Author Archives: EnergySage

Utilities can no longer own small-scale solar energy in New York State. What does it mean for you?

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The New York Public Services Commission (PSC) has introduced measures to ensure that distributed energy technologies like rooftop solar panels remain affordable for all New Yorkers. As part of the state’s forward-thinking Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, state utilities will be barred from owning distributed generation equipment (such as your solar panel system). According to Governor Andrew Cuomo, the new rules will empower state residents to take control of their electricity usage – and reduce their power bills.

The key focus of the REV program is to bring New York’s electricity system into the modern era by improving network efficiency and introducing more renewable energy sources. As Governor Cuomo points out in the announcement of the new rule last month, New York’s approach to electricity infrastructure has undergone little change since the first grid was introduced in lower Manhattan back in 1884. “This state is in need of a modern and efficient energy system, and we are proud to take the steps to build a sustainable way to deliver energy to every home in New York,” he said.

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Micro inverters and power inverters solar energy storage

Are microinverters and power optimizers the future of residential solar power?

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If you’ve been shopping around for a solar panel system, you may have heard of microinverters (from companies like Enphase and SolarBridge) and power optimizers (from companies like Tigo and SolarEdge). These devices – collectively referred to here as Module-level Power Electronics (MLPE) – are quickly gaining popularity in the US as an alternative to conventional string inverters.

In this article we take a look at this emerging trend and examine whether these technologies are the best option for all homes.

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New York’s fracking ban: Gas on the way out, solar in for Empire State’s energy future?

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At the end of last year, governor Andrew Cuomo announced that New York State will put a stop to high volume hydraulic fracking (HVHF, also known as ‘fracking’) within its borders – making it the second state (Vermont being the first) to ban the controversial practice. Environmentalists have applauded the decision, and a recent Quinnipiac University poll found that over half of New Yorkers approve as well.

Here we look at three questions about New York’s decision to put fracking activities on hold:

  1. Why was fracking banned in New York state?
  2. How will the ban affect electricity prices in New York?
  3. How does the fracking ban fit into the state’s longer-term goal of fostering greater uptake of renewable energy technologies like rooftop solar panels?

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New NREL study highlights benefits of solar loans vs solar leases & PPAs

Reading Time: 6 minutessolar loan vs lease

Solar loans are gaining popularity as a solar financing option across the country. Because of the superior savings and similar benefits that solar loans promise, some industry analysts now predict that they will overtake third party-owned (TPO) solar leases and power purchase agreements (PPAs) as the dominant option for solar financing in the USA within a few years.

A new report from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examines this phenomenon and sheds more light on the possible advantages of financing your solar system with a loan as opposed to TPO solar lease / PPA.

The most important conclusion of the report is this: While going solar with either of these options is likely save you money on your electricity bills, financing your system with a solar loan could save you up to 30% more than if you go solar with a solar lease or PPA. Continue reading

Will joining a community solar garden save you money – or foster ‘community’?

Reading Time: 5 minutesCommunity solar gardens

Don’t have a roof of your own to put solar panels on? So-called community solar gardens have begun to appear in many states across the USA, promising to make it easy to go solar even if you don’t have anywhere to put your panels. ‘Community solar’ has created quite a buzz as the number of solar garden projects has grown.

But we here at EnergySage argue that participating in a solar garden only makes sense if you’re benefitting in some way: whether that be saving money on your power bill, or possibly just knowing that you’ve helped your community take a step towards energy independence.

Community solar gardens: How to go solar without a roof

EnergySage has published a number of articles on the topic of community solar power. You access them with the links below:

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Is Leasing Solar Panels a Good Idea? Sort Facts from Marketing

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third party solar panel leasing with energysage

Considering solar leasing over buying a system outright is a big decision and should not be impacted by marketing copy. Learn the facts and make the decision that works for you financially

Third party solar leases have proven themselves incredibly popular in recent years, playing a key role in propelling rooftop solar panels into the mainstream. Depending on the state, anywhere from 50%-90% of rooftop solar installations were financed by solar leasing or PPA at the beginning of 2014, according to the SEIA. You could say that solar leases have revolutionized the US solar industry.

But are solar leases always a good idea? These financial mechanisms are still relatively new and you, as a smart solar shopper, should approach them with a healthy dose of caution and a discriminating eye. This point has been highlighted in the recent efforts of a number of Congresspeople to shine a brighter light on how solar leasing is pitched to consumers – both for the sake of those in the market for a system as well as for the solar industry itself. Continue reading

Pope Francis puts climate change on the agenda for the Church – and the world

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The Green Pope and His Climate Change Discourse

It’s not news that Pope Francis has green leanings. Addressing a crowd in Rome earlier this year, he head of the Catholic Church spoke bluntly about the dangers posed by human-caused climate change. “If we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us,” he said, going on to name environmental stewardship as a key responsibility of the Church and its faithful.

The Pope has had the environment on the agenda since his inauguration in 2013. But even back when Francis was still Cardinal Bergoglio, the Vatican was already supporting cleaner energy. The most obvious example of this was the installation of a 100 megawatt rooftop solar array to meet the bulk of the micro-state’s energy needs. This act, along with speeches he made, earned then-Pope Benedict the nickname ‘The Green Pope’. Continue reading