Green Energy Ohio Executive Director retires

OH SUN would like to recognize the retiring Executive Director of Green Energy Ohio- Bill Spratley. Spratley has served as the Executive Director of GEO since its founding seventeen years ago. He was also the first Ohio Consumers’ Counsel- a state agency dedicated to protecting ratepayers.  Spratley also served in that role for seventeen years.

His impressive collection of solar ties were almost as loud as his voice when he testified at the statehouse. Bill has also been an early ally and advocate of OH SUN.

Thank you Bill for your volunteer efforts in helping OH SUN grow solar co-ops across the state. Bill was also instrumental last year in helping organize an information session in his church in Worthington. Many of you heard Bill speak at this year’s Ohio Solar Congress in Zanesville. As a solar home owner himself, we look forward to seeing Bill join us in future solar advocacy efforts.

Delaware co-op celebrates success, gets peak at electric vehicle

Delaware, Ohio’s newest solar homeowners gathered last month to celebrate the success of their local solar co-op. Thirty-two homes and businesses went solar through the group. As part of the celebration, co-op members also had the chance to check out the Midwest’s first Chevy Bolt.

A local dealer secured the car as a demonstrator in advance of the model’s official sale date in Ohio and brought it to the party. The Bolt is Chevy’s new fully electric vehicle with a range of 238 miles. The Bolt is the first of many fully-electric long-range vehicles scheduled to go to market over the next few years. Tesla is scheduled to start building a competing entry-level sedan, the Model 3, this week. Volvo announced yesterday that all of its new models will either be an EV or hybrid starting in 2019. Most automakers are planning for the change over in coming years.

This emerging EV market pairs well with solar as solar homeowners can offset their vehicle’s fuel use with electricity from their own panels.

The Chevy Bolt goes on sale nationwide officially starting in August. If you are interested in an electric vehicle you should also check out the prices of lower range used electric cars from a variety of makes- there are some fantastic deals out there. Many models like the Volt and Leaf are rolling off leases with low miles and can be bought for great prices.

Dayton area residents forming solar co-ops to go solar together, get a discount

Neighbors in Dayton have formed two solar co-ops to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters. The group is seeking members and  hosted a launch party and press conference on June 30 to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

Dayton area residents interested in joining the co-ops can sign up at the co-op website. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, OH SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op selects Energy Optimism to serve group

The Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op has selected Energy Optimism to install solar panels for the 25-member group. Co-op members selected Energy Optimism through a competitive bidding process over one other firm.

Co-op members selected Energy Optimism because of its competitive pricing, quality equipment, and industry experience.

The co-op is open to new members until September 18. Mid-Ohio Valley residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the OH SUN co-op web page or the WV SUN co-op web page. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Energy Optimism will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

How solar takes the heat off

Reducing the amount of electricity you need to buy from your utility isn’t the only way going solar helps you save money. Installing panels on your roof may also reduce your energy demand. This is because rooftop solar can help regulate your roof’s temperature. A study from the University of California San Diego found that solar panel installations can reduce roof heat by as much as five degrees.

Solar panels are typically attached to your roof using a racking system. Most rooftop systems are installed so that there is a gap between the roof and the panel. This separation allows for air to flow under the panels and sweep away some of the heat. Solar panels also absorb heat that would otherwise be absorbed by the roof itself. Researchers calculated that solar’s temperature reduction amounts to an additional five percent return on investment due to lower energy costs due to reduced usage. In the winter months, solar panels can prevent heat from escaping, leading to lower heating costs.

June policy updates

The Ohio legislature is considering several bills relevant to solar and to ratepayers. We urge you to write your representatives and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) if you haven’t already. Visit: www.OHSUN.org for more details and links to respond.

HB 114

HB 114 is still a lingering threat. HB 114 is the renewed attempt to decimate Ohio’s Renewable Portfolio Standard. The bill is working its way through the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The governor vetoed previous attempt to further extend the freeze on Ohio’s RPS standard last December. HB 114 goes further than that bill would have in reducing energy efficiency standards than HB 554 proposed last session.

HB 239 and SB 155

HB 239 and SB 155 seek to extend the life of two outdated power plants indefinitely, one in southeast Ohio and another in Indiana. Both plants were built in the early 1950s. Ohioans should not be forced to support out-of-date plants that can’t compete on price for energy produced with newer and cleaner technologies. Likewise, Ohioans shouldn’t have to subsidize a non-competitive Indiana plant to keep it open. Similarly, First Energy has encouraged bills HB 178 and SB 128 to prop up two more aging plants on Lake Erie that can no longer sell their power at market rates. Both sets of bills would raise fixed costs for Ohio ratepayers.

