NHSPCA enjoys solar breakthrough

April 16th, 2014 by christine

NHSPCA - Solar Hot WaterWhen it comes to going green and saving money, thoughtful planning and research can lead to significant change.

Consider the case for the New Hampshire SPCA, the state’s oldest animal protection and care facility, which decided in 2008 that it was time to deal seriously with rising costs of energy. And, according to SPCA director Lisa Dennison, it helped immensely when the organization found a strong partner in ReVision Energy.

In 2012, ReVision Energy designed and installed a solar hot water system alongside Froling wood pellet boilers. Dan Clapp, ReVision Energy’s New Hampshire branch manager, said the installations have cut heating costs at the SPCA and slashed their costly year-round domestic hot water bill with the solar thermal system.

“We are significantly ahead because of the solar collectors and the wood pellet boilers,” Dennison said. “Any day we are not using oil makes me happy. It’s so exciting for me to go online and check our progress. We have this fun visual about reducing our carbon footprint. Every day we imagine that our energy efficiency is the equivalent of taking all the cars of our employees off the road.”

Full article is available here: http://www.seacoastonline.com/articles/20140415-NEWS-404150325

VIDEO: The Cover of the Solar Pro

April 11th, 2014 by ReVision Energy

Early last year, we set out to make a new corporate video. We wanted to show off the professionalism, dedication to quality and can-do attitude of the ReVision Energy team. We were going to interview our founders to talk about their vision and how the company got started. We wanted to highlight our mission: transitioning New England away from fossil fuels, and how we fulfill that mission by maintaining the highest standards of technical accomplishment and customer satisfaction. And then we made this instead.

Mainers Rally to Support Solar as CMP Proposes Rate Hikes

April 4th, 2014 by ReVision Energy

Phil Coupe testifies before the PUC 4-4-2014Hundreds of solar supporters packed Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearings on April 2 and 3, 2014, as the PUC took public comment about a controversial rate case that would substantially hurt solar’s ROI in Maine.

ReVision Energy lead pre-hearing rallies on both nights, joined by existing solar customers, homeowners who hope to go solar, other solar professionals, and a broad coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine, 350 Maine, and the Alliance for Solar Choice.

CMP’s proposed discriminatory rate structure served to galvanize supporters of clean energy, who represent a broad cross-section of Maine’s demographics. We heard from fixed-income Mainers who invested retirement savings into solar in order to protect peace of mind in retirement, from fathers and mothers whose solar project represented a major investment to save money and model good stewardship to their children, from lobster fisherman and paper mill employees, dairy farmers, ski mountain operators and off-gridders.  We heard from Vietnam Veterans, from scientists who sounded the clarion call about global warming, from Bowdoin students who voiced their concerns about inheriting a poisoned planet, and from the elderly who are sick and tired of having their limited incomes squeezed out of them by corporate greed… And from dozens more still.

Both PUC hearings lasted more than 3 hours, which is rare if not unprecedented in this kind of rate case. The PUC  has until July to rule in the case.

You may continue to submit public comment at: https://mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/Comments/PublicComments.aspx?CaseNumber=2013-00168.


A Packed Room in Hallowell

PUC Hallowell Solar Testimony

The Solar Rally in Portland

Solar Rally Portland Maine 4-3-2014

The National Attack on Clean Energy

What does Solar Mean to ME?CMP’s proposal comes as no surprise to those who have been watching the utility industry nationwide wage a war on clean energy.

Solar is experiencing a meteoric rise: in 2013 solar was the #2 fastest growing source of new electricity, and in the last 18 months alone, as much solar was installed in the USA as in the previous 30 years. Estimates are that the amount of installed solar in the USA will again double by the end of 2015.  Solar now employs more people than the coal and oil industry combined.

Dramatically lower costs for solar panels, combined with ever-increasing costs of traditional generation, is helping solar approach ‘grid parity’ in many parts of the country. Some parts of the country are embracing this – Minnesota conducted a ‘value of solar’ study and was the first state to set a fair market-based tariff, while Vermont conducted a similar value of solar study and found that a + $.03 premium for solar above retail rate was in fact undervaluing solar. Vermont just lifted its cap on net metering, opening the door for much more solar to be installed. Vermont’s largest utility, Green Mountain Power, was recognized by Vote Solar as the 2014 Utility Solar Champion.

