Determining When Solar Makes Sense for Your Business

Solar has been around for several decades, but many people still do not know whether their business is a good candidate for solar, or when they should consider investing. In our latest educational guide called “Determining When Solar Makes Sense for Your Business,” REC Solar shares lessons learned to help you pinpoint the best time to invest.

Submit the form below to download the full two-page guide.

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Determining When Solar Makes Sense for Your Business

Relax with REC Solar and Learn Your REC’s at SPI!

Here’s a rundown of all that’s happening at REC Solar’s Booth 850 at Solar Power International, as well as other events at the show.
Tuesday, October 21 – Thursday October 23
Just like the solar business, trade shows can be both exciting and intense, but REC Solar has you covered.

Here’s a rundown of all that’s happening at REC Solar’s Booth 850 at Solar Power International, as well as other events at the show.

Tuesday, October 21 – Thursday October 23

Just like the solar business, trade shows can be both exciting and intense, but REC Solar has you covered.

    • Relax with REC Solar. From finance to construction, you’re in great hands with REC Solar… so stop by Booth 850 and enjoy a free 5 to 7 minute chair massage on us!
  • Win two tickets to the Big Apple Roller Coaster. While you’re waiting for your massage, follow REC Solar on Facebook and Twitter and upload a photo of yourself with our “Are you tall enough to ride the solar coaster?” sign. We’ll be selecting 5 random winners on Tuesday and Wednesday to win a pair of Big Apple Roller Coaster rides at the NY, NY Casino. (See full rules below.)
  • Know Your REC Solar’s. REC Solar has been in the solar industry for 18 years, but some people confuse us with a Norwegian panel manufacturer. Pick up our “Know Your RECs” cheat–sheet and learn about REC Solar’s history and the differences between REC Solar and panel manufacturer REC Group.

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Wednesday, October 22nd, 12pm – 2pm

Meet the Solar Social Media Tribe at the SPI Tweetup!

REC Solar is sponsoring the SPI Tweetup, an annual gathering of the folks who “speak solar” through their solar brand’s Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram pages.  Put down your smart phones, speak more than 140 characters, and enjoy a fabulous lunch, beer, wine, and spirits, plus get a chance to win two $100 gift cards and other prizes! The event is free, but quickly sold out! Did you get your ticket? If not, we’re in Vegas, so try your luck and RSVP on the waitlist.

How to Win Two Tickets to the Big Apple Roller Coaster at SPI

The solar industry sure can be exciting, so REC Solar is giving SPI attendees a 5 minute massage and a chance to win 10 pairs of tickets on the Big Apple Roller Coaster at the New York, New York Casino in Las Vegas!

To play, follow these three simple steps:

1)   Drop by REC Solar’s Booth 850 at Solar Power International and take a picture of yourself with our “YOU MUST BE THIS TALL to ride the Solar Coaster?” sign, and be sure to smile or make a funny face, as this will count later.

2)   Follow @RECSolar on Twitter or “Like” our Facebook page (REC Solar).

3)   Upload your solar coaster photo on either Twitter or Facebook and include: “I’m tall enough to ride the #RECsolarcoaster at #SPIcon!”

That’s it. REC Solar will choose 5 winners with the brightest solar smiles on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, and we’ll post the winners. Then come by Booth 850 to pick up your pair of tickets and have fun riding the solar coaster!

 

Solar Finance 101: What’s a SREC and How Much is it Worth?

If you live in one of the 16 states plus Washington DC with a Renewable Portfolio Standard, then going solar may generate more than just clean energy—it can also generate cash from your utility through “SRECs.”

If you live in one of the 16 states plus Washington DC with a Renewable Portfolio Standard, then going solar may generate more than just clean energy—it can also generate cash from your utility through “SRECs.”

What’s a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS)

A Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) is a law that mandates that a state’s utility produce a minimum amount of solar power every year. States with RPSs include New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, and 11 other areas. (See map).

How does the state know that the utilities are producing that minimum amount of solar, wind, etc? Because the utility is required to provide proof that comes in the form of a special certificate, and that’s where SRECs come in.

