Category Archives: Uncategorized

Mid-Ohio Valley Co-op Seeks Installer

Earlier today the OH SUN and WV SUN issued a request for proposals (RFP) from local installers on behalf of the Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op. Currently the group has 20 members in both Ohio and West Virginia, eager to move forward in the solar process.Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, WVU Parkersburg Ecohawks, the Wood County League of Women Voters , Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, and Friends of Lower Muskingum River are all co-sponsors of the co-op and are helping make this effort a success.

Local installers interested in serving the group can download the RFP here and the response template here. Mid-Ohio Valley and greater Parkersburg area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page.

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

How distributed solar energy benefits all consumers

Residential solar is often referred to as a ‘distributed’ energy source. This is because the sources of the electricity generation are distributed across the electric grid. This contrasts with ‘centralized’ energy sources like coal, nuclear, or gas power plants. All of these energy sources provide electricity to the grid, but distributed energy sources provide unique additional benefits to consumers that centralized sources do not.

Solar panels produce electricity during the day. During these same daytime hours, higher overall electricity demand forces utilities to meet their customers’ energy needs with more expensively produced electricity. This in turn raises electricity prices for everyone. The addition of solar to the grid helps lower everyone’s cost of electricity by lowering energy demand from solar users while simultaneously adding daytime electric capacity to meet non-solar users’ needs.

Solar generation produces electricity at or near the site of demand. So, unlike electricity produced at large, centrally-located plants, distributed solar energy does not require expensive new investments in transmission or distribution lines. Producing electricity closer to demand is also more efficient. It is estimated that roughly 6% of electricity produced in this country is lost due to transmission.

Solar energy won’t continue its impressive growth if solar customers are denied from receiving a fair price for the electricity they generate. Nationwide, there are more than 260,000 workers in the solar industry. This figure is a 25% increase over the previous year. Most solar employment is in jobs, like installation, that can’t be outsourced. The growth of distributed solar energy resources leads to more good local jobs for West Virginia workers.

Lastly, distributed energy sources like solar enable everyday consumers to take ownership of where their electricity comes from. As West Virginians discuss how we’ll power the state moving forward, these added benefits of solar are critical points to keep in mind.

Huntington Solar Co-op selects Solar Holler to serve group

The Huntington Solar Co-op has selected Solar Holler to install solar panels for the 27-member group. Co-op members selected Solar Holler through a competitive bidding process over four other firms. The group will hold its final public information session on Thursday, June 15, 5:30 p.m., at Create Huntington’s monthly Chat ‘n’ Chew meeting in the lobby of the Frederick Building, 940 4th Avenue, Huntington, WV 25701 to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

The co-op is open to new members until August 19. Huntington residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at www.wvsun.org/huntington. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Solar Holler will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can saves up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Information session details

Thursday, June 15
5:30 p.m.
Lobby of the Frederick Building
940 4th Avenue
Huntington WV 25701

Charleston residents forming solar co-op to go solar together, get a discount

Neighbors in Charleston have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters. The U.S. Green Building Council West Virginia and WV SUN are the co-op sponsors. The group is seeking members and will host an information meeting on Monday, May 22, 5:30pm, at the Charleston Area Alliance Building, 1116 Smith Street, Charleston, WV 25301, to educate the community about solar and the co-op process. RSVP here.

Charleston residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at www.wvsun.org/charleston. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, WV SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Public Service Commission sets calendar for FirstEnergy hearings

Last week, the West Virginia Public Service Commission (PSC) released a schedule of proceedings for Ohio-based FirstEnergy’s effort to soak ratepayers by selling the Pleasants Power Station to its subsidiary, Mon Power. The proceeding operates similar to a legal trial. FirstEnergy and WV SUN will have an opportunity to submit testimony and evidence as well as cross-examine witnesses.

The PSC has set three days for evidentiary hearings to take place September 26-28 in Charleston. West Virginians for Energy Freedom will advocate that the PSC schedule multiple public hearings in both Mon Power and Potomac Edison service territories over the summer.

