Newsletter

September - 2018

Commercial  Spotlight:
Energy Current:
Community Connections:
Employee Spotlight:

Asheville Family Fitness
Financing Solar
Woodfin Greenway and Blueway
Julie Sabo 


August - 2018

Institutional  Spotlight:
Energy Current:
Community Connections:
Employee Spotlight:

Frank Residential Hall – Boone , NC
Rebate Attracts Questionable Practices
Team Sunergy
Jamie Trowbridge  


REC Solar Panels Voted Top Performer Again in 2018!

Let’s talk about REC solar panels, Sundance Power System’s standard module offering, which was just named as one of Clean Energy Review’s “Best Solar Panels of 2018.”  REC’s goal is for their product to remain strong and perform efficiently even in the most extreme weather, which is why every REC panel must pass a detailed inspection before leaving the production facility.  REC’s internal testing is up to 3 times as stringent as industry standards, including  Potential Induced Degradation Tests that involve measuring the loss of power capacity caused by heat, humidity and voltage, Damp Heat Tests which use high temperatures and increased humidity to inspect module construction, and Dynamic Mechanical Load Tests to stimulate the load effect of wind and snow to measure the module’s resilience to degradation, and Thermal Cycling Tests in which temperature fluctuations are measured.

According to REC, the company has one of the lowest warranty claims in the industry because of their testing process.

REC TwinPeak are some of the first panels available that use the half size cells/split module format, which has created a panel that is much more efficient, even when partially shaded.  Even with this advanced design, REC remains one of the more cost- effective modules on the market.

Since 1996, REC has been an industry leader in solar energy solutions and has produced more than 20 million panels, amounting to more than 5 gigawatts of clean sun-powered energy.  More than 12 million people are powered by REC solar panels.  Founded in Norway and manufactured in Singapore, REC employs more than 2,000 people worldwide in the United States, Australia and Asia, and is Europe’s largest producer of Solar Panels.

REC Group received the prestigious Solar + Power Award for TwinPeak 2 in 2017 and the 2015 Intersolar Award in the category of Photovoltaics for the TwinPeak modules.

Have a Sundance Power Systems Installation and love your REC modules?  Share that experience with others and take part in our Customer Referral Program where you’ll earn some green for yourself and savings for your friends on their installations!  And because Sundance is an Amicus Solar Cooperative member, these quality modules can be offered at uniquely awesome prices for all our customers.

 

 


Thanks for Voting Sundance Asheville’s #1 Solar Company!

We’re ecstatic, thankful, and proud to be voted the best solar company in Asheville and the surrounding area for the sixth year running by readers in Mountain  Xpress’ Best of WNC Poll.

Our heartfelt gratitude goes to our incredible team of dedicated employees, our awesome customers, and the greater community that has supported us in our work for a clean energy future.


NC Solar Rebate Attracts Out-of-State Companies with Questionable Business Practices

For Immediate Release:

NC Solar Rebate Attracts Out-of-State Companies with Questionable Business Practices

Sundance Power Systems warns of falsehoods being made by Brio Energy

 Asheville, NC – Sundance Power Systems, a long- standing renewable energy company based in Weaverville, is making a public statement in response to numerous accounts of misleading information that it has heard from consumers and others. They’ve heard  that Brio Energy has been telling people that they are working with Sundance for their installations. The Utah- based company has been canvassing neighborhoods since the introduction of Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program in North Carolina.  In addition, based upon current law, it is very possible that the company is acting outside of the legal requirements to sell solar in NC.

While there are several points of contention to be made, Sundance Power Systems primarily wants it to be known that it has not contracted to install systems for Brio Energy, nor is it engaged in any form of partnership with the company.  Additionally, Sundance intends to caution consumers about contracting with the company without doing their due diligence.

