Spokane community solar project shows power of WA solar tech, incentives

http://bluefrogsolar.com/solarworld-and-enphase-energy-enter-global-strategic-partnership/

Plenty of sunshine, not too many trees. And a local utility membership eager to put solar power to work for their co-op.

It all added up to the right time for a community solar project, now churning out the wattage for Inland Power & Light in Spokane.

“It’s producing extremely well,” said John Francisco, chief of energy resources for Inland Power, as he monitored the output of the new 30kW solar installation outside the utility’s office.

“We were fortunate to finish construction and energize the array during the span of several cloudless days so we could get a good feel for the performance of the array.”

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The ground-mount array sits in view of passing motorists on I-90, a prominent display of Washington’s solar potential.

It’s the first significant venture into solar for Inland Power, a member-owned utility serving about 39,000 residential and commercial customers in 13 counties in eastern Washington and northern Idaho. Founded in 1937, it is the largest electric cooperative in Washington.

The full cost of the system was funded by participating utility members, who were given the chance to buy shares in the system and reap the financial benefits of solar investment.

The project is also a showcase for Washington’s thriving solar manufacturing industry. The installation includes 112 photovoltaic modules by Itek Energy of Bellingham, 56 APS YC500 microinverters by Blue Frog Solar of Poulsbo, and racking by SunModo of Vancouver, Wash.

The installation was completed in late August by Brimma Solar of Vancouver, the winning bidder among three firms that vied for the project.

John Harley, Brimma Solar vice president, said the project’s impact extends far beyond the customers who will benefit from its power production.

“When a utility installs a system, it helps promote solar for their customers,” Harley said. “Customers with solar, or thinking about installing solar, feel comfort when they know their utility supports solar.”

For Washington solar manufacturers, the project is also chance to demonstrate the high quality of solar components being produced by local industry.

 

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“We think this is exactly the sort of project our legislators hoped to encourage when they envisioned community solar,” said Tim Bailey, Blue Frog Solar co-founder. “To see locally made solar equipment in a showcase project like this is tremendous, and really shows solar’s success in Washington.”

Inland Power is the fourth Washington utility to develop an array under the community solar model, according to Phil Lou of the Washington State University Energy Program, which tracks the industry. About 30 community solar projects totaling 872 kW capacity have been developed statewide.

Those have supplemented residential and commercial solar installations in the growing industry. About 8 MW of solar capacity was installed across Washington in 2013, a 54 percent increase over the previous year.

 

 

COMMUNITY SOLAR

In 2005, the Washington state Legislature enacted solar production incentives to promote the development of alternative energy sources including solar and wind.

Homeowners and businesses that install a solar system can earn a power rebate of 54 cents per kilowatt-hour of energy they put back into the grid – a “distributed generation” model – up to $5,000 per year.

The Legislature later extended the incentives to “community solar” projects, encouraging utilities and local governments to add clean energy arrays to their own production capacity. The sponsoring utility earns a state tax credit that is passed along to participating customers in the form of production incentives.

Inland Power already had about 80 customers with residential solar arrays. The utility also had a modest, 2.24 kW ground-mount array of its own that went up when it built a new office five years ago.
The opportunity to build a larger, community array on the same property made financial sense to the utility, and was met with strong support from members when it was proposed.

“We wanted to expand solar participation, and community solar was an excellent avenue due to the low entry cost to each participant and the very generous state incentive structure,” Francisco said.

With the array now up and running, members got the chance to buy in. Shares were made available to Inland Power members at $300 each, with a limit of 10 shares per member. A total of 526 shares were available.

The shares were priced high enough to keep the total number manageable by the utility, and low enough to allow participation even by customers of modest means, Francisco said.

Because of strong demand, Inland Power offered the shares to members through a lottery in October.

“We were way oversold, and the lottery was a fair approach to allocating the available shares,” Francisco said. Inland had approximately 1,300 members submit their names for the lottery, and 87 members were drawn.

Solar shareholders will receive the benefit of net metering, that is, the positive difference between their own power consumption and what their portion of the community solar system generates. They will also see a pro rata rebate from Inland Power at $1.08 per kWh hour of power produced.

“We are excited to help a broader section of our members enjoy the environmental benefits of solar power, contribute to our state economy by supporting in-state manufacturing and take advantage of the state-sponsored incentive program for community solar,” Francisco said.

Francisco said the project is already a success for Inland Power customers. If the utility is seen in the vanguard of community solar in Washington, that’s okay too.

“We’re doing this for the right reasons, but it’s nice to be recognized,” he said. “We believe in it, otherwise we wouldn’t do it.”

