Solar

In 2007, Nyland contracted with Namaste Solar to install solar panels on more than two-thirds of our rooftops. It was up to each homeowner to decide whether they wanted to invest in a privately-owned system for their house. For each private system installed, Namaste gave Nyland a larger discount towards community-owned systems to be installed on the common house and wood shop. Our systems range in size from 1.5KW to over 9KW on the common house. The combination of a group discount with Namaste Solar, Colorado tax rebates, and Federal tax incentives made the purchase of these systems very reasonable with a short payback period. And working with Namaste has been wonderful.

More information about our solar program at Nyland can be found in the articles below.

Sharp Press Release About Nyland and Namaste

Nov, 26, 2007


Sharp and Namaste Solar Electric Deliver Sharp Solar Arrays to Colorado's Innovative Nyland Community

Planned Cohousing Neighborhood Uses Clean Solar Power to Meet More Than 50 Percent of Its Electrical Needs

Sharp, the worlds leading provider of solar electric solutions, is collaborating with Namaste Solar Electric to bring solar power to Colorado's Nyland neighborhood. Nyland, in Lafayette, Colorado, was built in 1990 as one of the first cohousing communities in the country.  Namaste Solar will install 23 Sharp OnEnergy solar systems in the community by the end of 2007 - 22 on homes, and one on the community-owned and operated Wood Shop.

Sharps OnEnergy solar electric system blends seamlessly into existing building designs. It uses a simplified, flexible mounting system ­available only from Sharp ­to make installation faster, easier and more cost-effective.

"The Nyland communitys commitment to solar demonstrates true environmental stewardship that can be emulated by communities across the country," said Ron Kenedi, vice president of Sharp Solar Energy Solutions Group. This commitment to solar is great for the Nyland community, great for the environment, and great for the state of Colorado. By harvesting Colorados abundant sunlight and adding solar power to their homes and common buildings, Nyland residents are realizing tremendous savings on their utility bills, while staying true to their values.

Nyland is a cohousing community of 42 private homes, built by Wonderland Hill Development Company, located in a rural setting six miles outside of Boulder, Colorado with an expansive view of the Rocky Mountains.  There are approximately 135 resident members with varied backgrounds, careers, ages and views that share meals, meetings, workshops and miscellaneous events at the common house, a centerpiece of the neighborhood.

"Wonderland Hill is proud that our Nyland homeowners have decided to add clean, reliable solar power," said Jim Leach, president of Wonderland Hill Development Company. Making smart use of renewable energy on homes and common structures is yet another way to enhance this successful, sustainable community.

Namaste Solar Electric is a values-based, employee owned solar electric company dedicated to the betterment of the planet by bringing clean, reliable, and affordable renewable energy technologies to homes, businesses and nonprofits throughout the Front Range. Integrating both holistic and traditional business methods, Namaste Solar is currently the #1 solar electric company in Colorado*.  With more than 350 solar electric systems installed since 2005, Namaste Solar's work will offset more than 4100 tons of CO2.

"We're thrilled to have deployed solar arrays in this creative neighborhood that has integrated an environmental ethic and sustainable solutions into its design and construction," said Namaste Solar co-owner Blake Jones. "Nyland is a wonderful cohousing community that effectively works solar into its collective environmental consciousness, added Stephen Kane, co-owner of Namaste Solar.

Sharp's Solar Energy Solutions Group, based in Huntington Beach, California, is a unit of Sharp Electronics Corporation, the U.S. subsidiary of Sharp Corporation, Osaka, Japan. Sharp is the world market leader in solar cell production, and offers both standard and integrated roof modules for home applications. Sharp also is the U.S. market leader and maintains solar panel assembly operations at its manufacturing facility in Memphis, Tennessee. The solar manufacturing facility assembles a variety of panels for residential and commercial installations.

Further information on Sharp's commitment to solar energy, its product line and the ways in which Sharp makes it easy to go solar is available online at www.solar.sharpusa.com.

