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Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 1:51 AM

I heard a story today that really discouraged me today.

I've a friend who owns an upscale home in Arizona, and when I mentioned solar energy, he told me his experience that completely discouraged me.

He has a solar-electric system which he leases from a company who installs and maintains the system. I asked him why not buy, and he said the overall cost was the same. The system collects data by the hour, and the company emails the data to him daily.

I didn't write the exact numbers down, but generally in 2011, the system generated ~9500 kWh. The first discouraging news was, his investment for the year … his monthly lease payments … totaled about $800. Added to that, the company from he buys his electricity charges him about $150 per year for the extra equipment he needs to be able to connect his system to the grid. Net, it cost him about $0.10 per kWh … the same as he pays the company from which he buys his power from the grid.

Second, he (anyone) is only allowed to install generating equipment that equals 50% of the total usage. That was the state law in 2011, and he thinks it may have been increased to 60% now.

Third, yes, he can 'sell back' anything over his hourly usage back to the power company, however, they only pay wholesale, so whatever goes back to the grid, only gains him $0.02 per kWh.

Finally, I asked him about the tax incentive for adding such equipment … he said 100% of the tax credit goes directly to the solar panel company. They say they discount the cost of the equipment by that amount. Of course, one can build their own, or one can install their own, but most folks can't or won't, so that becomes the norm.

Bottom line … where's the incentive? At least by Arizona's laws, I can only install as much generating equipment that supplements my requirements by 50 or 60%. My cost per kWh is the same, so my net gain is zero, and I have no cash incentive in the form of a tax credit.

It all seems so counter intuitive.

I must add, that all this is second-hand to me, but I know this guy. He is honest, and he had the data.

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#1

Re: Where is the incentive

05/17/2012 2:37 AM

why are we, as a country investing in unreliable, inefficent, renewable electrical resources that are leading us down a dead end road?

let's be realistic. the time and money wasted could have been better spent on a permanent solution.

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#5
In reply to #1

Re: Where is the incentive

05/17/2012 7:26 AM

You amaze me sometimes, you post your opinions as though they were facts.

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#52
In reply to #5

Re: Where is the incentive

05/18/2012 9:23 PM

i'm taking pills for that. be patience. the doc said they should kick in in a few years. i.m the worst case he's ever seen.

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#2

Re: Where is the incentive

05/17/2012 2:53 AM

I agree there's prob' no way to make on the deal.
Everyone else is filling their pockets.
When cheap PV panels eventually appear (I'm not holding my breath) then DIY will be worth the effort.
I expect they'll turn up at the same time as optical computers
Del

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#3
In reply to #2

Re: Where is the incentive

05/17/2012 3:32 AM

del, solar panels are one of the power sources i was referring to. clouldy days, night time, maintenance, batteries, electrical equipment,ect. i'ld hate to rely on on it, never mind the unrecoverable cost.

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#4

Re: Where is the incentive

05/17/2012 6:54 AM

It's just not ready for prime time. I believe it will come.

It took a long time to transition from horse and buggy to the gasoline automobile.......................and we didn't have giant multinational companies fighting to keep the horse and buggy in place.

Small, efficient systems, as well as small, efficient, long term storage solutions will come.................they just haven't been invented yet. Once they are, a modern day Henry Ford will mass produce them for the masses.

Until that day comes, as we've seen, any tax incentives or massive cash outlays by the US government on false promises, will only lead us into deeper debt.

The big utility companies have deep pockets and plenty of influence in state and federal politics. These modern day buggy manufacturers are not going to let go easily.

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#6

Re: Where is the incentive

05/17/2012 7:40 AM

There is a tax incentive but in his case it goes back to the supplier who claims to pass it on to your friend. You should be able to find out pretty easily what the tax credit is and armed with that information know if this is a venture you are willing to pursue either as a DIY or purchased package project. Personally I think part of the pay back for most people is the feeling that they are in control. And, when the stories of brown outs hit the news again this summer they will have some peace of mind that they will still be able to watch TV and cook supper. I am fully ON the grid but we do what we can to save energy on a daily basis. One of the simple things I do is use a night lite when I get ready for work in the morning instead of turning on the lighted mirror in the bathroom. A 4 watt bulb instead of 5 that burn 60 watts each. I do the same when taking a shower at night. Really, how much light do we need to get cleaned up? The wife does use more light when getting ready for the day with hair and make up but like I was saying we save when/where we can. We even have some of those over priced toxic CFL's.

