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New Energy Alliance Program: Solarize Cincinnati

We’ve launched a new program!: Solarize Cincinnati.

Focusing on solar power is yet another way we can create significant local economic development for Greater Cincinnati. We have taken our mission of making energy efficiency easier and more affordable and applied it to solar PV installation.

By bringing residents together to purchase solar panels, we are able to tap into the power of bulk purchasing to drive down costs for homeowners. When combined with the 30% federal residential energy tax credit, installing solar becomes even more affordable.

And we’ve partnered with local installers Seco Electric and Dovetail Solar and Wind to ensure quality installation and service.

For more information, visit our page or give us a call: 513-621-4232 ext. 128.

 

Solarize Cincinnati Webpages and Flyer

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Saving Money with Solar

Purchasing solar panels for your home is a valuable investment. We are all familiar with the costs, but what about the benefits? Here are three financial benefits to consider as you determine if a solar investment is right for you.

1. Generate your own energy, save money on your energy bill

The energy that you generate from solar panels means you will purchase less energy from your local utility. Each kilowatt hour generated is money that you save. A 6 kilowatt solar array will generate around 7,674 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. At a standard cost of electricity (around 11 cents), that’s around $844 per year in money saved. And with energy costs continuing to rise, the value of your savings will increase over time.

2. 30% Federal Tax Credit

The federal government provides tax incentives for the purchase of solar and other renewable energy assets. Upon installation of a solar array on your home, you will be eligible for the federal Residential Energy Tax Credit which is equal to 30% of the cost of your system. If you install a 6 kilowatt system through Solarize Cincinnati (estimated price $23,340), then you are eligible for a tax credit of $7,002.

3. SRECs, a state based credit system

Most states provide some additional credit for solar investments. In Ohio, public utilities must purchase a small percentage of solar for each kW of energy they sell to customers. Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) represent one mega-watt hour of electricity (1,000 kWh). For each mega-watt hour (MWh) that your system creates, you can sell the renewable attribute of the energy on the market. Due to changes adopted by Ohio earlier this year, the value of SRECs has declined. However, the current market will pay around $10 per SREC. As in the above example, a 6 kilowatt system could generate 7 SRECs or $70 per year.

How much do Solar Panels REALLY cost?

Here is the example above in more detail:

  • We purchase a 6 kilowatt solar PV system ($23,340)
  • Of that cost, we spend less on energy because we created our own ($844 in the first year or $19,481 over 20 years)
  • Plus, we received the federal Residential Energy Tax Credit ($7,002)
  • Finally, we sold our solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) ($70 per year or $1,400 over the projected life of the system)

So, in the above example, the system we purchased generates $19,481 in utility bill savings, $7,002 from federal tax credits, and $1,400 from SRECs. That’s $27,883 in benefits which puts $4,543 back into your pocket.

Here are some more examples of how much you might save by installing Solar:

 

* Based on an $0.11 per kWh base rate with a 2.2% annual escalation in the cost of electricity (US EIA projection).
* Based on a SREC value of $10 per mWh over 20 years.

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Solarize Cincinnati Assessment

Solarize Cincinnati takes the guesswork out of purchasing solar panels by providing you with all the information you need to make a decision. Here are some of the steps we take to help you determine if solar panels are a good fit for your home.

Step 1: Solar Feasibility Assessment

Once you complete our sign-up form, one of our solar installers will begin a solar feasibility assessment. Our solar installers are certified professionals specializing in residential solar who are trained to design a system that is right for you.

The solar installer will begin by reviewing a solar map of your home (like the one on Google Maps) to obtain basic information about the location of your home, the orientation of your roof (a south facing roof will attract the most solar energy), and the existence of any obstructions (like large trees) that may diminish your roof’s solar potential. This information provides a basic understanding of the solar feasibility for your home.

If the solar installer identifies major challenges, they will let you know when they reach out to discuss next steps. They’ll want to know the age and construction of your roof and to get a general sense of your electric usage (usually available on your monthly energy bill).

Step 2: On-Site Solar Assessment

Once the feasibility assessment is complete, your solar installer will contact you to schedule a free, on-site solar assessment.

During the assessment, the solar installer will examine your roof and calculate the best location to install solar panels on your home. Among the key items that your solar assessment will review are:

  • Age and condition of your roof
  • Degree of tilt and orientation of your roof
  • Presence of any obstacles to sunlight on your property
  • Ideal location to install solar panels on the exterior of your home
  • Location of appropriate interior connection points

In addition to these items, your solar installer will conduct a solar shading analysis to document the solar resource potential.

