The Final Four of Solar

OK college hoops fans, who ya got?  Millions of brackets have been busted, and four teams remain.  Gonzaga, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Oregon all aspire to cut down the nets soon.  Each of the teams represents a unique benefit of solar; join Bay Area Solar Solutions, LLC as we take a quick peek at the final four of solar!

The Final Four (1)Gonzaga

The Zags have sported their best season ever, with only one loss this season.  Nestled away in Spokane, Washington, the Zags fight South Carolina for the right to play for the championship.  The state of Washington is ranked 31st nationally in solar (seia.org), a far cry from their recent basketball success.  However, industry forecasts are promising.  Their net metering policies/interconnection agreements receive a “B” grade while they attain an “A” mark for their solar power performance payment program (solarpowerrocks.com).
Washington is among the nation’s leaders in lumber and fruit production such as apples and pears.  Thus, the Zags represent the solar benefit of helping the environment.  When compared to fossil fuels and greenhouse gas emissions, solar easily outshines fossil fuels with extremely low emissions.  Although minuscule amounts of greenhouse gas are emitted during the production process of solar panels, they are dwarfed by the enormous emissions of their fossil fuel counterparts, primarily natural gas in Washington.

“And speaking of doing good for the environment… your system will create some green for the earth by not using electricity from fossil-fuels. In fact, the energy you’re not using has the carbon equivalent of planting 95 trees a year, every year your solar power system is humming.”

–Solar Power Rocks (Washington)

The Final Four (4)Oregon

Tucked in the green northwest, the Ducks are enjoying their greatest run since 1939.  Phil Knight, of Nike fame, was a mere 1 year old the last time the Ducks reached the Final Four.  Solar power was more or less an afterthought then, although Oregon now houses approximately 33,000 roofs with solar (seia.org).  Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) also reports Oregon’s great dip in the pricing of solar, with a sharp decline of 64% the last 5 years.  According to Solar Power Rocks, Oregon has an overall grade of “A,” with exceptional marks in net metering, interconnection, tax credits, rebates, and property and sales tax exemptions.
Oregon is also home of Silicon Forest, the huge technology center in and around Portland.  As such, their solar benefit we have tagged them with is “the future.”  Technology is improving at a rapid rate in solar, and future generations will most certainly reap the rewards.  Silicon Forest is the home of SolarWorld, the solar panel production giant spearheading hi-tech United States solar.  The future of solar looks great in Oregon, and many customers are purchasing solar with the future in mind–not just their own future, but future generations as well.

The Final Four (1)North Carolina

Head coach Roy Williams and the Tar Heels have been here before.  Gunning for their 7th national title, the Chapel Hill squad have by far the most success and experience of the teams remaining.  Solar is also huge and successful in the state of North Carolina.  SEIA currently ranks North Carolina as the #2 solar state, even employing over 7,000 workers shining for the industry.  Although Solar Power Rocks grades North Carolina as a “C” regarding policies, North Carolina has been a regional leader in solar thanks to previous solar incentives and a now-stronger Renewable Portfolio Standard.
In being a regional leader in solar, North Carolinians are able to save more money in energy expenses.  Interesting, the best way to save money by switching to solar in North Carolina is through a solar loan, rather than purchasing the system outright.  Solarize Chapel Hill is an initiative that helps more people in Chapel Hill go solar by streamlining the entire process by strong, local partnerships.  With strong grassroots programs such as Solarize Chapel Hill and strong incentives, North Carolinians are able to save money everyday with solar!

“When your loan’s paid off after year 15, you’ll start to see over $1,000 per year in savings until the end of your system’s life.  For our 25-year estimate, you’ll see pretty nice returns, to the tune of $7,540 after all the payments.”

–Solar Power Rocks, savings on 5kW system loan (15 and 25 years, respectively)

The Final Four (2)South Carolina

Located in Columbia, the University of South Carolina is enjoying its first ever run in the Final Four.  Coach Frank Martin’s no-nonsense approach has worked thus far, as the Gamecocks are led by stingy defense that has thwarted opponents.  As a state, South Carolina is slowly but surely thwarting fossil fuels in favor of solar.  Currently ranked 27th in solar by SEIA, South Carolina is dwarfed by their northern counterparts.  Solar Power Rocks gives South Carolina a “C” grade in policies as well, although the state gets high marks in payback time and investment return.
South Carolina, in trying to keep up in solar with their northern neighbors, is improving their energy independence for homeowners.  According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, South Carolina ‘s energy is primarily supplied by 4 nuclear power plants (55%).  However, that number should diminish with South Carolina’s Renewable Portfolio Standard’s enactment.  Many energy markets are unstable, and price fluctuations impact economies across the US.  Energy independence not only ensures protection from unstable markets and price fluctuations, but also the source of energy also remains sustainable (the sun).

“In 2014, South Carolina enacted a renewable portfolio standard authorizing the creation of distributed energy resource programs to encourage the development of in-state renewable energy generation capacity.”

–U.S. Energy Information Administration

The Final Four (3)Florida–OUR SHINING MOMENT!

Although Florida and Florida State were recently bounced from the tournament, we as Floridians have much to learn from the four remaining teams in regards to their solar state.  We as Floridians have an amazing opportunity to impact the future and the environment, as our pacific northwest friends represent.  We as Floridians also have the joy of saving money and attaining energy independence, as our southern friends represent.  Washington State can help Floridians develop better net metering/interconnection policies.  Oregon can help Floridians design a better rebate system.  Likewise, Floridians can learn from North Carolina and develop a strong Renewable Portfolio Standard.  Lastly, Floridians can seek South Carolina’s help in strengthening payback time and investment return.
Whether you are pulling for Gonzaga, Oregon, South Carolina, or North Carolina, the games should be fun and competitive.  Late Monday night, a new champion will be crowned.  The song, “One Shining Moment” will be played, and appropriately so.  We as Floridians have the opportunity and responsibility to shine in solar, and to make solar our shining moment!

 

 

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