Staff Profile:Sonja Ling
As a mom working in the renewable energy sector, I believe we all need to do our part to immediately reduce our carbon footprint. At SPE, I’m in charge of permitting and I work with homeowners who want to go solar.
I first met the Sun Path team through advocacy work when I was a young mother with Cool Moms, a non-profit started by Sun Path President, Kristy Royce. My dedication to working in the renewable sector began more than twenty years ago when I was a graduate student researching the off-grid solar PV market for Tibetan herders in Qinghai Province, China. Over the following two decades I’ve spent several years with my family living in southwest China, where solar power has been widely used for years to heat water. My interest in China extends beyond solar, however: I’ve also been involved in developing Chinese women’s leadership by promoting the collective giving model of philanthropy.
In my spare time I love to hike with my family on the Olympic Peninsula. My son has also started designing solar projects and my daughter plays the cello.
Sun Path Electric is in the Seattle Times!
Seattle Times, March 17th, 2023
by Erica Browne Grivas
Maybe you are concerned about rising energy costs, have considered buying an electric car or just want to find a more environmentally friendly way to power your home. There are a lot of reasons solar power suddenly seems more seductive. Here’s what you need to know and how to find the right solar installer.
“There’s so much interest, not just in Washington, but across the country,” says Kristy Royce, co-founder and president of Sunpath Electric, a company based in West Seattle.
Solar is growing fast in Seattle, too. Puget Sound Energy has seen the number of customers jump from 10,000 in 2020 to 17,000, said Leslie Moynihan, PSE’s product manager for customer-connected solar.
A major driver is that solar is a lot less costly than when mass production began rolling out in the 60s, and state and federal incentives are helping to make it more accessible. In 2021, the U.S. reached a record 3 million installations.
- Using a renewable, infinite resource
- The potential to drop monthly electric bills
- Powering electric vehicles from home
- With an optional battery installed, having access to power if the power grid fails
- Selling your house faster — solar-equipped houses sell 20% faster than those without, according to Forbes.com
Intrigued? To see if your home is a contender for solar, plug your address into Project Sunroof on Google, and it will estimate your available sun, savings and costs whether you pay upfront, lease or get a loan.
Royce says she thinks Project Sunroof, likely using national statistics, tends to overestimate costs and underestimate savings. Our roof, for example, set in a sunny, open location without much tree cover, gets 1,330 sunlight hours per year, and the site estimates that if we paid $19,000 up front, we would save a total of $2,000 over 20 years — after incentives.
Pro tip: If your roof needs fixing, do that first. You want your roof to last at least 10 years, Royce estimates, so you don’t have to bring solar contractors back to reinstall your panels.
Savings costs are determined by the amount of sun your roof can capture relative to your energy usage and your tax payments. Consider how long you’ll live in the house and how much longer you’ll be working.
“Let’s say you get a $30,0000 solar system, you would then be eligible for a $9,000 tax credit,” Royce says. “If you haven’t paid $9,000 into the federal system, it will take longer,” to earn that credit if you’re retired, for instance.
“I would say a typical payoff now on a good roof with a simple design is anywhere from 10-12 years,” she says.
Very steep or dormered roofs boost construction costs.
While you may be able to drop your electric bill to next to nothing, the installation costs, however, remain hefty. Even if you can cover 100% of your electric costs over time, savings are not the primary reason to go solar.
“I like to say you are buying versus renting your power,” says Royce, adding that it protects you against increased power prices — especially if you are an electric car owner. “I have an electric car, and I don’t pay for gas.”
Perhaps most importantly, it’s good for the planet.
“It’s a very tangible thing you can do around climate change,” Royce says. “Our clients say that all the time — it just makes them happy.”
Take your time to investigate your options. Fast industry growth brings commercial opportunity — and with it some sketchy sales tactics — so don’t rush to sign with the first company that knocks on your door or pops up on social media.
“I am a huge proponent of solar and it does and can work well for homeowners in the Pacific Northwest,” says Moynihan,” but notes, “There are a lot of predatory and aggressive sales tactics out there. We have had folks who have been recently widowed and have been preyed upon for really expensive loans.”
“We want to help our customers to be knowledgeable and help them make an informed decision,” Moynihan says. “If you have someone at your door and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Don’t let them pressure you into signing a loan agreement today.”
Her main recommendation: “First and foremost is: do your homework, reach out for information from utilities, and always, always get multiple bids.”
PSE offers a list of recommended contractors online.
Royce recommends seeking out a local installer who is a member of Washington Solar Industries Association.
She says it’s worth looking for a warranty on workmanship (SunPath’s is 10 years), transparency about all the costs and materials, NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners) certification and no hard sales tactics.
- The Federal Investment Tax Credit currently returns 30% of your solar system costs through 2032 — any unrecouped costs can carry over to the next year without a cap.
- Washington charges no sales tax on residential solar systems.
