On the surface, this action appears to be pro-USA manufacturing and anti-renewables. This action may be attempting to be both of these things; let’s look at the pros, the cons, and its possible […]

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30% Solar Import Tariff

On Monday, January 22nd, the Trump administration announced a 30% Solar Import Tariff on solar cells and modules.  On the surface, this action appears to be pro-USA manufacturing and anti-renewables. This action may be attempting to be both of these things; let’s look at the pros, the cons, and its possible effectiveness.

Arguments For the 30% Solar Import Tariff

US based solar panel manufacturers SolarWorld and Suniva filed a petition for an import tariff in mid-2017 under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974.  The petition argued that solar imports from China and other countries had damaged the domestic solar industry.  This action is the source of the recently implemented import tariff.  The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has openly acknowledged that Chinese state incentives, subsidies, and tariffs have been used to pursue domination of global supply chains.

The solar import tariff will increase the price of solar cells and solar panels manufactured outside of the United States of America.  

On average, the price of an imported panel will go up $0.10 to $0.20 cents per watt.  Companies SolarWorld, Suniva, and First Solar argue that this additional fee will put US manufactured products, including their own, on a level playing field and encourage US manufacturing of solar panels.

The import tariff might incentivize some solar manufacturers to open up shop in the US.  

Soligent, a major US renewable industry supplier, recently held a 201 Trade Case phone call with a team of solar, financial, and economic industry professionals.  Participants included Canadian Solar, Raymond James, and Wells Fargo.  On that call, we reviewed the economic case for a major solar manufacturing plant in the US.  The conclusion was that a $0.10 per watt increase in prices could get US made solar cells and panels to parity with imported cells and panels.  This might reduce resistance for companies to open solar manufacturing plants in the US.  Startup time for such plants would be 12 to 24 months.

“Made in America” has cultural significance in the USA.

For many, “Made in America” equates to quality. Without a doubt, bringing more high-tech manufacturing to the USA would have a positive effect on the economy.

Arguments against the 30% Solar Import Tariff

Many industry analyst state that Solar World and Suniva filed the trade case because old manufacturing technologies or inferior products made them uncompetitive, rather than pressure from low-cost international goods.  If this was the case, the 201 trade case is unnecessary; it will be unproductive while also damaging the solar industry.

The 30% solar import tariff is going to slow the solar installation industry down and result in a net loss of jobs in the USA.  

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that 23,000 jobs will be lost due to the canceling of billions of dollars worth of solar projects that no longer meet investors financial return requirements.  This is not a small number, even in a domestic US industry that employs over 260,000 people.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) estimates that there are 38,000 solar manufacturing jobs that make racking systems, inverters, and tracking systems.  There are only 2,000 jobs that manufacture solar panels in the US.  These jobs exists presently without any import tariff.  If the import tariff ends up saving all 2,000 jobs and causes a loss of 23,000, that puts the US 21,000 jobs in the hole.  In a time where job growth is a top political priority, this is a step backwards.

The import tariff threatens environmental progress.

The 30% solar import tariff falls in line with the Trump administrations pro-coal and climate-change-denying posture.  It is unknown if this stance pushed the administration to levy the import tariff, or not.  In either case, less of the nation’s electricity coming from domestic renewable sources is definitely a bad thing for the environment.  

The tariff disproportionately punishes the utility and commercial solar industries.

Because solar panels make up a larger portion of system cost in larger scale systems than in residential systems, increase in this component price has a greater effect on larger system economics.  While residential solar prices are expected to increase 2-4%, utility solar prices could increase up to 10%.  Though residential solar is a prolific and growing industry, utility and commercial solar make up the largest percentages of new solar generation capacity in the US and would be hit hardest by the tariff.

Is the 30% Solar Import Tariff Achieving the Intended Goal?

If we take a step back and look at the big picture, a 30% solar import tariff is short sighted.  The import tariff is unlikely to meet the goals of the 201 trade case and does not appear to be part of a larger domestic manufacturing strategy with a solid foundation built on long-term, outcome associated policy.

The Goals of A Section 201 Trade Case are not going to be met.

