Thursday, July 30, 2009

200,000 Panels on Utility Polls

PSE&G, a major electricity supplier here in New Jersey, is going to install solar panels on 200,000 utility polls. The panels will feed power directly into the power grid. The project will add about ten cents to the bill of each customer.

The work will be done by PetraSolar of South Plainfield. I'm concerned that the panels used will be purchased by PetraSolar's "partner"-- a Chinese company called SunTech. For a public project using public dollars I'd prefer that the PSE&G insist that the contractor use American suppliers that employ American workers. For what it's worth, SunTech has "promised" to open facilities for production of panels in the United States.

Bogged down

I'm not too happy right now about this project. The state inspection, a prerequisite for earning valuable SRECs which is how the system is going to pay for itself, seems like it's never going to happen. I'm assured by groSolar that since all the forms have now been submitted to the state in time to beat the July 31 deadline, the rebate is still available even though the actual state inspection is obviously not going to happen before that date (tomorrow).

I don't want to point any fingers yet but I don't understand where the inertia for this project went. And if the state rebate money disappears from the table I don't intend to be the one who replaces it.

It's cool that we're generating most of the electricity we use but we really needed to be earning those SRECs by now. That was part of how we figured this was an affordable project.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

More Confusion per State Inspection

It's a good thing that I was diligent in chasing down our state certification number. It turns out that the July 1 inspection wasn't done by the state (NJCEP) at all! It was either a county or township inspection -- I'm still not even sure which one. Obviously there was serious miscommunication going on, and I wasn't present at the inspection so I didn't know that.

I'm a little surprised that groSolar hasn't been concerned about this because based on everything I know the state rebate money (which goes directly to them) is contingent on this inspection. They sent me some paperwork to sign after I re-raised the red flags.

The paperwork clearly states what I already knew: our rebate expires on July 31. That's about twelve days from now. [As an aside, a lot has happened in a year. When we qualified for our rebate 355 or so days ago, we were a long way from making the project happen, and we didn't even know how much work there was left to do.]

It's a good thing I took the initiative here and it's a little unsettling to me that nobody else did. I can understand that nobody else is particularly concerned that we can't earn SRECs until the the state inspection is done. However, knowing that nobody else was alarmed about jeopardizing the rebate almost makes me think I'm misunderstanding the process.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Waiting for State Certification Number

Well, somebody who's a few weeks ahead of me warned me about this. We passed the final state inspection on July 1 but we still haven't been issued a "state certification number." Why is this important? Because we can't start accumulating SRECs until we have an SREC account which we

can't set up until we have this number. As N. from NJCEP told me last month, they're not going to award SRECs to a solar installation until that installation has passed state inspection.

I made one call today and left a message with somebody with the state. Tommorow I'll have to be a little more aggressive. We've already generated enough power for 1.5 SRECs and we'll never get that back.

After this gets done I'll be registering with SRECTrade and selling our SRECs at monthly auction through them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

New Jersey Second Only to California in Solar

New Jersey, one of the smallest states in the country, is second in photovoltaic solar energy.

Here's a rankings table included the article from

Unfortunately I can't get the link installed here for some reason but here is the URL for the entire article, which tells of the rapid rise of the Garden State in this endeavor:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Great Solar July (So Far)

So far July has been a great month for solar power in South Jersey. Over the first six days we've generated 6 kwh more than what we've used. That includes the running of central A/C and the pool filter, two energy pigs.

     Power     Power Imported Power Exported
Date Generated from Grid      to Grid

---- --------- -------------- --------------

7/1  42.4 kwh     6 kwh

7/2  44.9 kwh     7 kwh

7/3  49.9 kwh                     4 kwh

7/4  48.2 kwh                     4 kwh

7/5  48.2 kwh                     1 kwh

7/6  55.1 kwh                     10 kwh

This is encouraging because unlike our first month (June), the weather lately has been much more typical for the Mid-Atlantic region. I think we can expect this kind of production rather than what happened in June.