Category Archives: Solar in Maryland

WINAICO Solar Panels Power Naval Facility in Mechanicsburg – Installed By MSSI!

MSSI Logo  MSSI Recognized By SolarPro For Our Work In Mechanicsburg, MD

Great news here at MSSI. We were recently featured on Solarprofessional.com for our expertise installing an array for the Navy in Mechanicsburg, MD.

WINAICO premium installer Maryland Solar Solutions INC (MSSI), due to its outstanding quality of work and NABCEP experience, was designated by Naval Support Activity (NSA) to install a 25 kW grid-tied Ground Mount PV system in Mechanicsburg, PA. This government project will reduce energy demand at NSA around 34,000 kWh annually. It saves the NSA up-to $3,000 annually in energy costs. The system consists of 84 pieces of high efficiency WINAICO WSP-300W panels which are connected to Solar Edge optimizers to generate maximum power.  “The panels have to be approved by the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) and installed in accordance with the applicable codes and regulations. The WINAICO modules met NAVFAC requirements in complying with IEC 61215 and UL 1703 specifications and were accepted based on module construction within a US Free Trade Agreement country. This allowed us to provide the highest quality panel at the best price,” said Colette Hayward, the President of MSSI. “As one of the most reputable and experienced installer in MD, MSSI has built an impressive project portfolio. We are very delighted to work with MSSI on the NSA project to bring the green energy to the government sector,” commented Jing Yu, the VP of WINAICO USA. “MSSI designed the 25kW system for future expansion up to 100 kW. We can’t wait to see phase II!”

mechanicsburg-ground-mount

 

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The New Normal: Promoting Renewables and Combating Climate Change at a State Level?

MSSI Logo  Climate Change and Renewables        Under a Trump Presidency


2016 is almost out and 2017 is almost here. We’re booked into the New Year and we’re thankful to all our Customers from 2016, but post-election season, we are looking towards the future and we find ourselves wondering about the fate of renewables here in Maryland and the United States as a whole.

 

Climate Change and Renewables Under a Trump Presidency

There is not much faith that a Trump presidency will do much to either combat global warming or promote renewables. Starting with the President elect’s conflicting and muddled statements on global warming; that it’s either a hoax invented by the Chinese or claiming to “have an open mind” with regard to global warming, the message is uncertain and worrisome for renewable energy enthusiasts and environmentalists alike. With the formal announcement of Myron Ebell as President-Elect Trump’s pick to head the EPA under his administration, the future of renewables here in the US feels uncertain indeed. Known as a vocal global-warming skeptic, Ebell eschews Federal legislation that promotes renewables in lieu of coal. Obama’s Clean Power Plan seems to be on the chopping block and no one seems to know whether the US will back out of the UN Climate Change Accords. Needless to say, there is uncertainty as to whether or not the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit will be able to weather the storm.

 

Climate Change Legislation and Renewables Promotion Moving To States?

The silver lining? There is a trend towards States choosing to pick up the slack. For instance, California’s Senate Leader, Kevin De Leon recently stated, “Let me be clear, California will not retreat. We are more determined than ever before to move forward with like-minded states and other nations [with regard to fighting climate change].” Other blue states are picking up the ball, as are cities across the nation; at a talk in Washington, D.C. this past month Michael R. Bloomberg echoed similar sentiments, “Mayors and local leaders around the country are determined to keep pushing ahead on climate change.” Here in Maryland, Senator Paul Pinsky of Prince George’s County vows to overturn the Governor’s veto of the May 27th Maryland Clean Jobs Act that would have increased the State’s renewable energy goal from 22% to 25% of total electricity generated in the Maryland.

Image result for Maryland Clean Jobs Act

Want to get involved? The Chesapeake Climate Change Network is sponsoring a petition to push our Maryland legislators to overturn the veto when they reconvene in January.

 

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Don’t Let Phantom Energy Haunt Your Solar Investment!

