Author Archives: Spencer Fields

About Spencer Fields

Spencer is the Manager of Market Strategy & Intelligence at EnergySage, where he writes about all things energy. Prior to joining EnergySage, he spent five years at Synapse Energy Economics, providing environmental, economic and policy analysis for public interest groups. Spencer has degrees in Environmental Studies and Hispanic Studies from Brown University, meaning when he's not in the office you can find him outside or traveling somewhere to work on his Spanish.

Smart plugs

What you need to know about smart plugs and energy management

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Solar and storage are just two components of a fully energized home. Energy management is the next most important piece of the puzzle: to truly understand and manage how your home uses electricity, you also need consumption monitors with built-in controls. Consumption monitors can tell you what is using electricity, how much each device in your home uses, and ultimately how it costs to run each device in your home; meanwhile, the controls allow you to act on that information, shutting off–or scheduling–certain devices at certain times. 

Smart plugs are a great, easy and inexpensive first foray into energy management for your home: just plug them into any device in your home and start receiving actionable insights about how your home uses energy. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about smart plugs. 

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virtual power plant

What is a virtual power plant?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

At its core, a solar panel installation at your home or business is basically a miniature power plant – even more so once you add a solar battery to be able to store the solar electricity you produce and use it even after the sun has gone down. As more and more homes and businesses install solar panels across the country (we’re at over 3 million solar installations nationwide!), these distributed, miniature power plants present an opportunity: if you aggregate enough of them together, you can turn all of those miniature solar power plants into one, larger “virtual” power plant. Here’s how virtual power plants work and how you can participate in one. 

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Tigo product launch

Introducing the Tigo Energy Intelligence Residential Solution

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If you’re familiar with the residential solar market, you’re probably aware of the two main players providing inverters to residential solar installations in the US. But those two companies are far from the only companies providing inverter (and inverter-adjacent) products in the residential solar market in the US. 

While their optimizers and rapid shutdown devices have been installed on many roofs throughout the country, one company you may not yet be familiar with is Tigo Energy. However, Tigo Energy is banking on that changing with their latest product launch: the Tigo Energy Intelligence (EI) Residential Solution, which brings Tigo-branded products to the forefront of a solar and solar-plus-storage installation. 

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Generac product launch

What’s included in Generac’s product launch, and what does it mean for you?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

New product alert! This week, Generac–the national leader in backup generator solutions-turned clean energy company–added three new releases to their ever-expanding product lines. First, Generac is adding a microinverter option to their existing string & hybrid inverter options for solar installations. The second product is a new backup generator that is designed primarily to recharge PWRcell batteries. And, finally, Generac’s third new product is an energy management system designed to improve and increase battery performance. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about these new products.

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LBNL tracking the sun 2021

Highlights from LBNL’s 2021 Tracking the Sun report

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In case you missed it, solar has been in the news quite a bit recently: the Biden Administration announced a goal for solar to produce 40% of the nation’s electricity by 2030; the Department of Energy released a corresponding Solar Futures Study that lays out just how to reach that lofty goal; the inclusion of clean energy incentives (including for solar!) is at the forefront of the debate around the infrastructure and budget reconciliation bills; the latest Solar Market Insight report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie just dropped; and we recently released our own biannual Marketplace Intel Report. There’s a lot going on! 

Amidst this solar news frenzy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) just released their annual Tracking the Sun report, the best resource for tracking the state of residential solar installations in the U.S., and complete with publicly-available data sets with info on nearly 80 percent of all of the solar panel systems installed in the country. Here are some of the highlights from the report:

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Spencer's solar installation

What do electricity bills look like with solar? My experience after two years

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you’re considering solar, it can be easy to imagine what solar panels would look like on your home: with nearly three million homes already installing solar around the country, you’re probably familiar with what solar panels look like on a roof. What can be harder to visualize is what your electricity bills will look like after going solar. Clearly, solar can save you money on your utility bills, but how does it actually work? 

With that in mind, here’s a look at what my National Grid bills looked like before solar, what they look like now that I’ve had solar for two years, and some bonus screenshots of how my usage has changed with additional energy upgrades. As an EnergySage employee, I’m obviously a solar advocate, and we certainly care about our environmental impact. But, we wouldn’t have gone solar unless it made financial sense, and it most certainly did: I haven’t paid an electric bill for my home in Massachusetts since September 2019, which is just as great as it sounds.

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ITC for businesses

The 2021 solar tax credit for businesses

Reading Time: 6 minutes

The best solar incentive is the federal investment tax credit (ITC). This is true both for home- and business owners: by providing you a credit on your taxes equal to 26 percent of the cost of your solar panel system, the ITC provides a significant benefit to anyone looking to add solar. For the most part, the business solar (and storage!) ITC works nearly exactly the same way as it does for homeowners, with a few key nuances. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to know about the ITC for businesses in 2021. 

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long duration storage

Long duration storage: what you need to know 2021

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As states and cities throughout the country embrace the renewable energy transition, setting and committing to 100 percent clean energy targets, one crucial gap remains in ultimately meeting those targets: how do you stretch the production from renewable resources like wind and solar to keep powering the country even when the sun isn’t shining or the wind isn’t blowing? Enter long duration storage, the promising broad category of technologies that can fill this gap.

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utility energy storage demand response program

Utility energy storage pilot programs: what you need to know

Reading Time: 4 minutes

As the costs of solar batteries continue to decline, more and more homeowners are adding energy storage to their solar installations: in California, for instance, one in every twenty solar installations now also includes a solar battery. As utilities become more familiar with the benefits of distributed solar + storage on the grid, from added operational flexibility to decreased electricity demand, several utilities in the Northeast are now offering large incentives for home energy storage pilot programs. 

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