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Solar & Wind Resources

 
Solar & Wind Resources

Please browse our list of the most frequently asked questions for more information. We are always happy to speak with you directly to answer any additional questions you may have or if you require further details. Please contact us at (802) 560-0055.

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Commercial Solar FAQ's

What type of commercial solar projects does Aegis develop / install?

Aegis focuses on commercial solar projects from 50kW up to multi megawatt utility scale installations. Aegis installs fixed tilt ground mount and rooftop solar projects and also specializes in ballasted landfill solar.

How do I know if I have a good site for a project?

The first step in evaluating a site is to perform a desktop analysis which Aegis provides at no cost. This analysis includes:
 

  • General buildability of the site

  • Distance to three phase power

  • Solar Exposure / Shading / Energy Production

  • GIS wetland analysis
     

Once the initial desktop analysis is completed, and suitability is confirmed, the next step is to secure development funding to perform a detailed fatal flaw analysis, much of which will be useful as permitting deliverables. Detailed analysis would include:
 

  • Utility Interconnection Capacity

  • Wetlands and Threatened Species

  • Property Line and Roadway Setbacks

  • Utility Net Metering Capacity or Power Purchase Agreement with Utility

  • Site Control

  • Site visit to determine buildability of the site

  • Solar Exposure / Shading / Energy Production

  • Economics for the Off Taker

 

What is involved in Permitting?

Permitting is different in every state and is also dependent on who the client is (private or public entity), and what type of project is being proposed. For example, roof top projects are generally easier to permit than ground mounted arrays but have some very specific code requirements that must be addressed in the submittals. In some states the non-ministerial permits are issued through the state, while in others, they are issued by the local municipality. Project approval is directly tied to quality of permitting submittals and project-owner representation, which is where Aegis’ vast experience has been successfully leveraged.

 

Aren’t I better off buying the equipment myself?

Keeping procurement of equipment within Aegis’ scope benefits the project from an economics and project execution perspective. Here are just a few considerations:
 

  • As a member of the Amicus Solar Cooperative, Aegis receives pricing that is much lower than regular distribution channels. This pricing model is based on more than 100 megawatts of annual buying power amongst cooperative members. As a result, it is highly unlikely that a project developer can secure such competitive pricing on top tier equipment.

  • In order to meet client expectations, the project manager having  “sole source accountability” must  have control of all aspects of the project in order to align and positively affect project performance, execution, schedule, coordination, and quality.

  • Coordination of logistics can make or break project milestone achievement. Keeping this in Aegis’ scope puts the responsibility and risk on Aegis and allows us to tightly control project outcomes.

  • Aegis carries all liability for the equipment we provide during transport and during project construction. This takes the risk of liability away from the owner for delay, damage, theft, or injury.

How do I finance commercial solar?

Please see our financing page for details on how to finance your solar project.

 

What is meant by the term “turnkey”?

The term "turnkey" refers to the services required to bring a project from its inception to its completion. As a successful turnkey EPC contractor, Aegis resources possess the competencies and are well versed in the specific best practices required to take projects from inception to completion. As a turnkey provider, Aegis assumes full responsibility for the projects design, execution and financial success.

 

What is the difference between concept and detailed design?

Concept and detailed design have a great deal to do with the timing of the project effort. Early on, in the projects inception, a concept design may contain several possible layouts and orientations. Yet, due to its early nature, the design cannot be shifted to a detailed state as many questions have yet to be answered regarding utility connections, approval conditions, financing requirements, etc.

 

Once these type of questions have been answered, the design basis can be solidified and detailed design elements can be executed and estimated. Based on experience, Aegis can, in most cases, develop an estimate that is extremely accurate in the concept phase.

 

Community Solar FAQ's

What makes a solar project “community owned”?

The solar array is collectively owned by a group of community members and is managed by an LLC comprised of all owners. Each member owns a specific number of solar panels which can vary. Member's savings is proportionate to the number of panels they own.

 

Do I have to be close to the solar array to participate?

No. You do not need to live close to the array. You must, however, be a current electrical customer of the utility that is receiving the electricity generated by the array. 

 

Community Solar - How does net metering work?

Net metering policies vary substantially from state-to-state. In Vermont, the energy generated from an individual’s share of a community owned solar project is purchased by the utility that serves that area. The consumer’s electric bill is then credited, often at a premium. The resulting monthly bill is a “net” of the electrical consumption minus the credit.

 

What if I generate more electricity than I consume?

