December 14, 2023

California Title 24, also known as the California Energy Code, sets energy efficiency standards for residential and non-residential buildings in the state. Oftentimes, customers hire us to satisfy the solar requirements for Title 24 compliance, but what they might not understand is the importance of bringing their solar subcontractor into the project earlier on.

We’ve said this before, and we’ll say it again. The sooner you bring your subcontractor into a project, the more time and money you can save. By considering this one thing from the beginning, you’ll be in a better position to complete your project on time, on budget, and with fewer complications.

If you want to work smarter and not harder to satisfy the code and get your construction permit, look no further. In this blog, we’ll break down what you need to know about Title 24’s solar requirements, and how you can get the most value from your subcontractor by avoiding common mistakes.

What is Title 24?

Simply put, Title 24 is the energy standard requirement for the state of California. It covers everything from the building materials to use, plumbing, water pressure, insulation, and more. It’s a broad reaching document that touches on anything that has to do with energy usage. This not only applies to buildings, but to parking canopies (AKA carports) as well.

Learn more about how we treat carports.

At Sepi, we manage the solar and the lighting requirements of Title 24. Although not every building needs to have solar to be Title 24 compliant, they do need to be “solar ready.” So, even if a building won’t have a solar system, it needs to be designed in a way that could accommodate one in the future. There are ways to do this cost-efficiently and many more ways to do this cost-inefficiently. Guess which approach we prefer to take?

According to Title 24, “solar ready” is essentially defined as a building that has a panel with a breaker that can accept PV. As you can see, this is a bit vague. Title 24 does address system sizing, energy production, interconnection, labeling, and a few other technical aspects, but it still leaves a lot to be interpreted. Because of this, we’re able to recommend a custom solution that best meets your building’s unique needs.

It’s also important to note that all newly-built California homes will require solar photovoltaic (PV) installations, which of course, is more expensive than simply being solar ready. Despite this requirement, we’ve been able to comply successfully with Title 24 in a few instances without solar PV. In these cases, the homeowner only needed to meet the “solar ready” provision, and this is because we discovered more efficient appliances and lighting fixtures to address Title 24.

Although energy efficient appliances are more expensive, they’re still less costly than a full solar system. When we can achieve Title 24 compliance without solar PV, we’re able to save homeowners as much as $30K from not having to build a new system.

Common Title 24 Mistakes

It’s no surprise that making mistakes can lead to expensive issues down the line. Because of this, a major benefit of working with a solar subcontractor is the ability to mitigate pitfalls before they happen. In our experience, these are some of the most common issues we see – all of which can be prevented by bringing in a solar subcontractor earlier on.

Not installing a line-side main breaker
For homes that require solar-ready compliance, we often recommend adding a line-side main breaker. This way, the homeowner won’t need to shut everything down just to facilitate the solar electrical connection. This approach also allows for more flexibility in terms of system size and configuration. Although this does add a small cost upfront, it’ll save money down the road if the homeowner later decides they want to add a solar system. If you address the code by just throwing in an extra breaker into the main panel, future configuration will become much more expensive and burdensome on the owner.

Failing to save wall space
We also recommend keeping extra wall space available in electrical rooms for future wall-mounted equipment. When architects try to minimize the size of the electrical room, it eliminates any chance for hiding the electrical equipment. If this happens, we’ll end up needing to put it outside where it’s visible. Not only does this defeat the entire point of having an indoor electrical room, but it’s a bit of an eyesore.

Forgetting to install stanchions or stand-offs on the roof
This one is a super common mistake. Sometimes, builders will call us to help identify the locations of the stand-offs so the roofer can seal in the attachments. In this scenario, we’ll usually ask the customer how many they need, and oftentimes, they don’t know. We’ll then ask how big their solar system is, and they often don’t have the answer to that either. That’s when we realize that we’ll need to start from scratch.

When this happens, we need to figure out the homeowner’s future load, extrapolate a PV system size, and then design the roof mounting locations based on that size. Sometimes, we even need to do all of this in as little as three weeks before the roofer arrives. We’ll always make sure to get you exactly what you need, but this is a stressful situation you probably won’t want to deal with. So, to save yourself time, money, and headaches, don’t forget to install your stanchions and stand-offs early on.

