I N · T H I S · I S S U E
Our Solar Story
Well it’s our turn to walk the talk.
Sure we have efficient lighting and Energy Star appliances at home, we carefully control our high-e AC system, and we have a Prius and composter. So now Terry and I are installing photovoltaics. It’s time to tap the near-ever-present Southern California sun and to prove that we can get a good return on investment while generating our own green power.
We’re taking full advantage of Glendale Water and Power’s $4.00/AC watt rebate, the Federal $2,000 tax credit, and rolling the system cost into our home refinance at just over 5%. Sound pretty cool? We think so. In fact, we’re so excited that we’ve invited dozens of friends, family, and co-workers to our PV installation party!
This begins a short series on our solar story. We start with three bids. After all, this is a $15,000 – 25,000 investment.
The first company’s salesman reviewed our electric bills for the past year, then popped open his laptop, and spit out an impressive report on the spot with three system scenarios. (He just peered at the roof from the back yard.) The second sent a colorful salesman who gave us his full and very interesting solar rapp and then happily bound up onto the roof with compass and measuring device. The third company elected to come over when we were not home.
Each company had a different approach for the panels (their racking and configuration), size of system (2 – 4 kW), and make-up of system. Each professed different gross and net costs, paybacks, and returns. We built our own spreadsheet but had trouble getting an accurate comparison of cost and value.
After a month from first visit until our questions were answered, we took the plunge! Our system will offset about 80% of our power use (and more if we conserve), will bear a gross cost of about $24,000, and a net cost of about $11,000.
And then you’ll never guess what happened. The salesman came over as scheduled to collect signatures and a $1,000 deposit. We had glasses of celebratory wine poured (several notches up in quality from our regular), the checkbook out, the pen literally in hand, and then and only then were we told that our system would cost $900 more than estimated. “Sorry, I made a mistake on the racking system,” was all we heard.
SOLAR MARKETSHARE STATISTICS
Solarbuzz has produced a new market share report that finds that worldwide photovoltaic (PV) installations totaled 1,744 megawatts in 2006, a new record and 19% over 2005.
The United States installed 8% of global installations (140 MW), while Germany led the world market with 960 MW of installations, fully 55% of the world's total PV installations.
To supply the market, global production of solar cells reached 2,204 MW in 2006, a growth of 33% over PV production in 2005, while the production of polysilicon—a critical ingredient for silicon solar cells—increased by 16%.
TAKING T-12s TO THE MAT!
Not to be outdone by California, Australia, and the European Union having banned incandescents, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom wants to ban T-12 tubular fluorescent lighting from all of the City's commercial buildings.
The City Attorney is currently drafting legislation that would force energy-efficient T-8 florescent tubes into buildings, ousting the older (and thicker) T-12 tubes that were once standard.
Many businesses and buildings have already made the switch to T-8s. But according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the energy saved by converting San Francisco's remaining T-12 lights to T-8s could power more than 7,000 residences, the equivalent of taking 3,000 cars off the road.
In a statement, the Mayor's Office said it would employ "every option the City has legally at hand to get inefficient fluorescent lights out of buildings and businesses throughout San Francisco, both new and existing." San Francisco's Energy Watch program will provide subsidies to help medium and small business with the transition.