It was a very good year for solar at Power Trip Energy, across the state, and nationwide. Statewide, about 11.2 MW of pv was installed, which represents in increase in capacity of about 45% over the previous year, which showed an increase of 70% over the year before that. At this point, the Washington cost recovery program payments (that incentivize grid-tied solar pv) totaled about $5 million in 2014.
Locally we installed 68 grid-tied pv projects totalling 484 KW – an increase of 26% in terms of KW over the previous year. In terms of the brands of pv we installed, 60% was SunPower, 35% was SolarWorld, and about 5% was “Made in Washington”.
Nationally, we are seeing results showing a 40% increase over the previous year. Every state is different in terms of energy policy, electricity pricing, and incentives, so it is difficult to make broad statements, and when you do see a broad statement made by others – be very skeptical until you’ve seen the underlying data.
In terms of performance, last year cooperated with a good spring and good summer. Most of our systems performed at about 10% over the average, and many of the SunPower systems performed at 20-25% over our performance estimates. We may have to alter our modeling for the SunPower systems performance estimates.
In addition to installing a record amount of pv, we installed 6 Level II EV chargers for our clients. Several of those clients are making over 50% of their own electricity including replacing gasoline with electricity as their source of energy for personal transportation.
In 2014 we continued to see slight price decreases and slight efficiency increases. We became more stringent on our quality control standards and pretty much limited our offerings to SunPower and SolarWorld in terms of module manufacturers, forgoing offering the Made in WA pv modules. As we keep an eye on the state of the industry and introduction of new products, we retain the primary goal of using the highest quality equipment from the most reliable manufacturers as the best way to ensure long-term value for our clients.
Here at our shop, we increase the capacity of our solar arrays from 4 KW to 10 KW by adding 6 KW of Solar World modules. We also added a second Level II EV charger in response to the increased usage of our free EV charging stations available to anybody, any time.
We are looking to accommodate more growth in 2015 by adding 1-3 more people if everything goes according to plan. Last year we added two new people – Patrick – a new installer and electrical trainee, and Dierdre – a new marketing assistant. Also, after taking one year off due to market chaos, we have been able to re-implement our company group health insurance plan.
Looking ahead to 2015, we are seeing continued growing interest, and we feel it is likely next year will be another high water mark. In addition to our period Spin Your Meter Backwards presentations in various locations, we will be organizing several solar tours this year. We have been sponsors of the Jefferson Energy Lunch series since its inception, and we are commencing a new Power Lunch Kitsap series in conjunction with Rice Fergus Miller Architects in downtown Bremerton. We are also currently installing 5 public Level II EV chargers here in Port Townsend as the first phase of our Power Trip Energy EV Tourism initiative. Look for more details on this by the end of the month, once installations are complete, and inspections finaled.
The existing state of the market is amazing in terms of the lowest prices and highest quality equipment we have ever seen, combined with several incentive programs in place for another couple of years: the 30% Federal tax credit (until 2016), the Washington State sales tax exemption (until 2018), and the annual production incentive payments available through the Washington State Renewable Energy Cost Recovery Program (in place until 2020.) There has never been a better time to install solar, and depending on whether those incentives are extended, we may not see a moment like this again. If you have been considering installing grid-tied pv, give us a call or learn more at http://www.powertripenergy.com