Zero-down, Cashflow Positive Solar by Aaron Simms, General Manager of Sunbug Solar

Zero-down, Cashflow Positive Solar by Aaron Simms, General Manager of SunBug Solar

Resource Person:

Aaron Sims - Aaron


Richard Merlino – Rich

Douglas Quattochi - Doug

[Start 0:00:00]

Aaron: My name is Aaron. I work for SunBug Solar. I worked in the Boston area for quite a while, then I moved out and opened up a branch office for my company in Westfield. This is right in between our two offices, so I came to it. I’m going to try and speed through some of the information that I want to tell you because the last time we did this, there were a lot of questions and I wanted to make sure we can just talk because solar is simple, but there are a lot of little details to it that make it complicated.

The first thing that I want to point out is this is actually a great place for solar. It’s a terrible time to think about it, dead of winter, but if you look at the countries around the way, Germany has the most solar installed per capita and this graph that we’re looking at right here or the view that you’re seeing is the amount of energy that the ground seize from the sun, and so it makes sense this area of the country is superhot, lots of sun all the time, and that’s orange. It’s a high number up here. We’re right in this area in Massachusetts-sorry. We’re up in this area in Massachusetts and Germany is kind of terrible in comparison. There is sun here. The sun does shine for a long enough period throughout the year that you can supply a significant amount of energy to your project.

The main reason why solar works pretty well in Massachusetts financially is because the cost of electricity is so high, so if you looked at your just let’s say a home, at your house’s utility bill, you’d see it’s $0.20/kWh. In New York right across the border, it’s $0.12/kWh; in Florida, it’s $0.08/kWh. You’re at a disadvantage for being in Massachusetts for a few reasons, so solar makes more sense here.

One of the biggest parts of what I do is trying to describe how solar works to everybody and how it pays for itself and why it’s a good investment. It’s pretty much the same conversation with everybody, so people have their preconceived notions about why it doesn’t work and I try to chip away at those. Financially speaking, it’s an incredible investment. There are very few things that you can do today in the state that are better than investing in solar.

One of the biggest items, the biggest incentives, the biggest returns that you get for your money is a 30 percent federal tax credit. Let’s say it’s a $10,000 system, which would be small, so let’s say it’s a $100,000 system for easy math, you would get $30,000 as a credit coming back to you. There are some nuances to that. You would have to have paid taxes, so if you make money at your job and you pay taxes throughout the year; at the end of the year, you pay a certain amount of tax, you can get all that back mostly. Thirty percent, that’s a pretty big part of the project.

In Massachusetts, there are a few others specific to Massachusetts incentives. Currently today, there is a program called SRECs. If you were to say after the meeting that you wanted to do solar, you would still be in this program. It’s going away though and it’s changing to a different program, and so it’s a really dynamic time because of federal and state policies. This is where solar gets a little tricky, but these SRECs, they effectively pay you for making green energy and it’s a state program and it lasts for 10 years and it usually gets about another 30 percent or 40 percent of the system cost back to you over those 10 years.

In addition to that, if you’re a commercial entity, you get a balloon accelerated depreciation MACRS that equate to about 30 percent of the system that comes back to you in depreciation value over six years. You will also get lower utility bills and those utility bills, let’s say you used to spend $2,000 a month, you put a solar system on your roof, and now your bills are lower because of the policies that the state has.


It’s hard to run through these in detail, I’m happy to talk with anyone afterwards if you’d like, but the way that the utility bill is lowered is through a program called net metering, and it’s fairly simple and that’s one reason why solar is really good in this area. It’s a state policy; it’s not the same in other states. The way it works is work is currently you have a meter on a building and its spins up. It only ever spins up and they take readings every month and they charge you for however much it went up.

With net metering, that meter will go forwards and backwards and forwards and backwards and it will go up at night and then when the sun comes up in the morning, it might go backwards, right? And so, at the end of the year, we try to design systems so that you are right where you started, so it’s a net zero bill and that’s the general idea of how this works from a utilities perspective.

