Monday, June 1, 2009

Solar Energy In California..IS STIlLL "WIMPY" Goal should be at least 10 times higher.

Thank You New Yorker Mag!!

Solar, Wind, Bio, Energy News And Commentary By_Green Earl, 30 year Pioneer In Conservation & Solar Energy

Before you start this article...Would someone please inform
Northern San Diego, Supervisor Dianne Jacob, that Northern CA
is NOT foggy half the time, in fact my family has lived here now
for six generations and I can attest to the fact that the almost
500 miles of California,actually located North of San Francisco
and Sacramento, our capital has over 300 solar days a year. There
are only 365 days a year in San Diego County, aren't there???_Green
Earl More commentary to come on this article at the bottom of it.
Let me finish LOMAO first.

The article An Online Link To The Actual Article
is located in the heading of this blog post..Just click on it.

REGION: Official warns against wimpy solar goal
SANDAG rewriting regional energy strategy
By DAVE DOWNEY - | Saturday, May 30, 2009 8:36 PM PDT ∞

The way county Supervisor Dianne Jacob sees it, regional leaders were on track to set a wimpy goal for homegrown sun power.

So she objected strongly when the San Diego Association of Governments board got its first look recently at a rough draft of a blueprint for the county's energy future.

That draft said the region should use energy more efficiently, modernize its electric grid and boost reliance on green power to the point that sun, wind and other clean sources account for half of local electricity by 2030.

But the plan focuses far more on large, remote commercial solar and wind farms than on the small panels people put on their roofs.

"There is no reason why the San Diego County region can't be energy independent," Jacob said Thursday. "We have all the sun that we need. And it's clean, green, safe energy."

SANDAG's draft policy suggested boosting the amount of sun power generated by residential rooftop panels from 50 megawatts today to 210 megawatts by 2020 and 249 megawatts by 2030.

A megawatt is the standard yardstick for measuring large amounts of electricity, and most of the time it is enough to keep the lights on in 650 homes. However, on summer days, the 3.4 million people in San Diego Gas & Electric Co.'s service area use up to 5,000 megawatts. And that annual peak use is projected to grow to 6,218 megawatts by 2030.

For the moment, rooftop solar panels are capable of supplying just 1 percent of the region's power on hot days. Under the proposed blueprint, that proportion would grow to a modest 4 percent by 2030.

With interest in rooftop solar panels soaring in one of the nation's sunniest regions, Jacob figures San Diego County can ---- and must ---- do better.

"I think these targets are way low," Jacob said. "I was shocked when I saw that report."

Jacob, the county supervisor who represents Ramona, Poway and largely rural East County, said she would prefer to set targets 10 times as high as those in the original proposal.

Her concern sparked a lively discussion that spilled into Thursday's meeting of the SANDAG energy working group. No vote was taken Thursday, but group Chairwoman Carrie Downey of Coronado said later there was a consensus to increase the targets.

However, Downey said it is unclear how aggressive the goals will be.

Scott Anders, director of the Energy Policy Initiatives Center at the University of San Diego and an expert on green energy, said it is probably unrealistic to expect solar panels atop people's homes to provide 1,000 megawatts or more by 2020. But the preliminary 2020 goal of 210 megawatts is well below what is achievable.

"The right answer is somewhere in between," Anders said.

Whatever the magic number is, Bob Noble, owner of a La Jolla solar company and chairman of the California Center for Sustainable Energy, said the region ought to set its sights high.

"We should have extremely aggressive goals," Noble said.

Adoption set for October

SANDAG writes a regional energy strategy once every several years. The first one was published in 1979. Updates were completed in 1984, 1994 and 2003.

Now the association is looking to write another one.

Its energy committee is scheduled to finish the draft June 25 and present it to the public July 9 at a workshop at the California Center for Sustainable Energy in San Diego, Downey said.

The board then is scheduled to adopt the blueprint in October.

Brian Brokowski, a spokesman for SDG&E, said 6,600 homes in San Diego County use some form of solar energy, and if all of their systems are operating at capacity they can generate more than 50 megawatts.

