Welcome to the
Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

In this Issue:

December, 2014

Volume: 5 Issue: 12

2014 - The Best Year in Solar, Ever!

It has been a great year for solar in the US!

As the year comes to an end, we would like to take a look at the numbers to get a sense of how the industry is doing as a whole. The first statistic we came upon stated that through just the first half of 2014, 53% of all new electric capacity installed came from solar!

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, utility-scale solar as of September, 2014 had sent 14.2 gigawatt-hours of electricity to the U.S. grid, up 110% compared to 6.7 GW in 2013. California is leading the way with a whopping 7.8 GW generated in 2014, a 188% increase from 2013!

Run on Sun crew

That means solar generation was enough to meet the electricity needs of 1,513,703 average U.S. homes, and represented about 0.4 percent of the nation's total electricity. However, these numbers don't take into account residential and private commercial solar.

"There are now more than half a million homes and businesses nationwide with a solar installation," reported the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA).

With continued growth, and accounting for these additional sources of generation, solar electricity could easily account for 1 percent of U.S. generation by the end of this year. That might sound like small potatoes, but as recently as 2008 the energy contribution from solar was virtually zero. Rapid growth in the sector points toward continued gains for the foreseeable future.

What's spurring this remarkable growth in the industry? For one thing, it is becoming more and more affordable with the average price of a solar panel declining by 64% since 2010. We also cannot overstate the role of effective public policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) among other state and city-specific policies.

Growth in the solar sector has far reaching positive impacts for the US economy as well as the environment! While the numbers are not yet in for 2014, as of 2013 the industry had already provided 143,000 much needed jobs for Americans or more than 50 people hired in solar each day. Looked at another way, nearly $20 billion a year was invested back into the economy due to the industry.

On the environmental side Rhone Resch, CEO of SEIA, noted that solar will "help to offset an estimated 20 million metric tons of harmful CO2 emissions in 2014, which is the equivalent of taking 4 million cars off U.S. highways, saving 2.1 billion gallons of gasoline or shuttering half a dozen coal-fired power plants". Needless to say, converting to solar or other renewable energy sources is paying huge dividends for both our economy and the environment. We look forward to sharing this great resource with continued growth in 2015 and beyond!

“There are now more than half a million homes and businesses nationwide with a solar installation…”

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How Green is Your EV?

There's a good chance if you're reading this blog you either have hopes of someday owning an electric vehicle (EV) or you are one of the proud individuals already enjoying cruising silently by gas stations... such as Run on Sun's Jim Jenal in our new Volt! In either case your ears likely perk up at any breaking news regarding EVs.

Run on Sun gets a new Volt!

Over the last few days we've noticed alarmist headlines coming from multiple "news" sources. While the operative word in headlines such as "Study Finds Electric Cars May Not Be Very Green at All" is "may", many of the articles state definitively that electric cars are not as green as gasoline cars.

We decided to investigate.

On December 15th a new study by the University of Minnesota was released to the press. The study calculated the air quality impacts of manufacturing and refueling vehicles with various forms of power.

Here is the study's abstract verbatim:

We evaluate the air quality-related human health impacts of 10...options, including the use of liquid biofuels, diesel, and compressed natural gas (CNG) in internal combustion engines; the use of electricity from a range of conventional and renewable sources to power electric vehicles (EVs); and the use of hybrid EV technology.

...We find that powering vehicles with corn ethanol or with coal-based or "grid average" electricity increases monetized environmental health impacts by 80% or more relative to using conventional gasoline. Conversely, EVs powered by low-emitting electricity from natural gas, wind, water, or solar power reduce environmental health impacts by 50% or more. Consideration of potential climate change impacts alongside the human health outcomes described here further reinforces the environmental preferability of EVs powered by low-emitting electricity relative to gasoline vehicles.

Did you catch that last part? Electric vehicles, charged by low-emitting electricity (anything but coal) are preferable environmentally alongside human health impacts...to gasoline vehicles. A far cry from the grossly misinterpreted 'electric cars aren't green'. Which is simply not what the study says.

The straightforward lessons from the study include three main points:

  1. Electric cars powered directly from the grid have the awesome bonus that they get cleaner as the grid does. Whereas gasoline vehicles have the same or worse carbon footprint for the lifetime of the car.
  2. If your car is charged on the coal-heaviest grids, it causes almost twice as many deaths from air pollution compared to gasoline vehicles. However, I'd like to note that electric car adoption is negligible in the states with the dirtiest grids. In addition, with EPA regulations on existing power plants, much of the coal generation (currently less than 40% of US electricity generation) will be retired in favor of cleaner energy in the next 20 years.
  3. But if you recharge on a natural gas-based grid the EV produces only half the pollution-related health problems as the gas guzzler. Better yet, recharge on renewable energy -- whether from a grid or derived from home solar panels -- and EVs produce just one quarter of the health problems!

In summary, don't get an electric vehicle if you're planning on charging it off of a coal-powered grid. Do get an electric vehicle if your grid is sufficiently green... or better yet, use a solar power system designed specifically with charging your EV in mind -- see Run on Sun's website for info! And remember that facts are frequently misinterpreted by the press. When in doubt, read the actual study, not just the headlines.

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Thanks and Onward to 2015!

2014 is drawing to a close and not only has it been a great year for the solar industry, it has also been a great year for Run on Sun - in fact, our best year ever!

For that success we give thanks, particularly to:

  1. Our Clients - You are the reason we do this and we are constantly humbled by the confidence you have placed in us. We strive every day to live up to that trust, and your referrals are a big driver of our success. We cannot say thank you enough.
  2. Brad Banta - Although Brad is no longer a direct part of the company, we are still fortunate to interact with him as a trusted member of our Advisory Board. As our CFO, Brad kept us afloat through some (very) lean years and helped to position us for our current success. Simply put, we could not have done it without you, Brad - thanks so much.
  3. The California Public Utilities Commission - If you don't have good solar policy, you don't have a good solar market. The CPUC has consistently (if not completely) come down in favor of solar, and as a result, California enjoys the nation's largest solar market.
  4. Friend and Intern, Kendra Hubbard - Few people are as committed to promoting the growth of solar as Kendra, and we were so fortunate to have her spend some time with us as an intern this year. Kendra is a star in the making, and we look forward to following her brilliant career for many years to come.
  5. Focused Energy - Our primary distributor, Focused has a great crew of folks working diligently to support installers like Run on Sun. If you are a local solar installation company looking for a quality partner to help you grow your business, you should really give Focused a call.
  6. Laurel Hamilton - Meet our new Projects Coordinator (we considered Projects Ninja but this title seemed more professional), Laurel is an amazingly skilled person who is already making us more organized and efficient. Watch out, SCTY, with a booming market and Laurel at our side, we are going to take a bite out of your market share!

We hope you and yours will close out 2014 on a high note, and join us in making 2015 a year to remember. Happy New Year!

(And being a Pasadena-based company we have to encourage you to watch the Rose Parade, especially because a Run on Sun favorite, Bergen Onufer, is a Princess this year -- and every year, per her proud parents!).

“Watch out, SCTY, with a booming market and Laurel at our side, we are going to take a bite out of your market share!”

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