call to action: close the borders to all out-of-state solar

We have spoken to many of you about the necessity of closing the borders of PA to improve the market for SRECs.  Last fall, a bill was recently approved to do just that, but if the PUC does not interpret the bill as it was intended, pricing will never go anywhere. Please read the below and sign on to one of the linked petitions or write your own letter.  It is imperative that we speak in volume and in one voice.

Image credit: metasensemarketing.com

Tell the PUC to get the solar border law right.

In an unusual show of bipartisan support for clean energy, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed Act 40 in October 2017. The intent of the law was to “close” the solar renewable energy credit (SREC) “border” by permitting only in-state solar systems to qualify for Pennsylvania’s SRECs. Previously, the state’s “open borders” practice allowed systems in 12 other states (and D.C.) to receive our credit. This resulted in an oversupply of SRECs, a loss of investment in Pennsylvania’s solar market, and to other states getting solar jobs that should have been created here.

The Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) must now implement Act 40. Unfortunately, in December the PUC took a stunningly bad first step with a tentative implementation order that relies on a flawed legal interpretation of Act 40.  Under the PUC’s interpretation, all existing out-of-state solar systems would be grandfathered and could continue to receive Pennsylvania’s SRECs. This legal interpretation is completely counter to the intent of the law and would make Act 40 utterly useless.

PUC Chairman Brown and Vice Chairman Place issued their own interpretation of Act 40 that does accurately interpret the law as it was intended. [Read the Post-Gazette article that nicely details the differences.]

As a Pennsylvania solar owner you know how the value of the SREC has dropped dramatically. Virtually, the only chance in raising the value of the SREC in the near term is to enact the bill correctly to no longer permit out of state systems. Of course, there is no absolute guarantee that the price will go up with or without the bill. We now have until February 6 to submit public comments to the Commission. Here’s how you can do that:

Add your name below

1) Add your name to this sign-on letter to join solar owners across the state to tell the PUC to accurately interpret and implement the law as the General Assembly intended. [PREFERRED METHOD] OR

2) Submit individual comments to the PUC electronically (first, set up an individual or corporate account, then log-in and upload your comment file here, docket # M-2017-2631527) OR by sending a letter addressed to: Secretary, Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, Post Office Box 3265, Harrisburg, PA 17105-3265 referencing docket number M-2017-2631527.

 
Thank you! 
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Our 2nd buying group – now closed

Live in the Northwest? Have a sunny roof? Wondering how to harvest that roof to generate your own electricity?

We invite you to consider joining our second buying group. It’s in full swing now, with Solar States as our selected installer. We have secured excellent group pricing, with price breaks at 5, 10 and 15 households.

Having educated over 40 households about their options with rooftop solar in just the last couple of months, we’re confident we can answer yours as well!

Call Meenal at 267.709.3415 or write nwphlsolar@gmail.com or look for us at these upcoming events in the neighborhood…

  • Friday November 3rd @ 5pm at the Weavers Way Fall General Membership meeting
  • Monday November 6th @ 7pm at our informational gatherings next door to Weavers Way Mt Airy, 555 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia
  • Monday November 20th @ 7pm, also at 555 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia

Know that you have until December 15th to join this buying group. So help yourself, and help a neighbor, by buying rooftop solar as a group! Get started now…

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Electricity for the house. From Renewables, please!

You understand all the reasons to switch to renewables: the climate pickle we’ve got ourselves into, and the resultant unbreathable air from burning fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas to generate our electricity.

You also understand the need for a rapid transition to renewable energy, particularly in the electricity sector. But… you may live in an apartment, a condo, or just a house with a shady roof — all of which made it impossible to invest in solar panels on your own roof. Or, though your roof gets tons of sun, you may not have the funds to invest in rooftop solar.

What do do?

  • We suggest you switch your electricity supplier to The Energy Co-op, choosing their EcoChoice 100 product.
  • We also suggest you join us: The Northwest Philly Solar Co-op for a $25 annual fee. We offer tips like this, and also one-on-one energy efficiency help. 

Why?

The Energy Co-op is a local, well established company, spun off from Weavers Way Co-op. Their EcoChoice 100 product offers 100% renewable electricity, 99% from PA wind farms and 1% from solar. With a fixed rate, you won’t get surprised 6 months from now! Other companies may offer cheaper options, but most promote renewables in other states, and all appear gimmicky to us. Don’t take my word for it. Read Marion & Dave Brown’s experience; then read Chrys Brown’s experience, both shared in the Weavers Way Shuttle. Then, buy local!

How?

Go to The Energy Co-op’s website.. Or call their only office, in Center City Philadelphia, where someone from their small staff will assist you with the switch. Their number is 215.413.2122. Tell them Meenal sent you!

Now to get my own mother to switch back to The Energy Co-op after someone came to her door and presented a gimmick…

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Solar installer selected for second buying group in Northwest Philadelphia, Installations to start in September

Press Release: Solar installer selected for second buying group in Northwest Philadelphia, Installations to start in September

Philadelphia, August 10, 2017 — Buoyed by the success of their first buying group, the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op is poised to double their membership with their 2nd buying group. After reviewing competitive bids from other local solar installers, they have decided to work with Solar States for their bulk buying group. Joining a buying group results in about 10% lower price for the turnkey systems for area homeowners.

