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Are You Managing Your Solar Project Properly?

Are You Managing Your Solar Project Properly?

If Not, There’s Help.

January 2, 2014

Solar Asset Management (SolarAM) is the comprehensive scope of work necessary to ensure that a solar project performs contractually, technically and financially to provide the expected return on investment. It is more than “boots on the ground” technical maintenance. SolarAM requires a deep understanding of how the equipment, contracts and financial structure all work together to achieve desired results.

Savvy investors and owners understand that effective asset management is essential to achieving a project’s financial objectives. With proper SolarAM, it is possible to increase energy production and decrease operational costs to produce the expected return on investment (ROI). SolarAM requires leadership and accountability to reduce risks for project owners, investors and developers.
The solar industry has seen dramatic growth over the last decade. According to SEIA, 9.4GW of solar projects are installed and operational in the U.S. Thus far, the industry has focused primarily on how to build more projects more cost effectively. However, as the industry matures, there is a need for greater focus on how the existing base of operating projects can be managed to deliver the expected benefits.
Traditionally solar projects were promoted as low-risk investments with few moving parts, well warranted equipment and little technical maintenance. However, as the market has matured, maintenance requirements have been more challenging, there has been consolidation in the equipment sector and the investment structures used to finance the projects are more complex. In addition, the ITC structure has created disincentives for installers and developers to focus on long-term performance. While solar is a good investment, these factors underscore the importance of good, qualified management across all of the functional disciplines that are required for the asset – technical, contractual and financial.
SolarAM entails:
Strong Oversight Of Asset Operations – Oversight and management of operations and maintenance (O&M) activities and the O&M provider, good production monitoring and analytics for energy optimization, clear budgeting and cost/benefit analysis of capital investment requirements or repair work and regular onsite visits.
Contract Administration And Regulatory Compliance – Performance of obligations in the underlying project and financial contracts and compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks to keep the system and project entities operating sustainabilitly.
Project Financial Asset Management – Fulfillment of cash management activities for the project company (billing, paying expenses, setting aside required reserves); control and reduction of operating costs; management of SREC sales.
Financial Structuring, Administration And Tax Reporting – Fund reporting and loan servicing, audits, coordination and management of accounting and tax experts.
Special Situations – Resolution of unexpected events such as insurance casualty events, warranty claims, litigation, etc.
Currently, most owners and investors rely on in-house personnel to perform SolarAM, often relying on a patchwork of technical, financial, accounting and legal resources to implement their SolarAM, which work together with varying degrees of success. They often underestimate the internal time and misallocate the direct cost of using internal personnel. They also often forget the high opportunity costs of using their internal teams.
An external SolarAM provider can provide more expertise and cost-effective solutions, offering benefits of scale and comprehensive expertise that is derived from managing multiple portfolios for different customers rather than just a single owner’s individual portfolio. Outsourcing these services can enable owners to better use their in-house personnel to focus on new project development initiatives, which is typically the owner’s core business.
Whether internal or external, a successful SolarAM strategy will have the following attributes:
1) Comprehensive: Focuses on all interconnected project areas (equipment, operations, contracts, legal and financial).
2) Independent: Establishes transparent processes that avoid conflicts of interest and create clarity in scope and responsibility for all key tasks with appropriate coordination and controls.
3) Accountable: Provides owners with a single service partner responsible for measurable results.
4) Accretive: Focuses on financial performance to optimize long-term performance and operating expenses.
5) Scalable: Decreases the marginal costs over time as the portfolio grows.
With the proper SolarAM strategy and the effective implementation of that strategy, owners will significantly increase the odds that their projects will not only deliver the baseline expected ROI but also exceed pro forma expectations.
By: Chad Sachs

CEO at RadianGEN

How Are Solar Panels Supported?