MSSI Logo Killing Your Solar Investment with Vampire Energy!

phantom-energy

Standby. Vampire. Phantom energy. The same phenomena, different names, but no matter what you call it, it adds up to the same thing: energy being used to power items that you are not actively using. Needless to say, this puts an unnecessary drain on your wallet and/or PV solar array. Well, we’re here to tell you how to kill off that vampire once and for all and to further maximize your investment in solar.

What Exactly Is Phantom Energy?

There are a whole host of appliances and electronics around the house that technically remain on, even when not “on” or in use. Either they remain is standby mode, such as TV’s so that when you turn them “on” they light up and start displaying immediately; or they draw energy to power ancillary elements within the components themselves such as clocks. The EPA estimates that idle electronic devices use up to $10 billion in energy annually.

What does that look like in the home? We looked at four people in our office as examples of how vampire energy impacts our everyday lives. We based our calculations upon this handy chart that enumerates the average amount of energy needed to power electronics that are not being actively used.

Our four participants used very different kWh totals due to the different types and quantities of items used in their homes. For the sake of this example, we only counted the standby or “off” usage of electronic gadgets. The items used? Everything from cell phone chargers to laptops, coffee makers and microwaves, to TVs and cable boxes.

Here is an illustration of how much energy each person used to power unused items per year:

kwh-wasted

As you can see the highest phantom energy user stands to save about 4,604 kWh a year! How much are you inadvertently using? How much of your solar array is powering items you don’t need to have on? What does this look like in a dollar amount?

money-wasted

As you can see, failing to address phantom energy has the potential to sap your solar investment of life! 

The Silver Bullet?

power-strip

It would be a total drag to go around unplugging our gadgets individually, so instead use power strips. These are easier to place within reach and affectively ensure that all items drawing electricity are fully and effectively turned off. What’s the payoff? Faster payback and bigger bang for your buck!

We encourage you to look around your house and kill those vampires!

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Maryland SRECs: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

MSSI Logo  Maryland SRECs: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

As we’re sure many of you are aware, SREC values have really taken a nose dive in the State of Maryland this past year. It’s been a major bummer for us and we know that it’s been hitting our current customers hard. While we speculate that the market is depressed for several reasons, we do expect the market to reinvigorate this winter. Additionally, there is some good news for some solar customers in Maryland who live close enough to DC to enable them to sell their SRECs in the DC marketplace. Knowing how bad the market is right now in Maryland, we are eager to share this tip and to impart our knowledge on the situation.

srec-dive

See blog post on Flett Exchange for more info with regard to SRECs here in Maryland.

Why Has The Market for SRECs Dropped In Maryland?

Many people in the industry, ourselves included, have theorized that the market has been depressed for two reasons: low demand combined with high supply. In the first instance, there was an urgency to go solar in 2015, especially late 2015/early 2016, as the Federal Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit was set to expire in December 2016. In fact, PV solar has been so popular in Maryland that 124 megawatts of PV solar was installed in 2015, double to the amount installed in 2014! While this amount of deployed solar has been great for the environment and is propelling little Maryland towards the head of the pack in efforts to combat greenhouse gas production nationally, it has depressed our market by flooding the market with more supply than is demanded.

That brings us to our next topic: demand. In Maryland, it is the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards put forth and set into law by the Maryland General Assembly that drives the SREC market. The RPS dictates how much of our consumer market electricity must be generated from renewable sources. If a Maryland utility is unable to generate their own renewable energy, either via wind or solar, they can either pay a stiff fine or they can buy SRECs from residents and businesses that have privately invested in solar and are generating clean energy. 2016 has been what is referred to as a “compliance year.” A year in which utilities were well situated to meet their legislated goals and did not have a high demand for SRECs. In combination with an over-abundance of SRECs, the low demand has meant a depression in the market and falling prices. Essentially, the current RPS has been unable to keep up with the popularity of solar here in Maryland.

