Category Archives: Uncategorized

Selling a solar home: What to know

[by Henry Hoffman, FL SUN intern]

A solar system can add complexity to the home selling process, but It can also be an asset when selling your home. There are several steps you can take as a solar homeowner to ensure your system is a net-benefit to your sale. Many realtors report that solar makes your home “stand-out” to potential buyers. In addition, a number of studies show that adding solar to your home can significantly increase the value of your home but the devil is in the details.

Communication between the real estate agent and the homeowner is key to marketing a solar home. Many buyers are unaware of the benefits or do not have much knowledge about solar powered systems. This gives the seller an advantage in the housing market.

As you begin the process of selling a solar home, it is important to be knowledgeable about your system. It’s warranties, production, quality, conveying value, and the value of its future energy generation can be selling points to potential buyers, but this information must be accurately and comprehensibly explained. You should make your system’s manual, as well as your installer and manufacturers warranties, available to the party that purchases your home.

A 2015 study conducted by the Berkeley Lab Group found that solar does increase the value of a home. The study encompassed 22,000 home sales. On average, the systems were priced at $15,000 dollars. This has become known as a solar premium, where potential buyers see solar panels as an upgrade to a house. Solar panels not only have proven to increase prices, but have also caused solar homes to sell more quickly than ones without. Marketing green energy both gives you an advantage in the housing market and increases the resale value as buyers are increasingly seeking out energy efficient homes.

The value of a solar system varies from system to system. There are services such as Savenia and the PV Value Tool, which allow homeowners to sell and promote solar houses and display it to prospective buyers in a straightforward manner. These services may lead to faster sales due to the rapidly growing market for energy saving homes. Savenia, a third-party group dedicated to providing solar ratings for homeowners and installers, has two options to estimate the value of the solar system. The first option, the free system calculator, is a very general assessment of one’s system over a 15-year period and the range of the added value the system brings to a home. The second option, a solar rating, gives an in-depth analysis of one’s home over the course of 25 years and uses operating costs, system returns, and other metrics. to calculate the rating. Ratings consist of gold, silver, bronze, and green, where each corresponds to the level of returns as well as environmental value the system has. This service costs $275. The PV Value Tool, sponsored by the Department of Energy, gives a homeowner an energy production value for his or her system. The value of the system is based on projections such as maintenance fees and likely energy production. This is a useful tool for homeowners to be able to explain to potential buyers how much energy they will produce and save over the life of the system. It also determines whether the system is of high, medium, or low value

As solar continues its rapid growth, more real estate agents and home buyers will have a good understanding of the benefits of solar. As a solar homeowner, you have the opportunity to help them by being knowledgeable about your system.

Volusia County residents forming solar co-op to go solar together, get a discount

Neighbors in Volusia County have formed a solar co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters.

The group is seeking members and will host an information meeting on Wednesday, September 20 at 6 p.m., at the Stetson University Business Center to educate the community about solar and the co-op process.

The League of Women Voters, Stetson University, the Rotary Club of DeBary-Deltona-Orange CityHalifax River AudubonProject H2O, the City of DeLandHispanic Health InitiativesRiver of Lakes Heritage Corridor,  The Volusia Hispanic Chamber of CommerceMarine Discovery CenterWest Volusia AudubonMosaic Unitarian Universalist Congregation and FL SUN are the co-op sponsors.

Volusia County residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op website. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, FL SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. Going solar with the co-op provides members with piece of mind that they are getting a good price and a high-quality system.

Two more solar co-ops launch in Miami-Dade County

Celebrating the success of two recent solar co-ops, Miami-Dade residents are forming two more solar co-ops to help them pool their purchasing power and save money on their individual installation, while building a powerful network of solar supporters.

With the guidance of FL SUN, co-op members in Northern Miami-Dade and Southern Miami-Dade will learn about solar energy and solicit competitive bids from local installers to serve the group. Working together as a community, co-op members able to save on the cost of installing solar, obtaining high-quality products warranties through this bulk purchase process.

Partners in this continued effort include: The League of Women Voters, Florida, League of Women Voters Miami-Dade, The Green Corridor Property Assessment Clean Energy (PACE) District, Earth Ethics Institute, Miami Dade College, Tropical Audubon Society, Rise Up Florida, CLEO Institute, Miami Climate Alliance, Citizens Climate Lobby, Women’s March Miami, Miami-Dade County, County Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Dennis Moss, Town of Cutler Bay, Miami Shores Councilwoman Alice Burch, and FL SUN.

In preparation for the co-op and to further incentive their residents, Miami Shores has waived solar permitting fees. “We are proud to bring the concept of solar co-ops to our Village. Miami Shores has a history of being pro-active about our environment,’ said Alice Burch, Miami Shores Councilmember. “Now residents have more choices and opportunities to contract for affordable solar energy options.”