Not running empty conduits from the roof to the interior of the house
This one is becoming less and less common, but we included it because we still see this on occasion. When you don’t run empty conduits from the roof to the interior, we have to install an ugly conduit on the outside of the house. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it’s still something that can be easily mitigated with just a bit more planning.

The moral of the story is that we’d love to be involved in your Title 24 project as early as possible. Let’s get together sooner, avoid suboptimal retrofits, and get you the results you need.


November 30, 2023

Last year, we asked several Authority Having Jurisdictions (AHJs) about Underwriters Laboratory (UL)3741 – a code that defines safety protocols for rapid-shutdown PV arrays. Although the latest version of the standard is from December 8, 2020, several AHJs across the country had yet to adopt the 2020 NEC at the time we shared that blog. Now that we’re nearly three years removed from the introduction of UL3741, we thought it would be a great time to revisit this topic.

As you may already know, the purpose of UL3741 is to protect firefighters from electric shock on rooftops with solar panels. While similar safety standards have been in place for years, what differentiates UL3741 is its evaluation for product safety standards when a firefighter is on a building with PV. Because firefighters can’t necessarily protect the PV equipment when doing their jobs, these modules are subject to break. When this happens, electrical conductors can be damaged, which exposes the firefighter to potentially fatal conditions.

To achieve UL3741 certification, PV systems need to pass tests that simulate what happens when firefighters fall on damaged equipment. This also accounts for their standard personal protective equipment, the tools they use to put out fires, and their fire-proof chemicals.

However, the benefits of UL3741 go beyond firefighter safety. This new standard can also open doors for cost management by as much as $0.22 per watt. In this blog, we’ll walk you through the cost advantages of UL3741 and how you can get this certification. For more information on the UL3741 evaluation process, contact us to learn how we can help.

UL3741 Can Help Manage Costs

The key benefit of UL3741 for contractors is that it allows for new approaches to streamline construction. Before this standard, contractors had to work around rapid shutdown requirements that were both costly and time intensive. For a bit of context, the previous code required all installers to use module-level power electronics that could reduce each module’s voltage to 80 volts or less within 30 seconds. This may not be the biggest deal in the world for smaller residential solar systems, but it often creates a much more expensive issue for large, commercial rooftops.

Now with UL3741, the solar industry finally has more control over the cost of these systems, because the code allows for solutions that use fewer Module-Level Power Electronics (MLPE). Now, we’re able to create beyond the limitations of MLPE and consider alternative approaches for addressing firefighter safety. This is a major step forward, because it gives us more flexibility to comply with standards while also being more efficient and cost conscious. It’s a win for everyone.

Now that it’s no longer necessary to buy individual rapid-shutdown modules for each solar panel, we estimate a cost savings of around $0.22 per watt, not including any incremental labor savings. When all of this is added together, it can really make a significant difference! Not to mention, there are fewer components that have the potential to fail.

How to Get UL3741 Certified

To get certified, we’re finding that you need to consider the following.

  • Racking and inverters should be tested and listed together. Right now, PanelClaw and Sollega are compiling a list for all inverters, including Chint, SMA, Sungrow, Solectria, Fronius, and more.
  • The arrays should be less than 150′ x 150′. In addition, the wire must stay within the control boundary between the arrays and subarrays, or you’ll need to put additional inverters and racking at the control boundary.
  • The goal is to keep the arrays as rectangular as possible to maintain the control boundary. The less “regular” the array is, the more likely that traditional rapid shutdown devices might make more sense.

To have the greatest chance of a successful AHJ inspection, it’s also important for contractors to fully understand the requirements of their specific AHJ. This will start becoming more straightforward as the solar industry moves toward wider implementation of UL3741. In addition, more MLPE manufacturers are creating productions that are UL3741 compliant, and racking manufacturers are selling systems that allow for string voltages of up to 1,000 Volts Direct Current without MLPEs.

The Sepi Standard

At Sepi, we analyze the technical, economic, and regulatory issues to uncover the best approach for your energy infrastructure. This includes revenue analysis, site evaluation, interconnection, and more. To learn how we can help, book a meeting with us today.


