He hired Accelerate Solar to install solar panels. The work cost more than $71,000, but he says the company promised that Duke Energy would give him a $6,000 rebate and the federal government would give him a $19,000 tax credit, knocking the price down to $45,000.
GEORGETOWN — The Georgetown City Council approved a zoning ordinance on Feb. 18 to allow for solar panels to be installed on various properties across the city.
Solar panels can now be installed on approved residential or nonresidential property, including places such as single family homes and shopping centers, though solar farms are not allowed due to lack of room in the city, said Angela Rambeau, director of planning and community development for the city.
Anyone looking to install a solar panel onto their property must have the appropriate licenses, too.
“If you’re putting it on a roof, the panels can’t extend above the peak. Any cord, any service boxes, anything like that, needs to be hidden from public view.” Rambeau said. “Basically the panels have to be integrated into the style of the building that they can be installed on. They should match the color of the roof, we want these to be as unobtrusive as possible.”
Alan Loveless, Georgetown’s director of electric utilities, said that in the last 2 years, the city has received more inquiries than before from citizens about taking advantage of solar energy.
In response to this, Loveless said the electrical department put together an interconnection agreement that would allow customers to install solar panels and operate them in connection with its system so that any unused energy generated could flow back onto the department’s system.
The recycling allows for customers to be compensated for the energy, Loveless said, to ensure that all customers are paying a fair amount, no matter if they have a solar panel on their property or not.
“Part of the cost that goes into the rate that we normally charge our customer is associated with our cost to purchase power, but then another part of what we charge customers is associated with our cost of owning and operating the distribution system,” Loveless said. “So when a (solar energy) customer generates power on their property and puts it back on our system, we didn’t want to compensate them at the same rate that they pay us because then we would be paying them for the cost of owning and operating our distribution system, which is included in our normal rate, and that’s not fair to our other ratepayers. We will credit them at a rate that is comparable to what we pay for wholesale power.”
Rambeau said that the opportunity to invest in solar energy is good for the city, citing a mutual benefit of lower electricity costs and helping the environment.
“We welcome the opportunity to bring green energy to the city,” Rambeau said. “We try to make the lives of our citizens as comfortable as possible, so if this is an opportunity for them to get some relief from their utility bills and it’s helping the environment as a whole at the same time, then we think that’s a great opportunity.”
Georgetown residents can inquire about installing solar panels on their homes or other properties by reaching out to the electricity department at 843-545-4600.
Follow Demi Lawrence on Twitter @DemiNLawrence.
James Catalano worked 30 years for a cable company, but you won’t catch him paying a cable bill.
Sure, the 79-year-old North Hill resident has a flat screen TV in his living room like most everyone else. But he wired an exterior antenna so that he receives 30 over-the-air digital broadcast channels, all for free.
Nor are you likely to see him changing a light bulb. Every fixture in his first-floor apartment at 228 E. Euclid Ave. uses LED lights that, according to energy.gov, last 25 times longer and use 75 percent less energy than incandescent bulbs.
Oh, and one other thing — if ever a storm should impact New Castle like one did earlier this month in Texas, leaving 3 million people without power, you won’t find Catalano sitting in the dark.
Catalano built his own back-up power system at the rear of his house, with two 100-watt solar cells on the back porch connected to four batteries and a 3000-watt inverter in a small shed that a previous tenant used to store a motorcycle.
“Just for the heck of it,” he said of his motivation for creating the system. “Just to show people that it could be done.” And, if a Texas-sized challenge should ever come to town, to prove “you can survive.”
Artisan Electric, a Seattle-based solar contractor, notes on its website that a single 100-watt solar panel “can power up several small devices which include cell phones, lamps, fans on ceilings, router of Wi-Fi, laptops and other smaller devices.”
Catalano, though, has two of the cells and uses a special wiring harness to hook them up in parallel. Together, they feed electricity to four storage batteries that provide him with 300 amp hours of power. The inverter will then draw power from the batteries to send electricity back to the house in the form of standard 110 volt current.
“I’ve got 300 amp hours, so it depends on how many amps I’m pulling,” Catalano said. “I can run 100 amps for three hours, I can run 50 amps for six hours. A standard refrigerator, which mine is, draws about 6.8 amps. I could run that for a week.
“Everything in the house takes very little electricity. The furnace and the stove are gas, and all the lights are LED. In the meantime, that solar panel is still charging the batteries. When you get to a break-even point, you’re going to run out.”