Fixed rates

Lastly, the fixed rate cases are still at the PUCO. If you are a customer of First Energy, AEP, Duke, or Dayton Power and Light, please write the PUCO to express your opposition to shifts in the way you pay for your power. These investor-owned utilities are attempting to shift more of your bill to a fixed charge, which you will not be able to control. This directly impacts how much of your bill you can reduce through solar generation, efficiency upgrades and conservation. Some utilities are proposing more than doubling the fixed charges for ratepayers.

Charging electric vehicles with the sun

Many solar households also have an electric vehicle and more will go electric soon. Combining the two technologies increases energy cost savings as you are literally powering your car with the sun. Many auto manufactures are preparing for electric vehicles to represent all or a significant portion of their sales by 2030. If you add a 240 volt outlet during your solar installation, adding a Level 2 charger down the road will be as simple as plugging it in.

Electric car chargers are currently rated at three levels:

Level 1

Level 1 chargers plug into a standard 120-volt outlet that you likely already have in your garage. The amount of time required to charge from a Level 1 will vary based on the size of your car’s battery. EVs with smaller batteries can fully charge overnight. Cars generally come with a Level 1 charger.

Level 2

Level 2 chargers require a 240-volt outlet.   Although most EVs can charge through a standard 120-volt outlet, adding a Level 2 charger can cut charging time in half. This is important with EVs that have large capacity batteries. Many solar installers are willing to add a 240-volt outlet for an additional cost. OH SUN recently began asking for sample pricing as part of the installer RFP process.

Level 3

Level 3 chargers allow for direct current to direct current charging, but are limited in applications and very expensive. These chargers are typically only found in public charging stations. Level 3 chargers bring the promise of quick recharging stations on long trips.

Mid-Ohio Valley Co-op Seeks Installer

Earlier today the OH SUN and WV SUN issued a request for proposals (RFP) from local installers on behalf of the Mid-Ohio Valley Solar Co-op. Currently the group has 20 members in both Ohio and West Virginia, eager to move forward in the solar process.Mid-Ohio Valley Climate Action, WVU Parkersburg Ecohawks, the Wood County League of Women Voters , Ohio Interfaith Power and Light, and Friends of Lower Muskingum River are all co-sponsors of the co-op and are helping make this effort a success.

Local installers interested in serving the group can download the RFP here and the response template here.Mid-Ohio Valley and greater Parkersburg area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page.

Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Huntington Solar Co-op selects Solar Holler to serve group

The Huntington Solar Co-op has selected Solar Holler to install solar panels for the 27-member group. Co-op members selected Solar Holler through a competitive bidding process over four other firms. The group will hold its final public information session on Thursday, June 15, 5:30 p.m., at Create Huntington’s monthly Chat ‘n’ Chew meeting in the lobby of the Frederick Building, 940 4th Avenue, Huntington, WV 25701 to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

The co-op is open to new members until August 19. Huntington residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at www.ohsun.org/huntington. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Solar Holler will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can saves up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Information session details

Thursday, June 15
5:30 p.m.
Lobby of the Frederick Building
940 4th Avenue
Huntington WV 25701

Solar science powers art

Appalachian Ohio Solar Co-op members Matt Wedel and Coral Marie Wedel use their system to provide electricity to their home and home businesses, sculpting and fashion respectively. The Wedel’s 42 panel system provides 17 kW of electricity and is mounted on Matt’s sculpting studio.

“Our electric bill can be 500 bucks per month, so having that be offset by the solar input is a great incentive,” Wedel said. Sculpting is an energy intensive process. Wedel has three electric-powered kilns and electric forklift as well as electric powered table and pneumatic saws. All of which he said is now being offset by electricity from solar.

Wedel’s system provides an estimated 80% of their electric needs. Matt notes his studio sits in a good spot for solar, away from trees and other obstructions.

“It took a day and a half and the whole system was up,” Wedel said. “I was surprised how plug and play it was.”

Wedel notes that Ohio has great potential for solar development and job growth. He hopes the spark of solar that has caught on in and around Athens will spread further.

“Real economic development rests in infrastructure spending surrounding renewable energy and as a small business owner and artist I want to promote renewable energy is much I can.” The artists’ solar powered work can be viewed at www.MattWedel.com and www.CoralMarie.com.