Sharp Electronics Corporation is the U.S. subsidiary of Japan's Sharp Corporation, a worldwide developer of one-of-a-kind home entertainment products, appliances, networked multifunctional office solutions, solar energy solutions and mobile communication and information tools. Leading brands include AQUOS® Liquid Crystal Televisions, 1-Bit digital audio products, SharpVision® projection products, Insight® Microwave Drawers®, IMAGER digital multifunctional systems, and Notevision® multimedia projectors. For more information visit Sharp Electronics Corporation at www.sharpusa.com

 

*Based on Xcel Energy's reports to the PUC

 

Variations of this article showed up in Australia and Germany.

http://www.gizmag.com/colorado-cohousing-solar-system/8412/
http://www.smartbrief.com/news/aaaa/industryBW-detail.jsp?id=2E1365FB-3848-4A9B-9B1A-A8F9F6508631
http://www.finanznachrichten.de/nachrichten-2007-11/artikel-9549857.asp

Tax credits fuel interest in solar power

Lafayette development embraces renewable energy 
Associated Press
Friday, October 26, 2007

LAFAYETTE — Writer Daniel Glick was putting together a list of things people could do in their every day lives to fend off climate change, part of his contribution to an upcoming book, when it hit him: What was he going to do?

"It sounds corny, but the light bulb went on for me that I lived in this pretty progressive place," Glick said.

 

Economics motivated business consultant Jim Mason, and he reached the same conclusion as Glick: Solar power was the way to go.

Both say the extra push to go solar came from federal tax credits and rebates offered by Colorado's largest utility after voters mandated that more renewable power be sold in the state.
 
"We've got almost 90 kilowatts being generated by the sun largely because of these rebates," Glick said of the Nyland co-housing development he lives in east of Boulder. "It's government policy that actually works."
 
Mason installed a solar system on his Boulder home more than a year ago and said he's been generating more energy than he uses ever since. He got a small check at the end of the year for electricity he contributed to the grid.
 
"I can brag to my green neighbors in Boulder that I'm green, but it was dollars and cents," Mason said.

Renewable energy has gained more support in the West as Colorado and other states have directed utilities to get more of their electricity from such sources as the wind and sun. Colorado voters became the first in the nation to set a renewable energy standard when they approved a ballot measure in 2004 requiring the state's largest utilities to get 10 percent of their power from renewable energy by 2015.
 
A new Colorado law championed by Gov. Bill Ritter boosts the requirement to 20 percent by 2020. Of that, 4 percent must come from solar energy.
Solar power accounts for less than 1 percent of the electricity produced nationwide, but its share is rising.

"It is growing very significantly, 20 to 30 percent per year," said Gary Schmitz, a spokesman for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden.
More utilities are investing in solar because of mandates and customer interest, said Julia Hamm, executive director of the Washington-based Solar Power Electric Association, a nonprofit that works with electricity providers.
 
"Currently, there are about 2,500 megawatts of large-scale power plants under contract," Hamm said. "Almost on a weekly basis, we're seeing that number increase."
 
One megawatt serves roughly 1,000 homes.
 
Xcel Energy, Colorado's largest electricity provider, is building an 8-megawatt solar power plant in the San Luis Valley in the south-central part of the state. The utility also pays customers who install approved systems $4,500 per kilowatt.
 
Xcel Energy spokesman Mark Stutz said a typical residential system generates from two to three kilowatts.
 
The utility will also pay non-customers $2,500 per kilowatt because it counts toward the renewable energy target.
 
So far, Xcel Energy has paid $18.4 million in rebates and renewable energy credits to 1,100 applicants, up from $7.7 million at the end of last year.
"It's been a successful program," Stutz said. "We want to continue it."
 
Some rural electric cooperatives in Colorado offer incentives, too.
 
The rebates from Xcel Energy and the federal income tax credit — 30 percent of the cost, capped at $2,000 for homes — helped sell Glick and his neighbors in the Nyland co-housing development in the quickly growing suburb of Lafayette, just east of Boulder. Sixteen of the 42 homes already have solar panels on their roofs and installations are planned for 11 more.
 
Systems are also being installed on two of the development's common buildings. The homeowners' association is making loans to residents who can't afford the upfront costs.
 
"It's not pie in the sky. It's not 1973 anymore," Glick said. "It's on the roof and my meter's spinning backward."
 
The digital meter shows lines going in reverse when his 2.6-kilowatt system produces more electricity than he uses. Glick bought a new energy-efficient refrigerator and light bulbs to help reduce his demand.
 
He's also monitoring the progress of federal energy legislation that would provide more funding for developing renewable energy and extend the federal tax credits for solar. The credits will expire next year unless extended as proposed: eight more years for businesses and six for homes.
 