If a consumer generates more electricity than they use for any given month, they will receive a credit on their account. This credit rolls over monthly. Therefore, the extra solar power that is generated during the long days of summer can be credited towards energy usage in the shorter days of winter. Net metering credits do expire, however, after twelve months.   

 

What type of commitment does participation in a community owned solar project typically entail?

Community owned solar projects are operated by member-managed LLCs consisting of each individual member-owner of the project. In addition to your initial buy-in price, you are responsible for annual dues to your LLC, much like homeowners or condominium association-type fees. By participating in the project, you also become a member of the LLC, which entitles you to the right to vote on any decision made by the company. Your level of participation in the LLC management is up to you, as you can always waive your vote if you are not able to participate at any given time.

 

How long does a community owned solar project operate?

The solar panels provided by Aegis are guaranteed to produce at least 85% of their original output through the 25th year of operation. There are panels operational today that were installed as long as 50 years ago. So, ultimately, the community owned solar project could operate indefinitely with regular preventative maintenance and replacement of equipment as needed.

 

I live in the same utility service area as the community owned solar project, but I rent. Can I still participate?
Yes. Your share of the array is credited against your electric bill, so it doesn’t matter whether you rent or own your home. If you receive an electric bill, you can net meter.

I have a business. Can my business be a member?

Yes. As long as the business has an electrical account in the utility service area, any type of business can be a member of a community-owned solar project and take advantage of the same tax and financial advantages enjoyed by the project’s residential members. 

 

Do I own or lease my share?

You own your share of the array, including the solar panels, the electricity that they generate, and all environmental attributes.

 

Who owns the land?

Land owners vary from project to project. Often, Aegis acquires the land before developing the project, and then conveys the land to the member-managed LLC. Under this arrangement, the LLC owns the land. If the land is not available for sale, Aegis negotiates a long-term lease for the land.

 

What if I move?

The net metering credits generated from your share of the solar project are attached to your electrical account, not your residence. If you move to another property within the same utility service area, you can simply have your credits re-allocated to your new electrical account. If you move to another property outside of your existing utility service area, you can either sell your share of the project to a new or existing member-owner or, if you are selling your home, include your share of the solar project in the real estate sale.

 

How much is my share going to be?

Aegis recommends that each member-owner purchase enough panels to cover 93% to 97% of their annual electrical bill. Although net metering credits roll forward from month to month, they expire after 12 months of rollover. Thus, if an individual member purchases too high of an allocation, they risk losing the value of the renewable energy credits generated in excess of 100% of their annual electrical usage.

 

How is my share determined?

Aegis will review your electrical usage (from your electric bill) and determine your optimum allocation and proposed buy-in price. The suggested allocation can be adjusted up or down according to budget needs, projected future energy usage, or simply at the new member-owner’s discretion. However, once the solar project is fully allocated among its members, owner-members can only adjust their allocation by buying and selling credits from other members.

 

How much does it cost to buy-in?

Your buy-in price depends upon your allocation and the current market pricing of the solar panels. Past projects, for example, have cost members a fixed panel price of approximately $889, with each panel producing 310 watts of electricity. This resulted in a price-per- watt of $2.87. Please contact Aegis for up-to-date pricing information.

Your membership dues to the LLC are also linked to your pro rata share of the array. Thus, your buy-in price depends upon how much electricity you would like to consume from the Community Owned Solar Project.

 

How much does it cost for annual expenses?

Your annual expenses depend upon your relative share of the entire project and the spending decisions of the member-managed LLC. For a recent Aegis Community Owned Solar Project, annual expenses were estimated at just under $8 per panel per year. Any action that the LLC takes, that would impact annual expenses, must be submitted to a vote among the member- owners.

 

Is there a minimum buy-in?

Member allocation is based upon how many solar panels that members purchase. Thus, a member-owner must purchase at least one solar panel at the current fixed price and pay annual fees of approximately $8.

Is financing available for solar projects?

Solar Project member-owners can finance through any number of lending institutions—Green Mountain Credit Union, for example, offers a financial arrangement in which member-owners pay no up-front costs and pay no more in loan costs than what otherwise would be paid to the member-owner’s electrical utility.

It is important to be aware of the fact that net metering never results in a cash payout from your utility company. The monetary value of your share of an array appears on your electrical bill every month and shows up in your personal finances on a savings in your electricity costs.

 

Can I sell my share?

Yes. Your share in a Community Owned Solar Project is fully transferable, provided that the new member-owner also has an electrical account in the project’s utility service area. Your share can also be transferred as part of a real estate transaction (i.e. if you sell your home) or through an estate or intestate transfer in the unfortunate event of a member’s passing.

