Tuesday, September 27, 2016
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
This 11.1 kW array consists of (37) 300W Solar World modules coupled to (2) SMA Sunnyboy inverters! #EISsolar #solarpv #solarenergy #solarpanels #Gibsonia #Pennsylvania #residential #gridtied #SolarWorld #SMA #AmericanMade #localcrew #localsupplies #renewables #energy #independence #highquality #installations #EIS4YourSolarNeeds
Friday, September 2, 2016
Thursday, August 11, 2016
Friday, May 27, 2016
My first meeting with Solar City.
I recently attended a Solar Summit in Harrisburg PA to discuss the current state of solar and where we want to go as an industry in PA. There were about 50 attendees, 10 or so were from Solar City, up from two last year and zero the year before. Their growth in attendance mirrors their expansion into PA.
As a local installer, I view Solar City much the same way a corner store viewed Walmart’s entry into their neighborhood. A large corporation, well-funded and aggressive in their entry to the market, opens across the street. As any good business would do, they are using leveraged purchasing of their nearly nationwide operation to drive down their product acquisition costs. Since they operate in highly profitable markets like California, MD, NJ, etc. they can redirect these profits to subsidize the anemic PA market allowing them to enter our market with an insurmountable advantage. As a local company where we are focused on quality and customizing each array to our client’s needs, seeing this massive company open up shop and drop millions in advertising overnight for a one size fits all solar array, is indeed intimidating.
During introductions, Solar City said how excited they were to enter the Pittsburgh market. When it was my turn for an introduction, I explained that I was not excited to see them come to town. A little later in the day one of their young exec’s came up to me to ask why. He explained how ‘the rising tide lifts all boats’ and how I should be happy to see them come to town since it is good for the whole industry.
I have to admit, having a company like Walmart or in this case Solar City in your corner legislatively is a great asset. Politicians typically listen to money long before reason and one thing they have an abundance of is money. We truly are on the same side in a macro sense so perhaps there is some good to come of this if their intent is in fact to ‘rise ALL boats’.
One thing I had found unsettling, however, is that a few weeks prior to the meeting I got a call from a very connected solar advocate who warned me that Solar City was coming to Pittsburgh and that they had been spending a ton of money and time lobbying in Harrisburg. His information was that they were attempting to redirect several funds of solar designated moneys that my company and all the other local PA companies have spent years of time and lots of capital lobbying to make available for the entire industry. Most notably, the CFA has roughly $30 million and there are additional funds for Solarize in Allegheny County. EIS has invested significant amounts of time in securing and assisting both of these programs development so ALL solar companies in PA can utilize them and the entire industry can benefit. Many strange and suspect things have happened locally since just before Solar City announced it was coming to Pittsburgh but I will not expand upon this because it would hurt the position of some involved that I respect that are fighting for solar.
What I will expand upon is the CFA. During our summit a lobbyist came in to give us an update on what was happening with the fund. He was flanked by several executives from Solar City. Out of sheer coincidence, this lobbyist was wearing a Solar City pin and was on a first name basis with nearly every Solar City person in the room. Seeing this, I asked him some pointed questions, which I received very vague responses to, regarding whether this fund was being lobbied to change rules to favor any particular company or business model held by a particular company. When I asked the questions, the gentlemen wearing Solar City pins across the table from me shifted in their seats repeatedly, another coincidence I am certain. The responses to my questions were non-committal but the comradery and timely entrance of Solar City execs with the lobbyist tells a story.
So I said to this the young exec, if you truly are trying to raise the tide so we all can prosper, then welcome to the neighborhood. We welcome your big name, your fancy lobbyists, your millions of dollars in mass marketing. If your intentions are to grow solar, then we are happy to have you. However, if you are trying to redirect funds or programs, sway politicians to legislate in your favor, or any way manipulating the market to unfairly control it, we have a problem. From the evidence I have seen it looks like this could be the direction you are headed. I sincerely hope it is not. The young exec assured me it is not, and gave me his card so I could reach out to him in the event something shady happens.
So for now, I welcome Solar City. I hope that they are sincere and that they will use their big corporation to do good things for Pittsburgh solar. I hope that they plan to do this in an attempt to ‘rise all boats’ and not to manipulate the field to intentionally sink those of us who built this market. I hope that they generate the 100 promised jobs, Pittsburgh can use them.
I hope that they have good intentions and one thing is certain, I will be watching very closely to ensure that they do.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Article can be found here: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yoursewickley/yoursewickleymore/5166521-74/solar-edgeworth-fire#axzz2mhK84SIw
Edgeworth and Sewickley don’t need new code restricting their home owners’ rights to own solar and become Energy Independent…they need education so they clearly understand solar safety which we are happy to provide.
The danger solar poses to firefighters is greatly exaggerated. Solar is less dangerous than a service supply from a utility carrying only a small fraction of the amps when operating at full capacity and the racking the solar is mounted to is actually an asset to firefighters in adverse weather conditions.
A typical residential solar array consists of 1 to 3 strings of 8 Amps each. A typical service entry wire that is on every home is carrying 100-200Amps. Though under the right circumstances 8 amps could be fatal, it pales in comparison to the 100Amps currently present on every home.
The code already dictates that a clearly labeled utility accessible and lockable solar disconnect must be installed within 10 feet and visual site of the service meter to disconnect any solar array. Once this is triggered there are no longer any Amps present in the solar array. See UL 1741. There is no such code for service entry wire carrying far more power.
