Weed control! Be sure to manage your weeds around your solar installation. In these dog days of summer, the weeds will dry out and potentially become a fire hazard. Same goes for dust control - mitigate dust as best as possible. Also, adding gravel under your site or on the perimeter helps to keep weeds under control. It’s a small extra cost but really helps with weed management in the long run.
Director of Business Development, Rich Borba and Sales and Marketing Coordinator, Amanda Johnson were part of a select group of a dozen solar integrators invited to attend a round-table at PG&E headquarters in San Francisco on July 21st. The purpose of the meeting was to continue critical discussions about best practices for shortening the connectivity timeline. Specific discussion points included re-evaluating how PG&E will define contiguous parcels, developing better communication between corporate and local service offices, implementing a new work management system, refining standards of operation companywide and timeline operation. “We appreciate and prioritize attending these high-level meetings so that we can provide quicker, better connectivity timelines for our customers. Continuing to strengthen our internal PG&E relationships is critical and a top priority for us,” Amanda Johnson mentioned.
Why now is the time to install solar – and that’s not just a sales pitch
Net metering is a credit, an energy bank, and one of the most compelling reasons to invest in solar. Wouldn’t you like to store what you don’t need in the bank, receive full credit, and access it later? If you would, it’s time to move forward — big changes are coming to net metering, and you’ll want to be prepared.
California solar customers currently receive fair retail credit for the excess electricity their systems generate during daytime hours. These customers are spinning back their meters, so to speak, and putting the savings back in their pockets.
Of course, there’s a catch — and that catch is called a net metering cap. The current valuable incentives California offers solar customers are coming to an end, or reaching a cap.
“Experts have forecasted the cap will fill by mid-2016, which means design, construction, install and the big variable - interconnectivity timing - needs to start now,” says Jayson Moser JKB Energy VP of Procurement & Design. “If you want to lock in these paybacks, then don’t wait.”
The same goes for bigger upgrades, he says. If you would like to install a new electric pump and get it hooked up to the grid, you should move fast — there is a 6- to 12-month wait just for pumps, and these take priority over installing new infrastructure for solar. Your solar system needs to be interconnected to lock in your rate before the cap in reached near mid-2016.
Utility companies like Turlock Irrigation District and all power players like Pacific Gas & Electric operate on a five percent net metering cap. This five percent cap is the measured non-coincident aggregate demand, which means when utility companies measure the highest energy peak in each customer’s year, and then record that five percent peak.
TID has already reached their five percent cap. PG&E may even fill their cap as early as the Q2 of 2016. Once these caps are filled, utility companies will shift to net metering 2.0. The net metering 2.0 program is a mixed bag of benefits and will most likely not offer the same great paybacks that are currently available to participants in the net metering program.
“We tell people to invest in solar now,” says Manager of Sales & Marketing Chad Cummings. “Not because it benefits us, but truly because people will get a much larger benefit from the current net metering 1.0. Customers already interconnected before the cap is reached will be grandfathered in and continue on the net metering 1.0 guidelines for the next 20 years.”
From a legislative standpoint, we’re keeping a close eye on what changes could come out of Sacramento in the upcoming months. CPUC has until December 2015 to finalize the new compensation rules. It’s very likely that Governor Brown will extend the portfolio, meaning that currently 33% of California’s energy is mandated to derive from renewable utility sources. Governor Brown has gone on record as saying he’s “looking to bump this to 50% and extend the caps.” However, at this point nothing is confirmed. To learn more please visit the California Public Utilities Commission website
For now, at this point the only thing that is confirmed is the ability to be grandfather in to the current net metering program by taking advantage of the present opportunities, before the net metering cap is filled.
If you’re in a dusty ag environment make sure and take preventative maintenance steps. We recommend washing your solar panels 3-4 times per year, under normal conditions. However, during drought years, we would recommend an additional wash or two, particularly before the summer’s high utility peak rates – and then again towards the end of the summer. Wash with water only – no chemicals - with a brush and squeegee ensuring that no unknown film builds up on the panel. Per panel vendor recommended procedures, remember to squeegee if the water is hard in order to prevent calcium deposit buildup.
“Ken helped JKB Energy establish a portfolio of highly reliable, high-performance systems. He helped us navigate our way in ag – early on.” - James Brenda, President and Founder.
