Two years ago SolarYpsi received an anonymous donation that was used to install solar power on six non-profits in Ypsilanti. HomePower magazine just published an article about that project. You can read it online here. SOLUTIONS: PV Installations for Nonprofits
Saturday was a beautiful day and we had about a dozen volunteers show up for the Ypsi Fire Station solar installation. It was done in about seven hours! Thanks to the Ypsi Fire Department and DPW for moving the material to the roof. We had volunteers from Ypsi, Ann Arbor, and St.Louis. They ranged in age from 20 to 70 years old. Their skills varied from novice to profession solar installers. Having all the material on the roof made the job go fast. Everyone had fun and seem to enjoy themselves. As the old saying goes, “Many hands make light work”. It was like an Amish barn raising for solar power. We now have 50kW on our local Fire Station. The solar contractor, John Wakemen, is wiring it up this week and we hope to have it wrapped up in a few weeks. Pictures posted at SolarYpsi and many volunteers posted more on FaceBook.
Today on WEMU I heard that Ann Arbor announced that they want to be a “Solar Ready” city, Ann Arbor Wants To Become A ‘Solar Ready’ Community”. What’s interesting is the article says they currently have about 150kW of installed solar. I always wondered how much solar power our neighbors to the west had installed.
“As part of the city’s climate action plan, the council is considering approving a resolution to make Ann Arbor a “solar ready community.” They want to generate 24 megawatts by the year 2025. Council member Chip Smith from the 5th ward says right now that number is about 150 kilowatts a year.”
I checked the SolarYpsi map today and Ypsilanti has 184.6 kW of installed solar! This is pretty impressive for a city 1/5th the size.
In the spirit of friendly competition, I encourage all Ypsilantian to call a solar contractor today and get a quote for your home. The typical home needs about 5kW to be 100% solar powered, but something as small at 3kW can still make economic sense. At about $3/watt installed, so a 3kW system could cost about $10,000 and you’ll get 30% of that back on your Federal taxes.
SolarYpsi is also seeking funds to make solar rebates through the City. If anyone has any leads on philanthropic people/organizations that would be willing to fund a solar rebate project, please contact me.
Install some solar on your home today and keep Ypsilanti in the lead.
As the number of solar installations grows in Ypsilanti and on the SolarYpsi website, it was getting harder to organize the data and cross checking the data to make sure everything was correct. (This is a GOOD problem!) Also, with the SolarYpsi.org developer, Nik Estep, moving on to other projects we needed to find a new developer and give them the task of making a new SolarYpsi installation page.
Introducing Josh Taylor from SAMSA. SAMSA is a web development company located in downtown Ypsilanti. SolarYpsi hired Josh to make some changes to the internals of the SolarYpsi website and to create a new “Installation” page for the website. Josh did a great job very quickly. The new page (screen shot below) now allows the visitor to sort the solar installations on the Name, Panel type, Inverter type, Installer, Wattage, Number of pictures, or the Video link. This make it quick to navigate the many different types of solar installations and also makes it easy for SolarYpsi to look for errors in the descriptions. Go ahead and clink the link to check it out.
Please post any feedback to the new page layout in the comments. We can consider them for the next set of updates. If you’re walking around Ypsi’s downtown, wave to Josh through the windows at 7 S. Washington. (and look at the latest solar installation in progress at the Growing Hope Farmer’s Market.)
SolarYpsi was featured on Michigan Radio’s “Stateside with Cynthia Canty” Next Idea. You can read their blog posting and hear the interview here.
Please let me know if you know of a donor willing to fund a solar project in Ypsilanti. I can pair them up with a non-profit(s) to install solar power on their building and lower their operating costs.
2015 was another record year for solar installations in Ypsilanti with 8 new locations. Most of these came from our wonderful anonymous donor who funded solar projects on six non-profits in town. These locations included the Ypsi District Library, Parkridge Community Center, Ypsi Senior Center, Washtenaw International High School (WiHi), the Corner Health Center, and the Ypsi Department of Public Services (DPS on Forest). Add to this a couple of residential solar installations, and we’re climbing our way to a 1000 solar roofs.
While we’re only at 33 solar installations so far, Ypsilanti made a lot of progress towards a large solar farm in town. When DTE announced plans for a large solar installation near the Ann Arbor airport, the community rallied and started asking questions about the proposed solar installation for the City-owned property near exit 183 on I94. With over 800 signatures on a petition asking DTE to reevaluate Ypsilanti for a large solar installation, they found a suitable
location on the north end of town in the Highland Cemetery. So far, everything is on track for this project to start in the spring.
