We are PSE customers and we just got our State incentive check from them, so other utilities should be any time now.
The legislature changed the incentive program a year and a half ago. This was for new signups and they set caps at both the utility and state level. Most utilities have reached their cap and the state cap of $110 million is set to hit End of January. At that point new, installations for solar for the most part will come to a halt in our state.
We are hearing rumblings that the State of Washington is nearing it's cap on payouts for the incentive. When that happens new systems will not be allowed to collect the state incentive. If you want solar plan on doing it in the next month. Otherwise you may be out of luck on the biggest payback portion for solar.
We are approaching June 30th. This is the end of the fiscal year for the state incentive. Starting July 1st the rate drops a few cents. WSU oversees the state incentives. Per the website to meet current incentive rates a system has to be installed AND inspected by June 30th. With that in mind, in the Kittitas Valley we cannot guarantee systems ordered after June first will be installed and inspected by June 30.
In the Yakima area, with PPL taking around 6 weeks to approve a system it is going to be difficult to get it in starting May 1st. When the rate drops a few cents it will add 4-6 months to payback. Not the end of the world but for best ROI get us out for site visit now.
Check out the WSU Energy Website for some good information on incentives.
We are catching wind of installers who are over-charging. If paybacks are over 5 years for a roof mount system under 40 panels, beware. Please give us a call and we will gladly send you an estimate. Lead times are about 4 weeks from manufacturer. State incentive rate drops from .21 to .18 July 1st so plan ahead.
With WSU taking over the incentive payments from the state, you will have to reapply to the program in order to get your incentive payments for the next 3 years. Having just done ours, there
are a few things to note to help you with this process. Before you begin the application, have your utility account number and UBI number from the state handy. The UBI number is the number the
state gave you when I initially signed your system up. If you do not have it, contact the DOR at 1-800-647-7706 or call the net metering department of your utility. Also, if you have
a hybrid system (wind and solar or in state and out of state solar) you have 2 systems because they pay at different rates so be sure and select this option, however, everything will fall under the 1
UBI number you have.
Now for the fun part. Your utility needs to send you something in order for you to complete this process as we had to have a password specific to us. Please see below for your utility information.
PSE- PSE is trying to email as many of its customers as possible. Those customers who do not have an email address or who's email gets returned will be notified by mail. PSE has already sent out the emails (we received ours yesterday) that included a link and password. If you did not receive one, contact PSE net metering
at email@example.com or 1-888-225-5773 and ask for net metering.
PPL- PPL should be notifying their customers shortly, according to WSU. Feel free to contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org and ask them what their process is.
Kittitas PUD- contact Matt Boast at the PUD office at email@example.com or 509.933.7200
City of Ellensburg- Energy Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or (509) 962-7124
Grant County PUD- I have an email in to their net metering department as to what the process is but you can contact them at email@example.com or 509.766.2512
If you are with anyone other the PSE, please feel free to share any information you find out so that I can pass it along to other customers. The process of reapplying took me about 5 minutes
once I had all of the information. The deadline to reapply is April 30th and everyone in the state that has solar under the old system has to complete this process. Therefore, please
complete it ASAP to avoid any problems or delays.
As always, let us know if you have questions. Email Lauren directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Talked to Phil Lou, who is in charge of the state incentive program for WSU and is based out of Olympia. He has been a reliable source for us for years and we discussed a couple of topics that have come up with the new legislation.
For existing customers: You can add more solar but it will fall into different program. All we have to do it just put in new production meter with new panels.
If you have multiple properties you can now put in more solar whereas under the old system it was one name on one tax lot.
Phil has found that there are some unscrupulous installers out there charging way to high prices. He couldn't believe how reasonable our Price per watt is. Not only will you get a fair price per watt, but we will try and educate you on the equipment and process.
Finally, lead times are into April with the incentive rate going down end of June so order sooner rather than later if you are interested.
