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As solar panel manufacturers reach new heights in efficiency, it is encouraging to see the warranty process is starting to move forward as well. SunPower Corp, the leader in panel efficiency, is setting itself apart from the crowd yet again with the unveiling of its new, industry-leading panel warranty. Standard efficiency panels (non-SunPower) on the market today offer a standard warranty as well. Though listed at '25 years,' these warranties typically consist of a 10 year defects warranty and a 10 year, 90% power output warranty. SunPower's new 25 year warranty covers material defects and workmanship for the full 25 years by replacing any panel during this period with a functionally equivalent one. When investing in a long term investment, such as solar energy, the equipment warranty becomes a major decision maker, especially as installers project customer savings and incentives over periods of 10- 20 years. On top of the defects and workmanship warranty, SunPower has significantly beefed up its panel power warranty. The new warranty guarantees 95% power output for the first 5 years then a degredation of no more than 0.4% per year for the next 20 years, surpassing the competition by up to 9% more power over a 25 year period. When looking to invest in a long-term investment such as solar power, customers are coming to realize the importance of warranty on product and power so their investment realizes its full potential.
As the 99 kilowatt solar system gets installed at School District 51's Career Center, the students who will be using the energy produced by the panels also get an opportunity to help watch, and participate, in the installation process. High Noon Solar, the company installing the system, is excited to be a part of the learning process.
"The system will actually be cash flow positive from day one and the kids get an opportunity to see how it's installed, said Heidi Ihrke, co-owner of High Noon Solar.
The system is part of an SPPA, or 3rd party ownership situation, which benefits an entity like School District 51 finanacially right away. Plus, the students get an opportunity to see and learn about the technology right on their own building.
Students like Sam Gaurmer, who wants to be a construction worker when he graduations, will benefit greatly from helping the professionals as they install the panels.
"I've always liked the idea of solar panels, but this is going to help me a lot in the future for when I want to be able to install them on my roof," says Guarmer.
The solar installation will offset more than a third of the building's total power usage annually. This is the second of five schools to receive solar from High Noon Solar, the first being a 75KW system on Dual Immersion Academy earlier this year.
Ed Bozarth Chevrolet is selling the first plug-in electric hybrid vehicle to High Noon Solar, who will power the vehicle completely by solar power. The Chevy Volt is a hybrid electric car, meaning the owner can drive completely on electricity for 35 miles, then use a gas engine to go another 340 miles, for longer trips. The 35 mile electric range allows the average U.S. driver to make their daily commute with absolutely no tailpipe emissions. Plus, pairing the car with a No Cost Solar program from High Noon Solar allows drivers to run their cars on clean, renewable solar power. This provides a new solution to an on-going transportation problem, where our fuel comes from highly polluting sources bought from conflict-ridden areas of the world.
The 2012 Chevy Volt will be on display at Ed Bozarth Chevrolet this Saturday the 22nd, from 10am- 2pm. High Noon Solar representatives will be on hand to answer questions and give out information about the No Cost Solar program from High Noon Solar, which allows homeowners to receive a solar system with 40-80% annual savings and no capital investment.
High Noon Solar will be using the 2 solar electric grid ties already installed at their offices to power the car. The car will be used as a staff vehicle, for meeting with clients and performing site visits. Here's some more information on the Volt, from an article written by High Noon Solar in the Grand Junction Free Press.
SunPower Corp, one of the leading solar manufacturers based in the US, was at the receiving end of a misinformed scandal perpetuated by Fox News this week. Riding on the high ratings from the Solyndra news cycle, Fox News jumped on board when they heard a story written by 'Guns & Patriots' editor saying SunPower was in a similar situation. The only problem? It wasn't true. Read the whole story here.
As a dwindling budget begins to affect School District 51, there is a ray of hope with saving on their energy bills, beginning in 2012. School District 51 will be receiving solar installations on the roofs of seven school facilities, beginning with Dual Immersion Academy and the Career Center. High Noon Solar has been chosen as the installation company for the project.
"We see it as a win-win," said Eric Anderson, Energy Manager with School District 51, "not only for ourselves but for the solar industry in a our community as a whole."
