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The Middle Class Is Driving Residential Solar Installations

Monday, December 23, 2013

Perhaps you’ve heard the claim that only the wealthiest of Americans can afford to install solar panels on their homes. Utilities companies and skeptics alike have promoted this idea for a few years now for their own selfish reasons. There’s just one problem with it:

They’re wrong.

New research by the Center for American Progress puts lie to this claim by demonstrating that not only is the middle class driving the installation of residential rooftop solar, but all Americans regardless of income level are interested in rooftop solar power.

To reach these conclusions, the Center for American Progress collected data from Arizona, California, and New Jersey, three states leading the nation in solar deployment. By analyzing the median household incomes of the ZIP codes that experienced solar installations in these three states, the study found the following:

  1. In all three states, homeowners living in ZIP codes with median incomes ranging between $40,000 and $90,000 comprise at least 60% of all solar installs.
  2. The distribution of solar installations across all income levels is similar to the overall population distributions in each state.
  3. Since 2009, the strongest growth in solar installations has been in neighborhoods with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000.

So let’s take these findings one at a time: The first finding says that in Arizona, California, and New Jersey more than half of all solar installations are middle class homeowners. The second finding states that people of all income levels are installing solar power in their homes. The third finding states that middle-class Americans are the most eager to install solar panels. A survey taken recently by Market Strategies echoes this third point, with 61% of respondents across all income levels, including households with incomes under $25,000, saying they were interested in purchasing a home solar system.

A large reason for the increasing installation of solar panels among the middle class is due to a single policy: net metering. Simply put, net metering is how your home or company can utilize every single watt of energy produced by your solar PV system and how you can completely eliminate your electric bill. Think of it as a bank. On bright, sunny days when your solar panels generate more power than your house needs, net metering allows you to deposit this excess energy into the grid. Come nightfall, when your house will need more electricity than it did during the day, you can withdraw that same amount of energy you deposited at no charge. If, after a month, you deposited more than you withdrew, your utility gives you a credit. It’s that simple.

Homeowners in Hawaii, with its abundant sunshine and dependence on imported energy, are perfectly poised to take advantage of rooftop solar and net metering. And that’s all households. Given Hawaii’s [second-highest rate of residential solar adoption globally](http://www.clearskyadvisors.com/3863/global-residential-solar-pv-installations-the-highest-penetration-rates-are-not-always-found-in-the-largest-markets/]—nearly 3% of all households, it’s clearly not only the top 1% by household income, and likely not only those in the top 5%, who have added solar in Hawaii.

So don’t believe the skeptics. Solar power is for all Americans, not just the wealthy. Contact Sunetric to find out how solar power and net metering can help you eliminate your electricity bill for good!

Sunetric Sponsors ‘Talk Story’ Chamber of Commerce Luncheon with Governor Abercrombie

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sunetric's Aaron Kirk and Aaron Cates with Governor Abercrombie

Sunetric’s Aaron Kirk and Aaron Cates with Governor Abercrombie

Sunetric was honored to be the title sponsor of the “Talk Story with Governor Abercrombie” Chamber of Commerce of Hawaii luncheon on December 6. Our own COO Aaron Kirk spoke a few words at the event, and it was great to meet with friends and colleagues to talk story and solar.

Sunetric COO Aaron Kirk delivers opening remarks at the Dec 6 Talk Story event

Sunetric COO Aaron Kirk delivers opening remarks

At the luncheon, which was held at The Plaza Club in Honolulu, Governor Neil Abercrombie announced that the State of Hawaii ended fiscal year 2013 with a positive fund balance of $844 million, a $1.1 billion turn-around since he took office in late 2010. During 2013, $1.2 billion was invested in for priority capital improvement projects that support state infrastructure and facilities, strengthen the local economy and generate job opportunities. Another $2.2 billion has been appropriated for fiscal year 2014. As of October 2013, Hawaii’s unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, one of the lowest in the United States, compared with the national unemployment rate of 7.3 percent.

