Author Archives: EnergySage

Sharing the sun: Community solar gardens taking off around US

Reading Time: 4 minutes

community solar gardens enerysage graphic
With strong government incentives and falling equipment costs, going solar has never made more financial sense on such a broad scale. Testament to this is the tremendous increase of the number of American homes & businesses with solar panels on their roofs in recent years. But at the same time, not everyone has a roof of their own, and even those who do might have one that is shaded or otherwise unsuitable for solar. Community-owned solar projects – sometimes called community solar gardens, or shared solar farms – promise a way for the roofless and ‘roof-impaired’ to go solar. Continue reading

Solar increases property value graphic EnergySage

New report says solar panels increase home value

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Installing solar panels can significantly increase your property’s value, according to a new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab (LBL). The report, titled “Selling into the sun: Price premium analysis of a multi-state dataset of solar homes“, builds on previous research which concluded that homes with solar panels in California sold for more than those without.

Continue reading

New York State’s solar incentives are some of the best in the country

Reading Time: 2 minutes

These days, virtually every state in the USA has some kind of support program for rooftop solar energy systems. But you’re especially fortunate if you’re planning on going solar in New York State: your state has some of the most ambitious solar incentives in the country. Thanks to these incentives, solar has become a very attractive investment in New York. What are New York State’s solar incentives and how can you take advantage of them

Continue reading

The solar revolution is now: Solar energy beating grid electricity on cost

Reading Time: 5 minutes
solar fights electric

Still think solar panels are an expensive way to generate electricity? Think again. Solar energy system costs have fallen significantly in recent years, becoming increasingly competitive with power from electric utilities across the US. And as the global solar industry grows, prices look set to fall even further.

According to Deutsche Bank’s 2015 Solar Outlook report, solar energy system costs are likely to drop 40% in the next 4-5 years, in keeping with the steep downwards trend of the past decade. Given that utility electricity rates are only going to continue to rise, this means solar is set to become an increasingly attractive financial option for homes and businesses around the US – and the world.

Another report titled “Renewable Energy Generation Costs in 2014” released in January by the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA) backs up Deutsche Bank’s conclusions. Like the Deutsche Bank report, IRENA also concludes that falling costs have made solar financially competitive with grid electricity in many parts of the world – including much of the US. The report also shows that there have been dramatic declines in the cost of solar energy systems in the past few years (including a 3/4 drop in the cost of solar panels) – and says that there is still substantial room for further cost reductions as the solar industry expands.

Continue reading

What questions should you ask your solar company?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re shopping around for a solar energy system, you undoubtedly have questions that you want to ask your solar company. But what questions are the most important ones to ask an installer?

The decision-making process is a bit easier if you divide the questions into two ‘stages’: First, you can ask the key questions which allow you to understand the value that their product offers. This will help you to rule out the options which are definitely not for you. After you’ve answered these questions, you can ask the questions that will help you make the final choice between this narrowed-down range of options. We discuss some of these questions below.

Continue reading
fannie mae solar

FHA and Fannie Mae agree: A solar panel system adds value to your home (if you own the system)

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Looking for Fannie Mae solar panel loans? Check out our article on the Fannie Mae Homestyle Energy Program.

Solar loans and solar financing provided by Fannie Mae have drawn major attention from homeowners as one of the new premier ways to save big withs solar panels. And one question that EnergySage receives regularly from our customers is: “Will solar panels increase the value of my property?” It is clear that the answer is already a resounding ‘yes’, and the evidence only continues to mount. We have compiled a list of studies that highlight this point, and recently wrote about Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory’s recent study showing that solar panels increase home values significantly across the US. These studies mainly look at cases where the homeowner is also the owner of the solar panel system.

Continue reading

Top 5 Reasons Why Solar Panels Are Worth It in Massachusetts

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Solar panels popular in Massachusetts graphic
Massachusetts is considered a leading solar state. Find out why solar is so popular

Despite the state’s reputation for its cold, snowy winters, going solar is in fact a great way for Massachusetts residents to save money on their power bills. In this article we take a look at why solar panels are such a great investment for your home or business in Massachusetts.

Why are solar panels so popular in Massachusetts?

2015 was a big year for residential solar power for the USA. Massachusetts is going to be one of the states that leads the way as more and more Massachusetts homeowners and businesses discover the benefits of rooftop solar panels in MA. Once a state filled with underserved renewable demand, Massachusetts is starting to heat up as a leading solar state, according to various data reports. 

Continue reading

New York’s Third Industrial Revolution: State puts focus on distributed energy with Reforming the Energy Vision initiative

Reading Time: 4 minutes
new york solar

New York is aiming to fundamentally reshape the way electricity is generated, distributed and marketed in the state. Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, the state government has set out to answer the pressing question of how to bring the state’s electricity system into the 21st century. The Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative is a decision-making process whose proceedings will ultimately result in the overhaul the state’s retail electricity markets – while also finding ways to better integrate renewables and energy efficiency into the system

NY-REV-Future-of-Energy
Image via ILSR

The New York Public Services Commission (PSC) determined that the REV program was needed in order to address several developing issues with the state’s electricity system. The issues REV aims to address can be divided into 3 categories:

1. New York’s electricity system is inefficient and in dire need of updating

New Yorkers currently have some of the highest retail electricity prices in the country, and a big part of what they pay for is maintenance of aging infrastructure. The electricity system is expensive to maintain and only operates at about 54% of its capacity most of the year – running at 100% capacity only a few days a year when the weather is hot and thousands of AC units are pumping simultaneously. If nothing changes, ratepayers in the state will collectively fork over another $30 billion over the next 10 years just to keep the status quo. REV will help New York to build something better – ‘the grid of the future’.

