by Rick Peters, Solar Energy Services
Jared Littmann was a real pioneer in 2012, when he made a substantial investment in a rooftop solar installation at his business, K&B True Value, to offset a chunk of the store’s electricity consumption. At that time, Solar Energy Services (SES) designed a 17 kilowatt (kW) solar project (72 panels in total) to offset about 15% of the store’s annual electricity consumption. With a projected payback of 5.5 years, this 2012 project was a good financial investment, but it was still a rare one. At the time, many commercial building owners were not interested in solar if it could not offset 100% of their energy. While 100% offset is ideal, it was certainly not a requirement for a good financial project. Jared understood that and to his credit went ahead with the investment. As promised, the system offset the projected energy and paid his business back in under 6 years.
Fast forward to 2021. K&B True Value’s solar system has been generating free energy for the business for years, but Jared wanted to do more. He reached out to SES and asked us to consider some options to increase his solar contribution. He had plenty of available roof space, so we looked at a supplemental system to the current one, but we also looked at a full new system to replace the 9-year-old system.
In a testament to the rapid decline in costs for solar, Jared was able to invest in an entirely new system to completely offset K&B True Value’s entire annual electricity consumption. That’s right – Net Zero on electricity! Have any other retail operations in Annapolis achieved this? We are not aware of any. Could other firms achieve this and benefit from the tremendous economics that will essentially provide free energy after the 7.5-year payback period? Yes, they can!
Solar energy costs have come down more than 75% since Jared’s first installation. That’s thanks to policy, competition, and scale. Now, many businesses and homeowners can achieve Net Zero electricity with relative ease, while making major improvements to the bottom line. Like Jared, businesses and homeowners can benefit from the state’s “netmetering” policy that allows excess solar energy to be fed back into the grid for credits to be used later. This allows the business owner to maximize the value of the solar investment without the need for batteries.
Some might wonder what happens to the energy that K&B True Value feeds back to the grid at times when the store is not consuming all the solar generation. Jared’s neighbors may not know it, but some of them are periodically using solar energy from Jared’s rooftop. The neighbors are paying the utility for that energy and Jared is getting a credit. And best of all, the line losses of transporting that energy are negligible since the solar energy is consumed by the nearest load. Typically, traditional electric energy incurs line losses anywhere from 10-15% when it travels from a wind or solar, coal or nuclear plant to the consumer. Rooftop solar gets consumed at or near the source of generation, reducing line losses and in many cases unloading the grid.
As this project develops, it’ll soon be time to remove the original panels from 2012. Jared is interested in donating them to a non-profit who will use them. If you know of any interested entities, please reach out to Jared at K&B True Value or Rick Peters at SES.
What’s next for Jared? He has visions of tying in electric vehicle charging and possibly battery backup in the future. Do you own your building and have some tax liability? If so, consider contacting SES for a free solar evaluation. Just ask Jared, you won’t regret it.
Editor’s note: K&B True Value is an Annapolis Green Founding One Hundred Supporter.
Tags: energy grid, Jared Littmann, K&B True Value, Rick Peters, SES, Solar Energy Services, solar power
by Jared Littmann
HB 314 (Plastic Bag Reduction Act) is the proposed Maryland legislation that would ban, after 18 months, single use carryout plastic bags. I support this legislation for the following reasons:
- The plastic bag ban is the right thing for the environment as we need to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels.
- It is the right thing for the economy as Climate Change is causing unprecedented damage with business interruptions or even destroying homes and businesses. Plus, this would reduce the money local governments are currently spending on managing plastic bags that gum up the refuse waste stream.
- It is the right thing to do for the community as businesses set the example for our communities.
- It is also the right thing to do for good governance. A state solution is preferred to differing city and county legislation.
- However, there are implementation issues to consider that I’ll get to below.
Reducing plastic use is imperative. Climate Change is real, and it is happening. One way we can address this on a local level is by purposefully reducing our use of plastics, especially single use. However, purchases from online shippers involves far more packaging than disposable shopping bags at retailers. I applaud Delegate Lierman, Annapolis Green, and Oceana for also working on that issue.