November 9, 2023

All too often, we notice developers & contractors think of engineering site surveys as little more than data collection. They go onsite, snap photos, maybe even record a video, and take down relevant data points. After transferring this data to their engineering firm, a slew of follow up questions, action items, and clarifications often ensue, potentially delaying the project, resulting in re-work, and several coordination meetings that bog down everyone’s time. Why does this happen? Keep reading…

Data Errors
We probably don’t need to explain every bad thing that can happen if the information is incorrect, but we’ll give a quick example. For instance, if you provide the wrong service voltage or voltage configuration (delta vs wye!), your project will be designed to that accordingly. And if that happens, your system won’t turn on when it’s finished. If this were to happen, everything would need to be ripped out, redesigned, and reinstalled, and it would cost a pretty penny more than you originally budgeted for. We’ve actually seen this happen.

Sales/Concept Validation

Ever met a sales or development team that put together a concept layout that doesn’t actually work? Yes, we have too. It’s unfortunately the case that there are tons and tons of rules and regulations that govern real estate usage, and it’s unreasonable to expect everyone upstream from the project planning phase to capture 100% of these details that significantly impact final design. And, SepiSolar must know these rules, or else our work products don’t generate permits. Thus, we prefer to impart this knowledge and experience upstream as far as possible to validate and verify these details before proceeding with mission-critical design decisions that can have costly consequences if changed later. For instance, were all fire setbacks taken into account? Ingress & Egress? Underground lines? Civil survey? Equipment clearances? Operations & Maintenance pathways?  Security fences? Shading obstructions from nearby buildings, hills, or vegetation? And so on…

Critical Path Coordination

This is the single, biggest missed opportunity with any engineering site survey – critical path coordination. The job site is a magical place – all the good, hard, honest planning work is done for and around the job site, the future construction will happen here, the owner may be close by, discoveries will be made, and problems to be solved… Basically, what better place is there to meet with the project owner, GC, subcontractors, and other stakeholders to ensure that all major critical paths are mapped out and accounted for? This is how we maximize the value of a site survey – identify critical paths, coordinate them, and put a plan together, all in one place at one time, with all relevant parties represented and involved.

The moral of the story is not to let something missed opportunities fly by you. Take the extra step to get a proper site survey with appropriate parties present, because at the end of the day, a site survey goes deeper than just data acquisition. It’s also discovery, verification, coordination, and planning, and it covers almost every mission-critical area of your project.

Now that you know why you need a detailed site survey, let’s dive into what that process looks like, and how you can get the most value out of it.

Coordinate with Stakeholders

In general, your biggest players will be your electrical Engineer of Record (EOR), your civil EOR, your structural EOR, the construction general contractor and subcontractors, and the project manager.

With these stakeholders in mind, here’s a breakdown of the value each one contributes to the project:

  • Electrical EOR: They’re the project’s authority for all things power. During the pre-construction planning phase, these engineers not only ensure all electrical components will work properly onsite, but they also decide where to place them.
  • Civil EOR: These engineers handle the overall infrastructure, including pipelines, waste management, zoning requirements, and more. They’re also responsible for testing the building materials and soil to confirm the strength of the foundation. As you can imagine, these aren’t things you’ll want to course-correct later, so make sure your civil engineering team is solid.
  • Structural EOR: Structural engineers are a type of civil engineer who help make sure your project is up to code and compliant with standards. They also design and review foundations, walls, roofs, and more to confirm the stability of your project. Most importantly, structural engineers make sure everyone stays safe during the construction process, so it’s unwise to build without one.
  • Project Manager: The project manager is accountable for all activities that are planned and executed on a project. This includes client communication, contract (and subcontract) management, change management, subcontractor coordination, CPM scheduling, budgeting / estimating, procurement, design development, permitting, utility interconnection, construction, commissioning, acceptance testing, as-built’s, and project close-out. Having a good project manager to control and manage scopes, budgets, and schedules is key for project success.
  • General Contractors & Subcontractors: If finding and managing the engineers on this list seems overwhelming, you can hire a team of experts under one roof. That’s what design-build, GC, and EPC firms are for.

The takeaway is that when you partner with a knowledgeable team during the site survey process, you catch and solve problems before they become expensive, draining headaches. Don’t let yourself become the person that needs to correct any million-dollar mistakes.

Consider the Most Important Information

Now that you know who should be involved in your site survey, let’s look at a few fundamental project components you need to keep in mind. Although this is not an exhaustive list, it’s a good place to start for now.

