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Run on Sun Monthly Newsletter

Run on Sun - the source for Pasadena Solar Power

In this Issue:

November, 2020

Volume: 11 Issue: 11

Power Trip: The Fight to Kill Solar

Editor's Note: This month's lead story goes to colleague, Sophia Mazurek.

After watching the Power Trip Documentary by Jonathan Scotts, I was instantly compelled to share it with everyone I know. This documentary encompasses the energy history of America and delves into major political, social, economic, and environmental issues that we have been facing for centuries. If you are passionate about solar, or if you are questioning solar–Power Trip will settle all arguments surrounding the industry. Not only does it unveil the dark parts of utility companies, but it sheds light on the importance of renewable energy and the power it has to transform a community.

Jonathan Scotts, best known for his starring role in the show Property Brothers, took the viewers through different parts of the country while meeting with residents, farmers, and corporate utility companies to discuss solar. He starts in states such as Georgia and Nevada, which are ruled by utility companies and legislation preventing net-metering, solar incentives, and last but not least–energy education. According to a Georgia farmer, “two years ago, you couldn’t talk to anyone about solar.” People literally didn’t want to hear that word come out of anyone’s mouth. It seemed as though there was anger surrounding it, or maybe just lack of understanding. Whatever the reason may be, we can conclude that this fear of solar derived from money-hungry politicians preaching the words “subsidy” over and over until you collapse into the safe, welcoming arms of your utility company.

In fact, there was an Amendment passed in Florida that prevented solar from gaining popularity. How ironic- the sunshine state of the U.S. bans the power of the sun! This amendment tried to trick solar supporters into thinking the ballot was pro-solar. According to the Miami Herald, “the amendment attempted to use the popularity of solar to embed new language into the Florida Constitution that could have been used as a legal barrier to raise fees on solar users and keep out companies that want to compete with the utilities to provide solar energy generation.” If you are still questioning this “narrative,” there is recorded audio evidence from Sal Nuzzo, who is the Vice President of Policy for The James Madison Institute, acknowledging just how deceptive the Florida Amendment 1 tactic was. You can clearly hear him state, “Remember this: solar polls very well… to the degree that we can use a little political jujitsu and take what they are pitting us on and use it to our benefit…use the language of promoting solar, and kind of put in these protections for customers who choose not to install rooftop.”

So now that we have uncovered the dark secrets of utility companies and politicians, let’s see how this push for toxic energy plants destroys lives and families. Jonathan takes us to Kentucky, where traditional America is still holding out hope for the coal industry. An industry that was once powering our world is now a dying flame. Not only do we lack the resources to continue with coal-powered plants, but we are suffering from their pollutants! This is where Environmental racism comes into play. 70% of African American communities live within 30-40 miles of a toxic emitting power plant. Is this a coincidence? No! The state grants these utilities the right to build power plants in low-income minority communities, knowing they do not have the money to relocate or the voice to be heard. These power plants are dumping coal ash into their water, causing diseases, cancers, and other major health problems. For years, they have been silenced and no action has been taken. It is time to eliminate the empty promise of "cheap" fossil fuels and start looking towards a reliable, clean, and safe resource. It is time for people in power to put humanity first.

As Jonathan noted:

My motivation to tell this story started out as environmental. It quickly became social, and then it was personal…this is not about your party, or the color of your state. This is about people, their lives, their planet. We all want better, healthier lives for our family and children. Whether you’re fighting to save the planet or save money, we all win if things change.

He hit the nail right on the head. We all benefit if we prioritize lives over money. We all benefit if we choose the planet. Lastly, we all win if we go solar.

Watch the documentary below! 

“Whether you’re fighting to save the planet or save money, we all win if things change…”

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From Drone to Done!

Back in February we wrote about how Run on Sun had taken a giant step forward technologically in entering the Drone Era for doing site evaluations.  That giant leap was enabled by our learning about Software-as-a-Service provider, Scanifly and the super cool software that they had developed to transform individual drone images into a three-dimensional model that would allow both a detailed shading analysis and precise layouts to be performed at your computer without ever going on the roof.

Sadly, no sooner had we gotten on-board with Scanifly than we went into Covid-lockdown and lots of things got put on hold.  But now that we are building projects again, we thought it would be worthwhile to compare how closely our Scanifly model compared to the real world!  Check it out...

Starts with the Drone

The process begins by a drone flight that captures both contextual images - using a Point-of-Interest flight where you identify your center point, back off to a radius that will include all shade elements, and then fly that circle taking images every 2 seconds or so (our drone, a Mavic Air, does that automatically) - and detailed images closer in to where the array will be placed.  Here's an example of a contextual image:

Context drone image

The garage face is where the array will go, and we are far enough away that surrounding trees will be included when we fly our orbit.  Now here's an example of a detail image:

Drone detail image

Here we are much closer to the surface of interest.  The beauty of what Scanifly does is that it takes these disparate images (we used a total of 113 separate images) and stitches them together into a model from which you can do your layout.

Design Time

Now that the images have been upload and Scanifly creates the model - a process that takes about a day - we are ready to do our design.  The software allows you to build in "keepout" areas for things like fire setbacks, as well as obstructions like vents or skylights that cannot be moved.  You select the PV module that you will be using and then the software creates a placement for you that you can then modify as necessary.  Here's what that looked like for this project:

We have placed the array at 18" off the ridge, and we are really going from edge-to-edge!  (The yellow dots are the vertices that we marked in the model, the red line is our setback line.)  We are using LG 350's as our modules, and we really have no room to spare - these dimensions have got to be right!  So how did we do?

Build It!

I have to say, I like how this turned out!  Click on the buttons to fade from the design image to the as-built (thanks to Sophia Mazurek for getting these images to line up).

How cool is that?

We're hooked! Many thanks to the entire team at Scanifly - you have made our work safer, easier, and better!

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Point of personal privilege...

 As I write this on the last day of November, Los Angeles county is headed back to a lockdown as we struggle to deal with Covid-19. Yesterday the state of California had over 13,000 new cases, with nearly 5,000 of them here in LA County! To say that this is not sustainable would be a tragic understatement.

Run on Sun remains open to serve your solar & storage needs, but we all need to work together to get this nightmare under control.  While we have the luxury of working outdoors in the fresh air and sunshine, many of our "essential worker" neighbors do not have that luxury. Some are on the front lines of this pandemic, working tirelessly to care for our friends and loved ones.  Some are stocking grocery store shelves so that we still have food and essentials even as the County overall shuts down.

We as a community owe it to all of these folks risking illness on our behalf, to do our part.  It's not that hard: stay at home if you can, social distance when you cannot, and wear a damn mask!

I get it, we are all weary of dealing with this disease and we want our regular lives back.  But until the vaccines are widely available - and enough people agree to take them - this is our reality.  We can do this - we can help protect our neighbors and ourselves.



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