Several years before deciding to go solar, Anthony Palumbo was spending $1,500 a month on gas for his family’s fleet of cars. It was 2008, gas prices were high, and his Cadillac was getting 17 mpg. So, as his first step towards energy independence, he decided to buy a hybrid to cut down on fuel costs. He felt a small sense of financial liberation but was not thrilled with the performance of the vehicle, so in 2011, Palumbo bought his first electric vehicle; a Chevy Volt. He still drives it today and it gets around 64 mpg traveling around 100 miles per day, so the car has essentially paid for itself.
It’s no secret that electric vehicle owners are the perfect candidate for going solar. After seeing Palumbo’s Volt at his office building back in 2014, we connected over our common enthusiasm over electric vehicles. From there, it took only a short introduction to solar power to get him onto his home solar panel journey.
In his neighborhood, and among his circle of friends and family, he’s always been the one people call to fix their electrical problems when something goes wrong. Palumbo has a beautiful home and electrical technical knowledge, so when it came to going solar, he put a high value on aesthetics and quality workmanship. It wasn’t an easy sell, but eventually, he chose SunPower panels and us as the installer.
“My system is the nicest, cleanest job I’ve ever seen! My wife loves it too. She checks the monitoring app every day because she loves to see how much money we are saving,” states Palumbo. “I have very high standards when it comes to my home, but I inspected every detail and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Even with two electric cars, a battery backup system, and a two-story colonial house to power, Palumbo has a zero dollar electric bill each month and more often than not, actually gets a check from PSEG for excess power he generates!
“We don’t have many extended power outages in our area, but we have enough intermittent power loss events, often when we are at work or out of the house,” said Palumbo. “We had a portable generator for extended outages and tolerated the intermittent losses, but decided to get an installed backup system as the best solution to our needs.”
“The installed battery backup system provides a seamless process to continue powering the house whether anyone is there or not, keeping power to essential areas and appliances, like refrigerators and freezers, without requiring me to do a thing. It’s convenient, safe, reliable, clean, soundless, environmentally friendly and maintenance free. I don’t really think any other choice made sense.”
Since going solar, he has applied almost all of the different aspects of Electrify Your Life! He redid the roof, double insulated his house, and installed LED lights throughout the indoors – so, energy efficiency, check. A home backup power system, check. Electric vehicles, check. The only thing Palumbo has left to do is install electric home heating and cooling, which he’s already shopping around for.
The electrification of Palumbo’s life doesn’t just apply to his home, either. His new office has workplace EV chargers, and the conduit is already in place for the solar system he plans to install there. His nephew also went solar with EmPower Solar!
Below is a deeper look into the ongoing ITC Section 201 Solar Trade Case. Here are some major takeaways:
The impending outcome of the Section 201 Trade Case by Suniva and Solar World is a large threat to an otherwise upward growth trajectory in the solar industry, mainly caused by product affordability. A negative outcome could result in a threat to consumers, an estimated 88,000 American jobs, and the current momentum towards a cleaner economy. According to ClearView Energy Partners and Bloomberg New Energy Finance, the proposed tariff and price floors would double the price of solar panels in the United States. Estimates from ClearView Energy Partners place the potential price increases even higher, at 98% - 162%
Suniva is a U.S. based manufacturer of high-efficiency crystalline silicon photovoltaic solar cells and high-power solar modules. Their claim, in this case, is that due to being priced out of manufacturing by companies overseas they could no longer compete and went bankrupt.
Solar-World, their co-petitioner, is another U.S based manufacturer. The ownership of their technologies and assets are split between companies from Germany and Qatar. They haven’t had American ownership since the 80’s.
The petition was filed by Suniva on May 17, 2017. The first phase of the case involved the ITC’s determination of “injury,” was deemed applicable by the ITC this morning. Now we have reached the “remedy” phase, during which the ITC must deliver a transmittal report to the president by November 13, 2017, containing any relief recommendations. The president then has until January 12, 2018, to decide whether to accept the ITC’s recommendation and impose that relief, impose alternative relief, or not impose any relief.
“Solar Section 201 Case - Frequently Asked Questions.” SEIA,
So what now?
