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KENTFIELD (CBS SF) — Betty Segars’ Kentfield home is barely visible from the street but it’s got a great view of the sun, so Betty thought it would be perfect spot for solar panels.
“I’ve got a perfect position for solar. My house faces southern exposure,” Segars said.
In eco-conscious Marin, solar panels are a popular thing, so Betty was shocked when she got a letter from the Kent Woodlands homeowners association denying her request. Segars says she has a county permit.
“They rejected me because the panel has a white back sheet. And I said, back sheet? I’ve never heard of this before, what are you talking about?”
The Architectural Committee says the panels must have a black back sheet. Betty’s preferred solar provider, Sun Run, doesn’t carry those.
One neighbor thinks he knows the real reason for the rejection.
“Control. They just like to have total control over the area,” Paul Cooper said.
When Betty pointed out that none of her neighbors can even see her roof she got what Betty calls a petty response. “You can see the roof over there, can’t you? Obviously, you can see the roof-they’re going to be able to see your panels.”
Betty acknowledges that she can’t move forward without approval from the association, but that doesn’t mean she’s giving up on solar.
“I’m gonna keep knocking on their door. I’m gonna keep calling and sending letters and figuring out what my rights are.”
Segars says she’s already spent about $900 on the project and expects an appeal to cost another $1,500.
Has anyone else experienced this problem with an insurance carrier? Please let me know and tell me how you resolved the problem.
Laura.Arnold@IndianaDG.net or (317) 635-1701
Ask Real Estate is a weekly column that answers questions from across the New York region. Submit yours to email@example.com.
Q. Four years ago I had solar panels installed on the roof of a building I own. I recently decided to look for a new insurance carrier to replace my existing coverage, hoping to get a lower rate. But when I requested a quote from a different carrier, I was rejected. The company said it would not insure the building because it has solar panels. The installation was done with all the necessary permits and inspections. I received federal, state and city subsidies. How can a company reject my application based on the solar panels? If I had known it could have been an issue, I might have reconsidered the installation.
Manhattan Valley, Manhattan
A. Solar installations on residential rooftops are hardly novel. There are about 1,373 residential arrays citywide, according to Sustainable CUNY, which promotes solar energy. A well-installed solar array, like the one you describe, should set even the most risk-averse insurer at ease. That said, who knows what makes an insurer tick? (After all, your current carrier does not seem to mind the panels on your roof.)
“To tell you the truth, it just sounds like they got one weird company,” said Bret Heilig, the founder of Fiveboro Solar, a solar installation company in the city. Mr. Heilig pointed out that his insurance company did not flinch when he installed a solar array on the roof of his own home.
Rooftop solar panels are “not an issue with very many insurance companies,” said Stuart Cohen, the founder of the City Building Owners Insurance Program, an insurance broker that specializes in small buildings. “There are some that won’t do it, but there are just as many that don’t care about it.”
Get back on that insurance-hunting horse and try to find an insurer who will embrace your green ways. Enlist an insurance broker who is familiar with the marketplace — perhaps one that specializes in small residential buildings. A broker should be able to offer you several quotes from competing insurance companies. This will not only ensure that you get adequate coverage for your property, but it also might help you fetch a lower price.
Solar companies in Ohio have been delivered another blow.
It’s official: Ohio power companies no longer have to get half of their renewable energy from in-state providers.
A law signed in July made clear the state’s requirement that a 2008 law mandating alternative energy make up 25 percent of a utility’s power source by 2025 be frozen at current rates for two years. Half of that 25 percent must come from renewable sources like wind and solar.
But regulators were unclear if the 6.25 percent in-state renewable energy requirement would be wiped out by the bill.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has settled the matter: that provision will been eliminated completely. It’s another blow to an Ohio alternative energy industry that has been battered this year.
“Pure financial projects are on hold right now,” said Geoff Greenfield, president of Third Sun Solar in Athens.
The vague language of Senate Bill 310 meant the PUCO had to determine if the in-state requirement should be eliminated or pro-rated. Some commenters argued that legislators did not mean to eliminate the in-state requirement at all, but the PUCO rejected those arguments. Legislators like Sen. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, had argued that the requirement is unconstitutional.
By getting rid of the in-state requirement, renewable energy companies, especially in solar, must now compete to sell renewable energy credits with other states. It’s an issue of supply and demand: A solar company in a nearby state like Indiana, which doesn’t have mandatory renewable energy standards, can now more easily sell to Ohio power providers that need to buy solar credits to comply with the standards.