Good governance is important here. Right now, various Maryland counties have addressed this issue differently and various local jurisdictions have done or have tried to the same. For businesses, uniformity is helpful. I don’t like mandatory bag fees, which, fortunately, this bill does not include. I’m also pleased to see that the Bill leaves it to the individual business to decide whether and how much to charge for bags and experiment with customer behavior.
Helpfully, the proposed legislation provides two three-month waivers for a retailer to temporarily switch back to disposable plastic bags. This is important if the unavailability of paper bags makes using them impossible or prohibitively expensive. The wording of the waiver concerns me because getting a waiver before switching back to plastic may not be practical. Further, the waiver is only applicable if the issue is unique to the business. However, some issues – like paper bag unavailability – could be common to many retailers. There has been a shortage of raw product in paper bag industry. The industry is significantly impacted by plastic reduction legislation around the country. Every mill is at full capacity. Suppliers are working aggressively to mitigate risks to supply chains but are going to hit some bumps. The two temporary waivers in the bill may not be sufficient if paper bag supplies run out.
A state-wide plastic carryout bag ban is a great next step in the fight against Climate Change and protecting the Maryland economy, but consideration needs to be given to reducing plastic in other forms and reducing reliance on paper bags as well.
I’m grateful to Delegate Lierman, Senator Augustine, Speaker Jones, and President Ferguson for working to pass this bill. I hope everyone will call Senate President Ferguson and their state representatives to encourage them to pass this bill. Retail businesses like mine want to reduce plastic pollution, but we need your help. We need the statewide standard this bill provides. Thank you!
Editor’s note: Jared Littmann is a former Annapolis Alderman from Ward 5. He owns K&B True Value, which carries hundreds of eco-friendly products. He brings his perspective to this issue, not only as a successful businessman and former alderman, but also as an attorney who was trained in environmental law. Mr. Littmann is a Founding One Hundred supporter of Annapolis Green.
Tags: Delegate Brooke Lierman, HB314, Jared Littmann, Plastic Bag Reduction Act, plastic bags
Join Annapolis Green, Oceana, community organizers, businesses, and elected officials from across the state for a virtual rally and day of action in support of the Plastic Bag Reduction Act (HB314). This important bill would protect the six local laws already in existence in Maryland that limit plastic bags and implement a simple, statewide standard to ban them. Event organizers will lead rally goers in a mass phone bank and social media push to ensure lawmakers are hearing from their constituents on the issue. The rally occurs as microplastics and other forms of plastic pollution continue to accumulate in the Chesapeake Bay, threatening the 96,000 jobs and $6B in GDP in Maryland that depend on a clean coast.
- Delegate Brooke Lierman
- Senator Malcolm Augustine
- Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott
- Anne Arundel County Executive Stuart Pittman
- Oliver Song, Howard County Conservancy Student Climate Change Institute
- Alexandra (Ali) DySard, Environmental & Partnerships Manager, MOM’s Organic Market (Annapolis Green Founding One Hundred supporter)
- Jared Littman, Owner, K&B True Value (Annapolis Green Founding One Hundred supporter)
Show your support for reducing the tide of plastic litter choking our community at this virtual rally. To register click here.
This issue affects our community in many ways. Global production of plastic is now projected to increase at least fourfold between 2014 and 2050. As plastic production increases, so will the amount of plastic that enters the ocean. This poses a direct threat to coastal tourism and other local businesses that depend on a healthy and clean marine environment — like those in Greater Annapolis. In Maryland, a healthy Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean support over 96,000 jobs and $6 billion in GDP. A study funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) found that doubling marine debris on beaches in coastal Delaware and Maryland could result in a decrease of the number visitor days that people spend on beaches by nearly 3.5 million, a decrease in tourism spending by $254 million, and a loss of 3,300 local jobs.
Tags: Ali Dysard, anne arundel county, HB314, Jared Littmann, K&B True Hardware, MOM's Organic Market, Oceana, plastic bag ban, Plastic Bag Reduction Act, plastic pollution, Steuart Pittman