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#7

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 9:03 AM

The incentive is that energy cost like just about everything goes up. With some of the new federal mandates it will go up more. He has a fixed cost on what the solar panels will produce for his own use. As long as the lease agreement was a fixed fee for long term say 20 years. In 20 years time what will be the cost of a Kw.

You said he is limited to 50% to 60% the average home energy use is 8900 Kw to 11000 Kw. So the output is way more then 60% of the average.

Is the agreement with the power company Net Purchase and sale or Net Metering?

Net Purchase and Sale his panels supply power to the grid. All power produce goes out through one meter to the grid. The home supplied by another.

Net Metering which would be substantial saving goes through one meter. Meter turns opposite directions depending on the flow.

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#50
In reply to #7

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 9:14 PM

it's my understanding that we buy electricity retail and sell it at whole sale prices.

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#8

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 9:09 AM

If you only knew how environmentally UN-friendly the manufacturing process of PV panels is. Their only practical use is for off grid applications.

(CAUTION: this statement is not politically correct!)

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#51
In reply to #8

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 9:19 PM

and batteries. image all of the discarded batteries and pollution involved in recycle them.

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#58
In reply to #8

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/21/2012 8:06 AM

It used to be that it took about 20 years for a PV panel to generate as much energy as it took to make it. (That is a good argument against manufacturing PV cells on the moon) Does anyone know the current payback time?

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#9

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 10:48 AM

Looks like your buddy got hosed BIGTIME by the installer on this deal!

2.5 years ago we installed a rooftop 7.56 kW PV solar system (36 panels @ 210 Watts apiece, 24 VDC) with 2 inverters. Overall cost was slightly more than $65K and we're leasing to own over a 10-year period.....after NYS RESERDA Rebate ,etc, we only have to pay a total of roughly $17K or slightly more than $138 per month. Any savings by reverse metering we get to keep and we don't have to pay the installer a dime more that the monthly rent. Last month our monthly electric bill amounted to only $43, most of which was the Fed and state taxes and utility hookup charges. Our monthly utility bill is usually that low, month to month, even when running the AC 24/7. It can't get any better than that! Our electric bill typically was over $350 per month before the installation 2 1/2 years ago. Since then the electric rate here has gone up at an average of 11% (+/-). BTW, because of the very high degree of hot and sunny weather the past 18 months we produced over 13 kW last year, far in excess of the (predicted) average production rate.

It took me over 3 months of negotiating the terms of the lease with the installer...constantly refining the terms for our betterment rather than the installer....and I didn't illicit the services of an attorney after firing a useless attorney who didn't know squat about machinery and equipment lease-to-own contracts (afterwards, I did my homework thoroughly online and even bought a book on the subject! Of course it didn't hurt one bit knowing how to write construction bidding contracts for years!!!!).

It's probably too late for your friend to re-negotiate or terminate the contract......

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#23
In reply to #9

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 11:08 PM

Capt, You have Cen-Hud or NG?

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#29
In reply to #9

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 8:07 AM

Capt. Moosie: You think you could negotiate a deal like that for the rest of us?

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#31
In reply to #29

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 9:17 AM

corbinstein, maybe you're correct.....but then again I would need to be an attorney to represent you guys.....I screw-up and you hang me from the nearest tree branch (like the Tax Men and Politicians)! LMAO

A first good start is finding out what your state rebate program limits are, etc etc. Here in New York sate we have NYSERDA running the Solar PV, Solar Thermal and wind-generation incentive programs. Unfortunately, they too have cut back (by 50%) the amount of money in the form of rebates that is distributed to qualifying applicants. We were very lucky to get the higher rebates just prior to them decreasing their contribution. I feel sorry for peeps now days trying to go "Green" anywhere. The Great National Recession really put a crimp on many state incentive programs...

One thing I had going for me in regard to our lease agreement was my background that included extensive experience writing and reviewing construction specifications and legal agreements for projects. Basically, if the agreement favors the installer/lessor too much, than my feeling was that it wasn't very good for my wife and I to enter into such a legally binding agreement. I can't tell you how many times I sent back a marked up proposed agreement, both to the installer and their attorney. It took a lot of time. Actually, according to NYSERDA, we were the very first "private" applicant to apply for a lease-to-own agreement in New York State. Their approval (which is mandatory under state law to receive the rebates and energy tax credits) took a very long time to review, like 2 months!

