By Kathy Henderson, Sr. Sales Engineer

Another Earth Day is upon us and hopefully most of us are asking ourselves, “What am I doing to make this blue planet as beautiful for my children as it has been for me and those before me?” Ever since my children were about four, we used every Earth Day as an opportunity to walk around our neighborhood and clean up trash. It felt good. I was not only making for a more aesthetically beautiful place to live but I was also teaching my children important lessons: not only is it important not to litter but it’s our responsibility to not just complain, but to actually do something about it. “Be the change you want to see in this world,” –Gandhi (although I’ve been told this is a rephrasing of several things Gandhi said and not a direct quote.)

As my children grew older, we were inundated with news reports, articles and television shows about dying coral reefs, melting glaciers and disappearing rainforests. It broke our hearts. We continued to recycle, clean up litter from rivers and waterways, and do “our part,” and not just on Earth Day. But it still didn’t seem like enough. I needed my children to know their mother wanted to be a part of a bigger change. So, after leaving the engineering world more than a decade before to raise my kids, I returned to graduate school to learn about sustainability. It has been one of the most fascinating and insightful things I have done in my life. I went into the class not really knowing much about the term “sustainability,” but the concept is fairly simple. God has given us this amazing planet with resources to help us live productive and fruitful lives.

We have two choices:

  1. Use them until they run out (which almost happened to the forests of Great Britain in the 1500’s) and then hope we find another resource that can do the same thing, which has been pretty much our modus operandi for the last 2,000 years.
  2. Take 2,000 years of human knowledge to understand better how to minimally use these resources so they can last for generations to come.

But there is one resource that we know will be around for at least another five billion years – our wonderful sun. This “yellow dwarf” provides warmth, energy, light and all things good. And after decades of improving technology, its light now gives us direct power.

So that’s where Earth Day led me, to a group of people who wanted to make a change in this world by educating and supplying people with one of the lowest emission forms of energy – solar photovoltaics. This technology has been around for over 80 years and was actually contributed to by the works of Albert Einstein. But over the past decade, it has become cleaner, more efficient and more accessible. It brings me hope that every solar system we install gives future generations a chance to see a blue planet that is healthy and thriving.

At Eagle Solar and Light, in three years we’ve installed almost 2MW of solar power, equivalent to over 1.3 million planted trees and mitigated 50,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions over the life of the systems. And we’ve only just begun. That is only a very small portion of solar in the world. With companies such as Disney, Amazon, Google, Wal-mart, General Motors, Volkswagen, IKEA, Costco and more relying on solar power, it has proven to have taken the energy market by storm.

But don’t get me wrong, this technology is not at its end. It will continue to improve, along with other renewable energy sources such as wind, tidal, geothermal, hydro-electric and wave energy. And honestly, I hope one day we can reach the zenith of clean energy – fusion. But for now, I go into this Earth Day knowing our team is bringing the hope of a greener, cleaner, and healthier tomorrow.

Kathy Henderson, Sr. Sales Engineer, wife and mother of two hopeful children

One of the greatest parts of working in the solar industry is the people that you meet. As our work in North Carolina has expanded, we have been thrilled to learn about the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA). The Community Purchasing Alliance has changed the way that schools and churches think about their utilities, service contracts and vendor relationships. They are helping non-profits stretch their limited time and financial resources.

Felipe Witchger, Founder and Executive Director of the CPA is a visionary with a passion for helping non-profits focus on their mission and extend their resources. Hear Felipe speak at our upcoming “Save Money and Make a Difference!” Nonprofit Sustainability Event March 20th in Durham, NC! Click here to register. You will learn about how non-profits are making their dollars go farther with CPA’s innovative financing model and other pertinent topics.

Community Purchasing Alliance and Bulk Purchasing of Critical Services

The CPA negotiates significant savings for their non-profit members by negotiating contracts and vendor relationships that wouldn’t be available otherwise. Solar energy, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) services, and printers are all products that CPA has facilitated special pricing arrangements for its cooperative members.

