Watch: Stellar Solar goes inside some of its residential installations on Solar Cribs series

I don’t know about you, but we love a good solar installation story, which is why we enjoy this Solar Cribs YouTube series launched by Stellar Solar, San Diego’s oldest SunPower dealer and one of two Master Dealers in San Diego County. Above we have episode three, which features the story of Michael and Jeanne Powers from their first solar installation in the North Park neighborhood of San Diego, to their new home that features a unique racking system custom built to optimize a less than perfect roof pitch and direction.

As Michael describes in this episode and has been preaching for years, going solar should be an easy decision for most homeowners when they look at the history of utility rate increases and the ever-shortening return on investment.

“I’ve always asked homeowners a few simple questions when they ask about going solar. The first is to do the math and see what their current utility bill will cost them over the next 20-30 years. Then ask them add in a very conservative utility rate increase based on historic averages. When they look at the numbers they see the light and that’s what gives me the most satisfaction.” He added, “It’s been a thrill for me to see solar take off not only in San Diego but nationally and globally. I’m proud to have played a part to educate consumers to help spur that growth.”

Michael has also been a vocal supporter of Community Choice Energy, a program that allows cities and counties to buy and/or generate electricity for residents and businesses within their areas. The Climate Action Campaign in San Diego is an organization whose goal is to “Stop Climate Change – One City at a Time” is a proponent of Community Choice Energy and has worked closely with Michael over the years on that and other renewable energy related issues.

SB Buzz Podcast: Discussing rail-less mounting with Ecolibrium Solar

— Solar Builder magazine

Watch: Solar Optimum adds 780-kW SunPower system across Laguna Woods Village

SunPower Elite Dealer Solar Optimum is helping Orange County’s premier senior living community Laguna Woods Village embrace energy efficiency by installing an aggregate total of approximately 780 kW DC, producing 1,337,333 kWH, offsetting the common area load that the community was paying high Southern California Edison electricity bills for. This “Best in Class” project is the largest SunPower Helix project interconnected in the west coast in 2017.

The project consists of 12 buildings which were occupied while the work was performed and Solar Optimum used the SunPower Helix dual tilt PV solar system, which notably is the highest density solar system on the market today. The cutting-edge technology sped up the process and Solar Optimum’s rigorous safety measures made it possible to install while tenants occupied the facilities.

This was the most complicated virtual net metering project ever processed by Southern California Edison with over 550 benefiting meters offset by 800 kW on 12 sites. A typical virtual net metering project has a mere 10 to 20 meters with just one rather than 12 connection points. Southern California Edison requires meters to be lined up with parcels. “With such a large project, it was like a Rubik’s cube lining it all up. All sides are green now,” exclaims Gene Okun, Solar Optimum’s commercial project manager.

“Our goal was to get the project installed to meet the looming net metering 1.0 deadline, when rates on solar energy credit would rise and cost the community an additional $15,000 per month in meter fees,” says Gene Okun. “Solar Optimum and SunPower managed the deadline successfully, despite the size and complexity of the project. We are pleased with the results.”

The Solar Optimum team had to tackle the small sizes of the host buildings which made power density critical. “We were originally planning for 16 buildings as host sites, but the SunPower Helix system made it possible for us to get all that power in 12 buildings,” says Bill McNeese, director of business development at Solar Optimum. “This gave us the competitive advantage, reducing the number of roofs needing to be replaced by the community. When the cost-benefit analysis was complete, the board unanimously selected Solar Optimum and SunPower Helix.”

“We realized that Laguna Woods Village had other very competitive proposals but were confident in our ability to deliver the project within the tight timeframe despite its complexities and engineering challenges,” says Gene Okun. “With the success of Laguna Woods Village, we look forward to expanding our commercial portfolio and taking on new challenges in the Southern California market.”

— Solar Builder magazine

SunPower strengthens its solar panel warranty

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SunPower is boosting its warranty, guaranteeing power performance and product quality for 25 years, through extreme weather, wide-ranging temperatures, panel aging and more.

The company now guarantees at least 98 percent power for the first year, followed by a maximum degradation rate of 0.25 percent each year thereafter for 24 years. This results in a 92 percent power level at the end of 25 years compared to conventional solar panels which guarantee only 80 percent after 25 years.

“We believe the best warranty starts with having the best product,” said Tom Werner, SunPower President and CEO. “Our proven performance is validated by our customers’ results, as well as extensive field testing under a wide range of real-world conditions, well beyond traditional industry specifications. SunPower stands behind its products so that customers have confidence and peace of mind when they choose SunPower to go solar.”

In partnership with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development, SunPower has developed a robust method to calculate solar panel degradation. Degradation is something all solar panels experience, but at varying rates. When this method was applied to eight years of energy performance data from 264 SunPower solar systems operating at various locations worldwide, it shows that SunPower panels degrade less than 0.25 percent per year – 50 percent less than the annual degradation rate for conventional panels.

How one PV module manufacturer wants to meet the needs of homeowners

Unlike conventional solar warranties that typically cover just the panels, SunPower’s Complete Confidence Warranty also includes the servicing needed to repair or replace defective parts when panels are installed by one of SunPower’s 1,300 Authorized Installers worldwide.