Members of the Sunetric team gathered at the Talk Story luncheon

Members of the Sunetric team gathered at the Talk Story luncheon

To see more photos from the event, click here

The November 21 FERC Decision: Big News for Solar and Energy Storage

Monday, December 16, 2013

With all the news coming out of Washington, you probably missed the story about how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently ensured the continued explosive growth of solar power domestically for the near future.

How did the FERC do this? Here’s a quick history lesson to bring you up to speed: Back in 2005, the FERC issued Order 2006, which established national rules for how electricity-generation projects (like photovoltaics) can connect to the grid if they are 20 megawatts or less in size. Basically, this meant that public utilities had to make it easier for small generators, like solar power, to connect to the grid. While this was a great—and groundbreaking—development, the seven years since have seen demand for solar increase tremendously, and certain aspects of the order resulted in barriers to cost-effective and timely interconnections.

This is where the new rule, Rule 792, comes into play. Adopted on Nov. 21, Rule 792 addresses some of the problems that arose from Order 2006 while also adding energy storage as a power source that is eligible to connect to the grid and be used by public utilities as “ancillary services” on an as-needed basis. Now, not only is it easier for small generators, including solar power projects, to connect to the grid, but energy storage is now officially an option available to public utilities to use alongside traditional gas and coal power plants.

So how does this help solar power? When paired with energy storage technologies, solar power can now compete head-to-head with gas and coal plants to supply public utilities with ancillary services. Because the rules also stipulate that utilities must consider speed and precision when choosing ancillary services, solar power is increasingly the better option. According to the chairman of the FERC, Jon Wellinghoff, “Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything.” With the US expected to double its entire cumulative capacity of distributed solar in the next 2.5 years, the facts bear this out.

With the new FERC rules, energy storage is going to help ensure that solar power continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

Shine On! 6 Solar-powered Holiday Gift Ideas

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Share the spirit of sustainability this season by giving friends and family playful and practical gifts that run on sunlight, not batteries. No matter what your budget, there’s a gadget or gizmo for just about everyone on your list.

solar-backpack

BirkSun backpack

$150 — Anyone with an active lifestyle–in the mountains or the city–will love this “powerful” bag. The built-in solar panel means you can keep your smartphone and other gadgets juiced up when you’re away from home on a hike or touristy stroll downtown. Plus, it can be plugged into a wall outlet before you start out so you can begin the day with a full charge. Bags are weather-resistant and TSA-approved, too.

solar-cat-toy

Cat Tantalizer toy

$40 — Attach this gizmo to a glass door or window, and when sunlight hits the solar panel, the dangling rod and toy will “dance” just as if you were waving it around in front of your cat. Industrial-grade suction cups mean it will stay safely affixed no matter how enthusiastic your furry friend gets during play, and the rod detaches so you can use it for interactive play as well.

solar-charger

Opteka Ultra High-capacity USB Backup Battery Solar Charger

$50 — It’s inevitable–if you’re out all day, your phone/tablet/e-reader/handheld game device is going to run out of charge sooner or later. This small, portable, solar-powered backup battery is about the same size as a smartphone (3×5”) and can even be pre-charged via USB from a computer so you’ll have spare power whenever and wherever you need it.

solar-car

Build-Your-Own Solar Toy Car Kit

$23 — Teach kids ages 8 and up about the basic principles of solar energy by helping them construct their very own solar-powered toy car that can zoom across the floor. As if that weren’t fun enough, this multi-purpose kit also shows kids how to make a helicopter with spinning rotor blades, a windmill with spinning turbine, a jet plane, and a gyrocopter.

solar-flashlight

Solo LED flashlight

$13 — A small but durable solar-powered flashlight makes a useful stocking stuffer, and this compact model provides two hours of light on a full charge. Slip it into your pocket or bag while camping, or keep it in your car for emergencies.

solar-lamps

SUNNAN LED table lamp

$20 — These lamps are so affordable and adorable, you might just want one (or two) for yourself! They’re perfect for a desk, nightstand or anywhere you need a little extra light – no proximity to an electrical outlet is required. The solar panel is removable to bring outside to charge, and a full charge will power the efficient LED light for about three hours.

