Author Archives: Joshua Myers

Small Business Support Program In Montgomery County Update

The Green Bank’s Small Business Savings Support (SBESS) program was mentioned in the Montgomery County’s – “Montgomery Update” newsletter.

The article the newsletter links to cites the SBESS program as a “A flexible, affordable lending program to help small- and medium-sized Montgomery County businesses of 500 or fewer employers is available from the nonprofit Montgomery County Green Bank. Loans from the Green Bank can be used for improvements to indoor air systems that may be needed to reopen businesses that closed due to the COVID-19 health crisis.”

You can read the full article by clicking here. 

If you are interested in the Montgomery Update newsletter you can find the newsletter the Green Bank is cited in, along with a sign up form by clicking here. 

Notice of March 24, 2021 Board Meeting

Date: Wednesday March 24, 2021, 1:30-4:30 pm
Location: Teleconference

The Montgomery County Green Bank will be holding a Board of Directors Meeting on Wednesday March 24, 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 can be found by clicking here.

Notice of May 5, 2021 Board Meeting

Date: Wednesday May 5, 2021, 1:30-4:30 pm
Location: Teleconference

The Montgomery County Green Bank will be holding a Board of Directors Meeting on Wednesday May 5, 2021  at 1:30 pm. The public is permitted to attend this meeting.  If you would like to be there, please RSVP in advance to info@mcgreenbank.org.  You can view the agenda for this meeting by clicking here. 

Small Business Program Supports Re-Opening Needs

The Montgomery County Green Bank offers a flexible, affordable lending product to support businesses in these challenging times.

The Small Business Energy Savings Support product helps businesses address needed indoor air quality adjustments for healthier workspaces, while lowering the operating costs from running inefficient systems.  Businesses can improve their spaces for employees, customers, and tenants with no out-of-pocket expenses, as well as take advantage of flexible repayment terms to help manage immediate cashflow needs.

The Small Business Energy Savings Support product supports:

  • Projects of $10,000 to $150,000
  • 100% financing
  • Terms up to five years
  • Interest rates of 3% to 5%
  • Repayment options including 6 months of interest only or three months of deferred payments.

The program is offered in partnership with City First Enterprises.

To learn more, visit the Montgomery County Green Bank website here.

Nova Solar: Helping Homeowners Reap the Savings of Solar

Montgomery County Green Bank’s Green Partners

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

We talked with LB Kouchacji, Project Manager with Nova Solar, to learn about their latest successes and why they are proud to partner with the Montgomery County Green Bank.


Tell us about Nova Solar and your work there.

LB Kouchacji [LB]: Our mission at Nova Solar is to create sustainable, and cost effective energy solutions to help minimize financial, and environmental burdens on our communities. With over 15 years of experience in solar technologies and installations, we strive to bring the best value for top-quality service and materials to the Virginia, DC and Maryland areas. As a Project Manager, I have the privilege of working with many homeowners that want to save money and source their electricity usage from renewable energy. We assist homeowners in understanding how much energy can be produced from their solar system, how much it will cost (whether that be with our partner lender’s or as a cash purchase), and allowing them to sit back while we work out all of the permitting, homeowner association approvals, and interconnection steps.


What are the key decisions your customers make when moving a project forward?

LB: We walk our customers through important questions and decision points is they get a solar system that is right for them. Questions homeowners need to address include: Is my home an ideal candidate for solar? If exploring a roof-mounted solar system, do I need a new roof prior to going solar? Should I perform additional home energy efficiency upgrades such as windows, insulation, lighting to optimize my home’s solar use?


What’s something exciting you’re working on now?

LB: Along with grid-tied solar systems, we are looking forward to the ever-evolving energy storage solutions

(batteries + PV systems). Allowing homeowners to store the electricity they produce from their solar system, will give them flexibility when there is a grid outage. With the technology getting better and the prices coming down, it is becoming more of an incentive to add a battery to a solar system in this region.


What do they reflect on as most surprising / or rewarding when the work is completed?

LB: Homeowners are able to monitor their solar production via online monitoring software. Once homeowners realize that they are producing more electricity than their home is using with their solar system, it provides a sense of self-sufficiency. Another benefit is that they realize that solar has paid for itself generally halfway into the life of the system.


What are the top reasons your customers seek energy efficiency and / or renewable energy improvements?