After receiving numerous complaints about the questionable sales approach used by Brio Energy over the past months and discerning an appropriate course of action, Sundance’s concerns were substantiated when it was discovered  that the City of Austin had ordered a “cease and desist mentioning” against Brio Energy in 2016 (Texas Utility Warns Customers About Recent Solar Scams) for parallel reasons. Furthermore, multiple online reviews by consumers, as well as former employees of Brio, warn against some of their practices, including lack of full disclosure around financing, rebates, and tax incentives.

The North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, of which Sundance Power Systems has been an active member for years, is in the process of finalizing a Code of Conduct for the industry to address multiple complaints about solar companies that are operating in a manner that falls short of the “ethical standards of advertising, selling, installation, and serviced guided by the principles of honesty and integrity” that the organization upholds for its members. The draft code calls for members to “always act in full compliance with federal, state, and local laws regarding truth in advertising, consumer protection, contract law, and other relevant regulations” in promotion of “the public health, safety, and welfare, and the advancement of the clean energy industry.”

“Sundance Power Systems, along with several other local solar energy providers, have worked too hard to establish a strong, credible solar industry that serves the interests of the WNC community to witness this potentially damaging behavior,” stated Erika Schneider, Director of Communications for the company. “We are speaking out to protect consumers from potentially fraudulent activity, as well as the solid reputation that Sundance has built over its 23 years of operations. And, we are addressing this situation to prevent solar getting a bad name due to unscrupulous activity.”

For information about Sundance Power System, please visit www.sundancepower.com.

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Solar Rebate Program Generates Strong Response from North Carolinians

Press Release by Sundance Power Systems

July 27, 2018

Solar Rebate Program Generates Strong Response from North Carolinians

Demonstrates Consumer’s Support for Clean Energy Expansion

Asheville, NC – Ranking #2 in the nation for solar electric capacity, North Carolina has been a leader in solar energy adoption, but that has been mostly a result of the Utility- scale solar development.  Given the response to the first round of applications for Duke Energy’s new Solar Rebate Program, the demand for solar is now strong and growing in the customer-owned residential, commercial and non-profit sectors as well. It’s proven itself as an economically viable and environmentally responsible energy source for the on-site generators, which will provide significant benefits to North Carolinians for years to come.

On July 26 Duke Energy announced the status of applications for its rebate program which opened on July 9; more than 1,500 customers applied, tapping out the residential and commercial set-asides of the 20 megawatts of new capacity that will be available each year of the five-year program. For 2018’s rollout, only the non-profit sector still has capacity remaining.  While the rebate for this year has filled up in these sectors it is important for customers to be advised that now is the time to contact their solar company and move forward with their installations to put them in position to take advantage of the rebate capacity that will renew on January 1st of next year. Duke has stated that 2019’s capacity will be available for systems that are installed after the start of October of this year.

Sundance Power Systems, along with several other leading solar companies across NC, is continuing to work with Duke on how this program will be managed and improved moving forward.  “The Rebate Program is a great first step at continuing the development of the customer- owned solar market in the State.  It has had a positive effect on the adoption of this transformative technology for a wide array of people.  We knew going into this that the program would need to be improved and expanded. Now is the time for all North Carolinians to contact their legislators and ask them to expand the program to keep in pace with the demand,” says Dave Hollister, President of Sundance Power Systems, Inc.

The Comprehensive Energy Solutions for NC law or House Bill 589, passed in July of 2017, mandated the rebate program, which was announced at the first of the year after a round of negotiations and approval by the Utilities Commission. Clearly the response to the application shows that the program’s capacity as approved was not large enough to meet the public’s demand.  NC Legislators need to hear from their constituents that support the expansion of this legislatively-driven program. Hollister urges concerned citizens and community leaders to voice support for the expansion of the solar rebate program on the heels of Duke’s announcement. Hollister, who advocates for clean energy democracy at the regional level, participating in the Energy Innovation Task Force, and also at the state level, maintains that the benefits of solar energy are far-reaching, offering significant economic returns to adopters as well as solutions to our growing environmental issues caused by fossil-fuel dependency. “A clean energy future is possible, but we have to continue to stand up and demand it. This is an opportunity to create structures and relationships that serve us all better.”

