Kickoff Party for Solar Co-op

38717fb4-3423-4c83-9cea-dc37268babb3Next week, we’re having a kickoff party for our budding co-op, the Northwest Philly Solar Co-op. All are invited.

  • When? Thurday September 29 2016, 7 – 9pm
  • Where? Summit Presbyterian Church, Greene & Westview Streets, Philadelphia PA 19119.
  • RSVP or questions, contact Barb at nwphlsolar@gmail.com

Our guest speaker will be Anya Schoolman. In 2007, Anya looked into solarizing her house, and then her street, which led to the founding of DC SUN and the solarizing of hundreds of homes in Washington, DC.

Our other speaker, Meenal Raval, Treasurer of NPSC, will also speak, explaining next steps in gathering memberships and working with solar-collector installation companies to begin solarizing homes and other buildings in NW Philly.

Below is a video of Anya speaking to a prospective group of bulk buyers in Maryland. The video is about an hour long, and covers all of the basics.

Of course, Pennsylvania has different rules, and we will have to develop our own way of doing things, but how exciting it will be to meet the one of the creators of a powerful force for community and environment in our country.

Become the future that we want to see: a world empowered by renewable energy!


 

Solarize Center City – Campaign Kickoff

An invitation from a friend, Judy Wicks, who is a Center City resident.


Reduce carbons – Save money – Create green jobs

This fall, I’m teaming up with the Center City Residents Association and Solar States, a local solar installer, to launch a Solarize Center City campaign in which residents in my neighborhood of west Center City can use their collective buying power to purchase solar systems for their properties at greatly reduced costs.

To register for the campaign kick-off event, click here.

Early this year, Solar States installed solar panels on my roof and I am very happy with the quality of their work and the tremendous savings I’ve seen. Importantly, displacing fossil fuel-produced energy with renewable energy curbs climate change and improves air quality, reducing asthma and other illnesses caused by pollution. Rooftop solar provides significant savings to homeowners, while contracting with locally-based Solar States creates green jobs and supports our local economy.

When neighbors solarize together, Solar States can offer discounts – the more neighbors the greater the discount. Solarize campaigns have the potential to reduce the cost of a home solar system by 15% compared to buying a solar installation individually as I did. Combined with the federal tax credit of 30% (click for info on tax credit) that produces savings of 45%, and that’s just the beginning – savings from greatly reduced electric bills will continue over the years.  After all, the sun is free!

About Solar States

Solar States is an experienced solar installation company with its heart and roots in Philadelphia. As a B Corp, they are committed to the triple bottom line of people, planet, and profit. With over 250 solar installations throughout the region, including two past campaigns – Solarize Northwest Philly and Solarize Greater Media – they’ve proven a positive environmental impact. Through their partnership with Clean Air Council, Solar States educates students through the YouthBuild Philly Charter School and PowerCorps PHL fellowship program, helping them to enter the green collar economy, a field with sustaining wages and career opportunities. These classes have impacted hundreds of Philadelphians and allowed Solar States to employ a talented workforce representative of our diverse city.

My Experience

My rooftop solar went active in March, 2016, and I have been thrilled to see monthly electric bills as low as $7, even though I have an all-electric house (no natural gas).  Of course, this will not be the case in winter, but nevertheless, it is remarkable to see my electric bill under $20 for months in a row, with no gas bill. By using an app on my phone, I am able to monitor my energy generation and consumption in several different graphs in order to coordinate my consumption with the sun. judy-on-roof

This will be demonstrated during the Center City House Tour on Sunday, October 23, 1-5pm.

More than anything, it feels great to know that I am doing my part to reduce carbons. This collaborative campaign gives center city residents a simple and cost effective way to address climate change, the most serious and urgent challenge of our times. Our grandchildren will thank us.


Wednesday, October 5th
Trinity Center for Urban Life
22nd & Spruce Streets
Philadelphia, PA
5:30 pm – 7:30 pm

5:30 Wine & Cheese Reception; 6:00 pm – Program


 

Solar in the Northwest

I’ve been hearing about solar panels since I was in high school, over 3 decades ago. But yesterday, as a member of the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op, I interviewed a Mt Airy couple who have had solar panels on their roof for a year and a half now. Both were eager to talk about their experience.

They raved about their installers. Showed me their 2 electric meters; one for electricity coming from PECO and the second one added to track the electricity that their rooftop was pushing back onto the grid.

I asked where all their other equipment was that I’d read about: the inverters and batteries and such. And realized that when a solar installation is grid-tied (meaning not off-the-grid), it’s a lot less involved. All they had were the 13 panels on the roof, and the second meter. No other equipment on the porch or basement.

For 7 months of the year, I learned, this system produces in excess of the household’s consumption. During this time (April thru October), their bill is about $7 per month. The other 5 months, it triples to about $20 per month.

They have monitored their production and consumption via an online application, and once noticed a spike in their usage. Concerned that someone was tapping into their system, they drilled into the data and discovered usage during one month, in the wee hours of the night.  A month that coincided with a visit from their teenage granddaughter with all her electrical devices!

When asked why they invested in this solar installation, it was simply… Why, for the common good! Sitting on their serene back porch, I realized the beauty of this. There was no need to explain the horrifying effects of climate, nor of the immediacy of action required.

Weavers Way Co-op and The Shalom Center have teamed up to get more solar installed in Northwest Philadelphia, by forming the Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op, explained on the flyer here. We all benefit from increased reliance on renewable energy and it is important to develop community-based initiatives that increase its use.

Know that a solar photo-voltaic (PV) system generates clean electricity using a free energy source that will never run out and never go up in price. The fuel requires no mining, no drilling, no mountain-top removing and no transporting, doesn’t require burning or processing, and is never in danger of spilling, emitting, or polluting. In fact, the clean energy produced by your solar energy system emits no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and helps reduce global climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels and the volatile fossil fuel market. As with all manufacturing, there is some waste in that process.

When will solar become the norm, so that every Philly structure with the solar potential achieves this potential? To get to this tipping point, we’re sharing stories from people who already have solar installed at their home or workplace. Each installation will be summarized on a Solar Facts sticker, shown below, for easier comparison.

Solar-FactsAs you’ll see, the 30% Federal tax credit really made this investment affordable and economical. I remember when we got an estimate 11 years ago, a 2kW system was priced at $18,000. And there was no Federal or State incentive that we could apply for. That’s going from $9 per watt to $2.8 per watt!  With the industry scaling up, and government policies to support & encourage us all, this one example looks to be a third cheaper than what we were quoted.

Want to join NPSC? Or simply share your story? Please contact NPSC via Barbara Bloomfield at (215) 247-9204 or barbbloomfield2 [at] aol.com.

What is it that’s keeping people from installing solar on their rooftop? Some of the responses we’re heard are:

  • We’re tenants.  Have your landlord contact NPSC.
  • We’re in a condo. Have your condo association contact NPSC.
  • We have plenty of sun, but are short on cash. The Northwest Philadelphia Solar Co-op is looking at financing, perhaps thru the Free Loan Association of Germantown(FLAG). Please contact NPSC.
  • We have too many trees and not enough sun. No solar potential. I hear you. Keep the trees. Maybe you’d like to lend through the Free Loan Association of Germantown for other solar installations.

The Earth needs YOU!