With extremely dry orchards and fields due to the drought, extra dirt kicked up from harvesting equipment and increased truck activity on dirt roads can decrease your panel efficiency. Our team monitors output from each installation and can see the direct correlation to clean panels. For tips how to best clean your panels click here!
When shopping for solar, there are key items and questions to keep in mind, whether reviewing single or multiple bids. Bloomberg New Energy Finance ranks solar modules based on manufacturers’ bankability and reliability. Tier 1 module manufactures must meet criteria that includes vertical integration, internal R&D investment, and strict quality control measures. When getting solar quotes, be sure to ask if the proposed project includes a Tier 1 module manufacturer.
Our team has been invited to present the benefits of solar at theCalCPA Farmers Tax and Accounting Convention on Sept. 17 at the Fresno Convention Center. Manager of Sales and Marketing Chad Cummings and Vice President and General Manager Bob Hansen will present “Solar Energy … Is It Right for You?” and answer audience questions. This conference will provide crucial knowledge and information about current topics, economic trends, incentives, and key tax and audit updates.
JKB Energy is attending Solar Power International (SPI) from Sept. 14-17. SPI generates success for solar energy professionals and the global solar industry and is ranked no. 109 among the top 250 largest trade shows by Trade Show News Network, making SPI the largest solar show in North America. In addition, SPI is a Gold 100 trade show, the only solar show to make both lists. JKB Energy attendees include James Brenda, Jayson Moser, Bob Hansen, Chad Cummings and Matt Saatlou.
“We are excited to see new products and meet face-to-face with top suppliers and manufacturers,” says Chad Cummings.
We are an official Green Sponsor of the California Almond Conference, hosted by the Almond Board of California. This conference, which will take place Dec. 8-10 at the Sacramento Convention Center, is a marquee event for both almond growers and processors. Featuring seminars and lectures on legislative policy, research, production news and regulatory issues, the conference will feature over 200 companies (including JKB Energy) that will exhibit their newest materials and services related to the almond and ag industries.
Sales and Marketing Coordinator Amanda Johnson and Utility Interconnection Specialist Sarah Mooneyham attended thePG&E NEMA Contractor Workshop meeting on Aug. 31 at the PG&E Pacific Energy Center in San Francisco. PG&E reviewed their new RAM map, which will help integrators better anticipate generation capacity on various points on the grid.
“We are looking forward to the changes PG&E is rolling out with this new RAM mapping system,”Amanda says. “We think this a great tool that could save our customers time and, potentially, money. Reclosure issues at the substations and lines are our biggest wild cards at this point. PG&E has truly proven their eagerness to help their customers and improve the overall process internally. I have already seen a huge improvement with PG&E, and anticipate many more down the road. They have been very receptive to feedback we have given them.”
PG&E also went over the general NEMA application process as well as the NEMA billing system. Both parts of this section were a great refresh. The team particularly enjoyed the billing update since PG&E’s head representative on their new billing system, Michael Tang, was able to dig into exactly how the billing will work and helped answer all of the questions that were presented.
Why can’t I eliminate 100% of My bill?
Utility rate schedules for commercial and agricultural accounts include demand charges, which are not eligible to be offset by solar credits. Typically, demand charges and other customer fees equate to 20-30% of your annual bill. In most cases, this allows a solar system to eliminate up to 80% of your energy bill.
If there’s a blackout will my system still produce energy?
Because net energy metered solar systems are grid-connected, your system will not produce energy during a power outage. The inverters are specifically designed to turn off when a minimum voltage is not met; this protects the system components from unexpected changes in power coming from the grid, such a power outage or even a power surge.
Should I install extra solar and sell it back to the utility?
Utilities are not required to compensate you at retail energy prices for energy produced in excess of your cumulative usage over a 12 month period. Some utilities will pay a wholesale rate for over-generation, while others may not compensate you at all for net excess energy that occurs over a 12 month period. This is why it’s important to review your annual energy needs and appropriately size your solar system.
How can I Compare multiple solar bids to confirm accuracy?
PVWatts is a free online solar tool provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). It allows you to input your site location and system specifications - provided in your solar quote – to verify the expected energy output. It’s free, reliable, and easy to use!
How long will my system last?
While most solar module manufacturers provide a 25-year power output warranty, your solar panels will continue to produce energy for years to come. Solar systems degrade at 0.5% annually, so overtime they generate a little less energy every year. There are systems over 40 years old in-service that are still generating energy!