Currently, lead times for Itek panels is out to April. We do have some in stock but they are first come first served. Also keep in mind the state incentive rate drops June 30th from .21
to .18. The point is don't delay too long if you want highest return on investment. Set up a site visit soon to get the process moving.
The city of Ellensburg just emailed us a incentive they are running. This is on top of the Federal and State incentives. Ellensburg's incentive is $1,000 per Kw installed up to $5,000. Combine
that with the 50% state incentive and the 30% federal tax credit and city residents will have 100% of the system paid for by incentives. The incentive is first come first served and there is a cap on
how much they will give out so don't hesitate if you are thinking about it.
WSU is now up and running in administering the state incentive and we complete the signup for you. We updated WSU with every customer's info we have installed for going on 10 years now. It took a whole weekend but was kind of fun since it was like a time capsule from our business!
As mentioned above, in June we will have completed 10 years in business. Thanks to all who have chosen to use our knowledge and services.
The quickest rate of incentive is getting the system installed by June. Spring is usually a busy time and lead time for panels can be a issue. Start thinking about it now if you want to get something done before June. We work with a lender so if you need a loan we have a great contact. Over the years, a lot of our customers have gone this route and all are quite complimentary as to ease and rates.
With the popularity of solar lead times for panels right now is mid January. With the way the state updated the incentive that's okay. The incentive is for 8 years from when you sign
Also notice that July 1st the incentive rate drops .03 cents for residential systems. While still good getting system done by June 30th is better.
All this to say if you are thinking Spring install planning/decision making should be done over Winter. Lead times are already getting long and expect them to get worse come Spring.
This is one of the pages you will be able to see with the free monitoring. Notice the decreased production on the panels to the right. This is because there is a tree casting a shadow onto those panels. Had this been a string inverter, every panel in the upper row would be only putting out about 128w, every panel in middle row about 99w and the bottom row 54w. This is because with string inverter panels are only as strong as their weakest link.
Microinverters, as you can tell, are strong in areas of shade. Shade can come from trees as is the case here, but also chimneys, gables, satellite dishes, etc. Also, if there is a failure it can be seen and possibly fixed by an engineer from their office. If not, a replacement is sent and we come out and replace. If a microinverter goes down you only are down 2 solar panels, if a string inverter goes down the whole system is down.
The lower graph shows this panel snapshot was taken about noon. A typical full sun day will just be one smooth bell curve. With the jagged peaks of the graph you can tell it was a cloudy day.
With our APsystems microinverters, customers have the ability to monitor their system. This system monitors both individual panels and the total system (and a lot of other information). Well today with the eclipse, it looks like the sun rose and set twice. For those who do not have a system, here is a picture of what one of our customers data looked like.
Here is a link to the major changes regarding the updated state incentive. Looking this over will answer many questions about upcoming changes
We have also calculated the payback using the new rates. Keep in mind these payback calculations are for roof mounts. Ground mounts will add an additional couple of years to all payback
30 panel Made in Washington - about 5 year payback
30 panel not made in Wa. - about 4.5 year payback
60 panel made in Wa. - about 7 year payback
60 panel not made in Wa. - about 6.5 year payback
These payback numbers are based on the 2018 scale. The payback amounts slowly come down based on the year you sign up. So 2018 signup is better than 2019, 2019 better than 2020, etc.
Keep in mid you can sign up until Sept 30th under old program. Currently, payback on 30 panel made in Wa. is about 2.75 years. So if you are thinking solar, considering doing it now.
Just received phone call from customer in the Naches area. saying that PPL just sent their production totals yesterday. So, if you are a PPL customer look for yours in mail. you will need your
number from the Department of Revenue and then you will need to complete the form yourself. Email us if you have questions.
In addition, we also figured out that this customer's production came in right about 1,400 kwh per Kw installed which makes sense with the amount of snow this winter.
With the current round of heat it's easy to forget what a wet dreary winter and spring we had. However, with the fiscal year ending June 30th the production numbers reminded us. Historically we produced in the 1,550kwh/Kw range. It dropped to 1,470kwh/Kw this past fiscal year. Remember to look at your meters and be on the look out for paperwork from your utility to get your incentive payment.
