Tom Moloughney of Chester, N.J., is one of the first in the nation to power an all-electric vehicle with electricity generated from a residential solar system, thus linking two green technologies to create a driving experience that is truly emissions free.
Moloughney, who drives 62 miles round-trip to Nauna’s Bella Casa, the restaurant he owns in Montclair, N.J., in an all-electric Mini Cooper prototype called the Mini E, was recently honored by the Garden State Green Awards for his contribution to the environment. He figures he saves $5,000 a year on fuel and maintenance expenses.
Even more importantly, as the nation anticipates the celebration of Earth Day on April 22, Moloughney is pioneering a new energy future. And probably at few times in the history of Earth Day’s 41-year existence has the need to chart a carbon-free course for the automobile been so imperative.
Mini E Inspires a Green Way of Living
Moloughney, who had always been concerned about dependence on foreign oil, came across the opportunity to participate in the BMW (which owns Mini Cooper) pilot program while surfing the Internet. To his surprise, he was selected to be one of only a handful of drivers in the New York metropolitan region to receive the prototype.
BMW produced 612 of the cars, which are being road-tested by drivers all over the world. The number of Moloughney’s car, which he received in June of 2009, is 250, which is also the name of his blog: minie250.blogspot.com.
Although he was delighted to be driving an all-electric car, Moloughney quickly realized that his goal of emissions-free driving was being compromised by the fact that the electricity he was using to charge his car was generated by coal- and gas-fired power plants, as well as from nuclear sources.
“I figured that if I could displace gasoline with sunlight, I would truly be driving a zero-emissions vehicle,” says Moloughney, whose license plate reads “EF-OPEC.”
Solar for a True Emissions-Free Experience
In February of 2010, Rumson, N.J.-based solar integrator GeoGenix installed an 8.8 kilowatt solar system on the roof of Moloughney’s home. The 39 SunPower solar panels generate about 10,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, about half of which goes to power the Mini E, which Moloughney plugs in every night.
“I wake up every morning with a full tank,” he says.
Although “range anxiety” — the fear of running out of juice — is a concern of electric car owners, Moloughney says he has never had any problem. Fully charging his car takes about 3.5 hours, which is good for 100 miles, although he has stretched it to 130. He never waits for the car to charge, rather takes advantage of charging “opportunities.”
Moloughney and his wife, Meredith, have a second vehicle, a Chevy Equinox, for long trips, although a national public electric vehicle charging infrastructure is now being installed at convenient locations such as shopping malls, parking lots and highway rest stops that will allow drivers to “refuel” while on the road.
In addition to reducing carbon emissions, Moloughney is also saving money — big time. About half of the energy generated by his rooftop solar system offsets his household electrical usage, which, at an average rate of about $0.18 per kilowatt-hour, saves him about $2,000 per year in household electricity bills.
But when he uses solar to offset gas, he saves even more. He figures it takes six kilowatt-hours of electricity to drive 24 miles, the average mileage for a gallon of gas. With gas prices approaching $4 per gallon, he is thus saving $4 for every 6 kilowatt-hours, compared to a savings of $1.08 (6 x $0.18) in avoided household electricity costs.
And, with energy prices rising, those savings will only increase: “The last time I checked with the sun, he said he didn’t plan on raising his price for sunshine … so I think I’m good there,” he says on his blog.
House That Generates Money
Nor do the savings stop there. Moloughney is also taking advantage of a state incentive to promote the generation of solar electricity. His system generates about 10 Solar Energy Renewable Certificates (SRECs) annually. Since these are currently selling for about $650, they bring him an additional $6,500 in income annually.
The savings from his solar system — not to mention the offset gasoline expenses — thus cover a significant share of the mortgage on his home. “What house do you know of that generates money?” he asks.
Moloughney is due to surrender his Mini E in October, but BMW will replace it with another test model called the BMW ActiveE. And, when BMW introduces its all-electric BMWi3 in 2013, which is the model that the pilot programs are gathering information for, Moloughney will be the first in line to buy one.
GeoGenix is an industry leader with a proven track record in residential and commercial solar installations. The firm is an East Coast pioneer of “community solar,” which allows residents of a community to band together to purchase solar for their individual homes at a discount. Selected from a pool of over 400 solar panel dealers in North America, GeoGenix was given the “Outstanding Customer Service” award in 2010 by SunPower. Additional achievements include installing the first “net zero” electric commercial building in the nation. While there are many new entrants in the solar business, GeoGenix has been installing solar since 2001 and has the experience and expertise that have made it one of the region’s most trusted solar installers. For more information, please visit the GeoGenix website and blog, as well as its Facebook and Twitter pages.
RUMSON, N.J. (Jan. 11, 2010) – GeoGenix, an established industry leader in residential and commercial solar installations in the Mid-Atlantic region, today announced that the company will host an event at Somerset Run in Franklin Township, N.J., to celebrate the successful completion of a 10-home “community solar” project in the Somerset County 55+ adult development.
The ceremony, which will also honor the residents who have participated in the initiative, will be held on Jan. 19 at 10:30 a.m. in the development’s clubhouse at 101 Stone Manor Drive.
Franklin Township Mayor Levine’s office will present the families who have elected to invest in the roof-mounted solar installations with commendations for their dedication to the environment and to the state’s progressive renewable energy goals.
Originating in California, and now being pioneered in New Jersey by GeoGenix, “community solar” is a strategy that allows residents of a community to band together to purchase solar for their individual homes at a discounted price. The discount is made possible by operational efficiencies such as the streamlining of the permitting process and the deployment of installation crews.