What makes net metering also pretty powerful is it lets you allocate the excess production to any meter that you want, so if you had one building with a big roof and you made more energy on that building than you needed for that one building, you as a landlord, could allocate it to your personal home, your tenants, a different rental property’s common meter, wherever you want it. And so it allows you to lower costs in multiple ways than just that one area.

Does that make sense? Any questions so far?

Rich: We’re going to break for questions in just a couple of minutes.

Aaron: Yes, yes. No questions.

Rich: You said. No, no, you ask questions but not at this exact moment until we get the microphone over because there is no microphone on the video camera. The SRECs, that’s a state thing, right, and the state is giving away money if you sign up now.

Aaron: Yes.

Rich: For 10 years if you sign up now.

Aaron: Correct.

Rich: Okay, got you.

Aaron: It’s actually not based on when you sign up. If you said you want to do it, that doesn’t matter. It’s based on when the system is online. It’s transitioning sometime in the middle of the year; it’s going to a different program that will be financially okay. SRECs are just financially really awesome.

Rich: Okay, so the state has made the determination that the giant burning ball in the sky, they’re like, “We’re not sure if this is really  going to be a long-term thing. Maybe this is a fad,” so they pulled back the incentives on that.

Aaron: Well, it’s a little more complicated. They had SRECs around for a long time. It started in 2009 and they meant for it to transition away, and they’ve been slowly transitioning it out and developing the next program, so there is something coming and it’s something that will pay you money, so it’s fine. Incentives are meant to go down over time, right? Solar is getting cheaper to install, panel prices, for the most part, are coming down, and so it’s not like they’re kicking solar to the curb. But SRECs are better and if you were to do solar, it’s better to do it now than later.

Rich: Okay, and the 30 percent federal tax credit not a deduction, but it’s an actual credit—

Aaron: Correct.

Rich: That’s not going away, right?

Aaron: That’s going away in 2020, so it’s starting to phase out after a few years. For two to three years now, we’ve been saying the best time to do solar is now and it’s not a sales gimmick. It’s the truth. Things are changing for the negative for solar, so anytime you’re considering it, I would recommend you do it sooner than later.

Rich: If it makes financial sense.

Aaron: If it makes financial sense, yes.

Rich: Are you going to discuss the plan that you and I talked about yesterday?

Aaron: Yes. This is pretty hard to see, and so don’t try and look at the numbers. It’s too far away. This is a cashflow that I presented to Rich for one of his buildings, and I would do the same for anyone. It has a pretty simple, this is how much energy the system will make. This is what you pay for that energy now, which equates to how much money you save by having solar system make it, and that number is about $2,500. Then there’s the income from the SRECs, that’s another $2,000 something a year, then your tax credits, and the depreciation is here, and so it’s just a cashflow, same as a rental property, same as any investment.


If you could see this, you’d see there’s a 15 percent, 16 percent IRR, so it’s equivalent of year over year for 10 years, 15 percent return on your money, and it’s 18 percent for 20 years and 19 percent for 30 years. These systems are a very long term kind of slow and steady investment, not many moving parts, not many things that need large maintenance costs. Most of the time, it’s a very good return on the money.

Rich: I’m not selling solar, but the reason I was interested in it, and I, once we finalize the numbers, may end up moving forward on it is because the way the numbers look like it, can everybody see every single one of those numbers up there? No, of course not, right? Let me just paint a picture for you.

By putting a bunch of solar panels on one roof, it’s going to pay the electric bill for that building, the building down the street, and maybe a third building or was it just two?

Aaron: It will probably be two and a half or something.

Rich: It will probably be like two and a half, so [crosstalk 0:11:16]

Aaron: Of the common meters.

Rich: Yes, so those will be two electric bills eliminated and one turned into a half, that kind of got my attention. I don’t like paying for stuff, and as it turns out, the math actually made sense because everybody else I talked to about solar, they’re like, “Yes ,you just have to pay a bunch of money. You’ll get some SREC credits whatever that is, but yes, you’re going to end up paying for it, but the way that this shakes out, especially if I take a loan out on it, this makes the loan payments like it’s actually a cashflow positive thing in my case.