The future of U.S. energy is in electricity – a grid where most homes produce some or all of their own power, where heating and cooling is done with clean electricity rather than fossil fuels, and where electric cars discharge and recharge the grid as transportation and grid needs require. However, many utilities are stuck in the 1950s vision of the grid – big power lines, transmission stations and centralized power plants – and feel threatened by the vision of a decentralized grid, where the homeowner is in more control of their energy use and thus, reliable profits are threatened.

It is this context that we heard that ALEC called for penalties on solar customers, accusing them of being ‘freeriders’ on the grid. The Alliance for Solar Choice, a group dedicated to preserving the right to access net metering, told us that solar has come under some form of attack in 26 states. This flies in the face of sensible net metering policy – which is currently the law in 46 states and Washington D.C. (map of net metering states).

The argument that solar customers are ‘free riders’ (people who require the grid to be available at night yet get credit for their production during the day) flies in the face of all the conclusions reached by ‘value of solar’ studies.  These studies continue to demonstrate that solar, in fact, provides a value above the retail rate of electricity, because it provides highly valuable ‘peak’ power load, electricity produced locally in populated areas during the hottest days of summer when cooling loads are at their max, and the grid is stressed out.

It is time for utilities to stop looking at solar energy as a threat, and instead look at it as a partner.

A Watershed Moment for Solar

Solar on Town of Yarmouth Public Works GarageCMP’s attack on solar will play out a little differently than similar fights in other states, since it is a rate case and not a legislative process. Ultimately, the three PUC commissioners will come to a ruling based on all of the testimony they have received, and we hope that they will look at the stunning body of evidence, as well as the personal stories presented during the lively hearings, when making a decision about what is good public policy.

The stakes are high, as time is running out to change our behavior such that we can prevent the worst effects of climate change. But we can do it. It is economically sound and technologically feasible to convert our grid to be smarter, less centralized, and cleaner. We will create jobs and save Mainers money by doing so. The moment to change is now, and what we do will have effects for decades, perhaps centuries, to come.

We hope we can look back at this as a watershed moment in Maine’s history, when the Dirigo state stopped falling behind its neighbors in the adoption of renewable energy and instead decided to lead.

Much more about the rate case at: iratepayer.org

Town of Durham, NH Invests in Solar with No Upfront Cost from ReVision Energy

March 24th, 2014 by ReVision Energy

Durham, NH Solar Ice Skating Facility

The 300 solar panels on the Town of Durham, NH’s Churchill ice rink will provide roughly 10% of all the electricity used in the facility

Durham, NH now boasts three new solar arrays on town buildings: a 99kw solar electric system on the town’s ice rink, 16kw on the library, and 6kw on the police department. The three systems, designed, installed, and financed by ReVision Energy, were installed at no up-front cost to the town. Instead, the town will buy power from ReVision Energy at below-utility rates for 7-8 years, then have the option to buy out the three systems.

The project is the product of a strong working relationship between the town’s administrator Todd Selig, his department staff, and the Energy Committee. Durham’s 10-year master plan includes a chapter on energy, in which the town pledges to ‘reduce the environmental and societal burdens of energy consumption by purposefully minimizing its energy requirements and promoting the use of clean, renewable sources of energy.’

“We [the town] identified three areas where we could reduce our vulnerability to fossil fuel scarcity and price volatility – transportation (by converting the town fleet to fuel-efficient vehicles), housing (by encouraging growth in core downtown areas that are walkable and bikable), and through renewable energy,” says Charles Forcey, a member of the Durham Energy Committee and a ReVision Energy Customer. “Several of us on the energy committee had solar installed on our own homes, so we knew it could work on the individual level, but we wanted to see what was possible for the town.”

Getting the Process Started

Durham’s Energy Committee put out a RFQ asking companies to come up with creative, economically sound renewable energy proposals for the town. “ReVision Energy’s power purchase agreement (PPA) proposal was the most sound proposal to be sent to us, relying on no exotic grants or credits to work and providing a benefit while being tax-neutral,” Charles said.