Unfortunately, there are a few solar-based leasing companies, that have emerged recently in the past few years, out there in many of the states (incl. NYS now) that have "lease-to-own agreements" which are not all that flexible (like what we endured) regarding their respective agreements....in fact they're operating like big mortgage companies and their lease agreements favor them all too well......basically, they're screwing the "little guy" and empty his/her wallet. Encounter one of these companies you had better run away very fast! I think you're better off instead obtaining a low interest bank or credit union loan, or paying for the PV system out of pocket (if you can afford to do that in the first place) rather than leasing the system from them.

The old adage applies very well here: "BUYER BEWARE!"

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#33
In reply to #31

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 9:36 AM

I'm glad everything worked out for you Moosie. Most of us don't have the knowledge or patience to jump through all the legal hoops to get where you did.

I think for now..................assuming I ever have the money, I would invest it in new foam insulation and super high efficiency windows for starters. Payback starts on day one.

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#67
In reply to #9

Re: Where is the Incentive?

06/22/2012 8:40 PM

i think you have a possibility of a business career in this. a percentage of the money you save them?

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#10

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 10:57 AM

I would dig a little deeper into the law. Although I can't speak to Arizona's, the laws I've read only limit grid interactive systems. Reverse metering usually doesn't benefit the homeowner anyways. It is more cost effective to store and use than to sell back.

Somehow I don't think your friend did the math regarding the comparison between DIY or using a company. Anytime you involve another for-profit entity they're going to be taking their cut and in the power industry you can expect their ROI to be between 15% and 25% (guess who's paying them?). That's why the power that the plant sells for $0.02/kW-hr ends up costing the consumer around $0.12/kW-hr.

That being said, it's been a while since I did the math, but when I did, the consumer wouldn't break even over a twenty year period. I'm sure much has changed though, that was nearly 10 years ago.

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#11
In reply to #10

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 11:20 AM

CI, I don't know if that entirely holds true to store the energy produced versus reverse metering......

Before we installed our system, I looked into the battery option to store the juice (which I would have loved to have), but the principal cost of it was over $12k and prohibited. If the battery bank had been capable of having a 30-year lifespan, instead of the average 8-year period, I would have gone with it....but no way with such a short lifespan and facing it's replacement. OUCH!

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#15
In reply to #11

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 12:47 PM

You're right about storage costs playing a big role. I suppose the most reasonable way to look at it is the life cycle cost of the batteries vs. the difference between paying full price for what you produce and selling it.

The additional requirements by the utilities for protective equipment drives the grid interactive system cost up even more. My gut says if you're producing enough excess to make it worth while to add in the additional electrical to sell that excess at a fraction of what you pay for it off the grid (and depending on how they meter, only to buy it back later at a higher price), you'd be better off storing and using.

But you might be right... I haven't played with the numbers in a decade.

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#25
In reply to #11

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 4:23 AM

Basically the same problems as with electric cars......

Though I must say that my SH electric bike is really great, but a new battery will eventually cost more than the bike did!!! but I am saving on diesel fuel and a bit of CO2....(my electricity is partly fossil fuel and partly wind energy....)

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#12

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 12:18 PM

Care for a cynical opinion?

As an Arizona resident for the last 40 years I can say with certainty that the legislature and the present governor are pro business. One might think that this is because big business pays lobbyists to bribe spend their days at the capitol lobbying educating legislators while we taxpayers toil for a living wage.

No, our leaders know best. That's why we elected them. It has nothing to do with where their new found millions of campaign dollars came from.

The laws are written by attorneys and employees of the businesses who will profit most from the laws that are enacted by our elected officials.

I've looked at these. There was recently an article in a local paper about this.

I don't see much advantage to installing one of these systems for the home owner.

I do see an $ advantage for the equipment providers and those attorneys and politicians who are feeding at the trough.

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#14
In reply to #12

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 12:47 PM

I look at it a different way lyn.

IF I had not installed this PV solar system, over the 10 years I would be forking out over $42,000 in utility bills (not counting the 11% annual increases and inflation). As it stands now, I'd be paying out somewhere near $22,560 over that same 10 years ($138 lease-own monthly payment + average monthly electric bill of say $50, not counting the 11% annual rate increases & inflation). The difference staying in my pocket is $19,440 over that same 10 year period, not counting the annual real estate tax advantage that I gain for having the system installed on my roof......roughly $1500 per year reduction in my school tax, county tax, village tax & town tax. When combined, my total savings over ten years will be realized at roughly $34,400. That amount stays in my possession and not squandered/frittered away.