The partnership has already developed two of six solar co-ops rolling out over the next year. More than 150 homeowners joined the previous two co-ops and are helping FL SUN achieve its goal of installing 3.2 MW of solar capacity countywide.

“We believe that sound ecological health, supporting sustainability and greater resiliency, is the basis of a healthy community,” said Stephen Nesvacil of The Earth Ethics Institute of Miami Dade College.” Nothing could be more applicable to resiliency and Miami’s future than to support a renewable energy economy. We are proud to partner with the FL SUN Solar Co-op initiative now taking place in Miami-Dade County.”

Miami-Dade residents interested in joining a solar co-op in their area can sign up at www.flsun.org/miami. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, FL SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op members select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save money on their installation

The co-ops will host several free solar information meetings as each co-op launches to educate the community about solar and the co-op process. The co-op kickoff information sessions are:

Southern Miami-Dade

September 12, 6:30 p.m. check in, 7 p.m. start
Palmetto Golf Course
9300 SW 152nd Street
Miami, FL 33157
Hosted by Commissioners Daniella Levine Cava and Dennis Moss

Click here to RSVP

Northern Miami-Dade

September 18, 6:30 p.m. check in, 7 p.m. start
Miami Shores Community Center – Royal Palm Room
9617 Park Drive Miami, FL 33138
Hosted by Councilwoman Alice Burch

Click here to RSVP

Do you live in a solar friendly city?

A key piece of putting sunshine to work in the Sunshine State is a local government that works with homeowners, not against them. Solar friendly municipalities in Miami have been passing resolutions in support of solar co-ops – making their facilities available for information sessions and even engaging commissioners to help organize and spread the word. It’s a great feeling, knowing that elected representatives are promoting affordable, renewable energy. Many municipalities take their commitment one step further by passing ordinances that waive permitting fees and expedite permits for rooftop solar.

In Miami-Dade County, four municipalities have waived permitting fees: Miami Beach, Coral Gables, the City of Miami, and South Miami. Miami Shores is having a second reading of its resolution to waive permitting fees on September 19. The Miami Shores Resolution was presented to the council by a homeowner wishing to see her village make it easier for a homeowner to go solar. And it worked.

As co-ops near their launch date, several more municipalities are considering adopting similar resolutions and ordinances.

Solar friendly municipalities understand that by the time a home goes solar, the homeowner has already made significant upgrades to their house. This could include impact windows, new roofs, energy efficient air conditioning and pool pumps. These municipalities see waiving the solar permit fees as a measure of good faith to the community that they too, believe in the importance of resilience and renewable energy.

If a co-op is headed your way, one of the best things you can do in preparation is to approach your municipal leaders and ask them to support the endeavor via in-kind resolutions. Ordinances to waive solar permitting fees benefit all homeowners wishing to go solar – whether through a co-op or not.

Each of us has the power to bring about change for the better. Reducing financial barriers, as well as improving the permitting process so permits are reviewed and approved in a timely manner make a difference to both homeowners and installers.

If you are interested in getting involved and improving solar access in your community, consider presenting similar proposals to your local leadership.

Examples of resolutions and ordinances

South Miami solar co-op support resolution

South Miami resolution to waive solar fees

St. John’s County co-op releases RFP, announces info session

The 48-member St. John’s County solar co-op today issued a request for proposals (RFP) from area solar installers. The group members created the co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters. Compassionate Saint Augustine, League of Women Voters, Sierra Club Northeast Florida Group, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of St. Augustine, Photography by Jackie HirdHistory Illustrations, U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and FL SUN are the co-op sponsors.

The group also announced it will host its next information meeting September 13 at 7 p.m. at the Village Church at World Golf Village (4229 Pacetti Road in St. Augustine) to educate the community about solar and the co-op process. Installers interested in serving the group can click to download the RFP and response template.

St. John’s County residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Solar co-op launches in St. Johns County

St. Johns County residents have banded together to form a solar co-op to make it cheaper and easier for homeowners and organizations to install solar panels, which can produce major savings on power bills.

St. Johns County residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Once the group is large enough, FL SUN will help the co-op solicit competitive bids from area solar installers.

Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Partners in the bid to build a solar network include the League of Women Voters of Florida, the Environmental Rights Initiative of Compassionate St. Augustine, League of Women Voters of St. Johns County, N.E. Florida Group of the Sierra Club, The Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Augustine, Jackie Hird Photography, and History Illustrations.

How the solar co-op installer selection process works

Solar co-ops provide many services to members. They educate members about solar and bring together solar supporters. Perhaps most importantly, they enable co-op participants to select a company to install solar on their homes. Co-op members drive this process.

