Hail & Solar Panels: How Much Hail Can Solar Panels Handle?

Hail & Solar Panels: How Much Hail Can Solar Panels Handle?

 

With hail such a frequent concern here in Colorado’s Front Range, our customers often ask us how their new solar energy system will hold up to hail over its 25-plus year lifespan.

Today’s solar panels are designed to withstand even the harshest of outdoor elements. Whether you are considering a rooftop system for your home or a roof or ground-mounted solar array for your commercial property, you can rest assured that your solar PV system will continue to convert clean, renewable solar energy into electricity for decades.

Solar Panel Resilience Against Extreme Weather Conditions

The solar industry’s top solar panel manufacturers have long understood the need for solar panels that can withstand extreme weather conditions like high winds and hail. In fact, most manufacturers test and certify their solar panels to withstand hail up to one inch in diameter falling at 50 miles per hour.

Today’s solar panels are also extremely resilient against high winds and heavy rain. Most solar panels are certified to withstand hurricane force winds. In addition, the aluminum and glass casings that hold a solar panel’s solar cells are highly waterproof, even during extreme rain.

How 3,000 Solar Panels Measured Up Against a Massive Hail Storm

The National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in Golden, Colorado, can attest to the resilience of solar panels against extreme weather. The NREL is home to an enormous solar energy system consisting of 3,168 rooftop- and ground-mounted solar panels. In 2017, a severe hail storm that hit the greater Denver area had some people worried about all of those solar panels on the NREL campus.

Despite hailstones up to 2.75 inches in diameter being reported in the area — and the countless cars and windows that were damaged — only one of the facility’s 3,168 solar panels sustained damage. That’s a major testament to the resilience of renewable solar energy systems.

Ensure a Long Life for Your System with Expert Installation

Though today’s solar products are built to withstand the extreme weather conditions that can affect the Denver and Boulder areas, you need expert system installation from an experienced contractor if you want to ensure a long life for your solar energy system.

Having installed over 5,000 solar energy systems here in Colorado, Namasté Solar can help you achieve years of solar benefits like lower energy bills and a reduced carbon footprint. Because of our superior workmanship and high quality of materials used, you can expect decades of free electricity from your solar PV system.

 

Considering making the switch to solar here in Colorado? Contact us or call 303.447.0300 to get a free quote!

Are Solar Panels a Good Investment?

Are Solar Panels a Good Investment?

 

When considering solar energy for a home, many people begin by asking “how much does it cost to go solar?”. This makes sense – after all, it’s important to find out what kind of financial resources are required and whether going solar is a possibility given your financial situation. Fortunately, there are very attractive financing choices, including no upfront cost options, that make solar affordable and accessible to many more people.

In addition to looking at solar as a purchase that has a cost, solar panels can also be looked at as an investment. This is because switching to clean solar energy can generate attractive financial benefits that rival the returns of other places you can put your money – like savings accounts, money market or bond funds.*

So, let’s look at how you can go about evaluating residential solar energy as an investment.

Calculating and Comparing Solar ROI

The return on investment (“ROI”) for solar panels can be looked at in several ways. No approach is perfect, so people tend to look at a few different ROI calculations. A simpler method is payback period, which we’ll discuss in the next section. One of the more complex approaches is a calculation called internal rate of return, or IRR, which calculates the discount rate (or rate of return) that makes net present value of all the cash flows (including annual electric savings, in this case) equal to zero. If that last sentence makes your eyes glaze over, read on.

Payback Period

A simpler way to look at the return on investment of solar panels is to ask “How many years will it take for my solar panels to pay me back for the cost I paid?” This is often referred to the “payback period”. To calculate your payback period, you simply divide your net cost of your solar electric system by the annual savings on your electricity bill.

For example, if you purchase a $21,000 solar electric system for your house, 30% of that will be offset by a Federal tax credit, leaving you with the net cost of $14,700. If your resulting annual electric bill savings is $1,200 ($100/month), then $14,700/$1,200 gives you a preliminary payback period of 12.25 years. Why “preliminary”? Because we haven’t factored in a few other sources of solar ROI yet.

