Berkeley Study: Solar Adds $15,000+ to Average Home Value

January 27th, 2015 by Fred Greenhalgh

estimated-premiums-solar-pv-array

Many prior studies have suggested that solar adds to a home’s value, but they have often been limited in time range and geographic scope. Now, a team of scientists from Berkeley Labs, in partnership with universities and appraisers, has found that solar unequivocally improves the value of a home, on average by an amount of $15,000.

The data is based on analysis of “almost 22,000 sales of homes, almost 4,000 of which contained PV systems in eight states from 2002 to 2013—producing the most authoritative estimates to date of price premiums for U.S. homes with PV systems.”

Some key findings:

  • There was no statistically significant difference in the solar premium between new and existing homes.
  • While not conclusive, the study suggests that solar, regardless of size, adds a special appeal to home buyers (the ‘green cachet’), meaning that smaller systems (2-4kw) may have a disproportionately high premium relative to their actual energy production.
  • Solar value is “statistically similar to [market premium approaches] estimated using the income and cost approaches, methods familiar to appraisers.” (http://emp.lbl.gov/news/berkeley-lab-illuminates) – meaning that appraisers should be able to integrate solar valuation into already understood methods of assessing other premiums features of a home.
  • The study did find that the premium for a PV system depreciated faster than the system’s output – i.e. a 1 year old system might fetch a $6/watt premium whereas an 8 year old system might fetch a $3/watt premium (even though the system is producing almost 100% of the power in year 8 as it was in year 1). On the other hand, a PV system in year 8 would have by that time repaid nearly all of the original investment to its owner, so any premium is a great deal!

So the good news for solar customers?

  1. You can feel confident that your solar investment will pay for itself, either over the life of the system as you live in your home, or by fetching a premium price should you need to sell your home.
  2. Studies like this make banks increasingly comfortable with solar, meaning it should continue to get easier to use a home equity loan or home equity line of credit product to invest in solar.

For the data-hounds, there is a great deal more information on this report, and an upcoming webinar on its findings, available online at: http://emp.lbl.gov/publications/selling-sun-price-premium.

Caterina Solar PV Array - Scarborough ME

The solar array of Scarborough-based relator Jean-Marie Caterina slashed energy bills from $600/mo to around $100/mo, and will fetch a premium price should she ever need to sell her home.


2014 Closes with Sunny Finish

January 21st, 2015 by Fred Greenhalgh

With over 650 (!) individual solar installations in 2014, it’s impossible for us to show them all in our newsletter. But, we wanted to show some of the more remarkable systems installed this past year, a result of the effort of our now 83-person team (with 20 positions added in the last year).

Maine Audubon – Gisland Farm Campus

Maine Audubon’s Gilsland Farm headquarters now boasts a 42kw solar electric array consisting of six solar trackers and a rooftop array, making it the largest solar array installed in Maine for a conservation organization. This project is made possible by a partnership withMoody’s Collision Centers, who paid for the equipment and installation of the project, in exchange for securing a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Maine Audubon (who will purchase the solar power at below utility rates from Moody’s for six years, with the option to purchase the system outright in year seven).

We have had a positive relationship with Maine Audubon for years, as both a corporate sponsor and offering ‘Solar 101′ talks at their educational center at Gisland Farm in Falmouth. We are honored to be part of their strong commitment to reduce their carbon footprint. The solar will provide a whopping 84% of the electricity consumed by the Environmental Center, which hosts well over 100 educational events throughout the year.

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Here is a photo of the same system on a moody winter day. Our installers persevere through snow, sleet and icy temperatures to get projects installed!

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Solar on a Historic Barn – Lee, NH

Being a New England company, many of our projects are on historic barns and we love the synergy between historic preservation and a distributed, fossil-free energy future of the 21st century. We have a number of great examples of projects like this, but this photovoltaic system in Lee, NH is as photogenic as they come!

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City of Belfast Fire Station

The City of Belfast, ME is the latest municipality to lock in below utility rates for electricity with a power purchase agreement with ReVision Energy. This 45.9kw solar electric array should generate over 50,000 kilowatt-hours per year for the City. The perfect southern exposure of the fire station combined with a relatively high cost of power for the building made the PPA agreement a win-win for the City and its taxpayers.

Read more in the Bangor Daily News or see this local community TV segment:http://vimeo.com/115354627.

City of Belfast ME Fire Station - Solar

See it from the Sky!

With the growing niche of drone and GoPro photography, we’ve gotten some pretty cool aerial shots of solar arrays. This nice example is right in-town Bangor, ME!

About 1/3 of the solar array meets the needs of the household, the other 2/3 is net-metered and through ‘virtual net metering’ the homeowner is able to defray electric prices at other properties he owns in the Greater Bangor area.

Solar PV Aerial Photo Bangor Maine


Near Net Zero on a Community Scale

January 14th, 2015 by christine

belfast cohousing solar
In December 2013, an ice storm caused an extended power outage in Maine, leaving many residents scrambling to keep their pipes from freezing. But even with no utility electricity for five days, below-freezing temperatures, primarily overcast conditions, and no supplemental heat, the homes at Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BC&E) lost only 2°F a day, on average, for a total drop of 8°F to 10°F. Nearby homes, by contrast, were below freezing after 24 hours.

