Solar market nearly doubles in 2016, industry boosts jobs 25%

The U.S. installed  14,626 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) last year, up 95 percent from 2015 levels, according to  GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). As a result, the U.S. is now home to more than 1.3 million solar PV installations with a cumulative capacity of over 40 gigawatts. That’s 40 million kilowatts. A typical residential rooftop installation is 5 kW to 10 kW while commercial installs range from 10 kW to 50 kW on average. For the first time ever, solar ranked as the No. 1 source of new electric generating capacity — it accounted for 39 percent of new capacity additions across all fuels. On average, a new megawatt of solar PV capacity came on-line every 32 minutes in Q3 2016. Tennessee ranked 25th among states for solar installed in Q3. “It’s no surprise that more and more people, communities and businesses are going solar,” said Harvey Abouelata, ARiES Solar president. “Free, clean, renewable energy from the sun translates into immediate savings on your electric bill, predictable energy costs and offers a hedge against future price increases.” Solar grew in all areas, but the biggest increase was seen in the utility-scale sector, which can be partly attributed to projects initiated due to doubts for the extension of the federal Investment Tax Credit, said report authors. The ITC offers businesses and consumers a 30 percent tax credit on renewable energy installs. Utilities are becoming more interested in solar, which is now competitive with natural gas alternatives, said Cory Honeyman, GTM Research’s associate director of U.S. solar research. They are also often leaders in the booming  community solar movement, which added more...

Energy Mentor Network needs YOU to help grow TN startups!

Starting last year, ARiES President Harvey Abouelata committed to mentoring a Tennessee-based energy startup through our membership in the Tennessee Advanced Energy Business Council. As a mentor, Harvey was paired with Solar Site Design, a cloud-based content management platform that offers customer acquisition and project development for solar professionals.  Solar Site Design was founded in January 2013 by Jason and Samantha Loyet. They have participated in multiple startup accelerator programs and the company was chosen as a winner of the 2015 U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative. ARiES would not be where it is today without help from the Knoxville entrepreneurial community — lookin’ at you Knoxville Entrepreneur Center, Pecha Kucha, Startup Day and many more! So we take paying it forward pretty seriously. TAEBC’s mentor program welcomes a wide range of mentors who have varying amounts of time to devote to the program (Usually about 1-5 hours a week). They don’t just need energy company founders — Mentors are also asked to serve based upon experience  raising capital, growing successful companies or as marketing, finance, or technical experts. TAEBC still has openings available – be a mentor like Harvey! Check out the program...

SolarReviews names ARiES Solar to Top 100 Residential Solar Installers

ARiES Solar has again been recognized by SolarReviews as one of the site’s top residential installers. A big part of that is due to reviews from our fabulous customers — we thank you! You may recall this summer we received a Top 500 award from Solar Power — but Solar Reviews is a bit different in a GOOD way for small, local businesses like us! Here’s what they have to say about the Top 100 program: For a couple of years now SolarReviews has provided data to the Solar Power World Top Installers List and we will continue to do so. However, we thought that because reviews score is only one thing considered in these lists … some of the small and medium sized installers that were recording much higher levels of customer satisfaction were being overlooked. We congratulate these companies and the contribution they are making to the solar industry. ARiES was one of only two Tennessee companies to be ranked nationally on the list and we ranked second in Tennessee. Again – many thanks to our customers who’ve taken the time to leave us a review. Haven’t reviewed us yet? You can leave your review at the ARiES Solar  SolarReviews profile page....

Is Sense the smart home monitor you need? We tried it out!

As smart homes, smart devices and the Internet of Things become a reality, several manufacturers are offering tools to track the energy use for all those devices as well as standard equipment you may already own. One of those is Sense, a startup company whose founders developed voice recognition software. The company is betting its home energy monitor system ($299) can take over the niche by appealing to energy-conscious homeowners through its simplicity, ease of use and clean design. Sense emphasizes the value of knowing where, when and how you use power by having a “conversation” with your home — your home talks, Sense “listens.” Sense uses current sensors on the main breakers in your electric panel to monitor all electricity use in your home.  Each device uses power differently, and the key to Sense is its proprietary algorithm that is able to analyze that electric use and detect individual devices based on their electric signature over time. Since ARiES is based in a residential home that was converted to commercial office space, we decided to test it on ourselves (commercial monitoring is not available for Sense currently due to power differences). We installed the monitor November 1, 2016. It was pretty easy; we recommend you hire an electrician to install the system since you’ll need to work in your home’s electric panel.  Sense fits inside most panels and connects current sensors to the main breakers.  For our ARiES pros, it took less than 30 minutes. The Good Ease of installation Simple, attractive App interface Several heavily used appliances (Fridge, microwave) detected in the first week or so Alerts moved us to do...

South Carolina legislature looks at two renewable energy bills early in 122nd session

Update:  The C-PACE legislation was approved by Senate subcommittee on Feb. 15! The legislation was changed to remove an option to allow county governments to issue bonds to finance C-PACE improvements. S.261 went to the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, which “carried over the bill to do additional work,” according to the South Carolina Association of Counties. The Renewable Energy Property Tax Act was approved by the Senate! It is now being considered by the House Ways and Means Committee. ——————————————- South Carolina legislators this week took a look at two bills covering renewable energy property tax incentives and financing. –The Renewable Energy Property Tax Act, introduced by Sen. Chauncey ‘Greg’ Gregory, R-Lancaster, was approved by the Senate Finance Committee on Jan. 17. The bill would give an 80 percent property tax abatement to commercial renewable energy projects. Residential projects would receive a full exemption. It heads to the full Senate next week. –Bills addressing the popular Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy, referred to as C-PACE or simply PACE, financing method for renewable energy projects have been introduced in the House and Senate.  The SC Commercial-Property Assessed Clean Energy Act, by Reps. Dwight Loftis, R-Greenville and Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, would allow commercial property owners to finance clean energy improvements using their property taxes — where local governments allowed it. From the bill: ‘Clean energy improvement’ means a water efficiency measure, energy efficiency measure, or a fixture, product, device, or interacting group of fixtures, products, or devices on the customer’s side of the meter that use one or more clean energy resources or renewable energy resources to generate electricity or create heat or cooling. Clean energy improvements...

Duke Energy customers in South Carolina received $12M in solar rebates in 2016

In only one year, more than 1,800 residential customers and 125 business customers in have applied to participate in Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program. The program paid nearly $12 million in rebates to South Carolina customers by the end of 2016. That’s more than double what the utility reported just three months ago. The rebates help with the upfront cost of installing solar panels for customers – making the technology more accessible to the company’s 730,000 customers in the state. “Our customers have responded very positively to our solar rebate program,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy’s South Carolina state president. “It’s expanded the choices our customers have in meeting their energy needs by helping to lower the upfront costs associated with building solar installations.” Act 236, an omnibus solar bill passed by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2014, opened the door for Duke Energy to offer a variety of solar programs to customers. The rebate program provides $1 per watt for qualified residential customers who install systems up to 20 kilowatts on their property; and for business customers who install systems up to 1 megawatt on their property. Nonprofit and governmental entities may be eligible to receive a rebate of $1.50 per watt for systems up to 20 kilowatts on their property. More than 40 megawatts-ac of solar power is scheduled to come online already, putting Duke Energy more than halfway to the 53-megawatt goal cited by the act. With the rebate program nearing capacity, a waiting list has been established for some of the offerings associated with this program. All applications for the rebate program must be...