Thousands of companies and homeowners across the country have been buying or leasing solar panels in an effort to reduce their energy bills and reliance on fossil fuel-based electricity. Admittedly, it feels pretty good to be pulling raw power straight out of the freely available sunshine. But of course for most people installing solar panels is as much a financial decision as an ecological one. The vast majority of states have a solar credit program, which allows you to keep your building hooked up to the public grid, ensuring that your lights stay on even on cloudy days, but credit your power bill for every kilowatt of solar you produce and share with your local energy grid. This is a pretty good deal. You never have to run out of power, but still get that nice reduction in your power bill every month.
However, storm clouds are on the horizon for many of these happy solar panel owners. The power companies, once happy enough to participate in the solar credit program, are starting to see exactly how much revenue they could lose from miles of solar panels distributed throughout the cities and countryside. Rethinking solar credit system, these utility companies have begun lobbying states for the right to change the economic balance. Unfortunately the sunniest states in the country are starting to give way.
You may be wondering exactly what the power companies have to complain about. After all, you’re generating your own energy and reducing the amount they have to provide to your community. So what exactly are they losing? What we’re all missing is actually the wear and tear on the infrastructure itself. We often forget that wires experience wear and tear just like every other part of an electrical system. And the grid itself requires establishment and maintenance. The utility companies built the grid and maintain it to ensure we all get power whenever we need it. Like a toll road, our power bills are more than just a metered cost of electricity. They are also paying for the grid infrastructure and the work the power companies do to take care of it.
Power companies are therefore arguing that solar panel users are still putting their share of wear and tear on the grid, possibly even more than most buildings, and they should be allowed to charge for that. When someone generates enough solar to reduce their bill to zero, the companies don’t get their grid use ‘toll’ money. And they want to change that.
The proposed solution, one that is already been enacted in Nevada, is to allow energy companies two ways to take a bite out of private solar panel owners. First, they may be allowed to charge a flat monthly fee to all solar users to use the grid. Second, they plan to reduce the amount credited for each kilowatt of solar from full market value (what they charge for their power) to a third or less. Officially, the energy companies aim merely to ensure that non-solar owners don’t have to pay extra for grid maintenance, while solar owners’ bills are reduced to zero. What’s already happened in Nevada suggests that this power can and will be quickly abused.
One of the sunniest states in America, Nevada would seem like the perfect place to set up your solar farm. After all, the sun shines constantly, and the heat is considerable. In most of Nevada, there’s very little in the way of other buildings to block your sunlight. Initially, solar owners and leasers were incentivized to invest and build. They were offered full market value on any power they generated and dumped onto the grid. However, in what solar companies are calling an unprecedented bait and switch, last year they changed the policy to allow NV Energy, the state’s only power company, permission to charge higher rates and fees to solar panel owners.
The real problem is how the math shakes out. Their monthly fee, which used to be $12 will be raised to $40 over the next four years. This alone might have been okay, but they are also reducing the solar credit from full market value at 13 cents down to a meager 2.8 cents per kilowatt. For those of you who are familiar with solar credit math, this completely eliminates any financial benefit of having solar power in Nevada and worse, in many cases, it will make it more costly than simply living off the grid. And, of course, they’re still selling the solar-generated power at the original 13 cents and pocketing the difference.
Choosing when to get solar panels installed and which power companies to work with is an important decision to make before investing. Join us next time for the second half of this two-part article. We’ll talk about recent changes in Florida’s solar policies and off-grid options that dodge the power companies entirely. For more information on business energy efficiency, contact us today!
Tipp City, Ohio (June 19, 2018)—Tipp City Schools will make strategic investments in LT Ball Intermediate School, Tippecanoe Middle School and Tippecanoe High School that are expected to save more than $73,000 annually through a partnership with Tipp City-based Energy Optimizers, USA.