There is still a lot yet to be determined, and a strong case to be made against aggressive tariffs. For clarity, we have included excerpts from a blog on the case written by SunPower’s CEO, Tom Werner. Which you can find in full, here.
“Should the ITC move ahead with recommending import tariffs, quotas, or other global import restrictions, the result will be right out of an Economics 101 textbook. Prices for American-manufactured solar equipment will rise, and a global marketplace will adjust to source from competitively-priced foreign sources. That could undermine an American industry that has been experiencing exponential growth and creating jobs at an unprecedented rate. And the potential knock-on effect on other industries we partner with – including steel, glass, and aluminum – is alarming.”
“...I’m optimistic that the Administration recognizes that, as one of the fastest-growing sectors in the U.S. economy, solar presents a unique opportunity for our economy and nation’s competitiveness. To be clear, two very small companies are driving the case, both of which are controlled by companies outside the U.S. They represent less than one-half of one percent of the nation’s solar energy workforce. Quite simply – when the Administration reviews all the facts, I think they will see that following the lead of a China-owned company puts American energy leadership into the hands of foreign competitors.
"The application of tariffs is not inevitable and is far from over. The ITC will now hold a “remedy hearing” during which alternative recommendations will be put forward, followed by a formal ITC recommendation to President Trump, who will make a final decision by early January.”
Werner summarizes his arguments against the case into these four bullet points:
Our ability to compete globally will be hindered. Solar energy use has grown significantly as technologies have improved and costs have decreased. The increased prices that result from tariffs will halt – and, in fact, reverse – this momentum, prompting the redirection of investment dollars to what will be more stable and rapidly growing markets in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
Jobs will be permanently lost. There are now 260,000 jobs in the solar power industry, with annual employment growth running in double digits. If artificially-forced increased prices depress the market, many of those jobs will be at risk.
Other manufacturing sectors will take a big hit. There will be ripple effects, as well, for the steel, glass and aluminum sectors and other industries that are part of the solar industry’s supply chain.
America will cede leadership in energy innovation to China, India, and many other countries (for no good reason).Whomever wins the race to develop the next great innovative technologies in solar power will have an important advantage in the global energy marketplace. In the name of unnecessary protectionism, the United States would be ceding this leadership role to China, India, and Japan. It shouldn’t escape the Administration’s notice that one of the companies requesting the ITC action is majority Chinese-owned.
In conclusion, he reflects on historic effects of tariffs and SunPower’s outlook for the future.
"Finally, history must be our guide. In 2002, the U.S. government placed stiff tariffs on imported steel in an effort to protect the American steel industry. Instead the action did major damage. It caused the loss of up to 200,000 domestic jobs and the loss of $4 billion in wages over a nine-month period. Adding insult to injury, the tariffs were ultimately withdrawn after a negative hearing at the World Trade Organization. The U.S. should not make the same terrible mistake in determining the near-term future of the solar industry."
"Regardless of this decision, we are committed to working toward a constructive outcome and believe we must achieve one together. The ITC didn’t act in the best interests of an American success story, but now there is a real chance for both the Commission and the Administration to do so and maintain the nation’s leadership in solar energy technology development and solar energy deployment. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and will be engaged to help ensure this happens."
So, given all of this information, SunPower by EmPower Solar has decided to oppose the trade case. The outcome for the solar industry is uncertain as of today, but we will be monitoring the situation closely. Another thing we are in agreement with SunPower on, is our confidence in our ability to continue providing a premium product at an affordable price regardless of the economic sanctions put in place by the ITC. We remain driven, energized, and ready to adjust business effectively to support a clean, renewable, and cost-effective energy market in New York state.
For most people, “going solar” means putting 20-30 solar panels on your single-family home to eliminate your electric bill. For others, who have impediments like like large shading trees, multiple dormers, or a slate roof, meant that a solar array was out of the question. With no way around it, these people were stuck paying high electric rates and handling whatever cards your electricity provider dealt you.
Luckily for NYC and Long Island residents, that’s not the case anymore. Here's why:
Let us introduce, Community Solar.
