Category: "Residential Solar"

12/29/20

  07:14:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 342 words  
Categories: Residential Solar

Going Live in Altadena!

We recently received PTO for a new project in Altadena, and part of what made this interesting was that we decided to modify the project mid-stream so that we would be positioned to add an Enphase Ensemble Storage System down the road.  We wanted to configure the layout so that when the storage was added, we could just “plug-and-play” - so here’s how that turned out…

Oh County, Why do you make EVERYTHING so Hard?

Our approved plans from LA County showed the solar disconnect adjacent to the service panel, but that really wouldn’t work out if we were going to add storage.   Instead, we were going to install a backup subpanel near the main panel and the Enphase Enpower switch next to that.  Then we would run conduit to a gutter box on the wall, above which the storage device(s) would eventually be installed, and then we would have our combiner box and PV disconnect.  So I redrew the site plan showing the location of the revised equipment, and a new single line drawing to show how everything would be interconnected, crossed my fingers and hit “Submit".

Nope.

County would not allow us to revise our existing solar permit to incorporate the Enpower switch.  Instead, we had to revise our solar site plan to just show the new location for the disconnect, and leave off the Enpower switch.  Then, we needed to pull a second permit - a complex electrical permit - that included a site plan with all of the equipment (all solar components designated as Existing!), and the full single line drawing.  And, yeah, pay for it.  Seriously?

Patience Carries the Day!

Ultimately we were able to overcome all of County’s complaints and get the project approved.  Happily, SCE issued PTO almost immediately, so we came back to go live with the system.  Our client, Sean, decided to memorialize the process, so here is an edited version of that footage that let’s you see how we designed for the future, and the process of bringing the system online.  Check it out!

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12/28/20

  02:04:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 605 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Tax Incentives, Residential Solar

Happy New Year - the Solar & Storage Tax Credit is Extended!

Ok, so of course it took some last minute drama - this is 2020 after all - but the extension to the federal tax credit for solar and storage has been signed into law!  Read on to see what that means for you!

State of the Law Going into Deliberations

New project for the New Year!

This new project will get the full 26% tax credit next year!

As readers of this blog would surely know, the federal tax credit that had been set at 30% for several years, dropped down to 26% in 2020 (just the first of many not-so-desirable outcomes for a year that would see so many!), and was scheduled to decline to 22% for 2021, before expiring completely in January of 2022 for residential solar projects. 

We have written before that the solar tax credit was quite popular on both sides of the aisle, so there was always some hope that the current credit rates might be extended, but that was by no means a sure thing.  Fingers crossed and all that!

A Bill is Born!

As the negotiations between the Trump Administration and Congressional leaders progressed to try and provide economic stimulus at a time when many are out of work, too many facing potential evictions, and state and local governments facing severe challenges, word came out from CALSSA that the extension of the tax credit was in the draft bill!  Then on December 21st we learned that the extension was in the final bill that was being sent to the President!  (For those who are true gluttons for punishment, here’s a link to the Bill, and the language for the residential extension is on page 4,915!  Crazy, right?)

Excited by this most welcome development at the end of a dark year - and just in time for Christmas! - I was ready to write this blog.  But hey, this is still 2020, so I resolved to keep my powder dry until the Bill had actually been signed!

Drama

Seems my hesitation was warranted, as the President declared the Bill - negotiated by his Administration - a “disgrace” and threatened to veto it!  Instead insisting that the relief payments be substantially increased (something his own party rejected) and the “pork” in the bill be removed.  (News coverage of the President’s displeasure focused on exemptions for “three-martini lunches” (who is doing that these days?) or depreciation schedules for race horses!  The solar tax credit did not seem to be part of the pork in question.)  Of course, one man’s pork is another man’s livelihood, and besides, you cannot really take an agreement that took literally months to hammer together and then redo it in days.  Didn’t the President ever see, “I’m Just a Bill?”

