Kiss Electric earns 3.4-MW commercial solar project in New Jersey

KISS electric solar power project

Licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, Kiss Electric has been performing wide range of electrical jobs for more than 17 years. Most recently, they were awarded a 3.4 MW project in Sparta, N.J., at Braen Quarry. Job specifications require:

  • 9,934, 360-W ground-mounted SunPower modules
  • Schletter racking system
  • Two Power Electronic inverters are key components to the system.

DC power from the modules is converted to AC power at the inverter. AC power is then delivered on site to 35,000 volt transformers then to Braen Quarry.

“We are excited about the company’s growth in the solar energy field,” said Joe Kiss, owner of Kiss Electric. “As a certified NABCEP PV installer, Kiss Electric’s Solar by Kiss division has installed thousands of solar systems for residential and commercial customers. We are passionate about solar PV as we believe that it’s the future of meeting our energy needs.”

Kiss Electric has been taking on more and more solar work, large and small, such as the 2.5-MW Fischer Solar Farm in Flemington, NJ. Kiss Electric installed 65 Huawei inverters and 7,800 Trina 320-W solar panels on that project.

— Solar Builder magazine

Here’s how a new program will fund more multifamily solar projects in California

california multifamily solar program

Multifamily housing is one of the most complicated segments for the solar industry given the competing interests of tenants and owners. California, usually the first state to do everything in solar, is trying to make this easier with a new program.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved of a new Solar on Multifamily Affordable Housing (SOMAH) program for low-income apartment tenants in December. The goal is provide direct benefit to the tenants from the solar systems on their apartment’s roofs.

“Usually, affordable housing apartment owners pay for the electricity used in the complex’s common areas, not the individual units. Solar PV systems installed on these properties are typically only used to offset electricity in these areas. The property owners receive the savings directly, not the ten-ants. The SOMAH program will now also offset the tenants’ individual utility bills,” says Luciana Da Silva, Adroit Energy’s Director of Marketing and Corporate Development.

This $1 billion program will provide up to $100 million annually for up to 10 years, between 2016 and 2026.  The overall target is to install at least 300 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity on qualified properties by 2030. The program is set to begin August 2018.

Although the AB 693 (Eggman, 2015) Program Administrator and bill verbiage still need to be ironed out, Adroit identified these as the major key points for owners and tenants:

How Will Tenants Directly Save from Solar?

Low-income tenants will receive credits on utility bills through tariffs, namely virtual net metering (VNEM) tariffs. VNEM tariffs provide a mechanism for allocating bill credits from system generation among the property occupants, including both common area electric accounts and the accounts of tenants.

Under SOMAH, tenants receive at least 51% of the VNEM credits from any solar project.

What’s in it for the Property Owners?

SOMAH does not exclusively help the tenants. The bill will allow 49% of VNEM tariffs to flow to common areas. This split will provide the maximum flexibility to property owners to tailor their pro-jects to their particular circumstances.

Additionally, AB 693 authors emphasize the significant value to retaining common area Time of Use (TOU) rate requirements in order “…to encourage property owners to participate in additional ener-gy efficiency, demand response, and other energy management activities.”
Solar systems owners will still be eligible to receive the 30% Federal Incentive Tax Credit will be available when owner’s purchase the system.

Which Affordable Housing Properties Qualify for SOMAH?

• The property must be located in a designated disadvantaged community as identified by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA)… Or at least 80 percent of the house-holds in the building must have household incomes at or below 60 percent of the area medi-an income
• Units must be separately metered and eligible for a virtual VNEM tariff.
• It must be an existing building
• The installed solar system must produce at least 1 kW of electricity, and not more than 5 MW, alternating current rated peak electricity.
• Your utility providers must be Pacific Gas and Electric Company, San Diego Gas & Electric Company, Southern California Edison Company, Liberty Utilities Company, and PacifiCorp Company.
• There must be at least 10 years remaining on the term of the property’s affordability restrictions.

Property Owners Cannot Hike Up the Rent

Property owners are required to sign a contract to ensure no additional costs for the system will be passed on to low-income tenants at the properties. This includes increased rents, adjustments to utility allowances, or other mechanisms. Owners must demonstrate 100% of the economic benefits of the system’s generation will be reserved for tenants through the life of the system.

The rule also applies to third-party system owners, whom must also “…provide ongoing operations and maintenance of the system, monitor energy production, and kWh production levels projected for the system are achieved.”

Ensures Job Training and Local Hiring

The commission will develop local hiring plans to promote economic development in disadvantaged communities and job training requirements similar to those currently in place for the MASH program. In addition, program service providers must produce economic benefits by providing job opportunities to residents of disadvantaged communities.


— Solar Builder magazine

This new partnership will help nonprofits go solar

Roadrunner Food Bank

Our Project of the Year for 2017 was one such project.

CollectiveSun, the only company dedicated exclusively to helping nonprofits and tax exempt organizations fund solar projects, is teaming up with EnergySage, an online comparison-shopping marketplace for solar. This collaboration creates a powerful new solution that allows nonprofits and tax exempt entities to seamlessly navigate the solar purchasing and financing process.

The CollectiveSun-EnergySage partnership removes the hurdles that nonprofits and tax exempt organizations have historically had in both financing their solar panel installation and in locating high quality, pre-screened solar installers. Now, nonprofits and tax exempt organizations will all be able to take advantage of solar energy.