The comprehensive improvements are designed to enhance energy efficiency, prolong the life of the buildings and improve safety. Starting in June, Energy Optimizers, USA, will:
The upgrade to LED lighting is expected to save the district more than $61,000 in electricity use and more than $12,000 in maintenance costs. LED lighting uses an average of 60 percent less energy and lasts five times longer than the replaced systems. In addition to offering immediate savings, LED lighting will result in better-lit environments that are more conducive to learning. The lighting also does not have the hum and flicker associated with fluorescent lighting, making it an ideal system for special needs classrooms.
“We have been taking a hard look with our community about how we can best plan, invest in and preserve our facilities,” said Superintendent Dr. Gretta Kumpf. “Energy Optimizers, USA, presented us with very smart, very conservative options to get more from our intermediate and middle schools while improving our energy efficiency.”
Tippecanoe Middle School students have also invested in improving the district’s sustainability practices. The students have worked with community partners to evaluate and improve the district’s water and energy use, waste, and student well-being. Students presented their options to the district Board of Education in May.
“We are proud to assist our hometown schools with making common sense, energy-efficient measures to ensure their intermediate and middle school buildings run in top shape for years to come,” said Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers, USA, president. “In making these improvements, the district is demonstrating that its focus is on the best, most cost-effective use of resources, both regarding energy conservation and taxpayer dollars.”
Trees are one of the oldest forms of life on our planet. They have an incredibly sustainable lifecycle of growth, reaching for optimal sun-catching branches and stretching their roots down to water sources below. Trees turn soil nutrients into fresh air, wood, and often edible leaves. They serve as homes for thousands of types of other plants and animals. Trees are fantastic for the environment and the ecosystem around them, but why should you plant trees around your school?
It’s true that deciding to plant trees is a fairly large commitment. It’s also one of the best things you can do to provide shade for the kids and produce oxygen. Trees also help the school’s energy bill as well. Just as the roots extend into the ground, holding the soil together and spreading nutrients, the branches extend over the walls and roof of your school creating cool natural shade. That shade is just as good for your old buildings as it is for the children.
Schools are built to withstand the weather for decades as long as they are properly maintained. But most administrators never think about the fact that schools are built to withstand sunlight just as much as they need to resist leaking in the rain or drafts in the cold. The way the roof is built, the materials for exterior siding, even the paint on your gutters is optimized to resist sunlight, but it only does so much. Have you ever seen a sagging sun-bleached abandoned home? Then you’ve seen the extreme result of what the sun does little by little each day to a structure. It’s a big part of why we have to maintain buildings so carefully.
How much you spend on cooling your school each year depends a lot on the weather and, most of all, your exposure to the sun. Unfortunately, schools tend to be big, flat sponges for hot sunlight, warming up the entier building. You may be familiar with the idea that your AC works harder on hot days. But you may not have realized what a big part trees play in this equation. On cloudy days, for example, you will use less electricity to maintain the same thermostat setting. Trees, when they grow over your school, are like clouds. They form a semi-permeable barrier between you and the sun. It is literally several degrees cooler in the shade. Therefore, your school building is experiencing the day as several degrees cooler as well. Every day that you have a shady tree protecting your facilities, you’ll use less electricity to keep the staff and students comfortably cool.
If you’re one of the few schools already mounting solar panels, congratulations on reaching the cutting-edge of energy efficiency. For everyone else still saving up for that perfect solar setup, at least some of your daily power comes from nuclear, fossil fuels, and/or coal unless you live in a very renewable-heavy region. This means that the less energy you use daily to cool the schools, the fewer of these inadvisable resources need to be burned to meet the community’s energy needs.
Planting trees can absolutely improve the environment, and in more ways than you might have expected. They turn carbon dioxide into oxygen, firming your soil, and filtering water through the bark. They also reduce the amount of coal and fossil fuels need to be burned. The more trees you have in your neighborhood creating oxygen and shading buildings, the more efficient your entire area becomes. Not sure what kind of tree you want to plant? We suggest doing a little research on what you’d like to see on your grounds and what your property will support before you buy a new sapling. Enjoy your trees!
For more interesting school energy efficiency tips, contact us today!