Offtake Agreements
Most lenders require offtake agreements for loan approval, so they’re extremely important to the success of the project. Basically, offtake agreements are proof that a market exists for the byproduct of the work that you’re doing. Most importantly, they allow you to account for profit well into the future. Because this is one of the most pertinent financial documents you’re going to have, it’s smart to make sure your agreement is as sound as possible.

Interconnection Studies
Conducting an interconnection study mitigates issues with information exchange and data transmission, and it accounts for both primary and alternative interconnection points. This also determines any circuit, voltage, or general reliability issues. Like we mentioned in our example, providing the wrong voltage (or really the wrong number for anything, to be honest), can throw your project budget off the rails. The smartest thing to do is make sure your team collects and applies this data, so there are no unhappy surprises later.

The Site Survey Itself
After your team has taken note of the site’s boundaries, utilities, and overarching features, they’ll transfer the layout from the designs to the site itself to verify the accuracy of the measurements. From there, your team will correct any errors to prevent complications during the project.

While these are some of the most pressing things to consider during the pre-construction planning phase, this is just scratching the surface. Successful construction projects include hundreds of moving parts. Fortunately, SepiSolar has a history of tracking every detail.

Decide What to Do Next

Once you understand what the site survey should entail, now you have to decide if you want to have an in-person or a virtual team. Remote surveying can potentially offer some cost savings, but in our experience, it’s a bit deceptive. When you have everyone on-site and in-person, they better understand how to streamline the work and plan around each other’s strengths, which ends up mitigating some of the extra spend. If you optimize the project right from the beginning, you’re not only getting a higher quality outcome, but you’re also saving time on the backend.

By going through the site survey process in-person, you’re able to have your questions answered in real time. In addition, you can review the design, build execution strategies to optimize the timeline and cost, and solidify an action plan that makes sense.

Sepi has the experience and partner network to ensure your site survey is through, well-rounded, and done right the first time. Contact us to learn how we can help get your project off to a great start.


October 25, 2023

If you’ve ever managed a construction project, you may have found it easier to handle fewer professional engineering firms with several areas of expertise, as opposed to multiple that each have niche specialties. When you select firms that offer a wider range of services, you tend to get better coordination, stronger quality management, and a clearer path to making sure your project is completed on time and on budget. So, instead of hiring a separate Electrical Engineering (EE) firm for your building and another for the solar and microgrid system, here’s why we recommend the “one and done” approach instead.

Consolidating the Process

As the GM or architect, consolidating EE efforts allows for a more fluid experience. You have one firm that knows all things electrical, and ideally, they’ll know how to do things right the first time. When the firm is well-versed in all areas of the EE process, you likely won’t be dealing with expensive issues that could’ve been avoided.

EE consolidation is especially important if you’re working on a multi-family home project, because these projects usually involve multiple meters, including a master meter, tenant meters, and meters for common areas. Because of the complexity of the metering, designing the solar or microgrids can raise some difficult questions. For example, should you sit the meters together in a central location, or do you distribute them across all units? And, does this decision change when incorporating batteries, resiliency, and/or microgrid controls? This type of decision on the “demand side” of the site are best made with the “supply side” (i.e., solar and micro grids) in mind, because there’s a direct relationship between the cost- (and revenue-) efficiency of the solar system and the placement and location of the meters.

Other examples like school campuses, curved roofs, hangars (lightweight metal roofs), and load control systems also benefit from having a consolidated EE firm.

Improving Efficiency and Quality

When you choose the “one and done” approach, you’re able to optimize the complete electrical system – supply AND demand. This also tends to be a more cost-effective approach, since sometimes it pays to adjust the grid system to fit the load, and other times, it pays to adjust the load to fit the grid system.

When we’re engaged in this process, we employ both options to bring you the best system possible. To us, “best” is defined as finding the ideal balance between the highest efficiency, lowest cost, and fastest development timeline.

Bringing us in as the sole EE of record also allows us to speed up your project by coordinating all relevant disciplines to the best critical path management schedule. If there’s a critical path that’s not under our control, the project can be delayed when certain predecessor activities are not completed within the proper sequence. To put that another way, if you have multiple firms working in silos, you may end up lighting dollars on fire trying to backtrack. This is especially true when engineering firms need to be brought in after several major design and electrical decisions have already been made.