How Are Solar Panels Supported?
December 30, 2013 Steven Bushong : 0 Comments
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Article By GameChange Racking
Solar PV installations require support structures, commonly referred to as racking or mounting, to secure the panels to the ground or building roof. For ground mounted structures racking may be mounted onto foundations that are driven (I beams, channels or posts), or screwed (helical piles and earth screws). Ground systems are either fixed tilt or track the movement of the sun, either in one axis or two axes. Roof top racking are either ballasted with concrete pavers resting on ballast trays, or attached with penetrations onto the roof of the building, or fastened to metal seams with clips. There are also hybrid systems which are principally ballasted but also have attachments to compensate for seismic issues or where roof pitch typically exceeds 5 degrees. The size of installation, available surface area, type of incentive and utility program, building type and ground conditions predicate which system will be used.
Photo Courtesy of GameChange Racking
Photo Courtesy of GameChange Racking
Industry Trends
Post driven racking continues to dominate the market in terms of total installed MW since most utility scale projects are traditionally mounted on driven piles. Installation cost are low so long as refusal (rock hits preventing piles from being able to be driven, requiring drilling and concrete) rates are minimal. Earth screws are seeing increasing use in rocky areas, and helical piles are proving cost effective in certain areas where sandy and high water table conditions require piles to be very long to avoid pull out, and therefore unpractical.
Many policy leading states are encouraging deployment of solar PV in non-virgin areas, trying to push developers away from farm fields or clearing forests. These include landfills, brownfields, rooftops and parking lots.
Ballasted ground PV racking systems which rest on the ground and require no penetrations are utilized for brownfield and landfills. The traditional large block precast systems which have historically been very expensive and have negatively impacted project economics, often making landfill and brownfield projects unfeasible. Innovative solutions are beginning to emerge which are much more cost effective by using longer, slimmer precast blocks, or standard concrete pavers and pour-in-place products which move concrete purchase cost closer to the installation site, reducing overall system cost.
Parking lots are another plentiful source of land which can be leveraged to provide additional income to owners. Carport structures are currently expensive because they require large steel beams to handle the loads of long spans and must be designed with high safety factors. Additionally, the foundations are typically large reinforced concrete slabs which are installed mostly underground, requiring extensive excavation work which is not only costly but also disruptive to the parking lot usage which construction is underway. Carports costs are steadily decreasing, enabling carports to generate superior returns on investment and to become increasingly widely deployed.
Challenges For Racking Providers
Solar racking providers must continue to innovate not only on the costs of their racking systems, but also by reducing parts counts and integrating wire management to reduce labor and BOS costs for customers and improve project economics. The challenge for vendors increases as project owners demand increasing warrantee lengths, often as long as twenty years, and other bankability requirements which in the past were more focused on inverters and modules, and are increasingly being required of racking suppliers. Racking systems must stand the test of time through harsh environmental conditions such as extreme wind and snow loads and corrosive environments. Tomorrow’s leaders in the racking industry will be those companies which can innovate to provide solutions which are simple and cost effective and yet meet loading and longevity requirements.
GameChange Racking
http://www.gamechangeracking.com
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Cool and Informative Renewable Energy and Solar Power Links

Solar Energy Industries Association
Database of State Incentivies for Renewables & Efficiency
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
PG&E - Save Energy and Money

Sonoma County's Energy Independence Program
US Department of Energy
American Solar Energy Society
Build it Green
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DOE Tips
Renewable energy state incentives database
50 Simple Things You Can Do to Save the Earth
Rooftop Revolution
Greenopia
The Daily Green
No Impact Man
Build It Green
Green Electronics
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Green Tech Media
Arizona Solar Center
Cal Finder
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  California Free Solar | Go Solar for Free

California Free Solar

June 8, 2013

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Edison solar quote

 

CALIFORNIA FREE SOLAR is http://californiafreesolar.net

 

YOU MAY BE ASKING YOURSELF

“HOW COULD I GET A FREE SOLAR SYSTEM ? “

or

“HOW COULD I LOWER MY ELECTRIC BILL WITHOUT SPENDING ANY MONEY ? “

or

“HOW COULD I TOTALLY ELIMINATE MY ELECTRIC BILL ? “

or

“HOW COULD I RECEIVE PAYMENTS FROM MY ELECTRIC UTILITY INSTEAD OF SENDING THEM MONEY ? “

We can help you if you are a residential or commercial electric utility customer.  We can also help you if you are a land owner and are interested in your very own solar farm !

We can help you if you live in CALIFORNIA or ANY OTHER STATE IN THE COUNTRY !!!

We have an extensive network of partners including all of the major companies in the industry and many local regional companies in your area !!!

We are a one stop turnkey solution for FREE SOLAR POWER !!!

This is the real deal and FREE SOLAR is available starting now !!!

Let’s say that today you’re spending $250 per month on average with your electric company. You’re pretty much stuck paying the utility for that electricity if you enjoy things such as lighting, refrigeration, air conditioning, washing and drying your clothes, etc.

Additionally, since 1971 (according to the CPUC – California Public Utility Commission) your electricity rates have increased on average 6.7% annually with the bulk of the increases concentrated in the three upper electricity tiers.

