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October 11, 2017

Farmers Contemplate Solar in Dinwiddie

We’ve talked a lot lately about big solar plans by Virginia utilities and energy providers, and some of those big Amazon projects that are adding tons of capacity to Virginia’s solar network, but there are also other very different efforts going on in other parts of the state to help smaller solar systems contribute to the network that brings green, renewable power into the state.

 

This past summer, the Progress Index reported on a farmer’s forum in Dinwiddie near Richmond, Virginia, in a rural area where local farmers grow crops like tobacco, wheat, corn and soybeans. You see a lot of these idyllic fields as you travel from north, south or west towards some of Virginia’s beaches and recreation areas on the coast. What you may not notice is that more of these farmers are being served with solar energy.

The Progress Index report shows how farmers are considering building-mounted or ground-mounted solar systems to profit from sustainable energy, and quotes Goochland Cooperative Extension representative Bob Whitehead as saying that farmers have “lots of ways” to use solar energy. In addition to providing power for tractors and field vehicles, some of these local agricultural agencies are also recommending other types of systems, for example, solar-powered aquaponics and other innovative projects that help producers bring various types of food to market.

 

Meetings like this one which was held by Virginia Corporate Extension and funded by the Virginia Tobacco Commission are promising ways to attract farmers to what more and more small business owners and property owners are realizing — that by installing new affordable solar systems, they’re positioning themselves for the future, and able to reap the rewards year after year. Solar customers can source their own power, and even contribute some back to the local energy grid with available net metering systems from utilities like Dominion and Appalachian Power.

 

You don’t have to be a farmer to get in on the ground floor of Virginia’s solar revolution — talk to Sun Day Solar about any type of custom solar plan to equip your property or business with what it needs to harness the natural power of the sun. We help our customers to find practical ways to implement renewable energy production that will leave the earth in a better condition for our children and grandchildren — to really do our part to help protect the planet for the long haul.

October 6, 2017

Dominion to go 1/3 Solar By 2032

At Sun Day Solar, we’re closely following advancements in central Virginia utility administration that have to do with enormous potential for the future of solar energy.

 

Here’s a bright bit of news that shows how big the solar trend is in this area — Dominion Energy, one of the largest utility providers in the region, has filed something called an Integrated Resource Plan for this year with the Virginia State Corporation Commission and the North Carolina Utilities Commission. Reportedly, in this IRP, there are eight alternative projections, each of which adds 5200 megawatts of new solar capacity during the next 25 years, and predicts that by 2032, more than one third of the company’s service area will be getting served by renewable solar energy.

 

All of this and more is included in a report from Virginia Water Central News Grouper, put out in May of this year, documenting all of the amazing improvements in solar energy production that have been happening since 2015. There’s even a useful index of Virginia counties tied to summaries of individual projects. The report covers the 1.1 megawatts of solar energy delivered by installations in Albemarle County public schools, as well as the big new project on the roof of the University of Virginia’s Clemons library that’s projected to produce 200,000 kilowatts a year.

 

Elsewhere, the report also documents some of the massive solar farms set up by Amazon in the state of Virginia, including the Accomack County facility, that have gone online in recent years. From coastal areas like Virginia Beach to rural central Virginia counties and everywhere else in the state, solar is taking on in a big way. Backed by the governor’s office and other significant players, Virginia is getting serious about implementing renewable energy solutions. For more, talk to Sun Day Solar about how you can get into the solar community, and how feasible it can be to make your business or property greener and enjoy sustainable energy sourcing for the future.

September 22, 2017

The Kerfuffle on Solar Tariffs

The concept of setting a tariff on foreign solar infrastructure is making big news this month. But what does it mean for the solar industry?

 

Some are claiming that China and other Asian countries are flooding the U.S. market with cheap imports that are undercutting prices for U.S. manufacturers. However, a range of solar industry advocates are warning that new tariffs would raise costs and hurt the industry as a whole.

 

A September 10 piece in the Washington Examiner estimates that the solar industry creates 1 out of 50 of all new jobs in the American economy. That shows how important solar is to the energy market and the job market right now!

 

Officials are quoted talking about how tariffs could really harm productivity, mainly because solar companies would have to absorb those price hikes. Obviously, one of the biggest factors in the solar boom is that solar panels have become much cheaper in recent years.

 

The Examiner article also cites an estimate by Abigail Ross Hopper, President of the Solar Energy Industry Association, who says that the industry would lose an estimated 88,000 American jobs if tariffs are instituted.

 

At the same time, some American manufacturing companies such as Suniva are asking the American government to put tariffs in place. However, here’s the interesting thing about Suniva — the Examiner reports that this company is actually majority Chinese-owned. So in that case, it’s Chinese companies in the U.S. asking officials to put tariffs on products from Chinese companies outside the U.S. That’s kind of a depressing assessment of the situation we find ourselves in when it comes to manufacturing actual solar equipment — the good news, though, is that aside from potential tariffs, solar is hitting a critical mass point of affordability and feasibility right now. That makes now an excellent time to capitalize on the opportunity, and get solar projects in place before costs go up.