After the 10 year repayment period, my savings will mushroom another $1656 per to annum because I will not have to pay anyone back.

I see this as a win-win for us, especially compared to the jackass neighbors that haven't done squat to save energy....they're paying through the nose with utility bills that will continue to escalate year after year!

There's two sides of a coin.....or (pardon me Del) two ways to skin a cat!

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#16
In reply to #14

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 12:52 PM

I don't deny that there is a small savings, even here in Az. But, I'm not sure it's a wise thing to do.

Your state may be more "user friendly" and I'm glad for you.

I'm now, at least, looking at solar.

Looks like you made a good decision, and deal.

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#13

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 12:45 PM

Lease vs. buy may cost the same, but there's that little detail about who owns it.

It seems like the only problems are a company that rents solar electric systems, the electric company, and Arizona state government.

Wouldn't it be nice, if the only thing we had to worry about fixing, was the solar array.

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#17

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 12:55 PM
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#18
In reply to #17

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 1:38 PM

You can't possibly be that naive.

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#19
In reply to #18

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 1:52 PM

There you go, again with them negative waves...........................

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#20
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 2:08 PM

Oops. My bad. I'll try to get myself back into the world where money doesn't matter and only saving the planet is important.

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#21
In reply to #18

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 2:12 PM

Really? You always have to drag politics into every conversation, and always from some right wing conspiracy web blog...Of all the advances in alternative energy and energy independence that have been made in the last few years and all you can come up with is Solyndra....negative waves man, not cool.

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#22
In reply to #21

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 2:23 PM

Sorry man. Like I said, I'll go back to pretending that politics and money have nothing to do with it.

The OP's friend is just an unfortunate victim of circumstance.

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#48
In reply to #21

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 7:36 PM

I might add here that Solyndra had a good business model, they were allegedly forced into bankruptcy by Chinese manufacturers dumping solar panels on the market subsidized by the centralized government at below cost...as a result the US Government is now attempting to impose tariffs in an attempt to stop this practice...with mixed reviews

http://optics.org/news/3/5/25

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#49
In reply to #48

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 7:50 PM

Something about casting the first stone comes to mind when I see the current administration being flogged for what was common practice in prior administrations.

Halliburton, KBR anyone? Anyone?

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#24

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/17/2012 11:48 PM

I've always found it interesting that people get so het up over the payback for solar power. The same people who:

- are happy to put in a new kitchen (stone bench tops, brand name appliances, gold taps etc) for who knows how much with absolutely no payback.

- refuse to alter their driving habits or get a smaller car to save running costs then demand a positive return on their investment in solar.

- think that improved processes and economies of scale will drive the cost down but don't what their government to "kick start" the industry.

It's easy to be cynical, but much harder to stay helpful.

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#27
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 7:01 AM

I totally agree ffej....................with one exception. The government "kick start" part.

I have no problem with tax incentives, however, I can't think of one industry that the US government has, (successfully), launched.

While it's unfortunate, our politicians, from both sides of the aisle, have proven themselves to be incapable of not succumbing to the graft that comes with partnering up with private industry. The sums of money involved, combined with the temptation for self enrichment are just too great.

In the US at least, whether it's solar energy or anything else, I feel that the best thing the government could do to promote growth, would be to roll back our onerous corporate tax rate, along with making vast cuts to our complicated and overlapping regulatory atmosphere. These are the the things that stand in the way of any meaningful progress, and keep the cost of things unreasonably high.

Before someone jumps on me and says that I want to give big business the green light to poison our air and water...........................save your breath. You know as well as I do that that is complete BS. We can do all of the above, while at the same time punishing people that intentionally cheat and pollute.

Our current administration is loaded up with non-elected, high level, former executives from GE, Monsanto, Goldman-Sachs...........among others. For us to think that the decisions they are making are for the betterment of all, is hopelessly naive.

Some label this as negative vibes.......................I call it the truth. It ain't always pretty.

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#36
In reply to #27

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 3:18 PM

I tend to agree as well, however I would like to add a comment or two here:

I can think of a couple of industries that the Government has 'kickstarted' - Nuclear power generation, and Hydro power generation. Granted, both are currently falling out of favor - but thats more an issue with industry changes and political winds rather than government failure.