Answers to the Solar Grid Saturation Issue

Monday, December 9, 2013

There’s been a lot of talk lately about ‘solar grid saturation’ in Hawaii. Fears about lost jobs in the booming solar market and tales of homeowners who desperately want to install solar only to find out that HECO is no longer issuing permits in their area because it’s over-saturated are making news.

We decided to look back at a report from 2008 that predicted this situation and proposed solutions that are still quite viable. The Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems Energy Storage (SEGIS-ES) concept was proposed in 2008 by the U.S. Department of Energy when solar industry engineers and specialists foresaw the coming solar boom and anticipated that it would create problems in the future for centralized grids like Hawaii’s.

The problem is pretty straightforward: solar is not a constant source of energy because the sun doesn’t shine constantly. The way the grid in Hawaii is set up now, the solar energy produced can’t be stored, so if it isn’t used, it goes to waste, and if there isn’t enough being made, there has to be a back up based on fossil fuels or other energy sources. That means that not every home can be powered by solar energy. Unless we find a way to store that solar energy for use at a later time.

This is where SEGIS-ES comes in. It’s a program designed to “develop electric energy storage components and systems specifically designed and optimized for grid-tied PV applications.” Essentially the SEGIS-ES program proposes to build storage capacity into the grid so that solar energy can be better distributed when and where it is needed. With a vision toward the future, the authors of this concept realized that solar-generated energy is a booming business with a bright future, and with proper planning it has the capacity to be a winning energy solution for reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

As they explain in the report’s overall vision:

The U.S. infrastructure for electricity generation and delivery is undergoing a revolution that will lead to increased efficiency, improved reliability and power quality for customers, ‘smart’ communications to match generation and loads, and the development of distributed generation from local and renewable resources. The high penetration of PV and other renewable energy technologies will be enabled by developing managed, efficient, reliable, and economical energy storage technologies that will eliminate the need for back-up utility baseload capacity to offset the intermittent and fluctuating nature of PV generation.

They also realized that “The electrical energy storage industry is well established and offers a variety of products for vehicle, uninterruptible power supply (UPS), utility-scale, and other applications. The design and development of storage products specifically for PV applications, however, is nearly nonexistent.”

The meat of the report provides detailed drawings and specifications for concept energy storage systems that could provide a solution to the relative standstill we are seeing with the current grid saturation issues. Innovations like these proposed in 2008 have the potential to offer a way forward that would allow more homeowners to take advantage of solar PV power and all the benefits it has to offer.

The solar industry is filled with smart, innovative and passionate people. This report is a great reminder that with focus, ingenuity and concerted effort we can find ways to continue Hawaii’s evolution toward solar energy independence.

Hawaii Voters Smile on Solar

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Hawaii is crazy for the sun, it seems. Not only does Hawaii get a greater percentage of electricity from solar than any other state, almost all voters in the Aloha state — a full 96% — support solar as an energy source, according to a survey conducted for The Pacific Resource Partnership and the Sierra Club of Hawai’i.

96% of Hawaii voters support solar energy solutions

Hawaii voters, in fact, are significantly more supportive of solar than the rest of the country: A Gallup poll conducted in March found that 76% of Americans want the U.S. to put more emphasis on solar production. That’s still a strong number, but not as close to unanimous as Hawaii’s results.

Here are some more findings from the survey:

Hawaiians_Support_Solar_full

The Sierra Club of Hawai’i also collected over 900 names on a petition in support of a modern, clean energy grid in Hawaii and delivered it to Representative Chris Lee. According to the Sierra Club, Lee responded by saying, “We’ve heard it loud and clear from voters that they want to install solar. The Legislature is committed to looking at policies this year that overcome current hurdles and ensure that our residents can continue to go green and save money with solar.”

Net Metering in Jeopardy in Colorado

Monday, December 2, 2013

With about 300 days of sunshine each year, Colorado is one of the top ranking states in the nation for solar energy potential. That’s one reason we chose Denver for our new mainland headquarters.