In the Charlottesville region and around the Central Virginia area, Sun Day Solar can help. We’ve helped many local clients to put all sorts of small business and residential solar systems in place.

 

September 21, 2017

New Coal Plants “Not Going to Happen,” Says Virginia Utility Leader

Although we can see solar panels popping up on top of houses and everywhere else, we’re also getting new indicators of the renewable energy boom from other places.

 

Just this past week, the New York Times ran an interesting op-ed that really constituted a scathing indictment of the coal industry, under the title: “Using the EPA to Prop Up Big Coal.”

 

Enumerating the ways in which coal’s days are numbered, NYT quoted Chris Beam, President & Chief Operating Officer of Appalachian Power, as denying the possibility that West Virginia is going to expand coal-fired energy production.

 

“We’re not going to build any more coal plants — that’s not going to happen,” Beam is quoted as saying.

 

Instead of propping up the moribund coal trade, many utilities, including the big players in Virginia, are adopting new practices to accommodate customers who want to use or even generate solar and wind power. Beam’s comments underscore a change at Appalachian Power that ends up boosting the rise of solar and other renewables.

 

The process of net metering involves individual customers setting up their own solo projects on their properties, and actually getting utility credits for the energy that they don’t use.

 

Net metering is something that many utilities across the country have been fighting for a number years — but there are signs that they’re giving in.

Just this past summer, other New York Times coverage showed how utilities are trying to push back against net metering in different ways, for example, by invoking egalitarian intent, arguing that not everyone can build their own solar systems. There seems to be a powerful utility lobby opposing the concept of net metering — but that’s not stopping it from happening.

 

In a June 17 report at Power to the People, local renewables advocate Ivy Mains talks about how Virginia customers can successfully net meter up to 20 kW, and use credits rolled over from one month to the next.

 

For more on how this works, Appalachian Power customers can get net metering information straight from the company here.

 

Regardless of how much utility lobbyists are dragging their heels, in Virginia, Appalachian and Dominion are putting net metering policies in place. That’s great news for early adopters who have already jumped on the solar bandwagon and set up their own on-site projects.

 

However, it’s not too late to get involved by any means. This is an excellent time to look at your property and start thinking about where you could place solar panels — where there’s adequate sunlight and enough space, and where this kind of energy generation would be most needed.

 

Sun Day Solar can help. We have experience assisting customers in Charlottesville, Virginia and the surrounding Central Virginia area in quickly and efficiently setting up affordable ways to harness the power of the sun. We understand local incentives and benefits and can help you to plan accordingly — let us assist you in coming up with the right ways to take advantage of all the opportunities that Virginia residents have right now, to move to renewable energy.

 

September 15, 2017

“I’ll Be Back!” — The Solar Advocacy of Arnold Schwarzenegger

In the earlier days of solar energy, many of us thought of using natural sunlight to generate electricity as a kind of hippie pipe dream, the kind of thing that Arizona mystics do while they’re out in the desert messing around with crystals.

 

These days, you’re seeing solar panels on your neighbor’s roof — at your local college, and really all around town. And big names are jumping on the bandwagon to add their own push for renewables. Some of this support is coming from unlikely places — for example, would you think of “the Terminator” as a guy who would champion solar in America?

 

If not, take a look at what Arnold Schwarzenegger has been doing and saying recently. This is a guy who’s been in the public eye for a long time, but not as ‘progressive’ or ‘lefty’ – from his early movie days to his rise as California’s governor, Schwartzenegger’s been more of your ‘brawns over brains’ type of guy.

 

With that in mind, it seems that some of the backward tilt of America’s energy policy under the current administration has pushed Schwarzenegger and a lot of other independent voices to speak up quite a bit.

 

He’s not just restricting this evangelism to California, either — a 2016 article shows the governor visiting Kuwait to talk to military personnel there about the prospect of solar energy on American bases.

 

“I am here in Kuwait filming at different military bases about green energy,” Schwarzenegger said, according to a U.S. Army press release. “I think it is really unbelievable and so fantastic that the military is now thinking about making some of the bases green.”

 

More recently, Schwarzenegger has made headlines with state initiatives aimed at clean air and reduction in pollution, with Schwarzenegger reportedly contending this summer that state leaders don’t have to wait for the feds to endorse a particular policy, and that the United States did not really pull out of the Paris agreement.

 

Nor is Arnold the only state leader to champion solar — we have a lot of this kind of groundswell happening in Virginia with Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaking very clearly about promoting solar energy across the state. We have our state utilities getting on board, maybe grudgingly, but we also have major retailers like Amazon investing in solar at a rapid rate.

At Sun Day Solar, we help Central Virginia small businesses and households to embrace the power of solar and get in on the ground floor of a major change in how we source energy across America. Solar is becoming the way of the future, and small rooftop projects or other kinds of new local infrastructure can help individual property owners to back up their personal philosophies about energy with real, concrete action. Ask us about what’s practical for your property, and how to afford excellent solar installations that will help you harness the power of the sun.