Are there any special tax benefits for businesses that participate in a Community Owned Solar Project?

Yes. Businesses benefit from a 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit, and can cultivate additional tax benefits by claiming an accelerated depreciation, or so-called “double-declining depreciation.” For federal double-declining depreciation, business owners will need to have a registered business and a business federal tax burden. Depreciation value is based on the project price minus half of the Federal Tax Credit multiplied by your fed tax rate. The resulting number is called the "Depreciation Basis". Double Declining Depreciation uses the following depreciation schedule for solar: Year 1: 20% of the basis, Year 2: 32% of the basis, Year 3: 19.2% of the basis, Year 4: 11.5% of the basis, Year 5: 11.5% of the basis, Year 6: 5.8% of the basis.

Are there any special tax benefits for individuals that participate in a Community Owned Solar Project?

By participating in a Community Solar Project, you are entitled to a Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) on your personal income tax. The amount of the credit would be 30% of the value of your share of the array. Some developers retain the ITC to offset their own tax liability, but Aegis always passes the ITC on to the members of Community Solar Projects.

How is the LLC taxed?

The member-managed LLC does not generate any revenue or own any property other than the land that the solar farm is located on. As a result, the LLC does not have any tax liability beyond what is required to pay property taxes on the land, which is covered by annual membership dues.

 

Would we do better in some other Community Owned Solar Project?

Aegis works very hard to ensure that the buy-in cost is as low as possible. The per-watt buy-in cost from Aegis is $2.87, as compared to many of our competitors who charge upwards of $3.75 per watt. Additionally, many developers do not pass the Federal Investment Tax Credits (ITC) or the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to the member-owners, opting instead to retain and commoditize these credits for their own profit. Aegis never retains ITC or RECs from its Community Owned Solar Projects, ensuring that these benefits always go to the member-owners.
 

Could we do better with solar panels on our home or yard?

Not likely. Renters, individuals with limited roof space, or individuals with poor sun exposure on their roofs are not able to generate electricity at an economical rate. Additionally, residential solar is more expensive than the buy-in price for Aegis’ Community Owned Solar Projects. Whereas the cost of a Community Owned Solar Project with Aegis is fixed at $2.87 per watt, ground mount or roof mount on individual residences typically costs in excess of $4.00 per watt. Additionally, each 310-watt solar panel is approximately 3 feet wide by 6 feet long, and the typical allocation for the average Community Solar Project member-owner is about 15 panels. Even if you do have a properly-oriented roof, 15 panels would take up at least a 15 foot by 24 foot space. For a roof or back yard, this is a lot of space, whereas such an arrangement is easily accommodated in a community-scale solar farm.

 

Wind FAQ's

What type of wind turbine services does Aegis Renewable Energy offer?

Aegis Renewable Energy is an experienced wind integrator of commercial scale wind turbines. Aegis installs wind projects ranging in size from 100 kilowatts to multi megawatts.

 

What role does Aegis play in wind turbine installations?

Aegis typically fufills the role of full EPC (Engineer, Procurement, Construction) contractor and can also provide professional consulting services as well as serve as the owner's representative.

How do I know if I have a good site for wind?

A fatal flaw analysis provides a majority of the initial information required. The main areas that must be addressed for commercial wind projects include:

  • FAA determination of no hazard

  • Wind Speed

  • Utility Interconnection Approval

  • Permitting / Zoning

  • Siting (Utility of Space and/or Safety Concerns)

  • Site Access

  • Land Ownership

  • Funding

  • Incentive / Price of Electricity / Power Purchase Agreement

  • Lay Down Zone – Distance from adjoining properties and buildings

Are wind turbines affordable?

The biggest factor affecting affordability of wind power is the quality of the wind resource. Roughly speaking, every time you double your wind speed you generate eight times more power from the wind turbine.  A wind energy project at a location with an excellent wind resource will result in the lowest cost source of energy compared to all renewable or conventional fossil fuel energy generation technologies. The same project at a poor wind site however, will yield poor economics.

What are the business and state incentives to invest in wind energy?

Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit

In March 2009, the United States federal government offered an investment tax credit called the Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit for the installation of qualifying community-scale wind turbines up to 100 kW. 7

 

For larger scale projects, the US government also offers a Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit and a Business Energy Investment Tax Credit.
 