While that may not sound like much, nearly one-third of that 50-megawatt capacity ---- 16 megawatts ---- was added just last year. According to a Thursday report by, only two regions of the country added more home sun-power systems in 2008, and both were in California.

Topping the list was Northern California's Pacific Gas & Electric Co., whose customers added 84.9 megawatts of home solar power in 2008. Southern California Edison's customers installed the second most, at 32.4 megawatts.

Brokowski said the No. 3 ranking suggests that SDG&E, which offers financial incentives to builders who put up houses with solar panels, is helping to advance the cause of homegrown solar.

"We strongly support the priority of making California a national leader in solar and making San Diego a national leader in solar," he said.

Sunniest corner of the state

Jacob wasn't impressed by the ranking, however, given how SDG&E stacks up against the other two major urban utilities in California.

"We are the sunniest corner of the state and yet our local monopoly is at the bottom of a pack of three," Jacob said. "Northern California is cloudy half the year, but PG&E somehow managed to install almost five times the amount of PV (photovoltaic solar power) as sunny San Diego."

Anders said the key to getting many times more rooftop power will be financial incentives, given the high cost of installing panels. They typically cost $25,000 to $60,000, depending on the size.

And it is unclear what incentives will be available.

For example, federal tax credits and state tax rebates through the California Solar Initiative make installing panels on the roof attractive to many. But Anders said the state rebates run out in 2016.

Homegrown solar also would get a boost if proposed legislation passes one day to allow homeowners to sell back surplus electricity to the local utility.

"This would bust open the whole solar energy industry in this region," Jacob said.

But for the second year in a row, legislation to do away with the prohibition against selling surplus power has been killed.

If families generate more power than they use in a particular month, they do get credit for that. And that credit can be used to offset the extra electricity they buy from the local utility in a month when their solar panels generate less than they need. But, if at the end of the year they have generated more than they have used, families can't get paid for having sent electricity back to the grid.

One bill that did get signed into law last year ---- Assembly Bill 811 ---- could make solar affordable to the masses.

That legislation allows cities and counties to create programs that offer 20-year loans to homeowners for installing solar, and lets them repay the money through annual property-tax assessments. And San Diego County, Encinitas and Solana Beach are exploring such programs. But officials said that finding the cash required to launch those programs is proving to be a daunting task in an economic downturn.

Call staff writer Dave Downey at 760-745-6611, ext. 2623.

8) Comments
Tushunka May 31, 2009 5:48AM PST
Home grown solar can produce more than they say it can. I put in solar in 2001 and added on to my system to run a well pump also. I run 3 refrigerators, one deep freezer, central A/C, a spa, 2 computers and all other miscellaneous items in my home and STILL produce more than I use from S.D.G. & E.! The people that live in the un-incorporated and rural areas usually have larger pieces of property which can support panels on "trackers". Trackers do just that, they track the sun and greatly increase the productivity of the solar panels by following the sun during the day. San Diego (especially inland) is a gold mine for solar energy and should be developed both commercially and by home owners. Incentives are necessary though like actually paying the home owning producer for the excess power they may produce. What is the difference between home owner produced energy and the commercial that S.D.G. & E. pays for? S.D.G. & E. is required to purchase so much "green" power, why not from home owners?

Report Abuse
Carter May 31, 2009 6:58AM PST
The problem with non-waste sources is they are still at the cutting edge of their technologies. To install them now would be foolish because later on the cost to install will be much lower and the newer models will be much more efficient, cost effective to maintain, and take up much less space. For clean non-waste producing energy sources, such as solar, wind, and tides, our governments should give companies developing them a much greater tax break for thier R&D activities in those disiplines. We should double or even triple our efforts now. Otherwise, I see a future with piles of waste everywhere, even under ground, and running out of a source of the dirty stuff. Clean coal is out - it leaves a very toxic waste to deal with from the coal cleaning process. We haven't even got a good start in solar as an on site at home source. I see the tides as a big source in the future that will never run out.