Utility Cost Increases

The next step in calculating your payback period is factoring in the additional savings from future higher electric rates. How much have electric utility rates risen historically? It can be confusing to calculate the historical rate increases because the utility companies can charge more in a number of different ways including tariff rates, transportation costs, and commodity costs. One thing we can all agree on is that electricity costs do go up over time.

However, if you switch to 100% clean solar power, you won’t be subject to increasing electric usage rates, further enhancing the potential of your solar panel investment. And remember, the more utility electric rates increase over time, the more value you’re getting from your rooftop solar system – meaning your payback period decreases while ROI increases each year.

In this example, if we assume rates rise annually at an average of 4.8%, then by year 10 the annual savings will grow from $1,200 to $1,918. Summing up the annual savings starting in year one, including the yearly increase in utility rates, drops the payback period in this example to just under 10 years (we’ll round up to 10 for simplicity).

Converting Payback to a Simple ROI

There’s one issue with looking at payback period: how do you put a 10-year payback period into context? Is 10 good or not? One way to answer that question is to translate payback period into a simple ROI calculation of cash savings per invested cash. This will allow you to more easily compare it to other investment options. In this example, if it takes 10 years to pay something back, that means that you’re getting 1/10th of your investment back each year, or a 10% annual return.

Comparing Alternatives

Now we can look at a 10% solar return on investment in comparison to other possible ways to invest your money. One common option is bonds, or more practically, a bond fund. Bonds seem to be an appropriate comparison in this case because they offer lower risk that’s more similar to solar panels compared to, say, stock funds.

Looking at the Vanguard Intermediate Term Bond Index fund, we see that as of December 31, 2017 the 5-year average annual return is 2.15%. Therefore, at a 10% return, solar panels are the clear winner here. This is especially likely when you consider that interest rates are currently near all-time lows, and if they do increase then the value of the bond fund will fall, decreasing the total bond fund ROI.

Adjusting ROI for Income Taxes

When you also consider income taxes, your solar panel invesment takes another step ahead. This is because when you invest in a bond fund like the one above, the dividends you receive are taxed (we’re assuming this fund is not in a retirement account), so you don’t get to put them all in your pocket.

In contrast, the “dividends” you receive from solar panels come in the form of cost savings, and those savings are not taxed, which means you get to immediately pocket 100% of them.

Therefore, to compare solar return on investment and bond fund return on investment on an apples-to-apples, pre-tax basis, you need to adjust your solar savings to pre-tax dollars. In this example if your marginal income tax rate (federal plus state) is 30%, then your solar ROI goes from 10% to 14.28% on a pre-tax basis. To check this math, take $14.28 and charge a 30% tax rate, you’ll get $10 left over after taxes.

This means that in the example illustrated here, the ROI on solar – on an apples to apples pretax basis – is more than 6x the historical ROI of an intermediate term bond fund. It’s worth noting that this example assumes no reinvestment of the solar savings. If you invest your pocketed savings, you’d boost your solar returns even more while also speeding up your payback period quite a bit.

Non-Financial ROI

Last, but certainly not least, when thinking about solar energy as an investment, it’s important to consider the environmental benefits of powering your house with a clean, renewable source of energy. Electricity production by traditional means (like coal and natural gas) emits large amounts of carbon dioxide that contribute to global warming. These dirty energy sources pollute our air and water supplies, linking them with a number of health problems. By going solar, you’re benefiting your whole community and the future generations who are counting on us to leave our planet clean and safe.

A Win-Win

Clean solar energy is a stable investment that can provide an attractive financial return. Plus, solar energy offers the added benefits of protection from increased utility charges, favorable tax treatment, and very important environmental benefits. That’s why many people say that solar is a win-win: it’s good for your family’s finances and good for our planet. All together it’s easy to see why thousands of Colorado homeowners are going solar every year: because investing in solar panels for your home is often a very smart choice.

Are Solar Panels a Good Investment Opportunity for You?

As we’ve illustrated above, solar ROI is based on a variety of variables and therefore will be unique to each home and energy usage profile. If you’d like to know what your solar ROI would be, simply gather your most recent 12 months of electricity usage and give us a call (or complete the free quote form). One of our non-commissioned home solar consultants would be happy to create a customized solar savings ROI analysis for you. Or learn more about solar energy costs and financing options that make solar energy affordable for a variety of households.

