Author Archives: Joshua Myers

Olney Ale House Re-Opening Supported by Green Bank and Sandy Spring Bank

July 20, 2021

For Immediate Release:

Media contact: Tom Deyo, Montgomery County Green Bank Chief Executive Officer, at tdeyo@mcgreenbank.org; Sam Price, Vice President, Public Relations and Corporate Partnerships Manager, Sandy Spring Bank, sprice@sandyspringbank.com.

OLNEY, MD – The Montgomery County Green Bank (“Green Bank”) and Sandy Spring Bank have joined together to provide flexible financing to help re-open the Olney Ale House. The financing helps Olney Ale House introduce improvements to recover from a 2019 fire and from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic all while reducing operating costs and energy consumption.

Through the Green Bank’s partnership with Sandy Spring Bank in the Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CLEER) program, Sandy Spring Bank is providing a loan to help Olney Ale House access the funds needed to install more efficient cooking equipment, air handling, windows, and climate controls. The kitchen will also be reconfigured to accommodate the restaurant’s growing take-out and delivery business resulting from the pandemic.

“Thanks to community support and our partnership with the Montgomery County Green Bank and Sandy Spring Bank, we look forward to welcoming our guests back to the Ale House,” said owner John Roach. “Because of funding through the Green Bank’s CLEER program with Sandy Spring Bank, we’re returning stronger, healthier, and more resilient than before.”

“This is the type of investment our community needs now more than ever, and we are honored to partner with the Montgomery County Green Bank for the fourth time to boost green, energy savings projects in commercial and residential properties in Montgomery County,” said Ken Cook, executive vice president of Commercial Banking at Sandy Spring Bank. “We look forward to visiting the Olney Ale House once it reopens to the community.”
“Our partnership with Olney Ale House and Sandy Spring Bank to provide CLEER financing for their recovery is at the heart of the Green Bank’s vision,” said Tom Deyo, CEO of the Green Bank. “We want to be right there with the County’s businesses, our partner lenders, and County government to assist commercial business property owners with improving operating benefits from energy savings as well as health, safety, and resiliency and help these businesses emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Green Bank launched the CLEER program to support commercial, industrial, nonprofit, institutional, and multifamily properties. The CLEER program partners with community lenders to share the risk in loans that support businesses re-building with energy efficient measures that create healthier indoor spaces. These improvements bring short- and long-term operational benefits of

reduced operating costs to the properties while the lower energy consumption supports to the County’s climate goals by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The CLEER program provides 100% financing, extended loan terms (up to 12 years), and can include up to 30% of non-energy related costs.

About Montgomery County Green Bank The Montgomery County Green Bank is an independent, 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to helping businesses and residents affordably implement energy efficiency and clean energy solutions. The Green Bank supports the county by driving investment into energy efficiency and clean energy through lending and investment partners in the region. These efforts include working with homeowners, renters, and commercial entities of all varieties. For more information, visit www.mcgreenbank.org.

About Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc. Sandy Spring Bancorp, Inc., headquartered in Olney, Maryland, is the holding company for Sandy Spring Bank, a premier community bank in the Greater Washington, D.C. region. With over 60 locations, the bank offers a broad range of commercial and retail banking, mortgage, private banking, and trust services throughout Maryland, Northern Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Through its subsidiaries, Rembert Pendleton Jackson, Sandy Spring Insurance Corporation and West Financial Services, Inc., Sandy Spring Bank also offers a comprehensive menu of insurance and wealth management services. For more information, www.sandyspringbank.com.

Notice of September 29, 2021 Board Meeting

Date: Wednesday September 29, 2021, 1:30-4:30 pm
Location: Teleconference

The Montgomery County Green Bank will be holding a Board of Directors Meeting on Wednesday September 29, 2021, 1:30-4:30 pm. The public is permitted to attend this meeting.  If you would like to be there, please RSVP in advance to info@mcgreenbank.org. The meeting agenda will be published when available.

