April 18, 2007 – Volume 10, Issue 24
I N · T H I S · I S S U E


Our Solar Story Part II

Yes. We did sign the check and the documents. We surprised ourselves. One of us tends to drive a very tough bargain and was unlikely to let $900 slip away. We trusted our salesman; we were swept up in the excitement of going solar.

But it began to nag me later that night. I did the math. Even after paying the $900 it was still a screamer deal. The company had thankfully offered us a huge "good guy" discount. But it still nagged at me. Was this classic "bait and switch"? We could exercise the three- day deposit-return option.

So I called and told the truth. My solar experience was being tainted. The quoted price had stood for a month, and the fact that we were not notified of a change until the time of signature was unacceptable. I wanted the problem resolved. And within two hours, it was. We split the difference and moved on. My confidence in the integrity of the industry was reinforced. Back on track.

So what are we getting? Pretty cool: 18 Sharp NE- 170U1 modules for a total peak manufacturer's rated output of 3.066 DC kW, a Fronius IG 3000 inverter, for a total system estimated "certified output" of 2.5 AC kW. The system will generate 4,333 kWh annually (based on 5.5 hours per day of Glendale "insolation"), providing about 80% of our power consumption. You can bet we'll be tracking this carefully!

As to economics, the gross system cost is $23,360 - $9.21per AC watt - and will garner a $10,145 rebate from Glendale Water & Power, and a $2,000 federal tax credit, resulting in a total system cost of $11,215. With power rates likely going up, the system will reach a break-even at 8.2 years (cumulative cash flow with and without solar), a payback of 13 years, and an estimated $44,635 in utility bill savings over a 30-year period. Wow. Furthermore, the property value rises (about 20 dollars for every dollar of annual savings), and we avoid the release of 82,581 pounds of CO2.

By investing today, we secure an investment with a 16% rate of return for 30 years. We also lock in our utility rates, securing 8.25 cent kilowatt-hours for 30 - 50 years. Utility rates will likely climb. Solid investment? We hope so. Good feeling? You bet.

This project now moves to engineering. Two weeks until our on-site solar analysis.

— To be continued —


This past week, EcoMotion staff attended the Municipal Green Building Conference & Expo sponsored by Southern California Gas and the Los Angeles Chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council.

Some 567 people convened at the Energy Resource Center in Downey, CA, including 34 exhibitors, to hear about topics that ranged from policy and planning to climate change to construction practices and integrated green building design.

An interesting morning session was devoted to sustainable building policies and programs in Southern California. The City of Los Angeles, the City of Santa Monica, Southern California Edison and the County of Los Angeles described their green frameworks and the programs they've instituted to green their municipal facilities.

Here is a list of some of those programs that you can use to compare with your own city's efforts.

Green city policies for new construction:

— Buildings must be 10% more efficient than state building code.
— All new swimming pools must have solar thermal heating.
— All public buildings (over a certain size) shall be LEED Silver.
— All new buildings must submit a filled-in LEED checklist.
— Separate diversion of inert materials in meeting requirements for recycling.
— Waive permits for solar installations.
— Expedite plan checks for solar installations.
— Expedite plan checks for LEED projects.
— Provide cash incentives for LEED projects.

Green city policies for the existing building stock:

— Institute "retrofit on sale" requirements.

Let us know if your city has effective policies that could be added to this list. We will include them in our best practices and share them with all EcoMotion members.

Virginia Nicols


EcoMotion has completed a Request for Proposals for preferential financial products and services for Solar Santa Monica. EcoMotion - working with Catalyst Financial Services - is helping the City explore its leverage to create more compelling economics for combined solar and efficiency measures.

Russ Flanigan is leading the charge on the ground in Santa Monica - and literally on rooftops - conducting detailed On Site Energy Assessments. Already nearly 40 site assessments have been completed, qualifying Solar Santa Monica leads and sites. The OSEAs are thorough and customized to clearly flag the top five efficiency opportunities, while carefully examining roofs for their solar (PV and thermal) potential.

Coming Soon! EcoMotion is about to release a set of six new case studies from The Results Center. The case studies being researched and drafted feature leading solar programs - including telling tales from California, Germany, and New Jersey - and will provide key lessons learned on policy choices and solar program designs.

"Thanks for getting in touch!"
Will and the crew at Step it Up 2007

Step it Up 2007!

Step it Up is a new movement aimed at spurring action to protect the environment. Inspired by Bill McKibben, author of the New York Times bestseller - The End of Nature - several college students formed an organizing hub in Burlington, Vermont to tackle climate issues. The Step it Up web site presents a potent graphic of a school of little fish collectively becoming a big fish with a big voice.

