Sunday, January 29, 2012

Reviewing Solar Benefits

Besides being sleek, quiet, and clean, Solar Power is many other things.  Yes, it's expensive up front--but, the cost-effectiveness is becoming more and more clear to individuals, small businesses, all the way up to multi-national corporations.  Beyond the economic sustainability that solar presents to our country and to the world, here are a list of other benefits (some borrowed from a friend's column listed below):
Solar Pergola courtesy of Full Spectrum Solar
1.  Energy ROI:  the lifecycle energy that goes into making solar equipment is paid back within 2 years, yet the panels will continue converting sunlight into electricity for 40+ years (some say 50 years);
2.  Solar Power APPRECIATES in value over time.  As utility rates go up (avg 6-8% annually in nominal dollars), the value of the energy displaced by solar also goes up (and time for cost recovery goes down!);
3.  Solar energy is available during PEAK POWER CONSUMPTION hours of the day, making the grid power system more sustainable, thus:
4.   ...decreasing the need to build new fossil fuel power plants to meet the peak demands;
5.  ...and reducing the overall reliance on coal, nuclear, and natural gas to meet increasing demands for power;
6.  Solar Power displaces approximately 1.75 pounds of CO2 per kilowatt-hour here in Wisconsin.  In other parts of the nation, solar displaces upwards of 2 pounds per kWh;
7.  Solar Power (heat and electricity) reduces the need to increase the usage of METHANE (aka 'natural gas') for power and heat.  Methane gas (CH4) is more than 20 times more potent a Greenhouse Gas emission than is carbon dioxide;
8.  Solar Power does not pollute our water tables or our air as does METHANE 'natural' gas does.  Extracting methane 'natural' gas from FRACKING wells has shown to create fissures and leaks of dangerous FRACKING chemicals into our water aquifers and/or directly into private drinking water wells;
9.  Solar Power is becoming LESS EXPENSIVE every year, whereas COAL power is becoming more and more expensive.  Coal beds are becoming harder and harder to mine because the surface coal is nearly all taken.  Remaining coal beds are deep under ground and require more ENERGY and EXPENSE to extract that solid fuel.  Some coal that could be mined would be much HEAVIER in water content, thus require more energy to deliver across state lines (via diesel trains) and more energy to process and burn;
10.  Renewable Energy (solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc) have now surpassed NUCLEAR in overall power generation for our country.  Nuclear power carries too much risk (and not just the financial kind, which is reason alone to dismiss it from future energy policy decisions) to be viable long-term;
11.  Solar generates more hours of clean power during summer ozone periods, thus reducing ozone levels;
12.  Solar is mainly a LOCAL ('distributed') power source.  Most or all of the power produced by solar equipment can and is being used onsite (or within one or two properties away), thus reducing ALL ratepayers from the need to add new distribution lines and transformers, and thereby reducing everyone's costs.  Local stakeholders (residents, be they homeowners or renters, and business owners) can invest in energy sources that are Local, Clean, Safe, and LESS EXPENSIVE (especially over time);
13.  Solar is a great motivator to reduce your power consumption through energy efficiency and energy conservation.

That's today's baker's dozen for benefits we ALL derive from solar, whether you own solar personally or not.  Hopefully, you will consider solar for your own home and business needs.

See this link for many, MANY more reasons to consider solar --  It is written by a well-known solar expert in Wisconsin.

More info?  Email Kurt at

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Epic Systems Goes Solar

I had occasion to drive by the huge Epic Systems campus near Verona Wisconsin a couple weeks ago, and took this chance to catch sight of the largest PV array in Dane County, and soon, largest in the state.

Here is what you see when you first drive up the Epic highway

On the Left
                                    On the Right

Then, after winding around the very handsome campus of buildings, gardens, and walkways, we come to the visitor parking center, most of which is covered by an extensive canopy of.... SOLAR!!!!

At this point, totalling somewhere around 400 kilowatts.

Eventually, the total is reportedly going to exceed 2.2 MW,
that's 2,200 kilowatts!!!!  Even if this provides less than 2% of the total energy consumed by Epic, it probably accounts for 10% or more of their energy costs.  This is only a guess, but is based on the fact that Epic Systems has tons and TONS of computer servers, all which require significant cooling capacity to keep them running smoothly.  And, when the summer sun is hot, Hot, HOT, the energy requirements are hi, High, HIGH, and their DEMAND COSTS go way up.  Having solar online will help keep their PEAK demands more manageable and normalize their grid energy requirements, which will improve their cost profile very much.  Smart going, Epic Systems!!

Buy Now, or Soon. Solar prices are stabilizing and some are already rising again.