The Goal of A Section 201 Trade Case has to, by statute, be designed to:

  1. Effectively assist the domestic industry in adjusting to import competition
  2. Cause greater economic and social benefits than costs.  

On Being Effective

In the past, import tariffs have not achieved their ultimate goal.  A 2013 Georgetown University Law Center study of three US trade cases petitioned under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 found that “none of the three industries achieved sustained competitiveness after safeguards terminated.”

On Creating a Net Economic and Social Benefit

Job losses from this import tariff will undoubtedly exceed the jobs created, especially in the near term.  This does not achieve the goal of creating net economic or social benefit.  In addition, it is not impossible that the 30% import tariff could start, or contribute to the start of, a trade war; similar policies have done this in the past.  We live in a global economy where the exchange of goods and services between specialized individuals or groups are designed to produce a net benefit for all involved.  In this trade case, beating down international product competitiveness will punish US businesses and consumers, more than it helps.

A Domestic Manufacturing Strategy

The administration wants to fight the low import prices of solar cells and modules from other countries.  This could be done in ways that would create job growth, rather than job recession.

  • Extend the 30% federal tax credit beyond 2020 for systems that use domestically produced solar components
  • Expand government targets for procuring solar installations on government properties
  • Redirect current import duties on foreign products to support domestic manufacturing
  • Provide low-cost loan support or guarantees for US companies
  • Provide subsidies for industries in the US that supply the solar manufacturing industry
    • This would be copying the strategy used by China, which included low cost loans, R&D funding, low cost land and other non-monetary assistance
  • Increase solar workforce education

Incentives like these would lower the cost of domestically produced solar components, rather than driving up the cost of imported solar products.  

In general, this type of strategy could be applied as part of broad based domestic manufacturing strategy that would lift up American workers and their products rather than attempting to stamp down those that are made outside our borders. 

Ultimately, companies that are protected by policy that disincentives innovation will ultimately loose to companies that hold more advanced product technology and manufacturing techniques. 

Why the 30% Solar Import Tariff Won’t Cripple Solar

Independent of the pros, the cons, or the administration’s motivation for implementing the 201 Trade Case recommendations, this import policy will not cripple the solar industry in the USA.  Over the history of solar, there have been major ups and downs as administrations, policy, energy prices, etc. have changed.  One pattern has held true the whole time; prices have trended down, precipitously.

The case for solar is strong and unforgiving.  Power plants typically require three investments, upfront capital cost, maintenance cost, and fuel cost.  Coal, gas, oil, etc. experience all three.  Wind, tidal, and any renewable that has mechanical movement have upfront costs and maintenance.  Solar only has one real cost – the upfront cost of installation.  By running on free fuel and not having moving parts that need maintenance, solar is growing exponentially and ultimately will drive fossil fuel power plants out of business.

Jules Kortenhorst, the CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute puts it all in perspective:

“… and from that perspective, it is really hard to understand why the Trump administration did this, right?  In some ways the analogy that comes to mind is the beginning of the twentieth century when the Model-T Ford and the internal combustion engine were rapidly taking over the horse and buggy.  Why would you put a solar tariff in place?  It’s sort of like putting a tariff on the automobile in order to try to save the horse and buggy industry.  And I don’t know about president Trump, but I prefer my car over horse and buggy…  And certainly from a competitiveness point of view, subsidizing those technologies of the past and putting tariffs on the technologies of the future does not make any sense.” – Jules Kortenhorst, Rocky Mountain Institute CEO

Summary

Though the 30% Solar Import Tariff is advertised as method for saving American jobs, reality is far more complicated.  In general, it appears that the import tariff is backwards looking policy from a technology perspective.  Though there could be modest job creation from manufacturing within two years, the immediate negative impact on the jobs market is unlikely to be offset by these manufacturing gains.  Though the 30% import tariff will have a limited impact on the success and long term viability of the solar industry, it does not represent positive movement for the American job market, American technological competitiveness, nor the health of the American environment.  

 

This article was collaboratively researched and written by Newport Solar employees, Angela Tuoni and Eric Martin.

