Posts in Category: Interestingness

Solar In Your Community

Mike Nemeth, President of Nemeth Energy Solutions, Inc. has been accepted as a Consultant in the nationwide Department of Energy-sponsored Solar In Your Community Challenge. A goal of this Challenge is to bring solar energy to low- and moderate-income ("LMI") households. Research has shown that LMI households cannot typically afford a solar energy system, but these same households would benefit greatly from it.

Mr. Nemeth is happy to offer his skills to Solar In Your Community Challenge teams in his role as Consultant on this exciting Challenge.

Business Case for Clean Energy

The following is a rough transcription of a brief message that the president of Nemeth Energy Solutions gave at the Business Case for Clean Energy, a networking event and panel discussion jointly hosted by Environmental Entrepreneurs and the Natural Resources Defense Council on October 12th in Cedar Rapids.


Good evening. I’m Mike Nemeth, I run Nemeth Energy Solutions, which is located near here in Fairfax. We’re a full-service commercial and residential solar engineering and installation company. We can bring coordinated services from finance, design, engineering, installation, and project management. I’m a licensed Professional Engineer so we can cover commercial & industrial as well as residential, and we can do all the engineering work locally & be on-site whenever needed. We’re a member of the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance, I’m an Ambassador with the organization & I’m the incoming Secretary on the Ambassador’s Executive Committee for next year. I’ve spent countless hours networking with business leaders, business people, and others in the Corridor, so what I say here comes from those discussions.

One of my favorite sayings is “If it doesn’t make financial sense, it doesn’t make sense.” And not so many years ago, solar electric did not make sense; it was expensive and unreliable. This has changed rapidly, and really just within the past decade. Now concerning solar, what used to take significant public assistance just to be barely viable can now see that same viability with no government incentives at all. So I’m grateful to be able to talk for a few minutes about the finances of solar electric energy.

Q: Why are more customers choosing to explore solar energy for their businesses, farms, or homes?

You could say Climate Change & Clean Energy.

Despite the title of this gathering, this is probably the concern that I hear … least of all. People do talk about it, but honestly I don’t hear this expressed much. Here’s what I hear more, and it tells me that people in general are becoming more knowledgeable about solar.

More knowledge inspires more questions:

  • Are there still tax credits?
  • I hear about solar in the news; what about that new place that just got solar?
  • Can I save money on my bills?
  • How much does this stuff cost?
  • How long does this stuff last?

People are starting to ask the right questions. And that cheers me; I’m glad to hear it. The next step is commitment; doing something about it. I hear fewer questions like:

  • Will it look awful?
  • Am I going to stand out like a nut if I put this stuff up?
  • Do I need batteries?
  • You mean those motorized things on poles?
  • Will my power company hate me?
  • Will Congress take away my credits?
  • Or my favorite: I’ll wait til the cost comes down –or better yet- I’ll wait til some big technology breakthrough comes out of the lab.

Folks, solar electric technology is mature. It’s affordable. After all, you don’t put off buying a cellphone because the price will be lower in 6 months – you see the benefit now & think it’s a good idea to get now. The situation is the same with solar. Going with it a year from now means that you’ll have missed out on a year’s production.

Consider electric rate increases. I think if I hear of a proposed rate increase, I’ll go to Des Moines & lobby FOR a rate increase! Why? My phone will start ringing. Now let’s think about that: WHY is that? Why would we get more calls if the electric rates go up? It’s because people have some understanding of the benefit of solar, & with rising electric bills they come face-to-face with the fact that they are RENTING their electricity … and their landlord just raised their rent. Yes, it’s a knee-jerk reaction, but consider: Why do people buy houses instead of renting them? They do that because they see an economic benefit. They avoid rising rents, they lock in a consistent long-term payment, maybe they’ll see an appreciation on their money, & they may even own the house outright someday. It’s the same story with solar.

Q: What is the financial (economic) impact of solar PV for commercial and residential customers?

Solar has four benefits:

  1. It protects you from rising utility rates
  2. It locks in a consistent long-term payment
  3. It is worth more every time the utility rates go up
  4. It may cost you nothing if you keep it long enough

Basically, the financial impact of solar electric all comes down to it being a moneymaker for the property owner. Usually. Not always; the property can’t always accommodate it. But if your property can accommodate solar – on the roof or on a shed or on racks on the ground – what’s the financial impact?

Especially for businesses, they get:

  • Predictable electric operating expenses – for that part of usage that is covered by solar. Or it allows the business to shift expenses from Operations to Capital Equipment. It’s a tool to use to help run a business.
  • Long-term ownership of business resources (as opposed to renting – consider: would you rent a facility without signing a lease? Utility power is like that.).
  • Notoriety. (Free press, people notice it, people talk about you. Word-of-mouth can be a powerful thing. Word-of-mouth can grow your business.)

In summary, if you’re:

  • A homeowner, solar is a good investment, just like your mortgage is a good investment.
  • A business, solar can give you an advantage in the market.

Thank you.

Come See Us At “Solar Powering Iowa”!

Nemeth Energy Solutions, Inc. is sponsoring Solar Powering Iowa, a conference in nearby Cedar Rapids! Come out & see — we’ll have giveaways and a drawing, and you can learn more about us.



We are also rolling out our all-new NES branding at this conference — so come see our fresh new look!

Presenting at Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Fair – 2nd Year!

