Consumption to Overproduction
In this short video, view a meter going from consumption (counterclockwise) to overproduction (clockwise).
How Solar Energy Works
If you are thinking of installing solar panels for your home, take a look at the graphics below to gain an understanding of how solar works.
1. Solar panels convert sunlight to direct current (DC).
2. The inverter converts DC electricity to alternating current (AC), which is usable power.
3. The electricity produced from your solar array is used directly for your home or business.
4. Any electricity produced that is not used (overproduction) is sent to the grid and credited to you (net-metering).
Illinois Adjustable Block Program
The Illinois Power Agency has released details about the Illinois Adjustable Block Program. In efforts to explain the program, we have provided the details below.
WHAT IS THE ADJUSTABLE BLOCK PROGRAM? The Adjustable Block Program (“ABP”) is an Illinois state-administered incentive program for new solar photovoltaic systems. It provides payments in exchange for 15 years of Renewable Energy Credits (“RECs”) generated by new residential and small to medium-sized commercial solar photovoltaic (“PV”) systems. These payments, made by Illinois utilities, vary depending on the size of the system and location. The ABP provides various protections for solar consumers.
WHAT ARE RENEWABLE ENERGY CREDITS AND WHY ARE THEY VALUABLE? Renewable Energy Credits are created when solar panels generate electricity, but they are not the electricity itself. Instead, they represent the environmental value of the electricity generated from solar panels. RECs start by belonging to the owner of the PV system, and the owner of the PV system has the right to sell or transfer the RECs to someone else. Whoever owns the RECs has the legal right to say they used that solar power. This right is important to utilities that are required to supply a certain amount of their power from renewable energy, including from solar panels. These credits may also be valuable to businesses that want to be able to say that they use solar power. Credits may only be used by one entity.
A typical home PV system might generate 50-200 RECs over 15 years. If you participate in the program, you will be transferring the RECs generated from your PV system to a utility. You will not be able to claim that you’re using renewable electricity, but you will be contributing to the development of renewable solar power.
For more information on RECs, see this short video from the Center for Resource Solutions at https://vimeo.com/113250210.
DO YOU HAVE TO ALLOW YOUR RECS TO BE SOLD IN ORDER TO GO SOLAR? Although you have the right to keep your RECs or to sell them to someone besides the Illinois utilities, participating in the ABP and allowing your RECs to be sold to the utilities is your best financial option. Selling your RECs through this program will make it much more likely that your PV system will save you money.
WHAT INFORMATION WILL YOU RECEIVE BEFORE YOU SIGN A CONTRACT? Before you sign a contract for a solar purchase, lease, or other installation of a PV system selling its RECs into the ABP, your contractor is required to provide you with a standard disclosure form provided by the Adjustable Block Program. This form includes contact information for everyone who has a part in your solar contract, information about the timing and steps of the installation and application process, and an estimate of how much money you will save. Review this form carefully.
WHEN DECIDING TO INSTALL SOLAR AT YOUR HOME OR BUSINESS, WHAT ARE YOUR FINANCING AND OWNERSHIP OPTIONS? You can get a PV system at your home or business by buying the system, leasing it, or signing a Power Purchase Agreement (“PPA”). If you lease or sign a PPA, you don’t own the system, but you get many of the benefits. For more information on these options, see https://www.cesa.org/resource-library/resource/a-homeowners-guide-to-solar-financing-leases-loans-and-ppas. Here are some things to think about when signing a PV purchase contract, lease contract, or PPA:
If you’re buying the system, how much will you have to pay to have it installed? Will you take out a loan to pay for the system? What are the terms of the loan and how do those loan payments compare to reductions in your monthly electric bill?
If you’re leasing the system, how much is your monthly lease payment? How does that payment compare to reductions in your monthly electric bill? Do you have to pay any money down at the start?
If you’re signing a PPA, how much is the per kilowatt hour (kWh) price you will pay for the energy produced by the panels? Do you have to pay any money down at the start
Does your lease contract or PPA include an escalation clause, which increases the amount of the payments over time? If so, by how much does the payment increase?
IF YOU GET SOLAR PANELS, ARE YOU GUARANTEED TO SAVE MONEY? WHAT FACTORS AFFECT WHETHER YOU SAVE MONEY? You are not guaranteed to save money. The questions listed below will affect whether you save money, and if so, how much. Some of these questions you can answer for yourself, and others can be answered by your installer or Approved Vendor.
What per kilowatt-hour (kWh) rate are you paying for electricity without solar? The higher per kWh rate you are paying for electricity before you go solar, the more money you can potentially save. The per kWh rate you pay may vary depending on whether you buy electricity from your utility or have chosen to buy electricity from an Alternative Retail Electric Supplier.
Is your roof good for solar? is it recently installed and in good condition? Is it south-facing? Does it get full sun? A PV system should be installed where it gets a lot of direct sunlight – ideally, on a completely unshaded south-facing roof (or other surface). If your system is partially or entirely shaded, or it doesn’t face south, it will generate less electricity and be less valuable. Your installer is required to perform a shading study of the site, and you should ask to see this study.
Have your roof professionally evaluated to make sure the roof can support the weight of the panels and that it won’t need to be replaced during the life of the PV system.
How much electricity will the system generate? Is this the right amount, given how much electricity you use?If your system produces more electricity than you use over the course of an annual period, you may not receive credit for all the electricity it generates.
How much money will you receive for your RECs? The Approved Vendor will receive a certain amount of money from the utilities for the RECs and will pass some or all of the money along to you.