West Virginians for Energy Freedom continues to hold public meetings around Mon Power territory to explain why the proposed sale of the Pleasants Plant would hurt ratepayers. It would lock Mon Power customers into paying the costs for FirstEnergy’s unprofitable power plant.

A full proceeding schedule is below.

Direct Testimony of Other Parties, Including Rebuttal Testimony of Other Parties to Companies’ Direct Testimony

August 25

Last Day to Serve Discovery Requests

September 6

Rebuttal Testimony of Companies to the Direct Testimony of Other Parties and Rebuttal Testimony of Other Parties to the Direct Testimony Filed on August 25, with Work Papers

September 18

Agreed Order of Witnesses

September 22

Evidentiary Hearing

September 26-28

Initial Briefs

October 12

Reply Briefs

October 19

Local installers work with WV SUN to bring solar to ag producers

Three West Virginia-based solar installers are helping bring solar energy to West Virginia farms through participation in WV SUN’s Ag Producers’ Solar Co-op. DT Solar of French Creek, Mountain View Solar of Berkeley Springs, and Solar Holler of Shepherdstown responded to WV SUN’s Request for Information and are ready to help Mountain State farmers solar. These local solar installers have successfully serviced other WV SUN solar co-ops and are fully licensed and certified to operate in the state.

WV SUN will connect participating agricultural producers to these qualified installers based on each participant’s individual needs, location, and circumstances. WV SUN will help participants solicit and review solar proposals, and can connect participants to funding resources. This includes grant opportunities and guaranteed loan-financing programs. The participating solar installers also will assist participants in securing funding and financing to go solar.

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase solar panels. The goal of the Ag Producers’ Solar Co-op is to help West Virginia farmers access the benefits of solar energy with technical support from WV SUN. We support, advise, and advocate for participants throughout the entire process of going solar.

This program is open to West Virginia agricultural producers for whom at least 50% of gross income comes from on-site agricultural operations. We are working closely with WV agriculture organizations and stakeholders to recruit interested participants. WV SUN Solar Co-op Coordinator Autumn Long is available to speak at agriculture-related meetings and events throughout the state. She will attend the WV Farmers Market Association market managers’ training day on April 27 to educate farmers market managers about the program and how going solar can benefit their vendors.

To learn more or sign up for the co-op, visit the webpage or contact Autumn at 304-608-3539 or autumn@wvsun.org.

Huntington Solar Co-op seeks installer

The 23-member Huntington solar co-op today issued a request for proposals (RFP) from area solar installers. The group members created the co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters. The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the Marshall University Sustainability Department, the Huntington League of Women Voters, Ohio Interfaith Power & Light, WV SUN, and OH SUN are the co-op sponsors.

Local installers interested in serving the group can download the RFP here and the response template here. Huntington residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page.

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Installing a system for future storage connection

Pairing solar installations with battery storage is an attractive idea for many people who are thinking about going solar. Battery storage provides piece of mind that even if you are unable to get electricity from the grid (e.g. during a storm) you will still have power.

Despite this benefit, battery storage remains an expensive proposition for many. At the same time, the market for batteries is growing rapidly. This rapid growth is coupled with quickly declining prices. So, even if battery storage may not pencil out for solar customers today, it is possible it will in the near future. Fortunately, solar systems can be built with the addition of a future storage system in mind.

When building a system for future storage, it is important to make sure your grid-tied inverter’s power rating doesn’t exceed that of a future battery. Battery sizes range from 4,000-7,000 watts. So, let’s say you have a 9,000 watt system, you would want to purchase two smaller inverters, say 6,000 and 3,000 watt ones, rather than one 9,000 watt inverter. This will allow you to rewire the electricity from the smaller inverter into your future battery system.