With this information, your solar installer will be able to determine the projected solar energy generation potential of a custom designed system for your home.

Step 3: Proposal

After the solar assessment is complete, you will be provided with an installation proposal tailored to your home. The solar assessment does not obligate you to act, but simply provides a recommendation for how solar can help meet your home’s energy needs.

In addition to system design information, each proposal will include information on available financial incentives and expected power production. Finally, your report will have a price for a solar PV system sized to fit your home. If a roof-mounted solar PV array is not possible, the installer will explain other potential options for solar energy production on your site.

If you decide that solar is right for you, the solar installer will work with you to schedule a time to install your solar panels so you can begin producing your own energy.

 

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Establishing PACE in Ohio: Clean Energy Finance Breakfast

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing is designed to drive investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy in Greater Cincinnati. By making energy investments easier, PACE has the power to spur economic and community development in our region. With these goals at the forefront, the Energy Alliance has been making an ongoing effort to help educate our community on these issues.

On November 11, we convened a diverse group of finance leaders, municipal leaders, and commercial contractors for a breakfast discussion about how to expand PACE in Greater Cincinnati. The focus of the event was to provide attendees with an understanding of how PACE is being utilized in other parts of the country and to answer their questions about how to grow PACE locally. We were fortunate to have the discussion led by David Gabrielson, George Caragthiaur, and Kristina Klimovich from PACENow, a national organization that promotes and assists the development of PACE programs. It was a lively conversation and we look forward to providing additional opportunities to learn about PACE in the future.

 

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Basic Solar FAQs

What are the components of a solar PV system?

Solar array – Solar arrays are made of a group of solar panels strung together. Each panel is composed of solar cells used to capture the sun’s energy.

Inverter – The electric grid utilizes AC (alternating current) electricity while solar panels generate DC (direct current) electricity. The inverter is a device used to change the DC electricity into AC form. Once your inverter has performed this conversion, the electricity can feed directly into the electric grid and your home.

Remote monitoring system – A monitoring system that helps to track the amount of energy being generated by your system. This enables the contractor to ensure that your system is operating effectively.

 

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How does a solar panel create electricity?

Solar panels generate electricity when sunlight hits the surface of a cell. Electrons in the silicon absorb energy from the sun. These energized electrons jump from their atoms to a conducting material in the cell, which creates an electric charge. This charge is then captured by solar panels that have been wired together.

 

Does Cincinnati receive enough sunlight for solar panels to work properly?

Not only does Cincinnati have more than enough sunlight to generate electricity with solar PV panels, but we receive more sunlight than Germany, the global leader in the use of solar energy. Solar maps can tell within a few percent the amount of sunlight that will hit a specific spot on the earth’s surface in a given year.

How is solar energy measured?

The energy produced by solar panels is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The average sized home uses approximately 900 kWh of electricity per month. This number will vary based on age of home, heating and cooling systems, and other features.

Where should my solar panels be installed?

To collect the most energy, solar panels need to face the sun and not be obstructed by shade. This makes a roof the ideal location to install an array. A 1 kW array takes up 90 to 100 square feet of space, and a 5kW array requires about 500 square feet to produce about 6,000 kWh per year. In some cases where a rooftop installation is not possible, it may make sense to install an array on the ground.

Will there be a battery with my system?

Most solar PV systems do not have a battery backup included. Battery technology can help retain energy for use when the sun is not shining or during an electric grid outage, but can add significant expense to the cost of a system.

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Solarize Cincinnati Installers

Solarize Cincinnati is proud to partner with local installers to bring reduced cost solar to the region. Each of the participating installers brings a high level of experience and customer service to the program. In addition, the Energy Alliance has reviewed each contractor to ensure that they met the following requirements:

  • Valid state electrical license
  • NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certified employees
  • Background checks performed on all employees
  • Current liability and workers’ compensation insurance

Participating Installers

 

Dovetail Solar and Wind was founded in 1995 and has more than 19 years of experience in renewable energy system design, installation and green building. As one of the oldest, largest, and most experienced renewable energy firms in the Ohio area, Dovetail is quality focused, customer centered, and mission minded, not money driven. It designs your system to be high performing, clean, safe, low maintenance and durable.

www.dovetailsolar.com

Seco Electric is a family owned and operated union electrical contractor. Founded in 1988 by two brothers Matt Schamer and Joe Schamer Jr., Seco has been providing quality service in the tri-state area for over 20 years.

www.secoelectric.net

 

 


 

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A commitment to saving energy: The Kroger Company and Melink Corporation

The reasons that motivate an organization to pursue energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements are often as diverse as the organizations themselves. Recently, Energy Alliance staff spent a day visiting two very different organizations that have made a commitment to saving energy: the Kroger Company and Melink Corporation.

