Written by Lisa Walsh

Solar Saves in Anne Arundel County

Pictured: Matt, Jessica and family in front of their newly installed solar hot water and solar electric systems.

The cost of the residential solar system has come down dramatically in the past five years. With 4 separate grants and incentives, Anne Arundel County residents are catching on.

LET THE SUNSHINE IN – Residential solar energy systems are being installed every day in Anne Arundel County where local business owners Roger Perry and Rick Peters are working hard to keep up with rising demand. Their rapidly growing 18 person firm, Solar Energy Services, Inc. (SES) installs and services solar electric, solar water heating, and solar pool heating systems in Maryland and DC, with the majority of their residential customers located within AA County. When asked why he thinks solar has taken off even in these tough times, SES president Rick Peters said there are many drivers, but economics lead the way. “Rising utility bills, decreasing cost of solar panels and generous financial incentives all combine to give homeowners the opportunity to pay off 25yrs worth of BGE energy in about 6 years, not to mention the environmental and societal benefits.”

One House – two solar systems:

Most solar shoppers are unaware that there are two types of solar energy for the home. Whole house solar electric, commonly referred to as PV (Photovoltaic), is what most people think of as solar energy. However, a solar water heater can offset 75% of your annual hot water energy. Roger Perry quickly points out that if you have a large sunny roof, there is plenty of room for both systems. He and Peters both have solar water heating and solar electric on their homes.

The clock is ticking…

Each of the 4 different substantial incentives for a residential property owner in Anne Arundel County currently has a limited life-span, with the idea that solar can be competitive without them in the future. Peters notes that the current average payback on a solar electric system is about 6 years, for a system that lasts 25 – 30 years. With solar hot water, a 4 year average payback with a similar system lifespan. The payback is even faster if you have a large family (lots of hot water use) or if you need to replace your water heater anyway. Rick Peters leaves us with some food for thought, “You can invest your money in a lot of different places these days, but most are very uncertain, or producing a very low return. On an annual basis, the return on solar energy is quite predictable, and the economic return is hard to beat with any financial investment strategy.”

TYPICAL 5kW SOLAR ELECTRIC (PV) SYSTEM
Estimated System Cost$27,500
Federal Tax Credit$8,250
MD State Grant$2,500
AA County Property Tax Credit @ 75%$1,875
SREC Payments$10,000
Total Incentives$22,625
Net Cost to Homeowner$4,875
Payback in Years6.09 yrs
25 yr Annual Energy Savings+800 per year
25 yr Lifetime Return on Investment>250%

 

Written by Rick Peters

SES Letter to The Capital

Your recent editorial (The Capital, April 18) suggested Gov. O’Malley should put more emphasis on the distributed approach to renewable energy, where solar and wind power are generated by smaller systems throughout the state. In fact, the governor intends to sign legislation next month to do just that. Delegate Sally Jameson and state Senator Robert Garagiola sponsored what is essentially budget-neutral legislation (HB/933/SB717) to open up the state’s solar goals to include solar water heating, a very mature and efficient technology, first patented in Baltimore in 1891.

This family friendly technology currently saves a typical family of four about $500 per year on electric bills by obtaining 75 percent of their annual water heating energy from solar. The new law will allow system owners to sell green credits to help utilities comply with the state’s solar goals. Consequently, homeowners will now see simple paybacks on these affordable systems shortened from five to eight years to a very manageable two to four years, on a 25-year lifespan.

Aside from advancing our solar goals, and allowing modest-income homeowners to participate in the benefits of solar, there are significant economic benefits too. Solar water heating is a labor intensive installation, which keeps dollars recirculating in the community. It requires trades people to install it, a group much in need of work.

The components are low tech, but heavy and bulky , so there is strong incentives to manufacture domestically, if not locally. A typical residential system only requires 40 to 80 square feet of sunny roof, drastically increasing the potential pool of participants.

As a daily consumer of solar-heated water himself, O’Malley is well aware of the opportunity for Maryland. I commend him and our legislators for their leadership on this issue.

Written by George Young

Press Release: Solar Bill Signed!

MARYLAND GOVERNOR SIGNS BILL TO INCLUDE SOLAR WATER HEATING IN ITS RENEWABLE ENERGY DIVERSITY REQUIREMENTS

Annapolis, MD – May 20, 2011. Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley signed into law yesterday a bill that makes solar water heating systems eligible to produce Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs), making the proven technology more affordable to homeowners, businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.

Under the new provision, owners of solar water heating (SWH) systems will now be able to sell the SRECs or “green attributes” of the energy they produce, just like solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. The new law will reduce system owners’ utility bills, improve the environment by reducing pollution from power plants, diversify our energy supply, and create additional green jobs in Maryland. Several other states and the District of Columbia already include solar water heating as a means to meet their renewable energy requirements.