The School District is receiving these systems with no capital investment and will realize immediate cost savings after installation.
"They still get the benefits from the solar system, but they don't have to make any investment, so it's great for taxpayers. They start seeing savings immediately," said Heidi Ihrke, co-owner of High Noon Solar.
The installations will also provide an opportunity for students to learn about new technologies right in their own buildings, as each system will have online datamonitoring for students and faculty alike to use.
The solar industry in general has gotten a lot of attention lately, due to the demise of Solyndra, a solar manufactuer that filed for bankruptcy this month. Solyndra was a thin film solar panel manufacturer that was backed by a DOE loan guarantee and hosted President Obama for a speech about technology's part to play in the future. For solar's opposition, it presented a perfect opportunity to make this bankruptcy an example of the industry as a whole, creating an environment by politicians and pundits of wild inaccuracies and blatant misstatements about the industry as a whole. However, the truth of the matter is that this company was just poorly run and shows more about mismanagement than technology's feasibility.
Some of the real facts about the solar industry include:
* The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states.
* The U.S. solar industry grew by 69% in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.
* Since the beginning of 2010, the price of solar panels has dropped by 30%, and costs continue to fall making solar an even more viable choice for residential and business customers.
* The U.S. was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion. We were even a net exporter to China.
* Solar power in the U.S. now exceeds 3,100 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 630,000 homes.
* Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio.
SunPower Corp offers three levels of dealer status for their hundreds of residential dealers in the nation: Authorized, Premier, and Elite status. High Noon Solar, an Authorized dealer since 2008, then a Premier dealer for the last year and a half, reached Elite dealer status on Wednesday September 7th. This status is contingent upon many factors, including customer satisfaction, achievement of training and certification levels, percentage of overall product installation, and the final quality of installation. High Noon Solar is now one of only two SunPower Elite dealers in the state of Colorado and one of 33 in the nation. SunPower Corp produces the highest quality and efficiency of solar panels available on the market today and their dealer network emphasizes training, high customer satisfaction, and quality control. Andrew Hoag, the SunPower regional sales manager for High Noon Solar, arrived on Wednesday to congratulate the team at High Noon Solar and celebrate their achievement in this accomplishment.
"Almost half the electric-car buyers are likely to go solar. And Ford expects 15 percent of its cars to be electrified by 2020. Those numbers get quite large. The deal could take a while to be significant, but it eventually could be really significant." says SunPower CEO and president, Tom Warner in an interview with the Arizona Republic.
The solar arrays that SunPower will sell to Ford buyers are smaller than the average rooftop arrays sold in most standard residential installs. They are designed to offset about 3,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, which is what it will take to drive a Focus about 12,000 miles, according to the companies. Many people investing in solar to charge their electric vehicles will also opt for larger solar system sizes to help power most, if not all, of the regular electric demands in their home.
The solar arrays will generate electricity during the day, either powering their other home appliances or being sent to the power grid for credit from the utilities. In that case, the electricity would not directly power the cars, just offset what the cars use at night when recharging. The overall implication of the solar system is that the cost to drive the electric Ford Focus is $0 per year as no gasoline is purchased to drive it and the electric bill at the home where the car is charged is not impacted.
Ford has not released the price of the Focus Electric. The company is targeting range at about 100 miles per charge, said Dan Pierce, Ford's electric-vehicle communications manager.
As the SunPower dealer for Western Colorado, High Noon Solar will be teaming up in this partnership to install the systems needed to power new electric Fords for Colorado drivers.
All the rebates for solar are gone.
This myth and its accuracy does certainly seem to change by the month, if not the day, with the solar industry. Rebates and solar have had a rollercoaster ride from the early 1980s with Jimmy Carter up until the present day. There are state incentives to keep track of, utility incentives, federal incentives and even grants. Good news is, they are still strong. Here’s a breakdown of what is currently available and for how long.
30% federal tax incentive For commercial and residential, this incentive is for 30% of the system cost after all other rebates. It can also be taken in grant form for commercial until the end of this year, otherwise it is good until the end of 2016.