LB: One reason homeowners seek solar projects is due to the financial savings that can be obtained by purchasing a solar system rather than pay the increasing utility rates in our region. Other homeowners are interested due to decreasing their carbon footprint by sourcing their electricity by a renewable energy source.


Why do you choose to partner with the MC Green Bank as an Authorized Contractor with the Clean Energy Advantage program?

LB: At Nova Solar, we want to provide our homeowners with options on how to purchase their solar system. We partner with Montgomery County Green Bank so that homeowners we’re working with in the County can obtain flexible financing options through the Clean Energy Advantage program at competitive rates compared to other lenders.

January 2020

Green Bank Annual Report Marks Gains Made Amid Challenges

 

The Montgomery County Green Bank’s new 2020 Annual Report highlights how the Green Bank’s low-cost financing programs helped businesses, condominium associations and nonprofit groups make needed energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements that saved money and energy.

Read about the Green Bank’s progress during a challenging, tumultuous 2020 by clicking here.

New Commercial Solar PPA Program: Financing Solution for Small Businesses and Nonprofits

January 26, 2021
For Immediate Release
Media contact: Tom Deyo, Montgomery County Green Bank Chief Executive Officer, at tdeyo@mcgreenbank.org

ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND – The Montgomery County Green Bank is launching a new solar PV energy financing program for small businesses and nonprofit organizations that requires no out-of-pocket funding and offers long-term, lower monthly payments for electricity. The Commercial Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) financing program is being brought to market to help small businesses and nonprofits both save money during the current pandemic and lock in energy savings for decades to come.

The Commercial Solar PPA financing program helps property owners conserve energy and enjoy operating costs savings through the use of on-site solar energy generation rather than drawing power from the grid. The owners can install solar panels on their properties with no initial outlay of funding and then have lower operating costs for the solar generated electricity compared to grid produced electricity for 20 years.

The program is part of the Green Bank’s portfolio of financing products positioned to help businesses during the pandemic with strategies to address operating costs and health of properties.

Under the Commercial Solar PPA financing program, a solar developer works with a business to size an onsite rooftop solar PV system to meet the energy demand needs of the business. The developer and the business agree on a price to buy the generated solar PV energy by seeking PPA rates lower than those charged by local utilities for the same energy from the grid. The developer would then install the system, using a local installer contractor, at no upfront cost to the business. This Green Bank structure unlocks key benefits of both investment tax credit incentives and Green Bank special capital that together create the opportunity to offer favorable long-term PPA rates for the business, particularly for nonprofit businesses which cannot easily access the tax credit benefits.

“We know the importance of solar PV energy for both the environmental and operating benefits to businesses,” said Green Bank CEO Tom Deyo. “We kept hearing from organizations that they wanted to add solar PV to their properties but couldn’t move forward in the face of out-of-pocket costs or poor operating economics for a solar PV system. So, we looked to how our capital could be used to improve those economics and drive savings to nonprofits and commercial entities throughout the county.”

The Green Bank encourages interested businesses, nonprofits and contractors to reach out about the Commercial Solar PPA financing program. The program was particularly designed to work for smaller energy systems with as little as 25 kW in generation capacity.

About Montgomery County Green Bank
The Montgomery County Green Bank is a publicly chartered nonprofit dedicated to accelerating affordable energy efficiency and clean energy investment in Montgomery County, MD. We partner with the private sector to build a more diverse, equitable, and inclusively prosperous, resilient, sustainable, and healthy community. Our work supports Montgomery County’s goal to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.

The Green Bank now offers a broad portfolio of affordable renewable energy and energy efficiency financing options for commercial and residential property improvements. Its suite of products include the Clean Energy Advantage program for homeowners and the Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program, the Small Business Energy Savings Support program, and the Commercial Solar PPA program for businesses.

Interested parties should also subscribe to the Green Bank’s newsletters to receive the latest updates on investment opportunities, contractor trainings, and program developments

For more information, visit www.mcgreenbank.org.

Net Metering Solar PV – How does it work and is it guaranteed?

Cindy McCabe – January 2021

Let’s start by going over the metering of electricity. All property that has wired electricity in Maryland, and in most of the continental U.S., has a meter to measure how much electricity is used so that you can be billed for it. These meters are owned by the utility company that provides the electricity to each building or unit. Most buildings and units now have smart meters installed, which allow the utility company to read the number of kilowatt hours, or kWh, that the structure has used in each billing period.