Credits and incentives "are hugely important" for the industry, said Stephen Kane of Boulder-based Namaste, an employee-owned solar electric company that is working with Glick and his neighbors.
 
Solar costs roughly double what coal does per kilowatt hour to produce, but that will change as solar technology continues to advance and conventional fuel costs continue to increase, Kane said. He dismisses complaints about subsidies for renewable energy.
 
"Fossil fuels have tax credits and incentives," Kane said. "Our subsidies are out in public and very well known to everybody."
 
Mason, the Boulder business consultant, studied the tax credits and rebates and decided it made economic sense to install a 10-kilowatt residential system.
What started as a roughly $75,000 system ended up costing about $29,000. Mason considers the money spent an investment akin to a municipal bond since he isn't paying electric bills. He said the system also greatly increases the value of his home.
 
"I thought getting free electricity and locking in a price now was probably a good idea," Mason said

Solar life pays off in more than cash

By Diane Carman
Denver Post
10/09/2007

The first thing any right-minded homeowner says when it comes to solar is, "Show me the money."

Saving the Earth is swell, after all, but nothing beats having a power company buy kilowatt hours from you instead of the other way around.

Calculating payoff dates for a roof full of photovoltaic cells is not easy, though.

Some estimate the payoff for an average set at 10 years. Others say it's four years if future rate increases are considered along with all the tax credits, rebates and incentives.

Throw in the costs of future carbon taxes, and things get even more complicated.

No matter what, Ruth and Victor Barnard still think the decision to install solar on their house was a good idea.

And they're very tough customers. Ruth is 79, and Vic is 84.

Then again, they've always been visionaries. Vic, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, and Ruth, a retired schoolteacher, were pioneers in one of Colorado's first co-housing experiments, the Nyland development in Lafayette.

"At first, people thought it was just a bunch of hippies out here," said Ruth. "But it's a good place for us to live. We like the diversity. We don't want to be surrounded by a bunch of old codgers."

That's not to say they're wild-eyed revolutionaries.

Quite the contrary, they are serious penny pinchers, and by their calculations, their $4,000 investment (after rebates and tax credits) will easily pay for itself in their lifetimes.

They're also old enough to know that instant gratification is not the only measure of a wise investment.

They started considering solar not for economic reasons but because of a presentation on alternative energy at their church. "We decided we need to find ways to make the air less polluted," Ruth said.

Their neighbors, meanwhile, had caught the solar bug in a big way. Last spring, Vic said, he sat in his living room watching as, one-by-one, all the houses behind him began sporting solar panels on their roofs.

Of the 42 houses at Nyland, 25 have gone solar, said Dan Glick, a writer and neighbor of the Barnards.

The Nyland HOA board offers incentives to help homeowners deal with the high initial cost. Instead of keeping the funds from the HOA maintenance account locked up in low-risk investments, Glick said the community began offering loans to Nyland homeowners to pay for the solar panels. It also has negotiated for a discounted group rate on installation of the systems.

"We're getting systems with a full retail price of $20,000 and most of us are paying $6,000 to $8,000 out of pocket — less after the rebates," Glick said.

All this contributed to a, well, juicier-than-thou attitude around the Nyland open spaces with residents comparing utility bills and competing to see who can score the most money back from Xcel all summer.

Glick said even the neighborhood kids got into it, turning off lights and shutting down computers in the race to see who could sell the most power back.

"It was pretty funny to see everybody running outside to watch their meters run backwards," he said.

Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said approximately 1,106 residential and business customers across the state have received "renewable energy credits" from Xcel in the past 18 months.

Together, they have produced 5.7 megawatts of power, enough to serve about 5,700 homes.

In addition to lowering his utility bills, Vic said, he's confident the solar panels will enhance his property values as more people consider energy efficiency when buying new homes.

Beyond all that, the Barnards said, they decided to go solar for their grandchildren. They figured it was the least they could do.

"I don't think there's any doubt that global warming is happening," said Ruth. "But, honestly, I don't know where to start. This is such a drop in the bucket."

If enough people pitch in, though, maybe it will buy a little time for a solution.

The Barnards say they're heavily invested in that as well.

"One of my grandchildren is a very good student, and his favorite thing is math," said Ruth. "I'm hoping some day, he will save the planet."