That’s also why we’re concerned about the efforts of Xcel Energy, the local utility company, to convince the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to limit net metering for its customers in Colorado. Net metering allows solar customers to “deposit” solar energy they don’t use into the electricity grid and receive a rebate for that energy.

The Solar Energy Industries Association has put together a petition to urge Xcel’s executives to withdraw their anti-solar net metering proposal before PUC. Here’s how SEIA explains the issue:

Xcel is proposing a major change in the way rooftop solar energy is valued in the electricity market. Currently, through a policy called “net metering,” when citizens use their own money to install solar energy systems on their homes, they are able to generate a credit that offsets their own energy usage.

This credit is not just for the energy they generate, but also for other benefits of solar. Solar helps utilities meet peak demand, reduces the need for costly transmission lines and cuts air pollution from power plants. A recent independent analysis found that the benefits of net-metered power to the electrical grid outweigh the lost revenue Xcel collects, with a total net value of between $7 and $11 million per year.

Instead of accounting for the total value of solar, Xcel Energy is using a flawed and outdated internal study to claim that net metering is a handout to consumers that needs to be eventually phased out. The utility is claiming that half the credit an average residential customer receives under net metering is a subsidy.*

If Xcel is successful in convincing the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that net metering is a subsidy, the company will have laid the groundwork to alter the economics that now make solar energy an attractive option for homeowners. The proposal is included in the utility’s 2014 Renewable Energy Standard compliance filing and is pending before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

We must defend net metering in Colorado and show Xcel the support that solar energy has. Colorado citizens should not be penalized by choosing to invest private capital to become energy independent.

Click here to sign the petition!

On Dec. 11, SEIA is asking supporters of the petition to gather in downtown Denver to personally deliver the petition to Xcel’s headquarters. If you’re interested in attending, meet at Skyline Park (1634 Arapahoe St., Denver, CO 80265) at noon.

Why We Buy American Whenever Possible

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

made-in-the-usa

“I have come to a resolution myself as I hope every good citizen will, never again to purchase any article of foreign manufacture which can be had of American make, be the difference of price what it may. –Thomas Jefferson, 1885

A lot has changed since our third president uttered those words, especially in the energy industry. Whereas fire and horsepower were the main forms of energy over a hundred years ago, today our energy sources run the gamut from fossil fuels to renewable energy like solar power. One thing that hasn’t changed, though, is the sentiment Jefferson expressed regarding his preference for American-made products.

As solar power continues to spread across America, it would be great if we could say that everything about it is a home-grown solution. But the fact remains that many of the components are currently manufactured overseas, so for those who want to make the switch to solar power, there doesn’t seem to be a way to both help the environment and support the USA.

But as a company, we are committed to improving the American economy through renewable energy, and we work very hard to defy industry expectations by providing high-quality products made right here in America. We focus on improving the local economy in the areas we operate in by hiring all local installers, and we have done so since our founding in 2004. In Hawaii, for instance, every stage of the design, development, and installation of PV systems takes place locally.

While many solar providers source their components and panels from foreign countries, including China, we at Sunetric are committed to offering no less than 50% American-made products. All of our component and equipment suppliers are compliant with either or both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) or the Buy American Act (BAA).

Our biggest inverter partner, Solectria Renewables, for instance, was named a “Top Job Creator in America” by Inc. Magazine. By supporting Solectria, we’re proud to be helping to jumpstart American innovation, which clearly leads to an increase in jobs in the U.S.

It is virtually impossible to NOT receive American components from Sunetric:

  • We offer ARRA-compliant Sunpower modules which include 50% or more American materials.
  • Our entire line of Suniva modules is BAA- and ARRA-compliant and uses 85% American components. And as of May of this year, Suniva started manufacturing 100% of their modules in the USA.
  • Our SMA-provided inverters use 85%+ American components and are ARRA-compliant.
  • Our Solectria inverters use 85%+ American components and are BAA- and ARRA-compliant.
  • Unirac and Unirac Flashings, used in our racking systems, use 85%+ American components and are BAA- and ARRA-compliant.