The takeaway is to not put yourself in the position of solving impossible electrical issues. You’ll have a much more efficient project if you make sure everything is correctly addressed from the beginning.

What Not to Do

We don’t want to be the one to scare you, but not consolidating your electrical engineering efforts can lead to problems ranging from minor cosmetic issues, all the way to major safety concerns. Fortunately, these problems can be avoided, but let’s look at what can happen when they’re not.

  • Aesthetic Shortcomings: We once worked on a project that involved using solar panels as a façade to hide unattractive mechanical equipment. The issue was, the design of the façade kept changing, and those changes weren’t necessarily the most optimal. Because of this, we had to install “dummy” solar modules that weren’t connected to anything just to make the façade look a bit nicer. If we were involved from the beginning, we could have used smaller solar panels and adjusted the length of the façade to make sure we electrically connected all the solar panels the customer had to buy. This isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it’s an inconvenience and lost generation opportunity that could have been dodged with better planning.
  • Spacing Issues: If we’re not consulted nor hired to work on the building’s electrical distribution system, we often won’t find space in the electrical room for any new solar / microgrid wall-mounted equipment. As a result, we’d need to put equipment in other less-efficient, less-aesthetic, and sometimes, less-ideal conditions to appease the code, project budget, and timeline. It would’ve been far better to design the electrical room with flexibility in mind, or at the very least, with all components considered beforehand. Another example of this is with buildings that have vents and equipment throughout the roof. When we’re the EE of record, we make sure we leave enough real estate available for solar panels before the roof becomes too crowded.
  • Safety Modifications: Sometimes, the EE for a building will spec equipment for the main service panel or switchgear and coordinate that with the local utility company. If this is done without consideration of the solar and microgrid connections, we end up needing to modify the expensive new switchgear to accommodate those connections. This basically entails “breaking” and “fixing” the brand-new piece of electrical gear, then sometimes getting it re-certified and re-listed for safety and compliance purposes. If we were involved from the beginning, we would’ve designed the electrical system for the entire building and ordered the proper gear from the start, with no downstream modifications nor re-designs required.

Making Better Load Decisions

The EEs for the building usually decide how to run load calculations, and often, we notice they could be executed better. For instance, we’ve seen EEs who add heating and air conditioning loads together to determine the building’s full electrical requirements. The issue here is that most people don’t run their heating and air conditioning coincidentally, so they don’t need to be added together. Instead, the EE can take the larger of the two values and use that for load calculation, or at a minimum, discount the sum of the two loads with industry standard discretion.

You might be thinking – okay sure, this could’ve been caught with a bit more scrutiny, but what’s the big deal? The reason is because if load calculations are over-stated, it can impact the microgrid sizing, leading to a miscalculated cost-benefits analysis of the owner or architect’s offset goals. Typically, we like to take into account appliance efficiencies and utilization rates of various loads in order to recommend the most cost-advantageous microgrid design that brings the building’s net demand under the line. This analysis is a bit more involved than simply what a “demand side” EE (for the building) or “supply side” EE (for the microgrid) would do independently of one another, since it’s a multivariate optimization problem when the two are combined into one.

If you’re looking for an EE firm that gets the details right, contact us to learn how we can help bring your project to life.


February 1, 2021

It’s one of the biggest misconceptions in project design and engineering: Permitting is all about technical compliance. Yes, you have to prove that the electrical system you intend to build satisfies all the codes that protect public safety. But there’s more to it than that. There’s an often-overlooked psychological component involved in the permitting process.

Imagine filing a permit application on a paper napkin. If it has all the necessary lines, squares and circles, equipment specifications, locations, and other requisite data, you’d have a complete application. But at least 9 times out of 10, your application would be rejected.

And for good reason. Because permitting is not only about code compliance. It’s about building trust and accountability. It’s about convincing the local permitting office that smart people have expertly designed your system for safety and reliability.

How do we win permit approvals? To begin with, we follow these five strategies:

Cite codes

Local permitters treat building and electrical codes the way that some people interpret the Bible, or the US Constitution. It’s not enough to size wire by multiplying output current by 125 percent. Instead, show your calculations and cite the latest version of National Electrical Code Article 690 approved in your jurisdiction, as well as any other applicable codes.

