Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Solar Firms Face Hard Times in New Jersey

Here's an interesting article from today's Philadelphia Inquirer on the birth and maturation of the solar industry here in New Jersey. It talks about changes since the salad days of government grants and subsidies all the way to today's climate of sparse assistance and the SREC glut.

Oh, and it features SolarWorks NJ, an installer based right here in Washington Township!

Solar Firms in Hard Times

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Lowered All my SREC Minimums

There's a lot of talk about changing the SREC market to address the glut. for now, though, prices are what they are. I have 4 SRECs in hand and I just lowered my minimum asking price to $200 for today's auction. I'll bet they all sell...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

One SREC Sold, $225

We sold one SREC at the recent auction -- the one that I'd set the minimum price to $200 for. It fetched $225.

I guess I'll have to drop the price on the others...

Monday, October 24, 2011

More on SREC Value Plummet

Here's an article from the Gloucester County Times (here in South Jersey) over the weekend.

More about the SREC glut / price plummet.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Gloucester County Times

Went Ahead and Lowered My SREC Price

I'm facing reality here -- SRECs are not as valuable as they were just a few months ago. I've been glancing at my statements only casually, but today I looked close and saw that I have 4 unsold SRECs. So I just lowered my minimum sales price. Just for the sake of experimentation, I did it this way:

2011/06 NJ (I have 1): minimum price $400

2011/07 NJ (I have 2): minimum price $300

2011/08 NJ (I have 1): minimum price $200

The next auction is October 31. I'll post my results...

Monday, September 26, 2011

Good SREC Price Again

Well, somehow the latest SREC sold at $640 again, same as it used to be. We do seem to be starting to pile up unsold ones, though. They used to sell like clockwork so I didn't bother keeping track. Guess I better get on it.

Other than that, things are going well. This is one of my favorite times of year -- still lots of sun, less energy needed = big monthly credit from electric company because of all the extra energy we're generating and dumping back onto the grid...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What Will Irene Do to Us?

I can't lie, I'm pretty nervous about what might happen to our 48 panels tonight. We're right in the path of Irene's hurricane strength winds...


Monday, August 22, 2011

SRECs Prices Declining in NJ (Yeah, We Know)

Here's an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer telling is what we already know.

SREC prices plummeting!http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

I've just authorized my broker to sell the ones I have on hand basically for whatever they can get.

The weird part is how sudden this was. It was 600, 600, 600, etc., etc, straight to *worthless*. You'd think the decline would have been slower and steadier...

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

SREC Glut is Happening

The SREC Glut seems to be developing fast. In the most recent auction the prices dropped below the minimum threshholds of so many sellers that my broker is setting up a special mechanism to unload these. Here's part of what they announced:

Due to the price drop in the July auction, a significant number of New Jersey SRECs went unsold. You can read about the recent volatility in the NJ SREC market in our blog. For the past 3 years, prices have held at 95% of the ceiling in the market, so for many of you, this is the first month without a paycheck for your SRECs.

As we explained in the blog, there are reasons why pricing could get better for the 2011 SRECs and reasons why they may not. We suspect that you may be less interested in the complexities of the market than you are in getting your SRECs sold. For this reason, instead of waiting until the next auction, we are offering to take your SRECs to our buyers to see if we can get them sold for you sooner than later. We will use a tiered structure that promotes choice, while allowing us to go to the market with firm numbers.

I suppose that in a way, solar is a victim of it's own success and popularity. Hopefully this won't discourage anybody from going solar in the near future. Come to think of it, maybe I shouldn't post this for that reason, but hey, you all know I'm all about full disclosure!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Amber Waves of Solar Panels? The Turbined Plain?

There was an interesting letter in the Inquirer today, written by Matthew Blake, the Manager of Delaware Bay Program.

Matthew Blake Letter Here!

Although I'm a solar/wind advocate I kinda' see his point here. There are plenty of suitable places for wind and solar facilities to be developed. I'm not in favor of encouraging farmers to plow under their fields and replace them with these contraptions (which, while they might not look as ugly as a conventional power plant or electrical substation, are not as striking as a field of corn, a cranberry bog or a grove of peach trees). Of course, Blake is smarter than me and raises more substantial points than I'm going for, so by all means, read his letter!

"...would undermind the rural character of South Jersey's farm belt and many other communities along the Delaware Bay located within a high wind-generation zone." **

It's an interesting debate, one in which I agree with Blake. We haven't reached a renewable energy gold rush. Why waste the best land for this stuff when it can go anywhere?