As for the home based Solar Power industry, I think its about time we considered the industry "kickstarted" and begin phasing out the end user subsidies and tax incentives. At this point all they do is serve to maintain high manufacturing costs. As long as the end user cost is heavily subsidized, it distorts the natural market forces that would normally incentivise manufacturers to reduce costs.

About ten years ago, I started looking at the cost of solar panels - at that time panels in the 200W size were around 300-600 dollars. If you look now, the prices have not really changed much. I'm still seeing prices for 200W and larger panels in the 300-600 dollar range. Yes, its a price drop if you adjust for inflation, but its not much of a drop. By comparison, un-adjusted computer prices have dropped about 40-60% over the same time period. Another example would be Cell phones - the cost of cell phones has dropped considerably since the late nineties.

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#37
In reply to #36

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 4:28 PM

I stand corrected..................sort of. The loans for nuclear and hydroelectric power were both supplied by taxpayers, and paid back by taxpayers as a charge on their electric bills. I have no problem with that. A wise use of taxpayer money to fund monumentally huge projects.

http://articles.latimes.com/1987-05-31/news/mn-9239_1_hoover-dam

Not quite the same as financing a solar panel company to the tune of a half billion...............and we're still giving away money to others. Now, if they had loaned the money to an existing utility company to install a solar farm, I believe we would be apples to apples.

When the technology is sound, and the reasoning is sound................there is no doubt that there are times when government help is warranted.

http://perspectives.thirdway.org/?p=955

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#39
In reply to #37

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 4:46 PM

One more thing. And just to show that I'm fair:

I don't care if it's a guaranteed loan or a fat government contract.................whether it's Solyndra or Haliburton..................when huge gobs of money end up going full circle and end up back in the campaign coffers of the people that are writing the checks, it drives me absolutely freaking nuts!!!

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#41
In reply to #37

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 5:15 PM

"Now, if they had loaned the money to an exiting utility company to install a solar farm, I believe we would be apples to apples."

Welllll.... Actually, thats pretty much what occurs under the PTC (Production Tax Credit). I actually work at a large Wind Farm in Oregon (worlds largest in fact) and the cost to build the farm was heavily subsidized by both Federal and State loan guarantees.

I believe the technology IS sound, but production costs (of the solar cells) need to come down by at least half before people will see it as being a legitimate alternative to grid supplied power. A better energy storage system (than current battery technology) would help greatly as well. I think the main thrust of government money should be in research into *affordable* and efficient energy storage technology - not direct subsidies to the industry itself in the form of end user tax credits and such. All that does is distort the normal market forces.

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#38
In reply to #36

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 4:41 PM

Prices near $1/watt are available to the public.

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#43
In reply to #38

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 5:32 PM

Yup, which is just about the same cost per watt I was able to find in '03 when I first started looking at Solar. IMHO, its not going to be widely considered cost effective until it drops to about half that level.

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#53
In reply to #36

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/20/2012 1:22 AM

You are right, But also look at "Minimum Wage" and it was just defeated again. In 1974 minimum wage was $1.80/Hr in NYS. Today it is $7.25/Hr GMAFB!! I mean WTF!!

How are people to live until they can better themselves after how many years of toiling with and barely surviving.

Progress is to lower MFG costs and increase demand. Seems this doesn't apply to alternative energies as it also doesn't apply to the min wage, at least in NYS.

(And I am in the electric vehicle industry).

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#54
In reply to #53

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/20/2012 2:19 AM

I'm not going to go too deep here, but everything is worth exactly what someone else is willing to pay for it. Some people will be rich...............others poor. The government has no business assigning value to anything. It's looking quite unlikely that we will ever recover from the false economy that they have created. It's a damned shame too.

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#59
In reply to #27

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/21/2012 11:19 AM

I can think of one industry where everyone benefited.

"Space".

but its not privatized.......yet.

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#60
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/21/2012 11:33 AM

That's a good example..........................but did the government actually pay for private start ups?

We also were way smarter with our money, back when NASA got started. There are some aspects of the "good ole days" that I sure would like to see return. Common sense is pretty high on the list.

http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-the-debt-of-the-united-states.htm

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#61
In reply to #60

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/21/2012 11:47 AM

but did the government actually pay for private start ups?

Putting aside scandle.....for now. I would have to say. Small Business loans were very helpful.

Now when free money is taken into account. Some don't realize there is no such thing as free money.

I worked at a shipyard that had a majority of naval contracts and employed 1000 people. The yard closed down, and the government poured Millions for economic development in the area.