The Smartest Way to Finance Clean Energy That You’ve Never Heard Of

Vox News released an article explaining the green energy financing you may have never heard of if you are new to Green Banks!

A snippet from the article reads:

“In the United States, financing infrastructure and clean energy projects is often contingent on the quirks of partisan dealmaking in Congress. But there may be a better way.

A green bank model has been successful in several other countries. The United Kingdom’s green bank funded much of its offshore wind boom before the government sold it in 2017. (The current UK government is exploring bringing it back.) Through Australia’s green bank, the largest in the world, the country has invested in wind, solar, and hydrogen development in addition to financing the construction of energy-efficient homes.

A green bank isn’t government grants, and it’s not tax credits — which are the primary federal drivers of clean energy development in the United States. Instead, these banks typically take the form of either a government-owned or quasi-public bank that takes a set amount of government money to launch and then leverages private money to fund different projects. And like private banks, green banks expect to be paid back.”

You can read the full article by clicking here. 

Green Bank Seeking RFQ from Strategic Planner

The Montgomery County Green Bank Corporation (the “Green Bank”) is issuing a Request For
Quotation (“RFQ”) from experienced strategic planning professionals (“the Consultant”) to
support development of a new 3-year strategic plan for the Montgomery County Green Bank.
The engagement is to start in mid-July and last through spring 2022.

The Consultant will be key to revising the current strategic plan that ends in June 2022 and
setting the aggressive course for the Green Bank for the next 3 years. The Consultant will be
integral to this process working with the Green Bank Board, stakeholders, and staff to assess
current progress, County needs and drivers, and define the goals and strategies for reaching
significant growth and depth in the Green Bank’s mission. Important in this planning exercise
will be to assure the Green Bank’s goals and strategies are equitable, inclusive and impactful.

Read the full RFQ by clicking here. 

Green Bank is Hiring a Communications and Community Engagement Manager

The Green Bank is looking for an experienced communications professional to join the team and increase awareness across the County of the Green Bank’s support of clean energy and energy efficiency. The position will execute a comprehensive communication strategy and manage a community engagement effort to assure that all populations in the County are aware of Green Bank offerings and the opportunities they offer.

Learn more about the position here.

Notice of June 23, 2021 Board Meeting

Date: Wednesday June 23, 2021, 1:30-4:30 pm
Location: Teleconference

The Montgomery County Green Bank will be holding a Board of Directors Meeting on Wednesday June 23, 2021, 1:30-4:30 pm. The public is permitted to attend this meeting.  If you would like to be there, please RSVP in advance to info@mcgreenbank.org. The meeting agenda is available by clicking here. 

Green Partners: Tran Energy Services

Tran Energy Services: Uncovering Energy Savings One Building At A Time

Welcome to our Green Partners series, highlighting our partners in the community that help make Montgomery County Green Bank a success.

We talked with Dinh Tran, President of Tran Energy Services, to learn about their latest successes and why they are proud to partner with the Montgomery County Green Bank.


Tell us about Tran Energy Services and your work there.

Dinh Tran [DT]: Tran Energy Services is a growing energy consultancy providing residential and commercial energy audits, system designs, and specifications for energy conservation upgrades. We also provide project management, finding and recruiting the right team of contractors, and overseeing the work to make sure it all works well together. I am the president of our firm with experience in energy assessments, performance contracting, and project management.


How did you get into your line of work and current role?

DT: I have been interested in energy efficiency and conservation from the beginning of my career. I studied mechanical engineering at Virginia Tech and also obtained a minor in Green Engineering, which confirmed that this was the kind of work I wanted to do. I started my career as a Project Development Engineer working on energy performance contracting with an Energy Services Company, as well as being on the owner side of those projects later on, when I worked at the City of Alexandria, implementing energy upgrades and investments for the City. After that I was at an architect/engineering firm, where I gained experience working with homeowners’ associations, condos, property management companies, and began to understand the opportunity and challenges of doing this work in multifamily properties. I launched Tran Energy Services in 2020 to bring all this experience together for clients.