I’m not saying that’s the case for everybody all the time, but I’ve had literally 12 other solar companies who are like, “No, we can’t do it because you have a flat roof,” or, “No, we can’t do it because we’re lazy,” whatever the case or maybe going out of business, but this guy actually figured out a way to do it. anyway, I’m just excited about it. I think it’s just really cool.

Aaron: Yes, it’ important the loan, the financing side of this, this is a cashflow if you purchased it with cash, which is not what most people do, most people outside of residential. Residential systems tend to be more like that cash purchases. When you finance it, every year is cashflow positive and it’s a huge return on the first year because that’s when you get the tax credits, and so the majority of the time when I have conservations with businesses or people owning properties, the question is. “I’m sorry. I have to get kind of personal but let’s look at your tax returns because that is a big part of the return.” If you have a tax burden, this is a great way to offset that, and I think that was my last slide, so, yes.

Rich: Okay, all right, terrific. Yes, I’m just going to go around this way. I’m not going to put my head in front of the camera, and we have Jessica Swanson again.

Jessica: Hi.  We’re just curious about when you talk about using utilities to pay for a different building. Can you cross utility companies and towns?

Aaron: Great question. No, it has to be in your load zone, so that’s a fancy way of saying same utility in the pretty much same geographic area and municipalities are included in that. If I’m from Westfield, Westfield is a muni, meaning they have their own light plant, Westfield Holyoke, so you can’t do it in municipalities as easily as you can and invest in your utilities, National Grid and Eversource.

Bill: A couple of points. Do we own the unit on the roof?

Aaron: Yes, great question. There are a lot of ways to structure solar deals. We find that when we present people options, we do all of those options. There’s you buy the system or we own the system, or whatever. Most of the time, people choose to own the system themselves and the reason for that is because the return is way better for you when you do that. If I buy the system and I give you a 10 percent savings on your utility bill, you make $250 a year. It’s just nothing compared to the thousands of dollars that this will make.

Bill: This is a twofold question. If we buy it, who’s responsible for the repairs on that if it goes bad, which they will go bad?

Aaron: Yes, definitely.

Bill: [crosstalk 0:14:49] go bad, so there’s going to be a repair process, and secondly, if their life existence is 20 years, how much is the depreciation on the amount of kilowatts out of that in 20 years and who’s going to be responsible for removing them off the roof in 20 years? I won’t be around, but a lot of people in this room will be.


Aaron: Sure, yes, okay. Let’s see how many questions were in there. The depreciation of the panel efficiency. It’s a published number for each type of panel. The best performing panels in the world degrade at 0.25 percent every year, and those numbers are baked into our cashflow. Again, you can’t see this, but that says there’s a difference of 58 kilowatt hours between year 1 and 2. In this model, the system made 58 kWh more in year 1 than 2, and that kind of trends down over the years. The normal—

Rich: Who’s responsible for the repairs and maintenance over the course of the 20 years?

Aaron: Sure. The normal efficiency panel degrades at about 0.5 percent a year. The system owner is responsible for maintenance and associated costs as you are with any equipment purchase. We have workmanship warranty, which covers anything that was our responsibility, wiring, design, all of those types of things. The panels have a warranty. The inverter has a warranty, all of the major components, the racking, all of them have warranties.

If a tree falls on the array, most people include their solar system in their homeowner’s policy or whatever the insurance policy that you have, and those types of acts of God the insurance company would pay for the repairs. The only problem in this situation and answering your question honestly if a panel breaks, there would be a cost for us to come out and swap it because that wasn’t our fault. No matter who the installer is, we can’t just come out and service things for free. We’d go bankrupt, so there’s a cost for our time, but the panel that broke because of bad workmanship would be freely replaced by the panel company.

Bill: Okay now, this is a tricky one. I know a fire department chief and they will not go up to the roof if there’s a fire in that house because those panels are live. You can’t turn them off.