One of the incentives was if you started a business in the area, after three years, you would be 'Granted' I believe it was $15,000.00 or $25,000 for each employee you had working. The area boomed, ......... artificially.

There were established businesses in the area that started more businesses, but what they did was, transfered employees around and collected $$$.

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#62
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/21/2012 12:02 PM

The SBA is an example of "good" government. They are not guaranteed loans, but loans that come with a reasonable rate, and must be paid back. They have helped a lot of people get started in business.

I'll always give the government credit where it's due.........................it just doesn't happen very often.

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#26

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 5:10 AM

Been there done that. All these deals depend on their structure, and everyone
is naturally looking after number 1. Therefore it behoves you (me) to do the same.

Yes, in younger years I did regret (been done) some deals - but older and wiser now
it is possible to improve with age on making a good deal. (but not get complacent!)

I think the best advice (I can offer) is:

1. Do comprehensive research that you will be buying at the lowest price - for the quality
you desire. (many people distort the numbers to convince you.)

2. Realise that it is always better to own, rather than rent, unless circumstances
dictate otherwise. ( If you only share a pie, your losses are in-built.)

3. Consider how you could or would be affected if circumstances changed.
(what seems a very good deal today could be a bad arrangement for you tomorrow.)

4. Think about and ensure all contractual arrangements are definitely in your favour.
(no compromise.)

5. Encourage (push) the other party to offer you an even better deal, many can, and will do so.
(They can offer that little bit more, which can sweeten the deal for you.)

6. Agree a binding escape clause, just in case the deal does not turn out as planned.
( "break points" can be included in almost all contracts - and could save you a lot!)

7. Think about all offers for several days, especially before committing to any that last for many years.
(a cooling off period. Do not be rushed, or pushed, into agreeing any deal.)

Cannot save them all, but one can feel good about one when you do! Hope this helps.

jt.

Admiring my gold watch, I told them.. "my grandfather sold me this watch on his death bed."

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#32
In reply to #26

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 9:27 AM

Also, look for customers of the firm(s) in question on the internet, happy ones and not happy ones......

See how long the firm has been trading.

Ask for references.

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#28

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 8:02 AM

So, are they (Arizona) trying to prevent someone from going "off the grid", by saying that you can only generate 50-60% of your own power?

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#30
In reply to #28

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 9:06 AM

I'm really hoping that was a mistake. Surely government would not put limits on the amount of power that a person could generate......................especially by solar. I could see it, if someone wanted to build a nuke or coal plant in their back yard.

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#40
In reply to #30

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 4:49 PM

I can only report as my friend told me ... conrifmed at 50% of current usage based on a 5-year average in 2011. He THINKS it was changed to 60% in 2012 for new installations. No idea why.

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#42
In reply to #40

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 5:18 PM

I believe your friend is accurate. For the government to put a cap on how much solar power a person can generate........................well, lets just put it this way. It doesn't smell very good.

Sounds a lot like one of those private/government partnerships in which the little guy is guaranteed to lose. Now my interest is piqued. I'll see what I can find. There could be a good reason. I think I read that in Germany, so many solar panels were installed that they were overloading the grid on sunny days................too much electricity at once, all feeding into the grid.

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#55
In reply to #42

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/20/2012 3:42 AM

That happened in a few places here.

Some people have bought large solar installations and are unable to connect them to the grid because of too much power being generated where cables are old/small cross section!!!

Here, you MUST check first if you will be allowed to connect to the grid or not......

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#44
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 5:42 PM

I think I may be starting to understand. It looks like they're not capping the generating capability, but the amount over, that they'll pay you for.

In a way it makes sense, if that's the case. If everyone buys solar panels, the power company can't be expected to distribute the electricity for free. After all, without some kind of profit, they've got no reason to exist. I may have been hasty in my judgement.

I'm sure the power company isn't in a big hurry to move everyone's solar electricity around the grid without profiting from it. I guess I can't blame them.

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#56
In reply to #44

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/20/2012 3:44 AM

Here, they "buy" at a low rate and sell at the normal rate....

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#57
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/20/2012 8:25 AM

It makes sense to me. If they maintain the grid and everything that goes with it, they deserve to make a profit from it.

I really need to stay away from the television. The modern mantra, that all big business is evil and greedy, actually rubbed off on me a little. That's scary.