From: Investor Ideas dot com

December 22, 2011 ( Newswire) - According to EnergyTrend research, the current spot market price has ceased falling and stabilized – some products have even seen a price increase. In terms of January 2012 contract price, some upstream suppliers are planning for a slight increase. However, negotiations are still underway, and EnergyTrend believes that the polysilicon contract price trend in 2012 will depend on the stance of downstream makers – wafer manufacturers in particular.
Read more: 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Goodbye, Section 1603, Hello 50% Bonus Depreciation

As 2011 draws to a close, the congress in Washington has had enough trouble tying their shoelaces much less get anything done to help stimulate the economy or to improve the tax burden for the middle-class.  So, one of the casualties is certain to be the Section 1603 Treasury Grant for qualified energy equipment.

Slated to expire December 31st, the 1603 grant allowed billions in investment capital to be put into service to develop wind, solar, and other renewable energy projects that bring jobs and new market opportunities (as well as increased grid security) to America.  Although there is still a chance for more projects to get a headstart through a 5% Safe Harbor down payment  before the end of the year, next year's solar projects will still benefit from the 30% Investment Tax Credit still in play through the end of 2016.

Another silver lining is the continuation of BONUS depreciation for commercial firms who invest and put into service solar equipment through the end of 2012.  In January, a 50% Bonus Depreciation is allowed for year one in addition to the standard MACRS depreciation for this type of equipment.  One stipulation may be that the equipment must have a usable lifespan of 20 years or less.  Talk with your tax advisor for more information on this opportunity.

For any and all solar questions, please feel free to contact Kurt at  If I can't answer your question today, I have an extensive network of professionals in this field who can help.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Solar Savings Lease

Solar Connections, LLC is teaming up with solar advocates in the Madison area to offer folks in southern Wisconsin the chance to gain access to the solar market without having to go deep in debt in the first year.  Once this program has established a good track record, we will extend this opportunity to any commercial or residential customer in the state of Wisconsin.

Our goal is to be able to offer you the following:

10% down, sign a Solar Savings Lease, and start saving $$ on your electric bills in YEAR ONE!!!

Who can benefit from this?
Any home or business with space that is free from shading (usually, a roof) and is generally facing South should be able to participate in this program.  We can customize a Solar Savings Lease to meet the needs for the following:

1.  Single-Family Homes
2.  Condominiums
3.  Not-for-Profit Businesses
4.  Commercial Businesses
5.  Churches
6.  Libraries,
or other public spaces

How does this work?
A Solar Savings Lease is like a lease for a car or for other expensive equipment.  Except we can help customize a project and an offer that best meets your power demands AND your budget!

For more information and a private conversation about the benefits of this program, and to answer any questions or concerns you may have, contact Kurt at
or call (608) 957-6801

Sunny Regards,


Disclaimer:  A portion of the research in 2009 that led to some of the assumptions and components to this program was supported in part by a grant from Wisconsin's Focus on Energy program.  It has been a collaborative project with many experts in the field and with community stakeholders.  Solar Connections, LLC is a consulting firm (of one) whose mission is to implement remedies to the barriers that exist between solar energy technologies and those who could benefit from them.  Community solar has been the main project focus for the past 2 years.  Other areas of investigation are plug-in electric vehicle technology in conjunction with solar technology and time-of-use metering, which when combined, can help bring the cost recovery time down for both technologies.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Community Solar Takes Flight

Greetings solar fans!

After 3 years of false starts, rigorous research, and hundreds of interviews and conversations with experts in many fields, Community Solar in Wisconsin will be making an appearance in 2011.

There are many definitions for what is meant by "community solar".  Basically, if you have shading on your property, or have some other obstacle that gets in the way of your desire to buy into and benefit from clean energy technology from the sun, then you need a community solar project to fulfill your solar needs.

Traditionally, community solar projects have been owned and sponsored by utilities or municipal entities who want local folks to buy into the project.  There is no ideal or standard way to organize this that can be easily replicated elsewhere.

Our solution is to form small private groups that will allow solar projects to be developed in order to help local landowners gain the benefits from owning and/or using solar power for their home or business needs.  This becomes a Win-Win-Win scenario helping those who have a sunny spot but can't afford solar, those who have money, but can't put solar on their own property, and helping the local environment while greening the local electrical grid.

Contact Kurt for more information at:

Follow me at

Hope to hear from you soon.

Renewably Yours,

Kurt Reinhold
Solar Connections, LLC.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A Bulb for the Ages

The Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 put limits on the types of lightbulbs that will be available in the coming years.  In fact, by 2014, the age-old glowing filament we call incandescent bulbs will not be the same anymore.  Some incandescents will sport lighter energy consumption profiles, while the older energy-hogging incandescent burners will no longer be available.  2014 is not that far away.  Have you found a favorite CFL or LED bulb you want to put in your light sockets yet?

Here's one that's pretty cool.  Literally.  It's a L.E.D. bulb that produces light that looks more like what we are all used to, unlike the flickering glow of compact fluorescents or the sharp light 1st generation LED bulbs gave us.  See the link below for more information on this new lightbulb start-up company, called Switch Lighting.