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July - 2018

Residential  Spotlight:
Energy Current:
Community Connections:
Employee Spotlight:

Vaughan Residence – Swannanoa , NC
Duke’s Community Solar Program
WNC Renewables Coalition
Mike Duignan   


June - 2018

Institutional Spotlight:
Energy Current:
Community Connections:
Employee Spotlight:

Veterans Healing Farm- Hendersonville , NC
Duke Rebate Update
Veterans Healing Farm
Bri Pollard   


Energy Current: Duke Energy’s Community Solar Program

With Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program open and moving forward, we’d like to share this thorough update just released by the  North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (NCSEA) on the status of the Community Solar Program.   As you will see, there are several key elements that are being worked out, and we appreciate NCSEA’s work towards the creation of program that truly serves the community.

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Update: Duke Energy’s Community Solar Program

By Jordan Jones | July 16, 2018

Though North Carolina is ranked second in the nation for total installed solar PV capacity, there are still many NC residents who don’t have the necessary sunny sight conditions or face some other obstacle to “going solar.” Here at NCSEA, we hope that the community solar model of solar development can make solar more accessible to all North Carolinians. The community solar model of solar development allows North Carolinians to jointly own a solar facility or subscribe to a portion of a facility’s output. These systems are either owned by utilities or solar developers or directly owned by a group of neighbors or customers. Read more about the state of community solar in North Carolina here.

House Bill 589, which became law one year ago, requires Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) and Duke Energy Progress (DEP) to offer at least 20 MW of community solar in each of their territories. The utilities filed their initial Community Solar Program plans in January, and NCSEA engaged in the docket throughout the spring and early summer.

The initial Community Solar Program proposed by Duke Energy was flawed and lacked economic benefits for participants, as NCSEA noted in our initial comments on the docket filed in April. After NCSEA and other intervenors filed their initial comments, Duke reached out to certain intervenors to discuss ways in which the proposed Community Solar Program could be revised. Over the course of the spring, Duke overhauled the Community Solar Program it initially proposed, and submitted a revised program with their Reply Comments in early June.

It should be noted that NCSEA supports Duke’s stated goals for their revised plan: lower upfront monthly subscription fees; monthly on-bill credits and an associated net monthly bill; and allowing larger capacities for the community solar projects. However, the actual content of the revised Community Solar Program laid out by Duke is prohibitively expensive and calls for an unnecessary delay. As such, NCSEA objects to the revised program proposed by Duke on the following grounds:

The revised timeline indicates that program implementation will be delayed until at least 2021 in DEP and 2022 in DEC territory. (NCSEA’s Reply Comments, pages 2-4)

The revised program proposes a gross increase of $3,440.80 from the original proposed $500 subscription fee. (NCSEA’s Reply Comments, pages 4-6)

Duke proposes to purchase electricity at prices above the current avoided cost but sell it to participants at the current rate. (NCSEA’s Reply Comments, pages 7-9)

There are insufficient low-income customer incentives in the revised program proposal. (NCSEA’s Reply Comments, pages 9-10)

The initial program proposed by Duke projected a one-time $500 subscription fee to be paid by the customer wanting to share solar generated by a one MW solar project. In the revised program proposed by Duke, they project a lower upfront subscription fee of $295.20 plus an additional monthly fee of $15.19 over a 20-year term. Though Duke did provide program elements supported by NCSEA such as on-bill credits, monthly payment plans, and a lowered up-front cost, increasing the overall cost of participating in the program by $3,440.80 renders the revised plan untenable.

NCSEA appreciates Duke’s efforts, and their support for several proposed modifications offered by intervenors, including Sierra Club’s proposed modification to allow for third parties to provide funding assistance to low income subscribers wishing to enroll in the program. However, the twenty-five-fold increase in cost and delay in projected start date are unacceptable, and NCSEA believes that Duke should revise the program once more to offer the lowest possible cost to subscribers and a commercially reasonable time frame for implementation.