CollectiveSun has revolutionized funding for nonprofits and tax exempt organizations by providing a prepaid power purchase agreement (PPA). This proprietary financing method allows the company to utilize solar tax benefits that would otherwise be lost and pass the savings onto the nonprofit buyer in the form of a 15 percent reduction in the cost of a new solar panel system. CollectiveSun also offers assistance and a variety of methods to help provide the upfront capital for its prepaid PPA, including a proprietary CrowdLending campaign.

This innovative financing model will now be available to nonprofits and tax exempt organizations that register on EnergySage. Backed by the U.S. Department of Energy, EnergySage is the country’s largest online comparison-shopping marketplace for solar, and each year matches thousands of nonprofits with its network of over 500 vetted solar companies. EnergySage’s impartial information and competitive bidding platform helps solar shoppers make more informed decisions and save up to 20 percent on their solar installation costs.

“CollectiveSun is always looking for ways to deploy more solar,” said Todd Bluechel VP of Marketing and Sales for CollectiveSun. “The CollectiveSun-EnergySage partnership was formed to help broaden and strengthen both companies’ ability to deploy more solar and even though this partnership is a win-win for both, it’s particularly beneficial for the 1.5 million nonprofits nationwide who have been seeking ways to afford solar.”

“Installing solar panels is a great way for tax exempt organizations to reduce operating costs and simultaneously benefit the environment,” said Aaron James, Vice President of Network Partnerships at EnergySage. “Whether you run a school, food bank, church, or other mission-based organization, the EnergySage-CollectiveSun partnership offers a new way to make an even larger impact by switching to clean, renewable energy. We’re up and running and actively accepting new registrations.”

To get started, nonprofits and tax exempt organizations can head here for more.

— Solar Builder magazine

Drive more commercial solar projects with these new documents from SEIA

solect solar commercial install

Here’s a commercial install from Solect Solar.

Commercial solar has a ton of potential, and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) wants to make that potential clearer for customers and investors, today making two documents available to spur investment.

The first document is a contract that combines the benefits of a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) to provide customers with a valuable new financing option.

“The PACE PPA further builds out SEIA’s suite of model contracts so all solar transactions can be efficiently negotiated and financed,” said Mike Mendelsohn, SEIA’s senior director of project finance & capital markets. “Our goal is to broadly open the U.S. commercial real estate sector for solar deployment, and the PACE PPA is a valuable tool to allow that progress to happen.”

You can learn more about these financing plans here.

The second document, co-authored by SolarKal, is an educational report designed to explain the value of on-site solar to commercial property owners. According to the report, Solar Energy and Commercial Real Estate (CRE): Insights for Your Investment Property, solar systems can allow commercial property owners to raise rents, lower operating expenses, negotiate lease extensions, and increase the net present value, or NPV, of their buildings.

Both documents were developed by SEIA’s C&I Working Group, which is focused on creating solutions for the commercial and industrial sectors.

Download the PACE PPA document here.

— Solar Builder magazine

Pennsylvania retirement community expands solar PV capacity to 2 MW

Elizabeth town solar

Masonic Village at Elizabethtown, Pa., is in the midst of constructing a 2 MW solar system, adding to an existing 1 MW solar array. Once the project is complete in February, after more than a decade of investing in clean energy, the not-for-profit continuing care retirement community will produce 23-25 percent of its electricity using a mix of solar panels and microturbines. The array will be one of the largest solar arrays of any retirement community in the United States, and it will save Masonic Village $250,000 annually in electricity costs.

“This project enables Masonic Village to build upon its existing infrastructure, and over time, see a positive rate of return, while also meeting our goals to be more energy efficient,” Patrick Sampsell, chief environmental and facilities officer, said. “The cost savings help offset the declining reimbursements Masonic Village receives for care and services as part of its charitable mission.”

The expansion will produce 2.2 million kWh per year and is expected to save $200,000 a year in electricity costs. In 2011, Masonic Village constructed a 1 MW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system, which produces approximately 1.2 million kWh of electricity per year and results in costs savings of between $40,000 and $60,000 annually. Combined with the new addition, the system will produce approximately 15 percent of the campus’ electricity, and generate a rate of return of between 14 and 20 percent.

2017 Solar Builder Project of the Year Winners

As part of a production sharing agreement with Solar Renewable Energy LLC, Masonic Village will invest approximately $1.8 million in the expansion over six years. Solar Renewable Energy will finance the remainder of the project costs and will remain the owner of the array for six years, after which Masonic Village will have the option to purchase the system.

After completing an energy benchmarking study last year, Masonic Village determined that energy costs between 2009 and 2015 decreased by 15 percent while the campus grew by 9.4 percent. Microturbines currently generate 10 percent of the campus’ electricity. The heat created as a by-product of the microturbines, in turn, heats water for a portion of resident apartments and the Masonic Health Care Center, reducing the use of gas boilers. Five microturbines were installed in 2002 (with a sixth added in 2010) and upgraded in 2007. The turbines reduce emissions by as much as planting 1,000 acres of forest per year.

Clean energy is part of Masonic Villages’ four-legged energy efficiency plan, the other legs being conservation, efficiency and smart technology. Other efforts include the use of environmentally-friendly materials and methods at all five of its Pennsylvania campuses, including water and electricity-saving fixtures, co-generating electricity, motion detector-controlled lights and the purchase of hybrid vehicles for company use. Staff constantly evaluate new technologies, such as solar light tubes and LED replacements for standard streetlights.

— Solar Builder magazine