Solar Energy in the Midwest

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Does solar work in Michigan? Customer video testimonial


Don’t believe us – watch our customers share their experiences with solar here in Michigan. We now have an indisputable source of real-time and historic metrics that the skeptics can’t deny anymore. Listen to our solar homeowners talk about zero utility bills and getting checks back from solar power generation.


Michigan Breweries Going Solar « CBS Detroit

Michigan Breweries Going Solar « CBS Detroit.

(credit: Thinkstock)

(credit: Thinkstock)

mattroushReporting Matt Roush

YPSILANTI — Barley, hops and yeast are powered by the sun.

Increasingly, so are the breweries that turn those ingredients into beer.

Southeast Michigan brewery owners Matt and Rene Greff are breaking new ground for Michigan breweries as solar installations at their two breweries come on line this summer.

Arbor Brewing Co. became Michigan’s first solar brewery when it flipped the switch on a new system comprised of a 2.4-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array, 300 solar thermal collector tubes and a high-efficiency tankless water heater system to supplement the heat from the collector tubes when necessary.

These big ticket investments were combined with smaller improvements like switching to CFL and LED lighting and installing low-flow sprayers and occupancy sensors.

The project grew out of the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority’s Energy Conservation Grant Program, which provided free energy audits and 50 percent project rebates up to $20,000 to downtown businesses that implemented audit recommendations to become more energy efficient.

ABC owner Matt Greff worked with Ann Arbor DDA Energy Programs Director David Konkle as well as a consulting team from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and the Environment, led by Jarett Diamond.

Together they were able to identify a number of financial resources and incentives to help offset the installation cost of the system including the $20,000 grant from the DDA, a $10,000 interest-free loan from the city, a 30 percent tax credit from the federal government, and various incentives from DTE Energy.

The couple’s Corner Brewery in Ypsilanti is also nearing completion on its own $250,000 Green Brewery Project which includes solar-thermal, photovoltaic, and geo-thermal technologies along with other improvements like new windows and awnings and energy-efficient chiller equipment.

Donna on Radio show last weekend – hear it here!

Listen to Donna as she sets straight the myths about solar in Michigan on The Inside Outside Guys Radio show last Saturday. Her segment starts around 30:08, in the third podcast.

The Inside Outside Guys Saturday April 21th, 2012 Part 3

Solar Top 10: SEPA List Details Key Utility Trends | Renewable Energy News Article

Solar Top 10: SEPA List Details Key Utility Trends | Renewable Energy News Article.

By Steve Leone, Associate Editor,
April 19, 2012

This week, the Solar Electric Power Association released a preview of its Solar Top 10, an annual look at which utilities are taking the lead of solar development. The full detailed report will come out in May. The 2011 findings show a 38 percent growth in the number of installations over the past year and a 120 percent spike in megawatts installed. SEPA expects this trajectory to continue in 2012 behind continued price drops and the build out of large-scale projects.

While we already knew that solar had its best year ever in 2011, and that final installation numbers were higher than expected, it’s still valuable to see which utilities connected the most solar, and where new high levels of deployment are being seen.

So here are some takeaways from the recently released findings:

  • Large-scale solar farms make the headlines, but smaller installations remain the bread-and-butter of the industry. In 2011, utilities interconnected over 62,500 PV systems. Thirteen utilities interconnected more than 1,000 PV systems and 22 interconnected more than 500 systems. According to the report, this volume of smaller, distributed interconnections is unlike anything the utility industry has previously managed. It’ll be interesting to see how these numbers fare next year and in 2013 when the impacts of the recently expired Section 1603 grant will be felt.

Click on title for full story.

Home Energy Rating System – 723 Spring Street scores a 40!

Home Energy Rating System – 723 Spring Street scores a 40!.

This the home of one of our customers who provides great updates and information on his home and solar system! Nice job – Val

Impact of Solar Panels on Electric Bills – FANTASTIC … Thanks DTE – Solar Currents

Impact of Solar Panels on Electric Bills – FANTASTIC … Thanks DTE – Solar Currents.

This chart from the DTE Web Site shows my monthly electric bill for heating and cooling our house.  The right axis is Heating Degree Days which are a measure of how much (in degrees), and for how long (in days), the outside air temperature was below a certain level.  They are commonly used in calculations relating to the energy consumption required to heat buildings.  723 Spring Street has 4,200 square feet of conditioned space on four levels.  Since having put in the 8.6 kW solar panel system last fall, we have been near net-zero energy over the five month period.  The kWh surplus from the solar panels more than offsets the electrical consumption of the (to read full article click on title above).

Great to see the results of our systems by our customers. Thanks Scott for sharing! – Val

Application fees set for Ann Arbor’s new PACE program

Application fees set for Ann Arbor’s new PACE program.

By Ryan J. Stanton
Political Reporter

The Ann Arbor City Council on Monday supported the final step to fully implement the city’s new Property Assessed Clean Energy program.

A resolution approved by council sets the application fees for the PACE program, which is a special financing mechanism to help commercial property owners in Ann Arbor undertake energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Through the PACE program, qualifying property owners are able to borrow money for energy efficiency projects ranging from $10,000 to $350,000 and then pay back the loans through special assessments added onto their tax bills for up to 10 years.


Andrew Brix

The program is a joint effort of the city of Ann Arbor and Clean Energy Coalition. City officials believe the availability of PACE financing will support economic stimulation across the city, create jobs and reduce operating costs for business owners.For full article go to: Link

Solar Gets Cheaper, but Not Equally

Solar Gets Cheaper, but Not Equally.

In January, I plotted the size of state solar markets against their average installed cost and found surprisingly little correlation.  When Lawrence Berkeley Labs put out their 2011 version of Tracking the Sun (IV), it was possible to update the chart, which I did in two stages.

The first chart simply overlays the 2010 average installed cost on the original chart, with arrows indicating the movement of the prices in most states (I ran out of room in the small market states).   It’s almost like a rainbow rain of falling solar prices.

The Grid Price

Utilities like to compare new electricity production to their existing fleet, which means comparing new solar power projects to long-ago-paid-off (amortized) coal and nuclear power plants that can produce electricity for 3-4 cents per kWh.  But this is apples to oranges, because utilities can’t get any new electricity for that price, from any source.  

A more appropriate measure of the grid price is the marginal cost for a utility of getting wholesale power from a new power plant.  In California, this is called the “market price referent” and it’s around 12 cents per kWh.  The figure varies from state to state.  

But while the market price referent provides a reasonable comparison for the cost of utility-scale solar, it’s not the number that matters for solar installed on rooftops or near buildings.  In those cases, the power is used “behind the meter,” and depending on the type of state policy for net metering, the customer can essentially spin their electric meter backward when their solar panels produce electricity.  That means that solar power is really competing against the energy cost on a utility bill, known as the “retail price.” 

The following map shows the average retail electricity price by state across the U.S.  It ranges from 8-10 cents in the interior to 15 cents per kWh and higher on the coasts.  

For full article go to:

Solar space heating in the snowy north.

This is the system (except bigger panels 4′ x 8′) we use when retrofitting a building for solar hot air.

Green means go: How to add instant equity to your home

(Check out our solar panels and crew! – Val)

By: Matt Grocoff, Contributing Writer

What projects are the real appraisal boosters? Granite countertops? New floors? Both nice to brag about – but, as a general rule their costs outweigh the added value to the home. Investing in home energy efficiency and renewable energy helps raise a home\’s value and help it sell faster.

via Green means go: How to add instant equity to your home.

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