The Community Purchasing Alliance: Saving Money for Non-Profits The Community Purchasing Alliance: Saving Money for Non-Profits eaglesolar March 13, 2019 Renewable Energy / Sustainability One of the greatest parts of working in the solar industry is the people that you meet. As our work in North Carolina has expanded, we have been thrilled to learn about the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA). The Community Purchasing Alliance has changed the way that schools and churches think about their utilities, service contracts and vendor relationships. They are helping non-profits stretch their limited time and financial resources. Felipe Witchger, Founder and Executive Director of the CPA is a visionary with a passion for helping non-profits focus on their mission and extend their resources. Hear Felipe speak at our upcoming “Save Money and Make a Difference!” Nonprofit Sustainability Event March 20th in Durham, NC! Click here to register. You will learn about how non-profits are making their dollars go farther with CPA’s innovative financing model and other pertinent topics. Community Purchasing Alliance and Bulk Purchasing of Critical Services The CPA negotiates significant savings for their non-profit members by negotiating contracts and vendor relationships that wouldn’t be available otherwise. Solar energy, Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning (HVAC) services, and printers are all products that CPA has facilitated special pricing arrangements for its cooperative members. See How Temple Sinai Benefitted from Solar through the CPA CPA successfully negotiated $16.9 million of bulk purchase agreements in 2018 for a total of $1.5 in savings for its members. These bulk-purchase arrangements are driven by specific needs and opportunities for savings, and these final agreements are the result of robust financial analysis, intensive due diligence, and significant input from the coop members on their most pressing needs. For example, CPA and its members determined that it could save 10-30% on HVAC services through a bulk-purchased contract. CPA is replicating this successful model in the Research Triangle Park area now, after significant success in Washington DC.

Learn more about the CPA and Solar Power for Nonprofits

Join us in Durham at Clouds Brewing to learn more about how your nonprofit can raise more money and save money. This event is going to focus on a variety of strategies that nonprofits can employ to get the most out of every dollar. Reserve your spot today! When: March 20th, 5:30-7:00 pm Where: Clouds Brewery, 905 West Main Street #22, Durham, NC 27701

By Scott Alexander, Regional Director, North Carolina

Non-profits must continually look for ways to cut operational costs. The dreaded “overhead rate”, the metric many donors pay close attention to, needs to be as low as possible so that more money can be spent on programs and activities that benefit the community. While many non-profits have sustainability as a core value; most people assume that non-profits are much greener than they actually are. The reality is most non-profits are limited in their efforts to support a sustainable energy future due to the lack of financing.

Just as people are more likely to purchase goods produced by ethical and sustainable means, people want to support non-profit organizations that demonstrate a commitment to environmental stewardship and resilience. Good sustainability practices can increase growth and an organization’s reputation, all the while, reducing energy costs that directly affect overhead operational costs.

Here are three ways for non-profits in North Carolina to cut thousands from the operational budget and go green. Of course, Eagle Solar & Light can help you with any of these three ideas!

#3) Invest in LED lights: This is what we in the industry call “the low hanging fruit” because a small investment can go a long way in generating significant savings. Most people do not realize how much energy is consumed with just lighting- especially if you must illuminate a gymnasium such as organizations like the YMCA or Boys and Girls Clubs.

By switching to LED lights, a customer can see savings of 50% or more on their annual lighting expenses. Additionally, With Duke’s Smart Saver program, you can get rebates back on LED lights and fixtures. Replacing just the inefficient phosphorous tubes, (and recycling them!) is the easiest and cheapest method, but in some cases its worth replacing the entire fixture. Since LED lights typically use less than half the power of traditional lights, savings begin as soon as they turn on. LED lights also have a life span ten to 25 times longer than your typical incandescent or fluorescent bulb, saving even more in maintenance.

