It is easy to see how solar PV energy systems are a natural fit in regions we all visit because they are warm and sunny nearly year round. States like Arizona, California, and even Florida get a lot of attention and there is a blooming capacity of solar generated electricity. In the Northeast and Midwest, renewable energy is still a great fit because of available resources and particularly higher energy costs. Wind energy makes sense where there are open fields and in plains and prairie regions where conditions produce routinely higher winds. Solar is a great fit there too, but also in more urban and suburban. Both the available sunshine and the prevailing energy costs make installing solar energy systems in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and other neighboring states very attractive.
This image shows that Pennsylvania is in between Ohio and New York in average electricity prices. But all three states offer plenty of opportunity for savings relative to other states by making an investment in solar.
Ohio and Beyond
We have shared with you some perspectives on the economic value from solar power. Specific to Ohio, there are thousands of dollars in annual savings available to anyone who takes the leap now, using the current incentives and considering the moderate but increasing utility costs.
And in general the local and global activity proves there is already a lot of value, while there is less opportunity for significant pricing reductions. So, it is fair to predict that utility prices will continue to rise, and waiting for lower prices may not save you much more money.
We have also shown you how a current investment does more than just save you money on electricity. It is also proven to increase the value of your home, with favorable returns on your investment when the savings and home value are combined.
And we were thrilled to announce we were chosen to work with the City of Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance (GCEA) to help even more people afford solar for their homes in southern Ohio. Solarize Cincinnati is an ongoing program.
But there is even more to the story. Not only are the investment conditions already satisfactory, the region in general is increasingly proving solar energy production is well suited even though it isn’t a notoriously sunny vacation spot. At all levels, from residential to commercial to utility scale, more homes and businesses are enjoying the benefits. The higher power costs more than offset the difference in sunshine. The investments work to create both energy savings and increased property value.
Importantly, the more activity in your neighboring states, the better for you, too. Looking at the homeowner’s perspective, the more common solar energy becomes, the easier it is for appraisers and loan officers to recognize the value.
So we take a look at two states nearby Ohio where in spite of some setbacks there is still plenty activity.
New York State
We will focus in more detail on New York in future posts. Here are some key indicators and highlights that show just how successful solar has become for the state.
The most significant of all the policy and program activities is the Reforming our Energy Vision (REV). It is a huge and comprehensive step in changing the utility model and enhancing the value for solar energy. The aim is to promote more energy efficiency, increasing the use of distributed energy and renewable sources, all while promoting markets to drive greater use of new technologies. REV informs the State Energy Plan by setting some concrete goals and targets. A few examples are below:
- Make energy more affordable for all New Yorkers
- Build a more resilient energy system
- Empower New Yorker's to make more informed energy choices
- Create new jobs and business opportunities
- Improve New York's existing initiatives and infrastructure
- Support cleaner transportation
- Cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050
- Derive 50% of all energy from renewables by 2030
- Protect New York’s natural resources
- Help clean energy innovation grow
Look for a subsequent post to drill into more detail about how this program is being implemented and how it will benefit homeowners.
More immediately, New York state is continuing its success with the NY-Sun initiatives.
This program is especially useful to homeowners and small businesses who might be otherwise challenged to finance a low cost energy future.
The program helped New Yorkers to purchase and install over 300 MW of solar power by the end of 2014.
At least 26 communities across the state will now have active Solarize programs throughout 2015, and some into 2016. Nearly half of the current initiatives include Rochester and a number of communities in the central part of the state.
The Affordable Solar initiative under the NY-Sun program has been established to help lower and moderate income homeowners enjoy the benefits of solar self-sufficiency. Supporting this market is expected be a key factor to increases solar installations in non-urban areas and be a key factor in reaching the future REV goals.
Residents and small businesses in Pennsylvania have benefitted from state incentives and programs in recent years. A rebate program, the Pennsylvania Sunshine Solar Program, was responsible for upwards of 230 MW in solar panels, putting the state in the top 10 to 12 for total capacity. Although some of programs have expired as of now, the cost of power still creates a very attractive environment for solar investments. Some of the recent good indicators are happening close to Ohio.
The Solarize Allegheny program was a success for homeowners. But it also caused some communities to rally and work harder to make it possible for small businesses and public institutions to reap solar benefits. In the Pittsburgh area, Millvale Library has partnered with a number of these inspired parties to work in phases to bring all of their facilities to self-sufficiency by producing what they consume using solar energy systems.
And in another Pittsburgh neighborhood, a landlord finds solar is a way to help his non-profit tenants safe on energy expenses. Over 70% of their power demand will be sold to them by the owner at rates significantly below the current utility prices. That's a big deal for anyone not living on profits.
For Pennsylvania overall, there is plenty of good news. Here, a researcher at Penn State made a personal assessment of home solar value in his neighborhood. What he finds is significant. Because solar energy systems almost always produce the most when the electricity demands are highest, the value to Pennsylvania utilities offsets any associated costs to support those customers. They get power from every solar installation when their costs are highest. And they supply those sites power from the grid when the utility costs are the lowest.
Solar Energy Works Well for the Three States
The available sunlight combined with the relatively high costs of electricity create a more than satisfactory investment potential for New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio. Not only is there a valid academic analysis above, but there is proof through continued and even accelerated activity in the region. No longer do people need to take a risk that choosing to go solar will pay off. It does. And it will continue to do so.
Interested in learning more about YellowLite’s renewable energy solutions? Reach out to us today to learn more.