Solar Power Hits Home

August 8, 2008

Solar panels are also getting better-looking, like these in San Ramon, Calif.
Robert Nickelsberg / Getty

 As reported on

There were limits to how green Bruce Letvin was willing to go. For years, the 53-year-old anatomy professor had wanted to install solar panels on his Manhattan Beach, Calif., home. But the up-front installation costs always outweighed the benefits for the environment and his conscience. This spring, however, he managed to work out green financing with the help of solar company SunPower. After determining that his electricity bills and roof exposure were large enough to make him a good candidate for its solar panels, the company, based in San Jose, Calif., helped him find a 15-year loan for the $64,500 system. Yes, his $550 loan payment is more than the $300 or so he used to spend each month on electricity bills–so far, he has generated enough solar power that he doesn’t need to take any juice from the grid–but after he pays off the loan, his power will be free. And this year, he’ll get a $16,000 rebate in the form of federal and state tax incentives for solar. “I really wouldn’t have been able to do this without the financing,” he says. “But with [the loan], it’s a no-brainer.”

That stiff up-front cost has always been the biggest barrier to residential use of solar power. An average set of rooftop panels costs $20,000 to $30,000 and takes 10 to 15 years to produce enough electricity to pay for itself–a deal not unlike asking a new cell-phone owner to pay in advance for a decade’s worth of minutes. But that equation will change as the cost of solar panels drops and the price of fossil-fuel-generated electricity rises. (Letvin’s utility provider just put in for a 30% rate increase for the heaviest power users.) Photovoltaic solar installations were up 45% last year compared with 2006, with about a third of those systems going on residential roofs. And now solar companies and banks are helping homeowners stretch the cost over the lifetime of the panels, and sunny California is at the forefront of this trend. In April, SolarCity, one of the biggest panel installers in the state, began offering no-money-down leases for home installation. Says ceo Lyndon Rive: “If you had the choice of using clean power over dirty power and paying less for it, wouldn’t you take it?”

Sure, solar panels are a hefty investment, and credit markets are tightening up. But with carbon caps looming on the horizon and power supplies running short, customers like John Stubblebine of Cupertino, Calif., can insulate themselves from future electricity shocks. A technology consultant, he financed a $35,000 system with a 15-year lease from SolarCity. “If the worst forecasts are true, I’ll come out a big winner,” he says.

Still, solar isn’t for every home. Different parts of the U.S. receive vastly different amounts of sunlight, so a solar panel in sun-drenched Las Vegas will always be more productive than one in cloudy Seattle. Incentives vary from state to state and can tip the numbers as well. But financing means that at least you won’t need a lot of excess green to go green.

Our Perspective:


In NJ, with the proposed 1st year residential rebate of upto $20,000, the payment of SRECs and a 30% federal tax credit upto $2000, the residential solar market is poised to take off again.

If you are a business, you get to take advantage of the full 30% federal tax credit. Add to that, the payment of SRECs , which are designed to help underwrite upto 88% of the cost of the installation over a 15 year period, we are seeing a 4.5 year ROI.

Where can you make an investment now days which will give you all your money back in 4.5 years?

In PA, Gov. Rendell has just signed a bill setting aside $500,000,000 to help fund ther effort to go green.

Should you want to know more about the opportunities to go solar in NJ & PA email, or you can call 856-857-1230.

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by The Associated Press

Tuesday June 17, 2008, 3:44 PM

The Atlantic City Convention Center plans to install what it says would be the largest single-building solar energy project in the United States, providing more than a quarter of its daily electrical needs.

Under a 20-year agreement, the center is hiring a private company, Pepco Energy Services of Arlington, Va., to install the solar panels on 290,000 square feet — or about two-thirds — of its main roof.

Pepco will pay to install the panels; the convention center will then buy the electricity they generate from Pepco.

The center says it will save about $4.4 million in electricity costs over the 20-year contract, while also reducing greenhouse gases and helping the environment. It currently spends about $1.4 million a year on electricity.

The project will generate about 2.36 megawatts of energy, or enough to power 280 homes each day. That would make it the largest solar energy project in the country involving a single rooftop, said Monique Hanis, a spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, said the group began planning a solar project a few years ago when Gov. Jon S. Corzine pushed for greater use of sun and wind power in New Jersey.

“We have a great building to do this on, and we wanted to be the first kid on the block to get in on it,” Vasser said.

“This helps a young industry grow into a mature one, helps reduce our dependence on oil, and produces electricity that does not increase carbon emissions into the air,” he said of the multi million-dollar project.

The work is expected to begin within 30 days and be completed by the end of the year. That’s important because it would qualify Pepco for tax incentives for solar projects that are due to expire next year.

Currently, solar energy accounts for only 1 percent of U.S. energy use, the association said.

The convention and visitors authority also is looking into the possibility of building a single wind-powered turbine on land it owns near the center, as well as whether a solar project would work on part of Boardwalk Hall.


New Jersey is taking great strides to introduce alternative energy to the mainstream. Since increasing the value of the SREC to $711 per 1000 kw of electrc produced, solar has become the new sexy. For more information about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area contact HBS Solar 857-857-1230 or email . Ask about our free proforma.


PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

BORDENTOWN, N.J. – Manheim, the world’s leading provider of vehicle remarketing services and a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., today unveiled the installation of solar panels at its Manheim New Jersey facility (formerly National Auto Dealers Exchange). This initiative generates 15 percent of its detail shop’s electricity, reduces overall energy consumption and creates long-term savings for the operation.

The panels cover the usable portion of the shop’s 42,000-square-foot roof and produce 136 megawatt hours annually. This equates to enough energy to power 12 average-size homes and prevent the emissions of 95 tons of greenhouse gases. The panels are maintenance-free and have a life expectancy of more than 20 years.

