Case Study
Rivera Greens with solar panels installed.
9.28kW PV Silevo Triex U_Series 290 Watt in Clarence, NY
View from the south side of Clarence residence. This image was created using EagleView Technologies aerial photography
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Common Q&A for Solar PV

Q: Is the weather in our area suitable for a solar system?
A: Solar panels actually produce best on a chilly, sunny day- to keep the temperature of the module down increases its efficiency. So yes, the Northeast is a great place to install a solar system.

Q: Does WNY get enough sunlight?
A: Western New York gets 500 more hours of sunlight than Germany does, the largest solar energy producing country in the world!

Q: What about snow?
A: Panels won't produce when they are covered in snow. The good news is that due to the pitch of a roof and wind conditions, many times the snow falls right off. Since the panels are typically black or dark blue it only takes a small corner of the panel to be exposed to create heat and a film of water will develop under the snow facilitating the snow removal. For heavier snow conditions, roof rakes with foam heads are available to clear off the snow manually.

Q: Can I run my whole house off solar energy?
A: Systems can be designed to offset total annual electrical usage. When we evaluate your electric bill we will look to size a system in which the production matches or exceeds consumption.

Q: How long do photovoltaic (PV) systems last?
A: A PV system that is designed, installed, and maintained well will operate for more than 25 years. The basic PV module (interconnected, enclosed panel of PV cells) has no moving parts and can last more than 30 years. The best way to ensure and extend the life and effectiveness of your PV system is by having it installed and maintained properly on a structurally sound area or roof.

Q: Can I use photovoltaics (PV) to power my business?
A: PV systems can be blended into virtually every conceivable structure for commercial buildings. You will find PV being used not only indoors to satisfy all electrical consumptions inside the building but also outdoors for security lighting as well as in structures that serve as covers for parking lots and bus shelters, generating power at the same time.

Q: Why should I purchase a PV system?
A: People decide to buy solar energy systems for a variety of reasons. For example, some individuals buy solar products to preserve the Earth's finite fossil-fuel resources and to reduce air pollution. Others would rather spend their money on an energy-producing improvement to their property than send their money to a utility. Some people like the security of reducing the amount of electricity they buy from their utility, because it makes them less vulnerable to future increases in the price of electricity. Many view solar as an investment opportunity with an excellent return that includes increased property value.
If it's designed accordingly, a solar system may be able to provide power during a utility power outage, thereby adding power reliability to your home. Finally, some individuals live in areas where the cost of extending power lines to their home is more expensive than buying a solar energy system.

Q: How much does a solar energy system cost, and how much will I save on utility bills?
A: Unfortunately, there is no single or simple answer. But tax credits and incentives can drastically reduce the cost of a PV system. This cost depends on a number of factors, such as whether it is a stand-alone system or is integrated into the building design, the size of the system, and the particular system manufacturer, retailer, and so on.
It is also difficult to say how much you will save with a solar energy system, because savings depend on how much you pay your utility for electricity, and how much your utility will pay you for any excess power that you generate with your solar system. CIR Electric would be happy to see how much your new system will produce on an annual basis and compare it your old electricity bills.

Q: What is net metering? Is net metering available where I live and work?
A: Net metering is a policy that allows home and business owners to receive the full retail value for the electricity that their solar energy system produces. The term net metering refers to the method of accounting for the photovoltaic (PV) system's electricity production. Net metering allows home and business owners with PV systems to use any excess electricity they produce to offset their electric bill. As the homeowner's PV system produces electricity, the kilowatts are first used for any electric appliances in the home or business. If the PV system produces more electricity than the owner needs, the extra kilowatts are fed into the utility grid.

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This month's tip is from Ed Dudkowski of John W. Danforth Company, August's Green Tip submission winner. Ed wrote: `Cancel subscriptions to unwanted trade publications, catalogs and magazines. I found that my recycle bin was constantly being filled with publications that I did not request. Last month I took the time to cancel four of these. Think of all the resources that could be saved if each one of us cancelled just a single publication. All of the energy and raw materials used to publish, print, transport, and recycle thousands of pages would be saved!`

Cancel subscriptions to unwanted trade publications, catalogs and magazines. I found that my recycle bin was constantly being filled with publications that I did not request.

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