#2) Use a Lease to Install Solar: The use of solar energy has become a wide-spread method for homeowners, businesses, and non-profits to lower operational costs with the use of supplemental power provided by solar energy. Non-profits and businesses alike are also harnessing the marketability of renewable energy initiatives either through a visible solar energy system on their roof, or through marketing and outreach programs. However, one constraint for most non-profits is the up-front cash generally needed for a solar energy system. For non-profits in North Carolina, a lease for a solar energy system can make more financial sense than an outright purchase. Why?

Because, a fair and transparent lease, held by a group that can monetize the tax benefit, allows a non-profit to also take advantage of the tax incentives via a lower lease payment. Eagle Solar & Light seeks to structure our leases to be less than non-profits’ annual energy savings, and coupled with the Duke Energy Rebate, that means solar energy becomes a cash-flow positive investment. In other words, no additional money out this year’s budget! With warranties to 25 years or more, that translates to years of savings plus the strong visual reminder that your organization is invested in being sustainable.

#1) VOLUNTEERS!!!!: All of us from the non-profit world know how important it is to have a diverse and engaged group of stakeholders that contribute time, expertise and yes, even resources. So, it should be no surprise that developing a pool of talented volunteers to help you accomplish your organization’s mission is critical for your bottom line and probably the best thing you can do for your organization. We at Eagle Solar & Light fully appreciate how important it is to volunteer and that is why you will find us volunteering with the Boy Scouts, Boys and Girls Clubs, the Black Warrior Riverkeepers, the Triangle YMCA, and other agencies that are doing good work in the communities that we live. And yes, it can indirectly help you go green!

In an effort to expand access to clean, renewable energy in Alabama, Gasp announced a new partnership with Eagle Solar & Light. Under the agreement, the solar energy company will offer a 5% discount on residential and commercial solar installations to members who join or renew their Gasp membership with a donation of $50 or more.

“We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce this unique partnership with Eagle Solar & Light,” said Gasp Executive Director Michael Hansen. “In order to solve many of the urgent issues facing our state like pollution and climate change, we need to dramatically increase deployment of clean, renewable energy like solar across Alabama.”

Founded in 2009, Gasp is a Birmingham-based nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing air pollution through education and advocacy. Increasing demand for and access to affordable clean energy like solar is a vital part of the group’s work to reduce pollution — including greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel based energy.

“We’re proud to partner with a community-based organization like Gasp,” said Eagle Solar & Light Founder Sam Yates. “Solar power is not only the energy of future, it’s also one of the best ways to reduce our impact on the planet because solar panels don’t emit pollution.”

Eagle Solar & Light, also headquartered in Birmingham, was founded in 2016 by Sam Yates. The company is leading provider of modern energy solutions, like solar and LED lighting, in Alabama. The company recently opened an office in North Carolina.

The savings from the discount will help to offset some of Alabama’s anti-solar policy barriers facing homeowners and businesses. With the new partnership, Eagle Solar & Light will also donate a portion of the proceeds from each project back to Gasp.

Gasp is a nonprofit health advocacy organization whose mission is to reduce air pollution through education and advocacy. Our vision is a healthy, just, and sustainable Alabama. We strive to reduce air pollution, to educate the public on the health risks associated with poor air quality and to encourage community leaders to serve as role models for clean air and clean energy development. www.gaspgroup.org

Eagle Solar & Light strives to be the leading modern energy solutions provider for the markets in which we serve. Each member of the ESL team has a commitment to constantly drive a customer-focused approach in all that we do. We are backed by some of the nation’s largest and best distributors, allowing us to provide world-class products and services.

Solar ITC Step Down Explained

Solar PV system owners will have until the end of 2020 to qualify for the 26% Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) before it steps down again.

The ITC has proven to be the most influential and important Federal policy to incentivize the solar industry’s growth since its introduction. Now that the tax credit is going to step down it is going to shake up the industry a bit. Despite the inevitable step down, the solar industry is positioned to continue its growth trajectory.

History

The Solar ITC came to fruition in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act of 2005 creating a 30% ITC for residential and commercial solar energy systems. The original bill contained various tax incentives that supported energy efficient and sustainable technologies. The Solar investment tax credit became part of the package, initiating the growth of solar in the United States. The ITC was originally set to last two years but was extended in three separate bills.