All’s Well that End’s Well

So after much Sturm und Drang, on Sunday the Bill became a Law!  Which means we can tell you exactly how things will progress going forward on the tax credit front:

The 26% credit will now continue for projects “placed in service” between now and the end of 2022.  The 22% credit will apply to projects placed in service between January 1, 2023 and December 31, 2023.  Projects that go into service after January 1, 2024 will receive no credit under this new law.

Given the stimulus value of solar and storage projects - to say nothing of their environmental benefits - this is a most welcome development.  And for projects that got delayed due to the pandemic, the full 26% credit will still be available next year - a relief to many homeowners and solar installers who have been up against the clock.

In the end, the process was messier than it needed to be, but the job got done.  Here’s hoping that 2021 and 2022 can be real boom years for the solar industry, and the broader economy as well!

12/01/20

  12:56:00 am, by Sophia   , 863 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Residential Solar

Installing Solar in a Time of Lockdowns

Editor’s Note: As Los Angeles County sees new COVID-19 cases spiking to over 5,000 per day, we wanted to update our followers and potential clients on how things are shaking out.  We just learned that the wife of one of our roofers is ill with the disease and he is in quarantine. Needless to say, we are hoping for her full and swift recovery.  So while this is anything but business as usual, we are still here and working, albeit moving slower than we would like.  We asked Sophia to remind you of just how we work and let you know that we are looking forward to hearing from you soon!  Take it away, Sophia!

Sophia MazurekRun on Sun is Very Much Open!

Despite the COVID-19 restrictions, we are still safely operating here at Run on Sun! The great thing about installing solar is that it requires little close-client contact! When we receive new inquiries, we are able to complete the entire solar install process from site evaluation to final inspection at a distance, and of course, masked. We prioritize your safety and our safety over everything.

Since we are still open and currently working on projects, we want to give you a little insight on the Run on Sun process!   

Since 2006, we have been installing quality solar and storage systems. We pride ourselves on being 100% up-front with our potential clients. As we all know, solar can be quite the investment! It is important for us to make sure each system is going to have economic benefits and will be valuable to the home. These benefits can greatly vary based on location, roof factors, and shading. We want to assure that you are not going to be putting in more money than you are getting out. Your solar system should eventually result in an investment income. In other words, going solar with us will greatly reduce or eliminate your electric bills and will have an economic return! Unfortunately, there are always going to be some houses that will not reap the benefits of solar.

Oscar the RoS drone!A site evaluation with Run on Sun is an easy, stress-free process! First, we will collect your energy usage history to determine your potential system size. We will then come to your property with our drone (we call him Oscar!) and capture aerial images, which will give us detailed monthly solar-resource data from your roof. (We aim for an average annual sun exposure of 80% or more to go forward with a project.) After we have gathered all necessary data, we use a sophisticated software service called Scanifly to create a precise 3D model of your home with solar included. A comprehensive proposal of the system, quote, and savings will be sent to you free of charge!

Run Down of Our Selected Products

Here at Run on Sun–we value quality and have carefully chosen our products from extensive research and testing. Our go-to panel manufacturer for each system is made by LG (you know, the Life is Good folks!).  LG’s  durable and reliable panels have been giving us the most efficient results for years. We trust LG to provide us with reasonable prices, amazing quality, and impeccable aesthetics. In addition, each panel has a 25-year warranty so there are zero financial penalties if anything were to malfunction!

We also use all Enphase products, including the IQ7+ microinverter and the Envoy monitoring device, which allows us and our clients to view system production. We are also now installing the Ensemble Energy Storage System, that can be a terrific addition, particularly for clients in the SCE service area. We have been partners with Enphase since 2009 - we installed system ID 1,470!  They are re-imagining the solar industry by making the process easier, faster, and by far–more reliable. Each microinverter comes with a 25-year warranty and allows for complete customer inclusion by making their monitoring system comprehensive and mobile-friendly.

Why go with Run on Sun?