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#65
In reply to #44

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/22/2012 11:44 PM

That is right, C-H will only pay for 10KW/YR. Not worth my effort to go ahead and install x$$ to build a system to have them pay me back for the extra I make. The amont I (we)use is meaningless to them. To spend the amounts required to make what we use and to make it worth spending all that $$ on, with the cap, just makes it not worth it no matter how you look at it. Unless you have an abundant cash reserve to buy the inverters, chargers and all the batteries so you can run 100% off your battery bank and live off the grid. But also supply the 10KW/Yr so at least they OWE you, something.

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#66
In reply to #65

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/23/2012 6:11 AM

I think a lot of people on here must live in much bigger houses than I do. Hot water and cooking is propane, and winter heating is wood, so my power bill never gets very high, except in the few months of summer that I'm using AC.

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#34

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 10:09 AM

1) the leasing companies are in it for a profit. They take all the rebates and tax credits, and they can depreciate the system, something the homeowner can't do. And the deals are structured to look good up front, but the cost rises later. Best to stay away from these guys.

2) Each utility, state and city is different. Here in MN, my utility gives a rebate equal to the cost of the panels and the state gives a rebate if I use panels made in MN. I'm allowed to make 140% of my average usage and the utility pays me at the same rate as they charge.

3) The simple return on my system (savings/cost) is 5% and that is of course tax-free; not a bad investment. And the return will increase as the cost of energy increases, which is inevitable, at least until I perfect my cold fusion generator.

4) A recent study in CA said a PV system increased the sale price of a property by $3/watt.

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#35
In reply to #34

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 10:20 AM

SSCpal, looks like you have a very good rebate program etc up there in MN! good for you!!!!

LET IT SHINE BABY!!!!

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#45

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 6:01 PM

Shoot..............I think I get it.

1) Homeowners want the return on their panels.

2) Utilility companies want sustained growth and profit.

3) The government, (as usual), wants to be all things to all people, including the utilility companies.

4) Through various incentive programs, the government is bankrolling a huge portion of the entire ball of wax.

I don't know the answer, but if I'm right, it's not sustainable.

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#46
In reply to #45

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 6:07 PM

"the government is bankrolling a huge portion of the entire ball of wax."

It's worked quite nicely for the petroleum, tobacco and many other industries for years.

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#47
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Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/18/2012 6:49 PM

What was I thinking? Lets add another industry.

Heck, they're only spending a trillion and change a year, more than they bring in. It's the rich people's fault.

Seriously, it would be an interesting project to put our heads together on some of these problems and come up with real solutions. Granted, it's more social and political engineering than anything else.........................but I don't see any answers coming from anywhere else.

Problems are problems. Somebody needs to get to work on them. I think engineers would as well equipped as anyone to work through them...........better equipped.

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#63

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/21/2012 1:44 PM

Hi to all,

First, thanks for the great feedback. I have learned a lot.

I DID want to take a moment to discuss what I mean my incentive. Incentive need not necessarily mean money-in-the-pocket profit, but merely equates to "value".

Value is an ambiguous measure … sometimes equating to money, but more often equating to something far less tangible. It is the reason we pay money to improve our homes (as one responder mentions), and that not so often equating to an increase in home value. It is the reason we buy cars that exceed our needs … or shoes, or tennis rackets, or anything. We pay for what we 'value', and in some cases that is little more than paying for what we want.

Although difficult to do mathematically, if value is greater than cost, the product sells.

For several years, the push is to be 'more green', and we know that technology is being fine-tuned to support that, and give opportunities. That has been my only direct input for 99% of what I considered. Now, to learn the overall statements may not be quite true was the cause of my discouragement.

Looking at it from the perspective of a homeowner who has the assets, either in some appreciated value of their home, or in some other assets, the question becomes, how should they best invest their money on some form of home improvement … based on what they value?

The problem with alternative energy solutions, at least so far, is marketing. I know, the term may not instill feelings of joy in you, but for most things you buy, it is a result of good marketing, raising the 'value' of a product higher than the cost. Of course, not all marketing need be false or otherwise deceptive (as is most), but still there must be some 'incentive' for those folks to make such an investment.

Another strong issue in making that type of investment are the time durations involved. How does one know if what they pay dearly for today may not be rendered obsolete well before it is of any significant overall benefit (value). The examples are numerous: Large satellite dishes being replaced by tiny ones; VCRs to disc players. Some are now saying that Blu-Ray will fail because of cloud-media. If one were to invest kilo-bucks in a green-energy solution, what is the likelihood of it becoming obsolete before its value is realized?

