Webinar Overview

Photovoltaic (PV) panels are an increasingly common sight on urban rooftops and rural properties across the U.S. The declining cost of equipment and installation makes installing a behind-the-electric-meter (net metered) solar electric system enticing for many farmers. Evaluating the financial prudence of an investment in solar requires careful consideration of installation costs, the value of production, and operation and maintenance costs. This six part webinar series will provide practical guidance to farmers who are considering investing in a solar electric system so they are able to make fully informed investment decisions. Even though the webinars are geared to an agricultural audience, the information that will be shared applies to anyone looking for information on making a wise solar energy investment. 

Webinar Schedule

Part 1: Estimating System Production
Date: Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018
Description: Site-specific factors can influence the amount of electricity produced by a photovoltaic installation.
Learning Objectives:

Part 2: Assessing System Cost
Date: Thursday, Jan. 25, 2018
Description: From initial costs to incentives to ongoing insurance expense, the present and expected costs dominate the decision to install a photovoltaic system.
Learning Objectives:

  • Describe the impact of historical price trends on the cost of PV solar today.
  • Describe how hard costs and soft costs impact the decision to invest in a solar PV system.
  • Describe how other costs such as Debt-to-Equity Ratio, Cost of Capital, taxes, insurance, and Operations and Maintenance impact the decision to invest in a solar PV system.
  • Describe the how solar module power and efficiency factors influence overall system cost.
  • Populate your system costs and financial assumptions into the SAM model. 

Part 3: Forecasting the Value of Electricity
Date: Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018
Description: Utility and governmental policies affect how much electricity is worth. Not all electrons are created equal.
Learning Objectives:

  • Describe how utilities charge customers for the electricity they use.
  • Describe how utilities compensate customers for Net Excess Generation.
  • Define Net Metering and describe how it differs by state and how the difference impacts the value of electricity.
  • Populate your electricity rate into the SAM model.

Part 4: Understanding Incentives
Date: Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018
Description: Federal, state, and local incentives can greatly affect the financial viability of a photovoltaic installation.
Learning Objectives:

  • Identify renewable energy incentives that exist for residences, businesses and agricultural producers.
  • List tools and resources available to identify renewable energy incentives.
  • Populate applicable incentives and tax credits for your project into the SAM model.

Part 5: Conducting a Financial Analysis
Date: Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018
Description: Accurately evaluating the viability of a photovoltaic system requires understanding financial concepts, such as simple payback, net present value, and the levelized cost of energy. Preferences for risk, environmental attributes, and independence also inform these measures of viability.
Learning Objectives:

  • Summarize common challenges with solar PV system proposals.
  • Assess the value of a solar PV project using multiple financial metrics including:
    • Simple Payback Period
    • Internal Rate of Return
    • Net Present Value
    • Levelized Cost of Electricity
  • Use the SAM model to simulate financial metrics.

Part 6: Photovoltaic Solar Example
Date: Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
Description: The importance of accurate evaluation is clear when applied to a hypothetical project.
Learning Objective:

  • Using the System Advisory Model (SAM) and a hypothetical situation provided by the instructors or one of your own choosing, compare how various production, policy, and cost assumptions influence the financial performance of a project.

Webinar sessions begin at 7 PM EST. Each session is 60 minutes long followed by 10-15 minutes of questions and answers. Participants will be given access to every webinar presentation as well as other information pertinent to the specific webinar topic.

Webinar Instructors

Each webinar will be taught by Eric Romich (Ohio State University Extension) and John Hay (University of Nebraska Extension). Charles Gould and Aluel (Al) S. Go (Michigan State University Extension) will be session moderators.

Registration Fee

This is a six part series. The registration fee is $40 for all six webinars.

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Michigan State University is committed to providing equal opportunity for participation in all programs, services and activities. Accommodations for persons with disabilities may be requested by contacting the event contact two weeks prior to the start of the event. Requests received after this date will be honored whenever possible.

Contact Information

Questions about the Agricultural Solar Electric Investment Analysis Webinar? Contact Charles Gould at gouldm@msu.edu or 616-994-4547.