What do you find most exciting about the work you do?

DT: I love meeting new people and working on and seeing new buildings and new projects every day. Every time I go into a building for the first time and meet a new building manager, I get to learn so much. Each building is unique in terms of its systems, uses, and therefore opportunities to save money and run more efficiently. Each assessment and project is different, and that makes my work full of variety!


What’s an exciting project you’re working on now?

DT: Right now, I’m working on conducting an ASHRAE Level 2 study at the Joseph A. Gilmore Adult Center in Prince

George’s County (pictured). The Center has had to shut down due to the pandemic, and they are strategically using this time to make major capital improvements. The County has a grant that will help offset the HVAC improvements, but to qualify and provide the justification and scope for the work, the Center needs the Level 2 study. The building is also part of a church and it’s a nonprofit, so it’s wonderful to help the organization do these kinds of projects.


What is something surprising/or rewarding for you when the work is completed?

DT: It’s really rewarding to see how happy the client is after the improvements are made. Often the motivation for the project is to pursue funding or a rebate for the energy conservation measure. This and the energy bill savings are the main drivers and motivations. But when the project is done, the client is often surprised by the broad improvement the project has made to their whole building.

For example, we did work with the Jerome “Buddie” Ford Nature Center in Alexandria, Virginia. The Nature Center had old hanging high intensity discharge (HID) and fluorescent fixtures in their facility. We installed new LED fixtures and track lighting, which instantly made the space a more inviting and effective space for their specific uses. The staff was delighted by the upgrade to the experience of the Nature Center, to say nothing of the energy savings which would cover the retrofit costs within 5 years.


How are you partnering with the Green Bank? Why do you choose to partner with the Green Bank?

DT: I first crossed paths with the Montgomery County Green Bank, working on the Glen Manor Condominiums project they helped finance. MCGB has a great mission. Customers want to do this work and access energy savings and rebates, but the upfront cost can be an unsurmountable challenge. I saw how effective the Green Bank’s role was in the Glen Manor project. Without the financing, the client never would have done the major capital improvements the community needed. I hope to do more work with the Green Bank, helping clients across the DMV access energy savings.

The Green Bank Is Hiring! Commercial Business Manager

The Green Bank is seeking a Commercial Business Manager (“Manager”) to help scale up clean energy investments across Montgomery County, MD in the commercial real estate (“CRE”) sector. This position is fundamental for the Green Bank to deliver financing for clean energy improvements of commercial and industrial properties throughout the County and aid these properties in achieving energy savings gained from those improvements. The work supported by this position is key to helping the County achieve its very ambitious goal of 0% greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

The position will focus on clean energy transactions, including for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements, for commercial and industrial properties, including market rate and affordable multifamily, nonprofit, and common ownership properties.

The Green Bank employs many financing techniques to leverage its funds in partnership with other financial institutions to support clean energy finance. The Green Bank offers credit enhancement techniques, co-lending, and various other financing structures (such as Commercial-PACE) for flexible lending and investment to catalyze clean energy transactions and increase the private market capital investing in this sector.

To be successful, the candidate’s experience should include understanding of energy efficiency or clean energy financing as well as commercial real estate finance. Candidate must be familiar with the various investment strategies of debt, equity, subordinate debt, guarantees, and other credit enhancement mechanisms.

The position will be fundamental to the Green Bank’s work in CRE by:

  • executing market research to define market potential and outreach activities;
  • conducting outreach and education to users and market audiences;
  • advising end-users and contractors of financial strategies using Green Bank products;
  • identifying and managing a project pipeline through extensive outreach to owner, developer, and contractor communities;
  • developing financial structures for prospective projects;
  • negotiating and managing transactions;
  • presenting investments to credit committees with appropriate due diligence on counterparties and transactions;
  • managing the closing process; and
  • conducting asset and portfolio management in support of business operations.
Principal Duties and Responsibilities

Working with the Green Bank team, the Manager will be the principal party to market and close investments in the commercial and industrial sector, including market and affordable multifamily residential, nonprofit properties, including faith-based, and common ownership communities for the Green Bank.

