Energy Make Over Contest

“EnLIGHTening Technology” Makeover

Changes in technology and the increased desire to become greener have contributed to the transformation of renewable energy technology, gadgets and costs.  There are handy, inexpensive items out there that let you experience the benefits and convenience of solar.  Outdoor solar fixtures are easy to install, virtually maintenance free, and do a great job of lighting up walkways without increasing your energy bill.  There are gadgets for adventuring, camping and tailgating that harness the power from the sun to give you portable power anywhere.  Enter for a chance to win this quarter’s Energy Makeover Contest solar bundle.  Charge phones, tablets, cameras and other small devices with the Yeti Goal Zero portable power station, 50-watt solar panel, and handy 350 LED light. Also receive a 10 pack of LED solar pathway lights (bundle valued at $500).

As a member-owner of Sioux Valley Energy, we are your source for energy and information.  Electric cooperatives across the country, including SVE, are exploring a multitude of ways to offer beneficial electrification products and services to enhance efficiency and savings to members while being environmentally responsible. This is one of the reasons we do hands-on demonstration projects to explore technology like the solar array project at the Brandon Service Center and the recent purchase of our all-electric Nissan Leaf vehicle. 

Sioux Valley Energy constructed a 24.8 kW solar project (enough to power two average homes without electric heat) in May of 2015. In order to gain more insight, our wiring department installed and maintains the system.  The 80 panels are on low profile racking and we faced them south, southwest and west to learn which direction has the most impact on usage and demand shifting in our region and weather conditions.  An inverter monitoring system allows us to track each panel.  Our design did not include battery storage technology.  We installed the array for about $3 per watt which included a REAP grant for 25% of our costs.  The solar panels have a life expectancy of 30-50 years while the inverters may need to be replaced within 10 years.  The projected return on investment is 16-20 years.  The array has required very little maintenance ($64) and the power that is produced is put back on the grid.  As of August 2019, our system has produced a total of 140,333 kWhs which calculates to a revenue of $15,060.  The demand offset savings is 26% and the current lifetime capacity factor is 15.3%.  The average annual production would propel the co-op’s Nissan Leaf 90,000 miles per year.  We continue to research changes in the industry such as the role battery storage may potentially play in the future of renewable energy.  Even companies such as Tesla are bringing battery systems into to the market to increase the value of their investment with the capability to store excess power.  Stay tuned as we continue to share more about beneficial electrification opportunities.  Check out the data for our solar project on our website—click on my programs/SVE solar project. 

If you are considering solar power generation for your home or business, here’s a few things to keep in mind before making the purchase: 

1)   Make your existing home/business more energy efficient before buying a solar system.  Adding insulation and sealing air leaks can cut your energy costs immediately and you may be able to reduce the size of the solar system required.  SVE offers an energy audit/weatherization program. 

2)   Research before investing in a solar system.  The payback period for solar can range from fewer than 10 years to more than 20 years, depending on the system cost, amount of electricity produced at the peak times you utilize it, energy cost, and available incentives.  Sign up for SmartHub, our free account management tool, to view your usage and compare how it may line up with typical solar production. Contact Reggie Gassman, Manager of Customer Electrical Services, for assistance in calculating paybacks for your scenario. If you operate a privately owned, for-profit small business/farm you may be eligible up to 25% of your project costs through the USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Small solar energy systems are eligible for a 30% federal tax credit through 2019.  The tax credit decreases to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. It will expire after 2021 for residential applications but will continue at 10% for commercial applications. 

3)   Understand how a solar system meshes with the cooperative’s system.   Most solar systems are designed to provide you with a portion of the electricity needed, but it won’t provide 100% of your needs.  That means you’ll still need to be connected to SVE’s grid. Contact SVE regarding the interconnection policy, essential safety precautions, and rate structure for purchasing excess energy from your system. 

4)   Choose a reputable contractor/installer.  As with any major improvement project, purchasing solar panels from the right installer/contractor at a fair price is as important as the product you’re purchasing.  Sioux Valley Energy is a resource to consult with about your project. 

For more information on connecting solar to the cooperative’s system, visit the Cooperative's Interconnection portion of the website or contact Sioux Valley Energy at 800-234-1960.

Enter by December 31st, 2019 for a solar bundle including a Yeti Goal Zero portable power station, 50-watt solar panel, 350 LED light and 10 pack LED solar pathway lights (valued at $500).

Enter for a chance to win!!!

Please complete the entry below and hit submit. One entry per member. Enter by December 31, 2019.

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