Can you take advantage of the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC)? You may qualify for a federal tax credit. Consult your tax adviser.
Will the retail price of electricity increase or decrease in coming years? By how much? The more the retail price of electricity increases, the more money you can save with solar. If the retail price of electricity decreases, generating your own electricity through solar panels may offer reduced savings or may not save you money at all.
How long do you expect to stay in your home? Especially if you lease or sign a PPA rather than buy your PV system, you may be required to take down the panels or buy out the lease if you move. This can reduce or eliminate savings from the system. Read your contract carefully to find out what happens if you move.
HOW MIGHT A PV SYSTEM AFFECT MY PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENT? Under the Illinois Property Tax Code, if you purchase and install a rooftop PV system on your home or commercial building, your property tax assessment may increase. If you do not own the PV installation, it should not affect your property tax assessment. You should talk to your local county or other taxing authority for more information.
WHAT IS NET METERING AND HOW DO I ENROLL? Net metering is the measuring and crediting system by which you are compensated for the electricity your PV system produces. If you buy your electricity directly from the utility, you will need to contact the utility to enroll in net metering. If you choose to buy your electricity from a retail electric supplier, you will need to contact it. If, at any point, you change your electricity supplier, you will need to re-enroll in net metering.
CONSUMER RIGHTS For your PV system to participate in the ABP, an Approved Vendor will apply to the Illinois Power Agency to be part of the program. (The Approved Vendor will be identified on the disclosure form you receive before you sign your contract and may or may not be your installer.) If the application is approved, the Approved Vendor will receive payments from the utilities for the RECs generated by your system. You have a right, upon request, to information about this process, including the application status and how much the utilities are paying for the RECs from your system. Some of that information will also be included in the disclosure form. The Approved Vendor must be responsive to any issues related to ensuring that your PV system is generating electricity and RECs.
CHICAGO 800-386-5438 TTY: 800-964-3013
SPRINGFIELD 800-243-0618 TTY: 877-844-5461
CARBONDALE 800-243-0607 TTY: 877-675-9339
SolarEdge Energy Hub
Where the StorEdge allowed property owners to designate 50A, the EnergyHub can tackle a more robust backup option (up to 200 A).
To read more about the announcement from SolarEdge, visit Solar Power World Magazine or view the EnergyHub datasheet. Check back here to see more details as to the release date.
Now more than ever, property owners converting to solar energy are seeing savings, a quick return on their investment, reduction of their carbon footprint, and energy independence. For an average system with the many incentives - customers see deep savings on the installation of their solar energy system. Below we detail a few of the benefits, detail the incentives, and provide an example of an average system.
Benefits of Solar Energy
Monthly Bill Savings
Our Solar Consultants dive into your utility bill and design systems to offset the cost of your utility bill. On average GRNE customers are seeing 70 - 95% off of their monthly bills.
Return on Investment
Between the offset of your utility bill, federal, state, and utility-based incentives customers are seeing deep savings within the first year.
Lower Your Carbon Footprint
Each system installed makes a big impact on the environment and lessens your carbon footprint.
Available Solar Inventives
Federal Tax Credit (ITC)
Established in 2005, the Federal Tax Credit or ITC allows you to deduct 26% of the cost of your solar energy system. The ITC reduces each year until it phases out completely in 2023.
Utility Based Incentives (Per Utility)
Utilities around the Midwest provide additional incentives for solar and storage systems. Be sure to ask your GRNE Sales Consultant about which additional incentives are available in your state and city.
Net Metering (IL and IN)
When your system produces more than what your home uses, the overproduction will be sent back to the utility grid to be used elsewhere. The amount sent back to the grid will be credited to your monthly bill at wholesale cost.
Blog 1: The Winters Effect on Solar Panels
Solar Panels Performance in the Winter
The winter months may be discouraging to homeowners looking to get into solar. This blog will touch on everything you will need to know if you are considering solar in places with harsh winters. The first thing to keep in mind is the shorter days during these months. The winter will generally make up a small fraction of your annual production and this is factored into a system’s production estimate when it is initially being designed. This means you do not have to worry if production is lower than the summer, this was all calculated for.
Winter months will bring colder temperatures which is actually beneficial for solar panels. This is a surprise to many people, but cooler temperatures allow the panels to work closer to their peak performance making them slightly more efficient. This is because the panels are least likely to reach their peak temperature, allowing the electron reaction to happen quicker.
How Does Snow Affect Solar Panels?
Snow can be another big concern to many people looking at solar systems. However, snow is generally not a huge problem for the panels. The panels themselves generate a small amount of heat and will also absorb the sun's heat, even through snow. This means light snow will simply melt right off the panel. A heavy snowfall that sticks to the panels will eventually slide off due to the angle at which the panels are mounted at. When this happens it also will take off any dust or debris that has collected.
Snowstorms can also be beneficial, when the panels are cleared off, the sun's rays will reflect off the snow and back up towards the solar panels. This happens because of the albedo effect and allows the solar panels to generate even more electricity.
Do You Need to Clear Snow Off Panels?
We do not recommend that homeowners clear snow off the modules for a few reasons. You can easily damage and scratch the modules if you are not being careful. Any damage caused to the panels from trying to clear them off is NOT covered under the warranty. In most cases, it is not worth the time and/or the risk you are putting yourself in for a few extra kilowatts. Whether you decide to clear off the panels or not, NEVER get on the roof to do so, this can be extremely dangerous. Another thing to keep in mind is the panels will still generate a small amount of energy if they are still covered in snow. This is because small amounts of light are still able to penetrate through the snow.