Catalano’s system is not intended to enable him to live off the grid indefinitely.
“If the electric would go off, that’s what this is about,” he said.
Should that happen, he can throw a breaker to disconnect from his Penn Power supply and start drawing from the solar backup.
And he’s willing to share.
“My second-floor neighbor is a woman, she works online,” he said. “She knows that if the electric would go down, I could run a drag cord up to her apartment and she could run her computer.
“That’s why I have all those outlets out there; anybody in the building I could run electric to.”
Catalano said he has less than $400 in his entire system, and that all the components are available on the open market, so almost anyone could do what he’s done.
“You need to know a little bit about electricity,” he said. “I’ve done this for 30 years. But you also have to know what you’re buying. You don’t just buy regular batteries, because I’m going for storage, not capacity.”
He recalls looking at one battery that had 1,000 cold-cranking amps, but no rating for amp hours. He ended up calling the manufacturer and learned that the battery had a plate that made it a bad fit for his purposes.
“This one here is more money,” he said, “because it’s for storage. So you’ve got to know what you’re buying when it comes to batteries.”
You’ve also got to know, he added, not to believe the talk that solar power is only for more southerly locations.
“People think that western Pennsylvania, you don’t get enough sunshine for solar,” he said. “That’s not true. It’s daylight now (on an overcast afternoon); there’s no sunshine. I’m putting out 13.6 volts right now from the solar panels, and they’re not even in sunlight.”
Miscommunication at Central Maine Power led to some solar developers receiving letters saying that interconnection fees would jump by as much as 5x. The utility blamed growing pains.
Interconnecting millions of rooftop and small-scale power plants across the nation is proving to be more complex than dealing with the few thousand that existed prior to the rise of distributed wind and solar.
Events in Maine over the course of just two weeks illustrate the kinds of growing pains that can impact a new solar power market and startle solar developers.
As reported on by local Maine writer, Tux Turkel, Central Maine Power (CMP) sent letters to dozens of solar developers announcing that it needed to dramatically raise interconnection costs for projects that had already paid those costs. Some of the developers who received letters reportedly had already built their solar power plants.
Turkel interviewed one company whose $1.4 million worth of power grid upgrades (powerlines, transformers, upgrade substations, and so on) had been paid, and whose interconnection costs were now being increased to cover an emerging “voltage issue” at one of roughly 100 substations impacted by revised cost estimates.
The state’s Renewable Energy Association outlined in a letter the upgrade cost changes that three solar developers received from CMP:
● Developer A – Had signed an IA with anticipated upgrade fees of $100,000. Instead of receiving the countersigned original IA, the developer got a new IA from the utility with an upgrade fee of $1,420,000, plus additional costs to be determined;
● Developer B – Received a notice that six of its projects faced an upgrade, along with additional fees and a longer processing schedule. Five of the projects were already built, with the sixth slated to break ground during the second quarter;
● Developer C – Received a notice that seven of its projects would be impacted: five had already executed IA’s and one was under construction. One project with a signed IA was assessed more than $12 million in upgrade charges for a project less than 2 MW in size.
The uproar led to a call by the state’s governor for a probe, which was launched by state utility regulators.
For its part, CMP responded with a letter rescinding the large interconnection fees. The utility said that its initial upgrade estimates were in the range of $10-$15 million per substation, reflecting the cost of a complete rebuild. It revised most of its estimates to a range of $175,000 to $375,000 for required upgrades. The utility said the new estimates cover upgrades to add transmission-over-voltage protection and tripping of distribution circuit breakers upon detection of an overvoltage condition.
In the end, the drama appears to have been an aberration. CMP executive chairman David Flanagan said that the stratospheric cost estimates were the result of a failure to communicate by midlevel engineers in a new department that has added more than 100 employees over the last 11 months.
Ultimately, the mistake was benign, but solar power professionals worry that such false alarms could have a cooling effect on solar investment in Maine.
Despite the hiccup, clean energy continues to march forward. On Jan. 15, Maine launched its latest request for proposals of procurement seeking 654,775 MWh of clean electricity.
John Fitzgerald Weaver is a solar power professional, known digitally as the ‘Commercial Solar Guy.’ His company has a construction license in Massachusetts, and directly manages projects in MA & RI. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Aurobindo Pharma, a Hyderabad-based pharmaceutical company, will procure solar power from two 15 MW group captive projects of NVNR Power and Infra in Hyderabad, Telangana.
