New Op-Ed by Solarize East Central Indiana

Carolyn Vann and John Vann of East Central Indiana and Carol Swingley recently published a reminder of upcoming deadlines in The Courier Times to keep the community informed about time constraints on affordable solar.

Read the full piece below.

https://www.thecouriertimes.com/opinion/deadlines-for-installing-privately-owned-solar-panels/article_a5cf5601-aeb2-5155-83af-90b6a4ea2c80.html

Net-Metering in a Nutshell

Let’s take a moment to get you up to speed on what net-metering is, and why it is important for the democratization of the energy grid.

What is net-metering?

Net-metering describes how energy companies credit solar owners for the energy they produce and feed into the grid. When a home or business installs solar, it typically remains connected to the grid because during the day, the solar array is producing a lot of energy – much more than the building is likely using – and this unused energy flows to the grid to be used by other consumers. At night, when the solar array is not producing energy, the home or business draws from the grid again. Because energy you produce during the day is supplementing the energy in the grid that companies like Duke or CenterPoint are selling to your neighbors, the energy company credits you for that energy.

What is SEA 309?

Signed into law in 2017, SEA 309 allows energy companies to credit solar owners with only a fraction of the retail value of the energy they produce. The same energy that was once valued at $0.11 per kWh is now valued at only $0.03. That means during the day you are producing energy that is valued at about a quarter of the cost of the energy you use at night. What does that mean for your energy bill? Well, you still have to pay the energy company full retail value for the energy you draw the grid, but they pay you only wholesale value. In short, you can expect to pay a lot more and take a lot longer to break even on your investment in a solar array.

But what about the energy company?

If you read an energy company’s side of the story, you might be told net-metering is unfair to them and their other customers. But actually, distributed solar (think “rooftop solar”) actually helps the grid and the energy company that manages it in several ways.

First of all, distributed solar reduces the distance between the production site and the consumption site, reducing ware and tear on the grid. Think of it this way. A central point of production like a power plant is typically far from the point of consumption, like a household on the other side of town, and for the energy to get there it has to travel across a long network of power lines. Distributed points of production, like the solar panels on your roof, only has to travel a short distance to reach the next point of consumption, likely your neighbor’s house.

Secondly, solar produces energy at peak demand times. To meet the daytime demand, energy companies often have to open “peaker plants” with a high operating cost during times where demand exceeds their usual production. Distributed solar, however, helps to meet that demand without additional cost or environmental impact.

And finally, why should you sell your energy at a loss? Your rights as a property owner allow you to increase your energy independence, and that shouldn’t mean selling your excess energy at less than you purchase it for.

Solarize Training Grabs Bull by the Horns

Solarize Team Training Spreads the Reach of the Solarize Teams

Indianapolis, IN –Solarize Workshop prepares teams from around the state to seed solar neighborhoods in their home towns. Between June and December 2017, the all-volunteer initiative resulted in a 20% increase in the number of registered solar homes in our state.

On June 22th, Solarize Indiana will hold a Team Training at Englewood Christian Church, 57 North Rural Street, Indianapolis. The training is open to anyone around the state who is interested in joining or starting a Solarize initiative in their community. Teams from around the state will congregate to make a plan of action for bringing solar to their own communities.

The Solarize Indiana initiative has made waves since its considerable initial success in 2017 – increasing the number of registered solar homes in Indiana by 20%. The achievement is at odds with recent legislation which has undermined some of the financial benefits of going solar.

IMPACT OF NEW FEDERAL TARIFF ON DEMAND FOR IMPORTED PANELS:

Initiated in January, 2018, the new federal tariff on imported panels was intended to shift the US demand for solar panels to US produced solar panels. However, in Solarize Indiana’s competitive proposal process, the ten solar installers that submitted proposals almost uniformly proposed imported panels. Only two of 20 proposed panels were made or assembled in the U.S.

IMPACT OF INDIANA SENATE BILL 309:

The push for immediate installation of solar is brought on partly by Senate Bill 309, signed into law in April 2017, which will eventually reduce in stages the financial benefit of installing solar panels. In Bloomington, however, the demand for solar continues to be high despite the passage of the bill, and the long-term effects are yet to be determined.

Research in California has also indicated that the demand for solar is influenced by the prevalence of solar in the area. Installing solar panels is, in a sense, contagious—a notion that the Solarize movement has taken and acted upon. The model of a solar neighborhood is in essence to concentrate on supporting solar energy in a particular area so as to create a high concentration of solar powered homes which in turn incentivizes other community members to follow suit.

The diversity within the Solarize Indiana initiative has also been remarked upon, which has included Anabaptists, Catholics, Jews, Muslims, mainline and evangelical Protestants, and Unitarians. Presenters at Saturday’s training include individuals aged 19 through 89 who have taken up the initiative to preserve the earth for their own and future generations. The realization of the importance of solar is taking root across age and faith divides, and, by bringing in teams from the far corners of the state – from northwest Indiana to Jeffersonville, the workshop seeks to broaden its geographic diversity as well.

“Where solar is planted, it grows,” observed Madeline Hirschland, chair of Solarize Indiana. “It’s exciting to see Hoosiers helping make solar a new normal here in the heartland.” Adds Katherine Tilghman of the Interfaith Community of Environmentalist Youth,

It’s a sign that people are starting to realize that if you want to see change, you have to make it happen yourself.

The Solarize Movement

Why are more and more people, all over the state, choosing to go solar?

The reason: it simply makes good sense–and more than just cents. Talk to any solar home owner and they’ll tell you that going solar was the best financial investment they’ve ever made. Imagine an investment that pays for itself in as little as six years which leaves you with energy bills of just ten dollars for the rest of your life!

The Future of Solar is Brightpost