Now let’s talk about net metering. A net meter is a special type of smart meter that can count backwards. When you have a solar PV system installed, the utility company will come to your house to take off your old meter and replace it with a net meter. A net meter looks like a smart meter and can also be read remotely, however, not all smart meters are net meters.

When the sun rises, your solar system will start to generate

electricity and it will send that electricity directly to your electric panel. Whatever electric devices that you are using at the time will use that solar energy without you even noticing, and your solar inverter will keep count of the electricity that is produced.

If you need more electricity than your solar system is producing, your home will automatically pull electricity from the utility company, or the grid, and the number on your meter will increase, counting the number of kWh that you are using from the grid. Most homes with a solar PV system still need to pull electricity from the grid, especially at night.[1]

When your solar PV system produces more electricity than your home or business can use, the extra electricity will go through the net meter and back to the grid, causing your net meter to count backwards. Not only are you erasing previous grid electricity usage this way, but you are also helping to reduce the amount of electricity that needs to be generated by non-renewable sources of the utility company.

When you receive your monthly utility bill, there will be a solar generation table on it, showing the amount of solar energy that you generated. If you generated more solar energy than the total amount of grid electricity that you used in that billing period, you will have net metering credits. These credits are carried over month to month and usable as credits during each month until the end of the utility fiscal year, March 31st. At that time, any unused net metering credits will be converted to dollars at the supply rate listed on your bill.

The utility company’s buyback rate, however, is so much lower than the retail rate of electricity that you would not benefit financially from generating more energy than you can consume in a year. If you had a solar pv system that was larger than your need for electricity, you would be paying more to generate the energy than you would get paid back at the end of the fiscal year.

Net metering in Maryland is currently capped at 1,500 MW, which meaning that once 1,500 MW of solar PV is installed in the state, no additional solar customers would be allowed to sell excess solar generation back to the grid for credit. As of 2019, the state had reached approximately 754 MW.  The Maryland legislature is looking at increasing this cap, and you can read more about the new bill: Legislation SB0407 here. This increase will assist in supporting our households and the renewable energy sector across the state.

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.

[1] With battery backup installed, the home could draw from battery power at night.

Residential Geothermal

Project Snapshot

Residential Geothermal

 

About the Building

Single-family home

Property Upgrade Summary

Installation of closed loop geothermal system with two loops and water furnace.

Geothermal heat pumps are considered a form of high efficiency heat pump. These systems rely on heat transfers between the air and the ground to provide heating and cooling to homes and buildings.

Green Bank Financing

General Project Cost: $35,000
Loan Product: Combo (Short Term and Long Term)
Short Term Loan:
Amount: $9,100*
Average APR: 5.50%
Term: 12 -18 months
Fees: No Financing Fees**
Monthly Payment: None. One-time payment of $9,850.75 due at term of loan and after receipt of previous year’s income tax credit.

*26% of Project Cost (Equivalent to the Federal Income Tax Credit).
**$25 Application Fee

Long Term Loan:
Amount: $25,900*
Average APR: 5.75%
Term: 12 or 15 Years
Fees: No Financing Fees**
Monthly Payment: $204.82

*74% of Project Cost
**$25 Application Fee plus ~$300 UCC1 Filling Fee.

Projected Annual Energy Savings

Conversion from Gas: 24,584 kWh (of equivalent heat & electricity)

Conversion from Electric: 9,275 kWh

About the Project

Stockbridge at Tanglewood Condominiums became the first local commercial entity to use a loan under the Small Business Energy Savings Support product to improve its operating budget and gain savings.  The Association worked closely with the Montgomery County Green Bank and City First Enterprises to secure a $44,000 loan.  New LED fixtures on the property are reducing energy consumption by 100,000 kWh per year and saving over $14,000 annually.  The contractor worked closely with Pepco to secure substantial incentives that help offset the costs of this project.

About Geothermal

A geothermal system is similar to a conventional heat pump heating and cooling system.  A conventional heat pump, also known as an air source heat pump, takes heat out of the air and moves it into the home in winter and out of the home in summer.  A geothermal heat pump, also known as a ground source heat pump, is a high efficiency type of heat pump which uses the earth’s stable temperature to heat and cool the home.  Geothermal systems have pipes that are buried in the ground in which a liquid is circulated through. The liquid transfers the heat from the earth and moves it into the house during winter and removes heat from the house and transfers it into the earth in the summer.