TIPP CITY, Ohio, June 4, 2018 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — The City of Vandalia is taking steps to improve energy efficiency—and reduce its utility bills by an anticipated $12,000 a year—by upgrading its lighting systems in partnership with Energy Optimizers, USA.
Starting in June, Energy Optimizers, USA, will retrofit interior and exterior lighting systems at the city’s municipal building and Fire Station #2 with LED systems. LED lighting uses an average of 60 percent less energy and lasts five times longer than the systems being replaced, offering an immediate return on investment that will continue paying off for years to come. The project is also expected to qualify for a rebate of nearly $11,000 from DP&L.
“In our community, we constantly strive to add value for our residents and taxpayers,” said Steve Clark, Director of Parks and Recreation. “Our partnership with Energy Optimizers, USA, will enable us to save dollars, vastly improve the quality of lighting in these buildings and enhance security, all while conserving our natural resources.”
The upgrade will be a welcome change for the firefighters who spend long hours in the station. That’s because LED lighting offers a quality of light that is very close to natural sunlight, which creates better-lit and more comfortable environments.
“Vandalia is consistently on the leading edge when it comes to forward-thinking and smart resource use,” said Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers, USA, president. “By upgrading their lighting systems, the city’s administration and council are investing taxpayer dollars in proven, cost-effective solutions that enhance their public facilities.”
About Energy Optimizers, USA
Energy Optimizers, USA works with educational, governmental, commercial and industrial customers to implement energy savings opportunities to reduce operational costs, including lighting retrofits, renewable energy projects (wind and solar), HVAC retrofit projects, building automation retrofits and energy education programs. The company was named to the INC. Magazine Top 500 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. (2014), was named the Fastest Growing Company in the region for two consecutive years by the Dayton Business Journal (2013, 2014), and was named a finalist in the Dayton Business Journal Best Places To Work competition in 2016.
Two and a half months and 600 bulbs later, brighter days are ahead at Clark State Community College’s Springfield campus.
Clark State recently partnered with Energy Optimizers out of Troy to install LED lights inside and outside of Shull Hall, one of the campus’ buildings.
LED (light emitting diode) products produce light approximately 90 percent more efficiently than incandescent light bulbs.
The college noted the change will improve the classroom experience while being environmentally friendly.
There are a number of smart IoT (Internet of Things) sensors that can be incorporated into your energy saving smart system, each of them with their own set of pros and cons allowing you to choose or combine them for the best use in your institution. Because working in an office-like setting often involves holding still for long periods of time, motion sensors are mostly useful in hallways, however, they can also be placed at doors to keep a count on the number of people who have entered or left a building or floor. Heat sensors, on the other hand, are able to track the heat signatures of even stationary people who could be grading papers or taking tests but the sensors.
Of course, for everyone with an employee badge, IoT has yet another solution. Badges that emit a small signal can tell you exactly where each staff member or visitor is in the building. With this setup, all you need are sensors that can detect the badges themselves in order to create programs that are both cool and energy efficient like light groups that turn on and off as employees move through the building or doors that only unlock for authorized badges. Even your HVAC system can become absolutely responsive, switching itself on when an employee remains on a floor for more than ten minutes or, alternatively, at the press of a button for those with authorized access. With IoT badges, you can not only track the comings and goings of known staff members but the locations of visitors and maybe even students as well.
Of course, the lights and HVAC system aren’t the only power consumers in your company, just the most profound. Everything from the coffee pot in the teacher’s lounge to the industrial-sized printers could be creating undetected energy drains that, combined, could significantly contribute to your energy costs. Fortunately, the IoT has yet another answer. Small sensors that can be clipped onto power cords can not only give you a live feed on appliance energy consumption, they can also be used to remotely switch these items on and off in the same way the lights and the HVAC system work, allowing you to save energy by turning off your appliances without having to walk from room to room hitting dozens of individual switches.