 

*Please note that we are solar experts, not tax or investment advisors, and this is not intended to provide any investment advice whatsoever, so please consult your tax and investment advisor for guidance on all things tax and investment-related!

 

Want to learn about your home’s solar potential? Contact us or call 303.447.0300 to get a free quote!

How the New Tax Bill Improves the Financial Performance of Commercial Solar PV

How the New Tax Bill Improves the Financial Performance of Commercial Solar PV

 

The final draft of the new tax bill delivered some unexpected benefits to the solar industry and to commercial entities interested in going solar. The tax bill changes the risk and rewards calculations involved in commercial solar energy and moves the needle further into the reward territory. The two provisions at play are the reduced corporate tax rate and the changes to depreciation allowances that greatly increase the potential value of solar PV projects. These tax changes are great news for anyone who has been on the fence about investing in a commercial solar project and will make many more projects financially feasible.

Reduced Corporate Tax Rate

The first provision in the new tax bill that makes solar PV more profitable is the reduced corporate tax rate. When commercial entities add solar PV systems, the immediate impact is a reduced utility bill. Less money going out to cover operating expenses means more profits, and these profits are a tax liability. Under the new tax plan, the federal corporate tax rate has been reduced from 35 percent to 21 percent. This reduced tax rate now makes your solar profits more profitable.

Bonus Depreciation

The second provision in the new tax bill that will give commercial solar a boost are the revised depreciation allowances. Depreciation is a deduction that allows corporations to reduce their taxable profits by claiming wear and tear of certain assets, like solar PV systems. In the past, tax law allowed corporations a 50% bonus depreciation of a new asset’s value during the first year and the remaining value over five and a half years. Under the new tax bill, 100% of an asset’s value can be deducted as depreciation in the first year.

As depreciation is calculated as an expense, it lowers the company’s net profit that must be reported and taxed. The tax bill will allow the full cost of equipment to be written off immediately rather than depreciated over time. Most companies like the idea of lowering their tax liability as quickly as they can as this means keeping more of the money that was earned.

More Solar Rewards

The effects of these two provisions will dramatically change the cost and benefit analysis of these projects. Commercial solar PV projects will see higher return on investments (ROI), increase net present values (NPV), and shorter payback periods.

To see the effects the tax bill will have on ROI and NPV, take a look at Greentech Media’s analysis. They look at a 366-kilowatt commercial solar project in California and estimate the economic benefits of reducing tax rates and doubling the bonus depreciation. In this specific example, they see ROI increase by 6.7% and NPV increase by 27%.

Here’s another sample project. Below is the financial analysis for a 1,342.32 kW (DC) solar PV project for a manufacturing facility. This is a ballasted roof-mounted array priced at $2,769,000 or $2.06/w. All financial indicators show an attractive bump as a result of the reduced corporate tax rate and the higher bonus depreciation.

If you’re a business owner considering solar, these examples show the dramatic impact of the new tax bill on commercial solar PV projects and how your investment in solar energy will pay for itself in a shorter amount of time. Take advantage of these unexpected benefits of the new tax bill and find out how much your business could earn with clean solar energy.

 

Want to learn about your home’s solar potential? Contact us or call 303.447.0300 to get a free quote!

The Solar Panel Tariff: Our View on the Impacts

The Solar Panel Tariff: Our View on the Impacts

 

On January 22nd, President Trump announced a 30% solar panel tariff on imported solar panels. See the details of the decision here. What does this mean for the solar industry, for Namasté Solar, and, most importantly, for solar customers?

Solar Tariff Impact on the Solar Industry

This is by no means good news if you support the shift to clean energy. It will slow progress and the growth of the solar industry. However, because solar still offers very attractive economics for customers, progress will continue – even if at a slower pace.

It is important to note that the solar tariff is only on the price of solar panels. The whole cost of going solar isn’t going up, only the cost of panels. Because of this, the tariff will disproportionately impact large utility-scale solar projects because solar panels are a bigger percentage of the overall cost of those projects. Prices for homeowners and commercial property owners will be impacted much less because solar panels make up a smaller percentage of the total cost for those smaller projects.