To learn more about Montpelier Nut Company's investment please check out the Case Study by clicking here.
Solar Announcement: Fresno Area UC Ag Center Generates 98% of Electrical Power and Saves Thousands of Dollars
JKB Energy and the UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension (KARE) Center completes 3rd phase of 4 in a project that will eliminate thousands of pounds of emissions and, at the same time save the center tens of thousands of dollars annually. This is the final stages of a project for the center located in Parlier, Calif. The center is one of 9 research and extension centers located throughout the state. These centers are part of the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR). “JKB Energy is committed to California agriculture, with the majority of installations being ag focused,” says Jayson Moser, vice president of design and procurement. “The UC ANR KARE opportunity was a chance for us to execute on our vision of supporting ag education from the ground up.”
To learn more click here.
JKB Energy & UC ANR KARE to Generate 98 Percent of Electrical Needs for Postharvest Research Facility from Solar Energy
Company completes phase 3 of project that will cut thousands of pounds of emissions from California air
JKB Energy and the UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension (KARE) Center completes 3rd phase of 4 in a project that will eliminate thousands of pounds of emissions and, at the same time save the center tens of thousands of dollars annually. This is the final stages of a project for the center located in Parlier, Calif. The center is one of 9 research and extension centers located throughout the state. These centers are part of the University of California Agricultural and Natural Resources (UC ANR).
JKB Energy has worked closely with Robert Ray, superintendent of the UC ANR KARE physical plant, to maximize their bill offset program. Since 2012, when the program started, UC ANR KARE has steadily cut its energy costs. After the completion of the final phase, projected for 2016, the center’s “postharvest” meter’s annual electricity costs will be offset by approximately 96 percent. Postharvest research is science conducted after a crop has been harvested and includes such things as effects of cooling, cleaning, sorting, and packaging and how these might affect the quality of stored fruits and vegetables.
JKB Energy designed and built a Terra Ground Mount system for the center, which is particularly effective since it allows customers to creatively accommodate various space constraints and to build strategically in phases. JKB has worked around the center’s schedule and space constraints to install 20 KW per phase for an eventual total of 100 KW.
“JKB Energy has been particularly accommodating and flexible from the start of this phased project,” Ray says. “As part of the state education system, our budget for capital expenditures is quite tight, so we needed to be sure to select a flexible partner such as JKB Energy to help us accommodate the long-term vision.”
The system was intentionally designed to accommodate a scalable strategy, and the team was particularly dynamic given the circumstances.
“JKB Energy is committed to California agriculture, with the majority of installations being ag focused,” says Jayson Moser, vice president of design and procurement. “The UC ANR KARE opportunity was a chance for us to execute on our vision of supporting ag education from the ground up.”
The environmental benefits of the installation are tremendous. Over 25 years, this project will eliminate the equivalent of:
- 473,735 pounds of carbon dioxide, the leading greenhouse gas;
- 1,520 pounds of nitrogen dioxide, which creates smog;
- 1,376 pounds of sulfur dioxide, which causes acid rain;
- 94 pounds of particulates that cause asthma;
- 770,814 miles driven in an average car.
The system is the equivalent of taking 2.5 cars off the road for 25 years, or planting 4.1 acres of trees.
About JKB Energy:
JKB Energy is headquartered in the heart of the Central Valley in Turlock, CA. and is fast approaching 100 megawatts across 200 installations. Renowned as a leader in agriculture and commercial, JKB Energy is committed to innovation and achieving customer savings for businesses ranging from Bakersfield to Sacramento. To learn more please visit jkbenergy.com or call 209-668-5303.
About UC ANR Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension (KARE) Center:
Based in Parlier, Calif., the UC Kearney Agricultural Research and Extension Center is one of nine research and extension centers in California that are part of UC Agriculture and Natural Resources. The 330-acre research facility is in the heart of the San Joaquin Valley, an area nationally recognized for agricultural production. Kearney has achieved international acclaim for leadership in the development of new fruit, nut, and grape varieties, innovative cultural and irrigation practices, pest and disease management techniques, and postharvest biology. http://kare.ucanr.edu
With thirty-five years of construction and nine years of solar experience under our belts, we inherently understand that not all solar systems and client service teams are created equal. Curious about what it takes to concept, design, install and maintain a successful solar energy system? Let’s walk through the following best practices that have helped us create our loyal base of clients.