Timeline

  • 2005: Energy Policy Act of 2005 starts 30% investment tax credit for residential and commercial solar
  • 2006: Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 extends tax credits for an additional year
  • 2008: Emergency Economic Stabilization Act included an eight-year extension of the residential and commercial ITC
  • 2015: Omnibus Appropriations Act included a multi-year extension of the residential and commercial ITC and changed the previous “placed-in-service” standard qualification for the credit to a “commence construction” standard for projects completed by the end of 2023. The step down to 10% for commercial solar only takes effect in 2023 and beyond.

Overview of Step Down

Originally the ITC rewarded new solar PV system owners 30% of a project’s install cost if begun in 2019. The ITC reduced to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and down to 10% in 2022 where is will remain only for utility and commercial projects. In 2022, homeowners lose the ability to collect a solar tax credit. This chart below visually explains the step down:

Stepping down the ITC graph

The Solar ITC since its originality has seen a few extensions in its life time. The solar industry itself is in a much stronger position than before when the ITC faced elimination back in 2008. In the past years the prices for solar equipment has plummeted allowing for customers in every sector to be able to afford PV systems. At the same time state, city, and local municipalities have set high renewable energy targets. In addition, lucrative financial structures are in place for corporations to take advantage of in order to fill their sustainability initiatives. All in all, solar is here to stay with or without the ITC.  Our team comprised of solar experts capable of handling any sized project from an off-grid cabin to a over-sized commercial project and beyond. Contact one of our representatives at (205) 202-2208.

Clean Energy Technology is advancing at a formative pace and is on the cusp of becoming an everyday part of our culture, much as the smartphone has since it was introduced a decade ago.

What’s driving this revolution? Electric vehicles (EV’s).

We are excited about this development because renewable energy sources like solar benefit directly from these technological gains.

First, let’s get our arms around the global automobile market.

In 2017, over 93 million automobiles of all types were sold worldwide. China purchased more vehicles than any other country with 28 million, and the United States was a distant second at 17 million. Even more impressive, China’s automobile sales have doubled in the last 6 years, and there are expectations for continuing growth. On a per capita basis, China’s population owns only 154 automobiles per 1000 inhabitants, compared to the United States where we own 910 per 1000! And there are 4 times as many EV’s sold in China as there are in the United States. Global EV sales are increasing by 60-70% annually and should top 2 million in 2018.

As the electric vehicle (EV) market grows, technological advances are making EV’s an ever more compelling next step from the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE).

Why the EV?

  •  The ICE is only 18% efficient and is nearing the end of its century-long product lifecycle. The Electric Motor is at least 5X more efficient.
  • The ICE Automobile has some 2000 moving parts. The EV has less than 20 moving parts.
  • The ICE Automobile has an average lifespan of 250,000 miles. EV’s are being built today to last 1 million miles.
  • EV’s will cost less than ICE Automobiles within 3-4 years and have over a 250-mile range.
  • EV’s produce no direct carbon emissions.

What’s the technology driving the EV Revolution?
Energy Storage solutions like Lithium-Ion Batteries. There are at least 10 mega factories on this planet pouring billions into energy storage research, and the global market will reach $80 Billion within 2 years. As companies like Tesla invest in battery technology, the cost curve is bringing prices for Lithium-Ion Technology down at a rate of 20% per year.

What does this mean for Renewable Energy?
It opens the door for the rapid introduction of Distributed Energy Generation, wherein homes, businesses, farms, and industry can economically transition off-grid by deploying Solar Energy plus Energy Storage.

When will EV’s become economically advantageous?
It started in 2017. Let’s do the math. The nationwide average Transmission, Distribution, and Administration (TDA) cost for utilities is 2.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWhour). Their incremental cost for producing each additional kilowatt-hour is 3 cents per kWhour. Simple addition yields an average net cost of 5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour, not counting shareholder returns (profits). This rate is increasing 2.9% year according to the nationwide average Utility Inflation Index.

