Dartmouth College goes solar with Solaflect


Or, “Big Green Goes Green.” From Dartmouth News:

Construction has begun on a state-of-the-art solar panel adjacent to Moore Hall. The panel moves both up and down and sideways to track the sun throughout the day, making it 40 percent more efficient than a fixed unit. Equipped with an anemometer, the solar tracker takes a vertical position in high winds to prevent damage. It’s also designed to shed snow easily. The Norwich, Vt., manufacturer Solaflect has created a lightweight structure that uses less steel than other trackers.

“That makes it cost-effective. It’s really cutting edge technology,” says Timothy McNamara ’78, associate director of real estate for the College. Designed for household use, the panel will provide only some of the energy Moore consumes. But McNamara says it’s also intended to educate passers-by about the benefits of solar power.



WCAX profiles Solaflect installation at East Haven Veterinary Services


WCAX TV-3 in Burlington, Vermont has profiled a recent Solaflect PV Tracker installation at East Haven Veterinary Services. Dr. Sally Schleuter explains that going solar was the logical and responsible choice, especially since the clinic is part of the Vermont Business Environmental Partnership. You can watch the profile below or visit WCAX’s news page. All of us at Solaflect thank Dr. Schleuter for leading the way with solar in vermont.

WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Wholesale electricity over 87 cents/kWh. Are you helping keep rates low?

ISO-NE real time pricing 2016-08-11_1-55pm

It’s a hot day in New England, with temperatures as I write over 90°F. Air conditioners are running hard, and the regional grid is at full tilt.

To supply the needed electricity, utilities and independent power producers are turning on their “peaker” power plants—facilities that sit idle most of the time, and only get used during periods of high demand. These power plants are extremely expensive, and when they are called into action regional spot-market wholesale electricity prices skyrocket.

I checked the wholesale prices five minutes ago. The screen grab below shows that the current price is over 87 cents per kWh!

ISO-NE real time pricing 2016-08-11_1-55pm

(Source: ISO-NE. It shows prices in dollars per MWh. There are 1,000 kWhs in each MWh, so divide the cost shown by 1,000 to get the cost per kWh.)

That’s what the utilities are paying right now for the extra energy they need. So while they pay over 87 cents/kWh, they sell it to us at between 10 and 20 cents/kWh, depending on the utility and the rate plan. In other words, at a time like this, utilities are losing money hand over fist. And they will need to make it back up the rest of the year.

If utilities can buy less of this super-expensive power, then rates all year round can stay lower. Alongside efficiency and conservation (if you have A/C, turn your thermostat up a few degrees!), one of the best ways to avoid this high-cost power is with solar. Here’s a screen grab of solar production from one of our customer’s trackers, taken a few minutes before the cost image above.

Tracker graph 2016-08-11_1-40pm

This is typical of days with high-cost electricity. Electricity is expensive right now because it’s a hot day and so much is being used for air conditioning. It’s a hot day because it is summer and sunny. What do solar panels do on sunny days? They make electricity! So this tracker—and all the other Solaflect trackers out there—are producing lots of electricity at a far, far lower cost than grid wholesale. Every kWh coming out of the trackers is a kWh that the utilities don’t have to get from the wholesale spot market. That saves the utility a lot of money, and helps keep all of our rates low.

This Solaflect customer is both saving money for directly with their solar production, and helping their neighbors save money in the long run by keeping rates lower. You can do the same.

UPDATE: ten minutes after writing the above, New England wholesale electricity has gone up above $1 per kWh!

ISO-NE real time pricing 2016-08-11_2-05pm

UPDATE #2. I checked in again at 5:30 pm. The cost for spot market electricity has been over $1 per kWh for about two and a half hours, so far. At shortly before 3 pm, it peaked out at a whopping $2.69 per kWh!

ISO-NE real time pricing 2016-08-11_full dayB

Why we go solar


Environmental records shattered as climate change ‘plays out before us’

Temperatures, sea levels and carbon dioxide all hit milestones amid extreme weather in 2015, major international ‘state of the climate’ report finds

The world is careening towards an environment never experienced before by humans, with the temperature of the air and oceans breaking records, sea levels reaching historic highs and carbon dioxide surpassing a key milestone, a major international report has found.

Full article at The Guardian.

FAQ: How much more electricity will I use if I switch to an electric dryer or oven/stove?


Many people looking to go solar want to take full advantage of solar as a source of clean, low-cost energy. This includes “electrifying” their lives by switching from gas to electric clothes dryers or electric stoves and ovens.

Efficiency Vermont provides estimates for the amount of electricity used by different sorts of appliances. They estimate that electric clothes dryers and electric stoves each use approximately 900 kWh per year, in the typical home. For Green Mountain Power customers, as an example, that works out to about $11 more on the electric bill per month for each appliance. Read more

FAQ: How much more electricity will I use if I drive an electric car?


Driving an electric vehicle is an efficient way to get around, both in terms of energy and money. DriveElectricVT estimates that the cost to drive an electric vehicle—either all-electric or a plug-in hybrid—is equivalent to driving a gasoline car if gas is running at about $1 per gallon. And the cost for electricity is a lot more stable over time than the cost of gasoline.

If you are thinking about driving on electricity now or in the relatively near future, you may wonder about covering your electric vehicle’s needs with solar. The average American driver drives 13,476 miles per year, according to the Federal Highway Administration. An electric vehicle uses around 1/3rd of a kWh to drive 1 mile. That means to drive the average distance of 13,476 miles in a year, the car will go through 4,463 kWh. This is roughly 2/3rds to 3/4ths of the electric output of one Solaflect PV Tracker in Vermont or New Hampshire, depending on the Tracker’s location.

See more FAQs here, or quickly jump to electric use by heat pumps or household appliances.

$1,000 incentive for Vermont electric cars

Photo by Paul Krueger. CC-By 2.0.

DriveElectricVT announces

New electric vehicle incentives available to Vermonters

We’re offering up to $1,000 on qualifying plug-in vehicles!

For those in the market for a new car this summer, now is the time to go electric. For a limited time only, we are offering an instant discount off the purchase or lease of a new plug-in vehicle. There are approximately 200 incentives available to Vermonters, so it pays to act fast!

[Full announcement…]