Greenbridge2 3x4
February 5, 2016 | Jen Olson

We see it all of the time: When one homeowner on the block installs solar, others follow.

By installing solar on your house, you get to set an example for others in your neighborhood and community.

Sometimes neighbors can have questions about your new system and might even challenge the installation. Here are a couple of things to know:

Can my HOA ban my solar energy system?

No. State law in both Washington and Oregon prevents homeowner associations from outright prohibiting the installation of solar PV systems as long as the system meets all health, safety and performance standards required by state and local permitting authorities.

We’ve had dozens of customers over the years who belonged to an HOA. We’ve found that many times, the design that we include in our quote is enough to soothe concerns. We are also happy to meet with the HOA board, answer any questions, and go through the state law to show how our system will comply.

Here are some helpful links from Northwest Solar Communities about HOAs and solar:

HOAs & Solar PV
HOA Letter from Oregon Department of Energy
Solar on Condos

Will my system cause glare for my neighbors?

This shouldn’t happen. The whole goal of a solar panel is to absorb, not reflect, sunlight. In fact, solar panels incorporate anti-reflective glass that’s rated for installation at airports where glare is a serious concern for pilots.

IMG_1842
January 4, 2016 | Jen Olson

The six employee-owners of A&R Solar ended 2015 by making donations to local and national organizations working to improve our communities.

Each of the organizations received $2,500, totalling $15,000.

Employees are eligible for ownership after three years of employment. Owners also made year-end donations in December 2014.

In addition to the December giving, A&R Solar donated $2,800 each to Jubilee REACH and the Interlake High School Robotics Team, as well as a solar energy system valued at $25,000 to the KidsQuest Children’s Museum as part of the Solarize Bellevue campaign.

In February, we donated a 1kW system valued at $6,750 to the Hanford Challenge Auction, which we will be doing again in 2016.

kingoftheworld-no-top-ladder
December 21, 2015 | Jen Olson

Congress has passed a five-year extension to the federal Solar Income Tax Credit (ITC), which allows homeowners and businesses to claim a significant income tax credit based on the cost of their solar energy systems.

The 30 percent tax credit was scheduled to expire at the end of 2016 and will now extend through 2019. In 2020, the credit will drop to 26 percent and then to 22 percent in 2021. Non-residential solar systems will continue to qualify for a 10 percent tax credit indefinitely, even after incentives run out for residential systems.

A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction of the federal income tax you owe.

Renewable energy activists urged Congress to pass the extension, which President Barack Obama signed Friday as part of an overall spending bill, to give the industry more time to mature and to allow for advances and investments in technology.

Analysts believe the extension will significantly boost the adoption of renewable energy for both residential and commercial sectors. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) estimates that 20 gigawatts will be added, more than every solar panel installed prior to 2015.

The extension comes on the heels of the historic 2015 Paris Climate Conference where delegates from 195 countries approved a global agreement on halting climate change.

Wind energy also receive an extension to its tax credits.

The new language in the law clarifies that the tax credit for homeowners is based on the placed date of service, which is when the system passes final inspection. Going forward for businesses and investors, it will be based on the year the project begins construction.

Tesla Powerwall
December 8, 2015 | Jen Olson

Tesla Motors’ announced its rechargeable lithium-ion battery product called Powerwall in April, and solar customers and industry insiders haven’t stopping talking about it.

For a product that isn’t even available to the broader public yet, we get asked about it on a weekly basis.

Simply put, the Powerwall stores energy. For example, it could bank the excess energy produced from a home’s solar energy system during a sunny day for use at night or to provide backup power if the utility is down. Some industry analysts believe that it could eventually allow many utility customers to entirely power their own homes without the need to be connected to the utility grid.

We’ve been monitoring the Powerwall’s release and some of the testing being done in the United States.