Aaron: That’s correct, yes. There’s a lot of changes in the NEC, the National Electric Code, that make solar panels a lot more safe than what they used to be. An array used to be panels plugged together, and this is maybe too engineer detail but they used to carry their voltage from one panel to another, so as you plug them together, they’d get up to 500 volts. If a firefighter want to do a venting cut and somehow didn’t know that those are panels, he would have gotten all of that voltage.

Now, each panel has electronics underneath it, so that each panel doesn’t output and add in series to the panel before it. It’s its own unit, and so it is a lot more safe now. That doesn’t mean that if there is a fire, the firefighter will get up on your roof if there are panels. He certainly won’t get up on the south roof. He probably should get up on the north roof where aren’t panels to make a venting cut if that’s the case.

Rich: Okay, so you recommend not taking an ax to the solar panels?

Aaron: No, no, you can! That’s my point. It’s totally fine now.

Rich: It’s totally fine now. Okay, we’ll write it down.

Aaron: Yes, no problem.

Rich: And not 20 years from now but probably for the next couple of years, Bill will come, take your panels down personally if there’s something wrong with it.

Audience: [unintelligible 0:19:06]

Male Audience 1: Solar probably hasn’t made any major penetration in terms of people converting and there is a push for us to have green energy. Why would they be de-incentivizing solar going forward?

Aaron: Yes, the state.

Male Audience 1: Yes.

Aaron: I can’t speak to the federal level, but the state level, yes, the federal level, I can make some guesses. But I think we’ll stick to the state level. On the state level, they had an initial goal of 1,600 MW for the SREC program. In February 2016, they woke up one morning and realized that they had 2,000 already. It boomed over the course of a month or two and there was a run on the market, so to speak, and so they extended the program and spent the next year trying to figure out what to do.


What they think that they’re doing is they’re coming up with a good replacement program called SMART which stands for Solar Massachusetts Renewable Targets. It’s a fine program. I think in a lot of ways, it is better; in a lot of ways, it’s worse, so it hasn’t been implemented. I can’t tell you if it is absolutely better or worse. However, the point of incentives is for them to slowly go away. Solar is getting cheaper in a lot of ways and so today, when you do an SREC system, some systems have returns that are 20 percent, 25 percent. We install residential systems that are cashflow positive in year 3.

Male Audience 1: So I understand National Grid hit their net metering limit a little while ago. What does that mean to the economy?

Aaron: Several years ago. MECO also hit theirs a little while ago. Probably two thirds of the state, you cannot do net metering. However, I think I said this, solar is easy except for the details; it’s super complicated. What you’re talking about is for bigger facilities. Any facility that’s residential or a small commercial facility would actually be net metering exempt, which gets you around having to apply for that cap that you’re talking about. A system less than 10kW AC, which is a fairly big residential system, wouldn’t even have to apply for that cap allocation and so therefore already gets 100 percent net metering.

Rich: All right, we have a question over here.

Peter: I have many questions, so I probably will have to call you and talk to you later.

Aaron: All right.

Peter: Could you reverse this process a little bit? If you have a single house and it could go to a three-decker.

Aaron: Absolutely, yes. If it’s in the same general area, same utility, you could build a megawatt farm out in the field and have it power every tenant that you have. You can go anywhere you want.

Peter: Is there anybody, directly to you, too, but anybody else that will do the whole thing? For instance, if you got a little bit of raw roof, they won’t it on that, but is there anybody—I’ve been 15 years [crosstalk 0:22:48] list. I’ve been to the get somebody. If you ask them, they Google it and they say, “No, you don't have enough sun and stuff.” I’m telling them, “You’re wrong.”

Finally, after several years, I’ve got somebody come up. He was ecstatic. I was correct. It’s a wrong angle and so on and so forth. Then he saw the raw roof and they just walk away.

Aaron: Right, there are certainly roofs that are not easy to install on, but you can do.

Peter: Why does it always have to go on the roof?

