Solar Myth # 7 I will have an excess of energy that will go unused and will be wasted
Fact: Nearly all modern solar panel systems are connected to the conventional electric utility grid. When this happens, your meter spins backwards and your utility company credits you for that power. This grid-tied method tends to be the most convenient for homeowners. This is ideal for us in Montana, because of our long solar days in the summer and shorter days in the winter time. In Montana the utility company will not write you a check for excess energy that you produce. So generally your system will be sized to accommodate your average annual usage. (determined by your utility bill). Each year the solar electric system generates power during peak season (summer), and you consume power during the darker, shorter days of winter. The utility company (each one slightly different dates) resets once a year and the process begins again.
One often stated myth is that manufacturing solar panels requires more energy than the solar module will produce is simply not true.
According to a 2004 National Renewable Energy Laboratory study that analyzes several different panel technologies, “Producing electricity with photovoltaics (PV) emits no pollution, produces no greenhouse gases, and uses no finite fossil fuel resources.” and it takes only 1 – 4 years for the energy savings accumulated by producing electricity from solar to equal the energy cost of producing the panel.
Solar technology has improved in the years since this study was conducted, and production efficiencies have driven the “energy payback period” down even further. Solar modules generally have a 25 year warranty and can continue to produce long after that time frame(at a slightly reduced rate) lifetime production of a solar module exceeds far embedded costs.
Valley Villas is one of the largest solar electric systems in Montana. It has many unique features, three separate buildings, 34 apartment units, with two laundry rooms. SBS Solar used all SolarWorld 325 modules and Fronius inverters.
The developer and architect on the project kept their eye on efficiency.
Air source heat pumps for heating and cooling
All energy efficient appliances
High performance insulation in the ceiling and walls
LED lighting indoors and out
High-E windows and doors
All 17 lower level units also incorporate handicapped accessible design features
Energy efficient washers and dryers in each laundry room
And of course individually Net Metered photovoltaic systems to help with energy costs
This landmark installation offers efficient affordable housing units that are a model for the affordable housing industry.
Solar electric modules will produce energy even on cloudy days. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, consider that solar panels on a rooftop in foggy San Francisco produce nearly the same as the ones in nearby sunny Sacramento. Consider too that Germany (with a climate not that different from Vancouver Canada) leads the world in residential solar right now, and it is generally an overcast climate.
While the amount of sunlight your panels receive is important, a more accurate representation of the amount of energy your panels can produce is referred to as peak sun-hours or equivalent full sun. It is important, first of all, to note that “peak sun-hours” are not the same as “hours of daylight.” Peak sun-hours refers specifically to how much solar energy is available in an area during a typical day. As a comparison Phoenix Arizona has equivalent full sun value of 6.5, in Western Montana we use the equivalent full sun value of 4.5. The same equivalent sun hour value as a good part of the continental United States.
The Missoula Federal Credit Union is a
not-for-profit, member-owned financial institution, serving people who live, work, worship, or belong to
an association headquartered in Missoula, Lake, and Ravalli counties. (Not a member? No Problem. Becoming a member is easy, and is well integrated into the loan application process and can be done via mail, and need not include any financial services beyond the loan. Membership in the Montana Renewable Energy Association would qualify a
borrower for MFCU loans, making them available to the entire state. Check out the Missoula Federal Credit Union Home Energy Loan Brochure. Or Call (406) 523-3300.
Federal Tax Credits Residential 30% Renewable Energy Credit (thru 2019)This tax credit is applicable for all primary and secondary private homes. It includes all associated costs, such as installation and electrical work.
State (Montana) Tax Credits Montana State provides a 500.00 per tax payer tax credit, or 1000.00 per couple for your solar installation.
This program helps increase American energy independence by increasing the private sector supply of renewable energy and decreasing the demand for energy through energy efficiency improvements. Over time, these investments can also help lower the cost of energy costs for small businesses and agricultural producers.
Grants of $20,000 or less: October 31, 2017 and March 31, 2018;
Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2017;
Loan Guarantees are competed continuously throughout the year.
Don’t miss this unique opportunity to invest in the long term health of your business with an investment in solar energy and energy savings.
Call Dan for a free solar consultation today 406-541-8410.
Grit-tie Net Metering Solar Electric Systems: Many Montanans have solar arrays “net metered” into the grid, through Northwestern Energy or a local co-op. Net metering customers receive a credit on their electricity bill for each kilowatt hour of electricity generated on-site and exported to the utility grid. Most net metering systems are wired to provide energy to the customer’s home or business before exporting any excess to utility lines. Most utilities carry forward bill credits from month to month, but never pay the utility customer anything for excess power. With NorthWestern Energy the “clock” resets annually. In Montana, SBS Solar we recommend an April reset. This allows for the consumers solar electric system to generate the maximum energy during our long solar summer days and consume the power during the shorter colder winter days.
To help assess how large your solar system needs to be we start with your utility bill. This allows us to calculate your average annual usage. You can design a system to run up to 100% of your average annual loads. It is that easy. Call today for your site assessment, load calculation and personalized solar electric quote. 406-541-8410
SBS Solar designs custom solar electric systems with your lifestyle and budget as our primary focus.
One of the best ways to size a solar electric system is to look at your utility power bill. On the NorthWestern Energy bill* in the upper left hand corner there is a graph that tells you how much energy your home consumes on a monthly basis. This information and a Google view of your site for orientation and shading, enable the SBS Solar team to design a system with your needs in mind. A site visit is then scheduled to verify information .We then follow-up with a detailed proposal that will quantify your total costs and savings.
You can provide us with your utility bill a number of ways. Click Here and upload your utility bill, Email us firstname.lastname@example.org, fax 866-255-1303, or mail (620 Fish Hatchery Rd Hamilton MT 59840)
*Electric Coop power users will need to contact their co-op offices to request the last years worth of power usage.
Council Groves 48kW Solar Electric System Received USB (Universal Service Benefit) Grant
The SBS Solar team recently installed a 48kW solar electric system for Council Groves Apartments in Missoula MT. Currently Council Groves Apartments maintains 72 units of low-income Housing for approximately two hundred residents, close to half of which are children under the age of 18.
A portion of the funds for this project were provided by USB (Universal Service Benefits) funding in Montana. In 1997 the Montana legislature passed an electric deregulation law that included language establishing a Universal Systems Benefits (USB) fund.
Under this program (with these guidelines the E+ Renewable Energy Program (NorthWestern Energy) provides custom incentives for projects that benefit organizations and communities for non-profit or government facilities. Projects receiving these funds often provide civic value including education and visible representation of renewable energy technologies to a broad audience. Broad Benefit Commercial solar PV incentives are awarded twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
If your non-profit is interested in assistance with the grant application call Dan today. 406-541-8410.