With all the recent talk about the Duke Energy solar rebate there has been little highlighting of funding available for rural businesses and agricultural producers provided by the United States Department of Agriculture. Small businesses in rural areas and many agricultural producers are eligible for guaranteed loans and unrestricted grants to help finance energy efficiency programs. To see if your business is located in a designated rural zone click here.
There are no location restrictions on agricultural producers if 50% of their gross income comes from agricultural operations.
USDA currently offers grant funding up to 25% of the total cost of a project and loans funding up to 75% of the total cost of a project. This program makes achieving energy efficiency for small and rural businesses an attainable goal. This funding may be applied not only to solar energy systems but to hydro-power, wind generation, biomass, and high efficiency HVAC systems.
The goal of this program is to increase energy supply from the private sector and provide more independence for people located further from big energy hubs. Taking large demands off the grid brings down demand and cost for everyone while also providing jobs to local alternative energy installers.
Similar to the Duke Rebate, there are deadlines to apply for these incentives. Click here for the official North Carolina USDA website for details about eligibility, deadlines, and financial statistics about these loans. The South Carolina USDA webpage can be found here.
Give us a call and we can tell you if your company qualifies for a USDA grant and/or loan for your solar energy project.
There is a lot to consider when making the decision to put a solar energy system on your home- upfront financial costs, tree shading on your roof, your home’s roof orientation (North/South, East/West), and environmental benefits- but HOA regulations should not have to be a factor. When initially talking to people considering solar power, they are often worried that their HOA will not allow anyone in the neighborhood to install solar panels and that is, by law, false.
According to North Carolina Senate Bill 670, there are solar access laws that give the homeowner power over local ordinances to “utilize solar radiation” as energy on their “detached single-family residence” homes.
Occasionally homeowners associations will ask that a solar array not be visible from a road or common area of a neighborhood. If the orientation they request is “preventing reasonable use” of the solar panels, this is an illegal request. For example, if an HOA asks you to put the solar array on the back of your home which happens to be in a shaded or north-facing area, you are by law allowed to still install a solar energy system on the front side of your roof. It is illegal for the price to be driven up “beyond the financial means” of homeowners, which would result from an under-producing system.
If you are interested in installing solar panels on your home and believe you are under HOA restrictions, please contact us to start a conversation with our knowledgeable staff. Although we know the law is on our side, our first step is to talk tactfully and kindly with your homeowners association and neighbors to ensure your access to clean energy production. For more details, and all legal verbiage, please review the bill here.
Similar to the rebate that Duke Energy is offering locally here in North Carolina to its customers for the installation of solar energy, the Southern Australian government has just announced a $70M subsidy for residential battery systems. Currently, batteries are by far the most expensive aspect of a solar energy system but are not necessary components unless your goal is to be completely off-grid or have sustainable backup power during power outages. Adding batteries to a solar energy system can tack on an additional $10,000 or more, but this subsidy would offer up to $6,000 back to homeowners; making batteries a more realistic option.
The goal of the battery subsidy is to provide 40,000 households with energy storage systems to reduce peak hour energy usage. Removing this large of a load from the grid will drastically reduce demand of traditional energy power plants thus lowering the cost of energy for every customer.
For traditional energy sources, such as coal fired power plants, it is very costly to ramp up production to meet peak demands. Unexpected peak demands are worse in that, in some cases, it may take hours for a plant to drastically increase production to meet an unplanned, sudden demand. Unexpected peak demands can cause blackouts (loss of power) and brownouts (low voltage) in the event that the power plant cannot meet the sudden increase in load.
Hopefully we can expect more clean energy incentives such as this in the US as we see the positive implications they have had in other progressive countries.
Interested in a free quote for battery backup power for your home or business? Give us a call!
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Green built housing, energy awareness, and conscious living are all very prevalent here in Asheville, NC which is why many of us choose to live here. I wanted to explore other neighborhoods that had similar values and found the Clean Energy Authority’s top ten neighborhoods for green homes.
Unexpectedly, three of the top ten neighborhoods were outside of Cleveland, OH. In these areas near Lake Erie, over 60% of the homes sold have green-built features. After a predominantly industrial past, this city has had implementations of reducing its carbon footprint since 2002, and even has a government funded climate change task force to promote change, awareness, and research.