GROUNDBREAKING YC1000 3-PHASE MICROINVERTER NOW AVAILABLE FROM BLUE FROG

http://bluefrogsolar.com/groundbreaking-yc1000-3-phase-microinverter-now-available-from-blue-frog/

Large-scale commercial solar now has a microinverter solution – and Blue Frog has it.

The new YC1000 microinverter from APS is the industry’s first true 3-phase microinverter, handling 277/480 grid voltages with 900 watts maximum output, ZigBee communication and an integrated ground.

Each microinverter handles up to four PV modules – another APS first – while up to 11 units (44 modules total, 60- or 72-cell) can be linked in a single 15A circuit. And the unit is offered at a price point competitive with conventional “string” inverters.

The APS YC1000 microinverter is now available through Blue Frog. Find out more about this groundbreaking 3-phase, 4-module microinverter here, and then email tbailey [at] bluefrogsolar [dot] com for sales inquiries.

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ABOUT OUR WARRANTY: IT’S BACKED BY APS

http://bluefrogsolar.com/about-our-warranty-its-backed-by-aps/

35We’re proud of the quality and reliability of our Blue Frog/APS microinverters – and just as proud of the warranty that backs them.

We want to remind our customers that our warranty is fully backed by APS corporate (not Blue Frog), giving you an extra measure of confidence in the protection that comes with every unit.

Also, remember that Blue Frog offers a 25-year extended warranty free of charge. If you happen to prefer just a 10-year warranty on your equipment, the cost is $20 less per unit.

Great microinverters and a great warranty. We think that’s a pretty good deal no matter how you look at it.

Solar Builder magazine honors Blue Frog/APS microinverter installation

http://bluefrogsolar.com/solar-builder-magazine-honors-blue-frogaps-microinverter-installation/

Blue Frog/APS microinverters power the uber-green Grow Community, a runner-up in Solar Builder magazine’s 2014 Project of the Year awards.

Solar-Builder-POYThe roof-mount installation earns a great feature in the magazine’s new issue, on newsstands now.

“We wanted to deliver a product that both was designed to be extremely energy efficient but also had the idea of solar in mind at the time of design,” project manager Greg Lotakis tells Solar Builder. “We started at the roof, asked how many panels we could get on it, designed the roof for that, [estimated] what we expected [to] produce, and then we used that energy budget and worked backwards into the house. What we are really striving to do: deliver a really healthy, energy-efficient home that has the ability to be net zero with solar.”

It worked — at 112 kW and growing, Grow Community is already the largest planned solar community in Washington. More solar is on the way in two new neighborhoods now under development.

The installation includes 260-watt modules by itek Energy and racking by SunModo. Installer is A&R Solar of Seattle.

The project is being developed by Asani LLC, with construction by PHC.

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Simple Solar at the general meeting of the Master Builders Association

http://bluefrogsolar.com/simple-solar-at-the-general-meeting-of-the-master-builders-association/

Meet Blue Frog Solar at the general meeting of the Master Builders Association this Thursday, Sept. 11, at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

Marja Preston will represent Blue Frog at the reception and tabletop trade show, 5:30-6:45 p.m. Come by and say hello, and find out more about Blue Frog’s Simple Solar program ― we’ll have literature and displays on hand. Find out what Simple Solar can do for your home or new development project.

For more information on the Master Builders Association event, see www.mba-ks.com.

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Grow Community is a Solar Builder Magazine finalist!

http://bluefrogsolar.com/grow-community-is-a-solar-builder-magazine-finalist/

vote now buttonGrow Community is one of six finalists for Solar Builder magazines’s prestigious 2014 Project of the Year award.

Grow was nominated in the Roof-Mount installation category. The annual contest honors innovative applications of solar technology in residential and commercial settings.

Grow Community, is already the largest planned solar community in Washington state. The award-winning community has been designed around the idea that homes should produce all the energy their residents would need (net-zero impact) while capturing the financial benefits that come with producing renewable energy.

The 112kW (and growing) solar component is powered by Made-In-Washington equipment including PV modules by itek Energy of Bellingham and microinverters by Blue Frog/APS of Poulsbo/Bainbridge Island. Installation is by A&R Solar of Seattle, with solar financing by Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union.

The winning project will be featured on the cover of the next issue of Solar Builder magazine, and will be honored at a special ceremony at the Solar Power International convention in Las Vegas, Oct. 20-23.

VOTE FOR GROW HERE!

