Installation Pictures From The Sky: MSSI Installation in Arbutus, Maryland

MSSI Logo Petite, Yet Mighty PV Solar Power Array in Arbutus, Maryland!

 

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The owners of this historical home in Arbutus, Maryland wanted to go solar. While the hips in their roof presented some challenges, we were able to design and install a 3.68 kW system for them. 

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Installed in July 2011, this PV solar system has produced a whopping 15.65 MW of electricity, has saved 24,235 lbs from entering the atmosphere, an equivalent of having planted 610 trees!

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One Month Until America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Goes Live!

MSSI Logo   One Month Until America’s First Offshore Wind Farm Goes Live!

Next month the United States will launch its first ever offshore wind farm off the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island. While the U.S. has already installed over 50,000 wind turbines on land this is our first foray into producing wind power offshore. While the farm is admittedly tiny compared to its land-based brethren; just five turbines expected to power only 17,000 homes, it is expected that this farm will not only generate greater enthusiasm for offshore wind, but will help to smooth the way for increased offshore wind deployment here in the U.S..

Starting Small

Due to its strong steady winds, the northeast coast here in the U.S. is considered prime real estate for offshore wind farms, yet we lag way behind our European neighbors across the pond in deployment of offshore wind. Why? Three reasons; size, political will and cost.

If installed, the first large-scale offshore farm proposed in the U.S. would have resided off of the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts and would have consisted of 130 turbines. In retrospect, experts now think that the project was too ambitious and was too close to shore to succeed. Locals balked. The project gradually lost support in the state legislature and it is unlikely that the project dubbed “Cape Wind” is ever to move forward.

The developer behind the Block Island Wind Farm, Deepwater Wind, decided to take another approach: this time start small. The farm consists of just five turbines and the residents of Block Island, by and large, supported the project. Due to its smaller size and the additional advantage of being able to connect Block Island to the mainland grid for the first time, the smaller-size approach worked. The additional benefit is that the start-smaller project has essentially proven that offshore wind can be done here in the U.S., a concept many people in the U.S. have long scoffed at as a pipe dream.

Harnessing Political Will For Wind

In addition to starting small, Block Island Wind Farm and Deepwater Wind was backed by the Rhode Island political establishment. Across the United States, there has been an increase in passing state-level legislation in an attempt to curb global warming.

Beginning with a law passed by the Bush Administration and Congress in 2005, and further defined by the Obama administration, the Federal Government has cleared up the murky rules surrounding use of the eastern seaboard’s ocean floor for the purposes of wind farm construction. In combination with precise clarification, offshore wind is set to take off as states like New York pass renewable energy goals that will have to rely on offshore wind to reach the quotas they have set forth in law.

Mitigating Costs

Not withstanding political will and ambition, the high costs associated with harnessing marine-born wind have been daunting enough to keep the U.S. from fully embracing the deployment of offshore wind. In many ways, the U.S. will serve to benefit from allowing the Europeans to lead the way on harnessing offshore wind and construction of the needed infrastructure to build it.

While it’s expected that the costs to build offshore wind in the U.S. will initially be greater than current costs in Europe (even with the falling costs that Europe has been able to mitigate by maturing the technology), it is also expected that these costs will decrease significantly as the U.S. gains an economy of scale similar to what northern Europe now has in place. For instance, there are Gulf Coast oil rig infrastructure contractors looking at wind as a means to grow their business. Once political will and ambition have been stoked, it is thought that offshore wind here in the U.S. is on track to boom, rivaling the 50,000-something turbines installed in middle and western U.S. and ringing the coasts of our country in years to come.

Offshore Wind In Maryland?

The O.C., you betcha! In 2014, Italian-based company US Wind, won the rights to install offshore wind along the sea floor adjacent to Ocean City, Maryland. At the closest point, the proposed farm would sit about 14 miles offshore and would consist of 187 turbines, providing power for more than 500,000 homes. Additionally, this project “will also help alleviate a long-standing electric power deficiency on the Eastern Shore,” and is projected to save Marylander’s $2 on each of their electric bills due to the erasure of the “congestion fees’ needed to balance lopsided demand within our state’s grid.

On August 28th, US Wind announced that it will be completing its seafloor surveys in order to prepare the final layout of the farm. Final plans are expected to be finished by 2017.

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Solar Power Is A Friend to the Chesapeake Bay

MSSI Logo Solar Power is a Friend to the Chesapeake Bay

Chesapeake Bay

As you may be aware, the Chesapeake Bay was once an abundant waterway, home to a teeming population of blue crabs, oysters, rockfish and impressive swathes of sea grass. Because Maryland borders the Chesapeake Bay we are on intimate terms with the world’s largest estuary and have known for many decades that our beloved bay is in trouble. 