Aaron: It doesn’t. A third of our systems are ground mounts. All of our large commercial systems are ground mounts, so for sure it doesn’t have go on the roof. We do a lot of two-axis tracking arrays, but that would have harder in the city. Yes, it can go on a carport, an awning. It can go almost anywhere.

Peter: Okay, I get more so I’ll let it go.

Rich: Okay, so what you’re saying is a flat roof whereas some people in the room might have been told that you can’t get it on a flat roof, you’re saying that yes you can.

Aaron: Most of my work when I was in the Boston area was large, commercial flat roofs, rolled EPDM, TPO, whatever it is, we would go up with trays, plastic trays with the same material on the bottom, EPDM if it’s an EPDM roof. The tray would hold 4x—it’s been a while—2x4x16-inch concrete cement blocks and those trays would have clips that the panels clip into and it sits on top of the roof and you have a structural analysis to figure out how many blocks you need in it, but it’s totally possible.

Peter: How would you finance this and if you have multiple property, say a three-family, how does that work in kilowatts and so on and so forth?

Aaron: Right, so this is similar to what was talked about through the MassCEC. They have a program trying to figure out what three-family flat roofs aren’t doing solar. Part of the reason is because it is a little more complicated. You have to think a little. You have maybe 3 meters each one for each floor, so if you have 4 meters, one is common house meter, so you could put a system on your roof, not deal with your tenants at all and have it tie it to the fourth, your meter, and leave the other three as they are.


Peter: That’s another [unintelligible 0:25:27] how do you finance it?

Aaron: So—

Rich: The question is about financing, but before you move on from that concept, what if you wanted to use your solar panels to provide electricity for one out of the three apartments or all three and possibly charge your tenants for something. How does that work?

Aaron: Yes, you’re limited by your imagination. You could put the system into one of your tenancies meters and charge them for the electricity. You could put it into your meter and allocate the overproduction to one of your tenants and charge them a lower rate, and it’s a win-win. There are a lot of different scenarios that it just takes some thinking to figure it out.

The answer to your question about financing, there are a lot of banks that are comfortable loaning for solar investment now because they’ve spent the past two or three years loaning for residential and they understand that the risk is very low.

Peter: It is moving faster even though the fossil fuels people—it is moving faster in terms of solar even though the fossil fuel people are trying to make a comeback on where they can drill and how they can drill.

Aaron: Unfortunately for me and my business, no. Solar, year over year, was negative, 2016-2017. In Massachusetts, it was down I don't know the exact number, but multiple, 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent. Statewide, it was down by 30 percent or so. It’s slowing I think because of policy and attitude more than anything.

Rich: It would be an interesting page in our country’s history if like solar energy from this giant fireball in the sky was treated like a fad like Beanie Babies or like Pokemon Go where we’re like, “All right. That’s enough of that. This is going out of style now.” I’m going to go around for some other questions. In the meantime, if you could perhaps address what impact the solar panels on different types of roofs. If you have an EPDM roof, what impact does it have on the lifespan of that roof and also if you have a regular asphalt shingle roof as well.

Aaron: Yes, when we’ve done larger commercial projects and we go to Firestone or John Mansfield to ask them, ask for permission, they’ve told us that they’ll make sure that we have a slip sheet that’s the same membrane, they will sell us slip sheets. I’m sure they will love that, and the warranties are maintained for the life of the warranty. There is no problem.

There is impact on the loads on your roof, and so we have to get in and measure your rafters, measure the structure of the roof to make sure that can meet current code. We don’t want to put something up on your roof that would fail the structure if there is a 50-pound per square foot snowstorm but the impact is fairly low for the roof. If it’s a pitched roof, we do penetrate. We flush it, but we penetrate into each rafter to build kind of an exoskeleton and then mount the panels to that.

Rich: All right, other questions back here.

Female Audience 1: What do you recommend for the homeowner whose roof might be—let’s say tomorrow I want to do this and 5 years from now, I have to get a new roof.

Aaron: My company would recommend you don’t do it.

Female Audience 1: Wait.