The Mott Foundation funded a report looking at the state of renewable energies in the State of Michigan and Ypsilanti was one of seven communities they investigated. The report showed that Ypsilanti had the most solar installations of all the communities! You can see the report here.
Eastern Michigan University continues to send students to learn about solar power first hand and several term papers have been written about solar power in Ypsilanti.
The SolarYpsi.org website continues to grow with a total of 63 locations on the website. If you haven’t seen the aerial videos that Cameron Getto has been putting together, you can check them out here. They are amazing!
SolarYpsi gave 17 face-to-face presentations in 2015 reaching another 282 people first hand and answering questions. These included one-on-one meetings with home owners and large events like the National Solar Tour and the annual Michigan Energy Fair.
Ypsilanti now has 173,635 watts of installed solar power or (173,635/19,809) 8.7 watts per capita. While this is still a tiny number, if we add in the proposed 800kW solar installation at the cemetery we’ll have (973,635/19,809) 49.1 watt per capita. If we can get a few more watts installed, we’ll be one of Environment America’s Shining Cities with over 50 watts per capita.
The only sad news this year was that our long time developer of the SolarYpsi.org website is moving on to new opportunities, and we need to find a new web developer.
Here’s to another banner year for solar power in 2016 bringing Ypsilanti closer to becoming a Solar Destination!
As most of you know, SolarYpsi has not incorporated nor a 501(c)3, so we can’t directly receive any year end donations. However, I would like to suggest to everyone a way to “Double Dip” on your charitable contributions this year. Consider giving the gift of solar power instead of cash to your favorite charity.
Whether you love animal shelters, food banks, health centers, farmer’s markets, or any other organization doing great work, instead of giving cash consider giving a solar donation. This way you help both the charitable organization and grow solar power in our community.
Ask the organizations you support if they have solar power or would consider installing solar power on their building. Ask them if you can give a directed donation to go towards a solar installation on their building. If the organization needs help understanding solar power, SolarYpsi can help explain solar power and help them design a system for their building.
If we assume the receiving organization uses the same amount of power as a typical Michigan home of 600 kWh per month, a 5000 watt solar installation would make them 100% solar powered. A solar contractor should be able to install a typical system for about $3/watt, so a project would cost the organization about $15,000. Just yesterday I looked at my DTE bills for 2015 and added up all my charges and divide it by all the power I purchased and I’m paying about $0.19/kWh. This 5000 watt installation would make (20 kWh/day * $0.19/kWh * 365 days) $1,387 worth of power per year. A $15,000 donation for a solar installation would actually give the organization a minimum of $41,610 worth of power over the next 30 years.
The gift of solar power is the gift that keeps on giving and can supply power to an organization for the next 30 years! This frees up operations funds for doing more good in our community.
SolarYpsi’s founding web developer, Nik Estep , is moving on to new projects, so we need to find a new person or company to take on the tasks of maintaining the website. The website uses MySQL, PHP, Google analytics, HTML, Google maps, cron jobs, Word Press, QR tags, and uses an API to pull data from the Enphase solar data collection site to plot locally on SolarYpsi. The website currently uses GitHub to manage bug fixes and feature requests.
The code base is very stable with over 60 solar installations map on the website. The content is added by other people, but the SolarYpsi web developer would need to fix occasional issues and implement new features as we grow the number of installations to hundreds of locations. Current feature requests include a way to sort the locations by size, installer, type of equipment, etc. We would also like to start pulling data from SolarEdge’s using their API. Any new ideas and/or feature would be welcomed.
Contact Dave@Strenski.com if you’re interested in helping out. We don’t have any money, so this would be a volunteer position.
Michigan Saves has just published two new reports, one profiling the clean energy efforts in seven Michigan communities, which features Ypsilanti as one of those communities. The other is a statewide profile of energy use and deployment of four clean energy technologies.
Page 9 shows a graph where Ypsilanti is tie with Holland Michigan for the most “Net Metering Capacity” and another graph that shows Ypsilanti with the most “Net Metering Installations”. A summary of Ypsilanti’s efforts starts on page 35 and starts with this paragraph.
“Ypsilanti is a city of almost 20,000 people located in southeast Michigan near Ann Arbor. Ypsilanti has been a leader in deploying clean energy technologies, particularly at the community level. Programs like BetterBuildings for Michigan and SolarYpsi, a grassroots effort of private individuals/solar energy advocates, have been successful in reducing energy and expanding renewable energy use in the community. Residents and businesses are engaged in sustainability issues, and city staff believe that residents and businesses choose to locate there because of the sustainability ethos in the community.”
Let’s install more solar power and become the “Solar Destination” of the Midwest.