Using the magic of compound interest, if the current trend of the last 42 years persists you’re $250 monthly electric bill becomes $448 per month by 2023 – $250(1+0.067)^10=$448.

Even more startling, over the course of 10 years, you will have paid $40,866.64 to the electric company. With today’s home solar prices, that amount of money would buy you a 10-12 kilowatt high efficiency solar system – significantly more power than what is needed to eliminate a $250 monthly bill!

Consider this, if you are able to pay off a solar system in 10 years (considering a 25 year useful life for the solar panels and a 12 year useful life for inverters – though some today are 25 year products) you would avoid paying the utility another $135,903.52!! – [$250(1+0.067)^25]-$40,866.64 – $5000 (inverter replacement). If you can pay it off sooner, the savings become even more compelling.

So the question is: how do I get the Utility to pay for my solar system so that I can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars? The answer is incredibly simple. I’ll use myself as an example.

In 2007, my monthly electric bill was $220 per month. Applying the same calculus to my own situation, I figured that in 10 years I would have paid $35,962.64 for electricity supplied by local utility. A solar system to suit my needs (after rebates and tax credits) came in at $21,500. Solar, therefore, seemed like a no brainer. In fact, six years in I’ve saved $18,742.45 with one year left for the system to pay for itself.

To be honest, I really didn’t feel like writing a check for $21,500, so I did what many of my savvy finance mentors recommended – I used O.P.M – otherwise known as ‘other people’s money’. 

I simply used my HELOC (home equity line of credit) to buy the solar system and DIVERTED MY MONTHLY UTILITY PAYMENTS to the bank that loaned me the money.  A few interesting things happened:

My loan payment was $157/month (saving ~ $63/month over the utility payment).
I could write off the interest since solar is a home improvement thereby increasing the monthly savings to ~ $118/month.  My home appraised for $22,000 more after the solar was installed upon refinancing it a year later.  The improvement did not increase my property taxes.

Due to some additional fiscal conservatism on my part, I diligently paid down the principal and now own my solar system outright and have an extremely low annual electric bill ($58 in 2012).

What does this mean for you?

The good news is that today there are many more financing options available than ever before.  More good news is that with home values coming back from the dead, home equity and other types of home improvement loans are once again readily available after half a decade of recession.

You options today include:

A Solar Lease or PPA from SunRun or another source that allows you to save some money out of the gate and increase savings over time as utility rates continue their unceasing march upward. You’re paying the utility anyway; why not take control of your power by redirecting utility payments into this money saving option. SunRun is perfect for those of you who can’t realize the tax credit and/or like the idea of a 20 year hassle free warranty and a low buyout or free removal at the end.

Diverting  your utility payments to a P.A.C.E loan like WRCOG HERO, Ygrene, etc enables you to own a solar power system in 6-8 years. Better yet, if you can’t take the tax credit or prefer to borrow less upfront, go with a pre-paid SunRun PPA and finance that with a PACE loan.

Obtain an Equity Line, Signature Loan, Home Improvement Loan or the like from your bank or credit union (as I did) and have the utility pay that loan off for you by redirecting electric bill payments and taking advantage of tax incentives.

In summary, if you enjoy the benefits electricity provides but would like to insulate yourself from inevitable future price increases and save yourself lots of money, redirecting your current and anticipated future electric bills into a solar system makes tremendous sense for most people.

With a solar power system in place, you’ll have a much more pleasant problem than your electric bills.  

What to do with all the money you have saved !

For free information and consultation, and with no obligation, please get in touch with me ! My name is Kevin and we are California Free Solar.  Thank-you for your interest in helping to sustain a greener and healthier planet while saving yourself a lot of money !

 

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Top 10 World’s Most Efficient Solar Pv Modules (Poly-Crystalline) | Solarplaza | The global solar energy (PV) platform

Top 10 World’s Most Efficient Solar Pv Modules (Poly-Crystalline) | Solarplaza | The global solar energy (PV) platform.

Rule 21

Sacramento, California. From the roof of the p...

Sacramento, California. From the roof of the power plant, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, approxim . . . – NARA – 521750 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Rule 21 Enhances Renewable Energy Distribution in California

By Marsha W. Johnston
September 21, 2012   |

New Hampshire, USA — The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) last week handed developers of mid-sized, wholesale renewable energy systems, primarily solar, an important revision to its interconnection procedures, known as Rule 21.

The unanimously approved revision, say stakeholder participants in the year-long process, establishes several new national best practices, and removes barriers to continued growth of the state’s renewable energy market.

