What is Net Metering?

How does Net Metering work?
Net metering allows the grid to be a giant battery for solar. When the sun shines, the electricity produced will be used to power your home, and your electric meter will not spin. When you produce more than you use, the excess electricity will flow back to the grid, and your meter spins backwards. When you do not produce enough solar electricity for your home, your meter spins forward as it always has.

Can my bill get to zero?
Yes, all extra electricity produced is converted to a dollar value, and this can be used to offset all charges and get your electric bill to zero.

What happens with extra electricity?
If you produce more electricity than you use in a month, a credit for this electricity can be carried forward for 12 months. This will be used to offset extra usage in future months. For most houses in Vermont, this means that extra solar electricity generated in the summer can be used to offset electricity usage in the winter.

Where Can I Put a Backyard Solar Tracker?

How much space does a solar Tracker require?
A Solaflect solar Tracker will occupy a circle 20 feet in diameter.

How much daylight is needed at the site of the solar Tracker?
The benefit of a solar Tracker is greatest if there is good solar exposure to the East and West. In most of Vermont, the sun is never below 23 degrees above the horizon due south. Solaflect Energy will do a free site analysis upon request in VT or NH.

How far away can the solar Tracker be from my house?
The solar Tracker can be 200 feet away from the house with standard wiring. It can easily be further than 200 feet with upgraded wiring.

How does the electricity get to my house?
Wires are buried beneath the ground between the solar Tracker and your house.

Is My Home a Candidate for a Solar Tracker?

A Tracker makes sense if you have an open field or yard with decent solar exposure. Solaflect Energy will provide a free site analysis upon request (in VT and NH). The electricity savings are about $1,300 per year. If your average monthly electric bill is over $110, the savings will benefit you the most. You also need to pay at least $5,700 in federal income taxes to take full advantage of the tax credits available. This can be over several years, however.

Why Solar Energy Now?

Is Solar Affordable?
YES – With Solaflect’s revolutionary technology, you can get an “after-tax” rate of return exceeding 8% per year, equivalent to a taxable return (e.g. interest on a bank account or money market) of 9% to 15% per year, depending upon your tax bracket.

How does Solaflect make Solar Energy affordable?
By following the sun throughout the day, a Solaflect Solar Tracker provides 30% to 40% more electricity than the same number of PV modules mounted on the perfect south facing roof. Its modular construction provides additional savings with costs similar to roof top installations. The U.S. Department of Energy has recognized Solaflect’s innovative design, and has twice provided $1 million awards to Solaflect after nationally competitive reviewed competitions. These awards have all been invested in the engineering of the Solaflect Tracker.

Will Solar Energy be cheaper next year, and if so, should I wait?
Solar may be cheaper but the incentives will probably lessen. This is a great time to invest in solar energy.

Will the technology become obsolete?
Only if electricity becomes obsolete. Once a Solaflect Tracker is installed, the electricity it generates is very close to being free for 25 years.

Still time to go solar before VT reduces incentives again starting July 1

Despite solar tracker in springvigorous objection from solar advocates all over Vermont, the Public Utility Commission continued its trend of reducing solar incentives and set a lower rate for net-metering solar projects permitted after July 1, 2018.  Solaflect estimates that this change will reduce the average solar credit for a family by $750 to $1500 over the first 10 years.

Now is definitely not the time to slow solar adoption in Vermont, but regulators continue to set up roadblocks.  So just under 2 months to go solar at today’s more favorable rates!

Go Solar, Stop Bugs

backyard solar
Backyard solar: an affordable way to combat global warming

While scientists may argue over the degree to which the rise in bugs is directly related to the heating planet, the headlines last week were ominous: Tick and Mosquito Infections Spreading Rapidly, C.D.C. Finds.” “Illnesses From Pests More Than Triple. All it takes is a walk in your back yard to confirm: the ticks are back with a vengeance, this year poised to be worse than any previous.

At Solaflect, we’re passionate about making the planet a better place for our kids. No, really: our work to develop cutting edge, affordable renewable energy solutions is driven by a fervent desire to counter the threat of climate change (and all the creepy crawlies that it may be bringing) with actions that make a difference to all of us.
Nobody wants ticks, ash borers, and mosquitoes taking over the neighborhood — but those are just symptoms of something much bigger and more disturbing taking place, and they’re timely if painful reminders that the clock is ticking, and that our work to put a solar tracker in every backyard really can make a difference.
Get in touch with us to find out if backyard solar could be your way to help combat climate change — and maybe, just maybe, do your part to keep those pesky the ticks at bay…

Renewable Energy Credits in Vermont

Bill Bender, Solaflect President and founderRECs are complicated and contentious… but what exactly are they, anyway?

