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What it takes to be a Qualified Solar Installer

 

 

In a recent post I wrote that an Electrician license alone – even a Master Electrician license – does not qualify you to design and install solar systems. I totally respect the fact that a Master license is a great achievement that requires significant experience and training, but it’s not solar specific. Some took exception to that position, but those are just the facts, in my opinion, and I think I have the experience and credentials to have that opinion.

Most states address this by requiring a building and an electrical permit to legally install a residential or commercial solar system. And in most cases, the plans have to be sealed by a licensed Professional Engineer.

But in many parts of West Virginia, as far as I can understand based on multiple inquiries to the Contractor Licensing Board, there are no clear licensing rules.

At Milestone, we have two licensed Master Electricians in our group, and I’ve worked with other Master Electricians as fill-ins, and I can tell you with total certainty that until you’ve received some formal training on solar systems, or on-the-job oversight from a trained and certified NABCEP installer, you’re not qualified to install all of the electrical components of a solar system, let alone design solar systems. There are many specific electrical issues that are quite unique to solar systems. And electrical is only part of the process. That’s not just my opinion. That’s according to NABCEP’s Job Task Analysis (JTA), spelling out in detail the areas their installer certification test covers and the percentage of questions for each area of expertise (Content Domain in the table below). Continue reading “What it takes to be a Qualified Solar Installer”

People keep asking about solar kits

 

 

More and more solar “kits” are showing up at home improvement stores and on Internet web sites, and we regularly get questions about them. Here’s an example:

We’re seeing a number of solar kits being offered for sale at the local home improvement stores at what look to be pretty good prices. Are these kits a good deal, and do you install them?

They’re not, and we don’t. Here’s why: Continue reading “People keep asking about solar kits”

How much should an hour of electricity cost?

8.8.12-Power-Outage

About 3 PM Monday, May 12, a substation equipment failure knocked out power in Cumberland, MD, and Mineral County, WV.

It wasn’t until 4 PM that Potomac Edison sent repair crews to the scene.

And it wasn’t until 7 PM – four hours later – that all 3,000 customers who’d been without electricity got it back.

Though backup generators kicked in at households that had them, their power came at a cost. Backup generators burn propane at the rate of four gallons per hour. At $4 per gallon of propane, that’s $16 per hour to keep the lights on and the refrigerator cold. For a four-hour outage, that’s $64.

Do the arithmetic, and you’ll see that for a two-day outage, like the ones that hit towards the beginning of this year, you could be spending $768 just for two days of electricity.

A battery backup bank, on the other hand, costs $0 per hour to keep your lights and your appliances powered. That’s because instead of costly propane, its “fuel” is free. It’s the sun, which rises every morning and powers Milestone Solar arrays even on cloudy days.

And adding a battery backup bank to your Milestone Solar system costs no more than a backup generator – sometimes less.

Click here or call us at 866-688-4274 to learn if a Milestone Solar system is right for your home or business. (Even the call is free.)

 

Solar systems add $9,000 in home equity, Newsday reports

Adding a residential solar electric system doesn’t just save on electricity, Long Island Newsday reported October 9. According to a Wells Fargo Bank/Journal of Appraisers study, home equity increases by 20 times the electricity savings.

“This increases the value of a home by 3-4 percent,” Newsday notes. “That would mean an average 5-kw solar system could add up to $9,000 in equity to the home it was installed on.”

Looking at the overall picture, the  increased home equity and the federal tax credits could pay for two-thirds of a typical home solar system alone.

And those savings don’t include state incentives, grants and tax credits. Nor do they include hundreds of dollars a year that utilities pay for Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs, which vary from state to state)  – nor the electric-bill savings themselves, which Milestone Solar customers tell us run about 50 percent each month.

So why not contact Milestone Solar for a free solar evaluation? You’ve got nothing to lose – and thousands of dollars in home equity and savings to gain.

 

There’s no telling when the power will go out – or why

Power outages can happen at the worst times and for the strangest reasons.

Take the morning of Friday, September 20, when the new iPhone5 was set to go on sale.

It was minutes before 8 AM in Bethesda, MD. A line of customers, eager to buy, stretched from the door of the Apple store all the way around the block. As the Wall Street Journal Washwire blog posted,

…just moments before the suburban Washington store was set to open at 8 a.m., the power went out, according to buyers’ and local news reporters’ posts on Twitter. A call to the Apple store went unanswered. Local power company Pepco later confirmed there was a power outage.

