Friday, April 25, 2014

Why Go Solar, Piedmont Triad?

We have written about how North Carolina is one the nations leaders (see previous post - North Carolina Ranks in Top Ten for Solar Power Generation) in solar power installation. While solar farms for technology companies such as Apple and Google are leading the way in making North Carolina’s energy portfolio more diverse, its not just businesses that are moving towards cleaner, more sustainable solar systems. Homeowners across the Piedmont Triad, as well as the rest of the state, have begun to realize the advantages of what a solar installation in their homes can provide:

  • Selling Your Solar  - In most cases, your public utility will actually PAY YOU for your generated solar energy. Net energy metering (NEM) is legislation that requires utilities to credit solar-generating customers for the full retail value of the energy they produce (called SRECs, or Solar Renewable Energy Certificates). But because solar is an intermittent energy source, and would require a large storage system to be truly independent, solar producing homeowners remain connected to the electric grid 100 percent of the time and use the utility to help meet their electricity needs 24/7. As a result, there are construction regulations and inspections on installed solar systems that homeowners must understand. 

  • Offset Rising Energy Prices – Many solar systems, such as the ones provided by Beco Electrical in High Point, NC, have manufacturers warranties and estimated lifespan of 25+ years, meaning that as energy prices continue to increase over time, your solar system will continue to offset the cost for decades to come.

  • Tax Credits and Rebates for Installing Solar Power Systems – To help offset the cost of installing solar power systems, North Carolina has one of the most generous tax credits in the nation, set at 35%. In addition, the Federal tax credit for installing solar is 30%. For Beco Electrical customers that are in the Progress Energy service area, the utility is now offering rebate program of $500 per watt for residential solar installations.
  •  Increase Your Home Value - Residential solar installations increase the value of your home, but do not increase your property taxes.
  • Reduce Your Carbon Footprint – Solar is a clean, silent, and renewable energy source that has ZERO emissions. No matter how you contribute carbon in other ways, your footprint will shrink with the use of solar.

With solar tax credits, rebates, buy back programs, and construction requirements and regulations, trying to understand the advantages of installing a solar system on your residence can often be overwhelming. That is why Beco Electrical has solar installation professionals who can guide you through the process and help you to understand the cost and benefits of a solar project for your home.

Friday, April 11, 2014

North Carolina Ranks in Top Ten for Solar Power Generation

Thanks to recent moves by both private industry and state government as well as the local power utility, North Carolina now ranks third nationally for installing the most solar electric capacity in 2013. The designation is no small feat, considering:
  • More than 138 solar companies employing approximately 3100 people throughout the state installed 335 Megawatts of solar electric capacity in 2013 (SEIA).
  • The State ranks 4th in the nation for installed solar energy capacity, enough to power 52,900 homes.
  • North Carolina investment in installing solar in homes, businesses, and utilities increased by 156% from 2012, totaling $787 million.
  • The average price for installed solar photovoltaic systems in North Carolina has fallen by 29% in the last year (compared to 12% nationally from 2012).
  • The solar installed at data centers throughout the state produce enough energy to power over 213,000 computers.
There are a couple of notable reasons for these prestigious and encouraging statistics for the state. The first started back in 2007 when then Governor Mike Easley signed into law Senate Bill 3 - making North Carolina the 25th state, and the first in the Southeast, to enact a mandatory renewable energy and energy efficiency portfolio standard (REPS). The law, known as Session Law 2007-397, requires North Carolina electric utilities to include renewable energy and energy efficiency in their electric generation portfolios. They must do this by ensuring that a percentage of the electricity they sell is created through the use of renewable energy resources (such as wind or solar) or energy efficiency measures.

The second reason for the increase in solar energy is due to the state’s cheap and reliable power, along with its aggressive tax incentives. North Carolina has emerged as one of the newest mega data center clusters in the United States, attracting business from big hitters like Apple, Google, Facebook, and AT&T among others. Many of those companies, notably Apple and Google, have insisted that Duke Energy provide sustainable and clean-energy as part of its supply. Apple has built several solar farms to provide its data centers with electricity, sending unused power back into the electrical grid. This has prompted Duke Energy to step up its attention to solar power, even so much so that it formally asked state regulators last year to be able to sell clean power to large corporations that asked for it (amazingly, this was previously prohibited).

The solar energy industry is taking off in the Old North State. With the utility provider now on board to provide cleaner energy to businesses, falling prices and tax incentives provide new opportunity for smaller businesses and residents of the Triad to enjoy the benefits of solar power. Beco Electrical is proud to be one of the 70 installers of solar electricity across North Carolina, and the only installer located in High Point. The solar farm located at our home office on Surrett Drive has provided over 100 Megawatts of clean energy since its construction, and is designed to serve as a clean energy learning center for residents, schools, and businesses across the Piedmont.