Impact on Namasté Solar

This trade case has been pending for many months, and Namasté Solar took that time to plan ahead and prepare. Our forecasts were based on a 30% solar panel tariff, so we prepared for and took action based on this scenario. The solar panel tariff is not the decision we wanted, but we were ready nonetheless.

We have been in business since 2005 and have seen many ups and downs in the solar industry during that time. This storm, like others before it, will pass. We are confident that the growth of solar will continue, and Namasté Solar will continue to be a part of that growth. Long-term thinking is one of the core values of our company, and we remain committed to making solar energy easy and accessible.

Impact on Residential Customers

The economics of solar energy have made it a good financial investment for many years now, and though this tariff is a setback, solar remains a fantastic deal for many homeowners. The 30% federal tax credit is still in place, solar still insulates you from rising utility costs, and solar panels still pay for themselves over time. These factors haven’t changed.

The impact of the solar panel tariff on homeowners is minimized in part because we planned ahead for this outcome. Namasté took steps to procure additional solar panels in advance of the tariff and wrote our business plans for the coming year with the tariff in mind. In the past, we have weathered pricing pressures from utilities, reductions in rebates, and other challenges. This is just one more challenge that we are ready to face while still offering clean solar savings to our customers.

Impact on Commercial Customers

The solar tariff will have the most impact on our commercial customers with large installations, but they will also see additional savings from the new tax bill. The tax bill delivered some unexpected benefits in the form of the reduced corporate tax rate and the changes to allow 100% of an asset’s value to be depreciated in the first year. Both will have a significant positive impact on the financial feasibility of commercial solar projects. Because of these tax changes, commercial solar energy will pay for itself in a shorter amount of time, see higher return on investment, and see increased net present values. Read Greentech Media’s assessment of the economic impacts the tax bill will have on commercial solar projects.

The Bottom Line

The movement to clean solar may be slowed by this solar panel tariff, but it will not be stopped. Solar still offers significant cost savings for homeowners and commercial property owners alike and will continue to grow as source of clean, independent energy for our country. It’s one more challenge to face, but Namasté Solar and the solar industry are both here to stay.

 

Considering making the switch to solar here in Colorado? Contact us or call 303.447.0300 to get a free quote!

How Do Solar Panels Work?

How Do Solar Panels Work?

 

Solar panels or modules are a key component of every solar array, since they are what convert sunlight into electricity! But how exactly do they do that?

Every panel is made up of many individual solar cells, which are linked together to increase their power-producing potential. Most of these cells are made up of two layers of silicon, sandwiched between conductive material. One layer of silicon has extra electrons (making it negatively charged), and the other has extra holes for electrons to move into (making it positively charged).

Light is made up of photon particles, and when these hit the silicon cell with enough energy, they knock electrons loose. The now-mobile electrons are picked up by the conductive material surrounding the silicon, forming an electric current. This electricity flows from solar cells to your inverter, which converts output DC power into the AC power your home and the electrical grid can use.

The electrons return to their original spots once they have completed their circuit, meaning nothing in the system gets used up. Because electrons are the only moving part of solar arrays, modules don’t wear out quickly like other types of electronics, so they can last decades with only minor reductions in power output.

You might have heard about the efficiency of solar panels; the panels Namasté Solar uses range from about 18-22% efficient, because the cost of higher efficiency panels is usually prohibitive except for military or space applications. There are many reasons cells are not 100% efficient in converting sunlight into electricity: sunlight could be reflected instead of absorbed, for example, or dislodged electrons could fall back into place before going through the circuit, meaning the energy of those photons is lost.

But don’t fret – even though those percentages seem low, you could still partially or completely offset your electricity usage, depending on available sunny space, typical consumption, and your project budget. And since solar modules are so durable and long-lasting, a solar system is a great investment!

More information about solar modules can be found in articles by NASA and Live Science.