 


Simple Solar makes sense, Kitsap Business Journal says

http://bluefrogsolar.com/simple-solar-makes-sense-kitsap-business-journal-says/

Blue Frog Solar and our Simple Solar program got some great press this week with an in-depth feature in the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal.  Read it Here.

The KPBJ ives a comprehensive look at the incentives that make Washington solar such a great deal — and Simple Solar, which makes it easier than ever to make the move to energy self-sufficiency. It’s a great move for both existing homes and new construction.

As the Business Journal notes:

Blue Frog is collaborating on the largest residential solar project in Kitsap County — Bainbridge Island’s Grow Community, a project of real estate development and investment firm Asani. It’s an example of effectively designing and building homes to accommodate rooftop solar panels.
“We knew from the outset that our goal was to create a net-zero community using solar,” says Marja Preston, senior director of development at Asani and owner of a solar home at Grow. “So everything there was designed, including the apartments, so we could get enough solar panels on the roof to provide all the energy needed for the homeowner.”

Thanks to the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal and editor Tim Kelly for the great coverage! Find out more about Simple Solar here.

 

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What does Washington’s largest planned solar community look like from the air?

http://bluefrogsolar.com/what-does-washingtons-largest-planned-solar-community-look-like-from-the-air/

Here’s a bird’s-eye view of Grow Community phase 1, the Village, and its remarkable concentration of energy-producing rooftops.

Each residential system includes from 24 to 32 PV modules by itek Energy, with more than 400 Blue Frog Made-in-Washington APS microinverters installed across the community.

Grow Community homes are now producing 85-105 percent of their energy needs, eliminating residents’ power bills and earning financial credits through Washington’s strong solar incentives.

Click here to learn more about this installation.

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Simple Solar on the KIRO-FM airwaves

http://bluefrogsolar.com/simple-solar-on-the-kiro-fm-airwaves/

Blue Frog Solar and our new Simple Solar program are radio stars, featured on KIRO-FM’s “Real Estate Today” program recently.

Host Tom Kelly interviewed the Simple Solar team including Tim Bailey, Blue Frog founder and principal; Shannon Ellis-Brock, COO of Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union; and Reeves Clippard, founder and CEO of A&R Solar of Seattle. Also on hand was Greg Lotakis, project manager for Grow Community, the largest planned solar community in Washington state and powered by Blue Frog/APS microinverter technology.

The hour-long discussion covered today’s dramatic solar incentives and the ease of financing a new solar system for homeowners. On-air callers had great questions for the in-studio team.

Listen to a podcast of the program on the Real Estate Today website.

Thanks to Tom Kelly and KIRO-FM 97.3 for hosting Blue Frog Solar and the Simple Solar team!

If you’ve not yet seen it, check out our new Simple Solar program online and see what Blue Frog Solar can do for you. We’re especially interested in partnering with new homebuilders to build solar in to their projects. Spread the word — Simple Solar is here!

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SOLAR SPOTLIGHT: Banner Power Solutions 9.54 kW Ground Mount System – Sedro-Woolley, WA

http://bluefrogsolar.com/solar-spotlight-banner-power-solutions-9-54-kw-ground-mount-system-sedro-woolley-wa/

25The design and installation team at Banner Power Solutions faced several challenges while planning, designing and installing this ground-mount array in beautiful Sedro-Woolley, Skagit County.

Due to lack of desirable roof space and moderate shading issues, the Banner team helped their customer discover the advantages a ground-mount system to maximize array siz  e and sun harvest potential.

NABCEP-certified PV Installers and Banner Power Solutions owners Guy Knoblich and Eric Hull then faced their next challenge: how to install a 50-foot long system on an 8 percent slope, with the desirable location and optimal orientation. To meet the challenge, the array was split in two, and the hillside slightly terraced to accommodate three dozen modules.

At the beginning of the design process, options for inverters were presented to the customer. They chose Blue Frog APS YC500 microinverters because of the easy monitoring system and 25-year warranty.
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The completed system includes 36 itek 265-watt modules and 18 APS YC500 inverters, to create a 9.54 kW, ground-mount system. The installation was completed in February 2014.

Banner Power Solutions offers full service PV solar design, lighting retrofits as well as generator sales installation and maintenance.

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Designer/Installer:

Banner Power Solutions
Location: Sedro-Woolley, Washington
Installation date: February 2014
Capacity: 9.54 kW
Module type: itek 265-watt modules
Microinverters: Blue Frog/APS YC500
No. of microinverters: 18
Estimated Power bill reduction: 60 percent
Approximate payback time: 6.5-7 years