Lately there’s been some discussion about RECs and their status as it relates to solar in Vermont. First, a quick refresher: What, exactly, is a REC?

“A renewable energy certificate – REC (pronounced: rěk) is a tradeable, market-based instrument that represents the legal property rights to the “renewable-ness”—or non-power (i.e., environmental) attributes—of renewable electricity generation. A REC is created for every megawatthour (MWh) of electricity generated and delivered to the grid from a renewable energy resource. Electricity cannot be considered renewable without a REC to substantiate its renewable-ness.” (EPA’s Green Power Partnership, “Guide to Making Claims About Your Solar Power Use‘ from 2017)

And what does it mean when a REC is ‘retired’?

Renewable energy certificate “REC” tracking systems are electronic tracking systems that ensure that RECs are only “retired” once. “Retirement” of a REC means that the REC has been used by the owner; it can no longer be sold. (Renewable Energy Vermont REC Factsheet, 2016).

Some recent local debate raised a couple of misunderstandings that Solaflect would like to clear up:

  1. Solaflect’s more than 100 customers in Norwich are all legally solar, and the RECs have been retired.
  2. The RECs have also been retired on all solar power provided by Solaflect Energy community solar parks to the Marion Cross School, all buildings of the Town of Norwich, and the Norwich Public Library, and they all legally receive solar power.
  3. The rules governing RECs changed substantially in 2017; the default now is that RECs are transferred to the utility, and that they must be retired in Vermont.Nonetheless, Solaflect Energy has vigorously opposed the Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) rules on RECs. We have provided both written and oral testimony on several occasions. The current rules encourage dishonesty at worst and muddled language and confusion at best, and they severely penalize Vermont businesses wishing to make solar claims when selling products to a national audience. Given the integrity and value of Vermont branding, particularly for environmentally related products (e.g. organic food), we feel this is a huge mistake on the part of the PUC.
  4. Vermont currently spends $3.25 billion on energy each year, the vast majority of it outside the state, often supporting highly damaging fossil fuel development — whether fracking in Appalachia, strip mining in Wyoming, or oil development and sometimes suspect politics in Oklahoma, Nigeria, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia or Russia. Every time a solar module is installed in Vermont, fewer dollars need to leaving the state to purchase energy for the next 20-30 years.
  5. There are zero jobs in Vermont from fossil fuel production. Solar in Vermont, on the other hand, supports dozens of businesses and more than 1,500 local jobs. However, the number of those jobs has declined significantly in the past year, due to Vermont policy changes (seehttps://vtdigger.org/2018/02/13/vermont-solar-job-losses-tied-net-metering-changes/).

Go Solar for Little to No Money Down

solar for little to no money downInspired Design Made Affordable

If the upfront cost of solar has kept you on the sidelines, or kept you from adding more, look no further. Through the expansion of a long-standing partnership with the Vermont State Employees Credit Union (VSECU), we can now offer a Tracker with an unsecured loan for little to no money down, and at a loan interest rate of as low as 3.99%

Our goal has been to help those who would prefer to borrow funds to go solar, to do so. In most cases, Tracker owners can now go solar with an upfront payment of only 10% to 20% of the total cost of a Tracker, and a monthly loan payment that matches what they used to pay to their electric utility. Alternatively, they can finance the whole purchase with zero upfront payment but a higher monthly loan payment. And there’s no penalty if to pay down the loan early.

We’ve been impressed with VSECU’s customer service, simple and quick application process, experience and focus on solar loans. And note that despite the VSECU name, these solar loans are available to residents of New Hampshire and Massachusetts, as well.

Check out our new partnership site for all the details, get in touch right here online, give us a call at (802) 649-3700.

Meet Solaflect at HomeLife Expo in Hanover, NH

We hope you’ll join us at the 2018 HomeLife Expo this weekend at the Leverone Field House in Hanover, NH. You can find us in our usual spot on the left — we’ll have our big display along with information about how easily you can replace fossil fuel with clean energy from the sun by installing tracker mounted solar panels! We’re also excited to have just launched a Tracker purchase financing option for as low as 3.99% with little to no money down.
Saturday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Sunday  10:00 AM – 3:00 PM
Leverone Field House, Dartmouth College, South Park Street, Hanover, NH
Tickets at the door or on-line at homelifeexpo.com.
Hope to see you there!