Financing Details

The Green Bank with City First Enterprises provided the capital necessary for the energy efficiency measures.

Total Cost for HVAC Replacement$35,000
Clean Energy Advantage Program Loan$35,000
Pepco Incentive$1,800
Maryland Energy Administration Incentive$3,000
Federal Income Tax Credit (26% of Project Cost)$9,100
Net Project Cost$21,100
Montgomery County Green Bank’s Role

The Montgomery County Green Bank’s small business program brought partner and the needed capital to support the Stockbridge project. The Green Bank works closely with the Montgomery County Commission on Common Ownership Communities to help association boards execute on long term energy plans and financing strategies to be able to implement projects.

Solar PV Case Study

Project Snapshot

Solar PV Case Study

 

About the Building

Single-family, two story detached home located in Kensington, Maryland

Property Upgrade Summary

13.47kW Solar PV system

Projected Energy Savings

This solar PV system will produce more than 14,000 kilowatt hours per year of clean, renewable energy for the home with a projected savings of $1,960 in reduced electricity bills annually and will lower greenhouse gas emissions by 10.3 metric tons of carbon dioxide kept out of the atmosphere.

About the Project

The solar PV system consists of 49 Hanwa 320 Watt solar modules 15.68 kW with 49 Enphase IQ7-60-x-US microinverters and the state-of-the art Enphase remote monitoring platform.

Financing Details

The Clean Energy Credit Union, supported by the Green Bank under the Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program, provided a loan to cover 74% of project costs to help finance the project. The owner will access federal income tax credits for about 26% of the solar project costs.

About Solar

Solar PV systems use a multitude of photovoltaic cells to convert sunlight into electricity. When light shines on the PV cell, the components move rapidly and create electricity; and stronger sunlight creates more electricity. The energy that is created flows through wiring connected to the panels to an inverter or inverters, which change the energy from direct current to alternating current, which is the type of current used in homes and buildings. The energy from the inverter is connected to an electric fuse box or a dedicated set of breakers to power whatever appliances or electric loads are pulling electricity when the solar energy comes through. In most cases, the building will use the energy from the solar system primarily before using electricity from the utility grid. Any solar energy that the building does not need at the time will be send back to the utility grid and metered as negative usage for billing credits.

Montgomery County Green Bank’s Role

The Green Bank is currently assisting many more customers in the County’s solar co-op program using the Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program. The Clean Energy Advantage program provides 100% financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in Montgomery County with competitive rates. Learn more about our Clean Energy Advantage program here.

Green Homeowners: Geothermal

Delegate Lorig Charkoudian – Why I Installed Geothermal For My Home.

Welcome to our Green Homeowners series, highlighting homeowners in the community that have completed a renewable energy or energy efficiency project using Montgomery County Green Bank partner financing programs.

 We talked with Maryland State Delegate, Lorig Charkoudian, to learn about why she decided to install a geothermal renewable energy system for her home here in Montgomery County.


Tell us about yourself and how you are motivated about clean energy in your work or home life.

 

Delegate Charkoudian [DC]: I am committed to shifting my home, and the State of Maryland, to 100% clean energy

as quickly as possible! I work on the State policy as a member of the Maryland General Assembly. I work on switching my own home to clean energy by making investments and shifts when I can pull together the funds and financing. The Green Bank makes this more of a reality for me and others in Montgomery County by helping secure financing for these renewable energy and energy efficiency projects!


What clean energy project did you complete and why? What benefits do you anticipate from your project? How does this project fit with other clean energy efforts you have done?

DC: I recently had a ground source heat pump installed at my house to provide for my heating and cooling needs. This was a crucial part of my plan to move away from fracked gas usage. It is very important that we move towards electrifying everything that we can while we also move to clean up the electric grid by switching over to renewable energy sources. Ground source heat pumps also help reduce our peak electricity usage, or the amount of electricity pulled from the grid during peak use times, like in the evening when more people are using electricity.  Peak energy is usually provided by fossil fuel plant “peakers” and is usually the dirtiest and most expensive energy. While there are several solutions we need to incorporate to respond to peak energy usage, such as more battery storage and offshore wind, deploying more peak-shaving technology such as geothermal heat pumps is an important tool in that toolbox.