Report Abuse
Roxy May 31, 2009 7:46AM PST
Come on Ms. Jacobs look at the customer base of each of the three electricity providers in California. SDG&E is a tiny little company compared to the two giants to the north, so statistically we would have fewer energy independent solar panels of the three areas of the state. In my opinion SDG&E goes over the top in its efforts to please the green enviornment folks pounding sand here in California.
Report Abuse
Vista Watchdog1 May 31, 2009 8:17AM PST
Roxy, when we are talking about percentages we are leveling for quantities so that we can compare apples to apples. Also, with SDG&E in a region that truly has more sunny days per year than the two giants to the north your argument that "statistically we would have fewer energy independent solar panels" does NOT hold true. Although the total number of roof-top panels might well be less, the "statistical" numbers should be higher (i.e. SDG&E would have a higher percentage of homes with roof-top panels than that of the two giants to the north). Right now the cost to purchase and install these systems is rather high compared to the average pay-back/break even point (typically anywhere from 7 to 12 years break even, and that even after the rebates and tax breaks. It would be much higher/longer without the subsidies.). All in all solar is great if someone else pays for your system while you reap the benefits. But, if you have to pay the full price it still is not worth it. That said, energy companies are only installing these systems because of the government incentives, mandates, and politics. Economically speaking they don't pay enough to make them financially sound. In time they will. But not yet today.
Report Abuse

Mara's Mom May 31, 2009 8:19AM PST
Roxy: "SDG&E goes over the top in its efforts to please the green environment (sic) folks pounding sand here in California."???

Well, you ARE right that SDG&E goes over the the top in its efforts to APPEAR like it is doing anything to achieve goals set over the past several years at local and state levels. Under your logic, Edison should completely overwhelm PG&E, given its greater size, yet PG&E added more than double the solar megawatts last year.

PG&E and Edison realized several years ago that renewable electricity sources, and specifically, rooftop solar, make excellent business sense for their companies and for their customers,not to mention the communities and state in which they operate. SDG&E (and parent Sempra) continues to be focused on milking the SDG&E cash cow with same-old business practices, missing the exploding renewable energy technology boat. Short-term gain at long-term loss, that's SDG&E's motto.
Report Abuse
bibousa May 31, 2009 10:23AM PST
sdge is in the business of selling you power at a profit....why would they be interested in home owners installing home power plants
Report Abuse

Coast Man May 31, 2009 12:21PM PST
Yes, very short sited. The county (SANDAG)needs to support roof top solar for individuals. Currently the return on investment is just not there yet even with the State incentives. Electric cars are rolling out next year. Roof top panels will also be able to power your car. Just think, never stopping at a gas station.
Report Abuse

John E May 31, 2009 12:59PM PST
"bibousa" gets it -- SDG&E regards individuals with rooftop solar collectors the same way Cox must regard those of us with TV antennae or satellite dishes (both of which work great, by the way). Decentralized power production saves money and provides usable backup power during a major grid-disrupting disaster. I applaud anyone who wants to get off the grid, either partially, which is rapidly becoming very cost-effective, or totally, which is admittedly still a bit expensive.

One beauty of solar in our region is that we have high production during the midday to afternoon peak air conditioning loads which so often drive the grid near brownouts or rolling blackouts.

Is there a place for big centralized power plants, whether fossil, nuclear, or renewable? Absolutely, but there is also a huge untapped opportunity to decentralize, and the benefits will be enormous the next time there is an earthquake.
Report Abuse

Boat May 31, 2009 1:21PM PST
Diane Jacob must be coming up for re-election. Why else would she be making noise? She got her head handed to her over the medical marijuana issue. Now she is trying to rehab her image. She & Bill Horn - poster children for term limits.
Report Abuse