Altogether, these figures add up to tremendous value for our customers. More than 75% of our project value is returned to our local and national economy. In this way, Sunetric both helps the global environment and supports the American economy.

No matter what option you choose with Sunetric, we have found a way to make American products affordable. We negotiate with our vendors and develop top-of-the-line engineered systems and processes to reduce our costs and make our American products price competitive.

By buying American, we support the growth of American-made clean energy.

By buying American, we support innovation in Hawaii and the mainland United States.

By buying American, our customers join in our cause to get our nation’s economy back on track.

US-Made Solar: How Are Components Sourced?

Thursday, November 21, 2013

made-in-the-usa

2013 is shaping up to be another record-breaking year for the U.S. solar industry, with 832 megawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed in the U.S. in the second quarter of 2013, making it the second largest quarter in the industry’s history. As the U.S. solar market continues to grow, an important yet perhaps misunderstood aspect of solar production continues to bother some consumers: How many solar panels, and what percentage of the components that comprise or surround them, are made in the U.S.?

Over the past several years, Asian-based solar manufacturers, particularly those from China and Taiwan, have grown remarkably. Whereas in 2006 only two of the top 10 solar cell producers were based in China, in 2012 that number had jumped to six, with only two of the top 10 hailing from the U.S. Indeed, a full two-thirds of the solar cells and modules that the U.S. imports come from Asia. Yet, even the products made by American-based solar companies are not necessarily completely “Made in America,” as these companies source significant percentages of the components used to build their products from other countries.

Clearly, this is an issue that has captured the attention of the industry, including institutions such as the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). According to a GTM Research Study prepared for SEIA, 73% of total PV system value in the U.S. was created domestically in 2010, up from 71% in 2009. Good news, right? Well, not exactly. That 73% refers to the total PV system, which includes manufacturing, site preparation, labor, soft costs, value chain markup, etc. Conversely, if we look at the PV modules (the packaged, connected assembly of solar cells) deployed in the U.S., only 30% of that value was domestically created in 2010, with the other 70% coming from foreign sources. This discrepancy stems from China’s dominance in global wafer production, where it commands 52% market share (the U.S. has 3%), and in solar cell production, with China responsible for producing half of all crystalline silicon cells (the U.S. makes 3%).

So is there any good news? Sort of. Despite the low share of domestic value in crystalline silicon modules installed in the U.S., American exports of these modules exceeded $1.2 billion in 2010. Also, 88% of the value from concentrated solar power (systems use mirrors or lenses to concentrate a large area of sunlight onto a small area) in 2010 was created domestically, with only the mirrors being sourced internationally. Finally, when it comes to thin film modules, a relatively new technology first seen as the small strips powering handheld calculators, the percentage of domestic value in U.S.-installed modules was 71% in 2010, and 97% of all thin film modules installed in the U.S. were manufactured domestically. However, these positive numbers are more a function of the small number of prominent thin film manufacturers as compared to crystalline silicon, where manufacturing is distributed across the globe and is far more competitive.

Despite these complicated findings, there are still several companies that advertise their products as “Made in America” like Sunetric does. We guarantee at least 50% of products within an installation are made in America, and that all of its component and equipment suppliers comply with either or both the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act or the Buy American Act. For example, our entire line of Suniva modules uses 85% American components and, as of May of 2013, Suniva started manufacturing 100% of their modules in the U.S. Supporting the American solar industry is important to us, so we’re constantly looking for ways to increase the percentage of U.S.-made components.

Hawaii, You’ve Shown Us the Way

Friday, November 15, 2013

Have we mentioned lately how much we love Hawaii? The beaches, weather, and people are the best in the world. But there’s another reason we’re proud to live and work here: Hawaii has been a great place to build a solar company.