For residential solar customers, the new coverage provides 25-year protection for every core component of the SunPower Equinox system. Introduced in 2016, the Equinox system is the nation’s first home solar solution in which every major component has been designed and engineered by one company to work seamlessly together, delivering unbeatable power, long-term performance and premium curb appeal. This includes panels with integrated microinverters and racking, as well as 10-year coverage for monitoring hardware.

SunPower’s Complete Confidence Warranty is effective as of July 1, 2017 and is available to all customers for their SunPower E- and X-Series solar panels.

— Solar Builder magazine

East coast-based Solar Program reaches SunPower Elite dealer status

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The Solar Program, a New York-founded full service solar installation company has has hit SunPower Elite dealer status. Now headquartered in Old Bridge NJ, the Solar Program is rapidly expanding in the state. Since inception, the Solar Program has helped more than 5,000 homeowners go solar with SunPower on the east coast.

The Solar Program exclusively offers customers only SunPower panels, and to earn Elite Dealer accreditation, a SunPower dealer must achieve a 90 percent or greater customer satisfaction score on past installations and successfully complete two advanced certification courses in topics such as the installation and design of a high efficiency SunPower system. The Solar Program has demonstrated its dedication to customer service with positive customer satisfaction results and completion of a post-installation site inspection program.

The Solar Program has already successfully serviced hundreds of homeowners in New Jersey since coming to the state in 2017 and is continuing to expand at an accelerated rate. This is due to their unique process of educating homeowners on how their programs are different, and how their customers save the most money.

“Elite status only validates our commitment to the homeowners of New York and New Jersey and our commitment to the SunPower brand,” said Kathy Monahan, President of The Solar Program.

SunPower dealers handle all aspects of a solar installation, from helping customers determine the most appropriate system configuration and financing approach for their needs, through design and installation, permitting, rebate processing and system maintenance. SunPower selectively accepts dealers into its network, requiring them to provide customers with superior levels of service and regular training in the specifications and installation of SunPower products.

Four steps for converting more solar sales

— Solar Builder magazine

U.S. Defense Department commits to solar power production across several sites

The Defense Department has been installing solar at military bases at a fairly steady pace the last few years. The most recent projects coming online soon include a large Gulf Coast Solar Center portfolio (across three sites) and a new solar + storage system at a post in Alabama.

Here’s the scoop on those.

Gulf Coast Solar Center

coronal panasonic military solar install

Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic teamed with Pensacola-headquartered energy provider Gulf Power on the largest combined portfolio of solar facilities on Department of Defense property to date. The 120 MWac Gulf Coast Solar Center spans 942 acres across three Navy and Air Force sites in Northwest Florida.

The Naval Air Station (NAS) at Pensacola’s Navy Outlying Landing Field (NOLF) Saufley hosts the largest of the three solar installations: a 366-acre, 50 MWac solar generating facility. The solar facility at NAS Pensacola’s NOLF Saufley comprises nearly 600,000 solar PV modules that will generate enough energy to power approximately 7,400 homes in Northwest Florida annually. The three-project portfolio, representing one of the largest combined solar projects east of the Mississippi, also includes 40 MWac and 30 MWac facilities at NAS Whiting Field’s NOLF Holley and the Eglin Air Force Base Reservation spanning 336 and 240 acres, respectively. In total the nearly 1.5 million solar panels generate enough energy to power more than 18,000 local homes each year across Escambia, Santa Rosa, and Okaloosa counties.

“Considering the scale of the Gulf Coast Solar Center portfolio, collaboration between our team and the like-minded teams at the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, and Gulf Power has been an essential element of our success in developing these projects,” said Jonathan Jaffrey, chairman and CEO of Coronal Energy™. “The result is a landmark energy project that represents what is possible when our nation’s military and its leading energy companies like Gulf Power commit to renewables. We are honored to take our place alongside these partners for this historic project.”

“Each installation and mission throughout the Southeast is unique and it is imperative for us [the Navy] to have the energy security and resilience needed to support the greater Navy mission. There are eight renewable generation projects that DON is supporting in the southeast and today you are seeing the completion of two solar facilities in Northwest Florida totaling 122.5 megawatt direct current,” said NAS Pensacola Commanding Officer Capt. Christopher Martin. “We are pleased to know these facilities will help provide clean energy to thousands of homes across Northwest Florida.”


Alabama Army post adds solar + storage

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SunPower Corp. has broken ground on a 10-MW solar  system at the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army post in Alabama and will combine with a newly added 1-MW energy storage system to strengthen energy security and resilience at Redstone Arsenal.

Developed by the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives, Redstone Arsenal’s Directorate of Public Works, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntsville Center’s Energy Division, the project was financed by a power purchase agreement (PPA), allowing the Army to buy 100 percent of the power generated without having to pay for the power plant’s construction, maintenance and operation. The Army continues to collaborate with private-sector partners and utilities to build clean, alternative energy projects including onsite power generation, electricity storage, and energy control.

“Solar is cost-competitive with traditional energy sources today, and is helping the U.S. military reduce operational costs,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president. “We commend Redstone Arsenal for managing its significant energy demand with abundant, renewable solar power. The high performance solar and storage technology we are installing for the agency will substantially increase the value of energy produced by the solar plant over the long term.”

Financing beyond FICO: Using asset-backed loans, PACE to get solar deals done

— Solar Builder magazine