Xcel Energy rebate Also for commercial and residential but restricted to Xcel Energy electric customers. For systems under 10KW, the upfront rebate is $1.75/ watt, or about 30% of the total system cost. Customers also get a small check from Xcel every month for the produced power, called a production incentive. This Production Incentive amounts to $200- $600 per year for 10 years. The current rebates, which get reduced with amount of systems installed, are structured until the end of the year. The 2012 Xcel Rebate Plan is still being negotiated with the Public Utilities Commission
State rebates These rebates are for customers not on Xcel and are set to phase out by the end of summer. There is currently a wait list for these rebates.
USDA grant For commercial, these grants can be up to 25% of the system cost.
Depreciation For commercial installs, depreciation can be taken. Solar systems qualify for 100% bonus depreciation through the end of this year (system must be operational and inspected) and 50% bonus depreciation through the end of 2012. This becomes a huge benefit to commercial business owners with tax burden.
Solar is too expensive.
If everyone rented a home in our society, those customers looking at buying a house would say exactly the same thing: “Houses are too expensive.” We have become accustomed to renting our power every single month: get the bill, pay the bill, dread the next month when the bill comes again and it’s even more expensive. Solar is an investment. Just like buying a house is an investment. You have an upfront cost associated with it but then actually have something to show for your money spent.
On residential systems the payback is sitting at less than 10 years, considering electric costs go up at their traditional, slow increase of 5% each year. This increase could easily be more aggressive as overall power demand grows and current power plant retire, adding expense for new plants to come online.
That means, during the payback period the money you spend is going to pay for your system. Once it is paid off, the next 15-20 years are free power, or in other words, the system is paying you.
Commercial systems are even better, with a payback of 5-8 years, considering 5% increase in electricity.
Return on Investment on these systems ranges from around 7% for residential and 14% for commercial. Your checking account get 1% ROI, a CD 2% and real estate for the last 5 years is at around -6%.
Put that money into a power producing system instead of letting the bank hold the money and you’re happy every time electric rates go up since it means your ROI just got better.
I don’t have money so I can’t get solar.
Solar leases have shot this myth full of holes. If you don’t have the money to invest in solar, you can still get a solar system. In a solar lease situation, you get solar on your home but a 3rd party owns the solar equipment. Each month you still pay a bill for the power that is produced, it just get paid to the owner of the solar system, rather than to the utility company. For instance, if you currently have a $100 electric bill and you get a solar lease that covers 75% of your electricity, you will still pay $25 to Xcel and then pay $75 to the solar lease company. Plus, when electric rates go up, your system is locked in at a set solar rate. High Noon Solar now offers solar leases through SunPower, a 25-year national solar corporation.
It’s all about payback.
Yes, you do want to know that your investment breaks even at some point but there are more reasons than just that to buy a solar system. It is good to know that your power is not coming from something that pollutes the air and water as our traditional coal plant power does. Or that it comes from a war torn region. Or that it is keeping us dependent on nations that would rather not see us flourish. Solar also helps reduce the demand on our delicate ‘grid structure,’ one that has seen a lot of stress with the recent 30 state heat waves. Yes, the money is important, but so is our health and national security.
Learn more about solar as an investment or leasing solar for your home or business; contact High Noon Solar at 970-241-0209.
From Current.com, 7/26/11
Here’s another strong case for more solar photovoltaics: Last week’s 30-state heat wave caused record-breaking demand spikes in three regional transmission systems, according to data from the Energy Information Administration. New York’s Independent System Operator came close — only 74 megawatts away from a 2006 record.
That record demand comes at an enormous cost. As power providers ramp up all the dirty, fossil-based “spinning reserve” capacity they have available, electricity prices shoot through the roof. In PJM, a transmission organization that covers the mid-Atlantic and some surrounding states, wholesale prices jumped to nearly 35 cents a kilowatt-hour. Today, the cost of solar electricity ranges anywhere from 12 cents to 30 cents per kilowatt hour — in some cases, potentially a third of what it costs to meet peak demand with conventional resources.
