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What's Up with Solar Power?

Posted June 18, 2010 7:00 AM

Yet another alternative energy startup thinks it may have developed the key to widespread commercialization of solar-powered windows and glass. But despite all the efforts and untold billions of dollars in government research and development funding over decades, wide-spread use of solar power seems as far off as the sun itself. What can help get these methods and products off the ground and in the market?

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#1

Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 12:29 AM

Free capitalism. Free constitutional America. Harsh punishment for law breakers and for those that don't enforce the laws.

Utility companies are monopolistic, they actively fight agaist a real Feed-in-Tarif (FIT)and instead will give a partial FIT which isnt enough to kick start the industry here like it did in germany, (except Arizona, hurray for free Americans).

Dirty politicialns in both parties, could have fixed it years ago, but the utilities fund their campains

Stupid people that say "not in my backyard", like Ted Kennedy and the wind farm off shore near his home, like the jerks in Newberry springs california that stop their neighbor from putting up a 3Mw solar farm because they dont want glare and dust, itwas farm land that got plowed and scrub desert, the dust will always be there.

I've got another 5 pages but thats it in a nut shell.

Spacecannon

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 1:32 AM

so basically, the politics is more influential than the technology. ga

Chris

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#3

Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 6:08 AM

IMHO the problem is both gov'ment and greedy companies. I have been researching solar applications for several months( not once in a while. but for hours each day) and my research tells me that the companies that are making solar panels (as an example) are gouging the consumer. When I can buy a Chinese panel for a lot less than I can buy a domestically made panel, there is something wrong and it is not all the hourly wage. The people who need help with their electric bills just cannot afford the products that are being offered. And the people who can afford to buy these products are not financially strapped in the first place. In the next 60 days I will be manufacturing solar hot water panels and incorporating hot water base board heating as well. I have found that I can manufacture at a fraction of what they are selling for. The electric company told me not to bother building a solar farm because I would not recover my construction cost let alone any profit. Now that was helpful. From the horses mouth so to speak. They do not want solar power unless THEY OWN IT !!

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#4

Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 9:30 AM

We're a fascist society. We are ran by the corporations. If the big corporations feel that a product is going to cut in on their profit margins, they will lobby to squash the product or make it difficult for the product to take hold.

Southern California Edison offers solar panels. They even explain that if your panels are producing more power then you use, it will put power back into the grid and they will give you a credit for that power.

The down side is that the panels cost $10,000 ea. and you need about 10 of them to be totally self sufficient.

So they make like they're all for your going solar but the bottom line is the discouragement.

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#5
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Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 11:53 AM

My wife and I recently had 7.56 KW of PV Solar panels installed on the roof of our house. The entire system cost was about $66K. This was a cost we couldn't afford straight out of our pockets or even finance. It was nearly impossible to gain finance from any bank for the system due to the financial and economic problems facing this country the past few years; in essence no banks were giving out loans for quite a while, even if you had a decent credit rating.

The only reason we were able to install the system was the Federal and New York State Tax Credit incentives and rebate program run by NYSERDA. Luckily we were able to hash out a financing program with our PV Solar Contractor to help pay for the remaining $18K after application of the Tax and Rebate, sort of a Rent-to-own Contract.

The FOUR largest problems we face and all have to deal with the cost of things and how money is provided for these solar systems, and what I see as problems facing others is that if they want to install PV solar, is that Government has to step up to the plate and offer better incentives other than TAX CREDITS, as well as better and larger state-sponsored rebate programs. People cannot afford the "upfront" money now and get the tax credit later....it's like putting the horse before the carriage or carrot, in a sense. I hope I'm making some sense here. Anyhow, government should be able to offer you grant money ahead of the installation and not the tax credit.

The second problem is the size of the state offered rebate. We were very lucky to have applied when we did and have the installation approved by NYSERDA. Slightly after our approval, NYSERDA nearly "halved" their rebate amount for each future applicant. New York State used to have one of the best solar rebate programs in the nation, Not any more they do due to the typical bureaucratic bullshit that's so prevalent in New York State government and state Authorities (NYSERDA included). NYSERDA's justification for their actions, as I understand it, was to "spread the wealth around more so more people could afford to install PV solar systems. Talking about ass backwards thinking! Their rebate changes actually made it more difficult for average Joe citizen to afford the PV systems! This assessment has even been confirmed in talks with our solar contractor. Auxiliary to the above, if I want to design and build a solar thermal system on my own to help heat my house and provide Domestic Hot Water (which means no NYSERDA-certified solar contractor and his outrageous mark-up), then NYSERDA will not allow me a rebate for the system, even if I personally certify it's design and installation as a NYS Licensed Professional Engineer! Again, talking about red tape and bureaucratic bullshit! Maybe I should file a lawsuit against the bastards, eh??!!!! Anyone from NYS want to join me in bringing a Class Action Suit against NYS and NYSERDA?! Again, it's politics as usual in New York State as it's the state legislature and the pass and present Governors that have written the laws....mainly to help our the power corporations in this state.....I could go on and on about our solidly-entrenched idiot state officials and legislature and their perks and Lu-Lu's, but I'll leave that for another day.

