Category Archives: solar energy

Savings From Middletown Solar Project Questioned

By guest blogger Linda Baum

Anyone who attended the Middletown Town Committee meeting on June 20th got to see Birdsall Engineering’s presentation of its solar feasibility study. A pdf version of that presentation is now on the town’s website. The Birdsall representative, Jessica Vogel, repeatedly emphasized the 9 cent solar electric rate assumed in Birdsall’s savings analysis, and the Town Committee joined her in repeating the $6.6 million savings achieved over 15 years.

Interestingly, the analysis doesn’t list what assumptions were made in arriving at that savings figure (labeled “cost avoidance” in the study). To know what you’d save, you have to know what you’d otherwise pay, right? So Birdsall would have to have known what the town pays its supplier for the electricity.

I brought up this issue at the town workshop meeting on July 6th. I learned that currently the town pays around 11 cents per kilowatt hour. I played with the Birdsall numbers — they assume a utility rate of more than 17.5 cents, and rising. I asked about the other assumptions used in the study. Committeeman Settembrino said that the panels are expected to produce 0.5% less electricity each year, but the Birdsall numbers assume that production will drop by only 0.25% each year.

The effect of those inaccuracies is to make it appear that the town will achieve much bigger savings than they actually will. Per Birdsall, a 9 cent per kilowatt hour rate for solar electricity (escalating by 3% each year) will produce savings over 15 years of $6.6 million. Had they used accurate inputs, the savings figure would be closer to $1 million. But if the town is able to get a utility rate closer to the county’s current rate of around 9 or 9.5 cents, there will be no savings at all.

The Town Committee said that they hadn’t checked the numbers in the study and pointed out that Birdsall is a reputable firm. So who am I to question them, right?? They asked what I was getting at. They said, “If the savings are lower, should we not do this? Are you saying we shouldn’t provide tax relief to residents?”

Whoa!!! No, that is not what I’m saying at all. I’m all for solar. Always have been. But I’m also for truth and accuracy. If the assumptions underlying Birdsall’s analysis are inaccurate, then the study does a poor job of assessing feasibility. And wasn‘t that the point? Does that mean we shouldn’t pursue solar? No. It means we should be looking for a much better deal than 9 cents per kwh.

I have to wonder why no one on the Town Committee seemed more concerned that Birdsall’s numbers are wrong. If the town is using the study as a guide to assess offers from developers, then they will be ill-equipped to do so.

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Filed under Birdsall Service Group, cost analysis, kilowatt hour, Middletown Township Committee, solar energy, solar panels, solar project, tax relief, utility rates

>Survey Confirms that New Jersey is a Solar Power; Two Garden State utilities finish in the top 10 nationwide when it comes to adding solar capacity

>If you are a proponent of green and clean energy and think that solar energy is the best way to go, then the following article posted on NJspotlight will be of great interest to you. Our great state of New Jersey is among the leaders of the nation when it comes to installing solar panels that generate electrical power for both the general public, individuals and industry.

561 megawatts of electricity were added last year through solar panels around the state, which represents a 300% increase over what was reported in 2009.

The road forward in solar energy production may be changing in the near future however, if proposed changes by the Christie administration move forward.

In another indication of the fast-paced growth of New Jersey’s solar market, two of the state’s four electric utilities ranked in the top 10 nationally in adding solar power in the past year, according to a new survey.

Newark Schools Partner with PSE&G to Create Green Curriculum

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) and Jersey Central Power & Light (JCP&L) ranked third and ninth, respectively, in the amount of solar capacity added in 2010 according to a survey by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Atlantic City Electric, ranked 12th in new solar capacity, but broke into the top 10 at ninth in solar watts per customer, which is a measure of the utility’s new solar capacity divided by number of customers. PSE&G finished second in that category.

The annual survey, the fourth one done by the association, reflects the growing trend of utilities to incorporate solar power into their energy portfolios. All told, the nation’s utilities integrated 561 megawatts of solar electricity into their deliveries, a 100 percent increase over the previous year, the association said.

Christie’s Changes
The findings come at a time when Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday recommended sweeping changes in New Jersey’s solar program, which is second to only California’s in the number of systems that have been installed. The Governor’s overhauled Energy Master Plan recommends steering most of the state’s efforts in developing solar away from residential installations to commercial and industrial applications, where, it argues, the state will get a bigger bang for its buck.

It is unclear how the changes will affect the electric utilities in the state, all of whom have programs geared to encouraging residential solar installations. But Al Matos, a vice president for PSE&G, said the utility will tailor its program to conform to the new recommendations….

Continue reading …. Here

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Filed under Christie Administration, Gov. Chris Christie, megawatts of power, New Jersey, NJspotlight, PSEG, solar energy

President Obama’s Weekly Address 7/3/10: A Solar Recovery

As part of the explosion of Recovery Act projects this summer and as a move towards a clean energy future, the President announces nearly $2 billion in conditional commitments to key solar companies. Learn more from the White House fact sheet.

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Filed under American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan, President Obama, solar energy, weekly address