After Durham expressed interest in the general PPA offer, ReVision Energy started work on the process of identifying viable PPA sites in the town. ReVision Energy reviewed over a dozen town properties, and ultimately identified the Churchill ice rink, police station, and library as the best sites due to their excellent south-facing rooftops and on-site power demand.

“It was a real pleasure to work with the town of Durham,” said Steve Condon, sales manager of ReVision’s Exeter branch. “There is a lot of work required behind the scenes in a project like this, and from day one the town was very much on-board with the concepts we presented and genuinely excited about taking advantage of their solar opportunities. It was refreshing to see a clear commitment to sustainability from the town manager, who is in turn supported by the town’s energy committee.”

Solar Goes Up

Durham Public Library Solar

A 15kw solar electric array sits on Durham, NH’s public library

After months of planning, the details were finalized and the three solar projects were installed at the end of 2013, with all three systems online and producing power by Christmas!

Forcey hopes the projects will help to illustrate to people with the town that solar is a viable option for meeting the town’s energy needs in the next few decades and beyond.

“There still seems to be a lot of contention when you talk about climate change,” Forcey says, “But people in the town can unite around the idea of sustainability and resiliency. Fossil fuels are a huge economic burden on the town and their price volatility leaves us vulnerable to politics in distant parts of the globe. We are trying to show that locally-produced energy sources are viable now and that the investments are needed today to give us a more secure future.”

An Interview with Steve Rowley, York, Maine

March 17th, 2014 by ReVision Energy

Alpaca Farm York Maine goes Solar

ReVision solar installer Seth Kiernan takes a look at an unusual group of gawkers as solar goes in for the Blueberry Hill alpaca farm

Steve Rowley owns Blueberry Fields Alpaca Farm with his wife Hope in York, Maine. Steve loves the ocean about as much as he does alpacas, and we caught up with him to talk about how his love of the ocean was linked to his household’s investments in solar energy.

REVISION: Why Did You Go Solar?

STEVE: Growing up my favorite TV shows were Sea Hunt and The Under Seas Adventures of Jacques Cousteau. At the age of 15 I received my SCUBA certificate and quickly learned that the beautiful beaches above water, were littered with trash on the seabed just out of sight (and still are). I have studied marine biology and ocean engineering and quickly learned that the oceans are not as big as we thought. Global changes are now measurable. The solid trash problem I saw as a kid was replaced with the ones you can not see. Now when I look at the beach I see global warming, ocean acidification, rising sea levels and warm water marine organisms moving north as water temperatures increase. We know burning fossil fuels are to blame and so my wife and I are doing what we can to stop using them.

REVISION: How Did You Choose ReVision Energy?

STEVE: My wife and I have been heating with wood pellets since 2000. We’ve reduced our energy as much as reasonable, insulated, replaced old windows and doors, and purchased a hybrid car. The next logical step was to generate our own power. We’re not in a good location for wind, and our house was not right for solar hot water, but we thought that maybe with the decline in prices, solar electricity could work. I went to the Revision Energy website and used their solar PV calculator. When I plugged in our numbers, I was stunned – the price was way too low! I did it again and got the same answer. I checked my units and sure enough everything checked out – solar did indeed cost much less than I thought it would. I had to make the call.

REVISION: What Was the Process Like?

STEVE: I worked with Nate Bowie, he worked up numbers using our old electricity bills, did a site survey and produced a proposal. I can’t say enough about how nice and informative Nate and the entire Revision Energy employees were to me. The installation team – Matt, Seth and Ted – worked on the roof on the coldest day in February without a single complaint. The installation went so well that my neighbor directly across the street didn’t know they were already up.

REVISION: What Do You Like Best Now that It’s Been Installed?

STEVE: If I have one complaint about the system, is that it just quietly sits there – I was expecting a bunch of randomly flashing LEDs that make it look like the space age equipment I know it is! (laughs)

Seriously, though, I am impressed that everything is working just as we calculated. The advances in solar photovoltaics are truly amazing and costs are going down. When people ask me about solar, I say – “Don’t listen to the old myths, do your own research, and I hope you come up with the same conclusion we did.”

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