The Manager will be responsible for meeting relationship, pipeline, and financing and energy savings production goals for the CRE activity of the Green Bank. Specifically, the Manager will be responsible for:

  • acting as an advisor to end-users and contractors of financial strategies for undertaking clean energy work and how Green Bank products and other resources, such as utility incentive programs, can help the end users achieve clean energy goals;
  • developing and managing relationships with financial partners, building owners, developers, energy contractors of commercial and industrial, residential, and clean energy developers serving Montgomery County, MD;
  • interacting with clients and institutional investors/lenders in the context of product / transaction execution process and new business development;
  • gathering and analyzing relevant market, product, and transaction-related data to identify project and partner opportunities;
  • developing and managing a pipeline of opportunities;
  • managing product / property, market, and counter-party due diligence;
  • conducting financial analyses and modeling, including product and transaction cash flow projections;
  • executing analyses that guide the decision-making process and provide actionable strategic recommendations;
  • developing term sheets and commitment letters and achieve internal approvals of such;
  • developing and recommending financing structures and alternatives to corporate decision making bodies
  • delivering final underwriting memorandum with appropriate due diligence on counterparties and transaction elements for credit committees;
  • working within a team framework to execute transactions;

o overseeing preparation of, and managing process for review and approval of all legal documents for programs, products, or transactions, and closing of products and transactions;
o oversee, in conjunction with Business Operations Manager, the management of the reporting on portfolio;
o Manage assets in portfolio; and
o other duties as needed.

Education

Minimum of bachelor’s degree in Real Estate, Finance, Accounting, Business, or other related field when paired with experience.

Experience, Skills and Abilities Required or Desired

To achieve the stated objectives, the Green Bank is looking for the following experience:

  • 5+ years of experience in commercial real estate, preferably with experience in commercial real estate finance. Experience in clean energy and/or energy efficiency and/or green building investments in the commercial real estate sector is desired.
  • Understanding of energy efficiency and renewable energy improvement economics and impact on property owners’ value assessment, property financing drivers and strategies.
  • Experience in direct outreach and engagement with property owner, managers, contractors, developers in the commercial and industrial sector related to property finance. Experience related to clean energy activities desired.
  • Demonstrated experience in building pipelines, managing relationships, and achieving positive outcomes for customer and employer.
  • Experience working in a metric driven production goals environment for financing.
  • Proven track record of underwriting and closing commercial loans, particularly in using a variety of financing structures in partnership with other financial partners and stand alone.
  • Ability to review real estate documents to determine if any issues exist and determine what could be a concern.
  • Strong research, analytical and problem-solving skills. Ability to analyze qualitative and quantitative information.
  • Excellent organizational, interpersonal quantitative, writing, and communication skills; able to interface with top level executives.
  • Strong proficiency with Excel, PowerPoint, and Word is required
  • Ability to multi-task in a team-oriented environment and work successfully under pressure while effectively managing time and workload with strong time management skills to prioritize deadlines
  • A desire to work within a collaborative, and ambitious professional and client facing environment
  • Attention to detail / thoroughness / focus / determination
  • Organized and prioritizes work.
  • Capable to work independently while possessing a team player attitude
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY

The Green Bank is an “at-will,” equal opportunity employer. The Green Bank considers applicants for all positions without regard to race, color, creed, religion, national origin or ancestry, sex, age, disability, genetic information, veteran status, or any other legally protected status under local, state, or federal law.

COMPENSATION

Commensurate with position requirements experience and qualifications.
If interested, please send a cover letter and resume to HR@mcgreenbank.org.

