Happy New Year! 2017 Done. Here's Our Solar Outlook for 2018.

We did it. We survived 2017. Enough reason to celebrate on its own. The thing is, we did it together. We're so thankful for the support we've received from our neighbors and know that we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the power of our community. So cheers! Let's keep building the solar movement in this fine city of ours. 


Solar Outlook 2018

These are hard times politically, but there are truly several reasons why you should be thinking really hard about getting a solar system in 2018. Although there's significant pressure on the industry from the White House, the majority of New York's solar market is supported by local incentives. So despite there being a looming tariff on foreign solar panels that could raise prices for the industry, here in Brooklyn 70% of the cost of solar is still incentivized for homeowners that decide to make the switch. Still a boon of a choice. Here are some of the reasons why we're choosing to look on the brighter side of things.

1) Federal Tax Credits should continue through 2019.
In Brooklyn, solar installations are subsidized by Federal, State, and City tax breaks. Luckily, the solar industry escaped serious punishment by the new monster tax bill. The Federal Investment Tax Credit, which covers 30% of the system cost for homeowners, was not eliminated. Although there's no certainty of the credits next year, their current schedule has them set to diminish 12/31/2019. 

2) Interconnection procedures, though changing, still provide reliable payback for solar that doesn't require the extra layout for a battery to make economic sense.
New York State's solar industry is undergoing an enormous transition under Governor Cuomo's REV initiative. The policy that has allowed homes to connect to the grid and receive full retail value of their electricity produced is being scrutinized to develop a more competitive payback structure for solar owners and utilities. In the future this will likely mean that most solar systems will need battery backup. RIGHT NOW Net Metering allows for solar owners to connect to the grid and receive credits on their bill for the volume of whatever they produce, whenever they produce it. This means more reliable payback especially given that electricity prices are continuing to rise. 

3) Electricity Prices will Continue to Rise. 
The Energy Information Administration forecasts that electric prices will increase by at least another 2.5% this year. In New York, we may see even greater seasonal fluctuation in electricity because of increased demand for Natural Gas during this season's cold snap. Homeowners that remember the winter of 2015 should be reminded of unquestionably cold weather and price increases on their ConEd bills. Folks that decide to go solar will avoid these cost increases in the future.

We're in Uncharted Waters. AKA Trump Tariff Limbo. Like Sharks with Lasers.

We’re in uncharted waters. The International Trade Commission issued their recommendation to Trump on the 13th. As we mentioned previously, the formal recommendation that they made suggests Trump should place heavy tariffs on solar panels imported from foreign countries. Anytime between now and January 13th Trump has the power to impose tariffs that will drastically affect the price of solar.  

Although it’s good news that Trump hasn’t definitively jumped on solar tariffs, it’s put the industry in limbo. For the next 60 days we’ll be at the mercy of his decision.  

Until the point at which Trump makes his decision, Brooklyn SolarWorks will continue to honor pricing negotiated prior to the 13th. Customers considering solar now and that make a commitment to work with us prior to any Executive decision will also receive preferential pricing. If you’re thinking about it… give us a call. 347-474-7144.

Get solar now. Trump could increase the cost of solar by $2,000 on November 13th.

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We're counting down the days until the International Trade Commission's tariff recommendations land on Trump's desk. We have a week. 7 days. 

To be fair to folks who we've been chatting with for the past several months, we're making sure that anyone who commits to going solar before that day will receive the solar price that we quoted them with. After Trump issues his decision, which will likely impose a tariff on foreign solar panels, we'll have to renegotiate all of our pricing. 

If you've been thinking about going solar... don't wait any more. Give us a call and we can talk you through the process so that you're ready to make the switch. 347-474-7144.

Trump's Terrifying Trade Decision: The ITC Recommendation and What it Means for Us

Trump could increase the price of solar with the wave of a pen on Nov. 13th

Trump could increase the price of solar with the wave of a pen on Nov. 13th

On November 13th, the American solar industry could be dealt a dramatic blow by the Trump administration. On that date the International Trade Commission will issue a trade recommendation that could put Trump in a position to place hefty tariffs on imported solar panels. The tariffs, depending on their severity, could mean a downward turn in the solar installation business here in the United States.

