Solar Energy FAQs
Solar Energy FAQs
How much solar energy do I need for my building?
Following that analysis, we would then design, engineer and install a solar PV system that efficiently utilizes the available on-site space, with the goal of maximizing your electricity offset and savings from solar energy.
If a rooftop, canopy (e.g., parking lot), or ground-mount system build isn’t possible due to your facility’s configuration, we can explore other options — such as floating solar, raised canopies, or off-site procurement options like virtual net metering or community solar.
Is solar energy expensive to install?
No. In fact, solar can be installed on your building at no upfront cost! The overall cost to install solar has fallen drastically over the last decade, allowing companies like DSD to install solar energy and provide clean power to customers at a rate below what is typically charged by the utility company for conventional power. Through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), a customer simply pays a per kilowatt-hour rate for the production from the solar PV system over a fixed period of time. This payment certainty allows DSD to waive any upfront payment needed. This option without any money down can translate to immediate energy savings once the system is operational.
How much can we save with solar energy?
Your solar rebate and potential energy savings depend entirely on the current cost of power in your utility territory and the dynamics of your solar project. In most cases, on-site solar energy provides a less expensive source of power than conventional energy purchased from the utility. Depending on your state and your facility, you might achieve between roughly five and 20 percent savings on a per kilowatt-hour basis. In addition, you are reducing your environmental footprint and encouraging a cleaner electricity grid.
Is there financing available to cover project costs?
The majority of DSD’s solar projects are financed through a Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) model. This model for solar procurement allows customers to reap the benefits of renewable energy without any upfront cost. DSD would finance the system for long-term ownership and require customers to pay for the energy consumed over the long term via a per kilowatt-hour rate.
Who provides DSD’s solar and storage financing?
What are the key differences between purchasing a system and doing a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)?
Customers do have the option of purchasing their solar energy system using upfront capital. In this scenario, you are the owner of the system from day one and all the energy produced by the system directly offsets your utility energy bill at no cost. By purchasing the system outright, you become the long-term owner and operator and are responsible for all maintenance and repairs during the project’s life. In return, you also
reap all project incentives, including the federal investment tax credit (ITC) and state rebates. For customers with access to upfront cash or affordable financing, this can be a great option.
However, in most cases, customers elect to enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) or Site Lease Agreement (SLA), in which DSD becomes the long-term owner and operator of the system. In this scenario a customer pays for the solar PV system production over a fixed period of time, rather than purchasing it. Customers can have access to on-site clean solar for little or no money down, and can often realize energy savings immediately. DSD is responsible for ensuring the system is fully operational and all repairs are managed at no expense to the customer for the duration of the PPA.
If my organization is a public entity or non-profit, can we leverage the federal tax credits?
Because public entities and non-profit organizations do not have tax liability, they would not be able to reap the benefits of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) by purchasing the system. However, these entities can enter into a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) whereby a third-party, such as DSD, would own and maintain the system over the project’s life and “monetize” the tax credits. The solar incentives result in a lower per kilowatt-hour price for electricity from the solar project.
Who receives the federal tax credits and local incentives?
Federal solar tax credits and local incentives are received by the solar system owners. These system owners, like DSD, pay all upfront costs to design, engineer and construct a solar project. In return, they receive all incentives and pass along the benefit to the customer in the form of a lower per kilowatt-hour rate for electricity.
Development & Construction
What permits are necessary to build the project?
Most solar and energy storage projects require building and electrical permits, at minimum, prior to installation. In addition, some projects require environmental and geotechnical reviews to ensure that the natural environment is protected. Approvals from the local utility are also required to “interconnect” with the electricity grid, a step required to utilize state net energy metering programs.
What steps are required to notify the local utility? Who interfaces with them?
There are a series of actions required by each local utility company to begin the process of installing solar energy on your building. To ensure that projects are installed safely and in accordance with the utility’s distribution system, the utility plays an active role in overseeing the design and interconnection of your PV system.
As a leading solar development company, DSD has a dedicated interconnection team that provides all support services associated with interconnection and communication with the local utility. The team is experienced in all major markets to ensure that the development of your project progresses towards permitting and interconnection approval swiftly.
How safe is it to install solar?
How long does it take to install?
Depending upon your project’s system size and complexity, the project may take as little as a few weeks or upward of a few months to install. Other factors impacting the installation time may include weather, permitting offices, incentive processes, interconnection approvals and the daily operation of your facility. Typically, a project undergoes a three-phase implementation cycle: The first phase is project development in which permits, drawings and schedules are established. Once completed, a project enters the second phase of construction, in which the system is built in a safe and efficient manner. Finally, a project enters the third testing and commissioning phase before the system is activated and begins generating clean energy.
For a parking canopy system, how many parking spaces will be affected?
Canopy systems can be installed in parking lots and/or on elevated parking garages. DSD has a team of engineers devoted entirely to canopy installations, as well as a series of patented designs that offer sleek arrays for minimal disruption to your site. In some cases, there are no parking spots impacted when installing a canopy. And when the canopy impacts parking spots, we perform a detailed analysis to minimize the impact.
Once I install solar energy, how does it impact my sustainability goals?
By adopting renewable energy, you are directly offsetting electricity from the utility grid that may utilize fossil fuels (depending on your area). In addition, each megawatt-hour (MWh) of system production generates a Renewable Energy Credit (REC) that you can “retire” to claim your environmental benefits and impact. Alternatively, you can sell these credits to another entity so that they can claim the environmental benefit as their own.
How can carbon offsets be quantified as the result of a solar system?
How does energy storage work?
Storage is primarily deployed to further reduce costs on your utility bill by reducing electric demand and the associated charges. Most commercial customers pay both energy costs and demand charges on their electricity bills. While solar energy impacts the energy portion, energy storage can reduce the demand portion of the bill — creating a significant savings opportunity that complements on-site solar. Depending upon your state and utility territory, storage may also be used to optimize revenue opportunities by providing grid services. Furthermore, storage has the potential to provide resiliency to your building to serve as short term back-up power during a grid outage.
How much does energy storage cost?
The cost of energy storage depends on several factors: like your state, utility territory, and your building’s energy profile. At DSD, we carefully evaluate the value proposition of storage at your unique facility. We proudly offer a transparent analysis so that each customer can make an informed decision about the cost and benefits of adding storage to their PV project.
How much space does it take up?
For typical commercial and large-scale applications, the storage unit containers vary from the size and shape of a large refrigerator on the small end, to a shipping container on the large end. The containers are weather-proof, secure, and engineered to house the battery cells and all other hardware equipment.
Where would the energy storage units be located?
Storage units are typically mounted and secured on a new concrete pad located outside, and in close proximity to, the electric meter (or point of interconnection). The units are typically tucked away and can be fenced and screened for minimal disturbance to a building’s aesthetic profile.
Are there any incentives available for energy storage?
There are many incentives available for storage, depending upon your state, utility territory, and local jurisdiction. The states most commonly offering storage incentives include California, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey. Other states may also offer grants or tax benefits for storage projects that can help offset the cost. No matter where you are located, if you have high demand charges, you may have an opportunity to save with energy storage.
How does DSD manage storage projects?
DSD proudly offers battery storage as a fully integrated deliverable. We are technology-agnostic and source from leading battery hardware providers, as well as best-in-class battery management platforms. This enables us to offer economically optimal solutions tailored to each interconnecting meters’ unique consumption pattern and electric tariff, or in-front-of-meter program. Additionally, our integrated solar solutions can be contracted for, constructed, and financed along with the co-located solar project, simplifying customers’ procurement and administrative processes and accelerating deployments.