How Does a Solar System Work?
To understand the why and how of a solar system, we need to backtrack to the days of high school science class and review photovoltaics. Photovoltaics is the method of converting solar energy into direct electricity by using semiconducting materials. A photovoltaic system uses solar panels composed of solar cells to supply usable, renewable solar energy. Jayson Moser, our vice president of design and procurement, says, “The sun is the most dependable source of energy, and it’s our job to supply the technology for our clients to utilize the resource.”
Step 1: Design
We specialize in designing custom solutions that fit the challenge of each client‘s property. After a careful site survey, our team goes into planning mode. Our design takes into consideration environmental conditions, existing infrastructure and locations, as well as space and labor installation requirements.
Step 2: System Spec
As module prices vary and the solar market has evolved, our JKB Energy design team has progressively changed our strategy to make sure the customer always has access to the best system on the market. We aim to anticipate technology and market changes, and then innovate and tailor our products to allow for maximum client savings over the long term.
The most frequently installed, cost-effective and best-valued system is the Terra Fixed Ground Mount system design. The Terra design is a one of a kind, proprietary in-house designed system that is built to be the most flexibility and scalable in the industry. The Terra allows customers to creatively accommodate various space constraints and to strategically build in phases.
Roof-mounted system structures rely on a different subset of requirements. These requirements include structural review and a custom-tailored unique design analysis. Every system comes backed with a ten-year system warranty, in addition to a manufacturer provided warranty on system components.
Thanks to careful preliminary design analysis, our process remains cost effective and our design team provides the best installation plans for our construction crews. Building with long-lasting material cuts down on future maintenance, which in turn saves time and money. Our construction crews operate with smart labor management practices to keep our hours — and our clients’ expenses — to a minimum, while keeping productivity high.
Step 3: Electronic Performance Software
Our smart software allows us to remotely monitor the status of all installed systems, manage system production and voltage range. 24/7 auto-alerts notify our team about system glitches or abnormalities, directly from the onsite communications hub.
Additionally, customers receive access to our troubleshooting reporting tool to personally manage their system productivity by computer, tablet, or smartphone. The reporting tool provides the customer and our customer service team with the tools to compare the production curves and cross-reference charges. “When it comes to customer monitoring, our goal is always to go the extra mile,” says Chad Cummings, marketing manager.
Step 4: Annual Maintenance Check-up and Warranties
As with any piece of equipment, preventative maintenance is critical for long-term health and system productivity. That’s why we insist on providing an annual complimentary on-site system check-up. The check-up includes a detailed review of inverters, panel strings, environmental changes such as grass or tree growth, and a software check.
Director of Business Development Rich Borba adds, “It’s our job to get out ahead of the issues, and our software allows us to test the system remotely. Our annual maintenance check is free to our clients and considered part of our standard customer service.”
How Has the Drought Affected the Solar Industry?
During these drought years, we often receive questions about how the sunny weather will impact a client’s solar performance. While additional storage gained during the drought is no substitute for water, it can help to offset additional cost incurred by increased pump usage. Solar can be the silver lining, allowing growers to take advantage of more sun hours and a one-to-one offset.
Is this amount of energy output typical or should I expect this year after year? The answer is no. Solar output is dependent on weather and will fluctuate accordingly. While all integrators might not take this approach, we rely on thirty-year aggregative weather data to deliver realistic energy averages for the next 25 years. It’s highly recommended that customers do their due diligence regarding energy production estimates. To learn more, check out PV Watts, an online tool created and maintained by the National Renewable Energy Labs (NREL). NREL is the federal laboratory dedicated to the research, development, commercialization, and deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies.
In July our team plans to attend the InterSolar North America Conference, commonly referred to as the “most attended solar event,” with thousands of industry manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and service providers. Bob Hansen, Vice President and General Manager expresses, “our team is looking forward to being in the company of innovative individuals who share the same affinity for solar technology and we always leave the event with great takeaways.” Attendees can also visit the InterSolar exhibition floor to see products and services offered from 500 solar exhibitors. To learn more about this event, please click here.