What’s an SREC?

SREC stands for Solar Renewable Energy Certificate. Solar homeowners rec_solar_solar-finance-101and commercial businesses in RPS states can earn one SREC for every 1000 kilowatt hours (kWhs) generated by their solar PV system. For a typical 5 kW home solar installation, you could earn about six SRECs per year.

How Much Is an SREC Worth?

So, you’ve checked your solar meter and seen that you’ve earned the equivalent of one SREC (1000 kWhs). Great! How much is it worth? The short answer is that it depends on your state and your SREC market.

The SREC price can range anywhere from $4/SREC to $480/SREC, depending on your state, the time the SREC was generated, and SREC market volatility. Like any commodity market, the SREC price is based on supply and demand, so the price can fluctuate. Right now in November 2013, a New Jersey SREC is selling between $120 and $137, depending on when the SREC was actually generated.

Timing is important. Not everyone turns in their SRECs immediately. Some solar homeowners and businesses keep their SRECs, waiting for the market price to go up. As a result, sometimes there aren’t enough SRECs available, and if the utility is short on its quota, then the SREC price will go up. However, there is a ceiling price—and sometimes a floor price, as well.

If the utility can’t collect enough SRECs to meet its quota, then they have to pay a high penalty to the state. Consequently, the price of an SREC is never as high as that penalty (ceiling) price, but it can get close.

But don’t hold on to your SRECs for too long. If you generated SRECs in 2011 and didn’t put them into the market, its value may have plummeted, since the utility has already made its quota for 2011. For example, a 2011 SREC in Pennsylvania is now going for around $4, whereas a “fresh” 2013 SREC trades for $13.

Other Things to Know About SRECs

  • You may or may not be able to trade directly with the utility. It depends on your state and the amount of SRECs you have on hand. Most homeowners sell their SRECs to SREC sellers, such as SRECTrade.com, who take a small fee and process your SRECs at the market price for your state.
  • Most SRECs can only be traded to state utilities where they live. However, Ohio allows SRECs to be traded to other state markets, but the price is usually lower when you sell out of state.
  • Current SRECTrade.com market prices for all SREC states can be seen here.

If you have more questions about solar for your business, contact us today!

 

5 Surprising Facts About Solar Power Today

REC Solar has been installing solar for over 15 years now, so not much surprises us in the solar news world. However, when we saw these 5 surprising solar facts come across our radar recently, we just had to share:

REC Solar has been installing solar for over 15 years now, so not much surprises us in the solar news world. However, when we saw these 5 surprising solar facts come across our radar recently, we just had to share:

Surprise #1: A solar system is installed every 4 minutes in the U.S.

We knew solar was growing, but we didn’t know that there’s a home solar system being installed in the U.S. every 4 minutes. That amazing stat comes from GTM Research, which tracks solar installations in the U.S.

If trends continue, the United States will have 1 million residential solar installations by 2016, which is 10 times the number of installs that existed in 2010.

Surprise #2: There are more solar workers in the U.S. today than coal miners or Hollywood actors.

Here’s another sign that solar works—pun intended. According to a 2012 census from the Solar Foundation, there were 119,000 paid solar workers in America in 2012.

To give that figure some perspective, there were only 70,540 working actors in the U.S. during the same period. If you want to compare solar to another energy industry, there are now more solar workers than coal miners, who totaled 87,520 in 2012.

Click here and see the solar worker numbers for your state. Also, if you’re looking for a solar career with a great solar company, be sure to check out REC Solar’s job board.

Surprise #3. Cloudy Germany produces way more solar power than the U.S.

While solar is growing fast in the U.S., we have a long ways to catch up to Germany. Germany is smaller than Texas and has about as much sun rec_solar_5-surprising-facts-about-solar-powerpotential as Alaska—not much.

In terms of solar energy output, Germany currently produces 34,558 megawatts of solar power, while the U.S. currently produces just 7,962 megawatts. That means that Germany produces more than four times as much solar power than the U.S. does today.

