State Legislation Would Boost Incentives for Solar Owners

Proposed legislation in Olympia could increase the incentives available for solar installations in Washington state if approved by lawmakers during this year’s special session.

House Bill 1048 would bring an end to the outdated Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program on June 30, 2017, and would replace it with a new program designed to increase incentive caps for utilities and offer new incentives for homeowners, businesses or government entities who own solar installations or participate in community solar projects.

Under the proposed program, utilities would be able to claim a minimum annual credit of $100,000 up to a half a percent of the utility’s total power sales. This credit would be made available for utility customers to apply toward qualifying solar systems under the new program.

The new cost recovery program for solar owners allows for incentive payments starting at 15 cents per kilowatt hour (KWh) and increasing from there based on a set of factors primarily based on whether system components were manufactured in the state of Washington. A maximum incentive rate of $1.08 per kWh would be available for projects with an inverter and solar panels manufactured in Washington.

Sponsored by Rep. Jeff Morris, D-Mount Vernon, HB 1048 has been designated necessary to implement the budget, which means it will be considered as part of the budget approval process. A companion bill in the state Senate, SB 5499, similarly seeks to re-establish healthy solar incentives.

Solar Washington, a solar advocacy group, is supporting the so-called Solar Jobs Bill with a sign-on petition and offering information and suggestions on contacting legislators on its homepage.

Rooftop Solar Cools and Reduces Thermal Stress

With spring in full swing, the clouds have just started to give way to glorious sunshine. Soon things will be heating up. When considering the overall efficiency of your home or commercial building, a roof-mount solar installation may be able to help you beyond the generation of clean energy and savings in electrical utility bills.

That’s because one often overlooked benefit of a solar install on your roof is the way the panels act as a shield from the heat of the summer sun, resulting in cooler temperatures inside. In fact, researchers from the University of California San Diego concluded that the daytime temperature of a ceiling inside a building was “5 degrees Fahrenheit cooler under solar panels than under an exposed roof.”

In fact, the study found that the amount saved in cooling costs was worth roughly a 5 percent discount on the price of the solar panels. Obviously the modules themselves are a barrier to the sun’s heat — reducing the amount of heat reaching the roof by 38 percent in some cases — but there are other factors in play as well.

“Much of the heat is removed by wind blowing between the panels and the roof,” the study reported, adding that greater cooling effects are achieved with a tilted solar panel install and with high-efficiency solar modules.

At night, the study said, solar panels allowed buildings to keep the heat accumulated inside due to insulating properties of the panels. The study concluded that the reduced “variability” in rooftop temperatures “reduces thermal stresses on the roof and leads to energy savings and/or human comfort benefits.”

So if you’ve been pondering a switch to solar, here’s yet another reason why solar could be a great investment for your home or business. If you would like a free energy assessment, get in touch with us at Solora Solar today.

For more information on the UC San Diego study, we recommend a couple of great summaries at TreeHugger and EarthSky. You can read the full study on ScienceDirect.

Three Months Left to Cash In On Snohomish PUD Solar Incentives

If you have been considering going solar and happen to live anywhere between Lynnwood and Stanwood — that is, Snohomish County — you might want to go green before the greenbacks are gone.

Snohomish County PUD has announced that their Solar Express program will be sunsetting on June 30, 2017. This means residents of Snohomish County and Camano Island have just three months to get their residential or commercial solar project submitted in order to receive up to $2,000 in incentives for residential installs and $8,000 for commercial installations before the incentives expire.

The specific rebate Snohomish PUD offers for solar projects is $300 per kW. Projects must meet certain requirements, one of which is that the installation site must capture at least 75 percent of direct sunlight when taking into account orientation, shade, tilt and other factors.

If you would like to get more information about the expiring program, visit the Learn About Going Solar page on the Snohomish PUD website. If you would like a free estimate on your project from Solora Solar, give us a call at (425) 366-8953 or tell us on our contact page.

If you don’t live in Snohomish County but are curious about incentives, give us a call. In minutes, we can usually tell you the federal, state and local incentives for which you may qualify.

Printing Solar Panels on Our Curtains? Don’t Blink, It May Happen

Could it someday be possible to hit the “Print” button on your computer and generate a sheet of… solar panels? Will we someday peek through solar panels printed on our curtains and blinds to see if it’s nice outside?

