Archive for May 24, 2012

First-in-nation Solar Registration Expanded

In Vermont today a single basic registration form outlining the system components, configuration, and compliance with interconnection requirements replaces all permitting for ground or roof-mounted solar systems 10kW and smaller. The local utility has 10 days to raise any interconnection issues, otherwise a permit, known as a Certificate of Public Good (CPG), is granted and the project may be installed.

The simple statewide registration was expanded by lawmakers after a successful initial implementation and to better cover the capacity required of larger residential and small commercial installations.The simple statewide registration was expanded by lawmakers after a successful initial implementation and to better cover the capacity required of larger residential and small commercial installations.

“This new registration process is enormously helpful to local installers like me. It speeds up the installation process allowing us to avoid wasting time with costly delays for smaller scale installations,” said Rich Nicol, of Solartech, an installer in northeastern Vermont.

Many in the industry believe that cutting unnecessary “soft costs” of solar installation is a key to future cost-competitiveness.

David Blittersdorf, president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables, the Vermont manufacturer of the AllSun Tracker added, “We need to continue advancing policies that cut unnecessary red tape and costs for small-scale renewables. Doing so will drive down the barriers to solar, making it more competitive and leading to wide-spread adoption.”

A study last year by SunRun found that permitting adds an average cost of $2,500 to each solar installation and that streamlining the processes would provide a $1 billion stimulus to the solar industry over the next five years. The report finds that the additional installation cost — $0.50 per watt — is due to wide permitting variations not connected to safety, excessive fees, and an unnecessarily slow process.

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TSEA Business Manager Featured in Nashville Scene Article

From:

We’re solar generation partners. We have the power — and so can you

Here Comes the Sun

by LISA ZHITO

Pay rays

First the good news: Solar panels are getting cheaper and more efficient every year. But they’re still expensive: A 4 or 5 kilowatt (kW) PV system will run you in the neighborhood of $25,000, says Steve Johnson, president of LightWave Solar. For those crunching the numbers, there are a few incentives: TVA buys the power generated at a rate of 12 cents per kWh above the base rate, which appears as a credit on your monthly electric bill. There’s also a 30 percent federal tax rebate and a $1,000 incentive from TVA when your system goes online. Beyond that, various grants for commercial and agricultural operations are available, but so far nothing for residential systems. Solar leasing, in which the cost of a PV system is shouldered by another company but homeowners get a piece of the electricity sales, has taken off out west. Stefan Partin, business manager for the Tennessee Solar Energy Association, calls it the future of solar. But the Tennessee state legislature’s threatened “solar property tax” effectively scared off anyone interested in bringing such a scheme to Tennessee.

So that means homeowners are still looking at shouldering some hefty initial costs. Alternately, you can change your perspective, says Partin. “Think of it as an investment. You can get 7-8 percent per year return on a solar system, whereas a mutual fund is 2-3 percent a year. That makes it look more attractive.” Indeed.

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Does A Clean Energy Standard Have Any Chance?

A new study predicts that an 80% by 2035 clean energy standard, similar to the one introduced by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., in March, could pass both chambers of Congress if it increases electricity rates by less than 5% on average.

The report, published in the scientific journal Nature Climate Change, concluded that in order for the Senate to pass such a policy, the average increase would have to amount to less than $59 per year for the average U.S. household, and for the House of Representatives to pass it, additional costs would have to be below $48 per year.

A recent report from the U.S. Energy Information Administration found that Bingaman’s proposal would not increase electricity rates in the first 10 years following its enactment, but rates would likely climb after that.

Last month, the Maine Public Utilities commission launched Maine Green Power, which gives the state’s residents the option to purchase locally produced renewable energy. California-based utility Pacific Gas and Electric Co. is also asking state regulators to approve a similar program that would let customers choose 100% renewable energy for an extra $6 a month.

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(comment: Applying a clean energy standard would reduce the cost of medical expenses from allergies and asthma and other illnesses related to bad air quality. To get a picture of the air quality on a calm day, go to the mountains and look towards Knoxville or any highly populated area and view the stagnant layer of gray-green colored air hanging over it. This applies across the state. Also, eliminating the subsidies we pay to the oil and natural gas industry would more than cover the extra cost of clean air and water)

Lectrus, Chattanooga, Adds New Jobs to Support Growing Solar Energy Business

Lectrus recently announced 30 new job openings at its Chattanooga Operation to increase production of custom metal electrical enclosures and equipment skids. The company installs utility-scale inverters and associated power distribution equipment on robust steel bases and delivers the electrically integrated packages to grid-tied solar farms around North America. Lectrus is hiring full-time electricians, welders, painters and quality inspectors to start immediately.

“Over the past year, we have increased headcount by 25%”, stated Jim Pugh, HR Manager. “Our business continues to grow and we are seeking skilled employees who desire a rewarding environment and a bright future”. In its search for quality individuals, Lectrus participated in the city’s job fair on May 10 and will attend the Mayor’s Council on Disability job fair on June 6. Candidates are also encouraged to apply through the company’s website at lectrus.com.

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PV Tech Newscast – May 18, 2012