Archive for the ‘Solar Projects’ Category
New Utility, New Solar Programs for LIPA Customers
LIPA Changes for 2014: What to Expect
LIPA is expected to undergo significant structural changes in the near future that might have an impact on the renewable energy and energy efficiency incentive programs available to electricity customers on Long Island. Specifically, in 2014, Public Service Enterprise Group (PSEG), New Jersey’s largest and oldest investor-owned utility, will take over operation and management of Long Island’s electric transmission and distribution system from National Grid.
In addition, Governor Cuomo has proposed a far more limited role for LIPA, and an expanded role for PSEG, including control over budgets and overall management. The goals of the changes are to have a more accountable and transparent utility structure, while maintaining the benefits of the lower debt payments associated with the non-profit LIPA holding company structure.
Impact on Solar Incentives
LIPA presently offers the most attractive solar incentives in New York State that help make solar an attractive investment for residential, commercial, and non-profit clients. So given the proposed changes to LIPA, what impact will it have on solar incentives?
While it is certainly possible that the specific incentive levels and rules might change, and historically incentives get reduced incrementally each year, we do not think there will be a dramatically reduced solar program. First and foremost, Governor Cuomo has demonstrated a significant commitment to developing solar in New York. In non-LIPA territory, The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) currently offers a solar rebate of $1.40/watt for commercial-scale solar systems, up to 50 kilowatts (kW) or $70,000, and 7kW for residential systems or $9,800. This is significantly lower than the solar rebates that are currently available in LIPA territory, which are capped at:
-$17,900 for purchased residential systems;
-$17,200 for leased residential systems;
-$172,000 for commercial-scale systems;
-$225,000 for non-profit, government, municipal, or educational customers;
However, NYSERDA’s rebates are still significant enough to drive solar growth (EmPower Solar is very active in Con-Ed territory with NYSERDA rebates).
For large scale solar projects, NYSERDA offers incentives for large scale net-metered systems, which compare favorably with LIPA’s Feed-In-Tariff Program. We anticipate that, under PSEG, LIPA customers will only be eligible for NYSERDA’s program, and not the robust incentives that are currently available today.
It is also important to note that PSEG has been commended for its commitment to solar energy in its New Jersey service territory, particularly through the release of their Solar 4 All program.
One specific concern is that the Governor also announced a rate freeze for three years. This might imply a reduction of budget available for renewable energy projects.
Take Advantage of LIPA’s Rebates Today
It is anticipated that the solar rebate available from LIPA for commercial and residential customers will stay at or near current levels throughout the rest of 2013. If you are currently considering acquiring solar power for your commercial facility or home, now is a great time to go solar and secure LIPA’s strong rebate funding.
To learn how you can go solar, call us today to set up a free consultation, (516) 837-3459.
Rallying for Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Guest Post by Glenn Drost — Long Island resident and energy consultant
It was a cold and windy day, but the speakers at the “Forward on Climate” rally ignited passion and energy for the movement. Specifically, we asked the President to reject the Keystone XL oil pipeline planned to run from Alberta, Canada to Texas and to take real action instead to prevent climate change.
Tar sands oil extraction, refinement, and combustion are highly carbon intensive, which would exasperate existing concerns that climate change is a result of burning these greenhouse gasses. The pipeline also poses yet another risk for an oil spill. Jacqueline Thomas, chief of Saik’uz First Nation, spoke of the many oil related disasters that have occurred in North America. She asked us to aspire to one ideal: “When we take care of the land, the land will take care of us.”
“The fight against fracking, coal ports, and taking the tops off mountains is ultimately the fight for a living planet,” said Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, “Our theme has to be, that when you are in a hole, stop digging. Above all, stop the Keystone Pipeline,” he added.
“It’s clear that climate change is real and that people are starting to wake up to that fact,” said Matthew Kearns, Clean Energy for Long Island and Sierra Club member. “That was proven by [Sunday's] attendance, which included two buses of almost 100 Long Islanders, The thought of continuing to burn fossil fuels and its effects on our planet can be a frightening one, but what is promising is that clean energy solutions are real and obtainable. The missing piece to this puzzle is the political will to help speed up the transition from our old, dirty economy to a healthy and renewable future.”
Unfortunately, even if the president rejects the pipeline, the tar sands oil will likely make it to U.S. markets anyway. The pipeline is not the only way it can be transported. It’s just the most profitable. Therefore, we as citizens must ultimately decide for ourselves where our energy is coming from, and how much of it we want to use. We have the power to do that with every dollar we spend on energy today.
Metropolitan New Yorkers are quite heavy users of home heating oil, and of course gasoline and diesel fueled automobiles. We must combat these practices with education on the benefits of energy reduction and efficiency improvements. Very simple air-sealing measures in homes can increase comfort and decrease fuel consumption. Decisions about how far and how often to drive can be planned ahead of time, and fuel consumption brought to a minimum.
On the supply side, we must also help people understand that there are alternatives to oil today that not only pollute less, but cost less! When financed over time, renewable energy offers significant savings when compared to fossil fuel sources. Solar power offers tremendous savings on electricity bills. Solar can also supply an electric car with energy for much less than the cost of gasoline. Electric heating systems are coming back into the mainstream with increased reliability of air source heat pumps. Ground source heat pumps also offer tremendous operational cost savings if the area for wells is available.