clean-energy-bill

We Remain Hopeful That SRECs Will Regain Lost Value

As we reported in an earlier piece, the General Assembly in Maryland is well aware of the situation and are taking steps to stem the tide of bad SREC tidings. During the last few days of the last session, members passed revisions to the Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards contained within the Clean Energy Bill that aimed to strengthen and escalate the deployment of renewables. Unfortunately, the Governor Larry Hogan declined to sign it into law. While this an unfortunate turn of events, especially considering his prior approval of the more stringent 2016 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Bill, the Clean Energy Bill was passed by a veto-proof majority and is expected to be passed in the new year when the General Assembly reconvenes. The bill is thought to drive the demand for SRECs back up.

washington-dc

Is Your Home in Maryland Servicing a Feeder to DC? If So, You Are Able To Sell Your SRECs in the DC SREC Market

According to PEPCO, “in some parts of our service territory, electricity feeders may be located in Maryland, but serve residential or commercial customers in the District of Columbia. When behind-the-meter solar or other renewable energy generators are located on those feeders in Maryland, the customer is eligible for Solar Renewable Energy Credits in the District.” This may be a boon so to some Marylanders. Currently, Washington DC SRECs are selling for $480, per SREC. Check the maps below to see if you’re located on a PEPCO DC feeder line.

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Want To Know Your Yearly Electrical Usage and How Solar Can Cover That Usage?

MSSI Logo  Finding Your Annual Electric Usage

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5.2 kW system MSSI installed in Colora, MD.

One of the most common questions we field at MSSI is, what can solar do for me in combination with how fast can I pay back the system I’ve had installed? These two questions are intimately involved and have everything to do with your electric usage. We pay for electricity by the kilowatt hour. Knowing our monthly kWh usage gives us a picture of what our usage is annually. Once we know that number, we can more accurately know what size system you need to meet your goals and/or current electrical demand. For instance, if I’m using 12,000 kWh per year and I want to cover my usage 100% with solar, my solar array would need to produce 12,000 kWh or more. On average Americans use 10,932 kWh per year. The higher your usage, the larger system you will need to have installed. The eventual size of your system depends upon your usage, goals and budget.

Finding Your Annual Usage On Your Bill

So, how do you find your annual usage without having to create an elaborate Excel sheet that you plod you way through for a year? While obscure, your bill will tell you. Below are examples of utility bills from across the state and how to discern that information from your bills.

Baltimore Gas and Electric

BGE Bill Example

Above the portion that you would tear off to send in with your payment, you will find the Adjusted Annual Usage. This is your current year-to-date electrical usage. The total kWh in this example is 16,485. In order to cover this usage the solar array installed would need to generate 16,485 kWh or more per year. 

Delmarva Power

Delmarva Bill

Extrapolating annual usage from the Delmarva Power bill is a little trickier than with simply finding a single number on the BGE bill because Delmarva provides your yearly kWh usage in a handy bar graph. The horizontal line along the bottom of the bar graph notates the years. In the above example the years in question are 2009 and 2010. The perpendicular line along the left hand side is indicative of the amount of electricity used.

In this instance, it looks like this family used:

May ’10:  700

June ’10:  1250

July ’10:  1260

August ’10:  650

September ’10:  630

October ’10:  700

November ’10:  650

December ’10:  1260

January ’10:  800

February ’10:  1500

March ’10:  1200

April ’10:  820

Total:  11,420 kWh

Potomac Electric Power Company/PEPCO

Example PEPCO Usage Chart

Like Delmarva Power, PEPCO uses a bar graph to convey annual electric usage. In this instance we’re looking at about 12,400 kWh per year. 

Potomac Edison

Potomac Edison Bill

Potomac Edison bills include both a bar graph and a line item that denotes the “Last 12 Months Use (KWH).”

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative/SMECO

SMECO Usage Chart Example (1)

SMECO gives you a bar graph that takes all the guess work out because your monthly usage is numerated above each bar. In this instance, the yearly usage adds up to 29,751. 

 

 

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