Sources:

Rocky Mountain Institute Facebook Video Blog

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7zPUiBKbZoo&feature=youtu.be

Green Tech Media

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/breaking-trump-admin-issues-a-30-solar-tariff

https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/5-ways-to-encourage-us-solar-manufacturing-without-import-duties

Official Section 201 Trade Case Fact Sheet

https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/files/Press/fs/201%20Cases%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

 

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Eric <![CDATA[National Grid Shame Reports]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1948 2018-02-08T22:48:33Z 2018-01-22T22:19:39Z What are National Grid Shame Reports Every month National Grid does an analysis of your electricity (and methane gas if you are a National Grid gas customer) consumption and compares it to your neighbors; at Newport Solar we often refer to these as National Grid Shame Reports.  We don’t call them National Grid Shame Reports […]

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What are National Grid Shame Reports

Every month National Grid does an analysis of your electricity (and methane gas if you are a National Grid gas customer) consumption and compares it to your neighbors; at Newport Solar we often refer to these as National Grid Shame Reports.  We don’t call them National Grid Shame Reports because they are intrinsically negative.  We named them this because they are often misunderstood and have, in the past, made many of our customers feel guilty about their energy and environmental performance.

For the purposes of this blog, we are going to focus on the electricity comparison reports.

What National Grid Shame Reports Do Well

These reports have some positive effects for Rhode Island electricity customers; National Grid Shame Reports:

  • Encourage people to use less electricity
  • Help slow the increase in electricity rates
  • Educate people on state programs that can help save them money
  • Raise Electricity Use Awareness

National Grid has good reasons for issuing these reports.  First off, they do encourage people to consume less electricity through a comparative (and somewhat competitive) report; this is a good thing for Rhode Islanders’ wallets and, at first pass (we will get to this later), also good for the environment.  

In addition, believe it or not, when you consume less electricity it also helps National Grid spend less ratepayer money.  National Grid does make money when they sell you units (kilowatt-hours or kWh) of electricity, but they are also required to build out the necessary infrastructure to deliver electricity to their customers. So, if a reduction of electric demand allows them to hold off on building out this infrastructure, it delays the need for a major capital expenditure.  By not spending this money, some of the savings can be passed down to electricity ratepayers.

National Grid Shame Reports also give Rhode Island residents the chance to explore their electricity use, better understand where their kWh/dollars are going, and proactively work to save money by reducing their overall energy use.  The National Grid Shame reports do help to highlight the broad range of state sponsored programs that can help pay for home energy efficiency improvements.  Being aware of your energy use is important, and these reports help to shed light on how much electricity you are consuming.

How the National Grid Shame Reports Could be Improved

Though the reports do have positive effects, they also have some significant room for improvement; National Grid Shame Reports:

  • Do not talk about your overall Energy use; they only talk about your Electricity use
  • Do not talk about when more Electricity consumption is a Good Thing!

Homes consume energy through different resource streams; electricity, gas, oil, propane, and solar radiation are all energy inputs into your home that are used to run electronics, lights, cooling, heating, and other systems. The National Grid Shame reports only compare electricity consumption (or methane gas) in isolation. In order to compare your usage to your neighbors, National Grid will consider a few factors, like square footage, but it can be challenging to account for things like home heating system or user behavior.

Heating our homes with oil, gas, or propane and running our cars on gasoline produce some of the worst environmental impacts in the United States.  In the near term, 100% electrification of transportation and heating is the only way we can reduce carbon dioxide emissions enough to avoid the worst effects of climate change.  This electrification of energy consumption must be paired with renewable electric generation to have the desired reduction in emissions.  Consuming more electricity than necessary is a bad thing for the environment, as right now at least 95% of that electricity in Rhode Island comes from methane gas power plants.  However, overall, our electricity consumption should be going up as we migrate to electric vehicle use and high efficiency electric heating systems such as central air source heat pumps and mini-splits.

