Will Eclipse Affect Solar?

Will the total solar eclipse visible in New York on April 8th impact your solar energy system in any way?

The short answer is NO. The National Resources Defense Council reassures everyone that “we don’t have to worry about systems failing or homes going dark while the sun ducks behind the moon”. 

TEMPORARY DARKNESS.  Although it will be an extraordinary event –the first total solar eclipse visible in New York State in nearly a century– when the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking it, the temporary darkness will be ordinary, just like any darkness on a cloudy or snowy day or during the dark of night itself and will have no impact on the functioning of your solar energy system. On Long Island, individual residential and commercial systems are grid-tied, so grid power is designed to kick in just as it does at night or under cloudy conditions.  During the “slightly dark sky” caused by the eclipse on Long Island, you will simply collect less sun than you would on a typical day, a little more than an hour less. 

ABOUT THE ECLIPSE.  To be specific, the total solar eclipse taking place on April 8th will be visible on Long Island just after 3PM. While Long Island is not directly in the “path of totality,” we will still witness a “slightly dark sky” in daytime, about 88% coverage.

THE LONGER ANSWER. While the short answer about any individual effect is NO, the longer answer, however, is that the eclipse will somewhat impact the collective solar energy generated in the U.S. The eclipse will temporarily require greater power from the grid at that time through other sources. Keep in mind that solar energy accounts for much more of our power today than it did during the last total eclipse on our planet in 2017 (not visible in New York state). 

Still, even for those who live directly in the within the “path of totality” in the U.S., there will be little or no OVERALL impact because sources of power other than solar, including natural gas and hydropower, supplants solar during any short-term loss of solar power, according to Melissa Lott, professor of professional practice at the Columbia Climate School at New York’s Columbia University. “The course, timing and duration of an eclipse are all predictable, unlike a natural disaster or other weather emergency,” USA TODAY reports. “With an eclipse, ‘we know the path it’s going to take. We have really good information to predict how long it’s going to last,’ said Lott; ‘this means utility companies know what to expect and can compensate.'”

It’s also easy to look back at the most recent example, only seven years ago. During the 2017 total solar eclipse (New York was not in its path then), there were no major issues for utilities in North America. “What was predicted versus what happened was pretty dead-on,” said Lott, “which should quell any lingering uncertainty.”

ECLIPSE SAFETY.  If you look at an eclipse directly, you won’t feel any immediate pain, yet the sun’s powerful energy can still permanently damage your retina and your vision, according to experts. Even a very quick look at a solar eclipse can burn your retina, irreversibly. While the safety of other methods including special glasses can be iffy (see Q&A), pinhole cameras used correctly are safe because they allow viewing of reflected light not looking at the light itself. Read this special ECLIPSE SAFETY Q&A presented by Avnish Deobhakta, MD, Associate Professor of Ophthalmology at the New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai. He explains how to safely look at a solar eclipse and the potential harm that can occur if you do not follow basic precautions for viewing this spectacle.

Learn more about the April 8, 2024 eclipse at Eclipse2024.org or at the “I Love New York” eclipse viewing site HERE.

Solar, the answer to avoid rising Long Island electric rates!

Long Island Electric Rates to Rise 11.6% in 2024 alone. 
Solar is the answer to avoid rising Long Island electric rates!

The recently approved 2024 Long Island Power Authority budget includes “an average monthly bill hike of almost $20 — an 11.6% increase — for customers next year,” according to news reports for residential electricity.

This is based on what LIPA notes as ‘typical current bills of $167.28 per month.’ Applying that math to not-unusual higher monthly electric bills, a $300 bill, for example, an 11.6% increase this year would rise by $34.80 and a $400 bill by $46.40, and so on.

For solar customers whose costs have been eliminated, this will have no impact.

The delivery portion of bills (the so-called interconnection fees that apply to all customers, including those with solar energy) remained below the 2.5% increase threshold that would have required a full rate review by the NYS Department of Public Service. According to reports, a full DPS review of LIPA rates last took place in 2015.

PSEG Long Island manages the LIPA electric grid under an annual contract, which is scheduled to expire at the end of 2025.  READ MORE

De-Clutter… Opt Out of Junk Mail for the Planet

As many of us resolve to reduce clutter in the new year, paper accumulation is one of the biggest problems.

