Tag: Solar Electricity
Yesterday we were privileged to be a part of the dedication ceremony for the solar array Standard Solar recently completed in Worton, Maryland – one that sits at the forefront of solar in the state, as it is the first public sector project to take advantage of Maryland’s aggregate net-metering law that allows more than one facility to make use of the electricity generated by a single system. Kent County is truly leading the way for other communities to make use of large scale installations to power multiple buildings. In this case, the 1.5 MW system will serve Kent County High School, KCHS Radio Antenna, Worton Elementary School, the Kent County Community Center and the County Public Works Facility north of Chestertown.
On hand to dedicate the system and cut the ribbon (yes, we had giant scissors!) were county and state officials and a group of Kent County Parks and Recreation campers who had an opportunity to see the system up close and will further benefit from the system moving forward, as Kent County plans to incorporate the system into its science curriculum.
Developed with our partner Washington Gas Energy Systems, who will own and operate the system, this array is a shining example of community leaders’ foresight. Along with providing a large percentage of the power needed by the facilities mentioned above, the rate secured for the electricity through a power purchase agreement will save Kent County money on their utility costs. In addition, the array will serve as an educational tool for students as a real-world example of the promise of a clean energy future.
We enjoyed a beautiful sunny day this week while visiting the Perdue headquarters in Salisbury, Maryland. The PV system we designed for this facility, combined with the one at Perdue’s Bridgeville site, results in one of the largest commercially-owned solar installations in the country, and we’re really proud of our involvement with this important project. The partnerships that were forged during the process have become invaluable to us and really serve as a benchmark for the future of these kinds of power installations.
During our visit, we walked around the property, admiring all the work we all put into the site. While watching solar panels “do their thing” isn’t action packed, this installation is pretty fascinating – there are more than 5,000 panels, stretching over an impressive 89,000 square feet – silently generating clean, renewable energy all day long.
Although solar panels do most of their work during the daytime, we wanted to capture the installation at sunset. The reflection of the sun setting off of a panel is something spectacular! Our photographer Matthew Borkoski thinks he got some great shots. We’ll share our favorites soon on our Facebook page.
A few weeks ago, we received a comment on our Facebook page (have you “liked” us?) that seems to sum up what a lot of people think about solar at home—that it would be great because of the environmental and energy security benefits, but who can afford it? While it still is an investment in a home, today’s lowered costs have broadened the appeal of installing a photovoltaic system. In fact, a recent study conducted in California found that 62 percent of new residential solar systems are being installed on middle-income homes. Many of the homeowners we have helped go solar reflect this trend as well.
For a variety of reasons the cost of photovoltaic panels has dropped over the last year or so, and as a result the average system costs have come down a lot, too. Today, the average upfront investment after incentives is around $15,000. Factoring in the avoided cost of utilities for the next 25 years, which have historically increased at approximately 5 percent per year, gives a clearer idea of when a system will “pay for itself.” In many cases, it works out to fewer than ten years, which gives homeowners fifteen years or more to enjoy free solar energy.
Some have compared the purchase of a solar array with that of a car. There are some similarities, but one huge difference—once the array is paid off, the owner will still have many years of worry-free use. With a car, you will continue to pay increasingly for maintenance long after you own it. Since most solar systems are warranted for 25 years and provide residual value from avoided costs of energy among other financial benefits, solar is low risk and a great return on investment. And, with rising costs of electricity, it’s worth looking into…now.