This geothermal heat pump helps with my transition away from natural gas, decreases my energy usage overall, and decreases my peak usage. My electricity comes from solar panels on my roof, a subscription to community solar, and clean energy from Clean Choice!


How did you think about paying for the project?

 

DC: I had been saving for a new air conditioning unit because I knew that the one that I had would need to be replaced soon. A combination of the money that I had saved, and the Montgomery County Green Bank’s Clean Energy Advantage program allowed me to get this project done.


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

DC: I had been following the development of the Green Bank and I was pleased to see more funds directed toward financing clean energy projects. For my project, 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 for almost a year after I pay for the project. 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.

Also, as I think about what efforts I want my money to support, I know that I want my loan payments to go toward additional financing of green energy projects. Had I gone with a loan from a traditional bank, my interest payments would be going into some larger fund in Wall Street, which might be financing any number of things, including possibly fossil fuels.


What benefits are you realizing from the project now that it has been installed?

DC: I am so warm and cozy right now with my ground source geothermal system! And I was so nice and cool this summer! I like to think of my warmth as Mother Earth wrapping her arms around me to keep me warm, since the warmth in my home is coming from the earth! I am also almost completely off using any fracked gas. Once I replace my stove and dryer, I will be able to disconnect completely from the fracked gas system!


Would you recommend the Green Bank financing program to a friend? If so, why?

 

DC: Absolutely! They are very easy to work with and they were very supportive throughout the project.


December 2020

Solar System PV Remote monitoring – How it works and how it can add value

Cindy McCabe – December 2020

Remote monitoring is an important and often overlooked part of a solar PV system, and here’s why –  If your solar system turns off unexpectedly, you won’t automatically know that something happened in your house.  You won’t have the telltale signs like you would if your home heat or AC goes out because your home is still connected to the electric grid for power and everything will continue to be powered as it should.

Remote monitoring will give you the peace of mind of knowing that your solar system is working or if it may have stopped working due to damage from nature or from a rare manufacturer defect. You will want to know about any issues as quickly as possible so you can fix your system as soon as your installer is available, and your monitoring software will provide this information for you.

A remote monitoring system will alert your solar installer to any potential problems within days of a consistent outage or a significant drop in production. If you are unsure of whether or not you have monitoring, check with your installer on whether monitoring is included in your contract.

This monitoring is also needed in order to access the Solar Renewable Energy Credit, or SREC market.  Basically, SRECs are carbon offset credits that the owner of the solar system gains with solar production and the owner can sell these credits in the SREC market. We will address incentives including SRECs in more detail in a future Blog.

Remote monitoring has different components, and it includes a device or devices that connect to your internet router and which transmit information from your solar system’s inverter to the inverter manufacturer’s monitoring database. If there is an ongoing outage, your installer will be notified to check the system’s operation.  You will need to have a broadband internet connection to use remote monitoring. The solar installer will check your Wi-Fi connection during your site survey.  Most wired Wi-Fi connections qualify to use monitoring, and the data usage is negligible.

Dan Book, Ipsun Solar Operations and Maintenance Solar and Dispatch Manager says, “I think PV system monitoring is really important because it empowers the homeowner to keep an eye on their system.  It gives them full transparency on what’s going on, which makes a solar system a unique device for your house.  Unfortunately, we do not have monitoring on things like dishwashers and washing machines.  I think monitoring is a great tool that everyone should use.”

Remote monitoring gathers and stores information from the inverter or inverters (think of them as the brains) of your solar system.  SolarEdge and Enphase are two of the popular inverter manufacturers used by solar installers in this area. Both of these companies offer online monitoring and a phone app, like Enphase’s My Enlighten, for both installers and customers.  Both also have an automatic notification system set up to alert the installer when production has both dropped below a pre-determined threshold and for a sustained period, ranging from 24-72 hours. This software is monitoring your solar production, but it will not automatically produce an alert unless the outage is sustained because many times an inverter will re-cycle and fix itself; which is great!

In the end, you want to know if something is wrong with your solar system, and remote monitoring is the tool that gives you this peace of mind.  Ask you installer for more information and read your contract for warranty details.

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.