Whether you choose to control each light and appliance individually or group them into easy-to-control room units, IoT remote control is the new wave of energy efficiency through ultimate responsiveness. You can monitor their consumption, control them by hand, or allow the sensors to do their thing and turn everything on and off when approached or left by active employees. This means no more lights on over the weekend, no more wasted heating or cooling when nobody is in the building, and no more well-meaning but inconvenient timer systems. When every power switch from the lights to the classroom projectors can be controlled from a central location, mobile devices, and by local sensors, you’ll forget to even consider your light switches until the next significantly lighter power bill comes in.
While the IoT revolution may have come about in an effort to create a world of convenience, it has achieved something much more impactful. Through the simple act of remote control, grouping, and programmable responsiveness, incorporating IoT sensors and control into your school lights, HVAC, and appliances you have the opportunity to save energy both in large blocks and from moment to moment as items turn themselves off when floors and even individual rooms go temporarily out of use.
For more interesting, useful, and innovative advice or a consultation on viable energy efficient strategies for your school, contact us today!
Tipp City, Ohio (March 28, 2018)—Elmwood Local Schools expects to save $63,792 annually by partnering with Energy Optimizers, USA, to upgrade the district’s lighting systems to energy-efficient LEDs.
The interior lighting of the district’s K-12 building will be retrofitted with LEDs, as will the interior and exterior lighting of the Community Center. The project will include a 10-year material warranty on the lighting systems.
The changeover will deliver immediate savings to the district. LED lighting uses an average of 60 percent less energy than the systems being replaced. It also lasts five times longer than traditional systems, which will reduce long-term operations and maintenance costs. Also, the lighting puts out less heat, which will help keep cooling bills in check during warmer months.
In return for improving its energy efficiency, the district is expected to receive more than $30,000 in incentives from the Hancock-Wood Electric Cooperative.
“In our district, we strive to balance fiscal conservativism with a rich selection of academic and extracurricular opportunities for our students,” said Superintendent Tony Borton. “This project will support both of those objectives while creating classroom environments that are more conducive for learning.”
LED lighting’s benefits extend well beyond energy conservation. LEDs do not have the hum and flicker associated with fluorescent lighting, making it an ideal lighting system for special needs classrooms. The quality of light is also close to natural sunlight, which will be welcomed students and members of the community center alike.
“Making the switch to state-of-the-art LED lighting systems is a commonsense strategy that provides school districts with more control over their budgets,” noted Greg Smith, Energy Optimizers, USA president. “Directing more taxpayer dollars toward the classroom and Community Center amenities, rather than the local utility, works to the benefit of the district’s students, staff, and community alike.”
About Energy Optimizers, USA
Energy Optimizers, USA works with educational, governmental, commercial and industrial customers to implement energy savings opportunities to reduce operational costs, including lighting retrofits, renewable energy projects (wind and solar), HVAC retrofit projects, building automation retrofits and energy education programs. The company was named to the INC. Magazine Top 500 list of fastest growing companies in the U.S. (2014), was named the Fastest Growing Company in the region for two consecutive years by the Dayton Business Journal (2013, 2014), and was named a finalist in the Dayton Business Journal Best Places To Work competition in 2016. To learn more about Energy Optimizers, USA, visit their website at http://energyoptusa.com or call them at (937) 877-1919.
Make your mark at OASBO’s 62nd Annual Workshop and Trade Show, April 17-20!
4:15 pm – 5:15 pm
That New School is getting OLD! A panel of school administrators will spotlight case studies of “new schools” that have been retrofitted with the latest in energy-saving technology to benefit students, staff, and the community. Implementing these energy conservation measures will cut expenses while improving the learning environment.
For the last several decades, businesses and organizations across the globe have been looking for new and innovative ways to reduce their energy costs. Efficiency is always the watch-word but there is a delicate balance between practical frugality and unnecessary inconvenience. When it comes to conserving energy, success has is often hit or miss based on the techniques used and the intelligence with which they are applied.
TIPP CITY, Ohio, March 16, 2018 (SEND2PRESS NEWSWIRE) — Energy Optimizers, USA, has completed an aggressive energy savings project that is expected to save Fort Recovery Local Schools more than $30,000 a year in utility costs.
The district also anticipates receiving a Dayton Power & Light rebate of more than $17,000 because of the work.