Now that's payback.

Rebates put shine on solar power

Poised for boom
By Steve Raabe 
Denver Post Staff Writer 3/19/06 

Jim Edwards has a powerful new toy: an electric meter that spins backwards.

On sunny days, Edwards' rooftop solar panels generate more electricity than his Lafayette home uses. Instead of paying for power, he'll soon be getting credits on his bill from Xcel Energy.

Edwards is among the first Coloradans to benefit from new rebates and tax incentives that are bringing the cost of sun power down to earth.

Photovoltaic technology, or PV, has been around for decades. It uses silicon wafers or other materials that directly convert sunlight to electricity.

But PV's high cost has largely limited its use to space satellites, green activists and off-the-grid dwellers.

Now solar electric is poised to boom, thanks to financial incentives stemming from Colorado voters' passage of Amendment 37 in 2004.

The law requires the state's largest utilities to obtain 10 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2015. While much of the power will come from wind farms, the law requires a portion to come from solar energy.

"Our phone has been ringing off the hook with people asking about this," said Blake Jones, president of Namaste Solar Electric in Boulder. "There's just a huge amount of interest."

Xcel Energy's recently announced rebates cover half the cost or more of a photovoltaic system up to $20,000. In addition, the new federal energy bill provides a tax credit of $2,000.

The net result: A typical household PV system costing at least $16,000 can be had, after rebates and credits, for about $5,000, according to renewable energy consultant Morey Wolfson.

That still puts the cost out of reach for many homeowners. But for thousands of others, it makes solar electricity worth the investment.

Payback on the investment can be measured two ways: in psychic satisfaction or by financial return.

Environmental advocates say that many of the Colorado homeowners expected to install solar systems will do so because they believe in renewable energy and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

For a financial return, depending on a home's electrical use, the payback period for a typical household system could be about 16 years based on current prices for electricity.

If power prices rise in coming years - which most energy experts predict - the payback period could be reduced by several years.

The size and cost of a solar system depends on two main factors: a home's amount of rooftop sun exposure and whether the homeowner is interested in offsetting just a portion, or all of the household electrical consumption.

Interest shown so far in PV systems incorporates financial and environmental ideals, Wolfson said.

"This is for people who get that certain delight in seeing their meters turn backwards and knowing that they're sending energy back into the grid," he said.

Wolfson identified other factors and personal interests that would lend themselves to PV installations: 
* Households with enough disposable income to pay the upfront costs of a system. 
* People with high levels of energy and environmental awareness. 
* Gadget freaks who like to be the first to adopt new technologies. 
* People who pay close attention to their utility bills and monitor their use of electricity.

"There are a number of very good reasons to consider it, but it's definitely not something that's ready for everyone," Wolfson said.

Xcel Energy said it is receiving plenty of interest from customers, based on 2,700 visits to its solar electric website since the rebate program was announced March 1.

"The company plans to aggressively market the ... program to bring in new customers who want to be involved in developing a clean, renewable-energy technology," said Fred Stoffel, Xcel's vice president for policy development.

Already the growing popularity of solar electric systems is raising concerns about a pending shortage of PV panels.

Denver-based solar installer Low Energy Systems Inc. said it recently ordered a shipment of panels from Germany, and pre-sold the entire order. It immediately ordered a new shipment, but the order will take two months to arrive via overseas shipping.

Wonderland Hill Development Co. said last week that it will develop Boulder's first solar row-house community.

The 13-unit "Solar Row" project is designed to generate as much power as its homes use.

For Lafayette resident Edwards and his wife, Ligia Bernardet, installing a solar electric system was a good complement to the existing energy efficiency of their 10-year-old home.

The 2-kilowatt system was designed to handle most of the home's electric needs.

The power the home draws at night, when the PV panels aren't generating electricity, will be offset by excess daytime power production that will be sent back to the grid.

The system's original cost was $15,000. After the Xcel rebate of $4.50 per watt and the federal tax credit of $2,000, Edwards paid about $5,000 including installation and incidental costs.

He estimates that if electricity prices increase 5 percent a year, the system will recoup its costs in 10 to 12 years.

"The payback period was definitely a factor," Edwards said. "But in the end it just seemed like the right thing to do. We need to conserve energy and reduce carbon emissions."