How did Germany do it? The short answer is that Germany decided to phase out nuclear power in the 1980’s. To replace those nuclear power plants, Germany’s parliament created great incentives that encouraged people and businesses to install solar, wind, and other clean energies. The result is that Germany is now breaking solar records.

Surprise #4A solar powered catamaran has now traveled around the world on clean solar energy.

A solar powered catamaran called PlanetSolar has just finished traveling rec_solar_5-surprising-facts-about-solar-power-2around the world on clean solar power, while also performing scientific research on the ocean’s Gulf Stream current. One of its final destinations was a trip to New York Harbor. Coincidentally, REC Solar recently entered the New York area solar market, but not like this. (Photo courtesy of PlanetSolar.)

Check out this video of their New York to Boston leg:

Surprise #5: California is almost out of solar rebates

Some people believe that solar isn’t affordable without some kind of state rebate, but the truth is that most of California’s utilities ran out of rebate funds in early 2013. The only rebate funds left is in Southern California, but that’s only about $125 for the average home solar system.

While there is still a 30% federal investment tax credit, the price of solar is now at a level where homeowners can receive a reasonable return on their solar investment without any state rebate. If you’d rather not use the tax credit, you can also pay nothing up front with a solar lease and receive 10% to 15% off your electric bill.

If you’re surprised about this last fact or any fact mentioned here, then get a free solar quote and see if the numbers work for you.

 

Time for a Solar Scavenger Hunt

With gigawatts of commercial and residential solar electric systems now online, solar is sprouting all over the U.S. This is a fantastic phenomenon – not only because record amounts of clean, solar energy are being used to power homes and businesses across the state, but also because the best solar marketers are happy solar customers.

With gigawatts of commercial and residential solar electric systems now online, solar is sprouting all over the U.S. This is a fantastic phenomenon – not only because record amounts of clean, solar energy are being used to power homes and businesses across the state, but also because the best solar marketers are happy solar customers.

These front-lawn conversations are vital for spreading the facts about the economic benefits of solar and can be mutually beneficial, as satisfied REC Solar customers are rewarded for referring friends and neighbors.

But I digress. Solar’s increasing affordability and accessibility – including zero-down options – are fueling unprecedented solar uptake. In fact, solar is likely being installed around you right now. To illustrate these points, I went on a “solar scavenger hunt” during one 25-minute drive from REC Solar’s headquarters in San Luis Obispo, CA, along Highway 101 north to the sleepy community of Templeton (which also happens to be my daily commute). All solar systems had to be immediately visible. No exiting the freeway allowed. Here we go:

 

  1. Mid-Sized Residential System

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After driving through the rural and sparsely-habited area surrounding 101’s Cuesta Grade, here’s the first one – a mid-sized residential system just south of Atascadero, CA.

  1. Small Commercial System

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Here’s the next one – a small system on the local health-food store. Not big consumers of electricity apparently, as a shortage of roof space certainly didn’t constrain the size of this system.

  1. Mid-Sized Residential System

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If you look carefully there’s a residential solar system poking between the trees to the right of the streetlight. Can’t escape my eagle eyes.

  1. Medium Commercial System

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Here’s a decent-sized commercial system on the roof of the local Rabobank building. Rabobank, coincidentally, has provided financing for a number of commercial solar systems constructed by REC Solar.

We’ve now seen four systems in about a three-mile stretch.

  1. Small Commercial System

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This one is also somewhat difficult to see, but there’s another decent-sized commercial system on the roof of this wine-storage facility. Refrigeration and cooling facilities gobble electricity, and can benefit hugely from going solar. Additionally, Pomar Junction Vineyard & Winery (take a look at the billboard) is an REC Solar customer.Yes, I did have to exit the freeway to allow my co-pilot to get this picture. Call it a concession for safety’s sake

  1. Small Ground Mount System

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Here’s the last one – number six – a residential ground-mount system behind this billboard on the west side of the 101.

That’s pretty good, even for the number-one solar state in the nation. No telling how many additional systems aren’t immediately visible or not far from the freeway.

