SolFarm partners with non-profits to train and employ individuals from economically marginalized communities
The renewable energy sector, and solar energy specifically, is not known for diversity in the workplace. SEIA, Solar Energy Industries Association, tracks diversity by gender and race. SEIA’s 2019 report (linked here: https://www.thesolarfoundation.org/diversity/) provides great insight into not only current figures but also growth and progress. The report shows that the solar industry is less diverse than the national average but is progressing at an accelerated rate.
The topic of diversity in the workplace is always on our minds here at SolFarm Solar Co.. Mike Diethelm, owner and president of SolFarm, has personally taken steps in learning how to be a community leader in this space by attending the Building Bridges program. Building Bridges’ mission is to dismantle racism by fostering relationships that respect diversity, seek understanding, and encourage action.
For our latest effort to diversify our workforce, SolFarm has partnered with Green Opportunities (GO) in Asheville, NC. GO offers training and job placement for those in marginalized communities for many different trades. For our part of the June 2021 training program, SolFarm hosted three GO trainees. At the end of the program we were able to offer full-time employment to two of the trainees. This program has proven to be a great resource for us as a company and we are excited to see what the future holds for this partnership.
We would like to encourage those seeking employment, and those seeking employees, to reach out to GO to see how you may be able to get involved.
For additional details about our experience with this program please see our press release:
Anyone who has lived near Asheville, NC for any amount of time has seen how competitive the real estate market has become. There are homes being built and sold every day at a premium. A recent study has shown there is an earth-friendly way to increase the resale value of your home (vs a kitchen or bath remodel) and make it more appealing to buyers amongst the myriad of other listings.
Real Estate Resale Study
A yearlong study by Zillow.com has shown that installing a Solar Energy System on your residence will increase the value by over 4%. In Asheville, the average home sale price is $284,500 which would result in raising the listing price by at least an additional $11,380. Another study by Berkeley Lab and the US Dept. of Energy found home buyers are willing to pay over $15,000 extra for a home with an already installed solar energy system. Both of these amounts are above the net cost for installing an average sized solar energy system, making the homeowner extra cash even before considering net metering savings on electric utility bills.
One of the most common worries we hear from people interested in residential solar is that they may have to sell their home or are unsure if they will move in the next few years. This should make their decision even easier! It truly is a no-brainer to make the switch to use clean and renewable energy, lower utility bills, and make money when it comes time to sell your home.
Going Solar For Less
For those interested in solar financing, SolFarm offers zero down, unsecured, penalty free (pay the loan off whenever you like) solar loans. Combining a solar loan with the Duke Energy rebate, and the Federal ITC (30% until the end of 2019! Drops to 26% January 2020.), can help you go solar for a whole lot less than you may expect. Contact us for your free quote!
Did you know the price of solar energy has dropped 99% since its major debut four decades ago?! A recent analysis by MIT researchers contributes this radical reduction in pricing to not only innovations in technology but also, and mostly, to government policy.
Solar energy, not unlike most technologies, has benefited greatly from the common contributors: research and development, private investment, and growing economy of scale. Researchers found that private investment and R&D only got the technology so far in its early years. It wasn’t until policy began stimulating market growth that solar energy really began to advance. Policy changes included renewable portfolio standards, feed-in tariffs and subsidies. With government invested in the growth of solar energy technology R&D funding followed; this funding accounted for even more reduction in costs.
Now, with a much larger economy of scale, manufacturers had the financial means to push the limits and reach for greater efficiencies from the many pieces of equipment used in solar energy systems. Solar panels themselves continue to become more energy dense; capable of capturing more energy given a smaller surface area. Inverters are nearing 100% efficiency and utility grids are adapting to make better use of distributed energy sources.
With these findings it is easy to see how policy can play a critical role in the progress of technology. Researchers feel that there is still more to come for the solar industry and see potential for continued advancements in the technology and also further reductions in costs.
To read the article in full please follow the link:
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.
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.