Sustainable Buildings and Grounds Committee Meeting
Monday, May 16th, 2005
Gene Dubicki, Carmela Federico, Michael Edelstein, Bill Makofske, Kay Fowler, Victoria Bruni, Frank Farrell, Karen OıBrien, Eric Karlin
Mona Mosser, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (and Ramapo alumna)
Cassandra Kling, World Water
David Eisenbud, Power Light
Cassandra Kling began with an overview of New Jersey Board of Public Utilities support for solar projects:
There is already extensive deployment of large-scale solar in New Jersey not surprising, as New Jersey has approximately the solar profile of Northern California! See http://www.njcep.com/html/sys_inst_rebate.html for listings of all solar projects in New Jersey: zip code, size, cost per installed watt of PV.
Solar projects also benefit from the mandated New Jersey market for solar ³renewable energy certificates.² These now sell for 17 -22 cents/kwH, which is more than the cost of solar electricity. Each kwH of solar productivity generates a sREC currently valued at that price in the state-mandated sREC marketplace. This market is mandated by law until 2009, and likely will be extended. The value in future of these sRECıs may vary: going down if supply grows faster than demand but the state is slated to ramp-up the percentage of solar that utility companies are required to provide, thereby providing at least some increased demand into the future. If Ramapo purchases a system outright, it would be able to profit the money from the sale of the sRECıs. Solar installers generally help clients sell their sRECıs in the marketplace. See http://www.njcep.com/srec/index.html for more information on this valuable new source of income from solar renewable energy.
In NJ, renewable energy is net-metered, meaning that the utility company must buy back any excess solar power at the same price (the same tariff rate) that the customer pays for electricity at that meter.
Renewable energy systems can be built to 125% of meter capacity (calculated from the previous 12 months worth of electricity usage); up to 2 MW of renewable power can be net-metered per meter.
All projects are inspected by a third party, at the BPUıs expense.
Additionally, utilities CANNOT increase standy charges for onsite renewable energy generation, as they can for natural-gas powered onsite energy generation.
Solar power can power any UPS system that can be powered from the grid solar power could function as an alternative to rebuilding the fuel cell stacks, in terms of meeting Ramapoıs backup power needs. System can be engineered to be robust enough to be reliable, darkness and clouds notwithstanding.
Although reductions in peak-demand charges are rarely guaranteed and do not show up as a guaranteed benefit in any contract, in Cassandra Klingıs experience a purchaser can expect a reduction of 10 50% of the installed kW of solar, as a reduction in peak-demand charges. This varies, of course, with the buildingıs use, but generally solar power production coincides well with peak-demand.
Clean Energy Program money is assessed as a tax on electricity and natural gas purchases in New Jersey, and goes into a lockbox it is barred by legislation from being used for any other purpose. This legislation has no expiration date, and would have to be actively terminated/modified by the legislature for the money to be used for any other purpose.
World Water will be building a 500kW+ system for the Atlantic City Utilities Authority. They considered various financing options, and went with an outright cash purchase.
For most solar projects, engineering is included with the installed-cost price.
Bill Makofske asked about degradation of performance over the lifetime of the system. Cassandra replied that most PV manufacturers offer a 25-year warranty on their panels, to perform to within 90% of original rating. Decades of experience from Japan and Germany indicate that decay is even smaller on the order of .25% per year.
Many varieties of non-penetrating mount systems were demonstrated, all designed to meet code requirements for wind, safety, etc., and all very appropriate for flat roofs. The PV panels provide additional insulation and protection from UV, heat and water. Gene Dubicki noted that border areas might be stressed, as non-PV-covered sections get wet and heated and PV-covered roof portions donıt but this could be minimized by minimizing the border surface area in the installation design. The PV mount systems have various solutions for making moving them easy some are stackable, some come in long chains that can be moved aside, etc.
Ballast Cassandra said that engineers do the calculations on additional ballast loads, which come out to be less than 10% of snow loads (this was confirmed later by David Eisenbud). No one seems to consider weight to be a serious obstacle on a code-compliant roof.
Cassandra presented a slide show of World Water projects, in NJ, the US and internationally, including Bayonne NJ school system, which is planning to install more than 1 MW over 9 campuses.
Financing Ramapo could certainly consider installing a 500kW system. World Water can offer a ³solar services² agreement Ramapo agrees to purchase the solar energy production, at 90% of what that monthıs electricity tariff charge would be. 10 years is the maximum contract length for a contract that involves energy conservation, for state colleges.
Carmela distributed information from SunEdison, who also provide a ³solar services² financing arrangement (an emergency arose keeping SunEdison representative Jigar Shah from attending the meeting).
Cassandra Kling offered to send Vicki Bruni a prototype solar services contract. She also will send around a spreadsheet tool that allows a user to calculate payback periods, and to modify assumptions about value of sRECıs, number of years that sRECıs would be available, interest rate, etc. A provided packet contained one scenario using rather conservative inputs for these variables.
David Eisenbud gave an overview of PowerLightıs many substantial NJ and higher education installations (Johnson and Johnson, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, University of California, Harvard University, etc.) They monitor performance of systems, which have exceeded 98% (overall) of promised capacity. Janssen Pharmaceuticals system is performing at 106% of expected, promised capacity.
PowerLight also provides training for clients on routine monitoring and maintenance. They claimed to provide the lowest cost/kwH on market. They, at this point, could not offer a 10-year ³no money down² solar services arrangement, but recommends an outright purchase as a cost-effective thing for a college to do. sRECıs can help generate positive cash flow, especially with the low-interest loans colleges can obtain.
Carmela Federico has asked PowerLight and WorldWater to send electronic versions of their PowerPoint presentations. Carmela also distributed a few sample solar RFPıs (Princeton University, the Atlantic County Utility Authority), and will ask Monmouth, Rutgers, The College of New Jersey, NJIT, and Stockton for possibly-helpful solar RFPıs (they are all at various stages in the solar-acquisition process).
Mona Mosser, Chief of Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation at the NJ Board of Public Utilities, offered to do all that she could to help Ramapo smoothly and effectively proceed down this road, and to be a resource and source of information and advice.