In fact, the power went out for the whole block that the would-be iPhone buyers were lined up around. “Whole block went dark,” one of them tweeted.

The outage’s cause was just as strange as its timing. “A squirrel made contact with our equipment and caused a fault,” @PepcoConnect tweeted. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience.”

Squirrels have been causing lots of outages recently. They keep knocking out the power in downtown Lynchburg, VA, for example, costing consumers time and businesses lost sales – and that’s more than an “inconvenience.”

Of course, if the Bethesda Apple store, or the Lynchburg downtown merchants, had Milestone Solar systems with battery backup, the outage wouldn’t have inconvenienced them one bit.

The lights would have stayed on, the doors open. They’d have been able to ring up sales and earn profits. And if the outage had been a long one, the sealed battery backup bank would have been recharging every second the sun was in the sky.

If a constant power supply matters to you, contact us for a free solar, consultation and learn more about our battery backup. After all, you never know when a squirrel might strike again.

 

 

195,000+ Maryland homes hit with electric rate increase

If you live in Maryland, get ready to pay a 3.6 percent rate increase – retroactively. That’s the bad news.

But there’s also good news: You can reverse that rate hike, and then some.

As the Baltimore Sun reported September 12,

The Maryland Public Service Commission has authorized Delmarva Power to increase electric delivery rates by nearly 4 percent, the utility announced Wednesday.

The increase for Delmarva’s Maryland customers is effective for electric service rendered on and after Sept. 15. According to the company’s website, Delmarva has 5,342 residential and business customers in northeastern Harford County and 45,007 customers in Cecil County, among 195,000 customers in Maryland.

The rate increase will add 3.6 percent to monthly residential bills, the company said in a news release posted on its website.

The PSC also approved a Grid Resiliency Charge which amounts to approximately $0.03 cents per month, starting in 2014, for the average residential customer, the company said, explaining that this charge will cover costs associated with Delmarva Power’s plans to accelerate its reliability improvements by upgrading key equipment in the next two years.
Delivery rates cover the cost of poles and wires that carry electricity to customers’ homes and businesses and are separate from supply rates, the news release notes. Supply rates are determined by wholesale energy markets and reflect the cost of power that Delmarva Power purchases on behalf of its Maryland customers who do not buy power from an alternate supplier. Supply costs are driven primarily by the cost of fuel to make electricity.
Customers who buy electricity from a competing supplier will see the same increase in their delivery rates, Delmarva said.

But while Delmarva Power and its competitors are hiking electric bills by almost 4 percent, a Milestone Solar array can cut them by  more than ten times that figure. As Milestone customer Bob Myers, of Fayetteville, WV, told us,

“Our last power bill from just before we turned the array on was for $110 and a few cents. Our first power bill after system turn-on was $55 and a few cents. It cut our electric bill in half! That, plus the SRECs, plus the Federal and State tax credits, plus the proposed rate hike by our power company making our produced power even more valuable will provide a pretty decent return on our investment. Our system looks like it will pay for itself in about 7 years or perhaps just a little bit less.

If your home or business building is right for solar – and our free, no-nonsense Solar Evaluation will tell you that – you can stop paying more for electricity and start paying lots less. So why not call 866-688-4274, toll-free, today to get one started?

 

Pennsylvania Solar Rebates Restored

There’s some exciting news for Pennsylvania residents considering a solar system.  The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced that $7.25 million has been allocated to fund the state’s Sunshine Solar Rebate Program.  The new funding  also incorporates some changes that will allow for a more streamlined application process.

Some of the details of the program include:

  • The new guidelines for a residential system allow an applicant to apply for $.75 per watt of installed solar system with a maximum of $7500.00 for a 10 kW system.  The maximum for a small commercial system (100 kW) is $52,500.00.
  • The new application process is greatly streamlined, and application will be reviewed and approved by DEP staff on a first-come, first served basis.
  • The program will close when funding is exhausted, or not later than December 31, 2013
  • As in the past, the program requires that the installation, and application for the rebate be performed by a DEP approved PV installer.  Milestone Solar is an approved PA installer — Installer #626

For more information on this program, or to schedule a free site survey and consultation please contact us directly by phone or email.  Our toll free number is 866-688-4274.