As solar catapults into mainstream consumerism, this business model is on its way to taking center stage. Community Solar “subscriptions” are available to all electricity customers. Subscriptions provide access to all the benefits of clean, lower cost energy without requiring on-site generation. This means you can reap the financial, environmental, and economical benefits of solar energy without having an installation on your home.
The market potential is huge in urban areas, and we are excited to include the service as one of our core offerings through our sister company, Solar Ex .
How it works:
Cheap, clean, communal energy. Money goes back into the pockets of building and land owners businesses that get rent to install solar on their roofs and the energy consumer has a lower monthly electric bill. This is now all possible without having to physically installing the panels on a client’s own home.
Are you interested in lower electric bills, low carbon footprint, and contributing to a strong local economy? Fill out your information here to learn more about subscribing.
Island Park, NY, February 28, 2016 – With the ending of the PSEGLI solar rebate, Nassau County residents now have a brand-new program available to make solar more accessible. The solar-specific loan, created by Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union and SunPower by EmPower Solar, was built specifically with Long Island homeowners in mind. This new program allows homeowners to go solar with no upfront cost and replace their existing electric bill with a fixed monthly payment that provides for immediate monthly savings of 30 percent or more.
While similar loan products have enabled thousands of Long Island homeowners to go solar over the last few years, this is the first time that a Long Island based credit union is making this type of program available to their members. Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union, a provider of high-quality, competitively priced consumer financial products for over 80 years provides members complete peace of mind that they can apply directly online at NassauFinancial.org as well as through representatives at SunPower by Empower Solar.
“Our new solar loan program will help our members save money and make a difference on Long Island as we create a cleaner environment,” said John T. DeCelle, President and CEO of Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union. “We are excited to be working with SunPower by EmPower Solar by delivering this unique solar loan opportunity to our members and Long Islanders throughout Nassau County,” added DeCelle.
SunPower by EmPower Solar, in business since 2003 and recently voted the top Long Island solar company on Yelp is the exclusive company offering the Nassau Financial solar loan product to their clients.
“We are thrilled to launch this custom-made program for the Long Island marketplace, allowing homeowners to finally get the world’s best solar panel technology through a Long Island-based installer and local financier – all in one simple package,” said David G. Schieren, CEO of SunPower by EmPower Solar. “This loan is directly in line with our mission of providing the greatest electric bill savings to our clients while delivering an amazing customer experience. We believe this will help thousands of Long Islanders who haven’t had this type of solar opportunity available to them before.” added Schieren.
The loan, with interest rates as low as 3.49 percent APR is available to customers who live, work, worship, go to school or volunteer in Nassau County. The program is available for both built homes or new construction homes that are ideally built solar-ready.
To qualify for the Solar Loan program , homeowners must meet basic criteria;
· Nassau County Resident (or other County affiliations)
· 650+ credit score
· PSEGLI bill of $100 or more
For more information or to see if you qualify for this new solar program,
call (516) 837-3459 or visit
Interested homeowners can also visit NassauFinancial.org/home/lending/solar to apply online, or go to the SunPower by EmPower Solar design center in Island Park to apply for the program in person.
About Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union
Founded in 1936, Nassau Financial Federal Credit Union celebrated its 80th Anniversary on May 23, 2016 as Long Island’s oldest federally chartered credit union. Nassau Financial, based in Westbury, New York, is a not-for-profit financial cooperative with over $400 million in assets serving more than 23,000 members. Nassau Financial is community chartered, serving everyone who lives, works, worships, volunteers or attends school in Nassau County, as well as members of their immediate family or household. Branch locations include Garden City, East Meadow, Oceanside, and Syosset with over 6,000 additional offices available through the Credit Union Service Center network. Nassau Financial also provides its members no-surcharge ATM access at over 28,000 locations throughout LI, the US and the world. Nassau Financial deposits are federally insured up to $250,000 and they offer savings and IRAs; free checking products including Early Pay with Direct Deposit; consumer loans and lines of credit; home financing; electronic and other convenience services including online banking and telephone banking; Mobile banking with mobile check deposit; free financial planning and counseling; and educational seminars. Follow Nassau Financial on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and on the web at NassauFinancial.org.