Aaron: We would recommend that you re-roof now or wait until you re-roof. If your shingles are more than 15 years old, it’s very unlikely that they would be able to weather a significant amount of time that the PV system will be up there. It is a 30-year type of system. It also takes a year off or so with us walking on it to do the installation. We do wear a bit of a tread off the shingle as we’re up there.


Rich: Interesting point. Okay, other questions.

Male Audience 1: Yes, right here. What’s the criteria, if you didn’t want them on your roof, that’s the criteria, you said you put them on the ground mount, you’re talking about earlier. What’s the criteria for that?

Aaron: So it depends on where you are. I’m out in Western Mass, so people have more space and it’s not as stringent. If you’re in a city, there are zoning by-laws and setback requirements that would probably make it too hard to do a ground mount. We do ground mounts by taking—it’s amazing— 7-foot screws and drilling them into the ground. It will go into ledge. It will go into whatever and then we build a piping system off of that racking and then panels, so we can go into anything. But I think knowing where I am today, the main concern about any sort of ground mount would be space and the lot.

Male Audience 1: So you’re going to do a site visit for that or?

Aaron: Yes. If you give me your address and if we were on the phone, you said, “I’ve got this place. I don’t want it on the roof. I want it on the ground,” I’ll just look at the address on Google Maps to tell you what I thought. If it’s outside the city and it’s got some land to it, then it’s a fine option. It is a little more expensive to build a ground mount because you have to build the structure whereas for a roof mount, the structures are already there.

Male Audience 2: Thanks I know you’ve done a handful of triple-deckers I’m sure across the state. What are some of the problems people have both before they did this [unintelligible 0:31:56] and said, “Okay, we may want to do this, but we need some help.” What are some of the issues that you’ve heard of, you’ve experienced, and how do you fix this for folks?

Aaron: I thought that was the point of your grant to figure out. We have done a bunch of triple-deckers. Most of them, from my experience, were in the Boston area where three people owned each level, and it was a condo association, so not the same as a triple-decker here that’s owned by a landlord but similar. In those situations, they had three meters with no common meter and the homeowners’ association wanted to do the investment, and so that has a lot of complexity to it because you’ve got a homeowners’ association that’s owned by three different people. It passes through and the tax credits get split evenly. That is challenging. If it’s a landlord-owned building, then the options are much broad. You can slice up in any way you want really.

A main thing that we would look for is if there is that fourth meter. If there are just three, then it takes a little more effort from the landlord because they have to then change their lease maybe to put in something that the first floor tenant that either the rent goes up and they get free electricity or the rent stays the same and they pay something based on the energy output of the system.

Rich: Well, if they were one of our members, they would add a house meter, so as to avoid court and having to pay triple damages on the entire electric bill for that apartment since they moved in. Is that right, Michelle? Yes, she’s an attorney.

We’ve had some really great questions. Anything else before we wrap up? All right, you’re in the right direction. Thank you for that, Jessica.

Audience: [laughter]


Male Audience 2: In the email that drew me here because I’m not a member yet, but it said that you’d teach us how to finance our own panels and get a new roof in the process. I want to know how you—

Aaron: Did it [laughter]

Male Audience 2: I want to know how you did the roof. I want to know you’re doing the roof. I want to know if it was one of his finely-crafted jokes or not, yes.

Aaron: I didn’t get to proofread those bullets, I don’t think.

Rich: No?

Aaron: No, but I could spin this some way. Maybe the SREC income, you could use to pay the loan on the new roof. Actually if we change the subject a little bit, when we do bigger projects, if it’s big enough, a roofing company will actually buy the system, knowing that they’re going to put a new roof on there because the roofing company has a tax burden, and so it benefits them to give away the roof and them put up the system, so it’s possible but it has to be something like a 10,000-square foot.


Doug: I think the motivation for that marketing text was if you do the roof and the panels as part of the same improvement project, then the roof is included as part of your federal tax credit.