2. Current energy efficiency and renewable energy programs are still ad hoc solutions

At the moment, New York’s programs which support energy efficiency and renewable energy sources (like rooftop solar panels) add increase the bills of all electricity ratepayers (although only slightly). This is because they have been tacked on to the existing system instead of integrated into it. While the state’s programs (as well as those of local utilities) have done a lot to promote the uptake of solar power and energy efficiency, the PSC feels that renewables could be better incorporated into the system to maximize their natural advantages in order to save money for everyone.

3. Innovation and competition do not thrive in the current system

Regulations around electricity in New York State do not encourage utilities (the distribution companies) to do the things that would optimize value for consumers. These things include encouraging efficient use of electricity, integrating distributed energy resource, and allowing ‘third party applications’ (such as energy usage monitoring software) on the network.

How will REV seek address these issues?

The REV program is a complete rethinking of New York’s approach to generating, delivering and consuming electricity. At the core of the REV initiative are three things: renewables, distributed energy and market reform. The biggest question REV seeks to address is how to combine these things to deliver greater value to electricity consumers.

According to the PSC’s website:

This initiative will lead to regulatory changes that promote more efficient use of energy, deeper penetration of renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, wider deployment of “distributed” energy resources, such as micro grids, on-site power supplies, and storage. It will also promote greater use of advanced energy management products to enhance demand elasticity and efficiencies. These changes, in turn, will empower customers by allowing them more choice in how they manage and consume electric energy.

The PSC is soliciting public input on REV: Have your say about the future of New York’s electricity system

The opportunities and challenges presented by the REV process are enormous, and there are countless stakeholder who would like to have their say. Thankfully, REV’s approach is a collaborative one, and the PSC is welcoming input from people like you.

The current schedule for these public hearings can be found on the website of the Department of Public Services. However, you do not need to be present at any of these to provide input: you may also place submissions by email (secretary@dps.ny.gov), via phone (1-800-335-2120) or through snail mail (address below). Written submissions should reference “Case 14-M-0101 Reforming the Energy Vision”.

Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess, Secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, New York 12223-1350

As New York advocacy group Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE New York), a collection of non-governmental groups, has pointed out, the fact that the PSC is inviting comment means that a range of voices needs to be heard. The voices of those with vested interests will almost certainly be the loudest, as they have the most to lose if reforms are brought in.

The group has prepared an informative briefing on the REV program, as well as a set of talking points surrounding what they see as the main principles that should be adhered to throughout the process.

What will the role of solar energy be after REV?

systems, as a type of distributed energy, will play a key role in the future of New York’s electricity infrastructure. Even before the introduction of REV, the state’s solar programs were amalgamated under the umbrella of the New York Sun program, whose goal is “stimulating the marketplace, so that costs associated with installing solar electric systems for residents and businesses are reduced”.

The long-term goal of the program is to foster a self-sustaining market for solar energy in the state that doesn’t rely heavily on government grants or other incentives to make solar cost-effective. Currently, NY Sun is doing this by supporting solarize campaigns in cities and towns across the state, and will soon introduce a strategy for supporting community-shared solar projects as well.

IS NOW A GOOD TIME TO GO SOLAR IN NEW YORK?

Exactly how NY Sun will be integrated whatever recommendations come of the REV proceedings remains to be seen, but the fact is that now is already a good time to go solar in New York State. Compare offerings on the market in the state now by shopping on EnergySage’s Solar Marketplace.

Utilities can no longer own small-scale solar energy in New York State. What does it mean for you?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The New York Public Services Commission (PSC) has introduced measures to ensure that distributed energy technologies like rooftop solar panels remain affordable for all New Yorkers. As part of the state’s forward-thinking Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, state utilities will be barred from owning distributed generation equipment (such as your solar panel system). According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the new rules will empower state residents to take control of their electricity usage – and reduce their power bills.

The key focus of the REV program is to bring New York’s electricity system into the modern era by improving network efficiency and introducing more renewable energy sources. As Governor Cuomo points out in the announcement of the new rule last month, New York’s approach to electricity infrastructure has undergone little change since the first grid was introduced in lower Manhattan back in 1884. “This state is in need of a modern and efficient energy system, and we are proud to take the steps to build a sustainable way to deliver energy to every home in New York,” he said.

Continue reading
Micro inverters and power inverters solar energy storage

Are microinverters and power optimizers the future of residential solar power?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

If you’ve been shopping around for a solar panel system, you may have heard of microinverters (from companies like Enphase and SolarBridge) and power optimizers (from companies like Tigo and SolarEdge). These devices – collectively referred to here as Module-level Power Electronics (MLPE) – are quickly gaining popularity in the US as an alternative to conventional string inverters.

In this article we take a look at this emerging trend and examine whether these technologies are the best option for all homes.

Continue reading