The phenomenon is not as far off as you might think. According to the Australian website Habitat, it is already possible to print solar cells with inkjet printing. Scientists believe it will someday be possible to print cells on a variety of surfaces, including walls, umbrellas, tents and windows. And developers of clean energy in Seattle are already experimenting with the process in a new clean energy lab that opened this month.

Currently, printable solar cells are made by printing a special type of photovoltaic film on a plastic surface. The product is much cheaper than purchasing the solar panels that have been used on the roofs of homes and businesses for years, but it also has a ways to go in terms of efficency — paper cells are about 10 percent efficent, compared to an efficiency rating of around 25 percent for PV solar panels.

“Silicon is falling in price, but think about how cheap plastic is. The ink is a negligible cost, so the raw materials are very cost effective. This is a big step forward because you can put these cells anywhere you can think of. Also the consistency is better than silicon — they work well in cloudy conditions,” photovoltaic expert Dr. Fiona Scholes told Habitat.

In Seattle, testing has begun on the process at the newly opened Washington Clean Energy Testbeds. The facility’s director, J. Devin MacKenzie, told the Everett Herald the new technology would not only be more affordable, but it could be produced much faster and create less waste.

“This would take an hour to go from a new design to printing something structurally,” MacKenzie told the newspaper.

Photo credit: Habitat

Five Years From Now

What were you doing five years ago?

Sometimes when we look ahead, five years seems like such a long time to wait to receive a promotion, save up for a new car, take a vacation or reach some other long-desired goal. But when we look back just five years ago and think about our family, our home, our lives — we are faced with the reality that five years goes by so fast.

Five years from now, what will you be thinking about the choices you’re making today? It’s a question that challenges us.

At Solora Solar, we gain great satisfaction from the five-year mark in our relationships with customers because that’s the point at which their solar installation typically has earned enough in energy production and tax incentives to have repaid their investment in the system. We haven’t encountered a customer yet who reached that five-year mark and regretted their decision.

It’s a great feeling for us, but an even better feeling for them.

That’s why if you are considering going solar, we encourage you to think back to where your life was at just five years ago. If you go solar in 2017, the next five years is going to go pass just as quickly as the last five. And then you will be living in a home that is worth more and generating free energy from that point forward.

What will your life be like five years from now?

Photo credit: Michael Ruiz

Solora Solar Wins 2016 Best of Yakima Award

best-of-yakimaSolora Solar won the 2016 Best of Yakima Award honoring the best local businesses in the community, it was announced last week. The 2016 Yakima Award Program chose Solora Solar as one of a select number of companies who demonstrate “exceptional marketing success in their local community” and “service to their customers and our community.”

“These are local companies that enhance the positive image of small business,” the Yakima Award Program said in a statement. “These exceptional companies help make the Yakima area a great place to live, work and play.”

The program analyzes information from both internal and third-party sources to determine annual winners in various categories, identifying Solora as a winner in the Local Business category for 2016.

“Recognition is given to those companies that have shown the ability to use their best practices and implemented programs to generate competitive advantages and long-term value,” the award statement said.

Solora has won a number of awards for excellence, also being recognized as a Top 10 solar contractor in Washington state by Solar Power World multiple times.

The 2016 Yakima Award Program officially announced Solora Solar as a winner of the 2016 Best of Yakima Award for Local Business on Dec. 8. Solora Solar is owned by Syed Mujtaba and serves the entire state of Washington from its Yakima and Issaquah locations.

We Love Staying In Touch With Our Customers

raj-project
Solora Solar is fortunate to work with homeowners who like to build a long-term relationship with their solar contractor. We love this! It means we get to answer a lot of important customer questions after the installation of their solar system, and it also means we get to receive many enjoyable updates about how solar is powering homes and saving energy and utility costs.

One such customer, Raj from Richland, Wash., has dropped us a couple of notes over the first few months of his Solora Solar install, and we thought we might pass along a glimpse into the life of a solar-powered homeowner, as told by him.

When Raj first had his solar system installed, he checked in with this report:

“Solora was recommended by a couple of our friends with rather high professional standards. To satisfy our curiosity, we also got other bids. Solora’s professionalism (and their price) won. All round/consistent good job throughout the contract. Took just one day to install (6 weeks after contract). Even with roof panels facing South East (vs. true South) and the present “low April Sun”, it has already generated 800 kWh in 22 days and pushed 130 kWh back into the grid (DE). That’s ~$2000 in incentives just this “season” ending 6/30/2016.”