This can be accomplished through AC coupling. AC coupling refers to the interface between the solar array and the inverter. This takes place physically in your home’s circuit panel. The battery installer will add an additional breaker panel that covers the outlets that can be powered with the electricity stored in your battery system. These outlets will be the ones connected to your “critical loads” such as your refrigerator.

There is an added cost to having two smaller inverters, rather than one larger inverter. The cost will vary, but expect to pay between $500 and $1,000 for the two smaller ones.

It is also possible to connect systems that use micro inverters to batteries. The key is to arrange the strings in a way that a portion of your system is set up to send electricity to a future battery system.

If you are thinking about adding battery back up, let your installer know before they install the system. This ensures they will design your system to be storage compatible and to minimize the additional work that would have to be done to install batteries when you do decide to add storage.

Coalition intervenes to stop FirstEnergy’s latest bailout

On March 15, 2017, WV Solar United Neighborhoods (WV SUN) and West Virginia Citizen Action Group (WVCAG) took action to prevent West Virginia residents and business owners from having to bail out Ohio-based FirstEnergy Corp. and its shareholders.

The groups filed a motion to intervene in a Public Service Commission (PSC) of West Virginia case where FirstEnergy’s West Virginia utilities – Mon Power and Potomac Edison – are trying to unload the Pleasants coal plant onto West Virginia electric customers.

Under FirstEnergy’s proposal, Mon Power would buy the aging Pleasants power plant from another FirstEnergy subsidiary. The move would shift the financial burden of the plant from FirstEnergy shareholders to Mon Power and Potomac Edison’s customers. These customers would be forced to cover all of the plant’s costs, assume the plant’s financial risks, and pay FirstEnergy a guaranteed profit.

FirstEnergy’s proposal comes after a lengthy effort to lay the foundation for this financial bailout. In late 2015, FirstEnergy filed a plan with the PSC that recommended the purchase of a coal plant to meet demand. WV SUN and WVCAG, represented by Earthjustice, challenged that plan’s assumptions, explaining that this was a thinly disguised attempt to pave the way for purchasing the Pleasants plant. Later, when Mon Power sought proposals to meet the power needs it identified, WV SUN and WVCAG, together with the Consumer Advocate Division, filed a letter with the PSC explaining how the flawed process was heavily skewed to favor the Pleasants plant.

“If this plant was such a good bet, then FirstEnergy would be putting its own money on the line, instead of asking the government to force ratepayers to gamble on it being a good deal,” said Emmett Pepper, director of WVCAG’s Energy Efficient West Virginia project. “Pleasants is currently part of a deregulated free market, but FirstEnergy wants to use its monopoly status in West Virginia to force its Mon Power and Potomac Edison customers to pay for this.”

WV SUN and WVCAG are leading the recently formed coalition fighting the bailout – West Virginians For Energy Freedom. The coalition is comprised of economic and ratepayer advocacy groups, faith-based organizations, businesses, and elected officials. The coalition will hold a series of community meetings to discuss the bailout.

Report shows how solar can reclaim West Virginia land

Solar is often referred to as “renewable energy” because it uses a fuel source, sunlight, that doesn’t run out. But solar can be “renewable” in another way as well. Solar can make otherwise unusable land usable again. This is the premise of a new report from Downstream Strategies that examines the use of degraded lands for siting large-scale solar projects. It identifies more than a dozen sites across the state that would be good hosts for solar systems larger than 300 kW.

A mix of abandoned mines, hazardous waste sites, and other otherwise unusable pieces of land, these locations were determined starting from a base of several thousand sites. The report authors paired the list down by selecting sites that are flat and where the land is free of tree cover. The report highlights fifteen out of several hundred such sites with the greatest amount of clear, flat land located close to transmission lines.

The impact of developing even a small portion of this land for solar would create significant economic benefits for West Virginia. Using just 5% of the area covered in the report would create 8,000 jobs. As more West Virginians think about putting solar panels on their own homes, these types of projects could enable those who are unable to go solar at home to access the benefits of renewable energy.

Click here to read the full report.