Some have discussed that 'caring' about the planet should be incentive enough, but I don't believe that is going to happen. Although we may believe the prediction about what may happen if we don't begin to care, most are too mentally and emotionally involved with what will happen 'tomorrow' to leave room to care about what may happen 30 years in the future. It doesn't always make us 'bad people', but uncertain employment, and fluctuation financial paradigms do make it a difficult choice.

Some have discussed the DIY approach, but that only applies to those of us 'geeky' enough and/or intelligent enough to give it a try. But, even for those, we need to have not only sustainable source of energy, but a sustainable generating system. Few of us can get along totally without some service support for something we own. We might change our own oil, but when the infamous 'chip' fails, bringing our car to a halt, few will attempt that repair. If we, even with very professional skills, create our own PV (or any other type) of power generating system, it is likely we are the only ones who can keep it running. "No Problem," you say? I am 60 years old, and (1) I can't always be the repair guy, (2) it is very likely my wife will outlive me, then who will keep it running, and (3) if I sell the house, how will the new owner (with or without the ambition and skills) keep everything maintained? I love to tinker and design and invent, but for a long-term sustainable system, DIY might not be the correct answer.

Finally, if something is truly going to be helpful on a more global scale, green-energy solutions must be realized by a much larger population. Average incomes (and average indebtedness), average homes, owned versus rented (or leased), multiple dwellings (apartments, condos, etc.) … all these must somehow have bona fide green technology solutions available to them in order to become the widely accepted norm, hence a real global benefit.

The reason for my OP was not to instill so much controversy, but to portray the overall problem. I want a greener planet. I want for the bona fide technologies to become mainstream so we can all enjoy their benefits. The so-far unanswerable question is, HOW? The problems are two-fold. We seem to be answering the technology problems, but we are not answering the socio-economic problems of getting those technologies into enough hands to make a difference.

Good discussion, and thanks,

Kind regards …

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#64

Re: Where is the Incentive?

05/22/2012 1:23 PM

As usual, late to the party.

Just my 2 cents... or less, when adjusted for inflation.

When I think solar energy I include "passive" building design in the equation. Looks like it's part of German thinking, too.

When was the last time any of us saw a house going up in our vicinity that employed passive solar design? Fewer solar panels would be needed in an energy efficient designed building. Because most of us can't afford the cost of building a new home, we all just keep buying and inhabiting the same old inefficient (relatively speaking) buildings. There were sneers about "weatherizing" homes as part of the plan to "create" more jobs. But there is truth to the underlying concept. This is exactly what kramarat was saying when he said IF he could afford to spend more on improving his house he would invest in better insulation and windows first.

I was wondering why there aren't design competitions for passive solar building design. Well, there have been, it's just not well-known, I guess. I wasn't aware of them. (Not saying much.) But most of us aren't.

It's no different than buying a Toyota Corolla vs a Hummer. (No offense to you Hummer owners.) Efficiency is the first line of defense in containing energy costs. Until efficiency in building design is seriously included in energy policy we can't say we've worked on both ends of the problem. And we in the States seem to be behind the curve... again.

Don't like passive solar design? Try underground housing. And here's a builder. Ground temperature stays relatively constant. Or how about "green roofs?" The problem begs for creativity. There seems to be a lot! But it, apparently, gets ignored, for the most part.

Just imagine if this could be made part of the national consciousness by, for instance, making the competition (to design the most energy efficient home) between cities or states. Americans love competition. (At this point a relevant version of the opening speech in the movie "Patton" plays. Write your own.)

There really is no dearth of creativity among the ranks (especially engineers). Anyone who is an inventor at heart should find this a fascinating challenge. Mix and match modalities/techniques. A big part of this challenge would be to come up with retro designs that could improve current inefficient buildings with minimal costs. Unfortunately, re-insulating a house and replacing windows with double insulated versions aren't cheap, but would almost certainly be part of a retro solution.

To have a truly effective energy paradigm, our homes will, most likely, be like the horse buggies that go by the wayside as better designs (hopefully) take hold. (Don't hold your breath, though. Apartment complexes, for instance, are built for profit and therefore employ the cheapest construction. Since greed can't be removed from free enterprise, FE will not solve all of our problems.) The other side of that coin is having a way for people to afford it. Not an easy challenge. Incentives on both ends of the problem are, I think, most desirable.

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