  • Last year, Tucson Electric signed a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Energy Storage for 4.5 cents per kilowatt-hour!
  • And, it costs our nation’s utilities on average 5.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (30% more) to bring that energy to your home or buisness

The Bottom Line on the Economics of Renewable Energy
The cost of installed Solar Energy continues to drop by 7% per year, and the cost of energy storage is falling by 20% per year. The cost of energy delivered by our nation’s utilities is rising and is no longer competitive with Renewable Solar Energy.

Greenhouse emissions in the United States greenhouse declined for the first time in 2007-08, and have continued a gradual reduction since. We now produce just under 7 trillion tons of carbon dioxide annually, with transportation and electricity generation making up 56% of the total.

The Clean Energy Revolution paves the way for both a more economical method of energy generation and storage and a significant reduction in greenhouse gas emissions!

Join us in the Clean Energy Revolution and call us today.

 

First Published on LinkedIn on by Eagle Solar & Light President, Joe Bennett:

Not too long ago, I entered the PV field with close to 30 years of operations experience and lots to learn. During the first two weeks into my new field, I made a startling and crucial observation about what I see as the truest potential of solar energy:

Solar has a wide range of appeal across a diverse set of stakeholders.

The people that I met while talking about solar came from differing backgrounds, with differing attitudes and experiences about solar and its technology. Different in their motivations to implement solar and each had their own way of describing how solar would benefit them or their business. In all the differences – whether it was an individual that wanted to reduce their carbon footprint with renewable energy, or the business owner that wanted to off-set their annual costs of energy – solar just works.

Regardless of one’s ideology surrounding renewable energy, the fact is that we have one of the most abundant energy resource in the form of free, available sunlight. For us Alabamians, it is one of the most poorly-leveraged energy resources across the state. Many economic and political reasons exist why Alabama ranks among the bottom 10% in the nation for installed solar, but I sense our biggest challenge in Alabama for solar is overcoming the lack of information about Solar and its benefits.

Here are just a few of the more common misconceptions I hear from potential customers:

#1. “Residential solar systems are illegal or not allowed by the power company.”
As long-time solar professionals in Alabama, we hear a form of this sentiment regularly. Often enough, the person making this statement is arriving at this conclusion because they don’t see solar systems on their neighbors’ roof tops in the numbers they see when venturing out-of-state, so there must be some authority preventing it from happening. While not an unreasonable observation, the reality is that residential solar systems are not illegal, and they are available across Alabama. We also hear this type of statement from individuals that started their solar quest by first consulting the “power company”. Again, not an unreasonable place to start, but energy providers in our state don’t have (whether financial, strategic or political) a focus on solar energy as an alternative resource for energy to their customer base. Alabama companies like Eagle Solar and Light want to be your complete go-to resource for anyone that is considering solar for their home or business.

#2. “Solar system components don’t last very long, and are expensive.”
Harvesting solar energy to produce electricity is a big business outside of Alabama, and even more so outside of the United States. Per the Solar Energy Industries Association, and the U.S. Department of Energy, at the end of 2014, there was 27 gigawatts of installed solar in the United States as compared to 251 gigawatts outside the U.S. In the ever-expanding Solar marketplace manufacturers and component engineers are producing some of the industry’s most efficient and long-lasting products each year. The costs of soar components consistently trend downward year to year as well. As an example, ten years ago, the average cost per installed watt was close to $6.00, where today, it is headed towards nearly $3.00 for the same grid interactive system. Solar panels offer up to 25 years of warranty. Other critical Solar components (inverters, charge controllers, etc.) provide 15-year warranty periods, and sometimes even longer. With the new generation of Solar technology in the market today, Solar components are designed to last beyond the payback point.

