Services   |   Projects   |   News & Events   |   Blog   |    About Us

Jim Kurtz, 
Key Learning from 2016's Record Year: 
Solar Fueling Growth & Opportunities

No matter how you analyze 2016-the fa lling module prices, the accelerating pace of installation, and the ongoing development in new materials and efficiencies-it was a groundbreaking year for solar. The solar industry today is made up of nearly 8,000 companies across the US that employ more people than the coal industry, providing good paying jobs for tens of thousands of people.

More and more people understand the economic benefits that come from solar energy, and it is exciting to be at the forefront of this industry. Perhaps most telling when we look at our firm's history and growth, is the number of our customers who are providing us with repeat business.  In fact, 50% of our sales last year were with customers who already had one array.  What does that mean?  Simply: businesses that do solar, do more solar because they see the cost savings, reliability and goodwill these systems provide.

Obviously, it takes more than repeat business to achieve the kind of growth we have been seeing. Here are a few key trends that we expect will make an impact in 2017 and beyond.

US National Average Natural Gas Price

The Cost of Natural Gas  

Today businesses are particularly attracted to solar as a hedge against future energy cost increases now that the U.S. has become a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 60 years. Because natural gas prices (which are the core driver of electricity costs) are significantly higher outside our borders, U.S. producers of natural gas will seek to sell in those markets, leading to an increase in U.S. natural gas prices this year, a trend that is only expected to accelerate in the coming years.

The graph above provides important data on recent cost trends that experts are predicting will have a significant impact on electrical costs going forward.  Specifically, this graph shows that the price of natural gas has gone up by 22% in the last 12 months.


Utilities are Beginning to be Part of the Solar Solution

One trend we find particularly encouraging is utilities embracing solar as part of their generation portfolios.  Many of their customers are asking for solar, and we think that trend will continue.  At the same time, utilities across the country are learning that it is better to offer their own solar solutions than try to buck the trend of rapid solar growth.

There is significant experimentation with the ways utilities offer solar solutions to their customers.  We partnered in 2016 with the Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) in Iowa to create the largest community solar project in that state. The utility purchased the array and offered the resulting savings to customers who participated in their solar program.  The model made sense for all: the utility, the customers and the environment, and we think CFU's model will work in many other locations as well.

Turn-Key Services

While the benefits of solar are easy to understand, getting a project from idea to execution requires a wide range of expertise.   RER excels at overcoming hurdles and managing the complexity of these projects, with deep competence in design, engineering, financing, legal, and project management, our team brings projects over the finish line.  This turnkey capability has allowed us to grow by serving our clients, and also partnering with other developers to help them complete projects that have gotten stalled along the way.

What about the Change in Administration?

The major federal incentive is the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) that was passed with broad bi-partisan support at the end of 2015, and is set to decline over time already.  As over 80% of the public believes the country should use more solar energy, it would seem unlikely that the administration would have much appetite to change this core incentive. Having said that, the cost of solar has fallen so far, that even if the ITC were to go away, this would not likely meaningfully interrupt the rapid pace of solar growth.  Indications are that the effective cost of energy without federal tax credits would increase from $0.03~$0.04 per kWh to just $0.04~$0.05 for the next 20 to 30 years.  If you consider that most businesses are paying $0.05~$0.10 today, and remember that their current electric price is likely to increase over that same time period, it is pretty clear that solar is here to stay.
2016 was an incredibly exciting time, and we expect to see even more of that excitement in 2017 as so many organizations realize-and act on-the benefits that come along with  fuel provided by the sun.


Jim Kurtz, President, RER Energy Group

Upcoming Solar Seminars for Commercial and Non-Profit Organizations Who Want to Save Money on Their Electric Bills

Register Here for Our Next Upcoming Seminar: 


March 3, 2017:  9:00 to 11 AM and 12:30 to 2:30 PM

ABC Contractors, Manheim Office, Manheim, PA

Save the Date for Seminars Coming Soon:

March 16, 2017: 5:30 to 7:00 PM

German American Chamber of Commerce at Landmark, 158 Gay St., West Chester, PA.

March 24, 2017: 8:30 to 10:30 AM

Office of Baker Tilly, Allentown, PA 


Click Here to be Notified When Seminar Times are Set


Solar is a Powerful Engine for the Economy:

According to the Department of Energy, US solar now employs more workers than all other energy sources combined.

U.S. solar employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy's second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

Everything is Bigger in Texas-Will Solar be the Next Big Thing?

Texas. With so much sunshine-the National Renewable E nergy Lab (NREL) ranks it first in terms of solar potential-Texas holds tremendous promise for solar growth in the coming years. It's no surprise
then, that the state has made such gains in installed solar.

Project Specifications:
Location: Trumbauersville, PA
Size: 602.55 kW
Annual Generation: 712,000 kWh
Electric Usage Offset: 45%

Thanks to the return of strong solar economics in Pennsylvania, AGP was able to make good on their long-standing desire to move towards renewable energy with this project.


Project Specifications:
Location:  Walworth, NY
1,567 kW
Annual Generation:1,844,067 kWh

When the electric bill for the sewer treatment in the town of Walworth went from $13,000 per month to over $26,000 they knew they had to do something.

With a Solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) put into place through partner New Energy Equity, the Town of Walworth will have lower energy prices without the worry of unexpected rate hikes for the life of the agreement. Savings they will tap even with no upfront cost to them to build the array.


Project Specifications:
Location:  Village of Clifton Springs, NY

Size: 360 kW Ground Mount
Annual Generation: The two arrays at Clifton Springs are estimated to produce a combined total of 421,533 kWh.
Electric Usage Offset: 86%

RER installed two arrays for the Village of Clifton Springs that will help offset 86% of the town's total kWh yearly usage, not including street lighting.


Project Specifications:
Hagerstown, MD
Size: 959.5 kW Ground/Roof Mount Hybrid
Annual Generation: 1,200,000 kWh
Electric Usage Offset: Nearly 100%
This solar project is expected to produce approximately 1.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity per year and save the organization an estimated $950,000 over the life of the 25-year agreement.
The cost to install solar has dropped 
by more than 70% in the past ten years. 
Learn how your organization
can lock in energy costs of $0.03-$0.04 cents 
per kilowatt hour for 30 years or more.