About SunPower by EmPower Solar
SunPower by EmPower Solar delivers more savings now and more over time with the industry’s highest efficiency solar panels and best combined power and product warranty.
Since 2003, SunPower by EmPower Solar’s mission has been to deliver high performance solar systems that yield significant savings, all while providing an amazing customer experience. EmPower is the preferred solar provider of over 1,500 New Yorkers and a proud partner to one of the world’s most innovative and sustainable energy companies, SunPower Corporation, leveraging 30 years of industry experience and record-setting technology.
As the only Long Island-based SunPower Master Dealer, SunPower by EmPower Solar is dedicated to maintaining exceptional customer satisfaction ratings, and recently received the Building Inspectors Association of Nassau County Industry Leadership Award and the Angie’s List Super Service Award.
When a home is designed with the latest energy efficiency technologies and construction methods, solar panels can power all of its energy needs, including fuel for the electric cars. The key is to set this goal from the beginning. EmPower Solar recently became a US Department of Energy Zero Energy Ready home partner to help promote smart home design that enables solar panels to cover all of our clients’ energy needs.
Zero Energy Ready Home (ZERH)
The US Department of Energy (DOE) ZERH Standard represents a whole new level of home performance, with rigorous requirements that ensure outstanding levels of energy savings, comfort, health, and durability on the path to zero energy ready homes. A ZERH is a high performance home that is so energy efficient that a renewable energy system can offset all or most of its annual energy consumption. Ideal ZERH projects always start with proper design, and they feature many technologies, include high insulation, careful air sealing, high efficiency air conditioning and heating system, proper construction methods - and of course solar ready design.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, SunPower by EmPower Solar is in a select group of top companies in the nation who have certified one or more homes that meet or exceed Zero Energy Ready Home guidelines for excellence in performance and energy efficiency.
Samuel Rashkin, Chief Architect for DOE Building Technologies Office, said “Zero Energy Ready Homes like those constructed in part by SunPower by EmPower Solar are the home of the future because they live, work, and last better with incredibly low or no energy costs. And what’s exciting for American homebuyers, they are available today thanks to leading builders across the country.”
United Way Long Island Example: Award-Winning Zero Energy Home
In October 2016, for the second year in a row, United Way of Long Island was recognized as one of the nation’s top builders, being named Grand Winner in the Affordable Home category from the U.S. Department of Energy as part of its Housing Innovation Awards, for its Patchogue home.
EmPower Solar was proud to engineer and install a high performance 6.87 kilowatt SunPower solar power system for this award winning Patchogue home that will provide 100% of the electrical needs. The 6.87 kW system is smaller than the average home needs on long island. This is testament to outstanding ZER and solar ready design planned by Rick Wertheim of United Way and aJean-Pierre Lardoux, AIA, Principal of Fusion Architecture.
“Zero Energy Ready Homes represent the perfect solution for the housing needs of Long Island,” added Rick Wertheim, senior vice president of housing and green initiatives at United Way of Long Island. “It costs less for the nonprofit agencies we work with to own one of these homes than a low-cost-per-square-foot home over time. Our goal is to provide sustainable energy savings - lowering monthly expenses and reducing ongoing costly maintenance. This is the future of housing available today.”
"United Way Long Island sets the home energy performance standard that every residential construction project can look to for how to build. These high performance homes are sustainable, solar ready, affordable, and deployable today. It's incredibly impressive, and we are honored to participate and collaborate with the United Way LI team." said David G. Schieren, CEO of SunPower by EmPower Solar.
Next up: Habitat for Humanity Net Zero Home
For our second net zero energy home project, we are excited to work with Habitat for Humanity in Nassau County. The Roosevelt home is being constructed with an extremely efficient building envelope, appliances, and systems. The 6.5 kW home solar panel system is scheduled to be installed this spring will produce all of the electric to be consumed by the house throughout the year.
How To Take Action
If you are a homeowner or builder looking to renovate or build a new energy efficient and sustainable home, you can find, the Department of Energy has a list of certified Zero Energy Home partners here.
Design your home to be solar ready. Click here to learn the basics of building solar ready.