Here are some points to know about the Powerwall from a recent interview with a battery expert:

  • The price point is about 30 percent higher than traditional lead-acid batteries that are used in most backup systems.
  • Tesla’s 10-year warranty is about 2-3 times longer than lead-acid batteries.
  • The best current use of the Powerwall? “…as a supplement for peak usage periods seems to be one of the best applications of this system, whereas using it as a back up battery just for an emergency situation probably isn’t the best use of the unit considering the price point.”
  • If the price point can drop 50 percent, then adoption could be widespread, especially if utilities are reluctant to allow or adopt policies that encourage businesses and homeowners to generate their own power through such methods as solar.
  • A “glitch” exists between the requirements in the National Electrical Code (NEC) and the voltage of the Powerwall. The code says that if you have batteries, they can’t exceed 48 volts, but the operating voltage of the Powerwall is between 300-450 volts. This means that either the NEC will have to change or the Powerwall.

Tesla might be the most recognizable name in the battery storage field, but there will be a lot of competition, and perhaps more importantly, a lot of research and development over the next several years. As battery competition and adoption increases, prices will drop and become more affordable for the average homeowner.

A&R Solar has installed several battery backup systems for customers who would rather not wait for the pricing or technology to improve. If you are interested in learning more, give us a call.

Harbor History Museum Solar
October 22, 2015 | Jen Olson

A&R Solar wrapped up installation of a unique community solar project in Gig Harbor.

The 60 kW system is installed on the Harbor History Museum, a nonprofit that houses the history of the Gig Harbor Peninsula and serves as a community gathering place.

Many community solar projects are ground mounted systems, making the museum project unique. The 216 Made-in-Washington Itek solar panels sit atop the large roof.

Peninsula Light customers are able to purchase units at $100 each. PenLight anticipates that each unit could provide a return of $33 per unit per year, based on state incentives, meaning each customer could recoup their investment by the end of the third year. There are 1,850 units available, and the deadline to sign up is November 6th.

Community solar allows people to participate in solar who want renewable energy but may not have the money to purchase a system of their own. It also makes it possible for those who rent or do not have a suitable location to go solar.

The project is a partnership among PenLight, the museum, and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. A&R Solar is the solar contractor.

Sign up for the project on the PenLight website.

Grow Install Crew1 4x6
October 22, 2015 | Jen Olson

A revenue-neutral carbon tax campaign is gathering signatures to promote both clean energy and fairer taxes in Washington State.

Initiative 732 would bring the issue to the Legislature, forcing lawmakers to either pass the measure in spring 2016 or send it to voters on the November 2016 ballot.

I-732 encourages greater use of clean and renewable energy by taxing carbon pollution and accelerating the adoption of renewable energy, such as solar and wind power. It would also lower the sales tax rate by a full percentage point. Washington has the most regressive tax code in the nation, and people with the lowest incomes pay the greatest percentage of their income in taxes. I-732 would help make our state tax code more progressive.

The initiative would:

  • Add a tax to fossil fuels
  • Cut the state sales tax by 1 cent per dollar
  • Reduce the B&O tax on manufacturing
  • Provide a tax credit of up to $1,500 a year for 400,000 low-income households

I-732 has bipartisan support, including Bill Finkbeiner, former Republican Senate Majority Leader, Ron Sims, former King County Executive, and Mike McGinn, former Seattle Mayor.
Please sign the petition if you see them in public, or visit carbonwa.org to donate funds or volunteer your time in the field.

Fastest Growing Companies-AR Solar
October 22, 2015 | Jen Olson

A&R Solar has been named one of Washington’s fastest-growing privately-held companies by the Puget Sound Business Journal.

The company’s revenue grew more than 144 percent over the previous year, recording a record annual revenue of $5.76 million in 2014.

A&R was also named a fastest-growing company in 2014 and 2013.

To make the list, companies must be privately held, headquartered in Washington State, have recorded revenue of at least $500,000 in 2012 and demonstrated revenue growth through 2014. The chief executive officer or chief financial officer must submit in writing — and personally vouch for — company revenues for the past three years.

The Business Journal calculates the revenue growth percentages by which the companies are ranked. Seattle and Bellevue each have 30 of the state’s fastest-growing companies, followed by Redmond with 10 and Kirkland with seven.

Small_Business_Awards_logo
October 22, 2015 | Jen Olson

King County Small Business Awards--A&R SolarA&R Solar won in the Workforce Development category of the King County Executive’s Small Business Awards.

The awards celebrate the achievements of small businesses in several categories. The winners were selected by a panel of judges from local jurisdictions and business organizations.