The Kroger Company:

Kroger grocery stores consumes large amounts of energy to power everything from lighting and refrigeration to air conditioning and electronic equipment. With over 2,600 stores across the country, any energy savings Kroger can produce in each store results in a substantial positive financial impact for the company.

To witness their efforts first hand, we visited the Branchhill-Guinea Pike store in Loveland, which serves as one of Kroger’s testing facilities for energy efficiency measures. We were given a thorough tour of the facility by Denis George (Kroger Corporate Energy Manager), Ryan Stuckenberg (Kroger Energy Engineer), and Andrew Finton (Kroger Energy Coordinator and former Energy Alliance staff member). We were taken almost everywhere in the store, from the sales floor to freezer rooms to mechanical rooms. We learned about how Kroger uses skylights to reduce the amount of lighting needed in stores and how improvements in their refrigeration and monitoring systems have improved their bottom line. We even climbed up to the roof to view their rooftop solar arrays.

For Kroger, the decision to invest in energy efficiency was a practical business decision that has resulted in a 35% reduction in energy consumption.

The Melink Corporation:

The Energy Alliance also visited the Melink Corporation, located near Milford. Melink’s mission is to “provide clean energy solutions that help its customers become strategically competitive, and to inspire them by its example“. Melink is led by a proactive CEO, Steve Melink, who not only provides sustainable energy solutions as a service, but uses his own organization to lead the way.

Our visit was spent touring Melink’s solar canopies, electric car charging stations, solar thermal water heating system, interactive energy production display, geothermal installation, and their admittedly low-performing wind turbine. The organization encourages its employees to actively participate in reducing their energy consumption, and its CEO leads the charge.

Sustainable energy is their service, but it is also their lifestyle. Melink saves energy and is fueled by their positive impact on their community.

Many thanks to the Kroger Company and Melink Corporation for spending time with us to get a deeper understanding of their energy saving initiatives.

Here’s a few photos from our visits:

 

 

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Clean Energy Finance Roundtable Event

DOE and the Energy Alliance host the Clean Energy Finance Roundtable

Advancing Clean Energy Finance Across the Board

On October 1st, national experts from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and other organizations came together in Cincinnati to highlight best practice approaches to advance clean energy financing in both Ohio and Kentucky. The event focused on residential and commercial energy efficiency and renewable energy markets. Participants had an opportunity to learn about:

  • Residential energy efficiency lending programs in Ohio and Kentucky
  • Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing in Ohio and Kentucky
  • Local and national Green Bank initiatives
  • Several innovative efforts to advance clean energy finance in the region

Highlighting Efforts Nationally, Locally, and Between

Over 130 people representing the banking, energy contracting, public finance, local and state government, economic development, and real estate management sectors participated in the roundtable.

The event featured a keynote address by John MacWilliams, Senior Advisor to the Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy, who provided an overview of federal government initiatives that are helping to scale clean energy financing across the country.

One highlight of the day came when 15 local professionals had an opportunity to share their work in the energy efficiency and renewable energy sectors. During the discussion participants learned about projects including:

  • City of Cincinnati’s effort to incorporate renewable energy projects as part of its “Green Cincinnati Plan”
  • The first completed project under the local GC-PACE program
  • OKI’s work through the Department of Energy’s “SunShot” initiative to promote scaling of solar projects by reducing soft costs and increasing the efficiency of the zoning and permitting processes
  • Macy’s initiative to significantly reducing energy use in its stores through an innovative LED lighting solution developed by Middletown-based HP Energy
  • The Cincinnati Zoo’s large solar parking lot canopy project.

The event was the first of what will be a series of discussions surrounding clean energy financing and the benefits that it can provide our region. If you are interested in learning more, please contact the Energy Alliance.

 

 

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