Moving down the list, two more neighborhoods that lead in sustainability are just outside of Philadelphia, PA. The city is planning on reducing its carbon emissions 80% by 2015. Plans have been implemented for creating bike lanes, storm water management, and exploring solar power already. Like the Ohio cities, many homes in this area are very old and people want to do everything they can to make their beautiful and historic neighborhoods efficient and earth-friendly in the coming years.
Other top cities that made this list are in Orange County, CA, Brooklyn, NY, and Seattle, WA. Every neighborhood that made the cut has over 55% of homes built with green features and range from median home prices of just $212,250 to over $1,414,000- showing that green living is attainable not just for the elite.
Here is the list of the top 10 Green Built Neighborhoods according to the Clean Energy Authority:
- Malvern (Cleveland, OH)
- Fernway (Cleveland, OH)
- Chestnut Hill (Philadelphia, PA)
- Spruce Hill (Philadelphia, PA)
- Red Hook (Brooklyn, NY)
- Baker Ranch (Orange County, CA)
- Echo Ridge Village (Orange County, CA)
- Georgetown (Seattle, WA)
- Painted Trails (Orange County, CA)
- Mercer (Cleveland, OH)
To read more, Click Here for details of the cities listed above.
A June 2018 study released by the Union of Concerned Scientists, regarding chronic coastal flooding, projects that flood levels will rise drastically within the next 30 years directly caused by rising sea levels due to increasing carbon emissions.
Already many areas are seeing routine coastal flooding that did not used to occur as recently as 1970. Although this has been an inconvenience, it has not become a major problem… yet. According to this study, by 2045 over 300,000 homes valuing roughly $117.5 billion dollars are at risk of constant flooding. These homes provide shelter for about 550,000 people and provide the country with nearly $1.5 billion a year in property tax revenue. In addition, there are 14,000 commercial properties valued at $18.5 billion that would be affected.
If these projections of chronic flooding aren’t correct, these homes will lose much of their value, become difficult to insure, and eventually be unlivable altogether. This huge change would create regional marketing crises, as well as negatively impact local real estate investors and bankers.
Although the effects climate change will have on our society are scary, it is important that we are staying diligently aware so that we can make changes, within our power, to slow the process. Clean energy is a huge factor in reducing carbon emissions and can easily be done on an individual level. Average residential homes powered with a solar system will prevent 5,760 pounds of carbon dioxide pollution a year from entering the atmosphere. Making sure we are using energy efficient appliances and vehicles are other steps we can personally take to slow the rapid effects of climate change.
To see specific data about flooding projections you can view this interactive map.
After President Trump approved the solar panel tariff earlier this year, prospects for the American solar industry were not the brightest. However, those predictions may prove to be false.
Having employed more than 250,000 Americans in 2017, the solar industry has seen tremendous growth in the last decade with a small decline in 2017. The solar panel tariff, while attempting to protect American solar panel manufacturers, put the larger part of the solar industry at risk. Manufacturing in Asia is simply cheaper than manufacturing in America, regardless of product or protections. With tariffs raising the price of solar panels imported from China to aid American solar panel manufacturers, solar panels became an option less people could afford. For solar installers, the shrinking pool of potential customers is not ideal. The tariffs created a sizable setback of 2018 solar installation projects.
However, the effect of the solar panel tariff may not be as extreme as some feared. China committed to renewable energy and remain committed; production of Chinese solar and wind energy has only increased. In fact, within the country, they have begun transitioning solar and wind from subsidies to auction, effectively proving that in a country dedicated to lessening its dependence on fossil fuels, renewables can be economically competitive without government interference.
Solidly focused on solar, China has already managed to lower production time and cost between the time the tariffs were put in place and today. The tariffs may be a short-term benefit to American solar panel manufacturers, but even with the tariffs, that benefit will not last. As China pulls subsidies from wind and solar, the Chinese solar panel market will become more competitive than it already is by increasing efficiency and decreasing cost.
The solar panel tariff temporarily wounded the American solar industry, but it was not a fatal blow. Solar energy technologies will consistently decrease is cost as time goes on and the solar industry will thrive because of it.