Spell out all the details so it’s clear that you not only know how to design systems but why the codes are in place to begin with. Plan checkers are going to ask questions. Get ahead of the game by showing them you know what you’re talking about.

Be transparent

Some system designers and engineers have a natural aversion to sharing too much with the permitting authority. As the thinking goes, it’s easier to ask forgiveness than to get permission.

That’s not always the best approach. The concern with sharing too much information is that the permitting authority will seize on small details to probe deeper, delaying approval and potentially altering project plans.

In our experience, permitters behave according to human nature. If you withhold information, they treat you with suspicion and distrust. If you’re upfront about complexity and nuance as well as your thoughtful solutions, and you show open-mindedness in response to questioning, you gain a measure of respect. This dynamic will carry over to future visits to the permit office. Good representation will improve your reputation with local permitters.

Call for backup

In many cases, SepiSolar customers have contacted us from the service counter during a conversation with a permit officer. It’s like having an on-call technical support hotline. We can answer permitting questions in real time. On more than one occasion, at the conclusion of these conversations, our customers have walked away with approved permits in hand.

Hedge against risk

Search engines have made everybody seem smarter by putting information at our fingertips, but at the same time our knowledge base has become a mile wide and an inch deep. The same thing is happening to an extent with the UL standards for energy storage systems. People can cite UL 9540, but not the component-level certifications for batteries, inverters and other key products.

If you don’t understand the various UL standards, you increase risk in the permitting process. When projects depend on system-level certification, any question that comes up about the test lab used for UL listing, or the test procedures, or anything else, can slow down permitting and add on project costs. On the other hand, applicants who know they have inverters that comply with UL 1741 and batteries that comply with UL 1973 have a fallback plan, so they can hedge against risks in the permitting process.

Channel your inner electrician

A lot of solar designers and solar engineers know about the 120 percent rule pertaining to energy generation, but they have no idea about NEC Article 220, which is all about loads and load calculations. Electricians and electrical engineers, on the other hand, know Article 220 like the back of their hand, but not the common solar codes.

System integrators today in all segments of the market need to design for systems that can dynamically change modes of operation, ramping up or down, quickly or slowly, staying still, or supplying any number of power applications, such as reactive power and VAR control.

System controls have a direct impact on system safety and code compliance. Integrators should understand all the modes of operation and be sure system designs comply with each mode affecting generation and load.

Ask us about complete design and engineering services

If you would like to reduce risk in the permitting process for your solar and energy storage projects, find out how SepiSolar approaches design and engineering for C+I solar projects and energy storage projects, and send us your project specifications today for a fast and accurate design quote.


February 28, 2020

Solar Renewable Energy Credits can generate thousands of dollars in revenue. But for many investors, the idea of actually trading SRECs for cash has often been a little too good to be true.

Here’s how you can get paid for Solar Renewable Energy Credits.

First plan a solar project in a state with a Renewable Portfolio Standard, a state policy requiring that some percentage of electricity comes from renewable resources.

After that, be sure your state has a solar carveout, requiring that some of the electricity comes from solar.

Then learn a sometimes complex process for adding your project to the SREC marketplace and offering SRECs for sale.

Lastly, keep your fingers crossed that SREC values don’t crash due to oversupply or an abrupt change in state policy.

All in all, SRECs have been an important catalyst and a continuing revenue source for some investors. But SRECs have also proven relatively ineffective at pushing markets past the early stage of development.

Here’s a roundup of recent SREC market developments.

Delaware SRECs

In 2020, Delaware’s solar requirement calls for 2.25 percent of electricity generation to come from solar. The requirement has been increasing by a quarter percent per year since 2015.

Net generation in Delaware is 6,240,644 megawatt-hours. Since producers get 1 SREC for each 1 megawatt-hour of output, Delaware has a market for about 140,400 SRECs, representing the output of roughly 100 MW of solar.

The 2019 auction yielded relatively low prices of $10 to $50 per SREC. Producers sold a total of 15,171 SRECs through the 2019 procurement.

Information on the 2019 SREC solicitation was released in May. Bidding started in late June and closed in early July.

Illinois SRECs

In Illinois, the solar requirement amounts to roughly one-half a percent of net generation.

A new policy, the Adjustable Block Program, aims to issue 1 million RECs by 2021, which would help finance about 666 MW of solar.