As always, NCSEA will monitor this docket as we wait for the NC Utilities Commission’s order and will update our members as soon as more information is available.


Stronger with Amicus Solar Cooperative

Sundance’s Director of Communications, Erika Schneider, enjoyed sharing ideas about how we can help customers through the process of going solar with Sales & Marketing creatives from several other Amicus east coast member companies at a mini-retreat in Boston earlier this month. While our markets are all different with varying incentives, utility regulations, and rates, we all share a passion for bringing clean energy to our communities and we work cooperatively to strengthen our companies and the solar industry as a whole. Thanks to the great folks at SunBug Solar for graciously hosting us in their space for the day.
It is also exciting to share that Amicus was recently named a 2018 Best For The World Honoree with B Corporation!  Being part of this group inspires us to grow and develop new ways to serve our employees, customers and community every day.

Duke Energy’s Solar Rebate Program Status Update

After months of announcing their Solar Rebate Program and its approval by the NC Utility Commission earlier in April, Duke Energy is preparing to open the application on July 9. As they’ve communicated that applications will be considered on a first come, first served basis we understand that this leaves many people, as well as  ourselves and other solar installation companies across the state, wondering where they stand if they hope to take advantage of this substantial incentive program while it is available.

For customers who’ve had a Duke meter swap on or after January 1, 2018, we will be in communication with you to provide the information that you will need to submit your application.  It looks to be a relatively straight-forward process, but we do encourage everyone to be prepared to submit as early as possible (the application is expected to go live a 9:00 am on that Monday morning.)   For people who have contracted for a solar energy system, you can apply once an interconnection application has been filed with Duke Energy and you are issued and Interconnection Project Number, even if your system has not been installed yet.

For those who may be in the process of exploring solar for their home or business, or have just become aware of the solar rebate, know that we are here to help position you to take advantage of this program. Duke has communicated that the residential capacity (5,000 kW AC for each of Duke’s two territories) is close to being filled, but has indicated that more may be made available to residential customers from  what remains of the commercial capacity. Also, the program will be available for 5 years (through 2022) with new capacity being made available on January 1 each year. Duke had stated on their website that “New installations and installations in the prior year, provided that their applications are submitted within 90 days of installation of their system, are eligible to apply for participation.”  Therefore, installations that are commissioned after the start of October of this year can apply for the rebate in Jan of 2019. So, as you can see, there is still ample opportunity to participate in this program.

We are doing our best to navigate this program as it has unfolded, and are eager to aid people in taking advantage of this incentive to help them realize the economic benefits of solar ownership and move our community towards a clean energy future.  If you have questions, Duke has updated their website with the essential information. Check it out here and then call us to see what might work for your home, business, or community nonprofit organization.  Let Duke pay you to go solar!


Sundance All-Staff: Process Flow & Serving our Customers

Earlier this Spring, our entire staff gathered for our bi-monthly All-Staff Meeting. We make space for this important time together for team-building and strengthening our capacity, always with an eye towards serving our customers with the highest standards possible.

Under the direction of Matt Dufon, our Field Operations Manager, we engaged in a dynamic exercise that made our process flow very visible, as well as tangible.  As can be seen in the photo above, we traced the flow of communications and procedures that need to be followed for a successful installation, from contract signing to system commissioning, by passing neon string between team members responsible for each step.  Quite a complex web was woven through this exercise, and we all gleaned quite a bit of insight from it.

It does take a lot to coordinate a smooth and efficient installation, but we continually strive do a better job at it by identifying areas for improvement, as well as positioning for opportunities.  This requires communication and commitment, internally within our operations and with our customers.  It works because we have a top-notch team as well as top-notch customers.  Thank you for the opportunity to do this work!


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