Solar 4 Schools @ Tri Tech in Kennewick

Educational opportunities for jobs that pay abound at Tri Tech Skills Center in Kennewick, Washington. Recently Hire Electric and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation helped Tri Tech add a solar training component to their skill set. It’s a relatively small array on an active tracking system in front of the school. The monitoring and control system allows teachers and students to access irradiance, temperature and production from home or the class room. In fact you can see what the solar array is doing right here: http://www.solar4rschools.org/node/1326

Tri Tech Solar - Done

Photo by Tony Milewski – used without permission (Tony you’re awesome! Keep up the good work!)

 

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Dark Sky Lighting Options

Many cities and neighborhoods are adopting initiatives to encourage quality lighting that helps maintain our view of the stars at night.

Hire electric can help you retrofit or install new lighting that saves you money on your electric bill AND makes your property more secure.

The key is not to waste light that is going where you don’t need it – like up. The basic rule of thumb is to have a lens or reflector that hides the bulb and provides a full cut off at horizontal. This lens will point the light down at the things you need to illuminate and not out into your neighbors windows, eyes or the heavens above.

The other factor that helps comply with Dark Sky initiatives is the temperature of the light. Light that is very blue or white tends to reflect more off surrounding objects and dilate the eyes in ways that make them less effective for night vision. A kelvin (temperature) rating of less than 3000 is recommended. LED magazine article.

In many cases a lighting upgrade can meet both the goals of Dark Sky compliance and energy efficiency. The energy efficiency piece has incentive programs through most utilities (especially for businesses) that help with the upfront cost. We have helped many local gas stations convert to LED lighting with the power company paying for almost half the project cost. Customers love the new look, the lamps last forever (almost) and the electric bill is cut by 75%.

Learn more about Dark Sky here: http://www.darksky.org/  /   http://www.goldendaleobservatory.com/light-pollution.html

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Solar Shouldn’t Kill Trees

The Eltek Theia HE-t, Washington made inverter comes with an installation guide. It doesn’t come with a users manual. The users manual is 108 pages long and can be found here: http://www.eltek.com/wip4/download_doc_647.epl?id=6851 We print out the safety section of the manual and show our customers how to use the inverter but we do not print out the entire manual. Solar shouldn’t kill trees. Keep it digital.

The user’s manual can also be found here: EltekUser’sManual

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Solar Open House in Burbank, WA

Saturday, June 7th, 11am to 6pm

1100 Hanson Loop Rd, Burbank, WA

Come meet all the experts:
  • Hot Solar Solutions – Solar hot water heating
  • Sun Solutions – Solar shading systems
  • Hire Electric – Solar electric systems

NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

See the news report here: KNDU Solar Story

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Solar Labeling 2014

Labeling, or not labeling, is second only to grounding when it comes to solar confusion. Confusion for the installer, confusion for the electrical inspector and confusion for the utility. At Hire Electric we’ve evolved into a system over the past 12 years that works pretty well for all parties involved. Now the NEC is changing things up a bit by coming in line more with warning and safety labeling standards from the American National Standard Institute (ANSI) Z535.4 – 2011 per Article 110.21(B).

Yellow and red and orange…oh, my. Different fonts and different colors, sizes and shapes. A whole new world to learn and comply with.

I found this article from Solar Industry Magazine that sums up the issues pretty well: “New Labels Bring Clarity to PV Infrastructure” 

One thing to keep in mind for Net Metered systems is that NEC compliance does not necessarily mean utility compliance. Often times power companies have another set of standards or rules or arbitrary wishes that they want you to comply with. At Hire we deal with 16 different utilities throughout Washington and Oregon. Each one is slightly different.Net Metering

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Note from the Chief – Photovoltaic Rules Delayed

Solar safety is extremely important. Safety measures included in the 2014 electrical code for PV systems are all technology based – adding layers of electronic protection and control. The issues with technology-based safety are excessive cost and decreasing system reliability. We’re very pleased that both Oregon and Washington have chosen to delay implementation of these technology related safety systems until the industry has time to perfect them. Here’s the notice that came in from Washington’s Dept. of Labor and Industries:

During the past few weeks, several Washington State manufacturers involved in the photovoltaic (PV) industry have contacted the electrical program. All expressed concerns that the industry is not ready for new PV requirements in the 2014 National Electrical Code (NEC) specifically, sections 690.11, Arc-Fault Circuit Protection (Direct Current), 690.12 Rapid Shutdown of PV Systems on Buildings and NEC 705.12(6), Wire Harness and Exposed Cable Arc-Fault Protection. Each manufacturer has technical obstacles in complying with the new NEC requirements by the July 1, 2014 effective date.
The electrical program conducted independent research and came to similar conclusions. We discussed the issues with all four in-state PV manufacturers, other PV industry experts, and the State of Oregon, which has already delayed implementation of NEC 690.11 until April 1, 2016 and NEC 690.12 until October 1, 2017. We conducted extensive online research and reviewed the Reports on Comments and Reports on Proposals for the 2011 and 2014 NEC revision cycles. All three requirements are meant to increase electrical safety for PV systems and in the future, no doubt will. However, by policy, I am granting a one-year delay, until July 1, 2015, in implementation of all three requirements, allowing the Washington State PV manufacturers time to address each of these issues.
Enforcement will begin July 1, 2015. This reasonable approach will ensure an acceptable level of safety while not hampering Washington State’s PV industry.