The solar market is competitive and there are a lot of installers out there! Here at Run on Sun, Founder & CEO Jim Jenal is NABCEP certified, and we are constantly updating our knowledge as the solar world continues to evolve. The way we view solar is a little different from other companies. We recognize how big of an investment going solar can be. However, it is one of the best things you can do for yourself and for the world. We want to make sure our customers understand every single aspect of the process and are getting all questions answered thoroughly. For us, it’s not about selling a system. It’s about making sure solar is going to be beneficial for you. Run on Sun is always 100% transparent with each client. If we run the numbers and there is little economic advantage–we will highlight that from the start. Our motive to install solar stems from our passion for the planet and for the people. We put in the necessary time and effort to ensure the highest quality of system is achieved, and we go the extra lengths to help our customers in any way possible.

So–what are you waiting for? Get a free solar quote now! We would love to hear from you.

Go Solar Now!

11/19/20

  10:08:00 pm, by Sophia   , 722 words  
Categories: Residential Solar

Power Trip: The Fight to Kill Solar

After watching the Power Trip Documentary by Jonathan Scotts, I was instantly compelled to share it with everyone I know. This documentary encompasses the energy history of America and delves into major political, social, economic, and environmental issues that we have been facing for centuries. If you are passionate about solar, or if you are questioning solar–Power Trip will settle all arguments surrounding the industry. Not only does it unveil the dark parts of utility companies, but it sheds light on the importance of renewable energy and the power it has to transform a community.

Jonathan Scotts, best known for his starring role in the show Property Brothers, took the viewers through different parts of the country while meeting with residents, famers, and corporate utility companies to discuss solar. He starts in states such as Georgia and Nevada, which are ruled by utility companies and legislation preventing net-metering, solar incentives, and last but not least–energy education. According to a Georgia farmer, “two years ago, you couldn’t talk to anyone about solar.” People literally didn’t want to hear that word come out of anyone’s mouth. It seemed as though there was anger surrounding it, or maybe just lack of understanding. Whatever the reason may be, we can conclude that this fear of solar derived from money-hungry politicians preaching the words “subsidy” over and over until you collapse into the safe, welcoming arms of your utility company.

In fact, there was an Amendment passed in Florida that prevented solar from gaining popularity. How ironic- the sunshine state of the U.S. bans the power of the sun! This amendment tried to trick solar supporters into thinking the ballot was pro-solar. According to the Miami Herald, “the amendment attempted to use the popularity of solar to embed new language into the Florida Constitution that could have been used as a legal barrier to raise fees on solar users and keep out companies that want to compete with the utilities to provide solar energy generation.” If you are still questioning this “narrative,” there is recorded audio evidence from Sal Nuzzo, who is the Vice President of Policy for The James Madison Institute, acknowledging just how deceptive the Florida Amendment 1 tactic was. You can clearly hear him state, “Remember this: solar polls very well… to the degree that we can use a little political jiu-jitsu and take what they are pitting us on and use it to our benefit…use the language of promoting solar, and kind of put in these protections for customers who choose not to install rooftop.”

So now that we have uncovered the dark secrets of utility companies and politicians, let’s see how this push for toxic energy plants destroys lives and families. Jonathan takes us to Kentucky, where traditional America is still holding out hope for the coal industry. An industry that was once powering our world is now a dying flame. Not only do we lack the resources to continue with coal-powered plants, but we are suffering from their pollutants! This is where Environmental racism comes into play. 70% of African American communities live within 30-40 miles of a toxic emitting power plant. Is this a coincidence? No! The state grants these utilities the right to build power plants in low-income minority communities, knowing they do not have the money to relocate or the voice to be heard. These power plants are dumping coal ash into their water, causing diseases, cancers, and other major health problems. For years, they have been silenced and no action has been taken. It is time to eliminate the empty promise of “cheap” fossil fuels and start looking towards a reliable, clean, and safe resource. It is time for people in power to put humanity first.

As Jonathan noted:

My motivation to tell this story started out as environmental. It quickly became social, and then it was personal…this is not about your party, or the color of your state. This is about people, their lives, their planet. We all want better, healthier lives for our family and children. Whether you’re fighting to save the planet or save money, we all win if things change.