How we can make National Grid Shame Reports Better

A great way to improve these reports would be combine them in to one Energy Comparison Report:

  • Combine Gas and Electric use in addition to Oil and Propane
  • Allow User Inputs for Oil and Propane use in the portal
  • Calculate emissions of each resource, show percentage emission impact
  • Highlight opportunities for emission reductions through system changes/upgrades
  • Educate on state or federal sponsored incentives to achieve this end

If we are going to encourage competition between neighbors on something in relation to our energy consumption, it should be a competition that matters and has a goal.  If we really look at energy consumption as a whole, rather than individual resources in isolation, we could work on eliminating CO2 production from personal energy consumption, driving us towards a more sustainable future.

There are companies that have created energy benchmarking platforms which allow homeowners and businesses to input data on their complete energy usage; these platforms provide actionable data that can be used to pursue consumption and emission reductions.  A great example of a company that is doing this is Wegowise.

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Eric <![CDATA[Portsmouth Green Engineering Expo]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1937 2017-12-14T21:08:35Z 2017-12-14T21:08:35Z Today, Newport Solar participated as a community partner in the Portsmouth Middle School Green Engineering Expo.  Newport Solar arrived at the school early this morning to share our expertise on solar installations with local middle school students. The day was filled with fun scientific discussions on how solar panels can minimize human impact on the […]

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Today, Newport Solar participated as a community partner in the Portsmouth Middle School Green Engineering Expo.  Newport Solar arrived at the school early this morning to share our expertise on solar installations with local middle school students.

The day was filled with fun scientific discussions on how solar panels can minimize human impact on the environment.  Students stopped by our display to learn how solar panels reduce our dependence on fossil fuel generated electricity and how this reduces the amount of Carbon Dioxide released into the air.  The students spoke with us about how this reduction in CO2 emissions will reduce the worst effects of climate change.

In addition, students came up with their own questions, which focused on the time it takes to install a solar array on a home and the pay-back period associated with a solar installation.  Some students who expressed their interest in engineering principals asked in-depth questions about how solar panels work and even electron flow!  We were very impressed with the interest these young adults exhibited.

At the Green Engineering Expo students also showcased their own scientific experiments focused around water filtration with different substrates and wind turbine design. Students displayed and present the criteria and constraints of these designed solutions.

To help illustrate what we do at Newport Solar, we brought a solar panel, inverter, rail section, and traditional roof attachment; these were good conversation pieces for the students.  In addition, we showed our time-lapse video of a Portsmouth residential solar installation.  We also gave out some Newport Solar shirts and hats when great questions went above and beyond!

The team at Newport Solar was happy to participate in this educational event in our local community.  Many thanks to Erin Escher and all Portsmouth Middle School teachers and staff involved in setting up and executing the 2017 Portsmouth Middle School Green Engineering Expo!

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Eric <![CDATA[RI Renewable Energy Fund Incentive Update]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1924 2017-11-22T04:08:58Z 2017-11-22T03:50:29Z The Renewable Energy Fund Solar Grant in Rhode Island has been consumed ahead of schedule.  However, the state has stepped up with additional funding to carry the industry through. An increasing number of Rhode Islanders are taking advantage of the solar incentive programs available in the state. Both the Renewable Energy Growth Tariff Program and […]

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The Renewable Energy Fund Solar Grant in Rhode Island has been consumed ahead of schedule.  However, the state has stepped up with additional funding to carry the industry through.

An increasing number of Rhode Islanders are taking advantage of the solar incentive programs available in the state. Both the Renewable Energy Growth Tariff Program and the Renewable Energy Fund have achieved their allotted capacity or funding ahead of schedule.

The allotted special money in the Renewable Energy Fund Solar Grant is to be available for Net Metered solar systems. The grant is available to systems that meet or exceed the 80% efficiency requirement. This means that the weighted average of all roofs to be installed on are at least 80% efficient as compared to the ideal roof in Rhode Island.  During our free on-site visits, Newport Solar will collect this data on your property to see the efficiency of your roof or ground mount locations.

Based on the size of your proposed system, RI Renewable Energy Fund will award a grant for a dollar per watt, up to $8,000. For example, if you install a 5.8 kilowatt system, your grant amount would be $5,800. If you install a 10.7 kilowatt system, your grant amount would max out at $8,000.