Illinois REC values range from about $40 up to almost $100.

According to a local news report, solar power producers in Illinois receive 15 years of SREC payments upfront, when the system is installed. But SREC values go down as more systems are installed.

Maryland SRECs

In 2019, the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act increased the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard to 50 percent by 2030 with a solar carve out of 14.5 percent. The solar carveout is 6 percent in 2020. Then it increases to 7.5 percent in 2021. And an additional 1 percent each year until 2028.

While producers oversupplied the SREC Market in 2019, SRECTrade, a marketplace administrator, forecasts marginal undersupply in 2020 and a growing undersupply over the next three years.

SREC market prices already reflect increasing values. Undersupply could stimulate an increase in new project construction.

Unlike SRECs sold in long-term contracts, Maryland SREC values change with market conditions. Two years ago, they were trading at about $10. Now, they’re trading at about $75.

SREC values are hard-capped by the value of alternative compliance payments that utilities must pay if they fall short of solar procurement goals set in renewable portfolio standards. As alternative compliance payments go down, so do SREC values. In 2020, the alternative compliance payment in Maryland is $100. Through 2028, it will drop gradually to $25.

To sign up, visit the Maryland program website.


By 2019, Massachusetts had closed its SREC program to new projects and replaced it with the SMART program. The SMART program offers a performance-based incentive issued in the form of utility bill credits for each kilowatt-hour of energy produced.

New Jersey

In 2019, New Jersey moved to phase out its SREC program. But in 2020, the state government opted to preserve funding for SRECs until a new incentive program is in place.


In 2019, Ohio approved legislation that eliminates the state’s renewable portfolio standard in 2026 and wipes away the solar carveout this year. As a result, solar projects that previously generated SRECs no longer generate SRECs. The change applies to projects in Ohio and five other states that could sell SRECs into the Ohio market: Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Pennsylvania and West Virginia.


The future of the SREC market in Pennsylvania depends on SB 600, a legislative bill that would require 30 percent of the state’s electricity to come from renewables by 2030, including 10 percent from in-state solar. Current policy includes a half-percent solar carveout through 2021. But there’s no solar carveout for subsequent years.

See the SRECtrade blog for more details.

Image by 3D Animation Production Company from Pixabay


November 1, 2019

Raise your hand if you’re suffering from too much time and not enough email. Need a second to think about it? Nah, didn’t think so.

This question came up several times as we started developing a newsletter for the people we work with who lead solar, storage and microgrid projects in the commercial and industrial market. We’re pretty sure you didn’t wake up this morning wondering how to fill your time and hoping for a little more email to click on.

We’re all busy. To stay informed, you might read a few articles in the industry press or attend a few conferences and events throughout the year. But the process is inefficient. You might sift through dozens of headlines to find the ones that matter. It can also be expensive. Traveling to a conference can easily cost $1,000 per person or more.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a concise email once a month that’s filled exclusively with information about C&I projects?

We think so too. That’s why we’re launching SepiSolar’s monthly C&I project newsletter.

The first edition will be published in November. Become one of our first free subscribers. Sign up now.

Why subscribe?

News providers used to try and be everything to everyone. The New York Times still claims to publish “all the news that’s fit to print.” You can buy a plain sweatshirt with the slogan printed in a small box for $85. Any size you like.

A lot of company newsletters fall short for another reason, because they’re too self-promotional. Five years ago, a service that helps people unsubscribe from email lists called Unroll.me published a list of the email newsletters with the highest opt-out rates. The flower delivery service 1800 Flowers topped the charts with a 52.5 percent unsubscribe rate. More than half of subscribers wanted out.

We value your time. So let’s be clear from the start. If you are not a project manager, the head of operations, or an executive who leads solar, storage, or microgrid projects for C&I customers, the C&I project newsletter probably isn’t for you.

However, if you’d like to hear about new ideas in permitting, interconnection, project design and engineering, and more, we think you’ve come to the right place.

In SepiSolar’s C&I project newsletter, you’ll find original content created through a collaboration between our professional engineering and technical sales, who assure that you’re getting high-quality, authentic information, and our communications team, who head up content planning, writing and editing.

We want your ideas

In the months ahead, we have a lot of ideas that we’re excited to cover.