“This award really speaks to our core values of craftsmanship, passion, and making sure our employees have the resources to do their best work, regardless of position or level,” said CEO Reeves Clippard.

Avista Community Solar
September 29, 2015 | Jen Olson

A&R Solar helped construct the largest community solar project in Washington. The Spokane Valley system went online in September 2015 and will serve more than 500 residential and commercial customers.

The 425 kW ground-mounted solar array is the biggest facility to use all Washington-made equipment. The Avista Utilities array has 1,512 panels and is large enough to power about 50 households.

During the program, the array is estimated to over offset 4.2 million pounds of carbon dioxide, equivalent to planting about 7,000 trees.

Avista customers can choose to sign up for the program and pay $1,400 for a single panel. Each participant should receive about $1,800 back over five years due to state tax incentives and receive credits on their power bills for the energy produced.

Community solar allows people to own a small stake in a large solar array, and the production is credited on their utility bills. It lets people participate in renewable energy who don’t have homes suitable for solar panels (including renters), those looking for an alternative to investing in a home system, or homeowners who can’t afford the investment.

After the tax incentive expires in June 2020, ownership of the panels will revert to Avista. The system should keep producing electricity for at least 25 years.

staff accountant
September 28, 2015 | Jen Olson

A&R Solar is looking for a rock star Staff Accountant to join our team as a full-time member in Seattle.

In this role you will maintain the day-to-day accounting functions, accruals, financial statement preparation, and perform general accounting functions, as required. You’ll work directly with the CFO to run the proverbial accounting ship.

Start your application here.

Why join A&R Solar? We are changing the world! This is an exciting opportunity for you to join one of the fastest-growing private companies in Washington according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. In addition to offering an exciting work environment with growth opportunities, we were also a finalist for Washington’s Best Workplaces in 2015.

So what do we do? A&R Solar is a leading Washington solar energy installation and design firm. Employee-owned and based in Seattle, A&R Solar specializes in residential and commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. We design and install solar energy systems for homeowners, businesses and government agencies throughout Washington State. In this role you will work hard and have fun supporting a company that stands for quality and excellence with products that empower people to take the reins of their energy future.

Ideal candidates will need to have expert knowledge of Intuit QuickBooks and have at least 5 years of progressive accounting experience.

Responsibilities:

  • Full cycle Accounts Receivable, including preparation of customer invoicing through installment method and maintaining customer and vendor records
  • Full cycle Accounts Payable
  • Reconcile bank and credit card accounts
  • Reconcile all balance sheet accounts; reviewing for input accuracy and prepare monthly reports and journal entries, as needed
  • Prepare & process bi-weekly payroll, including withholdings for taxes and benefits
  • Administration of quarterly business and payroll taxes
  • Administration of 401k and health benefits plans, as they pertain to payroll functions
  • Prepare monthly Profit & Loss statements and Balance Sheet
  • Maintain required business and financial documents
  • Prepare annual 1099’s
  • Assistance with the annual budget and audit process
  • Setup and maintain vendor accounts, prepare statement reconciliation and handle discrepancies
  • Deposit and cash reports
  • Prepare and/or review all expense reports for accuracy and proper expense disclosure
  • Work closely with Operations team to generate job cost data and profitability reports
  • Provide routine accounting and payroll support for office and field employees
  • Other duties as assigned

Qualifications:

  • Bachelor’s degree in Accounting or similar field (MBA Preferred)
  • 5+ years of progressive accounting experience, required
  • Expert proficiency of Intuit QuickBooks (5 years minimum experience required)
  • Extensive knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office Suite (Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook)
  • Ability to prioritize and multi-task in a fast paced work environment
  • Highly organized and detail oriented
  • Able to complete tasks accurately and timely with minimal supervision
  • Strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Thrives in a collaborative, team player office environment
  • Ability to interface well with staff and external contacts of the Authority
  • Proven ability to maintain confidentiality

Start your application here.

A&R Solar offers a great working environment and culture as well as a competitive salary and comprehensive benefits package that includes medical, vision and dental coverage, an employer-matched 401(k) plan, flexible work hours, employee ownership opportunities and other employee perks.

A&R Solar is committed to building a culturally diverse workplace and strongly encourages applications from military veterans and female and minority candidates.