Under the group captive model, the developer sets up a power project for the collective use of multiple industrial or commercial consumers who have 26% equity in the project and must consume 51% of the power produced.
The company has signed an agreement to invest a total of ₹107.6 million (~$1.48 million), in both solar projects – NVNR (Ramannapet I) and NVNR (Ramannapet II).
With this investment, the company will hold a 26% share capital in both companies. The acquisition is expected to be completed by the end of March 2021.
The solar companies have secured licenses from Telangana Government to generate 20 MWdc/15 MWac solar power each, totaling 40 MWdc/30 MWac. Both companies have not started the commercial operation yet.
Many big businesses are taking to sourcing solar from open access projects under the group captive model to comply with their renewable purchase obligations.
Last month, Cipla said it would be procuring solar from a 20 MWac (30 MWdc) group captive project in Tuljapur, Maharashtra. Spread across 115 acres, the solar project was commissioned in partnership with AMP Energy India.
Mercom had earlier reported that Bengaluru-based biopharmaceutical company Biocon would acquire a 26% equity stake in Hinduja Renewables Two Private Limited for ₹59 million (~$799,085).
Open access installations in India saw a 56% increase in 2020 from the year before, owing to the increasing interest of corporates buying power from open access projects under group captive plan, according to Mercom India Research’s newly updated report, Open Access Solar Market in India – Key States (Updated).
The report asserted that while the open access market remains an attractive avenue for investment even as ground-level issues like approval hassles, policy inconsistencies, and a non-conducive regulatory environment continue to weigh it down.
The attractiveness of sourcing green power from open access projects among corporate and industrial offtakers has led to SJVN, a predominantly hydropower generator to float tender for 1 GW of grid-connected solar projects under the open access program.
Harsh is a staff reporter at Mercom India. Previously with Indian Express, he has covered general interest stories. He holds a Masters Degree in Journalism from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Pune.
COLUMBIA, S.C. — Dominion Energy South Carolina held a hearing with the Public Service Commission on Tuesday regarding the establishment of new solar choice metering tariffs in the state.
The new tariffs come at the directive from the South Carolina Energy Freedom Act, signed by Governor McMaster in May 2019. However, some local business owners believe that the proposal by Dominion Energy misses the goal of the Energy Freedom Act and will do more harm than good to the solar industry in South Carolina.
Frank Knapp is one of the individuals concerned with the proposed tariffs. He is the President and CEO of the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce and also owns two commercial buildings that use solar energy.
“It needs to be done but it needs to be done in a fair way that will continue to promote the use of solar panels on rooftops to save energy and to stop carbon pollution that people and businesses can take,” Knapp tells News 19. “But if it’s so draconian, the new tariffs that Dominion is offering, that no one will want to do it, well we’ve basically said goodbye to the solar industry in South Carolina.”
The biggest concerns with the new fees include a subscription fee for solar energy customers as well as a change in the netting period of energy consumption.
According to Dominion Energy, these new tariffs are necessary to make sure non-solar customers do not suffer from subsidization when solar is added to the system.
In a statement to News 19, Dominion Energy said in part “The approximately 11,000 Dominion Energy customers in South Carolina who use solar on their property also export a lot of it back to the grid. This means about 740,000 non-solar customers have to pay for maintaining power lines, generation stations and all other associated costs – while also paying for more cost-efficient energy their utility is producing.”
Dominion Energy goes on to say that they “agree with solar developers on the importance of solar growth in South Carolina, but we can’t forget about so many who are struggling financially.”
A virtual public hearing for the proposed new fees is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23rd with the Public Service Commission.
Those living in coastal Chile’s shanty towns see as much water as they could ever need, but they can’t drink it because it’s too salty. There’s also abundant solar energy on the coast, but nothing with which to utilize the energy source.
2021 Lexus Design Award finalist Henry Glogau is creating something that makes use of these abundant, if unusable resources, with a solar-powered desalination still and lighting fixture.
In Chile, 110,000 families live in 800 shantytowns, where clean water is scarce, power comes unreliably through an electrified wasp’s nest of jerry-rigged powerlines, and windows are often boarded up to increase privacy and security, removing almost all natural light.