Aaron: Yes, and you would get that section of that roof, not north or south. Let’s say it’s two sides, but if it’s a flat roof the whole thing, you can take that cost and say I’m going to take 30 percent of that. That’s if it’s a residence. This is some funky tax policy stuff that you should ask your tax preparer and not me, but the residential tax credit is different than the commercial tax credit. The residential says any cost associated with the solar project. The commercial one says not every cost, so you can’t really do that for your commercial system.

Rich: I’m surprised no one asked this. In our business, we never really know what’s going to happen, so how can our tenants surprise us with this? In what ways will we say, “Wow! I never would have seen that coming.”

Aaron: Yes, they could shut off the disconnect. They could turn the system off. That’s an option you could look at, which is what I imagine I would do.

Rich: Okay, I imagine if put graffiti on it, that’s not going to have a big impact or would it?

Aaron: The good thing about solar is that they’re on roofs and pretty hard to get to. It’s not somewhere that most people safely could go.

Rich: That’s good, but if they’re on the ground?

Aaron: If they’re on the ground, yes, you should fence it off if you’re in graffiti-prone areas, I suppose.

Rich: Okay, can you use solar powers to electrify the fence.

Aaron: No, that’s a no to that. I’ll say no to that [crosstalk 0:36:50]

Rich: All right. Brian has our last question of the evening.

Brian: It is winter.

Aaron: Yes.

Brian: You put this on your roof. You get two feet of snow. You just said it’s not an accessible area.

Aaron: Yes.

Brian: What do we do if there’s two feet of snow on our solar panels.

Aaron: Let it be.

Brian: Okay, now we’ve exceeded our snow load and we start to see the beams in the rafters start to bend.

Aaron: Sure.

Brian: And then our first guest speaker says get everyone out of the house because the roof is a danger from the third floor going down to the first floor.

Aaron: Right.

Brian: Out on these fields, I’ve seen on the backs of these trucks these really cool-looking solar snow blowers that they just drive through the field and blow all the snow off. I can’t really drive one of those up the side of my building to clear the roof. To snow off the roof. What happens? I mean if that all caves in, is the insurance company going to look at me and say, “Tsk! Tsk! You shouldn’t have put solar.”

Aaron: Well, you’re talking about a snow load that’s higher than the code level?

Brian: Because now we’ve added the system.

Aaron: No, no, no. The weight of the system is 4 pounds/square foot, the snow load is 50. The weight of the system is not going to be thing that does it. It’s this abnormal frequent winter, which you’re right, happens. If there is an abnormal freak winter where we’re getting 2 feet every Sunday again, that’s certainly a risk for every building everywhere. Your buildings are only designed—a lot of buildings around here are only designed to 20 pounds/square foot for snow loads and now it’ double that.

Brian: So if have building A that I put solar on, building B that does not have solar. We get the blizzard of ’78. I can send a crew up and shovel off building B; what can I do for building A?

Aaron: Yes, you can. You can shovel it off, but I would not send the standard shovel guy. You have to know where the panels are. You can clear snow. You won’t be able to send your shovel down everywhere. You don’t want them to smash panels and you want to know where the lines are.

Rich: We had that conversation yesterday and really what it came down to is just somebody with a brain has to be up there. He just have to not like—

Brian: That’s an oxymoron.

Rich: Well, right.

Aaron: We’re not going to put panels on the roof that doesn’t meet current snow load, keep in mind, too. Again, you’re absolutely right. there can a storm that goes against current snow load. The code, I wish you had stayed actually, because the code, specifies statistically high snow load number, but 3 years ago, 4 years ago, it was way over that.

Brian: It changes per county.

Aaron: Right. It changes per county. Absolutely. each town has their own snow load. And so we design to each town’s snow load.

Rich: The people who pay the rent on time, you put them on the first floor, and people—

Audience: [laughter]

Rich: If you have additional questions, we’re going to talk to Aaron after the meeting. He has agreed to hang around with us. Let’s have a big round of applause for Aaron Sims. Make sure you put in your calendar—

Audience: [applause]

[End 0:40:20]




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