Loveland Completes 3.5 Megawatt Solar Project Replacing Century-old Hydroelectric Facility

Loveland Completes 3.5 Megawatt Solar Project Replacing Century-old Hydroelectric Facility

 

The City of Loveland today announced the completion of a 3.5 megawatt solar project, built to replace the Idylewilde Dam, which was damaged in the 2013 Colorado Front Range Flood. The solar project is the first electric generating facility in the United States to receive approval through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Alternate Project process.

In 2015, Loveland was awarded approximately $9 million in funding to construct the Foothills Solar and Substation project, with $5.1 million used to construct the solar array. The remaining funds are being used to construct an electric substation on the site, built in conjunction with the Platte River Power Authority. The full scope of the project, including the substation, is expected to reach completion in the spring of 2017. The solar facility is currently operational.

Namasté Solar designed and constructed the solar array, its largest project in Colorado to date. Namasté Solar is a leading designer, installer, and developer of solar photovoltaic systems.

“The City of Loveland has demonstrated true leadership with this project to replace and upgrade its portfolio of cost-effective and clean renewable energy for Loveland ratepayers,” said Dave Vorlage, CEO at Namasté Solar. “The City’s decision to upgrade to solar more than triples the power output of the former Idylwilde Dam. All of our employee-owners at Namaste Solar are proud of the project and thrilled to partner with the City of Loveland.”

The 3.5 megawatt solar project replaces the 900 kilowatt generation capacity of the now dismantled dam. The project was designed to utilize solar tracking technology, provided by Array Technologies of Albuquerque. The solar modules move on a single axis throughout the day, tracking the movement of the sun across the horizon to maximize power output. The system, consisting of 10,332 solar modules, is expected to produce 6,813 megawatt hour of clean electricity annually, enough to power the equivalent of 574 Colorado homes.

“This project demonstrates a creative way to replace and keep a renewable energy resource local while providing benefits to the City beyond energy generation,” said Gretchen Stanford, Acting Director for Loveland Water and Power and Project Manager for the Foothills Solar and Substation project. “This facility will help Loveland Water and Power exceed its renewable energy requirements from the State, delay future capital expenditures, and can even be used for solar education in the community.”

Throughout the project Loveland Power and Water, the city’s municipal electric utility, produced monthly video updates that can be viewed at cityofloveland.org/foothills.

Additional images of the project can be found in Namasté Solar’s Project Portfolio.

About Loveland Water and Power

Loveland Water and Power is a municipally owned utility providing Loveland customers power, water and wastewater utility needs. For more information about Loveland Water and Power, visit cityofloveland.org/LWP.

Historic Colorado Trade Center Goes Solar

Historic Colorado Trade Center Goes Solar

 

Conscience Bay Company (CBC) today announced the completion of a 316 kW solar array on the historic Colorado Trade Center at 5151 Bannock Street near the intersection of I-25 and I-70. The 700,000 square foot industrial warehouse was originally built in 1922 for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad.Construction of the Trade Center was completed December 5, 1923, ninety-three years to the day prior to completion of the solar system. It has been home to such notable tenants as MillerCoors, Nestle Purina, and Safeway. Current tenants include FreshPack Produce, Frozen Food Express, FreshPoint, Condit Exhibits, and Colorado Doorways. In the photos above, the Colorado Trade Center is shown in 1930 on the left and in 2017 on the right.

Namasté Solar designed and constructed the Colorado Trade Center solar array, which will generate roughly 470 megawatt-hours per year, supplying the tenants with green energy.

“This was a unique and exciting project for us, juxtaposing state of the art technology on a building with such a rich history,” said Ben Griffin, Co-Owner and Project Development Manager at Namasté Solar. “Our designers and installers stepped up to the challenge incorporating three solar arrays on a sixty-foot high roof with over 4,500 feet of conduit. Our goal was to make the most efficient use of space, while preserving the historic integrity of the building. We would like to thank and congratulate Conscience Bay Company for their dedication to renewables and their critical role in making this project a success.”

With this installation, CBC has installed over 400 kW of solar panels on its properties, which produce an estimated 487,250 kWh of electricity annually. The clean energy production provided from these solar panels alone is enough to power 36 homes for one year. Simultaneously, energy efficiency investments in their properties to date have yielded an average of 13% reduction of energy cost savings for their tenants and reduced their energy consumption by 15%; equivalent to the annual GHG emissions of more than 60 passenger vehicles. Future plans to implement energy efficiency strategies on CBC properties continue to reduce the cost of operations for their tenants and impact on the environment.