According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), well over 4 million tons of “junk mail” are produced each year. These unsolicited and often unwanted catalogs, restaurant menus, advertisements, promotional flyers and the like in your mailbox today often wind up in a landfill tomorrow, the effects far-reaching, seriously contributing to deforestation and greenhouse gas emissions.

Fortunately, stopping junk mail delivery has become easier. Opt out of credit card and insurance solicitations HERE, direct mail ads HERE, or catalogs HERE. And choose email, online or other paperless billing or communications whenever available.  READ MORE

Can Santa land?

Can Santa land on solar panels?

The short answer, YES! Solar panels can handle it.

The long answer, YES! According to Long Island’s solar experts Built Well Solar, solar panels have been engineered to easily withstand the weight of Santa and his sleigh and his reindeer… even if the jolly ol’ guy eats a ton of cookies this year! 

“Santa has landed on the rooftops of our thousands of solar customers with no problem for the past 20 years, we’re happy to report,” said Built Well Solar founder Dan Sabia.

Another question that comes up — do reindeer hoofs scratch solar panels? No they do not. Some say they’ve spied the reindeer wearing special padded booties.  Others say it’s just plain magic.

And, remember, Santa — like most everyone who lives at the North Pole — is a huge environmentalist, since slowing climate change will keep the icecaps at the North Pole from further melting, so he’s known to be pro-solar.

Celebrating 20+ years as Long Island’s solar pioneer, Built Well Solar has been capturing the power of the sun since 2001.The company has designed and installed more solar energy systems on Long Island than most other companies combined and is known for top-quality installations and personalized customer service.

Slowly starting to…

“The U.S. solar industry is slowly starting to see supply chain relief,” said Michelle Davis, head of global solar at Wood Mackenzie and lead author of the the most recent US Solar Market Insight Report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.

At the same time, the U.S. solar industry installed 6.1 GW of solar capacity and had its best first quarter in history, according to the report. The record quarter was driven in large part by the stability of the Inflation Reduction Act’s ten-year 30% federal tax credit as well as the moving forward of delayed solar projects that were held up due to global supply chain roadblocks. 

The residential segment installed 1.6 GW of solar capacity in Q1 2023, a 30% increase from Q1 last year and is on track to add 36 GW of solar over the next five years, growing at an average annual rate of 6%.

The commercial market also had a record first quarter, with 391 MW installed, putting the segment on track for 12% growth in 2023. 

Overall, solar accounted for 54% of all new electricity-generating capacity added to the grid in Q1.

The report also projects the U.S. solar market to triple in size over the next five years, bringing total installed solar capacity to an unprecedented 378 GW by 2028. READ MORE

Spot the ISS

Did you know that the solar-powered International Space Station (ISS) is visible from Earth? It’s easy to spot if you know where and when to look. The third brightest object in the sky, it looks like a fast-moving plane only much higher and traveling much faster.

Zipping along at an average speed of 17,500 mph and completing 16 orbits per day, the ISS is only visible because it reflects sunlight. The best time to view the ISS is either at dawn or dusk. It can be seen passing overhead from several thousand worldwide locations. Go to SPOT THE STATION to find out when it will be in your neighborhood, and to sign up for text or email alerts for the next time it’s visible in your area.

Solar powered. The ISS is indeed powered by solar, using large solar arrays to collect the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity used for “everything from life support and temperature controls to communications with Earth and propulsion systems to allow the station to dodge debris.” 

Solar upgrade. When installed in 2009, there were four solar arrays containing 262,400 solar cells. With large numbers of increasingly complex science experiments being performed on the station, the power requirements are going up. A solar energy upgrade required astronauts during three spacewalks to install six new arrays sitting in front of the older arrays which are still operational, allowing power to be drawn from both. Four of the new arrays were installed in 2022; the other two are scheduled for this year.

ISS to retire in 2031. NASA recently announced that it will keep the International Space Station running through the end of this decade, before decommissioning it in 2031 by intentionally crashing the orbiting outpost into the southern Pacific Ocean. 

Originally set to be retired in 2024, the White House extended its operation through 2030. During its remaining years, NASA said it “plans to continue conducting research aboard the ISS while also using the lab to support deep-space exploration. In its report, the agency said it will bolster commercial ventures to develop new destinations in low-Earth orbit”.

Watery grave. NASA plans to aim for a region known as Point Nemo, an open and uninhabited stretch of water east of New Zealand. This remote area is nicknamed “spacecraft cemetery” because space agencies and aerospace firms often intentionally land defunct spacecraft there. READ MORE