Each year the Renewable Energy Fund is divided into a number of blocks, and each block has a certain allotment of funds available for solar projects on small and commercial scales. Block 15 had a total funding amount of $1.4 million, and ran out weeks ahead of schedule.

The special allotted funds are in “Block 16” which opens on December 1st and will close when the allotted money has been consumed. There is a total of $400,000 available for small-scale solar projects. Newport Solar expects this money to get used up quickly, due to the popularity of the program as well as the time gap between grant blocks. Applications are considered on a first come first serve basis, so the earlier documents are submitted, the more likely the project is to be awarded a grant.

We recommend signing a contract with Newport Solar by November 27th in order to ensure all paperwork can be submitted on December 1st. This is a great opportunity to have the price of your solar array reduced by thousands, so do not hesitate to Contact Newport Solar and get your solar grant application submitted.

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Eric <![CDATA[Electric Vehicles in Rhode Island]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1858 2017-10-20T20:18:55Z 2017-10-20T20:02:00Z Despite battery technology and charging infrastructure advancement in recent years, Electric Vehicles have a reputation of not being a functionally and financially reasonable transportation option.  Individuals in Rhode Island are starting to see beyond this as the benefits of getting rid of a fossil fuel power vehicle become apparent.  In addition, the growth of residential […]

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Despite battery technology and charging infrastructure advancement in recent years, Electric Vehicles have a reputation of not being a functionally and financially reasonable transportation option.  Individuals in Rhode Island are starting to see beyond this as the benefits of getting rid of a fossil fuel power vehicle become apparent.  In addition, the growth of residential solar energy in RI has driven residents to produce their vehicle’s fuel at home at a lower cost.

Electric vehicles in Rhode Island now have the capacity to meet present day transportation and commuting needs.  In combination with solar, the monetary and environmental benefits of Electric Vehicles over traditional gas-powered vehicles has become compelling; transportation savings and carbon dioxide production reduction are driving people to choose Electric Vehicles over gas powered cars.

Electric Vehicle Capabilities

There are numerous options for electric cars on the market today ranging in price, accessories, and driving-range capabilities.  The average electric vehicle has a full-charge driving range around 150-250 miles.  The average United States citizen drives 30 miles/day or around 10,000 miles/year.  Even for the worst possible Rhode Island commute of 70 miles from Westerly to Little Compton, this range more than meets commuting needs.  Electric vehicles also have access to public charging locations everywhere from businesses, places of work, hotels, and parks or public lands.  Individuals can fuel up their vehicle while grocery shopping or working. Many electric vehicles complete a full charge in 2-10 hours with a level 2 charger depending on battery size and can fully charge in under 2 hours with a level 3 charger.  In Rhode Island, most of the 50 plus public charging stations (most of which are level 2 chargers) are free to the EV owners, avoiding fuel cost all together.

Realistic Electric Vehicles Cost

Electric vehicles meet transportation range needs, but at what cost? Electric vehicles can currently receive both federal and state incentives.  For a conservative perspective, lets look at a 3-year lease on an electric vehicle for the same money down and monthly payment as a gas vehicle.  If you charge your EV through your home electricity 100% of the time it would cost you about 4.2 cents less per mile to drive electric than gasoline.  Additionally, gas vehicles need regular oil changes at $150/year.  This is a completely avoided cost with an electric vehicle, raising the per mile savings to 5.5 cents, or 56% less expensive annually in fuel and maintenance cost savings.

Pre-Solar Electric Vehicle Savings

Pre-Solar Electric Vehicle Savings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you supplement your charging at free public charge stations this per mile savings would only increase.

Solar Charged Electric Vehicle

Eight to ten 290 watt solar panels will produce the necessary kWh’s needed to charge an electric car for 10,000 miles of driving per year.  Solar panels generally have a usable life of at least 25 years; amortizing the cost of a solar installation using a reasonable solar loan, an average Rhode Island resident can reduce their cost of electricity by 25% per year.