** Yeah, I included that quote for you non-Jerseyans who think there's nothing here but the turnpike. And I was one of you before I came here!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

May: 1 SREC Sold / Wonky Meter?

I'm seeing a pattern here.

For May we sold 1 SREC for $640.


Whenever I pass by the electric meter I glance at it, hoping to see it spinning backwards. For the past few weeks I've noticed many times that it's spinning neither forward nor backward. It's conceivable that at these times, power being generated is equal to power being consumed. It sure seems like I've noticed that a lot recently, though.

It's not every time. Sometimes it is moving in one direction or the other. I'm not sure what to do. I feel like if I call the power company they'll come out, replace it, bill me for past usage ("Aha, no wonder you've had negative electric bills!") I'm kidding, I think...

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Latest electricity bill.

Thank you for participating in Paperless Billing. Your current PSE&G bill statement is now available for online viewing. Your current balance is a credit of $90.55 and no payment is required.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

More About the SREC Glut

Here's an article that appeared in today's Philadelphia Inquirer that supports the Fletts column I posted a day or two ago. So many systems are going online that the value of the SRECs are plummeting.

[edit: sorry, I can't seem to get blogger to link the article. I'll try again later]


"We're in some ways a victim of our own success," said Maureen Mulligan, a spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Industries Association, which is predicting a crash.

"Anybody who's talking about putting up a new project now is thinking, 'Wow, there's no support anymore,' " said State Rep. Chris Ross (R., Chester County).

On Tuesday, Ross plans to introduce a legislative rescue for the industry that would increase the amount of solar energy that utilities must buy through 2015, propping up the price of solar credits.

We have to remember that forcing the utility companies to by these things is a subsidy. My waffling on whether these subsidies are the right way to proceed is well documented here on the blog so I won't blab about that. The bottom line is, though, that unless the governing authorities ratchet up the number of SRECs that must be purchased, the value of these things will continue to drop.

But doesn't that mean that the subsidies worked? It's hard to feel completely bummed out or elated about this...

Friday, May 20, 2011

SREC Glut Will Mean Lower Prices Fetched

Here's an interesting article posted on Flett Exchange's web page. Looks like New Jersey has taken to solar. The downside is that there are more SRECs being generated than anticipated, making them less valuable.


"There are two ways to prevent the SREC market from being oversupplied. First is to slow the pace of solar development and second is for New Jersey to increase the amount of solar needed."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roughly Halfway to System Payoff

One SREC sold for April, for $ 640.00.

Then, there's this from PSE&G, the power company:

Thank you for participating in Paperless Billing. Your current PSE&G bill statement is now available for online viewing. Your current balance is a credit of $109.59 and no payment is required.

I'm just doing 'back of the envelope' calculations, but it appears that our system is halfway to paying for itself. (Disclaimer: we were lucky enough to catch the tail end of the New Jersey rebate program and also received a substantial federal tax credit.) When we installed I estimated the payback period as 4.5 years. Looks like it'll be more like 5.1 years. I can live with that...

Monday, April 18, 2011

One SREC / Lots of Surplus Power Right Now

We earned one SREC for March, and received $640 for it at auction. The consistency of these numbers is starting to worry me. I'm not kidding. Am I paranoid?

The system is still kicking butt. These periods of the year when daylight isn't so short and the A.C. isn't on are the best. Lots of surplus power being generated and exported...

Friday, April 1, 2011

Negative Electric Bill (Never Gets Old)

Here's a negative electric bill, this time delivered by e-mail:

Thank you for participating in Paperless Billing. Your current PSE&G bill statement is now available for online viewing. Your current balance is a credit of $74.23 and no payment is required.

These never get old...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

One Srec Sold for February

We got the usual $ 640. Cool, won't turn these dollars down...

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Shopping for System? Here are Real Installation Figures!

Here's some useful information from Steve S., who's slowly supplanting me as the most knowledgeable and helpful solar guy on this blog.

I'm going to paste Steve's email in below. What he's found is a list of every solar installation that has gone through the rebate program. The list includes the name of the installer as well as the cost of the installation (and other information).

This is big! If you're looking around or negotiating a deal, these numbers are for you! Now you can get an idea of what people are paying and what they're getting for it. Although this is all New Jersey information, I would imagine it could apply roughly to other states except for the rebate part.

Great find, Steve! Thanks!