Thanks to all of you for your phone calls and emails to the legislature. Yesterday, a new solar bill was passed. For current solar owners, they froze the rate at what you received last year. That's good news as most utilities were going to drop it significantly this year.
For new customers it will be a sliding scale but with an 8 year lock in. We believe 2018 rate will be .16 base rate + .06 if the system is made in Washington. It will then decrease a penny or so each year for 4 years.
There were some major changes to Bill, so it's going to take a few weeks to digest all the nuances and ramifications and update when we know more.
The Solar Jobs Bill made some headway in the Senate this week. Please contact your Senator and let them know you would appreciate their support on Bill.
This Bill will benefit any existing Solar owner greatly as well as anyone thinking of going Solar.
Below is a before and after picture of a Silicon panel replacement in which 9 Silicon panels were replaced with the 6 higher wattage Itek panels (click to enlarge pictures.) Silicon panels are failing and causing a number of problems including shorting out and potentially causing fires. Signs your panels might be bad include condensation/fog between panels or if your inverter says Low Riso. Silicon Energy no longer answers their phones and apparently went out of business back in Minnesota. However, Itek has been gracious to start a program where they will sell their B grade module to owners of Silicon Energy owners. B grade panels supposedly have some cosmetic blemishes but we didn't see any on them. Itek is asking that in these situations the entire strings are swapped out even if only a few panels are damaged. If you think you have some Silicon panels going bad and want them replaced, call or send us an email.
Washington State Lawmakers are still working on solar legislation.
The updated legislation will allow existing customers to get the intended rate which they signed up for. It will also allow utilities to take on new solar customers. Utilities had two choices once they reached their cap, lower the rate or not allow any more solar customers. This legislation addresses both.
It's not to late to have your voice heard in regards to incentive legislation. Go to
http://solarstrongwa.org/ and support solar.
Please take a few minutes and contact your lawmakers!
As a follow up to our reaching out to Silicon Energy, both emails and phone calls have not been returned. Future support doesn't look good with this company. We personally have 24 panels of theirs so we are definitely concerned. Itek has made a generous offer if Silicon systems need to be replaced however, it might take a little creativity since the Silicon mounting system is so different.
We received a letter from PPL stating they are getting close to their cap. They expect payouts to drop a few cents across the board. This is another good reminder that the 2017 legislature is in session and if you know a legislator please contact and show support for the updated incentive program.
Two important items recently.
First is an email we received from our utility regarding Silicon Energy. We have 24 panels ourselves and noticed two years ago what looked like condensation in the panels. At that time they were warrantied. From the utility we are now hearing that may not be the case. We have reached out to Silicon Energy to see what they have to say. Update will follow once we hear from them. Itek Energy has extended some B-grade (cosmetic blemishes) at reduced prices for customers with Silicon Energy panels. This is a great gesture on their part and may be an option depending on what Silicon Energy replies.
Second is the legislative session. While education will take up most of their time, the Solar Incentive will be looked at again. There are a couple details of what's being proposed to legislators. First is to make it possible for utilities to pay the full amount. The way it's currently written allows utilities to lessen amount at certain benchmarks. Second is to extend beyond the 2020 deadline as currently written. Please contact the your legislator and let them know you support the updated solar incentive that is being presented.
As always, if you have any questions feel free to email or call.
Snow covering solar panels this time of year always generates phone calls. The question, "I'm not generating any power because of snow, should I clean them off"? My answer to that is no, just wait until it melts off. First, power production this time of year in our area is minimal so you aren't missing much. So, if you aren't missing much don't chance falling off snowy roof or damaging panels.