The community solar discounts, along with generous state and federal incentives, make solar a very attractive investment, especially for seniors whose retirement nest eggs are typically invested in “safe” investment vehicles, such as certificates of deposit (CDs), which are now yielding low returns.
“While helping the environment was a major consideration in deciding to go solar, the return on our investment was really the deciding factor,” said Allen Delevett who, with his wife Celia Hills, was the first homeowner in Somerset Run to go solar. “The systems installed in our community will each have a simple payback of less than five years, and, frankly, we see solar as a far more attractive, and safer, investment than the stock market or CDs.
The systems will generate free electricity for at least 25 years and will also generate valuable SREC (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate) income. An SREC, which is a state renewable energy incentive based on the amount of electricity generated by the solar system, is earned each time a system generates 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity. SRECs, which represent an environmental benefit, are tradable certificates.
New Jersey Assemblyman Upendra J. Chivukula, who is the chairman of the Assembly’s Energy Committee and the originator of many of the state’s robust renewable energy initiatives, will also be in attendance at the event in support of the community solar project.
“It is intensely satisfying to see these grassroots solar initiatives in which, in this case, seniors join together to reap the financial and environmental rewards that solar brings to a household and a neighborhood,” said Chivukula. “Community solar projects are a great complement to my work in the statehouse. I hope to see this trend continue as it brings great efficiencies to the solar installation process, essentially making a green practice even greener.”
“Between generous state and federal incentives and the volume discounts we offer through our community solar program, installing a solar system in your home is an excellent investment,” said Gaurav Naik, managing member of GeoGenix. “We make it as easy as possible for the homeowner every step of the way, from design and installation to setting up the SREC account.”
The 10 homes that comprise this project total 80 kilowatts (kW) of generating capacity and are expected to produce nearly 100,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. This carbon footprint reduction eliminates the production of more than 150,000 pounds of CO2, which is the equivalent of reducing the amount of miles driven in a car by 189,000. CO2 is among the harmful greenhouse gases that contribute to air pollution and to global warming.
GeoGenix is an industry leader with a proven track record in residential and commercial solar installations. The firm’s many achievements include the first “Net Zero” electric commercial building in the nation. While there are many new entrants in the solar business, GeoGenix has been installing solar since 2001 and has the experience, expertise and track record that have made it the state’s most trusted solar installer. For more information, visit the GeoGenix website at www.geogenix.com
SAN DIEGO, CALIF. (Jan. 3, 2011) – New Jersey’s rapid emergence as a leader in the solar industry is due to aggressive state incentives and policies that have resulted in an increase from 7.5 kilowatts of installed capacity in 2001 to more than 200 megawatts today.
The preeminence of New Jersey as a solar leader was the subject of remarks by Jamie Hahn, managing director of Solis Partners, a leading developer and integrator of commercial solar power systems based in Manasquan, N.J., at a panel discussion on the New Jersey solar market at the recent Distributed Solar Summit 2010 in San Diego, Calif. New Jersey is second only to California in installed solar capacity.
The program on national distributed solar markets looked at these two leading markets, as well as at emerging markets in the Northeast and West. Panel participants provided insights into and analysis of the forces shaping these markets with the goal of providing the information needed to enable conference participants to make informed evaluations of solar opportunities.
The three-day summit drew participants including commercial, industrial and non-profit solar project developers, investors, lenders, photovoltaic suppliers, utilities, contractors and installers to explore how to take full advantage of the booming solar market. The event also provided opportunities for industry stakeholders to connect, build relationships and discuss deals.
Hahn highlighted the incentives that have helped New Jersey emerge as a solar leader, including the Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program, a performance-based incentive. Under the program, utilities purchase SRECS, which are tradable certificates repesenting 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity, from solar producers in order to meet state Renewable Portfolio Standard mandates.
“In New Jersey, SRECs have been one of the largest drivers in the adoption of solar,” Hahn said. “Because the price of electricity from solar is not yet comparable with that of electricity from traditional sources, we know that the only way to stimulate the the solar market is through policy initiatives that are implemented in the expectation that the industry will eventually stand on its own two legs.”
The New Jersey Solar Energy Advancement and Fair Competition Act, signed into law in January, has taken New Jersey a step closer to memorializing the SREC program, Hahn said. The law, which is a clear demonstration of the state’s commitment to solar, strengthens and reinforces the SREC program. The law is expected to attract additional solar development and increase investor confidence.
Hahn also pointed out the flaws of the incentives and offered some solutions. The problem with relying on policy initiatives is that they typically bring uncertainties to the marketplace that make the financial structuring of solar systems more complicated, Hahn noted. In order to clear up the uncertainties, New Jersey will have to make the incentives more transparent and more long term.
“For solar to reach real scale in New Jersey, policy incentives need to be more transparent and we need long-term certainty in the market,” he said. “With certainty you lower the risk profile. Lower risk will reduce the return requirements on the capital invested and lower return requirements will bring more competitive capital into the marketplace, resulting in lower costs for distributed solar power projects.”
For more information about Solis Partners, visit www.SolisPartners.com
About Solis Partners
Solis Partners is a leading developer and integrator of solar power systems for commercial, industrial, utility and not-for-profit clients. Solis Partners designs, engineers and constructs leading-edge, optimized solar power systems, enabling customers to meet their long-term energy needs while reducing operating costs and addressing their carbon liabilities. Solis is a comprehensive partner, offering the complete solution for both solar and roofing. Solis Partners is headquartered in Manasquan, N.J. For more information, please call (732) 800-0052, or visit www.solispartners.com