“We received three excellent responses to our request for proposals,” NPSC Board Member Marion Biddle said. “All were local installers with excellent customer reviews. The decision to go with Solar States was based on competitive pricing, a strong local job development program, company size, as well as support for unsecured loans to help people invest in solar.”

Formed last September by three local organizations — The Shalom Center, the Philadelphia Chapter of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light, and Weavers Way Food Co-op — the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Cooperative is building on the community’s interest in clean energy. Their first buying group was organized in February with a dozen households. The newly installed rooftop systems are being monitored on smart phones, and members are seeing super low electric bills during this record-breaking hot summer.

“This is a great opportunity to grow our community,” Northwest Philadelphia resident and solar panel owner Peter Winslow said. “If you had the opportunity to decrease pollution and bring good-paying jobs to your neighbors, you’d take it.”

The solar energy industry is expected to add jobs at a faster pace than any other energy sector. Currently, the solar industry employs 100 people in the Philadelphia region and produces only 1% of the region’s electricity needs. However, solar has the potential to employ 4,000 workers and supply more than 20% of the area’s power.

Consumers benefit from going solar. Solar panels increase property values, resulting in overall savings within seven to ten years of their installation, while the house becomes part of the clean energy revolution. There is still a 30% federal tax credit to take advantage of and lower the installation cost.

One of the main reasons scientists and environmentalists like renewable energy sources like solar is that they greatly reduce greenhouse gas emissions–substantially slowing climate change–as well as improve air quality and public health outcomes.

“Renewable energy is the future,” NPSC treasurer Meenal Raval said. “And we’re doing what we can to make it a bright one.”

So far there are over 30 households considering having solar panels installed through the Co-op. Area homeowners interested in adding solar panels to their home should contact Meenal Raval or Marion Biddle at nwphlsolar@gmail.com, or come to an informational meeting on Monday August 14th at 7pm at 555 Carpenter Lane, Philadelphia with a recent PECO bill in hand! More at nwphillysolarcoop.com.

 

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Declare Independence from the Fossil Fuel industry: Electrify Everything & Power it All with Rooftop Solar

image credit: NW Philly Solar Co-op

It’s time we declared independence from the Fossil Fuel industry. They’re killing the planet while raking in mega profits. How to walk away from them? Many of us are discovering that we can generate our own electricity from rooftop solar, and meet all of our energy needs by that same clean electricity. To heat & cool our homes, to cook with, for our appliances, and for getting around.

Think you can’t install solar because you have a flat roof? They’re actually great for solar, as are roofs that face somewhat south.

Wondered about the tax incentives out there to motivate your decision? There is still a 30% tax credit that homeowners can claim for solar projects.

We’re neighbors, and waiting to wean you off dirty energy!

You’re invited to one of our upcoming member meetings.

When? 7pm on Monday July 10th & Monday July 17th
Where? 518 Carpenter Lane, down the street from Weavers Way Food Co-op

It’s ideal if you come with a recent PECO bill in hand or on your phone. You’ll learn how we use this to size your system.

Can’t make the meeting? Write us at nwphlsolar@gmail.com. We can offer you a back-of-envelope cost estimate.

About us – We’re the NW Philly Solar Co-op, educating and encouraging people to install solar on their rooftops. We organize people into buying groups. And we even make it easy for folks to advocate for clean energy policies. To date, we’ve formed one buying group, and most of the households already have the systems installed. We’re currently organizing our second buying group.

We offer an initial roof assessment & a back-of-the-envelope estimate for a rooftop solar installation that could generate most of your electricity needs. You save money in the long run, and reduce your carbon footprint right away.

Our timeline – On June 30th, we invited 5 area installers to bid for our next buying group. By July 31st, we expect to have decided on an installer. We will work with this installer to get a better roof assessment, cost estimate, and to streamline the installation process should you wish to proceed. Expect to get proposals in August and installation in September.

One of the most common questions asked us is… Is my neighborhood considered part of the Northwest? Yes! For our second group, we have interested households from Mt Airy, Germantown, Chestnut Hill, Roxborough & West Oak Lane, and also from the bordering suburbs of Ambler & Wyndmoor.

Have too much shade? Or don’t own your roof? Then you could be a great solar advocate.

Want to support our effort? Become a member of the Northwest Philly Solar Co-op. It’s only $25. More here.

 

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Be a great Solar Advocate

Have too much shade? Or don’t own your roof? Then you could be a great solar advocate.

image: Clean Energy Revolution Art Group

We need you to ask your state senator to support Senator Mario Scavello’s Senate Bill 404.

This bill would “close the borders” on PA’s solar renewable energy credit purchases; i.e. our utilities would need to purchase required solar-generated electricity from in-state projects, instead of the current procurement from Virginia & North Carolina.

Several of our area Senators (Art Haywood, Stewart Greenleaf, Vincent Hughes and Sharif Street) are co-sponsors. Please thank them, and ask them to push on this bill.