Once at least 30 people have joined the co-op, FL SUN issues a Request for Proposals (RFP) to area solar installers. RFPs are open to any installer, and are competitively bid. Each co-op has the opportunity to customize the RFP and scoring criteria to reflect local values and preferences. Co-op members indicate the things that are important to them (e.g. panel types, warranties, pricing, location) when they sign up for the group.

After the co-op receives the installers’ bids, FL SUN convenes a selection committee composed of co-op members. The selection committee is open to all co-op members. FL SUN provides technical assistance, creating a side-by-side comparison of each bid. It is co-op members themselves that make the selection. Selection committee members weigh each proposal against the co-op members’ selected criteria.

This ensures communities have maximum ownership and control over the decision, and allows FL SUN to remain a neutral consumer advocate. This process is one of the distinctive aspects of the co-op model.

While many private-sector solar companies strive to educate potential customers, FL SUN acts as a customer advocate rather than a sales company. We provide neutral, unbiased advice and technical assistance, and do not partner with any particular companies or service providers. This makes us a trusted partner for potential solar customers, filling a critical gap in the solar marketplace.

We prioritize local participation and leadership in all of our solar co-ops. Community partners provide input throughout the planning and implementation process and can play a large role in shaping the co-op audience and priorities. Local leadership is important and makes co-ops more successful. Recognizing and customizing the co-op to address local priorities and recruitment avenues helps maximize the project’s impact and encourages as many people go solar as possible.

South Miami makes history with new solar construction requirement

It might be a small, tree-lined city, but South Miami is now at the forefront of solar in Florida and nationwide. Recently, the municipality approved an ordinance that will require solar for all new residential construction and for significant renovations. Four other cities, all in California, have similar rules.

The move was sparked by a high school student, Delaney Reynolds, who wanted to see her hometown take more decisive action toward embracing renewables. She worked with South Miami Mayor, Phil Stoddard, for a year drafting the legislation. Reynolds believes it’s her generation that will inherit the mess of climate change, and she was set on doing something about it. Amended several times through public input, the ordinance faced intense opposition in the form of coordinated blogs and articles attacking the mandate.

These attacks included robocalls to residents from a Washington, D.C.-based organization that calls itself Family Businesses for Affordable Energy organization. The calls misled listeners about the nature of the ordinance and its deception drove people to public hearings where the commission had to continually correct the record.

Despite the attacks and deception, the Commission voted in favor of the new rule 4-1. Beginning next month, new residential construction will be required to install 175 square feet of solar panels per 1,000 square feet of sunlit roof area, or 2.75 kW per 1,000 square feet of living space, whichever is less. Homes that are under renovation that increase their footprint by 75% or more will also be required to go solar. Homes under a tree hammock will be exempt. (South Miami also mandates the planting of trees.) Homes being renovated due to natural disaster will be exempt.

“Solar reduces the cost of home ownership, it makes houses sell faster, it returns more to a builder, it makes local jobs, and most importantly, it reduces carbon emissions today to help our children and grandchildren have a better future tomorrow,” Stoddard said.

Reynolds plans on taking her ordinance statewide and the ordinance has been submitted to the League of Cities. Orlando and St. Petersburg have already expressed interest.

FL SUN welcomes Heaven Campbell to team

The FL SUN team is growing. We are excited to announce the addition of Heaven Campbell. Heaven will serve as a Program Associate to assist in capacity-building, community outreach, and general program support. In this role, she will help FL SUN ensure the growth and success of the statewide solar co-ops.

Heaven is a native Floridian with a passion for, and experience in, program management, volunteer management, research, diversity, and inclusion and evaluation. Her experience includes large-scale grant management, training, capacity-building and program management.

“I am excited to join FL SUN and help more Floridians go solar while strengthening support for solar.” Campbell said. “I look forward to working with closely with our community to educate them about solar.”

Seminole County Solar Co-op selects Superior Solar to serve group

The Seminole County Solar Co-op has selected Superior Solar to install solar panels for the 88-member group. Co-op members selected Superior Solar through a competitive bidding process over eight other firms. The co-op will be holding a public information session July 22 (details below) to educate attendees about solar and the co-op process.

Co-op members selected Superior Solar for its competitive pricing, quality components, variety of system offerings, and years of local experience.

The co-op is open to new members until August 25. Seminole County residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web page. Joining the co-op is not a commitment to purchase panels. Superior Solar will provide each co-op member with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, participants can save up to 20% off the cost of their system.

Information session details

July 22
12 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Seminole County Main Library
215 Oxford Road
Casselberry, FL 32707

Click here to RSVP