So now companies from Indiana and whereever else can flood the Ohio market with their offers and lower the prices. The in-state requirement was seen as a boon to Ohio renewable producers; it provided a safety net, preventing power companies from seeking solar credits from other states, even if the credits went for less.
Solar companies have pretty much stopped doing large business and nonprofit projects in Ohio since Senate Bill 310 was first bandied about anyway, Greenfield said. His company only does residential projects in Ohio now, and goes to other states for commercial projects.
The in-state requirement impacts solar more than wind. But wind industry sources say another law passed this year to move back turbines from property lines will have an even bigger impact on its operations in Ohio.
October 14, 2014
NEWS RELEASE: Indiana utility proposes expansion of its feed-in tariff program
Northern Indiana Public Service Company announces FIT 2.0 to support the development of local renewable generation
Merrillville, IN — On Thursday, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), an investor owned utility serving nearly a half million customers, filed a proposal to expand its voluntary feed-in tariff (FIT) program.
The proposed program, known as FIT 2.0, is a renewable energy purchasing program that enables NIPSCO to procure 16 megawatts (MW) of electricity from small-scale, renewable electricity projects within its service territory. This program is the successor to FIT 1.0, which created 30 MW of market capacity for local renewables.
“Given the success of NIPSCO’s initial feed-in tariff, it is natural to see an expansion of the program,” said Craig Lewis, Executive Director of the Clean Coalition. “Feed-in tariffs are the world’s most successful policy for deploying local renewable energy in a straightforward and cost-effective manner. In addition, given that feed-in tariffs avoid critical issues associated with net metering, by maintaining customer loads and eliminating multi-tenant complexities, utilities and communities across the country should be implementing feed-in tariffs.”
FIT 2.0 is the result of a months-long settlement process between NIPSCO and numerous parties including the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, Sierra Club, Citizens Action Coalition, and Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, which the Clean Coalition advised.
“Indiana is unique to have voluntary feed-in tariffs to promote the development of renewable energy resources,” said Laura Ann Arnold, President of Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance. “We worked very hard to develop a logical continuation of the NIPSCO FIT that is fair to everyone, including non-participating ratepayers. We are pleased with the outcome of the settlement and encourage other electric utilities in Indiana and elsewhere to pursue this type of collaborative process to develop additional voluntary feed-in tariffs.”
Under FIT 2.0, NIPSCO will offer 15-year contracts to solar, wind and biomass projects. The standard offer contract price varies by both technology and project size, as shown below:
|5 kW and ≤ 10kW||
|> 10 kW and ≤ 200kW||
|5 kW and ≤ 10 kW||
|> 10 kW and ≤ 200 kW||
|100 kW and ≤ 1 MW||
All capacity for Micro Solar, Micro Wind and Intermediate Wind will be made available when the program is approved. However, half of the Intermediate Solar and Biomass capacity will be reserved for a second allocation period, which will occur two years after program approval. Contract prices for the second allocation will decrease to $0.1380/kWh for Intermediate Solar, and the second allocation of biomass capacity will be contracted through a reverse auction with the purchase rate not to exceed $0.0918/kWh.
Projects submitted to NIPSCO within 90 days of the program launch date will be entered into a blind lottery. A Clean Coalition recommendation to require a non-refundable application fee of $25 plus $1 for each kilowatt of project capacity was adopted. This will ensure a more efficient program by deterring non-viable bids from clogging the lottery and project queue. However, other Clean Coalition and Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance recommendations regarding program capacity, project sizes, and pricing were not incorporated in the final settlement agreement.
A decision from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on theFIT 2.0 settlement agreement is expected during the first quarter of 2015.
For additional details on the FIT 2.0 proposal, please see the settlement agreement.
John Bernhardt, Outreach & Communications Director
Laura Ann Arnold, President
Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance
About the Clean Coalition
The Clean Coalition is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate the transition to renewable energy and a modern grid through technical, policy, and project development expertise. For further information on the Clean Coalition, please visit www.clean-coalition.org.
About Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance (IndianaDG)
IndianaDG is a nonprofit coalition of businesses, individuals, elected officials, local units of government, colleges and universities, labor unions, economic development groups as well as environmental and consumer organizations joining together to promote renewable energy and distributed generation. For further information on IndianaDG, please visit www.IndianaDG.net.