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.
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.
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 email@example.com, 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.
Russ Lawrence joined the decentralized power revolution years ago with his home in the mountains outside of Hamilton. When he decided to move to town he knew he wanted to maintain his energy independent lifestyle.
Russ is an efficient user of electricity, so using average annual estimates of utility usage (he has not yet been in the home a full year) SBS Solar sized the system to provide 100% of Russ’ annual electric needs. He is anticipating excess production and plans to convert from his efficient natural gas furnace to an air source heat pump.
One of his first FaceBook posts of his new system included his NorthWestern Energy net-meter running in reverse.
Feed energy back to the grid with NorthWestern Energy Net-Meter.
Solar Myth #10 Solar Panels are fragile and easily broken
Fact: Solar Panels are durable and can resist golf ball sized hail at 100 mph.. Solar Modules are made with tempered glass like the windshield of your car. Solar panels are solid state, no moving parts and have a 25 year production warrantee.
We shot these videos at the SolarWorld factory near Portland Or in 2014.
Solar Myth # 9 Manufacturing solar panels requires more energy than the solar module will produce.
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.
Solar Myth #8 Solar will get more efficient, so I should wait (I don’t want to buy the first VCR)
Fact: Solar is a mature technology, and there has never been a better time to install solar. Basic solar photovoltaic technologies have been around for more than 30 years. While efficiencies have increased and costs have decreased, the basic solar electric panel is the same solar technology used in the 1960’s and 70s. The solar industry, like other electricity-generating industries, does not evolve as rapidly as the electronics industry has. (unlike computers or cellphones which experience dramatic improvements in short periods of time). When panels become more efficient, it simply means you wouldn’t need as many, because they’re better at converting. Given stable technology profile, a 30% federal tax credit (currently sun-setting in 2019) and a 500.00 per tax payer Montana State Tax Credit, solar is more affordable than ever and makes sense right now. Once installed, the panels are solid state, with no moving parts and have a 25 year warranty.
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.
Fact: Solar panels are solid state, have no moving parts, do not require regular maintenance and come with a 25 year warranty. Dust and debris can collect on solar modules, but most panel owners never clean the panels and instead rely on the rain to do the job for them. Generally when it comes to snow our recommended action is wait for the sunshine. In Western Montana, grid-tie, net-metered homes make a majority of their solar power in the summer months. Winter power generation is a bonus, rather than a necessity. The days are shorter, the sun is lower and the sky is often overcast. This does not mean that we don’t generate any power, it just means that we generate significantly less in the months around winter solstice. Modules are generally set at an angle that enough snow will begin to shed, temperatures permitting. The cells are of dark colors that promote melting and with enough consecutive sunny days your modules will be generating power once again.