Rod Mutch, Chief Electrical Inspector

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Sherman County Expands Renewable Energy Loan Program to Businesses & Farms

 

Sherman County Court recently expanded their solar loan program to support renewable energy development on businesses and farms as well as homes. This program was launched by the Court in 2012 in order to help homeowners offset the costs of residential solar installations. After inquiries from businesses and other organizations in the County, the Court decided to open the application process to others besides homeowners. The program provides no-interest loans for solar electric, hot water and small wind installations in Sherman County. Loans cover the upfront costs that are returned to the owners through tax credits during the years following installation.This program has been developed and is managed for Sherman County through project management provided by Jessica Metta with MCEDD. For more information visit sherman-county.com or email Jessica.

Or you can sign up for a Hire Solar site analysis here. 

HIRE ELECTRIC SOLAR PRICING IN OREGON SPRING 2014
Commercial Pacific Power Commercial Co-OP Residential Pacific Power Residential Co-Op
System Size in KW 25 25 5 5
Power Per Year in KWH 33,750 33,750 6,750 6,750
Total System Cost -$75,000 -$75,000 -$18,000 -$18,000
Federal Tax Credit $22,500 $22,500 $5,400 $5,400
OR RETC $6,000 $6,000
Energy Trust $27,500 $3,750
USDA REAP Grant $18,750
Accellerated Depreciation $26,000 $26,000
Cost After Incentives $1,000 -$7,750 -$2,850 -$6,600
Energy Offset Per Year $3,375 $2,869 $675 $574
Payback in Years 0 3 4 12
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Endurance Wind Turbine Dedication in Pendleton

TAMÁSTSLIKT CULTURAL INSTITUTE
invites you to celebrate 
the launch of our new wind turbine

Teachers

Please join us at the base of the wind turbine on Thursday, May 8 at 1pm for a dedication and reception celebrating our latest step toward reaching net zero energy consumption.

1:00pm - Speakers

  • Dave Tovey, Executive Director/ CTUIR
  • Bill Clemens, Regional Community Manager, Pacific Power
  • Thad Roth, Renewable Energy Sector Lead, Energy Trust of Oregon

1:20pm - Ribbon-cutting

  • CTUIR Board of Trustees

1:30pm - Demonstration of turbine operations and control panel (optional)

  • Jonathan Lewis, Hire Electric

1:30pm - Social

  • Reception in Exhibit Corridor
  • Complimentary refreshments
  • Self-tour of “Sustainable Choices in Everyday Life” exhibit
  • See the new energy information kiosk in the lobby

Tamástslikt is located at 47106 Wildhorse Boulevard at the far end of the main driveway of the Wildhorse Resort & Casino, 10 minutes east of Pendleton, Oregon. Tamástslikt can be reached via Exit 216 off Interstate I-84 or by following the “Mission-LaGrande” sign south off Highway 11 onto Highway 331.

For more information, contact Tamástslikt Cultural Institute at 541.429.7700 or visit www.tamastslikt.org.

Native Wind article from Sustainable Business Oregon

 

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We Love Happy Customer Letters!

Bob,
The Pathfinder report for our 7.2 kWh array in Walla Walla predicted ~7400 kWh of electricity would be generated by the array. Our actual for the year, as reported by the solar production meter, was 7622 kWh. Good job. Thanks.

Photo 7kw Solar in Walla Walla

 

Go Bob!

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Solar Financials 101

Whenever you consider a major life investment you need to do your homework. Aside from the house and car and the kids college, solar is one of the bigger investments many of us will make.  Taking the upfront system cost minus the available incentives divided by the annual energy savings gives us a simple payback in years. For most of our customers in the northwest that number is down under 5 years. Not a bad payback. But what really gets exciting is what happens after you’re system’s paid for.

The Energy Trust of Oregon’s Lizzie Rubado paints the picture really well here:

Escape the simple payback trap

Simple payback is the financial metric customers reference most when considering installing solar or investing in energy-efficiency upgrades, yet it is not the best metric to inform these decisions.

After years of fumbling with the “what’s the simple payback” question, I took some training in financial analysis and accounting and discovered why simple payback is not the most useful metric when discussing investments. While simple payback is a useful second or third screen for determining financing requirements for a project, it is less useful when determining whether a project is profitable. Letting customers consider simple payback alone can prevent them from making investments in solar and efficiency projects that are genuinely profitable.

So why is simple payback a poor metric? The simple payback period tells you the amount of time it takes to recover your initial investment through savings, but it completely ignores the time value of money and any savings generated after the payback period, both of which are financial strengths of a solar investment. Consider a few examples:

          • I have two projects for you to consider investing in, both of which cost $20,000 and have a five-year payback. With the first project, you’ll get no cash flow until year five, at which point you’ll get the initial $20,000 investment back. The second project will produce monthly cash flow and, at the end of the fifth year, the sum of the returns will equal your initial $20,000 investment. They both have a 5-year payback, but which project is the better investment?
          • What if you had two other projects with 5-year payback periods, but one had a 6-year life and the other had a 15-year life? Which would you choose?

In both cases, the second project is a better investment, but you would never know that if you use only simple payback as your yardstick. We need to start educating customers about better financial metrics such as modified internal rate of return, savings-to-investment (or benefit-cost) ratios and net present value.

This is why it’s so important to get a professional site analysis, system design, shade report and financial calculations done. At Hire we like to make sure you know before you go solar.

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