Welcome to the
Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

In this Issue:

April, 2011

Volume: 2 Issue: 4

What You Need to Know About Commercial Solar Power in Three Easy Lessons (Abridged Version!)

Last month we announced that we would be producing an in-depth, three-part series that would explain everything that you need to know about Commercial Solar Power in Three Easy Lessons. True to our word, that series is now out and judging from the hits that we have received on the blog, this may be our best received posts of all time. The series is too lengthy to repeat in full here, but we thought that some pithy excerpts could help "whet your whistle" for the entire series.

Part 1: Understanding Your Bill

First things first - before you ever even call a solar power company - and we will explain how to find the good ones in Part 3 - you need to start with something more mundane: your electric bill.  When was the last time that you really looked at your electric bill?  For many business or building owners the answer is never.  Oh sure, you certainly know how much you are paying - but do you know why you are paying so much?  What horrors are hiding in your bills? (Caution - not for the faint of heart!)

Read the complete article...

Part 2: Understanding Rebates and Tax Incentives

Rebates for commercial solar power systems come in two flavors - Performance Based Incentives (PBI) and Expected Performance-Based Buydown (EPBB) - but PBI rebates are by far the more common for commercial systems above 30 kW.  EPBB rebates are lump-sum payments made based on the expected performance of the system.  The rebate rate is denoted in dollars per Watt based on the calculated AC Watts for the system...  PBI rebates, on the other hand, are paid out over five years based on the actual performance of the solar power system as verified by monitoring devices attached to the system inverter(s).  PBI rebates are denoted in cents per kilowatt hour generated... 

Commercial solar power systems qualify for a federal Investment Tax Credit of a full 30% on the direct cost of the system... 
That Credit can be taken over two years and is a substantial incentive if you have the tax liability to offset.  Fortunately for systems that are put in service in 2011, commercial solar power system owners can elect to receive a Grant directly from the Treasury for the full 30%, regardless of their tax appetite... 
Commercial solar power systems also qualify for accelerated depreciation. 

(Disclaimer: Please consult with your tax advisor regarding the applicability of any tax incentives to your financial situation - Accountants shouldn't install solar panels, and we don't give tax advice!)

Read the complete article...

Part 3: Understanding Your Bid

You did it!  You found three installers with great credentials who came out to your site and each one did a careful evaluation.  Now you are holding in your hand a thick stack of paper from the three installers and they don’t look anything at all alike!  How to make sense of all of this?

Read the complete article...

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Cost per kWh...

Cost per kWh graph

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Pasadena Named One of the Top-Ten Cleantech Cities in the United States

In a March 28th article by Shawn Lesser, Reuters published its list of the top ten cleantech cities in the U.S. Surprising no one around here, Pasadena made the list, coming in at number 9. Reuters highlighted Caltech's influence in the region, including through it partnership with the City of Pasadena in founding Entretech, a non-profit dedicated to fostering the growth of hi-tech companies in the Pasadena area.

Ironically, on the solar front, Reuters identified Energy Innovations Solutions as an example of a Pasadena cleantech company, despite its relocation to Poway last summer. Nevertheless, there is plenty of solar power innovation going on here in Pasadena, and your friends at Run on Sun (somehow overlooked by Reuters!) are leading that charge.

Top-ten in cleantech? Heck, yeah and just one more reason why we love Pasadena and are committed to making this one of the greenest cities in the world! If you are a Pasadena building or business owner, give us a shout and let's get you onboard with the greening of Pasadena.

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Consumer Spending Up - To Pay for Energy!

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that consumer spending rose 0.7% in February with most of that going to cover rising costs for food and energy. At the same time, the Times reported that gasoline prices in California now top $4.00/gallon for self-serve regular - an increase of more than 94ยข per gallon from one year ago.

While overall inflation remains low, inflation in the volatile energy sector is taking off. Oil prices remain above $100/barrel, while the price of natural gas is expected to climb substantially over the next year. Given that so much of the electricity used in Southern California comes from gas-fired power plants, it is clear that electricity prices will continue to climb, and likely higher and faster than they have in the past. Combine that with the need to address anthropogenic climate change, and the urgency of finding alternative energy sources that are not subject to extreme price fluctuations becomes ever more apparent.

Dogbert create faux press releases

But evil Dogbert's faux press releases aside, it is not necessary to dream up some "new green energy technology breakthrough" to meet our needs. Solar power is a tried and true technology that provides building owners with a substantial return on investment while reducing the building's carbon footprint and providing a true hedge against runaway energy costs.

In March, the California Assembly finally got over the hurdle imposed by some of its less visionary members and passed SB 2X which provides for a 33% Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for the utilities in the state. The debate on the Assembly floor, presided over by solar champion Mike Gatto (D-Glendale), was lively and, for the most part, enlightened. The bill now goes to Governor Brown who is expected to sign it.

There are many more policy steps that the legislature needs to advance - none more important than a statewide feed-in tariff to replace the existing patchwork quilt of "now you see 'em, now you don't" rebates - but SB 2X was a good start. As solar becomes more commonplace, we will see the day when consumers don't worry about their energy costs because their savings are locked-in for the next 25 years.

Now if we could only do something about food prices!

"...The California Assembly finally passed SB 2X which provides for a 33% Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard for the utilities in the state."

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