The new Rule 21 is, in effect, a settlement between California’s three major investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Company — and 11 other stakeholders, including the Clean Coalition and Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Inc. (IREC).

“It is, by far and hands down, the best interconnection tariff in the country,” says IREC attorney Sky Stanfield of Keyes, Fox & Wiedman, who helped draft portions of the revised tariff language with her colleague Kevin Fox.  “We made it clearer in almost every way, adding timeframes and explanations of what’s happening. We came to fast track screens, made a more robust Supplemental Review, and it is the first tariff where utilities have accepted 100% minimum load as the standard for determining whether a full study is required.”

Under the previous Rule 21 procedures, Stanfield explains, the utilities made all renewable energy projects that represented 30 percent of the minimum load (or 15% of peak load) in their geographic area go through a full approval process.

Now, she says, projects with a 30% minimum/15% peak load can get Fast Track approval through a quick, initial review. “If they fail the 15 percent screen, they will go to Supplemental Review, which used to be totally unclear,” she continues.  “It didn’t explain what it would study or what it would cost. Previously, not a lot of projects could get through that process and there was no pressure on the utility to get projects through Supplemental Review.”

In the new Supplemental Review, projects that are below 100% of minimum load and pass two screens on safety and reliability can still get Fast Track approval, she said.  The adoption of the higher penetration screen is significant for solar projects because it is more relevant than the 15 percent of peak load screen.  “We were getting more and more systems in California, and many systems were failing the 15% screen, so we had to move the bar up,” she says.

Ted Ko, associate director of stakeholder Clean Coalition, says critically important issues of cost allocation and certainty remain to be resolved, but, acknowledges that it is the best revision possible in the given time frame. “We were pushing to get it done really fast. We did get more transparency, more definition, more timelines, and better clarification of the rules,” he said.  One of the most useful wins, he said, is the Pre-Application Report.  “Now you can get a report from the utility telling you how much it will cost to plug in to a location before you even apply. It cuts down on the number of non-viable apps the utilities have to deal with,” he said.

Rule 21’s interconnection procedures had become untenable following the passage of two landmark pieces of renewable energy legislation–California Senate Bill 32 on curtailing greenhouse gas emissions and Assembly Bill 1613 on connecting combined heat & power systems to the grid. “The driving reason we had to move forward was SB32, which expands the feed-in tariff program that requires expedited procedures, and no path was available under Rule 21, because they were wholesale systems,” says Stanfield.

Indeed, says Ko, those bills specifically targeted the market for wholesale distributed generation systems trying to connect to the grid and sell to the utilities.  “SB32 said that systems up to 3 MW, we have to get them into the grid quickly, not just leave them hanging,” he said. “There has been a spike in interconnections of this type in the last 3-4 years; it has jumped by factor of 10. SCE has hundreds of megawatts of solar waiting to connect.” See the chart below.

Saying it supports the CPUC’s decision, SCE said, “The Rule 21 Settlement will benefit renewable developers and increase the eligibility limit for Fast Track evaluation to 3 MW from 2 MW. The revised tariff should also improve the efficiency of the interconnection process by replacing the one-at-a-time study process with a group study process and by adding deadlines that apply to both generators and SCE.”

 

Rule 21

Electric Rule 21 is a tariff that describes the interconnection, operating and metering requirements for generation facilities to be connected to a utility’s distribution system, over which the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has jurisdiction.  The Rule 21 tariff for each of California’s large investor owned utilities (IOUs) is available on each IOU’s website. Note that the posted Rule 21 may not reflect updates to the tariff that may be pending before the CPUC:

The CPUC’s open interconnection proceeding is R.11-09-011.  For information or to discuss a matter related to distribution system interconnection, contact Rachel Peterson, Energy Division, atrp1@cpuc.ca.gov or (415) 703-2872.

Recent Events

September 25, 2012:  Assigned Commission Phase II Scoping Memo Issued

Assigned Commissioner Michel P. Florio issued a Phase II Scoping Memo in R,11-09-011, setting out the high-priority issues to achieve the Commission’s goal of ensuring a timely, non-discriminatory, cost-effective, and transparent process for interconnection to the utility distribution system.

September 13, 2012:  Rule 21 Settlement Approved

In Decision 12-09-018 the Commission approved the full set of reforms to Rule 21 proposed via a multi-party settlement.  The Commission anticipates that the significant reforms achieved in Rule 21 will advance the Commission’s goals of ensuring a timely, non-discriminatory, cost-effective, and transparent interconnection process for distributed generation in California.