You can download this position posting by clicking here.

The Green Bank Highlighted as C-PACE Program Manager in County Newsletter

Montgomery County has selected the Montgomery County Green Bank as the new administrator for the Montgomery County Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) financing program. C-PACE is an innovative financing tool used in more than 283,000 projects nationwide to implement energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades to commercial buildings and overcome conventional financing challenges.

By adding the C-PACE program to its offerings, the Green Bank can now fully support the clean energy financing programs for County commercial property owners. The C-PACE program also helps the Green Bank further its mission as a publicly chartered nonprofit to accelerate affordable energy efficiency and clean energy investment in the County.

“The Green Bank is a natural home for our successful C-PACE program and will enhance the Green Bank’s contributions to the County’s climate goals,” said Adriana Hochberg, an assistant chief administrative officer for Montgomery County. “The County’s draft Climate Action Plan outlines the actions needed to reach our goals of 80 percent reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2027 and elimination of greenhouse gas emissions by 2035. Innovative financing offered by the Green Bank is a key financial tool for our community partners to undertake climate-friendly projects that make our buildings more energy efficient and resilient to climate change.”

You can read the full post by clicking here. 

 

Montgomery County Green Bank’s Green Partners: Mountain View Solar

Mountain View Solar: Helping Homeowners with Solar PV and Battery Storage

Welcome to our Green Partners series, highlighting green contractors in the area that specialize in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects – partnering with the Montgomery County Green Bank and utilizing our partner financing programs.

In this edition, we talked with Mountain View Solar CEO Mike McKechnie and Danny Chiotos, Sales and Market Development Director.


What is something exciting you are working on now?

Mike McKechnie: We always have exciting ideas and opportunities at Mountain View Solar because we love the cutting-edge technology available. Lately, we have been working with cities and school systems on the usage of batteries. The automation and control systems that come with linking battery storage and solar generation are very exciting. Specifically, controlling the circuits or loads that go with each battery is something we are working on now so that we can design and engineer a system that can reduce the number of batteries you need by taking advantage of these cutting-edge control systems.


Why did you choose to partner with the Montgomery County Green Bank as an authorized contractor with their Clean Energy Advantage program?

Danny Chiotos: We chose to partner with the Montgomery County Green Bank because we have a strong belief in doing things the right way. Not only doing every installation the right way from a technical and equipment-based point of view, but from a societal point of view, with the broader picture in mind through solar.

Making solar accessible to everyone along race, income and other demographics is something we think Green Banks are key for. Making solar accessible financing solutions and other creative and supportive solutions that do not always get the space and time in the private world, means Green Banks can help with innovative models in both traditional financing but also in reaching out to underserved communities. We particularly believe that there is a big market in Western Montgomery County now that financing is accessible.


How did you find out about the Montgomery County Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program and how did it fit in to your needs for financing your projects?

DC: I had been following the development of the MC Green Bank and I was pleased to see more funds directed toward financing clean energy projects. For projects I am working on, the Green Bank’s option of having two separate loan terms was important. The current renewable energy federal tax credit is very helpful to make the project affordable, but it does not arrive until the calendar year after the project is installed. The Green Bank offered a short-term loan to cover the amount of the tax credit and a second, longer term loan for the rest of the funds needed.


What are the top reasons your customers want renewable energy?

MM: We have seen the reason why customers want renewable energy changing over the last 11 or 12 years. Originally it was all about wanting tax credits and the potential to save money but more recently we have seen a push of that interest, along with an interest in limiting a household’s impact on the environment come into the decision-making process.

Mostly we hear from people that it is a good investment, it is great for the planet and both of those are good; whichever one drives you towards purchasing solar. If it is both reasons, it is a double bonus!


What do customers reflect on as most surprising or most rewarding when their project is completed?