Manheim’s use of alternative energy is tied to the New Jersey Clean Energy Pilot Program, which supports businesses in selling solar renewable energy credits to local utilities. The photovoltaic solar panels capture the sun’s radiation energy and convert it directly to electricity. The electricity is used to power all electrical devices in the detail shop, including lighting, vacuums and mechanical lifts.

“I’m extremely proud of how Manheim and its employees have embraced our “Go Green” initiatives. Through their efforts, we’ve put in place a variety of long-term conservation programs, including water-based painting, water treatment and recycling and now € alternative energy,” said Manheim president and CEO Dean Eisner. “As a result, we’re able to reduce our reliance on local energy resources while making meaningful differences in our communities.”

“Go Green” supports parent company Cox Enterprises’ Cox Conserves, a national program aimed at further reducing Cox’s total carbon footprint an additional 20 percent by 2017.

“Through our Cox Conserves environmental initiative, Cox Enterprises is proud to have partnered with Manheim New Jersey in one of our first renewable energy generation projects. We also commend the State of New Jersey in helping to provide the financial incentives for us to build this system, through their innovative Clean Energy Pilot Program,” said Mike Mannheimer, vice president, supply chain services and chief procurement officer, Cox Enterprises.

“Our facility takes great pride in being the first Manheim location to install rooftop solar panels on its detail shop,” said Pete Sauber, general manager, Manheim New Jersey. “Our team, partnering with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, realized immediately the positive impact this effort would have on the environment and the community.”

Pleased with the project’s early successes, Manheim New Jersey plans to install 70,000 square feet of additional panels, a move that will add 580 kilowatts of electrical capacity to the existing 130 kilowatt solar panel system.

Manheim is the world’s leading provider of vehicle remarketing services. Through its wholesale operating locations and array of technology products, Manheim impacts every stage of a used vehicle’s life cycle, helping commercial sellers and automobile dealers realize the full value of their vehicles.

The company’s operating location services include reconditioning, certification, inspections, dealer financing, transport, title management and marshaling, among others. Manheim is also the leader in vehicle remarketing technology, using its online tools to connect buyers and sellers around the globe to the world’s largest, most comprehensive wholesale marketplace. In 2007, Manheim handled nearly 10 million used vehicles, facilitating transactions representing more than $59 billion in value.

Manheim’s subsidiary companies provide value-added remarketing products and services, including paintless dent removal (Dent Wizard), Auto Body Repair and salvage vehicle remarketing (Total Resources Auctions).

Manheim is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, Inc., one of the nation’s leading media companies and providers of automotive services.

To learn more about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email  Ask about our free proforma.

2008 Commercial Business Incentives:

  • 30% Investment Tax Credit 

  • IRS Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System (MACRS)

  • New Jersey Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECS)


The Basics of Solar Electricity

The Economics of Solar Power

  • Sunshine is an unlimited resource that comes to you free of charge, delivered to your home with no monthly bills
  • The federal investment tax credit allows for 30% of a system’s cost to be deducted from any federal taxes due and has no cap  for commercial installations.  $2000 cap applies to residential.
  • Solar panels convert sunlight to DC power; inverters convert DC power into AC electricity
  • Electric rates continue to rise – 2008 increases are +12.2%
  • Causes no pollution, uses no fossil fuels and is very cool
  • MARCS or 5 Year Accelerated Depreciation on solar equipment for commercial installations
  • Solar energy is  simple and silent with no moving parts
  • Electric production value > $0.15 per Kwh avoided cost
  • Reduces or eliminates your electric bill. Your system continues to produce electricity for many years to come
  • BONUS!  Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) earn you additional money every year – for 15 years through 2020
  • No need for batteries – simply use the utility company’s grid for electric power storage
  • An investment in a solar electric system is not only economically sound, but also environmentally friendly.  Green is good for buisness.
  • Panels warranted for 25 years, DC to AC inverter warranted for 10 years
  • To produce electricity power companies generate thousands of pounds of pollution


The Rising Cost of Electricity

June 1, 2008 – PSE&G Rate Increase 12.1%

June 1, 2008 – JCP&L  Rate Increase 13%

With the rising cost of fuel oil and natural gas, the power companies have announced these increases to cover their costs to produce electricity for resale.  A solar system on your roof, generating all or part of the electricity you use, would greatly reduce the impact of these increases on your monthly budget.


Stop Depending on the Utility Companies – Produce Your Own Electricity


A solar electric system will not reduce the amount of fuel oil or natural gas you use to heat your home, but it will reduce the amount used by your electric company to generate electricity for resale.  By generating your own electricity, you will reduce the amount you purchase from the utility company, thereby reducing what they need to generate.  It’s truly a win-win for everyone!



Financing a System

Rebates and credits for solar systems and renewable energy are currently available from both the State of New Jersey and the Federal Government.
Residential Rebates:
State of New Jersey                        Closed in December 2007, pending Clean Energy Bill 
Federal Tax Credit                          Up to $2,000
Commercial Rebates:
State of New Jersey                       Closed in December 2007, pending Clean Energy Bill 
Federal Tax Credit                         30% of System
Equipment Depreciation                 5 Years Accelerated
USDA Grants and Loans               Available for specified rural areas
With available rebates and tax credits, your out-of-pocket costs are approximately one-third the cost of your system.  However, the return on your investment can be 15% or more.  Return on your investment comes in two forms.  First is the reduction in your electric bill.  A solar system can reduce your bill by 50% or more, depending on its’ size and your usage.  Second is the sale of SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) back to the utility companies.  This value varies depending on supply and demand.

For more information about NJ commercial incentive program you may email

Hutchinson Business Solutions…..Creating Opportunities Today…….Providing Savings for Tomorrow.

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