These solar panels, with their Rhode Island suite of incentives, will provide this necessary electricity for the duration of their 25-year life.  Looking at a sample 3-year lease period, this reduction of electricity cost would increase per mile savings over a 3-year period to 6.8 cents per mile.  This represents a 67% reduction in per mile driving cost or over $2,000 over a 3-year period.  Combining solar with EV charging compounds both the financial and environmental benefits.

Post-Solar Electric Vehicle Savings

Post-Solar Electric Vehicle Savings

Other Benefits

The non-monetary benefits of EV use lay primarily in maintenance time savings, lower risk of breaking down and environmental cleanliness.

An electric vehicle has far fewer maintenance rituals associated with it as compared to the frequent oil changes, large number of moving parts/belts, and fluids needed to keep a gasoline engine healthy.  Electric vehicles have no gears, no transmission, and no oil maintenance needs.

The carbon emissions associated with the complete life of an electric vehicle as compared to a gas vehicle from manufacturing, to driving, to disposal is roughly 50% less in the electric vehicle.

EV Adoption is Compelling

There are many benefits of driving an electric vehicle, especially in combination with installing solar panels. A Rhode Island driver can see immediate financial returns and environmental benefits with electric vehicle use.  The installation of solar panels to charge the vehicle and/or power a residence can drastically increase savings on transportation costs and reduce cost of home electricity use when a whole home installation is completed.

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Eric <![CDATA[New Construction Solar Design]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1845 2017-12-06T22:42:58Z 2017-10-03T17:50:38Z How to Design for Solar – New Construction Solar Design Concepts If you are building a new home, garage, or other structure and are considering a solar installation during construction or in the future, there are several solar design features that should be discussed during the design phase.  Key solar design features will help optimize […]

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How to Design for Solar – New Construction Solar Design Concepts

If you are building a new home, garage, or other structure and are considering a solar installation during construction or in the future, there are several solar design features that should be discussed during the design phase.  Key solar design features will help optimize a solar array’s performance.  Take these items into consideration early on in your new construction project to increase the probability of a successful solar installation, whenever it may occur.

Schematic Solar Design Considerations

Solar design considerations include but are not limited to the following:

Orientation: Orientation is perhaps the most important feature of a good solar design. A roof which faces as close to due south as possible is ideal for capturing the most sunlight and maximizing your system’s electricity output.  In some municipalities, there are incentives for arrays that face direction other than south.  This is done when a specific location has high grid load during a specific time of day.  Orienting panels to generate more power early or late in the day is sometimes done to mitigate load.  Check with your installer to see if this could apply to your project.

Pitch: The pitch of your roof can have a significant impact on how much electricity your system produces. Higher pitched (steeper) roofs capture the winter sun better; lower pitched (shallower) roofs favor summer sunlight. The ideal pitch for maximizing a south facing solar array in Rhode Island is 37 degrees.  The ideal solar design pitch goes down as the roof orientation shifts east or west of south.

Shading: Ideally, there would be no trees or other tall structures to the south, southeast, or southwest that would cast shade on the solar array.  Opt for a shrub or shorter tree species such as a Dogwood tree if you wish to have vegetation on the south side of your house.

Solar Design Development Considerations

Obstructions: Skylights, dormers, chimneys, and vent pipes should be installed on a non-south facing roof if possible. At the very minimum, a good solar design should plan for the location of these items.  If they must be on the south side, try planning out where these penetrations might go to minimize shading on the solar array.  If you don’t want to plan out the layout, locating these penetrations close to the ridge will maximize space for the solar array.

Roof Type: Asphalt shingles and standing seam metal roofs are the simplest and most cost-effective roof type to install a solar array on. If the roof is standing seam metal a solar array can be installed without penetrating the roof.

Roof Framing: Rafters and trusses with a 2×6 top chord are the simplest for installations. They require fewer roof penetrations, less materials, and less labor for installation.  This can save you money on your solar array.

Electrical Solar Design:  Be sure to plan on installing the appropriate equipment and leaving enough space for these items; this is discussed further in the construction phase consideration section.