A Fully Solar Powered Future
To achieve our goal of making solar the dominant source of energy, we need to do more than just power our buildings by the sun. Our mission is to empower our clients and achieve complete energy independence. We pride ourselves on helping our clients achieve more energy offset with the most powerful panels available; SunPower. Our team also guides our clients on other actions they can take to reduce their energy footprint; like ensuring their home is energy efficient, switching heating and cooling over to geothermal or electric, powering vehicles with energy produced by the sun, and storing solar energy with batteries for use during potential blackouts.
Big news from Tesla Energy: The Powerwall 2.0 Home Battery is here, and we’re excited to announce that as of January 2017 it will become an integral part of our product lineup!The original Powerwall has been wildly popular among consumers, and we expect no less from the impressive and revolutionary Powerwall 2.0.
this week PSEG-Long Island submitted a response to the NYS Public Service
Commission’s (PSC) request for feedback on the future of net-metering. Our team
carefully evaluated the letter and consulted with a number of officials at
PSEG-LI and the NY PSC to determine if there will be any impact to existing or
future clients. At this time, we
strongly believe there will be no negative impact whatsoever to our clients.
First, it is important to remember that at this point in time we are in the very early days of the discussion. PSEG-LI simply submitted feedback to the state regulator. Furthermore, the letter suggested that grandfathering existing net-meter customers is the first priority.
That position, plus precedents on other similar issues, makes us believe it is highly improbable that existing net metering customers will be impacted. Our team is not concerned and neither our past customers nor the many others seeking to go solar should worry at this time.
Please know that we are working hard to obtain answers and clarifications to pass along to you and again, we do not feel there is an immediate need for concern.
Fortunately, solar has strong momentum in the state, and Governor Cuomo has set a goal of achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030. We therefore believe that any net metering changes that occur in this state will be catalytic and not prohibitive of achieving New York’s energy goals.
However, we do agree with PSEG-LI that net-metering should be replaced by a superior electric rate tariff system that more properly values the costs and benefits solar, batteries, and energy efficiency. PSEG-LI referenced a potential time-of-use (TOU) pricing structure. This is a complicated topic, and the rate needs to be carefully designed; we, along with our many allies, will absolutely have significant input on the proceeding.
Several other utilities including Con Edison introduced a very different net-metering plan this week. Other ideas include utilizing different models for residential and commercial systems and structuring those models in a way that will continue to encourage solar growth. Click here to read the full article.
Currently, other parts of the country use TOU models as opposed to the flat price structure that most homes use here in New York. TOU would encourage homeowners to be mindful and smarter about overall energy usage. Charging plug-in cars and running large appliances, for example, would occur at selective times during the day to avoid huge energy surges during periods of peak usage. Fortunately, this is closely related to peak solar production time as well.
Adopting TOU power supply pricing makes a lot of sense and has the potential to benefit solar homeowners. If structured correctly, homeowners would have the power to change their energy habits in a way that saves them more money than a kWh for kWh net metering program would. This is especially the case for homeowners who add battery backup systems to their solar installations; as battery prices decrease and become more affordable, this fits in very well with a TOU pricing model.
Concerns About PSEG-LI Comments: Solar is Great for Middle Class
One statement we do not agree with is that solar " results in particularly regressive cost shifts to lower income customers... since the more affluent can afford the upfront payment required.. ." as studies show that more middle class families go solar versus affluent families. Moreover, our middle-class clients truly value the fixed solar costs, as opposed to the volatile and constantly rising energy costs. Therefore, we believe that solar is a major boon to Long Island’s economy.
Thousands of middle and lower income Long Island families have switched to solar energy over the past few years, and the NYSERDA middle to low income solar incentive further assists them in this goal.
A critical point not addressed in the letter is that solar can have a dramatically positive impact on air quality and public health, an important topic of discussion as Suffolk County is consistently rated with the worst air quality in New York. Click here to learn more.
Again, we are working hard to represent our clients and the industry overall to get clarity from the authorities on what the future holds for net-metering.
As always, we are standing by to answer any questions you may have and should any reasons for concern arise in the future we will certainly communicate with you. At this time, we encourage you to sit back, relax and watch your meters spin backwards as the spring and summer sun is upon us!