Step it Up 2007 fostered National Day for Climate Action on April 14, resulting in "over 1,400 actions and 847 report-backs" across the country, some at iconic focal points such as the levees of New Orleans. Step it Up reported to EcoMotion that, "All in all, the endeavor was as you said, a wild success, and it's been remarkable witnessing all the crowds joining in this effort."

Step it Up plans to co-promote events and awareness, focusing next on Live Earth, a series of seven concerts planned on seven continents being promoted by Al Gore. Step it Up is also supporting the Campus Climate Challenge, and encouraging citizens to become "climate voters." Step it Up is working with MoveOn.Org's 3.2 million members for a petition demanding 80% carbon cuts by 2050. For more information, see www.Stepitup2007.org.

Solar Growing "by the Football Field"

Portugese Installation:After eight months of construction and testing, the 11-megawatt Catavento solar power plant was dedicated on schedule in Portugal. The installation involves 52,000 modules that occupy 150 acres, some 80 football fields of space. The plant uses PowerLight's PowerTracker system that follows the sun's daily path across the sky to generate more electricity than conventional fixed-mounted systems.

Largest Solar Power Plant in North America: On April 23rd SunEdison, Xcel Energy, and Colorado's Governor Bill Ritter will break ground on the largest photovoltaic solar power plant in North America. Located in Alamosa, Colorado, this 8.2 megawatt facility will help Colorado reach its 20% renewable portfolio goal by 2020. (According to EcoMotion member Rio de la Vista, "It's a big step forward for our community!")

The World's Largest Photovoltaic Plant: The juwi Group has received building approval for a 40 MW photovoltaic project in Germany. It will be the world's biggest PV power system. The installation in Saxony in eastern Germany will be about one kilometre wide and approximately two kilometres long, taking more than an hour to walk around. The installation will involve 550,000 thin-film German modules. According to juwi's co-managing director, "The surface area of the installation compares to about 200 soccer fields."

The Home Depot's Eco-Options Labeling

Home Depot has launched an environmental labeling program in the United States that will label nearly 3,000 of its products as environmentally friendly.

Already tested in its Canadian stores, the initiative is expected to include 6,000 products by 2009, representing 12% of the chain's sales. More than 90% of the products in the line are already on Home Depot's shelves. The "Eco Options" brand will identify them as environmentally friendly.

Home Depot introduced Eco Options products in Canada in 2004, where the company has fewer than 200 stores - and so far, sales have been strong. The program may quickly become the largest green labeling program in American retailing, potentially persuading competitors and other major retailers to speed up their own plans.

Home Depot is the country's second-largest retailer and the world's largest buyer of construction material.

The company said it had asked suppliers to produce Eco Option goods at the same prices as conventional merchandise, but realizes that many environmentally sensitive products carry a price premium. Suppliers that qualify for the Eco Options label will be rewarded with preferential treatment - like prominent shelf space in the nearly 2,000 Home Depot stores in the United States and aggressive marketing through weekly newspaper inserts.

So what's in? Products like fluorescent light bulbs, natural insect killers, and organic vegetables and herbs in garden centers. The line also includes new silicone window and door sealants, a glass cleaner that has low levels of volatile organic compounds, and an organic plant food. Merchandise qualifies in two ways, either meeting federal and industry standards, or being tested and validated by Scientific Certification Systems.

New York City's Greenhouse Gas Emissions

New York City produces nearly 1% of the nation's greenhouse gas emissions - an amount that puts it on par with Ireland - according to study commissioned by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. He ordered the study to assess progress in achieving the City's goal of reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by 30% by 2030.

The study found that the buildings, subways, buses, cars and decomposition of waste in the city produced a net emission of 58.3 million metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2005. The U.S. total was 7.26 billion metric tons that year.

With 8.2 million people, 2.7% of the country's population, the average New York City resident contributes less than a third of the emissions generated by a typical American. This is largely due to the City's mass transit system. The operation of hundreds of thousands of buildings - which consume electricity, natural gas, fuel oil and steam - contributes 79% of the City's emissions total.

The study found that the City's focus on environmentally friendly initiatives - including alternative fuel vehicles, energy-efficient traffic lights and green buildings - appears to have helped stabilize emissions rates. Emissions were still found to have increased by more than 8% between 1995 and 2005.

Campus Notes: UT Chattanooga Students Green Power

Students at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga voted this past week to raise fees by $10 per semester for the campus to buy energy- efficient "green power" from the Tennessee Valley Authority. Results show that 847 of the 1,180 University of Tennessee at Chattanooga students who voted on the issue approved the proposed fee.

Ayla Callihan, vice president of Ecological Decisions for a Global Environment, the student group that has pushed for the new fee, was pleased with the vote and the process of greening the campus. Callihan said the fee also would pay to expand campus recycling and to install energy-saving light bulbs.