He hit the nail right on the head. We all benefit if we prioritize lives over money. We all benefit if we choose the planet. Lastly, we all win if we go solar.

Watch the documentary below! 

08/20/20

  01:44:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 761 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Climate Change, Residential Solar, Energy Storage

Behind the Meter to the Rescue!

It’s hot here in California, fry an egg on the sidewalk style hot, and the grid is feeling the heat.  The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) - the entity responsible for managing the grid - has issued warnings about possible outages, and even our local utility, Pasadena Water & Power, sent out emails to customers warning that cutoffs might be necessary.  The extreme conditions have prompted some extreme reactions, blaming the State’s shift to more and more renewables as the cause of the problem.  But overlooked in all of this is the contribution of local solar power systems, “behind the meter,” that have greatly improved the present situation, and with more aggressive utilization of storage, could do even more.  Here’s our take…

Blame Game

Let’s start by looking at what is causing the present problem. As we all know too well, we are in the middle of a pandemic and conditions in California have been depressingly awful, with a 7-day moving average of new cases at nearly 9,000.  As a result, a lot more people than usual are working from home, driving up electricity loads as we struggle to remain sane, and if possible, cool.  That’s been tough, as the entire state is in the grip of a week-long heat wave, with temperatures soaring above 100 degrees, and in some places, above 110!  All of that has created record demands for electricity and the grid has struggled to meet that need, with spot prices hitting all-time highs.

For those opposed to California’s efforts to “green the grid,” this provides an opportunity to go on offense. Cue Republican Assemblymember, and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Utilities and Energy, Jim Patterson:

You can’t run a 21st century economy that’s the fifth largest on the planet with wind and solar. I have been warning over and over again that the policies coming out of the democrat-controlled legislature and Governors’ office are creating the conditions for blackouts and brownouts and here we are seeing the evidence.

Wow, just how wrong can you be?  Let’s be clear: no 21st-century economy is going to survive the century if we don’t figure out how to do so with solar, wind and other, non-fossil fuel based sources of electricity.  And despite the predictable piling on from climate change deniers, there are multiple paths ahead for getting to an all-green electric grid.

Behind the Meter to the Rescue!

All of the stories about the blackouts, however, ignore the contribution - both present and future - of behind the meter resources, that is, local, rooftop solar.  Our friends over at CALSSA sent out the following graph that helps to make those contributions concrete:

Behind the meter solar and storage contributions to the grid

There’s a lot going on here so let’s break it down.  The brown curve is the actual reported demand data from CAISO on August 14th.  But without the contributions from the million plus behind-the-meter solar installations the actual load would have been significantly greater, as shown by the yellow line.  That is capacity the ratepayers of California did not have to purchase, but still benefited from its production.  Moreover, as the yellow line shows, the peak demand is actually at 3 p.m., but thanks to behind-the-meter installations, the peak on the grid is both lower, and later, a fact not often explained to the public.

The vertical lines mark the period last Friday that was subject to rolling blackouts - from roughly 7 to 10 p.m.  As the merger of the yellow and brown lines around that time indicate, solar production is no longer a factor.  But there is still a role to play as storage begins to be deployed with ever greater frequency.  CALSSA’s policy director, Brad Heavner (who created this illustration), notes:

If California builds 3 GW of additional energy storage systems at customer locations that can be dispatched during grid shortages, it would further trim evening peak needs. This is shown in the figure as the dotted blue line. CALSSA estimates the state can achieve this level of build-out within the next five years with state policies.

This is certainly doable, but it will take ongoing financial support, and preferably a more transparent rebate program than the present, byzantine SGIP program.

Ironically, the utilities are pushing their customers into purchasing more storage, as the public’s patience with grid outages - whether from rolling blackouts, or utility initiated public safety power shutoffs - is at an all-time low. As sophisticated products like the Enphase Energy Ensemble Storage system become available, more and more solar consumers will become storage consumers as well.  Once again, the ratepaying public will benefit from those investments, and hopefully all of us will be able to keep our cool!

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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