Conscience Bay Company purchased the iconic building in 2015 and set out to modernize the building’s energy management system with solar. The project is part of the company’s mission to cut carbon emissions and resource use in the commercial sector.

“Part of our value creation strategy is reducing consumption of natural resources. We make investments in our properties that are both good for the environment and earn a return for our investors,” said Ben Woolf, Director of Commercial Investments at Conscience Bay Company.

About Conscience Bay Company

Conscience Bay Company, a certified B Corporation®, is a private equity firm that invests in agricultural land, water resources, and commercial real estate. We equate property ownership with responsibility, and produce profits while practicing good stewardship. For more information, please visit cbayco.com.

Construction Begins on Southern Ute Solar Project

Construction Begins on Southern Ute Solar Project

 

Namasté Solar, an employee-owned cooperative and leading provider of commercial and residential solar solutions in Colorado, California, and the Northeast will begin construction next month on a 1.3 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted solar array in southwestern Colorado for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.

The Oxford Solar Project will offset roughly 15% of the energy usage at 10 tribally-owned buildings, equivalent to the electricity consumption of roughly 250 typical homes. The Southern Ute Tribe is implementing solar to reduce energy costs and increase tribal energy security, while building capacity as a tribe to develop additional clean energy projects in the future.

From left to right: James Jensen, Tom Johnson, Jody Rosier, and Rebecca Kauffman of Southern Ute Alternative Energy, and Otto VanGeet and Alex Dane of NREL, tour a potential solar array site on Southern Ute tribal land in Ignacio, CO. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL
From left to right: James Jensen, Tom Johnson, Jody Rosier, and Rebecca Kauffman of Southern Ute Alternative Energy, and Otto VanGeet and Alex Dane of NREL, tour a potential solar array site on Southern Ute tribal land in Ignacio, CO. Photo by Dennis Schroeder, NREL

The 1.3 MW ground-mounted solar array will be located on a 10-acre parcel of land, known as the Oxford Tract, approximately three miles from the main Southern Ute Indian tribal campus in Ignacio, Colorado.

The Southern Ute Indian Tribe received a $1.5 million grant from the Department of Energy to construct the solar plant, which covers nearly 50% of the total project cost. The grant is being managed by Southern Ute Alternative Energy LLC (SUAE), a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe, which was founded in 2008 to invest in alternative and renewable energy. SUAE selected Boulder-based Namasté Solar to design, develop and construct the solar array.

“The Oxford Solar Project will help reduce energy costs for the tribe,” said Heath Mackay, Co-Owner and Project Development Manager–Southwest Region for Namasté Solar. We are honored to partner with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe to bring this project to life.”

Construction on the solar facility is due to begin in early September 2016 with expected completion in December.

 

About Southern Ute Alternative Energy

Southern Ute Alternative Energy (SUAE) is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe Growth Fund – a diversified investment and business management organization owned by the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. SUAE focuses on long-term investments in alternative and clean energy through private equity funds and operating assets.

Vermont School Expands Commitment To Sustainability With New Solar Array

Vermont School Expands Commitment To Sustainability With New Solar Array

 

Boulder, Colorado – Construction has begun on a 446 kW ground-mounted solar array at The Putney School, a progressive, private secondary school located in southeastern Vermont. The project is being designed and constructed by Namasté Solar, an employee-owned cooperative and leading engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) provider of solar electric systems throughout the United States.

The solar project is part of a multi-year sustainability initiative at The Putney School to ultimately achieve zero net energy consumption. To achieve that goal, the school needs to implement efficiency measures that reduce energy requirements so that the institution can produce all of its energy needs on-site through renewable energy. The school is planning additional efficiency projects including insulating older buildings and constructing two new renewable-ready dormitories.

The new three-acre solar array, when combined with the school’s existing 38.6 kW solar array, will have the capacity to supply more than 70% percent of The Putney School’s annual electricity needs. The solar array will not only help the school reach its sustainability goals and cut energy costs, it will provide more opportunities for students to learn from solar energy generation on campus.