Make your voice heard: Get Solar Back on Track in VT

Drop in Solar Installation in VT Graph
From Renewable Energy Vermont (REV)

We encourage you to make your voice heard as the Public Utility Commission (PUC) goes through a much-needed review of Vermont’s solar program after a pretty disastrous 2017 per this chart. Solar installations declined fifty percent in Vermont last year.

If there were any doubt about the need for more solar (there isn’t), news of the Arctic stewing in temperatures 45 degrees above normal and days of above freezing temperatures in the middle of the Arctic winter are the latest in a litany of far-too-frequent reminders. “Scary stuff, on many levels,” as an Alaskan meteorologist put it. And yet the country (recent 30% import tax on solar panels) and our state are making it harder for Vermonters to go solar. The trend is difficult to fathom.

The last few years of healthy growth have put Vermont on the map as a national leader in the adoption of renewable energy. But as expected, as the chart indicates, the state’s revised net metering rules adopted last year drove solar installations back sharply to 2014 levels.

We can all play an important role in getting solar back on track in Vermont for the next generation of families, businesses and organizations that want to go solar. As you’ll see below, we have until March 15th to make our voices heard, and yours is a particularly important and experienced voice, having already made the decision to go solar. The Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) advocacy group is mobilizing voices around the state to reach out to the PUC to “counter the narrative” coming from utilities that solar adoption is happening “too fast”. To that end, REV is encouraging letters to the PUC sharing the tangible benefits customers have seen from going solar, sharing personal stories, and taken all together, quantifying the full value that net metering has provided to the state of Vermont. REV’s suggested topics for people to address include:
Breakdown of solar installation decline in VT

  • Allowing customers to significantly reduce and stabilize their electrical bills and protect themselves from ever-increasing electricity rates
  • Helping businesses to cut costs and survive, e.g. farms that use lots of energy
  • Helping us all address our renewable energy commitment and combat climate change
  • Allowing some customers to shoulder their neighbors’ energy burden
  • Allowing off-site, community solar as an option for the roughly 70% of homeowners who can’t install solar at home. (Off-site, community solar is effectively no longer financially viable given siting penalties for solar installations imposed last year.)

Comments should be submitted by email to the PUC at puc.clerk@vermont.gov and it would be very helpful to blind copy (bcc) REV at info@revermont.org so they can track the pace of comments and messaging.

We thank you, future Solaflect Tracker owners thank you (they will, anyway :), and Vermont thanks you — in advance, for taking a few minutes to reach out to the PUC.

Join Us: Solaflect is hiring!

Solar Ambassador, based in Norwich, VT: We are growing our sales team here in the Upper Valley and are excited to find a full or part-time Solar Ambassador.  Our Ambassadors are each supported by Solar Development Representatives (SDR) who drive new customer lead generation, meaning our Ambassadors are responsible for customer relationships from qualified lead to close, allowing them to focus on what they do best.  The Solar Ambassador is an inside sales position for candidates who believe deeply in the critical need for renewable energy and like the challenge of selling a new product into the market.  Intended as a full time role, in certain circumstances a part time role may be possible.

You can read the full job description here.

Solar Development Representative, based in Norwich, VT: We are growing our sales team here in the Upper Valley and are seeking a full time Solar Development Representative (SDR) to drive new customer lead generation. The SDR will work closely with our Solar Advisors to whom they introduce interested prospective customers, leading to customer site visits and eventual solar Tracker sales.

You can read the full job description here.

To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to info@solaflect.com.  In your cover letter, describe what sales experience you’ve had and/or success educating and persuading people about something new and different.

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.

Cont’d…

 

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 $2/kWh. Are you helping keep rates low?

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! Read more

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.

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

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…]

FAQ: Can I mow under the Tracker?

Yes, you can mow under your Tracker. Your working space under the Tracker will depend on the time of day and day of year. That’s because the panels are tilted to face directly at the sun, and as the sun travels the tilt of the panels changes. As a result, the amount of space underneath the lowest edge of the panels changes.

When the Tracker is in the vertical position before sunrise and after sunset, the bottom edge of the panels is approximately 4 ft above the ground. You could easily mow under that with a push mower, but you’d risk collision if you were using a riding mower.

Of course, most mowing occurs during the day. On the Spring and Autumn equinoxes (on or about March and September 20th), the Tracker is tilted enough that the clearance beneath the panels is 5 ft or more from about 10:15 am through 3:45 pm. By Summer Solstice, you’ve got 5 ft or more of clearance from about 8:30 am through 5:15 pm.

See more FAQs here.