Federal Production Tax Credit

The Federal Production Tax Credit (PTC) is a great incentive for businesses to keep electricity rates low and to encourage more development within the renewable energy sector. 15

 

Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency

Take a look at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE) web site to find your own state’s eligibility for these credits: www.dsireusa.org/.

 

What benefits can a wind energy plant provide for my community and the economy as a whole?

  • Because the wind is a free commodity, wind turbines can provide decades of rate stable energy.

  • Because wind energy in good locations provides the lowest cost form of electricity, our electricity costs will be lower and consistent long term.

  • Turbine owners receive benefits in the form of renewable energy credits, tax incentives, and smaller energy bills.  7

  • Citizens can feel good about helping the environment and reducing their dependence on fossil fuels that produce greenhouse gases.

  • There is no hazardous waste, emissions, or water use.

  • Roughly 500,000 jobs could be supported by the US wind industry, including production of project materils and equipment as well as maintenance services. 6

How much energy can be produced by wind here in the US?

The wind power potential in the United States alone equals about 37 trillion kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, which is about ten times the existing need for energy in the country. 1

Are wind turbines loud?

A typical sound level from a community scale turbine can range from 50-100dBA, depending on wind strength, turbine placement, and the distance from the turbine itself. 3  Human speech is roughly 65dBA. 4


Larger turbines create more sound, but are often further away from residential areas and homes. The level of sound decreases rapidly at farther distances. 4


The strongest epidemiological study suggests that there is not an association between noise from wind turbines and measures of psychological distress or mental health problems. 5
 

Measured levels of infrasound from modern turbines at distances of over 60m were too low to produce non-auditory perceptions, or feelings of vibrations. 5

What effect do wind turbines have on bird populations?

The National Academy of Science has estimated that bird deaths due to the wind industry has been about 3 of every 100,000 deaths caused by humans. Humans have more of an impact on bird populations than wind turbines do. Tall buildings and glass windows have proven to be more hazardous to birds causing in excess of 500 million deaths per year. 9  Cats also kill up to 100 million birds per year. By contrast, of all of the 50,000 utility scale wind turbines in the US there are only an estimated 50,000 avian deaths annually.

Do Environmental Groups Support Wind Energy?

The wind industry has collaborated with numerous state and federal environmental groups and organizations to ensure the safety of wildlife, including the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Audubon Society (NAS).
 

These collaborations have spurred the formations of wildlife conscious wind organizations such the Wind Turbine Guidelines Federal Advisory Committee, Bats and Wind Energy Cooperative (BWEC), and the American Wind Wildlife Institute (AWWI).
 

The Audubon Society supports wind energy, calling it “a clean alternative energy source that reduces the threat of global warming”. With proper federal regulations and collaboration, measures have been taken to ensure the safety of fragile wildlife. 10

Will property values decrease for homes located close to turbines?

In a multi-site hedonic analysis, it was concluded that homes within the surrounding area of a wind energy facility were not adversely affected and property values did not decrease, regardless of proximity to the site. 16
 

Any negative effects of noise or shadow flicker are only noticeable within a short radius of a wind energy facility. 16
Sales prices of homes are not measurably affected within a five mile radius of a turbine or wind farm.

 

How does wind energy production combat climate change?

Wind energy facilities combat climate change daily by producing energy that is both emission and waste byproduct free.

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a study regarding the feasibility of generating 20% of the energy needed to fuel the United States with wind power by 2030. 18
 

  • It was deemed feasible by the Department of Energy even without any significant advances in the technology. 18
     

  • Cumulatively, this would reduce CO2 emissions by 7600 million metric tons and reduce water consumption by over four trillion gallons.
     

  • This “20% by 2030” plan would displace 50% of natural gas energy and 18% of coal produced energy, lowering prices in the energy sector.

 

Wind in Comparison…

Generation of the same amount of energy from today’s US wind turbines (producing over 25,000 MW) would require over 36 million tons of coal or 110 million barrels of oil per year. 19
 

Adding just 16,000 MW to the United States wind energy capacity would prevent 43 million tons of CO2 emissions into the atmosphere. 19

Are wind turbines ugly?

Wind turbines have been represented by anti-wind campaigns as an intrusion on natural beauty and unattractive. Aesthetics will always be a matter of opinion. Wind proponents generally see wind turbines as one of the most functional forms of ecological art.

 

Are wind turbines safe?

Wind turbines are extremely safe when designed, installed, and maintained regularly by knowledgeable professionals.
 

What about “Wind Turbine Syndrome”?

A study done by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health revealed that:
 

  • “There is no evidence for a set of health effects from exposure to wind turbines that could be characterized as a Wind Turbine Syndrome.”
     