blm May 31, 2009 4:25PM PST
I keep hearing worn-out, old-school arguments against rooftop and other Solar power alternatives: (old argument #1) "Return on investment takes too long" -- These calculations are based on utility company protectionist policy that doesn't BUY power from consumers, only allowing you to credit your way down to zero. Many homes are unoccupied during mid-day peak production, and during that time their electric requirements are often very low, so that surplus power that would be putting dollars in your account is a significant possibility. (old argument #2) "Don't install now because the prices will be coming down and technology improving later" -- this is classic chicken and egg; competition to install Solar NOW will CAUSE a price decrease and technology improvement, not sitting on our hands. (old argument #3) "you can't get significant power from rooftop solar -- 20KW/day can be realized with a small roof exposure of much less than 20' by 20'. If we could find 50,000 houses in San Diego with this much southern roof, we could see 20,000W/day * 50,000 houses = 1000MW/day. That should get some one's attention! The cost of this much Solar panel at today's prices is about what is estimated just to string the line for Sunrise Powerlink ($1.5B), which won't actually even deliver Solar power until multi-billion dollar plant$ are built in the desert. My system has been nearly completely running my household for since the Cedar fire, so over 5 years now. I'm just dying to get an electric vehicle that I can charge with my extra power. Meanwhile, if SDG&E is too dim to figure out how to make a profit at this, then let's see if someone else can!
Report Abuse

Cal May 31, 2009 4:32PM PST
A noble idea from a sour old puss. CYA with solar power after the board tripped over the pot issue. Term limits is a nice pipe dream Boat.
Report Abuse

Boat May 31, 2009 7:19PM PST
Cal May 31, 2009 4:32PM: Term Limits - you are right of course. With the system the way it is once one of these people get in it is next to impossible to dislodge them.
Report Abuse

O-zone May 31, 2009 8:32PM PST
Oh please, we all know the battle is over money power and control.

If you make your own power at home you can thumb your nose at the eclectic and oil companies!

You think they are going to allow that?

You think it's a coincidence that GM had to go bankrupt before they would build an electric car?
Report Abuse

Roxy June 1, 2009 4:39AM PST
So what should I do with my Sempra Energy stocks? Buy,sell or trade? Help me out here folks I'm talking about $300,000 U.S.D. I have parked in Sempra.
Report Abuse

Boat June 1, 2009 10:36AM PST
Roxy June 1, 2009 4:39AM: I'm sure that Diane Jacob can advise you. Give her a call.
Report Abuse

chubsiebunny June 1, 2009 10:41AM PST
The problem here is a failure to legislatively force SDG&E to buy back excess power produced by rooftop solar panels. Municipalities could purchase that power to run cities, schools and public buildings or install their own panels on top of public buildings and produce revenue for budget strapped cities. That is one of the keys to reducing the payback period. Pathetic that the sunniest county in the state has the least incentives for encouraging homeowners to make the investment in solar.
Report Abuse

hole-in-the-wall June 1, 2009 11:59AM PST
My issue is not with Solar energy, but with SANDAG.Why does it exist? It's a completely redundant "governing" organization made up of local/county governments commissioning studies and whatnot.Under our current budget mess, lets disband these useless government organizations and run ourselves as cities/counties/state/nation. We can no longer afford various redundant government bodies that do nothing but commission and review studies at our expense.
Report Abuse

Boat June 1, 2009 12:35PM PST
hole-in-the-wall June 1, 2009 11:59AM: A nice thought but this is how these people get in & stay in. I have lived here for almost forty years. It seems like the same group of people have been running things. They get in & it is next to impossible to vote them out.
Report Abuse

Green Earl June 1, 2009 6:42 PST
Sorry but I had to laugh first at Supervisor Dianne Jacob's
statement that the north half of California is foggy "half
the time" I have real good news for her..NOT !!!

We here in the other nearly 500 square miles, located north
of San Francisco have over 300 solar days a year.

Still she is right about one thing. That a county like San Diego
needs to raise the standard(in fact, every city in this state
DO YOU HEAR ME REDDING? SHASTA COUNTY?) and every city in the
nation, every home a
nd business owner...JUST DO IT!!) solar installs, both on residential and commercial. She say
10 times...I'm good with it. Don't think for a minute the huge, power brokers for the state, PG&E, SoCAl Edison, San Diego Power, Smut, LA Water and Power and the
rest, do not intend to squeeze every rate payer, utility rebate dollar, and every
Federal dollar and Credit possible, including other benefits, many we don't even
realize or know about, I'm sure._Green Earl, Founder




American Energy Conservation Group

1 comment:

Blogger said...

You may be qualified for a new government solar rebate program.
Discover if you qualify now!

Like it? Why Not Share It?