- The state offers net metering to allow you to use the power grid when you need to, meaning your excess energy is sent to the power utility, earning credits to cover your power needs on rainy days. It acts like a piggy bank for power. This is guaranteed until the number of customers reach the state’s capacity. While it is currently at 77% according to Washington State University, Puget Sound Energy says it is confident net metering will remain through 2023 and has “no plans to discontinue opportunities for customers to interconnect to the grid or to use the power they generate.” Moynihan also notes the state legislature is discussing ways to extend net metering.
Another tip is: While the idea may be tempting to accumulate extra power, it doesn’t pay to build extra panels. Only add the panels you need to offset your costs. Excess energy can’t be exchanged for money, and credits don’t roll over past March 31 yearly, so no need to start adding panels on your shed and doghouse.
- Sun Path Electric
Contact Your Legislators TODAY and Stand for Solar in Washington
● NOW IS THE TIME. Net metering has fostered industry growth, yet the growing demand for solar will soon surpass the cap on net metering at the precise moment that Washington is striving to decarbonize its vehicles, buildings, and electric grid.
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Sun Path President Joins Board of Washington Solar Energy Installers
Sun Path President, Kristy Royce, has recently joined the Washington Solar Energy Installers Association Board of Directors, while Communications Manager, Rebecca Sayre, has been hired as the organization's first Outreach Manager. Her focus is supporting the organizations legislative priorities.
We are excited about how these new roles will allow us to stay on top of the latest solar policies and messages to ensure we are doing our part to keep solar a robust and affordable resource as Washington builds out a 21st clean energy grid.
We are committed to ensuring that the future of solar is a bright one for our entire state!
To stay up-to-date on the latest legislative efforts around residential solar power, visit the WASEIA website at waseia.org.
COP27 Reaches Breakthrough Agreement on New “Loss and Damage” Fund for Vulnerable Countries
UN Climate Change News, 20 November 2022 – The United Nations Climate Change Conference COP27 closed today with a breakthrough agreement to provide “loss and damage” funding for vulnerable countries hit hard by climate disasters.
“This outcome moves us forward,” said Simon Stiell, UN Climate Change Executive Secretary. “We have determined a way forward on a decades-long conversation on funding for loss and damage – deliberating over how we address the impacts on communities whose lives and livelihoods have been ruined by the very worst impacts of climate change.”
Set against a difficult geopolitical backdrop, COP27 resulted in countries delivering a package of decisions that reaffirmed their commitment to limit global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The package also strengthened action by countries to cut greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the inevitable impacts of climate change, as well as boosting the support of finance, technology and capacity building needed by developing countries.
Creating a specific fund for loss and damage marked an important point of progress, with the issue added to the official agenda and adopted for the first time at COP27.
Governments took the ground-breaking decision to establish new funding arrangements, as well as a dedicated fund, to assist developing countries in responding to loss and damage. Governments also agreed to establish a ‘transitional committee’ to make recommendations on how to operationalize both the new funding arrangements and the fund at COP28 next year. The first meeting of the transitional committee is expected to take place before the end of March 2023.
Parties also agreed on the institutional arrangements to operationalize the Santiago Network for Loss and Damage, to catalyze technical assistance to developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change.
COP27 saw significant progress on adaptation, with governments agreeing on the way to move forward on the Global Goal on Adaptation, which will conclude at COP28 and inform the first Global Stocktake, improving resilience amongst the most vulnerable. New pledges, totaling more than USD 230 million, were made to the Adaptation Fund at COP27. These pledges will help many more vulnerable communities adapt to climate change through concrete adaptation solutions. COP27 President Sameh Shoukry announced the Sharm el-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda, enhancing resilience for people living in the most climate-vulnerable communities by 2030. UN Climate Change’s Standing Committee on Finance was requested to prepare a report on doubling adaptation finance for consideration at COP28 next year.
The cover decision, known as the Sharm el-Sheikh Implementation Plan, highlights that a global transformation to a low-carbon economy is expected to require investments of at least USD 4-6 trillion a year. Delivering such funding will require a swift and comprehensive transformation of the financial system and its structures and processes, engaging governments, central banks, commercial banks, institutional investors and other financial actors.
Serious concern was expressed that the goal of developed country Parties to mobilize jointly USD 100 billion per year by 2020 has not yet been met, with developed countries urged to meet the goal, and multilateral development banks and international financial institutions called on to mobilize climate finance.
At COP27, deliberations continued on setting a ‘new collective quantified goal on climate finance’ in 2024, taking into account the needs and priorities of developing countries.
“In this text we have been given reassurances that there is no room for backsliding,” said Stiell. “It gives the key political signals that indicate the phasedown of all fossil fuels is happening.”
The World Leaders Summit, held over two days during the first week of the conference, convened six high-level roundtable discussions. The discussions highlighted solutions – on themes including food security, vulnerable communities and just transition – to chart a path to overcome climate challenges and how to provide the finance, resources and tools to effectively deliver climate action at scale.
COP27 brought together more than 45,000 participants to share ideas, solutions, and build partnerships and coalitions. Indigenous peoples, local communities, cities and civil society, including youth and children, showcased how they are addressing climate change and shared how it impacts their lives.