Consistent with global manufacturing as a whole, solar installers across the country have relied on imported panels to meet growing demand because of drastically lower prices and quality differences in panels produced abroad. For these reasons the most common solar panels used by New York installers, including  Brooklyn SolarWorks, are imported. Companies like LG, Silfab, and Sunpreme make some of the highest quality panels for their price. If tariffs are placed on panels from these companies, it will likely cost $2,000 or more for us to source these panels or panels of similar quality for each of our jobs. A cost that, as the economic lingo goes, will then be passed  on to our customers.

Although the ITC’s final recommendation is no clear indication of what President Trump will ultimately decide to do, the tone that he’s used to approach international trade (especially that with China) has many of us scared. Trump’s call for tariffs had been hard to ignore. In a conversation with John Kelly, he pouted like a child for them. “Tariffs. I want Tariffs” has stuck with us like a kind of haunting mantra from the Orange Kid in the oval office.

As a local solar installer, we’ve already seen the prices of solar panels increase marginally in anticipation of some sort of solar tariff. The uncertainty and severity of this trade case has driven a number of commercial companies to stockpile thousands of panels at current prices. There’s almost complete consensus that whatever is coming… it isn’t good.

With pending change so clearly present in many of our internal communications as a company, it’s hard to accurately describe how frustrating this occurrence is from the industry’s perspective as a whole. The two companies that first filed “anti-dumping” claims, Suniva and SolarWorld, were notorious for poor service. Due to production issues, panels from Suniva and SolarWorld were frequently under delivered. It was difficult to accurately predict their availability. We rarely did business with either company. It hurts even worse to know that the majority of both companies’ shares were owned by foreign conglomerates. The whole thing has this aura of “un-American-ness” that’s unnaturally frustrating and reflective of our nation’s current political status.

At the present moment we’re recommending that any of our potential customers “get in” before we change our pricing to reflect the increases in solar panel module prices. Although we’re still going to be in business, and the lifeblood of our business isn’t going to change, locking in a price before Trump interferes seems like the only fair way to guarantee that we’ll be able to build systems at their quoted price. We’re not sure how quickly Trump will jump on the recommendation from the ITC. His ultimate decision could come as late as the middle of January. Or it could come the minute he receives the official recommendation from the ITC: November 13th.

Announcing the Earth Month Solar Challenge

We’re excited about the 47th anniversary of Earth Day. So we’re launching a challenge for Brooklyn to help us install at least 60kW of power on rooftops in the borough.

If we meet our first goal, every system that signs up with us this month will receive a $250 bonus. In order to do that we only need about 15 homes to sign up for solar. If we get more than that, and install more than 80kW of power- everyone who signs up this month will receive a $500 bonus. To do that we need only need 20 people to go solar this month. That’s it. Just 20 homes.

For each friend you refer to this challenge that signs up- you and your friend will get an additional $250.

We know it might seem crazy, but this month is crucial to show the neighborhood exactly what we’re all capable of. This is a chance for us to get back to the roots of the environmental movement, help fight climate change, and stick it to the clown in the oval office.

If you’ve been waiting for the right moment to go solar, this is it. Call us at 347-474-7144 or refer a friend here.

Happy Thanksgiving from Brooklyn SolarWorks!

Starting Brooklyn SolarWorks has been one of the most exciting and fulfilling undertakings we could have ever embarked on, but there are a few things specific to 2016 that we’re especially thankful for and would like to shout-out:

Some of you have gotten to see our car up close or even got to hang at the BSW Summer Bash. Regardless, the thing we’re probably most thankful for is continuing to meet with Brooklynites and NYC-goers who are as excited about the solar revolution as we are.