“The passage and signing of the solar hot water bill brings great opportunity to the solar industry and to the residents of Maryland, ” said Delegate Sally Jameson, D-Charles County, who sponsored the bill. “Jobs will be created while helping to meet our energy needs and Maryland’s solar requirements under the Renewable Portfolio Standard. It’s a good thing for families and it’s a good thing for Maryland!”

Maryland utilities are required to buy an increasing amount of SRECs to meet their requirements under the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. Businesses and homeowners with solar PV and solar water heaters generate SRECs that are sold to utilities, ultimately making solar technology more affordable. Maryland taxpayers do not fund SRECs, but utilities pay for these through very small surcharges in electric rates. The new law will substantially boost markets for solar water heating while creating much-needed jobs across the state.

The first patent for a device using solar energy to heat water was issued to a Baltimore inventor in 1891, and solar water heating is used extensively across Europe and China.

“By including solar water heating in the RPS, Maryland will increase access to this proven technology,” remarked Maryland Senator Rob Garagiola, D-Montgomery Co., another bill sponsor. “This law will help homeowners, small businesses, non-profits and government agencies alike finance solar water heating systems and in turn allow many more Marylanders to participate in the benefits of solar energy.”

Mike Healy, partner at Skyline Innovations and the head of MDV-SEIA’s solar thermal division commented: “This is an exciting time for the solar water heating industry. The Maryland legislation is already creating new solar installation jobs among firms in our membership. We are very grateful to Maryland legislators for acting on this enormous opportunity.”

Gov. O’Malley signed another solar energy bill into law, making changes to the state’s “net metering” rules allowing owners of photovoltaic systems to sell electricity back to their electric utility.

Written by George Young

Downtown Apartments Use Solar Energy For Water Heating

WASHINGTON, DC:  Installation of a 14 panel solar thermal system was completed at an apartment complex in historic Adams Morgan earlier this week.

Solar Energy Services, Inc., a Maryland based solar contractor, was engaged by Skyline Innovations to design and install the solar water heating system that will act as a pre-heat to the 33 units that use the building’s conventional heating system.

Written by George Young

Solar Water Heating for a Multi-Family Housing Complex

WASHINGTON, DC:  3501 13th St. NW is the latest address to have a solar thermal system installed.  The multi-family housing unit now has solar collectors on the roof, installed by Maryland solar contractor Solar Energy Services, Inc. to pre-heat the building’s existing conventional water heater.

The solar system includes 32 solar thermal collectors, south-facing on the building’s roof, closed-loop plumbed to 2, 806 gallon tanks.  The system is expected to significantly reduce the building’s utility bill by offsetting their water heating load with solar.

solar panels. Solar energy
Written by Lisa Walsh

SES Project Featured on ABC News Affiliate Channel 8

Crosstown Properties, LLC – Multifamily Solar Water Heating (Completed July 2010) – Washington DC

home painters, interior paintingSES was engaged by a third party solar project developer to install a 32 panel (1280 SF) solar water heating system for an occupied apartment building in Washington D.C. The system included the installation and integration of 1600 gallons of additional solar storage in non-pressurized tanks. The system is designed to offset approximately 70% of the water heating load for this 45 unit apartment building. The solar developer provided all of the capital to install the system at no cost to the building owner. The building owner receives clean energy at a discount to their traditional natural gas, achieving a monthly savings immediately upon commissioning of the system.

Written by George Young

College Park Carwash Installs Solar For Water Pre-Heat

COLLEGE PARK, MD:  Solar Energy Services, Inc. partnered with Skyline Innovations of Washington, DC, to install a solar water heating system at the College Park Carwash.

The thermal system utilizes six 30-tube Apricus evacuated tube collectors and two 120 gallon Vaughn Solar Sepco tanks.

More Information and Post-Install Pics

Written by George Young

University of Maryland Solar Electric and Solar Water Heating

COLLEGE PARK, MD:  Solar Energy Services, Inc. completed the installation of a 5 kW solar photovoltaic system at UMD’s Cole Field House at the College Park Campus.

The system consists of 30, 175-watt SolarWorld panels and a Sunnyboy string inverter.

On the same campus, at the Ellicott Dining Hall, SES also completed installation of a solar water heating system that will act as a pre-heat to the dining hall’s existing conventional system.  This system consists of 20, 4′ x 10′ flat plate AET thermal panels on the roof, closed-loop plumbed to three 120-gallon Vaughn Solar Sepco tanks.

See Post-Install Pics of Colefield House PV System

See Post-Install Pics of Ellicott Dining Hall

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