  • “There is insufficient evidence to determine whether there is an association between noise from wind turbines and annoyance independent from the effects of seeing a wind turbine and vice versa.” 5
     

Is shadow flicker harmful?

Scientific evidence suggests there is not enough photic stimulation from shadow flicker to result in epileptic seizures. 20
 

  • Shadow flicker would occur at most for a period of 30 minutes a day in any given location due to the earth’s rotation. 5

  • Shadow flicker can be annoying to some individuals which is why Aegis always performs a shadow flicker analysis on every project we build. This analysis provides an exact calculation of number of minutes per year that a specific location would experience shadow flicker.
     

Wind related Casualties?

In the past 30+ years since modern wind technology has arisen, there have been no reported “civilian deaths” due to wind turbines.
 

  • In fact, since 1975, only 32 deaths or injuries to wind industry workers have been reported in the entire world. 21

 

 Wind References

 

  1. NREL, Wind Resource Potential, 2010

  2. AWEA, U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2012 Market Report, 2012

  3. P. Migliore, J. van Dam, A. Huskey. Acoustic Tests of Small Wind Turbines. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, National Wind Technology Center. Colorado, USA

  4. Katsaprakakis, Dimitris Al. "A review of the environmental and human impacts from wind parks. A case study for the Prefecture of Lasithi, Crete." Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 16.5 (2012): 2850+. Academic OneFile. Web. 18 June 2012.

  5. Wind Turbine Health Impact Study: Report of Independent Expert Panel. Prepared for: Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (Massachusetts Department of Public Health) January 2012.

  6. An Analysis of Federal Incentives Used to Stimulate Energy Production (U.S. Department of Energy, Pacific Northwest Laboratory Operated by Battelle Memorial Institute, December 1978) and Analysis of Federal Expenditures of Energy Development (Management Information Services, Inc (MISI)., September 2008).

  7. United States Department of Energy, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Wind Program. 2011. http://www1.eere.energy.gov/wind/

  8. “The effect of Wind Development on Local Property Values” REPP, 2003. www.repp.org

  9. “A Study of the Potential Effects of a Small Wind Turbine on Bird and Bat Mortality at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center, Erie, Pennsylvania,” Dr. Kenneth W. Anderson, Gannon University, 12 December 2008.

  10. Testimony of Mike Daulton, Director of Conservation Policy. National Audubon Society. Audubon Congressional Testimony on Wind Power. 2007. http://policy.audubon.org/audubon-congressional-testimony-wind-power

  11. Gareth Hatch. “How Does The Use Of Permanent Magnets Make Wind Turbines More Reliable?” Terra Magnetica, 2009. http://www.terramagnetica.com/2009/08/03/how-does-using-permanent-magnets-make-wind-turbines-more-reliable/

  12.  Nerg, Janne, et al. "Dynamic torque analysis of a wind turbine drive train including a direct-driven permanent-magnet generator." IEEE Transactions on Industrial Electronics 58.9 (2011): 3859+. Academic OneFile. Web. 18 June 2012.

  13.  NREL Cost Curve, in Black & Veatch Report, October 2007

  14. Kent Saathoff. Grid Operations and Planning Report. ERCOT Board of Directors. January 18, 2011 (Ercot Public).

  15.  Union of Concerned Scientists. Clean Energy and Renewables. http://www.ucsusa.org/clean_energy/

  16.  Hoen, Ben. “The Impact of Wind Power Projects on Residential Property Values in the United States: A Multi-Site Hedonic Analysis”. Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Environmental Energy Technologies Division. 2009

  17. Hinman, Jennifer. “Wind Farm Proximity and Property Values: A Pooled Hedonic Regression Analysis of Property Values in Central Illinois”. Illinois State University. 2010.

  18.  20% Wind Energy by 2030, U.S. Department of Energy. 2008. http://www.20percentwind.org

  19. Transmission Expansion Plan, Vision Exploratory Study, Midwest ISO. 2006. http://www.midwestiso.org/page/Expansion+Planning

  20. Epilepsy Foundation. (n.d.). Photosensitivity and Epilepsy. http://www.epilepsyfoundation.org/about/photosensitivity/

  21. Paul Gipe. “Deaths in Wind Energy Database”. Copyright 2006. 

Aegis Renewable Energy, Inc.

340 Mad River Park, Suite 6

Waitsfield Vermont 05673

802.560.0055

info@aegis-re.com

© 2016 Aegis Renewable Energy, Inc.