  • How to discharge batteries from the customer side of the meter into the grid and collect net energy metering credits.
  • How to resolve the eternal debate over DC coupling versus AC coupling once and for all.
  • What lessons have we learned from the 2019 APS battery fire.

We welcome your ideas! Please contact us to share topics that you’d like us to cover in the C&I project newsletter. Let us know if you’re interested in contributing an article yourself. And once you’ve seen the newsletter, please share feedback.

The Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest Solar Means Business report, published in July, identified over 7 GW of solar projects delivering energy to corporate solar users, up from 2.5 GW of projects that were cited in the prior year’s report. The growth of C&I projects might seem mind blowing, but it’s still just the tip of the iceberg.

Get ready for much more to come from solar, storage and microgrids. Subscribe to the C&I project newsletter today.


October 16, 2019

Every once in a while, we get a familiar request — a contractor asks to “fast track” a new solar project. We say: Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it.

Our response wasn’t always this way. At one point, customers wouldn’t even have to ask to speed up the design and engineering process. They wanted deliverables quickly — yesterday — and at low cost. We delivered. Sort of.

Soon, we learned that while we could deliver on the front-end, we had too little control over the back-end. We were working too quickly. Customer requests for design changes would come weeks, sometimes months, after delivery of the original plan set. This increased project costs and risk in the long run.

At SepiSolar, we have introduced structure, definition, and organization to the project design and engineering process with discrete handoffs, milestones, stages, and defined activities. We control project costs, timeline, scope, quality, liability, customer success and safety, reducing cost and risk to the project.

We used to try explaining to customers one-by-one why no engineer has the power to expedite projects.

Each project dictates its own timeline according to the project data at hand, the complexity of the project, climate, and other variables that we cannot control. If a commercial property has no as-built plans available, someone needs to conduct a site survey and perform discovery on key aspects of the facility. There are faster ways and slower ways to perform discovery, but you cannot fast-track your way through it.

In other words, the job of the engineer is not to tell the project how much time it has. Rather, we listen and then help the EPC get through it.

Since we have these conversations with some frequency, we decided to take some of our core insights and share them in the C&I Solar Risk Management Guide.

What’s in the risk management guide?

The C&I Solar Risk Management Guide covers the key milestones from starting a project plan set to matching the as-built conditions of a completed project. Milestones include:

  • Project kickoff
  • Preliminary analysis
  • 50% design
  • 90% design
  • Permit plan set
  • Revised permit plan set
  • As-builts

Managing risk means having a clear and complete idea of the scope of work up front and catching all components and elements of design and engineering that need to be specified, budgeted for, and tracked. When changes occur, it is usually due to lack of specificity in the original scope of work, or something that nobody saw coming. Surprises increase cost. We don’t like surprises in construction.

By thoroughly defining the scope of work up front and identifying potential surprises that could come back to bite us, we proceed with projects in stages, never getting too far ahead of ourselves without all the necessary information.

Subway, the fast-food chain, recognizes the value of risk management. At the lunch counter, the selection of bread drives the development of the meal. You might ask for the pit-smoked brisket and then wonder why your server holds still, waiting for you to choose between six-inch and foot-long subs made of Italian bread, whole wheat, or something else. You’re hungry. Can’t they go a little faster?

If the server rushed ahead with the wrong bread, there would be an even longer delay as he builds your sandwich a second time. Bad move. Now you’re really getting hangry. Subway’s process won’t set any sandwich-making speed records. But it’s dependable, time and time again.

How to use the C&I Solar Risk Management Guide

Our goal with the solar risk management guide is twofold. First, we want to point out how engineering and design can have a big impact on project success, even though it accounts for a small share of project costs. Second, we want project and operations managers to know what you can expect from a structured, highly organized project design process.

Have a look at the guide. Download a copy of the project milestones, and share it with your team.

How does your project design process compare to ours? Are we following similar paths? Where are the differences? If you have questions or comments about the C&I Solar Risk Management Guide, join the conversation with us on LinkedIn.

CA Small Business Enterprise

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NAICS Codes:
541330 – Engineering services
541340 – Drafting services
541490 – Other specialized design services
541618 – Other management consulting services
541690 – Other scientific and technical consulting services
541990 – All other professional, scientific, and technical services

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811024, 81101701, 81101516, 81101604, 43232614, 81101505

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