#3. “Alabama does not have the right climate features for solar.”
While Alabama ranks in the bottom 10% for installed solar, we rank 3rd in the nation for solar irradiation. This is a big deal as Alabama’s position on the globe, 30 to 35 degrees above the equator and being a few degrees east of true south combine to make where we live one of the most solar-desirable places in North America. We also hear, in our Great State, we have way too much humidity and way too many trees for solar to be efficient. Granted, increased temperatures can have a legitimate de-rating factor for power producing circuits. A well-trained solar professional can design a system to take the extremes of ambient climate conditions into account so that the impact is managed effectively and has minimal impact to the overall performance and reliability of the system. Clearly direct sunlight delivers optimal PV performance versus periods of shade. Experienced solar professionals have several tools available to them to study the effects of shading on a system, by time of day, and by time of year (as the sun’s path across the sky changes with the seasons). Today’s solar technologies, found in both the panel and with its main components, provide power point tracking and/or optimization to help mitigate the effects of reasonable shading, along with an accurate system design.

These types of common misconceptions are just a sampling of what we encounter in the community when discussing solar as a viable renewable energy source for Alabama consumers. The more informed we are about our energy choices the better consumers of energy we will be. Clean, quiet, abundant and responsible solar energy is another Alabama resource that we can (and should) put to good use. Solar works, Alabama!

You can quickly start your search for more solar information by visiting our website at www.eaglesolarandlight.com. And when you feel ready to speak to someone about what solar can mean for your home or business, we’d be honored to talk with you and share the many examples of how solar can reduce your energy bill and improve your impact on our environment to keep Alabama thriving. You can reach us at (205) 202-2208.

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (July 13, 2018) — Daily, it is estimated that over 100,000 people travel Highway 280. Many have likely noticed the highway’s newest neighbor, SouthPoint Bank, in place of the former Kobe restaurant. What they cannot see while driving is the solar power that SouthPoint Bank is harvesting.

Eagle Solar & Light recently installed a 60-kilowatt solar system on the new bank. This system consists of two hundred and eight solar panels, or modules, and is designed to produce over 73,000 kilowatt hours of power annually. Solar power is not only good for the environment; it is also projected to save SouthPoint Bank over $10,000 per year on their utility bill.

“When we began the design process for our new headquarters, we knew this building needed to not only serve our need for space, but also to better our efficiency. Early on we decided to incorporate modern, clean energy technology to decrease our energy costs and make our contribution to environmental sustainability,” says SouthPoint Bank’s CEO Steve Smith. “At SouthPoint Bank, our goal is to look to the future and point forward with continuous improvement in technology. Utilizing solar energy within our corporate headquarters is one step toward achieving that goal.”

The solar panels selected by Eagle Solar & Light are produced in Jackson, Mississippi by Seraphim Solar. The use of American made solar panels defies the trend of using cheaper imported panels. Eagle Solar and Light trusts the quality of Seraphim Solar panels and backs their manufacturer’s 25-year warranty. Other American made components in this system are provided by SolarEdge and Snap’N’Rack.

“We were also able to meet our goal of supporting local companies by using a local contractor Eagle Solar & Light, plus using American solar panels rather than sourcing them from Asia,” says Smith.

“Using American made products means a lot to us and our customers, and that is why whenever possible we source our products from American companies,” says Eagle Solar & Light CEO, Sam Yates. “We strive to meet the goals of every customer we serve.”

As one of the first solar companies to open in the central Alabama region, Eagle Solar & Light provides architecturally advanced, aesthetically designed solar electricity, LED lighting solutions and energy saving products that offer long-term economic benefits.

Traditional banks are good at traditional loans, but sometimes they struggle to understand “outside the box” situations. Unfortunately, “outside the box” is a phrase that is often used to describe both non-profits and renewable energy solutions.

Melissa Malkin-Weber is the sustainability director at Self Help Credit Union, a lending institution that understands that sometimes you must think “outside the box” in order to make a difference. We are thrilled to feature Melissa at our nonprofit event on March 20: Non-Profit Sustainability: Raise money, Save money, Make a Difference. Reserve your spot today!

We spoke with Mrs. Malkin-Weber to find out more about Self Help Credit Union and their mission.