“I wanted to achieve a design which was sustainable, passive, and created a striking feature inside the dark settlement home,” writes Goglau, who graduated from the Royal Danish Academy with a master’s in specialized architecture for extreme conditions.
“In my development process it became apparent that I could address the lack of indoor lighting and water access by creating a hybrid skylight and solar desalination device.”
Truly killing several birds with one stone, Goglau’s salination still can purify 440 milliliters of water a day, with leftover brine being sifted into batteries made of zinc and copper where they power an LED strip for use during the night.
During the day the light is powered by a small solar panel, and the whole thing is cheap to manufacture.
Not only focused on function, the solar salination skylight is modeled in such a way as to utilize the chemical process of evaporation and condensation to create funky lighting patterns on the walls and floor as the photons move through water droplets, vapor, and undulations in the stylized shade.
With the help of local NGOs, Goglau’s device—even before Lexus chose the winner from the six finalists—were already being installed among informal homes in the Chilean town of Antofagasta.
(WATCH the video about the innovative skylight below.)
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In a German village about 100 miles north of Munich, Deutsche Telekom and Ericsson are pioneering the use of solar energy for mobile broadband sites. The use of renewable energy is increasing in sectors across Germany, but solar modules have not yet been used to power commercial mobile broadband sites. Through the joint initiative, the two companies want to show that independent energy supply for mobile phone sites with solar power is possible.
As part of the project, small solar modules – with a total surface area of about 12 m2 (129 ft2) – were erected at a Deutsche Telekom mobile site in Dittenheim. The Ericsson Power System is handling maximum power point tracking (MPP) as well as the necessary voltage conversion. The solution also includes integration of the solar solutions into the same management system that also controls the Radio Access Network (RAN).
The tests, carried out in the second half of 2020, showed that solar energy is able to contribute to more than two-thirds of the site’s total power during peak hours. Depending on the solar irradiation and technology configuration, larger shares, including up to fully autonomous power supply, where are also observed. This is thanks to the energy-efficient radio equipment.
The project confirms the potential of solar energy as an alternative power source for mobile sites and opens up for other renewable power sources.
Leif Heitzer, Senior Vice President Technology Guidance & Economics at Deutsche Telekom, says: “Autonomous power supply for mobile sites not only reduces our CO2 emissions, but also shall help enabling network expansion in locations, where development costs were previously not economical.”
Heather Johnson, Vice President for Sustainability and Corporate Responsibility, Ericsson, says: “Ericsson is a driving force for global climate action and this project is another example for how a network-level approach can be deployed sustainably for mobile networks. We welcome this partnership with Deutsche Telekom and we continue to be committed to supporting our customers, manage their network energy consumption and related carbon emissions.”
The initiative is intended to make an important contribution for energy transition efforts and towards reducing the impact on climate change. Since the beginning of 2021, Deutsche Telekom has been sourcing its electricity throughout the group exclusively from renewable energies. By 2030, other CO2 emissions are to be reduced by 90 percent compared to 2017.
Ericsson is a strong supporter of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and is an active member of the Exponential Roadmap initiative. Telecommunication infrastructure enables innovations in many industry sectors, leading to more efficient business processes and ultimately a low-carbon society.
Ericsson has a high focus on the energy efficiency of its portfolio, as detailed end-to-end Life Cycle Analysis reveals that the operational phase of the product is responsible for about 80 percent of CO2 emission of the total life cycle. A higher energy efficiency of the radio site solutions means that local generated renewable energy will become more feasible. Furthermore, Ericsson has set a goal to become climate neutral by 2030 in its own activities.
KARACHI: Reon Energy Limited announced the completion of its 3.73MW captive solar power project for G&T Group in Karachi and Balochistan. The solar photovoltaic plant is the largest bifacial PV rooftop in the country, a statement said on Monday.
The 3.73MW photovoltaic project is expected to produce approximately 6,152MWh annually, it added. The project is dispersed across four locations, including Gatron at Hub, Mustaqim Dyeing and Printing at SITE, and Nooriabad and Novatex in Landhi.
The output energy will be used onsite, reducing gas consumption, and avoiding around 3,780 tons of CO2 equivalent emissions during the plant life, it said. Bifacial solar modules applied at G&T, that can absorb sunlight from both faces, front and back, have significantly improved energy production by up to 10 percent.
The project ensured strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols during execution. A total of 80 jobs were created for the locals during execution, it added.