I plan to host not one but TWO workshops at this year’s MREA’s 26th Annual Energy Fair, to be held in Custer, WI on June 19-21, 2015. I will be refreshing my workshop from last year: “When and Why You Should Work with an Engineer,” and I am introducing a new workshop this year: “Electromagnetic Interference: The Basics.” This is THE LARGEST and longest-running renewable energy event in the country and there will be lots of great stuff going on all weekend – so come to the Fair!


Snow Is Not Opaque

This may seem pretty obvious, but to many people, it seems it’s not. I get asked by people wanting to find reasons to justify their belief that solar arrays don’t work in Iowa, “What about when it snows, and the snow covers the panels?” As if I’ll look at them with a newfound glow of epiphany, realizing that I had never thought of that before, and thank them for showing me how wrong I was and that I need to rethink my life now that they have completely deflated my belief in the value of solar energy. My response to their “gotcha” question: “Snow is not opaque.” Then the typical reply? “Oh. Yeah.”

Yep, as anybody who’s built a snow fort or burrowed into the snow as a kid can tell you, snow is translucent. It lets some light through. Sure, an array covered by a few inches of snow (that’s all we get in mid-latitude Iowa, after all) will not produce at full capacity. Generally, you’ll get about the same production as you would get from a bright overcast day. You may get 10-30% of full production, but it’s not zero. In winter, I’ll take every watt I can get!

Common Sense

OK, so after a long hiatus since i’ve posted anything, here are some basic refutations to a couple of common local objections to solar:

We Don’t Get Enough Sun in Iowa

Answer: We grow lots of corn. Corn needs lots of sunlight to grow. We grow lots of beans. Beans need lots of sunlight to grow. Obviously, we get plenty of sunshine.

Answer: Iowa is on about the same latitude as the south of France. I don’t hear anybody complaining that the south of France has no sun.

The Southwest USA Can Use Solar Much Better Than Us

Answer: True, they get more sunlight hours than Iowa, and they can generate more electricity than we do. However:

  1. They have to wash their panels all the time to get rid of LOTS of dust and crud on the panels which reduces their output – we get rains which wash ours for free! And we don’t have nearly the dust problem that they do.
  2. Solar PV works best when the panels are COLD. The colder the better. They produce less as they get warmer. The southwest is usually pretty hot, so the panels are less efficient than in Iowa. Plus, heat is the enemy of electronics, … like, say … inverters. High heat translates to shorter lifetimes for electronics.

So even though they get more sunlight hours, they don’t have the huge solar bonanza that you might think.

What About Snow?

Answer: Yes, snow can reduce production. If the panels are mounted flat, they’ll probably be covered for some fraction of the winter. Most of our installations, though, have them mounted at an angle, usually 20-45 degrees. If snow does stick to the tilted panels, once the sun comes out (yes, it DOES come out in the winter – more often than you might think – consider how often you get glare off the snow!), the sun melts the snow, it slides off, & your generating capacity comes right back! And more, really, since the panels are cold (see my previous answer).

Presenting at Midwest Renewable Energy Association’s Energy Fair

I plan to host a workshop at the MREA’s 25th Annual Energy Fair, to be held in Custer, WI on June 20-22, 2014. I will be speaking on the topic, “Engineers? Who Needs ‘Em?” at 4pm on Friday. This is THE LARGEST and longest-running renewable energy event in the country and there will be lots of great stuff going on all weekend – so come to the Fair!


Zintro article: “First Solar Seeks New Opportunities”

My response was quoted in a Zintro article about a solar installer who is trying to chase after the midsize commercial/industrial solar PV market. To read the article, just click on:


A Number of Ways to Thank Albert Einstein

We owe gratitude to Albert Einstein in a number of ways. Not only was he born on Pi Day, but we can thank him for contributing to solar energy!

Sir Albert Einstein was born on March 14, 1879. While best known for his mass–energy equivalence formula E = mc2 (which has been dubbed “the world’s most famous equation”),he received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”.

Einstein is generally considered the most influential physicist of the 20th century. He died on April 18, 1955, in Princeton, New Jersey.

Follow Me On LinkedIn

Warning: Shameless self-promotion ahead!

If you didn’t already know it, Nemeth Energy Solutions is active on LinkedIn! There, you will find daily updates with news from across the Renewable Energy spectrum, from policy changes to happenings in other countries to technologies of interest and much more. We comb through articles from many sources to bring you items directly of interest to the Solar/Small Wind community.

I encourage you to search for our company page and follow Nemeth Energy Solutions, Inc. on LinkedIn. Today!

40 Years and Still Ticking….

We can be SO thankful for the 1970s; the time when solar energy was just getting its start! Oh, we’re still stuck in that mindset today. Solar power in the ’70s was hideously expensive and so inefficient and unreliable as to be nearly useless, and it was viewed as a liability. And it was, kinda. Unfortunately most people these days (including those much younger than 40) still believe that. And it is just not that way anymore.

Solar energy has really matured over just the last 5 years, to where it makes economic sense now. In just a few short years, we may see the price of a big solar electric array drop BELOW the price of a coal-fired power plant! People are making money TODAY on their own solar energy systems.

I’m looking forward to what the next few years will bring!

The One That Launched It All

For those of you who might be interested from time to time, this blog will likely be populated with informational tidbits, praises, critiques, and maybe even useful stuff. There is no predetermined plan for this, and items will surface in no particular order. Enjoy!