1.) Solar systems don't work when there's overcast
Your solar system will still produce energy on overcast days. Solar systems are dependent on availability of light, so they will generate energy, just not as much as a bright, sunny day.
2.) Solar panels work better in the heat
Solar panels require light - not heat - to produce energy. California’s Central Valley creates ideal conditions for high-performing solar systems due to the abundance of sunny days through the calendar year.
3.) Solar is too expensive
Commercial projects are able to recapture up to 65% of the total project cost within the first 6 years through tax credits and depreciable amounts. Typical commercial and agricultural installations have a 3-5 year payback.
4.) Solar systems require too much maintenance
Solar systems are very low-maintenance. Just wash them with water and a squeegee when needed and you’re good to go. Mobile system monitoring and alerts are also available to check on your system’s energy production in real-time.
5.) Do I get credited back at the same rate which I pay my utility company?
Yes, utility companies are required to credit you at retail energy prices for energy generation up to 100% of your annual needs.
I’m interested in Solar!
What are my financing options and how does it fit in with my financial and tax planning strategy?
If you’d like to install a solar system before California’s net metering deadline — or if you’d like to update your current system — now is the time to start the process. First step is to understand what your options are from a tax and financial planning standpoint. The most frequent vehicles for financing: private financing, operating lease and capital lease.
What do you do if you don’t even know how the process works?
Tom Steinke of Jordan Thomas works with farmers and solar providers like JKB Energy to finance solar installations. “Getting started is easier than you think,” he says, “and will pay dividends in the future.”
“Every single installation we do makes a huge difference,” Steinke says. “And the bigger the farm, the more dollar savings you’ll see. We have some farmers who have saved millions — literally — with solar financing rather than paying to the utility.”
If you’re interested in solar, here are Steinke’s FIVE steps to go from zero to saving money:
1.) Start researching your solar contractor and ask for proposals
It’s a competitive business, Steinke says, but there are definite differences in quality and capacity to build. When clients ask, Steinke says he recommends JKB Energy. “They’re one of the top-tier solar companies in California, and certainly in agriculture,” he says.
Be sure to get at least two proposals for your project. “With two tier-one solar contractors, often the prices will be very close to each other,” Steinke says. “You’ll need to feel comfortable with your decision.”
You may rely on word-of-mouth for other projects, but Steinke says that’s a bad idea when it comes to solar. Each solar project is unique, and that can translate into wildly different bids from property to property and project to project.
2.) Review your proposals
Be sure to ask a lot of questions if your proposals are vastly different. Are the companies suggesting different materials or building methods? Do the companies have good cash flow so you’re not stuck with a half-completed project? A reputable financing agent like Jordan Thomas will review your proposals for you and complete a cash-flow analysis so you can understand the big picture.
3.) Understand the hidden costs and benefits
Are there interconnection charges? What sort of installation will the solar company provide? Are there rebates and incentives you can take advantage of? How much, in the end, will you really save from solar power? Steinke says to aim for around a 20 percent first-year savings on your bill for short-term savings and benefit, but if long-term savings are your goal, then Solar is a hard investment to beat no matter what.
4.) Line up your financing & know your options
Talk with your accountant and finance company and decide which will work best for you: private financing, an operating lease or a capital lease. In general, for ag-related solar installations, Farm Credit West is one of our preferred lessors for solar installations that are greater than $500K.
“With a loan and a capital lease, the tax benefits go to the customer,” Steinke says. “With an operating lease, the benefits go to the Lessor and they pass a negative interest rate on to the customer. For once in your life it’s positive to think negative!”
As always, talking with your CPA to determine which option will be most beneficial in your situation. Operating leases are the most popular option, he says.
5.) Pull the trigger!
Once you’ve settled on a contractor, your contractor will provide details to your financing agency. And once you sign your financing documents, you’re on your way to saving money.
Remember, the federal tax credit for solar systems reduces to 10% on Dec. 31, 2016, so you have incentive to complete your project before then. Take advantage of net metering 1.0 legislation while you can!
One of the most established dairies in the area, learn how Scott Wickstrom and Red Top Jersey Dairy rely on JKB Energy for their Chowchilla based dairy energy needs. Vice President and General Manager Bob Hansen mentions, "The Red Top team is particularly innovative and it was a pleasure working with them. The dairy industry has unique energy challenges and requirements, which is our specialty, and is a major focus for our team.” Click here to learn more!