DC: The most common answer I hear to that is not necessarily surprise that it works, but satisfaction that it works. Your electric bill can be as low as five to ten dollars a month if you are offsetting a hundred percent of your energy costs with solar.

The other area of excitement is when customers watch their solar generation. A fun thing that people enjoy is to open the Solar Edge monitoring app and track the details of their completed project.


What are the key decisions your customers have to make to move a project forward?

MM: A long time ago we were the only company in the Eastern panhandle of West Virginia and other places, and we have been able to see the key decisions of customers grow with us through that time frame. We see a mix of customers that understand the incentives and/or had solar on their previous home and would like to have it installed again. We are seeing a lot more knowledgeable questions, such as asking about the efficiency of our panels, warranties on the panels and inverters, our workmanship warranty, along with questions on how long our company has been around. They are extremely well-educated and know what to look for as solar has become more prolific, but the key decision is the highest value for the cost.


How do you promote the Montgomery County Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program as a resource for your customers?

DC: The financing options that the Green Bank has set up through the Clean Energy Advantage program will be a key inclusion in our Montgomery County proposals. Starting this Spring, every Montgomery County proposal that we send out the door will include the Clean Energy Advantage financing options.

Additionally, we have engaged several new residential Solar PV Project Developers who live in Frederick, including a licensed electrician who is going to be our point person on developing these projects.


March 2021

Residential Solar PV with Battery Storage

How battery backup with Solar Photovoltaics (PV) creates homeowner resiliency

Cindy McCabe – March 2021

If you have ever wondered about getting battery backup for your home, here are some key questions to ask yourself: Do you lose power often? How long can you live without power? Do you wish you could reduce or, if possible, eliminate the amount of electricity that you use from the utility grid?

Electric grid resiliency is an important emergency preparedness concern for many of us in this time of increasing severe weather events. 

https://www.energy.gov/eere/solar/articles/solar-plus-storage-101

Storms are taking out power in areas that are not ready to live without dependable grid electricity.  Whether you are experiencing power outages now or you may experience them in the future, you should think about battery storage as a resiliency strategy.

Storage batteries get installed between your solar PV, or “solar” system and your home’s electric panel. Your solar system can then send the solar energy that it produces to the battery before sending energy to your home. Using the monitoring software included with your battery storage, you can chose to prioritize first charging your battery before using the solar energy in your home or you can chose to first use your solar energy in your home and then fill the battery with excess energy.

One particular benefit of solar with added battery storage is an energy independence solution that can address your emergency needs.  Why?  To start, your solar system alone cannot provide power without storage when the grid goes down. This is because, without a place to store excess energy (like a battery), a solar system shuts off automatically when the electric grid goes down. This automatic shutoff is for the safety of those who will need to work on the electric grid to get it up and running again. Electricity from a solar system cannot be running through the grid while emergency grid workers are deployed on repairs or else the workers would risk electrocution.

If the grid is down for days, as we’ve seen happen in Texas, Puerto Rico, and numerous other places, you would need both a way to generate electricity plus a place to store it if you want to have electricity when the power is out for an extended period of time.

This is where solar + storage really makes sense. which allows you to store electricity while the grid is up and running and use that electricity when the grid goes down. With battery storage installed with your solar system, the solar system would recharge your battery each day when the sun rises , Your solar system will continue to work due to the coupling with the battery storage.  Once your battery is full, however, the solar PV system will turn off until you use the energy in the battery.

Your solar installer can help you determine what loads you want back up in your home and therefore size the amount storage that would be appropriate for you.  You can check out this publication by NREL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, on optimal sizing of solar with storage.

Battery storage for residential customers will add costs to your solar project. The price can vary because a customer may chose to have one battery for emergency loads only (like overhead lights, refrigerator, and outlets for electronics charging), which would cost less, or that customer may want several batteries to back up everything in their home including the HVAC system, which would fall on the higher end of the price range.

