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Q: How can I learn more about Federal and State Programs on Renewable Energy?
A: There is a great deal of information available about renewable energy. There are some excellent web sites that are not trying to sell any one brand or solution. These can be useful. The US Department of Energy web site contains a great deal of information on Federal Programs. The Renewable Energy Project of Alaska (REAP) has information specific to programs and opportunities in Alaska.
Q: What Rebates are available in my state?
A: DSIRE is a comprehensive source for information on state, local, utility, and federal incentives as well as policies that promote renewable energy and energy efficiency. Established in 1995, DSIRE is an ongoing project of the NC Solar Center and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council funded by the US Department of Energy.
Q: Can I get financial incentives or rebates that will pay for a portion of my system?
A: Yes, they are available depending on your project and its location. You may be eligible for financial and/or tax incentives from state or local governments, local utility companies and the federal government. Federal information may be found at the US Department of Energy web site. For state and local incentives and rebates, go to www.dsireusa.org for a comprehensive summary by state.
Additionally, RES is working with the USDA’s Rural Development Group to develop a template allowing most rural business to immediately qualify for a $20,000 grant towards renewable energy (wind or solar) investments.
These incentives can be discussed during the design phase of your project.
Net Metering effective June 2010
Net metering recently became effective for certain Alaskan rail-belt electric utilities. A pdf listing of utilities required to provide net metering can be downloaded here. Contact your utility for details and conditions to take advantage of net metering of your potential system. Renewable Energy Systems is one of Chugach Electric's first net-metered customers with its wind and solar grid-tied renewable system at 145 W Dimond Blvd in Anchorage.
Q: What is the best type of renewable energy system?
A: No one system type is the best. After reviewing your requirements and needs, RES will make recommendations on the proper system and help you understand the benefits and limitations of the selection. RES supports wind, solar, and hybrid systems for both on and off grid applications. This allows us to select the best system for your needs.
Q: How do I reduce the costs of my system?
A: The upfront costs can be reduced through the use of Government incentives and credits (both state and Federal) as well as through proper sizing of the system. See questions and answers on Rebates and Credits. Further reductions in the required system size and the cost can be obtained through energy conservation and proper selection of appliances. The team at RES can help you understand your possibilities.
Q: Can I add to my system as my energy needs grow?
A: Yes, if a renewable energy system is designed properly you can easily add more capability as it is required. The possibility for expansion can be discussed in the design requirements phase.
Q: What information will you need from me to design the system?
A: Proper system design begins with a clear understanding of your requirements. It includes understanding the location for the system, the use intended, your budget, and required output of the system. With these requirements clearly identified, RES can make a proposal for your system. Examples of the kind of information required can be found in the System Design section of this web site.
Q: Does Renewable Energy Systems provide service support for renewable energy systems?
A: Yes, RES can provide maintenance agreements for on-site support and extended service contracts upon request. Contact us to discuss your current or future needs for support and service.
Q: What kind of maintenance does a renewable energy system require?
A: The maintenance requirements for renewable energy systems will vary with the system type and selected components; but in general not much maintenance is required. For example, washing solar panels with water a few times a year is a good idea but not critical since this amount of energy loss will be calculated in your design. For any renewable system, it is a good idea to check the integrity of mechanical and electrical connections periodically and to check the output of the system against expectations. Batteries used for backup will need to be replaced eventually. The design team at RES will review any maintenance requirements with you both during the design phase and during your system walk after installation.
Q: What can I use a small wind turbine for?
A: Small wind systems can be used on-grid (for a cabin, home, farm, or business) or off-grid (for a boat, RV, cabin, home, farm, business, or remote instruments):
Using an on-grid, small wind system can help supplement your grid electricity and reduce your dependency on local utilities.
Using an off-grid, small wind system can help provide electricity to remote locations for both seasonal or year-round use. Wind systems can help reduce the use of diesel generators, supplement solar systems, and save fuel costs. For remote applications in Alaska, selection of a turbine that is suitable for the weather conditions is critical. RES can help in determing the right turbine for your location and needs.
Q: What happens when there is not enough wind to generate electricity?
A: When the wind stops blowing, electricity continues to be provided by other forms of generation. This includes battery backup, solar, and generators.
Q: Is there enough wind on my site?
A: The amount of wind at your site is critical since it will determine the amount of energy your turbine will produce. A 10kW turbine installed with an average annual wind speed of 10 miles per hour (4.47 meters per second) produces about 7,700 kWh per year. The same turbine will produce about 12,500 kWh per year if the average annual wind speed is 12 miles per hour (5.36 meters per second). Your site should have an annual average wind speed of at least 10 miles per hour. Wind speeds of 12 miles per hour or more are preferred.
Available wind resource will vary significantly in just a few miles because of local terrain influences on the wind flow. RES will work with you to determine the available wind at your site and how to maximize the energy produced.
Q. What are the basic parts of a small wind electric system?
A: Small wind energy systems are generally comprised of a rotor, a generator mounted on a frame, a tail (usually), a tower, wiring, and the “balance of system” components: controllers, inverters, and/or batteries.
Q: How many solar panels does my house need?
A: It is impossible to know how many panels your home will need without some basic information. We need to understand your system goals to help you figure the number of solar panels you will require.
No matter what your reasons are for wanting a solar system is it is important to have all the information you need to make a good decision. RES will help you understand how renewable energy works so YOU can make decision about how many solar panels your house needs.
Q: Can I install a solar system myself?
A: Yes, you can install it yourself, or our experienced installers can install your system. RES will work with to you determine the right system for your present and future needs, making sure everything is working properly and code compliant with the proper permits in place.
Q: Will my system meet code requirements?
A: Our installations comply with National Electric Code Standards. With an Alaskan bonded and licensed Specialty Contractor, Renewable Energy Systems utilizes administrators and licensed electricians to oversee its installations.
Q: How long will a photovoltaic system last?
A: Renewable Energy Systems uses PV panels from top of the line suppliers like Sharp, Sanyo, Sunpower, Trina, Unisolar, and others. These products offer limited warranties of up to 20 to 25-years. Although solar panels have a useful life expectancy of more than 40 years, it is normal for panels to slowly degrade as they age, causing some decrease in output. This rate of degradation is typically about 0.5% per year. RES can review the life of each of your systems components (panels, inverters, batteries, generators, etc.) at design time.