Third problem is the the state and feds need to backup the bank loads to help finance PV and thermal solar system installations at zero interest and at the feds Prime Rate. The program set up in New York State allowed banks to help you obtain some financing if you needed it (if you could even get the loan approval.....nealy impossible the past 2 years), the bank's APR on the loan was approximately 6.25% (at the time we applied...lower now I believe, but not by much), which was no bargain! And really, how many Americans out there really have that sort of cash laying around in the banks as of late, especially in this economic climate....it's been erroded seriously thanks to the Wall Street fiasco?

Forth problem is that the states are forcing homeowners and businesses to hire state-certified solar contractors in order to receive the state-sponsored rebate incentives, otherwise you're out of luck! Problem is that these contractors are like sharks in the water and can smell the blood from hundreds of miles away....they WILL gouge you to the nth degree! Case in point: we originally had a PV solar contractor who Had an office a few miles away from our home. We were all lined up with them , having done all the necessary paperwork, but hadn't signed a contract yet when I noticed that the bottom line had significantly increased and the terms had changed as well.....also, it was nearly impossible to get a call back from them to answer some very serious questions I needed answered. Needless to say, I fired them and we hired another contractor whose office was about 40 miles away, and who was more open-minded and did everything on the up and up, and was willing to work with us throughout the entire process. Nice people working for him too and I'd recommend our Contractor to another one any day!!!!!! We were lucky in the long run, as I've heard of some horror stories from our neighbors around the corner (as well as others locally) who had been the first in our Village/Town to have a PV Solar system installed.....we were the 2nd installation here. Unfortunately for them, they got "hosed" very big time by the same contractor we originally had. I won't go into details here if you know what I mean or even name names......

So far I love my PV solar system, especially with the "reverse metering" installed as the Sun is making me some serious money each and every time the Sun comes up in the morning (or even on cloudy days...we have excess capacity that we sell back to the utility company).

In conclusion, there needs to be some fundamental/major changes made on how to get solar and thermal solar systems financed in this country. If Germany can do it within their governmental policies, then we can do it too, if not better, but the BS politics and red tape have to end....fortunately for the Germans they're way out ahead of the rest of the world getting Solar anything installed on virtually anything and everything fixed or not, included installations along the Autobahn Right-of-Way and even in farmer's fields! When I see that, and after witnessing the crappy process that we have recently had gone through, then I know that there's a lot more need for improvements in our system in order to do what the German's and other countries have done.....big time improvements needed! I really hope that some Congressmen and Obama read this and make some huge changes that are really needed if this nation is to go truly Green that's affordable to the John Q Public!

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#6
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Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 12:19 PM

very informative. ga.

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Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 1:05 PM

How long will it take for the system to pay for itself? This is a big investment and I think you'll have to take the system with you if you should choose to move because I don't think it will increase the value of the home enough to compensate the investment.

What about maintenance? Will the system operate well enough, long enough to get a good enough return on it before you have to start replacing components?

I'll bet the solar farms get a big break on costs to set them up. In the Mohave Desart they have a solar farm that is several 1000 acres in size. They look like a bunch of flat top low level green houses.

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Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 6:51 PM

GA Captn,

I forgot to mention the big unions or large licensing/certifying organizations that are holding things back. Cause its just like you said that you dont get credit if you do it yourself,... thats BS

Payback on my large system is aprox 5 years and yes we do pay a lot less cause we commercial outfits buy in large amounts, less than $1.80/watt... I know the average guy gets hosed...

Spacecannon

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Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 6:39 PM

Yep Janissaries,

and the dirty little secret is the CA utility companies only give you credit for what you use, so if you feed in more than you use you dont get credit for it aka or get paid, other places like Arizona or germany will pay you for the extra you produce, aka a real, full, feed-in-tariff.

Spacecannon

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#7

Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 12:22 PM

Thanks Chris! I tried to nail it down as completely as I could...

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#11

Re: What's Up with Solar Power?

06/19/2010 6:58 PM

My pay back period is roughly 6.5 years. Our Rent-to-own Agreement with the solar contractor is for 10 years, but we have the option to pay him off anytime after 5 years into the Contract Term with a small balloon payment due then. I figure we'll pay him off with our yearly Federal and State Tax Refunds at year number 5. We also earned a Real Estate Tax abatement with this installation, shaving off roughly $4K off our tax assessment for the house and property...in the end we'll be saving about $1000/year in local Village, town, county and school taxes.

Also, with the reserve metering for the excess power we're producing we're more than paying for the power we do consume but also paying for the rental on the equipment. I say in the long run it's well worth it!

Our system is warrantied for 25 years, except the inverters which are 10 years warranty....and if anything goes wrong in during the 10 year contract, the contractor will be doing repairs and replacements, even if we pay off the contractor at year #5.

My wife, who was very skeptical from the get go about installing the PV system is extremely happy we did it to save money, applied taxes and reduce our carbon footprint.....happy to have gone green!

(Wait until I install the solar thermal system this fall! She'll be tickled pink!!! hehehehe)

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