Things would only improve from there, as Raj noticed the impact on his power bill. He dropped us this note six months later:

“Following up on my above post from April…it has been almost 8 months now since system install. Our system has already generated 8.6 kWh in this time with 4 more months to go. I’m sure to break 10.5 kWh or more for the first 12 months. Zero electric bills since inception as well, with the excess (delivered) power being used to lower our (combined) water and trash bills also. Received more than double Solara’s original estimate of $1200 state incentive from date of install (March 23) to June 30. Very satisfied!”

Most of our customers will email or call with updates like these. Raj shared his as comments on a blog post titled, ironically enough, Attention Solar Customers: We’re In This Together.

If you are considering a solar install for your home or business, and you would like the benefit of a long-term partner in the project who you can turn to with questions or feedback, consider Solora Solar and contact us today!

Solora Solar Featured On Solar Washington Website

solar-roof

Solora Solar was featured this month on the website for Solar Washington, a widely respected solar advocacy organization in Washington state. The group highlighted Solora’s recent sizable commercial solar project at Green Acre Farms in Wapato, Wash.

solar-overviewThe non-profit solar advocacy organization hailed the Green Acre Farms installation as “a significantly important project for particular market segment: the farming community in central Washington.” Solar Washington devoted an entire article to the project, calling it “one of the largest commercial system[s] in Central Washington.”

Solar Washington noted that the 112 kW solar system, consisting of 437 Trina solar panels, is expected to save Green Acre Farms about a half million dollars in energy costs over the next 25 years as it powers the company’s hop-drying facility. The project is expected to pay for itself within 5-6 years. The article also pointed out that the system qualifies Green Acre Farms for a $5,000 annual cash incentive and a 30 percent federal tax incentive.

The piece also highlighted the positive impact a project of that size can have on the environment, as it is believed the 9,000-square-foot system will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than 2,400 tons of CO2 over the next 25 years.

“While a majority of solar electricity is produced at large, utility-scale solar power plants,” the article said, “the greatest number of solar jobs are located with companies like Solora Solar doing the work to bring clean energy to the public.”

Solar Washington, which has been successful advocate for solar energy for more than 15 years, featured the article in its Solar In Action section of the website, which “highlights unique and noteworthy solar installations throughout Washington.”

Report: Solar Solar on Cutting Edge of Commercial Solar Increase

screencapture-yakimaherald-news-local-with-help-from-incentives-yakima-valley-small-businesses-look-to-article_536546fe-561e-11e6-882b-67e35894c28c-html-1475193780330Solora Solar was featured last month in the July 29 issue of the Yakima Herald as the newspaper called attention to the growing number of small businesses making the move to solar electricity in the Yakima Valley.

The report highlighted Solora Solar’s success with bringing solar to commercial businesses as well as Solora’s upcoming commercial project with Green Acre Farms in Wapato, Wash., which promises to be one of the largest solar projects of any kind in central Washington state. That project is projected to save the company up to a half a million dollars over the next 25 years.

The article highlighted the fact that commercial installations account for about 25 percent of Solora Solar’s business and that, nationally, commercial power accounts for about 15 percent of all solar power currently generated in the United States.

Quoting Solora Solar owner Syed Mujtaba, the report noted that the increase in commercial solar installations has been driven by the lower cost of solar panels, the increased efficiency of these panels and the numerous incentives and tax credits available to businesses who act now.

“All that adds up,” Mujtaba told the newspaper.

View the complete article here: With help from incentives, Yakima Valley small businesses look to solar 
power

Attention Solar Customers: We’re In This Together

A solar power system is a significant investment — one that makes a positive impact on your wallet and the environment. You should know that when you choose Solora, you have the assurance that we’re with you for the life of your system, and that’s a long time.

To start with, there are lots of forms to fill out in order to take advantage of all the tax incentives. We take care of those for you. All you have to do is add your signature. We also follow up each year when the incentive paperwork is due again to make sure that you aren’t missing out on those savings.

We want new solar power system owners to feel confident and capable. That’s why, at the time of installation, you will receive a binder with your owner’s manual and all the documentation. We walk you through everything you need to know to get the most out of your system.

Our goal is to see you more than satisfied with your solar system. If you ever experience an issue of any kind, we’re just a phone call away.

There’s a reason that 70 percent of our business comes from referrals of happy customers.

As a way of saying thank you, we offer a $500 bonus for any referral resulting in an installation.