Hawaii’s abundance of sunshine, unique energy needs, and environmentally savvy community have helped make it one of the top states for solar. Since 2004, we’ve learned unique lessons about generating energy in an isolated state, where each island must have its own power production and back-up supply. On the mainland, when the lights go out in one area, power can be pulled from other grids. Here, one big cloud can affect an entire island’s energy supply. As a result, our grids have to be—and are—smarter and more sophisticated.

This is why we’ve decided the time is right to take what we’ve learned in Hawaii to the mainland. Once the United States begins exporting more natural gas, higher energy costs are sure to drive more Americans to solar. With our experience providing energy in areas where up to 15 percent of the population uses solar, we feel that we’re just the company to take on the challenge of scaling up solar in other parts of the country.

In 2011, Sunetric started building a presence in Washington DC, where the military is driving new renewable energy projects. And we’ve more recently opened offices in Denver, San Francisco, and Pittsburgh, where we have a handful of commercial, federal, and residential projects.

Sunetric’s experience in large-scale commercial and military solar in Hawaii make it a good fit for large community solar projects in Colorado, one of the first states with regulations allowing “community solar.” Community solar is analogous to a community garden, except that a family owns one of many panels in the (solar) farm, more or less, versus one of many plots. Community solar projects allow people who can’t or don’t want to place solar panels on their homes or businesses to become involved in the solar industry. Several homeowners in Colorado Springs, for example, could band together and share a field of solar panels 50 miles to the north near Denver. When the utility buys that power, the homeowners will get a check, which will offset their electricity bill.

Projects like this mean Sunetric’s not just a Hawaii company anymore, but as we embark on this next phase of our business, we want to thank all of our Hawaii customers for helping light the way to a solar future—both for us and for the entire country.

Solar Schools: How Your Green Can Help Schools Go Green

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Imagine there was an easy way to get solar panels on your school From both an economic and environmental standpoint, solar power just makes sense for schools. Case in point: The photovoltaic (PV) energy system we installed at Waialae Elementary in 2011 generates an average of 19,500 kWh of electricity per month, yielding monthly savings of nearly $1,000. With energy and cost savings, the school is estimated to prevent annual greenhouse gas emissions from the equivalent of 32 passenger vehicles annually and CO2 emissions from 375 barrels of oil each year.

Despite the clear advantages to PV projects like these, many school administrators lack the time and expertise to evaluate their district’s needs and formulate a plan to help their schools go solar. The decision is the easy part; following up, and following through, can be harder.

To help bridge this gap between inspired idea and implementation, the Natural Resources Defense Council recently launched a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign to get their Solar Schools initiative up and running. The platform, an online tool that’s currently in the works, will “help parents and students connect and organize themselves around development of specific solar projects that increase renewable energy infrastructure in their community.” The Solar Schools project will easily and efficiently allow communities to harness their enthusiasm, focus their activism, and connect with local experts and resources to get plans of the ground.

By supporting this program with even a small donation, you’re helping schools all across the country create the same bright future we are making possible in Hawaii. Every donation includes a vote for your preferred pilot location, so encourage those in your own community to get in on the giving, too – a school in your area could be one of the first to benefit from this pioneering program. Hurry, the campaign ends at midnight on Nov. 14 2013.


Related
Hongwanji Mission School PPA Project from Sunetric
St. Francis Schools Goes Solar: KHON2 Morning News

All Things Considered, Solar Is Cheaper than Coal

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Here’s some encouraging news for renewable energy: When the cost of climate change and health impacts are taken into account, electricity from solar and wind is now cheaper than coal.

A study published last month in the Journal of Environmental Studies analyzed the real costs of different energy sources using official U.S. government’s estimates of the social cost of carbon (SCC). The SCC is an estimate of the economic damage burning fossil fuels does to the environment—costs like reduced agriculture productivity from droughts, property damages from floods, and health problems from pollution.

The study found that new coal is the most expensive form of electricity at 13.8 cents per kilowatt hour. In contrast, new natural gas and new onshore wind were the cheapest at 7.8 and 8 cents, respectively. New solar photovoltaic is 13.3 cents per kilowatt hour, which is about on par with energy from a new coal plant with carbon capture and storage technology (13.1 cent).