Although the homes aren’t certified, the Passive House Institute US standards guided the design process. A southerly orientation; generous south-facing glazing; triple-pane windows and doors; lots of insulation; airtight construction; and a compact footprint resulted in a 90% reduction in the energy used for space heating compared to the average house. The homes share walls, reducing the exterior surface area and heat loss to the outside.

Full article is available here: http://www.homepower.com/articles/home-efficiency/project-profiles/near-net-zero-community-scale


Q&A: Richard and Helen Regan

January 8th, 2015 by Fred Greenhalgh
Richard, Helen Regan Go Solar

Richard and Helen Regan in front of their 5.5kw solar electric array installed in autumn 2014 on their garage. They also have a solar thermal system installed on their main house roof.

This month’s Q&A is with Helen and Richard Regan, retired educators who live in Harpswell.  They recently invested in a 5.5kw solar electric array and solar thermal system for their home.  We caught up with them to discuss how the project went, what attracted them to solar, and how the system is performing so far.

Tell us a bit about yourselves – how did you get interested in solar?

Both Helen and I are retired educators and we were both undergraduate chemistry majors. My experience was mostly at the high school level teaching primarily chemistry and ecology.  Helen also started her professional life as a high school chemistry teacher before moving to the college level as Professor of Education and later as a Dean.

Graduating from college in the 1960’s as we did, energy was not the problem that it is today. However, teaching concepts of ecology made me aware early on in my career of the environmental interactions that we must address in our world.  So in concept we have always been interested in conservation.  Although the concept of solar energy  has been around for a long time, the technology wasn’t developed to the point of making it feasible in colder climates with limited sunlight in the winter.  We were pleased to learn that thanks to technological and production innovations, the economics of solar had dramatically changed.

What turned you from being interested in solar to being solar customers?  Why ReVision?

Four or five years ago we attended the Common Ground Fair at Unity Maine. We stopped at the Revision Energy tent and talked with the people there where we received an excellent update on solar energy technology.  After taking information home with, us we said to each other, “We should do this someday.”

Well, four years went by with children’s weddings, new grandchildren or travel filling up the days.  This summer we had a lighter than usual summer visitor list and, with no looming major event for the fall, we looked at each other and said, “We are in our 70’s;  we should do it now!” So we called Revision Energy in July.

From our first interactions with Solar Design Specialist Karen Sonstrom, we realized that the economics, technology  and aesthetics of the project were all extremely favorable. The only thing that surprised us, beyond the practicalities of the project, was how genuinely excited we felt about the prospect of becoming more green. Our children are excited about that too!

By the middle of October, we had two solar hot water panels on top of our house and a photovoltaic array on our garage .

How did the installation go?  Did it meet your expectations?

My wife Helen and I have been impressed with the entire ReVision experience, from Karen’s visit last summer, to the completion of the project a few months ago.  The skill level of everyone on your team is excellent and their work ethic is exceptional.  They work safely and efficiently, and accomplish a lot in a days time.

Being educators, we place high value in being enthusiastic when interacting with our students. Our entire interaction with the people who installed our systems demonstrated that they are also very enthusiastic about what they were doing. They were very responsive to all our questions, and seems almost as excited as we are about out project!  So our expectations were met and the installation was efficient and well done.

What do you like best about the system now that it’s installed?

We were especially impressed by the solar hot water system.  The design maximizes the amount of energy transmitted from the panels to the water and the safeguards employed seem to cover every possible contingency.

It is too early to make a definitive statement about our energy savings because the daily amount of sunlight is diminishing as we approach winter.  Also we have had more cloudy days than sunny days.  But even on cloudy days the photovoltaic system produces electricity and the solar hot water system warms the water in the storage tank. We feel confident that the systems on a yearly basis will easily meet the goals set by ReVision Energy for the system. And it has already exceeded our expectations for emotional impact.


Durham natives provide low-cost solar energy

December 29th, 2014 by christine

sunraise-logoSunRaise Investments, a solar energy financing company started this year by Durham natives, eventually will save an estimated $60,000 in electricity costs for The White Mountain School in Bethlehem.

The deal is based on a long-term energy contract, called a power purchase agreement, in which the school agrees to host the 43kW solar array on its roof and purchase the electricity being produced. SunRaise then provides the school with below market electricity that insulates the school from volatile price spikes associated with fossil fuels.

“The dialogue has changed in a wonderful way. It’s no longer just the right thing to do, it’s also the cost-effective way to source electricity,” says Jackson.

SunRaise partnered with ReVision Energy, a local solar energy company to install the system. ReVision has installed almost 4,000 residential solar systems in New Hampshire and Maine as well as dozens of commercial systems, advancing solar in the region for more than 11 years.

Full article available here: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20141229/GJBUSINESS_01/141229519/0/SEARCH