Efficiency auditors, solar, and geothermal installers are quite busy these days on Long Island and New York City. Residents are beginning to take advantage of the economic advantages of energy efficiency and renewable resources. All we have to do is keep spreading the word!
The views represented by the guest writer do not represent the views of EmPower Solar. We invite guest posts with different perspectives and opinions in order to attain more knowledge about energy and environmental issues. The better informed we are, the better decisions we can make.
Rebuilding right after Sandy
“If you don’t grow, you die,” said Donald Monti, of Renaissance Downtowns, at the Vision Long Island Smart Growth Summit on Nov. 16. Rebuilding right was the focus of the event that drew politicians and business owners from throughout the island, but this year, Sandy also took center stage.
While Steven Kreiger, a commercial developer at Engel Burman, implored that houses on the Long Beach canals need to be lifted to prevent future flooding, David Schieren, CEO of EmPower Solar, urged residential and commercial solar installations as essential to grid reliability.
The grid, lamented Neal Lewis, of the Sustainability Institute at Molloy College, was “shaken” by Sandy’s impact. This, he said, may lead to the dismantling of the Long Island Power Authority. “You can’t ask what LIPA will do in the future,” he said, “because LIPA may not exist.”
According to Lewis, who is also a LIPA board member, while the communication breakdown by LIPA was a colossal failure, he praised the organization for its attempt to restore power to hundreds of thousands of people. It’s unfortunate, he suggested, that the “Herculean effort by LIPA will not be remembered.”
While Long Islanders are quick to pounce on comments that praise LIPA after sitting in their darkened homes for weeks, Lewis said that New York City politicians did have some positive words for the organization’s restoration in the Rockaways, but there is only a one-sided story in the media that pictures everything as a failure, he added.
Due to the unprecedented nature of Sandy, LIPA was unprepared, but, said Lewis, there are ways to improve grid reliability in addition to utilizing renewable resources. Wood utility poles can be replaced with metal ones, which did not fall during the storm, and some electrical lines, like those powering hospitals, police stations and the Long Island Railroad, can be transition from above to underground.
It is clear, more than ever before, that Long Island needs to rebuild right, said Schieren, and solar will play a major role. Backup power, he said, will also be at the forefront and EmPower Solar is ready to provide these services.
Backup Power Systems: An Introduction
A standard “grid-tied” solar electric system that EmPower installs is designed to connect to the grid and reduce or eliminate electric bills, and stay connected at nighttime and rainy days. It is engineered, by regulation, to disconnect from the grid when there is a power outage in order to protect the line workers.
In order to select the best backup system for your home or business, we recommend a two-step process. First, determine what you want to power in the event of a power outage. Second, evaluate the pros and cons of the two main backup solutions that can provide the power you are looking for, including building code, safety and reliability considerations.
Step 1: Determine Critical Loads
The first step is to create a list of critical loads that you want powered when the grid is down. For homeowners, the list tends to include key lighting for the kitchen, garage, outdoor security, the refrigerator, heating system valves and pumps, sump pumps, computers and a few receptacles to charge electronics. For businesses, the list is similar, but there may be other critical process loads, including servers or sensitive equipment. Sometimes it’s desirable to provide power for a whole house or building.
Once the target loads are determined, a load schedule is generated similar to this:
Once the total load, in terms of instantaneous power (watts) and total energy (watt hours), is known, different solutions can be evaluated.
Step 2: Options
EmPower provides three sets of solutions to enable backup power in the event of a power outage.
Option 1: Solar-Battery Backup
Several additional components must be added to make a standard solar energy system capable of providing power when the grid is down. First, a battery bank must be included to provide energy when there is no sunlight, and to accept solar charging when available. The battery bank is sized based on the amount of energy required, which is derived from the load analysis. Second, an auto-transfer switch is needed to transfer the solar array from grid-tied to off-grid battery charging mode. Third, the targeted critical loads must be wired to a new critical load panel.
Pros of the solar-battery system are that it is quiet, clean, doesn’t require fuel, can be installed anywhere — indoors or outdoors — and can be recharged with the solar. Cons are that while it is cost effective to provide power for a small number of critical loads, it is not as practical to power entire homes or buildings.
These systems typically range from $7,000 to $15,000.
Option 2: Generators
Generators are widely available in various sizes and fuel types. There are gasoline, diesel, natural gas, propane and biofuel generators. Generators can be permanently installed or portable. The pros of generators are that they are capable of providing an entire house with power at a reasonable up-front cost. For example, a 20 kW generator, capable of powering a standard size home, can cost between $8,000 and $15,000. There are several cons, however. The fuel might not be available, including natural gas, and the fuel can get expensive.
Code Compliance, Safety and Disaster Response
Additional important considerations include understanding the building code requirements, especially zoning, for generators, and making sure that safety is a number one priority. Generators must be properly ventilated to prevent any exhaust, including carbon monoxide, from entering a living space. In the event of a widespread disaster, such as what coastal regions are still experiencing following Hurricane Sandy, other considerations come into play, such as fuel availability.
EmPower’s Experience with Backup Power
EmPower has been providing backup power systems since 2004. Our installations include solar-hydrogen fuel cell systems, off-grid battery systems, grid-tied solar battery backup systems, and generators.
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