Even after the AC disconnect is triggered, there is still voltage present when the sun is out which when grounded can make an arc which can be dangerous. However, without the inverter allowing the current to flow the arc is a DC spark. Not to say that in very rare circumstances this could cause injury or be fatal, it would be a very rare occurrence. Our crews wire these panels on sunny days all the time. We have yet to have an injury on any install in our history of over 140 local systems. This is not to say we have never had anyone touch both sides of the circuit and cause themselves to be energized on a sunny day. It has happened but it is such a small amount of current it is little more than an uncomfortable sensation.
Even this voltage potential can be heavily mitigated to eliminated using today’s current technology. The Falk’s mentioned in this article for example are using an inverter system made by SolarEdge that has a built in safety feature which limits all DC voltage in roof circuits to 1V when the inverter is not engaged. At the same time it conforms with UL 1741 and stops all Amperage. This means it is less dangerous than touching a 9V battery to your tongue once the exterior disconnect is triggered. There are three such technologies readily available, we have installed all of these technologies in or around Sewickley.
As far as roof access safety, the solar also helps in this area. Western PA has abundant steep roofs. A steep roof is treacherous under dry conditions and deadly under wet or icy conditions. We are installing solar in Sewickley this week on a very steep roof. The work is very difficult until the racking is set and attached to the home. After this step it is easy to navigate the roof since the racking allows a safe tie off, something to stand on, hold on to and catch if you are slipping. Firefighters who understand the method of racking can utilize the racks as a safe place to hang on to when cutting into roofs. Removing panels to allow for shingle access takes only a few seconds and since the panels are wired together, they will not drop on others working on the ground below. Removing two clips that will pop off with a tap of a fireman’s ax opens an area 6ft by 8ft with two rails crossing the opening, each capable of sustaining the entire weight of a fully clad fireman. Imagine how beneficial this would be for a fireman on a steep icy roof in the middle of winter.
Solar is not the problem, education is the problem. Solar is safe and beneficial and we will happily speak to any municipality or firehouse about this, provide educational information, bring panels, clips raking and provide site access to a variety of actual installs to help prepare our firefighters to deal with this safety asset on the roof called solar. Two of our installers are active volunteer firemen and their safety is our greatest concern.
Joe Morinville: firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
I was reading the paper the other day…well online … It was a story about the Shell Cracker plant.
I am a little jaded when it comes to this plant due to the heavy subsidization and the exaggerated claims of job creation it will bring. I understand the technology, the market and the potential for spin off businesses using the product, but in the end this plant will receive $1.65 Billion in subsidy and have roughly 170 full time employees. Those are the facts.
Corbett and the Republicans are quick to say they don’t believe in subsidies, or ‘picking winners’ but this is apparently only when they are talking about things that are not close and dear to their party line or when it does not involve a major donor to their reelection campaigns. I can’t see any other way to spin it that Corbett is helping to create 170 jobs in the gas industry at a cost of $1.65 Billion or $9,700,000 per job.
I realize the gas industry is cash strapped and on life support and Shell only made $25.1 Billion in profits in 2012 so subsidy is completely necessary to get them to invest in a plant in Western PA…which happens to have more fuel under it than Saudi Arabia and the most cost effective place to build a cracker plant… So it is good Corbett is giving them $1.65 Billion to create these 170 full time jobs.
What I found funny is the article talked about the site location they chose. Shell is building on the site of an existing Zinc plant that employs 600 people. These 600 people are losing their jobs to make room for the 170 jobs created by the Shell subsidy. I find this very funny. Corbett will create a net -430 jobs with the $1.65 Billion in tax payer money.
In doing some research, the Zinc plant had an explosion in 2010 killing two and damaging the plant. They then did an assessment to determine whether to build a new environmentally friendly plant here at the same location in Beaver or to move the plant out of state. They decided to move it out of state, a decision made easy with the proposed sale to Shell. I guess I don’t understand why Corbett didn’t subsidize this plant that was already here and employing 600 people? He would have saved the 600 jobs instead of costing a net 430 jobs at a bargain price. I imagine Zinc is not as good a donor as gas.
In another article Corbett claimed he was ‘bringing back the PA Sunshine solar program…that he has cancelled.
"Last January, Gov. Corbett brought back the Sunshine Solar Program, and
since then, the state has invested more than $6 million into local economies
in the form of solar rebates," DEP Acting Secretary Chris Abruzzo said. "We
encourage Pennsylvania's residents and small business owners to not delay in
taking advantage of this funding before the program expires."
He is correct that you need to act fast before the program ends but it doesn’t expire. It is being closed by Corbett even though its funds are not depleted. And he didn't 'bring it back' he released the funds originally allocated to the program that his administration held up and was trying to redirect for gas and other projects. The PA Sunshine program is the smoothest running program in PA history. It has only one full time employee, Walt Dinda and has processed thousands of incentives totaling nearly $100 million in the past five years. Due to the assistance of this program, PA now has over 4000 solar jobs. 4000 jobs for $100 million compared to Corbett’s 170 jobs for a single project at a cost of $1.65 billion. The PA Sunshine program has created 4000 jobs at a cost of $25,000 per job verses the Shell plant that will cost taxpayers $9.7 million per job. If you think the $25,000 per job is high for solar, please see an earlier blog showing the true economics of solar jobs and economic impact. For Shell to do the same thing they will have to pay a ton of money to those 170 lucky folks.
Protecting solar jobs in PA by closing the SREC borders like all of our neighboring states already do is ‘picking winners’, extending the AEPS to match that of neighboring states is picking winners, subsidizing solar through the PA Sunshine or any other program is picking winners, Community Energy through solar is picking winners…but all of this which created 2300% as many jobs as the Cracker plant has cost the taxpayer less than 1% of the subsidy given to one single company, Shell, for one single gas project.
I guess I am confused on a few things. I need to look up the definition of ‘Picking Winners’ and ‘Hypocrisy’. I am confused on the meaning of both…either that or Corbett is.