History

March 16, 2012:  Rule 21 Settlement filed

On March 16, 2012, fourteen parties to the Distribtuion System Interconnection Settlement Process filed a settlement in CPUC Rulemaking (R.)11-09-011.

The settling parties are:  Aloha Systems, California Farm Bureau Federation, Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, Clean Coalition, Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Pacifc Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Sierra Club, solar Energy Industries Association, Southern California Edison, SunEdison, Sunlight Partners, Sustainable Conservation, and Vote Solar Initiative.

The centerpiece of the settlement is significantly reformed CPUC-jursidictional Rule 21 interconnection tariff.  Upon launching the settlement process for Rule 21 in August 2011, the CPUC’s goal was to craft transparent rules that provide a clear, predictable path to interconnection for distributed generation while maintaining the safety and reliability of the electric grid.

See here for the full Motion for Approval of Settlement Agreement Revising Distribution Level Interconnection Rules and Regulations.

September 22, 2011: CPUC approves Distribution Interconnection Proceeding

The CPUC approved an OIR (R.11-09-011) to “review the rules and regulations governing interconnecting generation and storage resources to the electric distribution systems of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison Company (SCE), and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E).”  The OIR is the procedural forum for the Distribution System Interconnection Settlement Process.

August 23, 2011: Distribution System Interconnection Settlement Process

The CPUC launched a multi-party Distribution System Interconnection Settlement Process intended to reach a global settlement on issues regarding distributed generation interconnection to the investor-owned utility distribution system in California.  The Settlement Process is subject to confidentiality rules, pursuant to CPUC Rule 12, and FERC Rule 602.

Rule 21 Working Group

The Rule 21 Working Group has served since 2000 as the source of ideas for maintaining and updating technical and other standards within the Rule 21 tariff.  The Rule 21 Working Group is not meeting in its usual format while the Distribution System Interconnection Settlement Process is underway. Future public meetings of the Rule 21 Working Group will be noticed in the Commission’s Daily Calendar.

August 2011 Working Group Workshops

  • August 19, 2011, 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m., CPUC Auditorium: Rule 21 Working Group Workshop.  Off-site participation: This workshop will be available via video webcast in real-time and archived.  Presentation available here.
  •  August 19, 2011, 1:00-4:00 p.m., CPUC Courtyard Room: Rule 21 Working Group Technical Subcommittee Meeting.  Offsite participation will be available by phone.   Phone-in information will be sent only to participants who have completed an rsvp form at the link below.  Presentation available here.
  • August 23, 2011, 1:00-4:00 p.m., CPUC Courtyard Room: Rule 21 Working Group Business Practices Subcommittee Meeting.  Offsite participation will be available by phone.   Phone-in information will be sent only to participants who have completed an rsvp form at the link below.  Presentation available here.

Download the full agenda for the above meetings

April 2011 Working Group Workshops

CPUC held a Rule 21 Working Group Workshop Friday, April 29, 2011 at the CPUC Auditorium.

Download a printable agenda here

Workshop presentation materials:

About the Rule 21 Working Group

The intent of the Rule 21 Working Group is to build consensus among the CPUC, IOUs, generators, and advocates for Rule 21 reforms to meet the technical needs and policy goals of interconnecting distributed generation.  The Rule 21 Working Group succeeded at this goal in its past work, making California’s Rule 21 a national model tariff establishing metering and operating standards for interconnecting distributed generation resources.  Following three years of extensive change in the statutory, technological, and generator context, however, Rule 21 is widely agreed to be in need of reconsideration.

The purpose of this kickoff meeting is to initiate discussion of the issues emerging under Rule 21 that may be hindering the achievement of California’s distributed generation goals.  Below are examples of such issues that CPUC has identified:

  • Need for transparency in terms of processing, queue information, and customer application information;
  • Need for review and potential reconsideration of technical screens within Rule 21 to ensure that the appropriate issues are being studied;
  • Need for articulation of cost allocation methodology where network upgrades are required;
  • Need for review of utility tariff consistency with each other and with state law;
  • Need for additional standard interconnection agreements to accommodate the different types of distributed generation projects anticipated to come online.

June 20 2008: Workshop on Rule 21

On June 20, 2008, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held a workshop on the topic of the Rule 21 interconnection standard.  The primary focus of the workshop was to discuss the transition of Rule 21 oversight from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to the CPUC.

More Information

A more detailed history of the Rule 21 Working Group is available on the CEC website. For more information about past Rule 21 Working Group activities visit http://rule21.ca.gov/.

Last Modified: 10/3/2012

 

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