Keep your eyes peeled for solar sprouting in your neighborhood. The owners of these homes and businesses have realized – along with Fortune 500 companies and the U.S. Department of Defense – that there’s no better time to go solar than right now. The combination of increasingly-affordable solar equipment, state and utility incentives, the 30% federal investment tax credit (and other tax benefits), ever-increasing electric rates and highly-experienced solar providers make commercial solar a sound investment with a solid economic return.

MEGAWHATS? KILOWATTS, MEGAWATTS AND SOLAR TERMINOLOGY

REC Solar has now built more than 9,000 solar electric systems across the U.S. totaling 143 megawatts. Last year alone our company built more than 50 megawatts of solar in 15 states. These are impressive numbers, but might not mean much to those unfamiliar with solar’s terminology. What is a megawatt, anyway?

REC Solar has now built more than 9,000 solar electric systems across the U.S. totaling 143 megawatts. Last year alone our company built more than 50 megawatts of solar in 15 states. These are impressive numbers, but might not mean much to those unfamiliar with solar’s terminology. What is a megawatt, anyway?

Let’s start at the beginning. All solar panels have a “nameplate rating,” which describes the panel’s optimal output in watts. If a first-tier monocrystalline solar panel has a nameplate rating of 260 watts, under perfect conditions this panel would produce electricity sufficient to power almost six 45-watt compact fluorescent light bulbs.

Of course, solar panels rarely operate under perfect conditions. That’s why the many different solar panels on the market are tested by the California Energy Commission to account for dust, wiring losses and weather, among other factors. Looking at the Commission’s website, we see that a 260-watt solar panel can actually be expected under less-than-perfect conditions to produce around 234 watts.

Each solar system is individually-designed and sized to meet the specific electricity demands of the customer, but most residential solar systems are around 6,000 watts, or six kilowatts. Thus, the average residential solar system consists of 25-30 solar modules. Such systems often fit readily on a standard residential roof, but can also be mounted on the ground. Examples of six kilowatt systems follow:

A 6.6kW solar system in Santa Maria, Calif.

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A 6kW solar system in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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A 6kW solar system in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

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When we make reference to a megawatt (1,000,000 watts) we’re talking about the functional equivalent of 150- 200 residential systems, or a lesser number of larger commercial solar systems. Indeed, REC Solar has built systems up to and over one megawatt for large multi-national businesses – including CostcoIKEANestle and DuPont – and agencies including the Departments of Veteran Affairs and Defense, which use solar primarily to control energy costs. A one megawatt system typically uses around 4,000 individual solar panels and if mounted on the ground (not many facilities can host such a sizable system on the roof) utilizes approximately eight acres. The following are two examples of REC Solar-constructed one megawatt systems:

A 1.16 MW solar vineyard installation at Castle Rock Vineyards.

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A 1.2 MW solar installation at Kapa’a, Kaua’i, Hawaii.

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When we say we’ve built more than 50 megawatts in 2012, in truth that number consists of many residential solar systems, and a smaller number of mid-sized, large, and very large commercial solar systems. With the price of solar continuing to drop, and electricity prices increasing in many states, we look forward to an even more successful 2013.

WELCOME TO OUR BLOG!

We’ve been working so hard bringing solar to the mainstream over the years that we never took the time to run a blog at REC Solar.

We’ve been working so hard bringing solar to the mainstream over the years that we never took the time to run a blog at REC Solar.

Today, we’re turning over a new leaf.

Welcome to the new REC Solar Blog, where you’ll find all the latest in solar news, technology, equipment, legislation and financing for those interested in going solar.

We know, the term “web logs” has been around since Jorn Barger coined the phrase back in 1997.

But that’s also when REC Solar was founded, so we’ve spent the past decade and a half focused on one goal: bringing solar to the mainstream.

Well, starting April 1, 2012, we’re bringing solar to the blogosphere, and that’s no April Fool’s Day joke.

Enjoy the sunshine!

– The REC Solar Team