Sustainability is at the heart of The Putney School campus, curriculum, and community. Based on a dairy farm, Putney students produce food from campus gardens and provide labor in the barns. They practice land stewardship on the 500-acre campus and take classes focused on sustainability, climate change and alternative energy technologies. Students have also collaborated on the design of every new green energy building on campus.

“The Putney School has been committed to educating generations of informed and engaged environmental stewards since 1935. We’re honored and excited to partner with the school to help them achieve their long-term goal of net-zero energy,” said Heath Mackay, Project Development Manager for Namasté Solar. “The solar array provides a hands-on educational opportunity for students to learn about the benefits of solar energy while also providing significant financial savings to the school over the life of the project.”

The school was recognized in 2013, when they partnered with Vermont-based Maclay Architects to design and build the Field House, a campus athletic facility which was the first net zero LEED Platinum Certified educational building in the United States.

The Putney School is retaining ownership of the environmental attributes, known as Renewable Energy Credits, associated with the generation of the clean, renewable electricity from the new system. The project is being constructed in collaboration with Colchester, Vermont based E&S Electric.

Image courtesy of The Putney School

About Namasté Solar
Namasté Solar is an employee-owned cooperative that designs, installs, and maintains solar electric systems throughout the United States for commercial, non-profit, government and residential customers. With offices in Colorado, New York and California, Namasté Solar believes in transforming energy and transforming business through a customized solar experience from start to finish. For more information about Namasté Solar and to learn more about the company’s conscientious business practices, visit www.namastesolar.com.

Loveland, Colorado Receives FEMA Funding to Replace Flood-Damaged Dam with Solar Array

Loveland, Colorado Receives FEMA Funding to Replace Flood-Damaged Dam with Solar Array

 

Namasté Solar, an employee-owned cooperative and leading provider of commercial and residential solar solutions in Colorado, California, and the Northeast will begin construction next month on a 3.5 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted solar array for the City of Loveland, Colorado. The Foothills Solar and Substation project is the first electric generating facility in the United States to receive approval through the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s (FEMA) Alternate Project process. The array will replace the Idylwilde hydroelectric facility, which was damaged during a major flood event in September of 2013.

The 2013 Colorado Front Range Flood, which brought catastrophic damage to fourteen Colorado counties, resulted in property damage estimated at over $1 billion. The Idylwilde Dam, originally commissioned in 1925, sustained significant impact from the flooding and was deemed a total loss and later demolished.

In 2014, the City of Loveland was awarded $9,068,018 in FEMA grant funding to construct an alternate project to replace the dam. $5.1 million of that funding will be used to cover the construction of the 3.5MW single-axis ground-mounted solar array on 52 acres located west of the city, purchased by Loveland Water and Power. The remaining $4.1 million will be used to construct a substation on the site, built in conjunction with the Platte River Power Authority, Loveland’s generation and transmission provider.

Gretchen Stanford, Customer Relations Manager for Loveland Water and Power explained, “We are extremely excited that we were able to navigate the FEMA Alternate Project process and that our customers are getting more for their dollar than we anticipated. This was a very creative way for us to reach the Colorado renewable energy standard requirements of 10% renewables by 2020 as well as put off capital expenditure we anticipated in future years.”

The new solar array replaces the 900 kW hydroelectric facility and represents a significant step forward for the City of Loveland. City officials deemed solar the most cost effective alternative to replace the dam. Since the Foothills Solar Project will be completed by the end of the year, the City of Loveland will also be able to take advantage of the three-times multiplier for solar-generated renewable energy credits under the state’s renewable energy standard.

“We’re excited to partner with the City of Loveland to make this project possible,” said Heath Mackay, Co-Owner and Project Development Manager-Southwest Region for Namasté Solar. “The city’s commitment to sustainability is evident in their decision to replace one renewable resource with another and the new solar array represents a significant leap forward in technology.”

Construction on the solar facility is due to begin in mid-June. Loveland Power and Water will host monthly time-lapse video construction updates at cityofloveland.org/foothills.

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