While searching the NJ Clean Energy Program website for information on how to register for the GATS website, I found some information that I thought might be useful to share with people who follow your Going Solar blog. Under their Renewable Energy tab, they have program status reports. The direct link is:
Now, for somebody who is shopping around and getting quotes for a solar system, here's the interesting thing. These excel spreadsheets, specifically the "REIP Paid Projects" and "SREC Registration Program Completed Projects" reports list every single installation in NJ that went through the state rebate process. They list what company did the installation job, what equipment was installed, how much of a rebate was received, and how much the owner paid for the system! I was shocked that all of this information was publicly release, but at the same time I wish I had found this when I was getting quotes...what negotiating power! Now when the guy from XYZ Solar tells you his price and explains that he's giving you the best price he can, you have away of checking that and seeing if he gave another customer a better deal. Or, before even getting a quote you have a some hard data on what price you should be getting, as well as which solar installers are providing the most value for the money.
Just thought I'd share this, as I know that I would have loved to have had this information when I was shopping around.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sorry for the Lack of Posts

Sorry for seemingly ignoring my blogs. It seems that Google has been making a few changes to permissioning (I made that word up) and generally helping me to death. I've finally learned how to re-associate this blog with the proper email account (from Google help, I should give them credit) and I think I'm back in business now.

By the way, my new book Wrecker has really taken off in the last two weeks. Here's the sales chart!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Questions and Issues for a New Installation

Tony is a fellow Jerseyan who is currently researching a solar installation. He made some interesting comments and had some useful questions in a comment thread. I think his contribution would make a useful discussion point so I'm posting it here.

Also, he said nice things about this blog. That's always a good reason to repost!

If anybody has any information or ideas, please share! And Tony, feel free to post any numbers or projections as a comment here.

Here's what Tony said:

I have to say, after perusing the internet for info on this subject this blog has been the most helpful. It's relevance to my situation is great and the focus on the minutia of this undertaking is greatly appreciated. I have never commented on a blog before so I am unsure of the process/protocol. That being said, my comment/question is in regard to my very recent interest and inquiry into solar. I live in central Jersey. I have read a lot of opinions, facts(hopefully) and general information to feel somewhat comfortable discussing it. Last week I had a representative from Mercury Solar pay me a visit. He was a very nice guy and gave a comprehensive and professional presentation. The numbers he proposed in his "solar financial feasibility study" seemed viable and ultimately profitable. I immediately had the "it's to good to be true feeling" wash over me. Just wondering if anyone following this blog has met or dealt with Mercury Solar. If so, could you please offer any and all pos/neg feedback on them. If possible would it be ok for me to post the numbers I was quoted for feedback from all of the current solarites following this blog?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Looking for Mr. and Mrs. "Pennsylvania 9.84"

Somebody in Pennsylvania who is looking to install a solar power system in Pennsylvania needs our help. We've had a very helpful commenter from Pennsylvania who had a 9.84 kW system installed in May. This new commenter would like to find out about what company did that installation. So, Mr./Mrs. "9.84" and Mr./Mrs. "Somebody in Pennsylvania", please feel free to exchange contact information here if that would help...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Snow Still on Panels!

Well, we had a big snowstorm Tuesday night and into Wednesday morning. The snow slid off the main roof by midday Wednesday. Here's a picture of the front sidewalk after one of those avalanches:

And here's the main roof after that avalanche:

Unfortunately, three days later the garage roof has but a single exposed panel:

I realize that this post isn't consistent with my last post, in which I said the snow was sliding off the panels quickly. I swear, when I made that post it looked like it was all coming off real fast. I guess it stopped right after I posted...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Snow Sliding Right Off This Time

This time the snow is sliding off the panels rather quickly. Maybe it's because the temperature is higher.

The dog is freaking out. She can hear it and thinks it's thunder, which she's always been afraid of...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reached Ten Grand in SREC Income

One December SREC sold at auction last week, for $ 640.00.

That brings our SREC total to $ 10,410.09. That's a significant chunk of change to help offset the installation cost...

Thursday, January 13, 2011

This Snow is Costing me Money!

This is our second straight day of sunshine but we're not generating any energy. We've had lots of snow since the system was installed, and each time the snow slid off the panels within hours. This time it's hanging tough. There's not an inch of exposed panel.

I'd like to get the avalanche (and post-avalanche shoveling) over with so we can get back to making energy...


Pardon the interruption, but my new book is out!

Wrecker at Amazon

Wrecker at Barnes&Noble