  • Ensure the electricity meter on the outside of the house is easily accessible
  • If you are considering a Renewable Energy Growth Tariff system, have your on-site electrician install a two-gang meter base
  • In addition to a two gang meter base, make sure conduit is in place from inside the house to the meter base for solar wires
  • If the array is to be on a different building, be sure that additional conduit is installed in the trench between the buildings when power is being run between the buildings.  We recommend putting in a few conduits – PVC is cheap relative to the cost of digging a trench!

Efficiency: When building your home, it is beneficial to incorporate energy efficient building methods into your design to couple with a solar design. Check out this blog from the Newport Solar archives to learn why energy efficiency and solar are better together.

Construction Phase Considerations & Other

Wiring/Access: Be sure to consider pre-wiring your array before the sheetrock gets installed; this allows the wires to be hidden in the walls, rather than run on the outside of the brand new building.  If there is a utility room, be sure to work with your installer to find out how much space you should reserve for solar electrical equipment.

Construction Loan: Banks are becoming more receptive to including solar in appraisals and construction loans.  Integrating solar at the time of construction can allow you to get the lowest rates possible; wrapping the cost of solar into your 30 year mortgage will give you the best cash flow possible!

Part of the Team:  Make the solar installer part of the project team from the beginning; this will help integrate solar design requirements early and avoid rework as the project proceeds.

Use a Local Builder:  Local builders tend to have well developed relationships with their sub-contractors, including solar panel installers.  This allows them to deliver a well integrated project that meets the solar design criteria.  They also have to keep a good reputation in their area; this helps to drive quality construction execution.

Some local builders/architects in RI that we have worked with to integrate solar into their designs:

Use a Local Solar Installer: Local solar installers like Newport Solar, have the relationships and know-how to build your installation to the required design criteria and local code considerations.

Building a new structure is a big undertaking.  Investing heavily in all design efforts, building and solar design alike, will help to ensure that an integrated team will carry your project to completion, delivering a building that will meet all of your needs as you live and/or work in your new space.

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Eric <![CDATA[Solar Jobs Rising Above]]> http://newportsolarri.com/?p=1825 2017-07-26T19:50:38Z 2017-07-26T19:40:11Z Solar Jobs Charging Ahead The creation of solar jobs has increased at an exponential rate in the past few years, and has seen the largest amount of growth in the past year. Globally, renewable energy employs 9.8 million people as of 2016.  Solar jobs account for over 3 million of those jobs. National Economic Growth […]

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Solar Jobs Charging Ahead

The creation of solar jobs has increased at an exponential rate in the past few years, and has seen the largest amount of growth in the past year. Globally, renewable energy employs 9.8 million people as of 2016.  Solar jobs account for over 3 million of those jobs.

National Economic Growth

According to the National Solar Foundation’s US Solar Jobs Census 2016, national employment in the solar industry grew by 24% in 2016. This continues the trend of the past 4 years, where solar job growth has reached 20% or higher per year. In total, there were over 260,000 US jobs in solar energy in 2016.  This is up from 93,000 US solar jobs in 2010.

Most solar jobs are in installation, but manufacturing, project development, sales, and research and development are also high on the list. Solar installation has become an attractive option in the new clean energy economy.  Solar jobs serve as a well-paying blue-collar option for the nation’s workforce.

When looking at our energy mix, these numbers may seem surprising. Solar makes up only 1.3% of all energy generation in the nation.  However, it is the second largest employer in all energy generation industries. This is attributed to the fairly labor-intensive nature of the industry, from design to installation.

Little Rhode Island Leads

Rhode Island has been a leader in growth in the clean energy economy. Governor Raimondo put forth an aggressive goal of 1,000 megawatts of clean energy by 2020, along with 20,000 clean energy jobs. Since 2014, employment in clean energy has grown by 66%.  There are over 15,300 jobs in the state in renewable energy and energy efficiency. In Rhode Island, solar installers in particular have increased employment 16% over the past year.

Thanks to progressive leadership, the declining cost of solar energy, and the high electricity prices Rhode Islanders face, renewable and other clean energy technologies are being adopted rapidly. With these new technologies come opportunities for employment as well as economic growth in both our state and the nation.  Newport Solar is proud to be part of this trend as we help Rhode Islanders take control of their energy production!

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