We’ve heard from the industry that this will be a game-changer for solar in our region.

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Equipment loans for residential solar

Have a sunny roof but don’t have the upfront cash to get rooftop solar? You’re not the only one.  In February, we wrote about whether you should buy or lease a system.

And recently came across this list of banks & lenders who offer unsecured (not home equity) loans for equipment.

Of note are these: Admirals Bank ~ EnerBank USA ~ Green Sky Credit ~ Home Loan Investment Bank ~ Lightstream ~ Provident Credit Union ~ SunPower Corporation ~ Sunnova Energy Corporation

If you’ve used any of these lenders to fund a solar installation, please write us and share your experience for others in Greater Philadelphia!

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Chestnut Hill United Church invites the public to learn about installing solar power

The Environmental Justice Center at Chestnut Hill United Church has been working for years to slow climate change.  Although climate disruption will hurt almost all sectors of the natural and human worlds, the Center recognizes that those at the margins of society – the elderly, the very young, the medically fragile, the poor – will be disproportionately and unjustly harmed.  Thus, addressing climate change is a moral imperative for the Center and its host organization, Chestnut Hill United Church.

Recognizing that current political leadership in Washington is not likely to take any meaningful actions soon to promote clean energy, which avoids the pollution of fossil fuel energy and slows climate disruption, the Environmental Justice Center is encouraging individuals to do more to lower their carbon footprints. “We are distraught that President Trump has chosen to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Climate Accord,” said Joy Bergey, the Center’s director. “While we will keep the pressure on our elected leaders to move us towards a clean energy economy – the only ethical choice, we also want to help community take their energy future into their own hands, as it were.”

To that end, the Center is partnering with Northwest Philly Solar Co-op to help residents learn what’s involved in putting solar panels on the roof. The Solar Co-op is working with solar installers to arrange neighborhood-by-neighborhood buying groups. This will result in lower prices and a more streamlined process for everyone involved.

According to Meenal Raval, the co-op’s coordinator, a group of twelve Mt. Airy households has formed the first neighborhood buying group, with solar panels being installed on all these properties, with a cumulative carbon reduction of 55.8 metric tons. Raval says, “We’re actively forming more groups in Northwest Philly neighborhoods, and we’re eager to create groups in the nearby suburbs like Cheltenham, Erdenheim, Ambler, and Lafayette Hill.”

“Come learn about what’s involved in getting rooftop solar on your home. We’ll discuss what makes a good site for solar panels, as well as issues like pay-back periods and available tax breaks.”

The group will meet on Sunday, June 25 2017 at 11:30 at Chestnut Hill United Church, 8812 Germantown Avenue (directly across from the Women’s Center.) There’s no cost to attend, and all are invited.

Contact joybergey@gmail.com or 215-313-1311 for more information.

 

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How much electricity do I use each year?

Ever wondered how much electricity you use in a year?  For those of you who get a paper bill from PECO each month, turn to page 2.

At the bottom right, you’ll see Total Annual kWh Usage; 4,896 in the example above.

This accounts for the seasonal swings in each month’s usage. This is also the number I monitor after replacing any electrical appliance with a newer, more efficient one. Within a month or two, I usually see this number go down!

When planning to install rooftop solar, we again refer to the annual usage, building a system that generates close to your current usage.

Curious about lowering your annual usage?

Curious about rooftop solar? Write us at nwphlsolar@gmail.com.

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Springtime & power tools

It’s springtime. Time to start thinking about lawnmowers, chainsaws, weed whackers, hedge trimmers, and…

Earth Day.

Many of us sense that the path to a livable planet, to bringing the climate back into balance, hinges on the mantra: Electrify Everything and Upgrade the Electricity Grid.

So, if you’re in the market for any new power tools, we recommend you consider the battery-powered ones. Sure, we’re all used to the cordless drill.

Last spring, we bought a Kobalt brand lawnmower from Lowes, and more recently a chain saw that uses the same type of battery. Home Depot has a variety of models, also.

Our lawnmower has been great.  It has a battery that lasts for about an hour and only takes 30 minutes to recharge.  We got two batteries, which means, in theory, I could mow forever!  I tend to let the grass get way too long, but the lawnmower has had no problem cutting right through. Don’t believe anyone that says battery powered lawnmowers are not up to the task.

I cannot comment yet on the chain saw, as we haven’t managed to get outside to use it, yet, but I’ll let you all know as soon as we do. Bottom line is – no more gas can in the garage or on the side of the house.

We currently buy our electricity from The Energy Coop, so we know it’s all from the wind and sun. Once we get our solar panels this summer, our lawn mower will be powered by our very own house.

Our Friends at Germantown Meeting manage a local

photo credit: gfsnet.org

community garden, the Old Tennis Court Farm. At this garden, you’ll find panels on their shed roof, providing  electricity for a well pump that fills up water barrels for use by gardeners.  Over time, they’ve added an inverter and invested in an electric lawnmower and weed whacker for use by all gardeners.

We’d love to hear your stories about Electrifying Everything; write us at nwphlsolar@gmail.com.
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