FAQ: Does northern New England get enough sunlight for solar to make sense?

The grass is always greener on the other side, and the sun always shines brighter in retirement states. Even so, Vermont and New Hampshire have no trouble sustaining healthy yards and pastures, and we easily get enough sunshine for solar to be a sensible choice for energy production.

Consider this map of the solar resource, created by the National Renewable Energy Lab: Read more

Net metering rules to change in Vermont

Net metering in Vermont faces major challenges. If you care about the future of distributed, renewable energy in Vermont, please read on.

Vermont law (Act 99) requires net metering regulations to be revised as of January 1, 2017. The state’s Public Service Board (PSB) is charged with establishing these regulations. The PSB has released its draft of the new regulations. See http://psb.vermont.gov/statutesrulesandguidelines/proposedrules/rule5100 for the draft document and other details.

While subject to change between now and implementation, as written the draft regulations contain numerous problems. First and foremost is that the value of net metering for Vermonters will be significantly reduced once the new regulations go into effect in 2017. The silver lining is that the draft regulations grandfather current net metering values for any tracker installed in 2016. Additionally, the draft regulations hugely undermine the development of community solar. I’ll address that further down. Read more

Living la Vida Sola: Driving Solar

Many Solaflect customers drive plug-in hybrid or all-electric cars. They are extremely low cost to operate, since the electricity to run them costs less than the gasoline that would be required to drive the same distance in a non-electric car. This is particularly true for those who have gone solar and have spare net metering to share with their electric vehicle.

They are also a good way to reduce one’s carbon footprint. That advantage only grows as solar and other renewable energy contributes an increasing fraction of the electric supply. Contrary to some claims, an electric vehicle does indeed result in environmental benefits when measured over the lifetime of the vehicle, as compared to a traditional vehicle. David Roberts at VOX has a nice summary on this aspect.

(Photo by Paul Krueger.)

FAQ: What does solar do to property values and property taxes?

Many homeowners wonder what will happen to their home’s property value if they add solar. A number of studies have looked at this question. The largest and most thorough to date was conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and published in January 2015. It looked at data from eight states over a fifteen year time period. On average, home values increased by $4 per watt of installed solar capacity. One Solaflect PV Tracker has 4 kW (4,000 watts) of capacity. See the report here.

Note that in Vermont, state law exempts solar equipment from being assessed for property taxation, so long as the solar array is smaller than 50 kW in size (that is, fewer than 13 Solaflect PV Trackers).

In New Hampshire, each town has the option to exempt solar from property taxation. Details regarding the towns that have adopted an exemption are available here. New Hampshire residents interested in solar should contact their local government to confirm the exact details for their town.

See more FAQs here.

Community Solar Forum at VTC, Saturday 11/21/2015

CENTRAL VERMONT COMMUNITY SOLAR FORUM

SATURDAY NOVEMBER 21
12:30 – 4:00 PM
Vermont Technical College SHAPE Campus Center (Google Maps)
Randolph Center, Vermont

Town energy committees from central Vermont are invited to learn about and discuss solar power development, siting problems and solar project types. The forum will focus on how to best expand solar electrical generation in the region on a community scale. Solar power is coming, but not every project is right for every site.

Town officials dealing with big solar siting issues will share their experiences. Community solar activists, solar developers, solar technical and legal experts and the Vermont Public Service Board will present information at this forum.

A panel discussion of solar development and community solar models moderated by Bob Walker will allow committee members to get questions answered by experts.

The forum is hosted by Randolph Energy Committee and Vermont Technical College.

For more information call 802-477-3189 or email randolph.home.energy@gmail.com

Hartland Farmers’ Market this afternoon

Looking for some fresh veggies to go with your solar? Drop by the Hartland Farmers’ Market this afternoon, Friday, November 20, 2015 from 4 – 7 pm. We’ll be there providing information on the Community Solar Park and PV Tracker, and can answer questions about the solar landscape going forward now that Green Mountain Power has hit its legal cap for net metering.

Location: Damon Hall, Hartland VT. (See in Google Maps.)

Access to solar at risk

The solar energy rules are about to change – much sooner than previously expected. We’ve put together this brief “Solar 101: What you need to know IMMEDIATELY” so as not to miss this brief window to save thousands of dollars in solar incentives. A fuller explanation is below the bullet points.

Background

  • The Federal government currently provides a 30% federal tax credit for residential solar. This credit expires at the end of next year.
  • Vermont provides a “solar adder” which currently increases the value of residential solar production by 25 to 35%, depending on the installation.

What’s Changing Read more