New York State is currently considering a bill that could realize around 5 GW of solar PV — providing competitive resources that can help the state reliably meet peak demand, explained Rosalind Jackson of Vote Solar to Climate Progress. Read the entire article here.
The Chevy Volt and Nissan Leaf were in the news recently not because they are helping to push forward a movement of electric vehicles, but for a more practical reason; they both just won Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.
The 2011 Chevy Volt even won the Motor Trend Car of the Year award. The 2011 models of these plug-in vehicles stand at the top of the class of new vehicles for more than one reason: safety, dependability, and, very importantly, offering choice of what we use to power the vehicles that run our country.
As gas prices fluctuate wildly in an ever-upward climb, as oil companies defend their huge subsidies and tax breaks in record profit years, and as consumers decide that control for their price of transportation should be held in their own hands, the all-electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles are finally making a resurgence more than 10 years later. But this time they're here to stay.
If you were to add a solar system onto your home solely with the intention of charging a Nissan Leaf, your solar system would pay for itself in about 4 years, after which time your cost to drive would be $0. The math breaks down like this: To charge a Nissan Leaf from empty to full takes 24 KW hours (you get a little more than 4 miles per kilowatt hour of electricity). At 11+ cents per KWh from the utility grid, this costs $2.65 for 100 miles worth of charge or $265 for 10,000 miles annually. Compare this to a gas engine at 25mpg; 10,000 miles on this at $3.75 a gallon in gas is about $1,500… a savings of $1,235 a year! Even higher when gas costs go up.
The new Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce solar rebate program kicked off this week with a press event at the Chamber's main offices in Grand Junction. The Chamber has paired with High Noon Solar and SunPower to offer a special rebate program on high efficiency SunPower solar systems installed by High Noon Solar.
This program works just like a utility rebate, with the rebate check being received after the system has been installed, and it can be combined with all other utility, state, and federal incentive programs already available to the customer.
Residential systems for employees of Chamber member businesses are $.40 per watt of installed solar, up to $2,000 and commercial systems for Chamber businesses are $.20 per watt on systems over 10KW, up to $10,000. The rebate program, called the SunPower Solar Alliance Program, has already gained momentum around the country, with such companies as Google, HP, Del Monte, and Johnson & Johnson already participating. More information on the program can be found here.
Or call High Noon Solar for more details: 970-241-0209
Xcel customers with solar systems were notified near the beginning of May that a new fee would be added to their bills, beginning in June. The amount collected from this fee would go to Xcel's RESA fund (Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment Fund), which is the pool of money used to give rebates to people who want to add a new solar system to their home. The proposed costs were, as follows: customers with .5KW- 5KW solar arrays would pay $1.03/ month, 5- 10KW would pay $2.05/ month, and over 10KW would pay $4.11/ month. This amount would be on top of the 2% fee paid on any electricity usage from the grid.
Though inherently an idea that showed people who had solar were still required to help others get the same rebates they had gotten, the details were written vague enough that the solar industry started to raise some flags about the whole matter. This fee could be raised at any time and could eventually be a 'Solar Penalty Fee' that would continue to be raised by Xcel (without check) and, in the worst case scenario, inhibit people from choosing solar in the first place.
After concern was raised by individuals and the solar industry in Colorado and nationally, the PUC (Public Utilities Commission) has suspended the implementation of this charge and set the matter for hearing and a thorough review (docket 11AL-080E). In its ruling, the Commission stated that Xcel's proposed "terms and rate contained in the tariff may be improper."
The letter released from CoSEIA's policy director can be read here. Updates will be posted as the matter develops.
The Colorado Governor's Energy Office, which was created in 1977 with the purpose of promoting energy conservation measures in the state, has recently announced changes to its renewable energy rebate program. The rebate program, which was funded by money allocated by the federal American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, has helped thousands of individuals across the state receive assistance with energy conservation and renewable energy upgrades to their homes and businesses. The rebates were available for Colorado residents for everything from weatherization to Energy Star appliances to solar systems.
The Energy Star appliance program, which has been closed to new applications, may reopen on May 23rd, 2011, while other programs are quickly ramping down if not already closed.