The decisions taken here today also reemphasize the critical importance of empowering all stakeholders to engage in climate action; in particular through the five-year action plan on Action for Climate Empowerment and the intermediate review of the Gender Action Plan. These outcomes will allow all Parties to work together to address imbalances in participation and provide stakeholders with the tools required to drive greater and more inclusive climate action at all levels.
Young people in particular were given greater prominence at COP27, with UN Climate Change’s Executive Secretary promising to urge governments to not just listen to the solutions put forward by young people, but to incorporate those solutions in decision and policy making. Young people made their voices heard through the first-of-its-kind pavilion for children and youth, as well as the first-ever youth-led Climate Forum.
In parallel with the formal negotiations, the Global Climate Action space at COP27 provided a platform for governments, businesses and civil society to collaborate and showcase their real-world climate solutions. The UN Climate Change High-Level Champions held a two-week programme of more than 50 events. This included a number of major African-led initiatives to cut emissions and build climate resilience, and significant work on the mobilization of finance.
“We have a series of milestones ahead. We must pull together, with resolve, through all processes, may they be national, regional, or others such as the G20. Every single milestone matters and builds momentum,” said Stiell. “The next step for change is just around the corner, with the United Arab Emirates’ stewardship of the First Global Stocktake. For the very first time we will take stock of the implementation of the Paris Agreement. It will independently evaluate the progress we have made and if our goals are adequate. It will inform what everybody, every single day, everywhere in the world, needs to do, to avert the climate crisis.”
Stiell reminded delegates in the closing plenary that the world is in a critical decade for climate action. A stark report from UN Climate Change underpinned his remarks, as well as discussions throughout the two-week conference. According to the report, implementation of current pledges by national governments put the world on track for a 2.5°C warmer world by the end of the century. The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change indicates that greenhouse gas emissions must decline 45% by 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5°C.
COP27 President Sameh Shoukry said: “The work that we’ve managed to do here in the past two weeks, and the results we have together achieved, are a testament to our collective will, as a community of nations, to voice a clear message that rings loudly today, here in this room and around the world: that multilateral diplomacy still works…. despite the difficulties and challenges of our times, the divergence of views, level of ambition or apprehension, we remain committed to the fight against climate change…. we rose to the occasion, upheld our responsibilities and undertook the important decisive political decisions that millions around the world expect from us.”
Speaking about the year ahead, Stiell said UN Climate Change will help Parties and future COP Presidencies to navigate this path to the new phase of implementation.
A summary of some of the other key outcomes of COP27 follows below.
COP27 saw the launch of a new five-year work program at COP27 to promote climate technology solutions in developing countries.
COP27 significantly advanced the work on mitigation. A mitigation work programme was launched in Sharm el-Sheikh, aimed at urgently scaling up mitigation ambition and implementation. The work programme will start immediately following COP27 and continue until 2026 when there will be a review to consider its extension. Governments were also requested to revisit and strengthen the 2030 targets in their national climate plans by the end of 2023, as well as accelerate efforts to phasedown unabated coal power and phase-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies.
The decision text recognizes that the unprecedented global energy crisis underlines the urgency to rapidly transform energy systems to be more secure, reliable, and resilient, by accelerating clean and just transitions to renewable energy during this critical decade of action.
Delegates at the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 wrapped up the second technical dialogue of the first global stocktake, a mechanism to raise ambition under the Paris Agreement. The UN Secretary-General will convene a ‘climate ambition summit’ in 2023, ahead of the conclusion of the stocktake at COP28 next year.
Snapshot of other announcements
The conference heard many announcements:
- Countries launched a package of 25 new collaborative actions in five key areas: power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture.
- UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced a USD 3.1 billion plan to ensure everyone on the planet is protected by early warning systems within the next five years.
- The UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Expert Group on Net-Zero Commitments published a report at COP27, serving as a how-to guide to ensure credible, accountable net-zero pledges by industry, financial institutions, cities and regions.
- The G7 and the V20 (‘the Vulnerable Twenty’) launched the Global Shield against Climate Risks, with new commitments of over USD 200 million as initial funding. Implementation is to start immediately.
- Announcing a total of USD 105.6 million in new funding, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Walloon Region of Belgium, stressed the need for even more support for the Global Environment Facility funds targeting the immediate climate adaptation needs of low-lying and low-income states.
- The new Indonesia Just Energy Transition Partnership, announced at the G20 Summit held in parallel with COP27, will mobilize USD 20 billion over the next three to five years to accelerate a just energy transition.
- Important progress was made on forest protection with the launch of the Forest and Climate Leaders’ Partnership, which aims to unite action by governments, businesses and community leaders to halt forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
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Offsetting our Unavoidable Carbon with Carbon Credit CartWe are committed to living as lightly as we can as we go about our daily work and family business. We are grateful that there are now resources available to help us be carbon-free. We try to reduce the amount of climate-changing greenhouse gases we put into the environment by driving electric vehicles when we can, reducing our air travel and, of course, by powering our home and business by the sun, but in the course of living our lives and doing business, we still have an impact. Thankfully, we were able to track our carbon footprint by consulting with Evergreen Carbon and, now, we are able to easily offset our carbon emissions each year through the services of Carbon Credit Cart.
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