However, there are ways to support the cost.  Your battery storage qualifies for its own federal tax credit if it is both connected to a building that is tied in to the utility grid and it is powered solely by a solar system. Maryland provides an income tax credit for the batteries of 30 percent of total installed costs of the energy storage system up to $5,000 for a residential property, subject to program availability. Speak to your accountant about tax credits and tax liability.

As with any solar project, the Montgomery County Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program can help county residents finance solar and storage projects with simple terms and cover 100% of the costs.

Ask your local solar installer for more information on how solar plus storage can work for your home, what it might cost, and what financing is available for you. Your path to energy independence starts with contacting a solar + storage installer.

Cindy McCabe is the Residential Solar Program Manager for the Montgomery County Green Bank. She has worked in the solar industry for the past six years with responsibilities including project management, solar system design, inspection coordination, site survey coordination, operations management, and sales. Cindy lives in Rockville, MD and considers herself an avid environmentalist.

Solar PV – What is it and is it important?

Cindy McCabe – February 2021

If you have ever looked into getting a solar PV system, you may have heard or read about a concept called offset and you may have wondered what it means. Sometimes it’s referred to as the percentage that your electric bills will go down after a solar system is turned on. Let’s talk about solar offset, where the number comes from, and how it affects your home.

Solar PV offset is the estimated percentage of your home’s electricity need that will be produced by your solar system. Offset is used to give you an idea of what your electricity bills will look like after your solar system is installed and producing.

Many people want 100% offset for different reasons. Either they like the round number, they want to do something “all the way,” or they want to help the environment as much as they can. 100% offset is not common – it is the exception. Most residential homes in this area can get 20-35% offset. Remember, even if you get 100% offset you will still get charges on your utility bill because you have to at least pay the customer charge.

You may be wondering, why don’t we just fill up your roof with solar panels and sell any unused solar power back to the utility? You don’t make a net gain on selling overproduction to the utility on an annual basis. See my last blog on Net Metering for why that is.

So, let’s find your offset.

First, you look at a recent electric bill. There should be a chart showing you how much electricity you used over the last 12 or 24 months. Your solar installer will add up the last 12 months of your home’s electricity consumption. This number in kilowatt hours, or kWh, is the whole amount that will be offset by the solar energy.   An easy way to think about an offset is by thinking about a pizza pie. Before you slice the pizza, the whole pie is the amount of electricity that your home uses in an average year.

The next step is to determine how much solar electricity your solar system will produce. This can be limited by the amount of unobstructed space on your roof, the amount of shading you receive, the slope of your roof, and other factors. Your solar installer will size this for you.  Using this info, we cut up the pizza and we take away the slices that signify the electricity that will now be produced by your solar system. If 2 out of your 8 slices are now solar, your offset is 25%.

Now, this 25% could change.  No 12-month period of electricity consumption will be the same as the next. Your home electricity usage changes. On one hand, you might create a more efficient home with insulation or other measures; in which case your offset would increase.  On the other hand, you might add things to your home that pull electricity, like new pool pump, a jacuzzi, or an increased usage of electric space heaters. There could also be an increase in the number of people staying in the house, like we are seeing now. When your normal electricity consumption increases, your offset goes down.

On another note, many people want to put solar on a roof when they’ve just moved into a new home, and they may not have 12 months of electricity bills yet. In that case, your solar installer may ask you to wait until you have at least 3 months of bills in your new home and they will extrapolate the rest of the projected consumption.

In the end, any renewable offset to your current utility usage is a good thing.  Your solar system proposal should include this estimate. If you have more questions before or after installation, you should talk to your solar installer. Solar installers want you to be happy, satisfied customers.

Cindy McCabe is the Residential Solar Program Manager for the Montgomery County Green Bank. She has worked in the solar industry for the past six years with responsibilities including project management, solar system design, inspection coordination, site survey coordination, operations management, and sales. Cindy lives in Rockville, MD and considers herself an avid environmentalist.