“In short, it would be cheaper to build new power plants from wind turbines or solar panels than from coal,” writes Dr. Laurie Johnson, chief economist in the Climate and Clean Air Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the authors of the study. “It would also be cheaper to replace some of the dirtiest coal plants currently in operation with these cleaner sources.”

These estimates are even considered to be conservative. The EPA wasn’t able to include all of the likely costs of carbon emissions into their SCC calculations because of a lack of precise information about all of the upstream damages. And, as Johnson points out, the costs of solar and wind are falling faster than analysts have anticipated.

Power plants are responsible for 40 percent of the carbon pollution in the United States, making them the single largest source. This isn’t the first study to look at the hidden costs of fossil fuels, but it helps put those costs into context. The EPA is using information like this to inform new regulations about carbon emissions from power plants.

These findings provide more evidence that coal is on its way out and renewable energy is the way of the future. A future that relies on cleaner, cheaper energy for a cleaner planet.

The Price of Paradise

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Hawaii is a lot of things—beautiful, tropical, diverse, friendly, relaxing—but it isn’t a cheap place to live. Life in our ‘āina comes at a price—a high price. Based on statistics from a recent article in Civil Beat, we put together an infographic comparing gas and electricity prices over the past 20 years.

With gas and electricity costs consistently on the rise, solar increasingly becomes a no-brainer. Not only can you immediately save on already high electricity costs, but switching to solar guards against inevitable future price increases.

Price_of_Paradise

One Down, Many More to Go…

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Hawaiian Electric Company, the provider of electricity to 95% of Hawai’i’s residents, just announced that it will deactivate its Honolulu Power Plant on January 31st, 2014. The move is part of the company’s overall strategy to increase the statewide use of renewable energy and reduce Hawaii’s dependency on imported fossil fuels.

Ron Cox, Hawaiian Electric’s Vice President of Power Supply, told Hawaii News Now:

“Thanks to the lower use of electricity and tremendous growth in renewable energy as a result of Hawaii’s clean energy efforts, we’re able to deactivate some older, less efficient oil-fired generating units on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island. This will help us use less oil and lower customers’ electric bills.”

The Honolulu Power Plant, one of the three major power plants on Oahu, first went into service in 1954 when Hawai’i was still a territory of the U.S. Once the Honolulu plant is closed, the remaining two oil-fired power plants will have a combined generating capacity of 113 megawatts.

The renewable energy surge in Hawai’i is responsible for this promising trend. A growing amount of the island’s energy needs are powered by renewable sources including Hawaiian Electric’s biofuel station at Campbell Industrial Park, the City & County’s H-POWER waste-to-energy facility, two wind farms owned and operated by First Wind, several utility-scale solar facilities and thousands of photovoltaic systems on residential rooftops.

Sunetric alone is responsible for more than 60 megawatts of solar energy installation here in the state of Hawai’i. Every day, with every installation we complete, we are helping the state of Hawai’i achieve its renewable energy goals.

Department of Defense: The Next Solar Superstar?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) has set an ambitious goal to reach 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2025. This is an exciting commitment to solar energy from the largest single energy consumer in the world. The DOD annual energy budget is a whopping $20 billion.

The biggest energy consumer of the military branches, the Air Force, has already built 38 megawatts of solar capacity. The Army has installed over 26 megawatts of solar at bases in sixteen states, leaving solar to account for one-third of the Army’s planned renewable capacity additions through 2017. And the Navy has installed more than 58 megawatts across twelve states including Washington D.C. with plans to exceed the basic plan by obtaining 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.

According to the report, Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy released by SEIA, this shift to solar has allowed the military to cut its consumption of generator liquid fuel from 20 gallons per day to 2.5 gallons per day.

We are no stranger to federal solar solutions working on numerous large-scale installations with the Air Force, US Navy and US Coast Guard. We are proud of the DOD’s commitment to solar and look forward to following the progress.

DOD_Graphic (1)