We hope you give us the opportunity to continue serving our community and transforming NYC’s skyline, one canopy at a time.

We’d also like to extend $250 to you and $250 to anyone you refer to Brooklyn SolarWorks. This referral program applies year-round, but we figured we’d mention it in the spirit of giving season. Learn more about it here:

Wishing you a happy thanksgiving, and as always – shine on!

Solar Canopy vs. Tilt Rack: What’s the Difference?

In New York City, having a flat roof poses some obstacles to going solar: Physical obstructions and make installation difficult; NYC’s fire codes and regulations limit the number of panels you can have on your roof and consequently the energy you generate; owners want to continue using their rooftops as social spaces.

There are two solar systems – the solar canopy and the tilt rack – that were designed specifically to circumvent these problems. So what do they look like, and how are they different?

Solar Canopy

  • Elevates solar panels 9 feet above the roof surface
  • Sociable space underneath; can walk underneath
  • Ability to go solar when roof obstructions would have otherwise prevented a solar system
  • 40% larger system size than if panels were to be installed directly on roof surface
  • Cooler building during summer months
  • Withstands winds up to 110 mp

Tilt Rack

  • Elevates solar panels slightly off roof surface
  • Ability to go solar when roof obstructions would have otherwise prevented a solar system
  • 40% larger system size than if panels were to be installed directly on roof surface
  • Cooler building during summer months
  • Withstands winds up to 110 mph

Both designs get around many restrictive NYC fire codes, maximizing your roof’s potential to offset your utility. The main difference is that the solar canopy is elevated significantly higher off the ground than the tilt rack, allowing you the space to roam underneath. The tilt rack thus requires less materials and is therefore usually cheaper to install than a solar canopy.

Which design works for your home?

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, and as always – shine on!

Gaelen McKee - "The Innovator" in New York Times

I woke up this morning to some awesome news, Gaelen McKee, President of BSW was featured in the New York Times as an Innovator in NYC solar. We are thrilled to be helping build more solar in NYC and making clean energy happen for our neighbors. 

New York is a special city and it requires special innovations to help solar become pervasive. As we look at the solar landscape here in NYC it looks like flat roofs as far as the eye can see, and as far as we are concerned, each one should have solar panels on them. Cheers to all our other friends HERE COMES SOLAR and our Customer Anne Schaetzel who was featured. #solarcanopynyc is making it happen. Thanks to our cohorts @ Situ Studio for helping to merge solar AND design for these innovations in our special city. 

How to Go Solar If You Rent

Solar power is a clean and sustainable energy source that has the potential to significantly offset people’s utility costs. Solar PV (photovoltaic) project installations continue to increase every year; in fact, the U.S. hit 1 million total solar installations this year in 2016 and is projected to hit 2 million installs in just two more.

Going solar is also getting cheaper. The average price for a completed PV project has dropped by nearly 30% in the past 3 years alone.

If you look at solar the way we do and see it as a practical solution to sustainable energy, then that’s fantastic – but what if you don’t own a property or can’t install a system of your own? If you rent, there is way to reap the energy, economic, and environmental benefits of solar, and it’s called Community Distributed Generation – Community DG for short. Community DG refers to any off-site solar, small wind, or other clean energy project that benefits communities of people through net metering. Since we’re talking about solar, we can refer to Community DG as Community Solar – or Shared Solar –  for short.

Here’s an infographic on how it works:

There are three parties involved in Community Solar.

  1. Utility – companies that distribute electricity, such as Con Ed.
  2. Sponsor – the intermediary; the project developer, a private company, or other entity that manages the solar installation project and determines its contracts and fees.
  3. Member – you and anyone else who wants to go solar without installing an individually owned system.

A sponsor will organize membership and interfaces with utility. Let’s say you contractually agree with your sponsor to use 10% of the energy generated by the solar system for a monthly rate paid to your sponsor. The sponsor relays that information to your utility company, and then your utility company allocates 10% of the energy credits generated by your solar system to you. This is known as net metering.