The GEO's Renewable Energy Rebate program was designed mainly for customers who do not already receive a substantial rebate from their utility provider. For example, here in the Grand Valley, Xcel customers qualify for a solid rebate for installing a solar electric system but customers of Grand Valley Power (GVP) receive nothing from the utility company. Grand Valley Power customers now qualify for up to $4,500 of rebate from the GEO program for installing a solar electric system. Customers can currently submit an application that locks in the rebate for 6 months, during which time they must install the system. When the system is completed, functioning, and inspected, the customer then receives a rebate check from the state GEO program.
In its announcement last Friday, the Colorado GEO team will change its process, effective June 1st, 2011. After June 1st, applications will be locked in for a total of 3 months and all projects must be complete by December 1st, 2011. Finally, the GEO team has announced that no new applications will be accepted after September 1st, 2011, effectively calling a halt to its Renewable Energy Program by the end of this year.
A successful program, the GEO group has issued 749 renewable energy rebates, while over $3.9 million dollars have been allocated for these projects to date. Residents interested in taking advantage of what funding is left this summer should contact High Noon Solar right away to get their application submitted.
The term “net zero” has been cropping up as a common term in describing buildings and homes for some time now. The intention of a net zero building is to be, at the end of the year, left with zero utility bills.
This doesn't simply mean zero electricity usage but zero electricity, propane, natural gas, and, in the near future, gasoline usage. Read the entire article in the Grand Junction Free Press by clicking here.
Between mid February and mid March 2011, Xcel Energy negotiated with Colorado solar representatives to create a solar rebate structure that could more easily be sustained in the years ahead. This consisted of moving rebates from a strict up-front payout to a production based rebate, making the amount easier for Xcel to handle each year. These negotiations, combined with the state legislature's increase in Colorado's renewable energy standard to 30% by 2020 last year, have led to a slightly increased monthly line item on solar customer's bills.
The RESA fund is the pool of money collected for solar rebate incentives for residential and commercial solar installations on Xcel Energy's grid. This Renewable Energy Standard Adjustment (RESA) is a 2% charge applied to all customers' electricity bills. Because solar customers have a very small or nonexistant bill after installing solar, the RESA fee was being reduced proportionately. Through House Bill 1001, lawmakers have attempted to adjust this amount to be more in line with what customers should be contributing to see that rebates can be offered to customers moving forward. Just as solar customers got rebates in past years, they are contributing to the fund to make these rebates available to those people wanting solar in the years ahead.
The monthly RESA fee for solar customers is as follows. Customers with .5KW- 5KW arrays will pay $1.03/ month, 5- 10KW will pay $2.05/ month, and over 10KW will pay $4.11/ month. This amount will be on top of the 2% fee paid on any electricity usage from the grid.
This new fee will be effective as a line item entitled 'RESA', beginning with June 1, 2011 bills. Any questions about the new RESA fee structure can be directed to Xcel Solar Rewards Program at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-800-895-4999.
Israel has not only tackled the problem of the gas engine, it has also come up with a solution to a gas based infrastructure for automobiles. Enter the electric car, with 100 miles per charge and stations to switch out battery packs if your journey is longer than 100 miles. Read the full article at Time Magazine, here. Solar electric systems and electric automobiles can create the perfect solution to a growing and expensive transportation issue.
Xcel Energy reopened their Solar Rewards Program today, March 23rd, after a month+ long hiatus. At 8am, they relaunched their application submittal site online and solar contractors, including High Noon Solar, began the catch up process of inputting new customers for the solar rebate available. Despite some scares, the new Solar Rewards Program is once again secure for new customers wishing to install solar on their homes or businesses. With this new rebate structure in place, rebates are available for months to come. More information can be found about the new rebate amounts by clicking here.
In a great interview with KKCO News 11 in Grand Junction, High Noon Solar co-owner, Heidi Ihrke, gets a chance to describe the need for clarity and reliability in the Colorado solar rebates market. Plus, one of High Noon Solar's customers, AutoPaychecks, has an opportunity to explain how much they love their solar system.