According to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation seagrass bed coverage continues to hover at around 20% of historical levels, while blue crab populations have dwindled to 50% of their population levels recorded during the 1980’s. Rockfish continue to struggle to regain a foothold in the Bay and the oyster population is now 98% below historical numbers. In fact, it would take the Bay’s current population over a year to filter the Bays’ waters, at prior population levels it would have taken only a few days! Due to a combination of nitrogen pollution, habitat loss and overfishing, the health of the Bay is in crisis. At a loss of $4 billion during the last 30 years for both waterman and the Chesapeake Bay seafood industry, it is indeed a precarious situation for the world’s largest estuary.

Good News Surfaces for the Bay

According to a Bay health scorecard recently released by the University of Maryland, there seems to be a turnaround underway. The blue crab population has gone up, the oyster harvests have increased, amounts of dissolved oxygen in the Bay went up and aquatic grasses have increased by 50% from 2011 to 2015. While there has not been meaningful movement made by either Virginia or Maryland on decreasing the amount of nitrogen pollution generated by poultry farms on the Eastern Shore (in fact, it is has gotten worse), the overall amount of nitrogen has decreased and with it the choking blooms of algae associated. Why?

Connection to Renewable Energy

Well, believe it or not there is a connection between the health of the Chesapeake Bay and solar power! More precisely, energy that displaces coal-fired electricity and the the high levels of air pollution associated with it. In fact, about a ¼ of the nitrogen pollution entering the Bay is from the air! Beginning with the 2006 Maryland Healthy Air Act and then the 2009 Obama Administration regulations imposed on coal-fired power plants we have seen a major reduction in air born nitrogen polluting the Bay. We can’t help but think that the 349 MW of solar energy currently installed in Maryland may have also had a part to play in such good news! After all, we rank #13 in the United States in installed solar capacity! Because of the cleaner energy choices we make, our Chesapeake’s water becomes cleaner and clearer too!

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Installation Pictures From The Sky: MSSI Installation in Phoenix, Maryland

Check out this gorgeous 9 kW system that we designed for a family back in 2012.

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When reviewing us this Customer said that it had been “a pleasure” working with Colette and the MSSI team and that our “friendly” and “knowledgeable,” low-pressure sales approach was appreciated. Since installation in 2012, this satisfied Customer has saved 62,492 lbs of carbon dioxide, equally 1,604 trees having been planted!

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Let’s hear it for solar!

 

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PACE Funding Now Available in Maryland for Commercial Solar Projects!

MSSI Logo        PACE Funding Now Available in      Maryland for Commercial Solar Projects!

Picture taken from a Solar PV Array MSSI installed in Chestertown, Maryland.

PACE Funding is Now Available for Counties in Maryland

We are pleased to announce the emergence of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding for Commercial Solar Projects here in Maryland. Currently only available in Montgomery, Howard, Anne Arundel and Queen Anne’s Counties, PACE-funding opportunities are expected to spread into neighboring counties within the next few years here in Maryland.

Commercial Solar

What Is PACE?

As stated above, PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy, and is a policy that gives business owners an affordable way to mitigate the high upfront costs associated with larger-scale commercial clean energy projects by attaching the amortization of a loan to your yearly property tax payments. Huh?

Here’s the nuts and bolts: in partnership with the State of Maryland, Greenworks Lending provides loans to commercial businesses wishing to invest in clean energy and/or efficiency upgrades. The loan is then paid back through your property taxes over the course of 20 years. The loan is added as a lien to your property taxes for the life of the loan. It does not raise your property taxes by assessing the added value of the solar, but simply adds the loan payments to your yearly property taxes.

In order to apply for PACE funding the borrower in question must be the private owner (i.e. not the government) of the property. The borrower cannot have gone through bankruptcy. The loan amount can be up to 20-30% of assessed value of the building and land of the property.

What’s So Great About PACE?

PACE makes is super-easy to take out a loan, and it gives businesses first-year cash flow. How?

In the first place, PACE allows businesses to lower their overhead immediately by either eliminating or significantly reducing their utility bills. Additionally, with PACE the business owner is able to utilize the Federal 30% Tax Credit, any local incentives, Net Metering, the Maryland Energy Administration Grant, MACRS and the production of SRECs.

Through PACE, Greenworks Lending offers “sculpted ammortization” which means that the bulk of your loan will be paid back within the first 6 years of the array having been installed. For instance, if a borrower takes out $100,000 in PACE financing, during the first year, the borrower would receive $30,000 back from the Federal government on top of being able to depreciate 50% using MACRS. After taxes the borrower will get back an additional $50,000 for having invested in solar. During the first year, the business will pay back a larger portion of their loan. Because of the incentives coming back to the borrower within the first 5-years, the loan payments at the beginning are higher and allow the borrower to virtually pay back the bulk of the loan within the first 6-years. This makes the remaining payments on the loan super-affordable. Pretty awesome!

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Picture taken from a Solar PV Array MSSI installed in Randallstown, Maryland.

 

MSSI is a Registered PACE Contractor

Here at MSSI we’re proud to be a registered PACE Contractor for the State Of Maryland. We can help you look at solar for your business and whether PACE will work for you. PACE really creates an affordable alternative to leasing and power purchase agreements and allow businesses to leverage solar power as an investment and create tax-free value for their properties. Really, its a win-win.

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