For people considering battery backup, keep this time of year in mind. Very minimal production even with no snow and zero production with snow covering panels. Battery backup systems are very expensive and virtually useless if there is snow. Fall and winter are typically when we get our power outages so the point is you don't want to rely on battery backup. We aren't trying to bash battery backup it's just with our climate they are of minimal use for the expensive price. If we had a southern California type climate (and $ per kwh) we would be saying something completely opposite.
To us, propane/natural gas generators are the way to go. Work 365 days a year and can handle large start up loads like pumps, driers, stoves, heating.
PSE just sent out emails regarding production payments for the fiscal year. If you did not get yours, call them at 1-800-562-1482.
For our customers with another utility, we would assume they should have contacted you by now. If not you should probably call your utility.
Time frames for getting panels is creeping towards four weeks for made in Washington.
For those customers with PPL, their approval time is about 4 weeks.
The state fiscal year for the incentive just ended 6/30. For the year, our 10kw PV system did 16,000kwh. If you look on our homepage we write 1,500kwh per Kw. So we produced a little more than average this year. We like to estimate a little on the low side just to be conservative. This 1,500 per Kw number will be very accurate for anywhere in Eastern Washington.
So let's run some numbers so when you are told by someone trying to sell you solar you know how truthful they are.
30 panels x 270w per panel = 8,100w or 8.1 Kw
8.1 x 1,500 = 12,150kwh generated per year
12,150 x (your electric rate) (for this we will use .10) = $1,215 average off your electric bill per year.
We use this formula all the time. If you substitute the incentive rate for the electric rate that will tell you how much you can expect your annual check from the utility to be through 2020.
We have recently completed a couple of 30 panel systems. One in the Mattawa area and another in Naches. Both are currently producing about 55kwh per day on these nice sunny days. We also finished a 60 panel system out in the Badger Pocket area of Ellensburg. This was done on a monitor style structure.
We have also added some solar mounts that can double as carports. They come in shed roof, gable roof or monitor. These can accommodate 30 or 60 panels and are large enough for RV parking. If you want more panels these are easy enough to expand. Keep in mind any costs associated with the installation of solar gets a 30% federal tax credit.
L&I will be adopting the rapid shutdown requirement July 1st. This will add around $1,000 dollars to the cost. So if you want to save yourself some money you may want to get started soon. Lead time for PPL customers is in the 6-8 week range do to their turnaround of approval.
The incentive legislation did not get extended. The Republican leader and Governor Inslee were both in agreement that it should be extended but they chose to mix in the carbon tax issue with it
which neither could agree on. Therefore they let one historically successful piece of legislation die because they couldn't agree on a different piece of legislation that had zero to do with
While our states unemployment line is about to get longer, China in turn thanks you both Governor Inslee and Senator Doug Ericksen.
For those in Eastern Washington we suggest installing as soon as possible if your utility still has room to let you in.
Feel free to contact us for more information.
Costs for in-state panels have come down some more and that means our prices have also come down.
HB2346 continues to make it's way through the legislature. This HB will up the limits utilities can sign up people for the state incentive. It also switches the incentive rates lower but for 10 year sign up periods. The incentive rate is lower than we would like as it pushes payback times under best case scenario out to 7 years in Eastern Washington and over 10 years in Western Washington. The premium to use made in Washington products isn't much and we fear what will happen to the industry/jobs it created in our state. But overall it's better than nothing so feel free to go online and comment on the bill. Changes with HB2346 to us also make it more attractive to get systems in by June 30th. We can explain more on our site visit.
We are adding battery backup and generators to our lineup. Battery backup can be retrofitted to most systems we have installed over the years. Take a look at the new tab on our website titled Battery Backup and Generators.
Lead times are still out a bit so if you want to get systems in this spring contact us soon.
We have added a 30 panel carport/sunshade to our lineup. There is space for 2 cars under it which is great for keeping the sun of your vehicles.
As we wrap up our 8th year in business, lots of new and exciting times await the start of our 9th. As always feel free to call or email with your questions.
Central Wind & Solar
Phone: (509) 607-2200
Be sure to like us on Facebook. Look for information about new products and new installations.