07/02/10

  08:08:15 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 112 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Climate Change

Energy Independence

This is the video that Senators Kerry & Lieberman showed members of the Democractic caucus to motivate them to support Clean Energy and Climate Change legislation.  No wonder they cheered!  Check it out:

Please pass this along to your friends - it deserves to be seen by every American.  As we come up on the 4th of July, it is time to get serious about Energy Independence and that will not come from a business as usual approach.  We need comprehensive climate change and energy independence legislation to grow American jobs, reduce our dependence on dirty fossil fuels, and protect our environment from catastrophic climate change.  Now is the time to Act!

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06/24/10

  10:54:28 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 185 words  
Categories: Electric Cars that Run on Sun

Solar Charged Driving article features Run on Sun

The great website, Solar Charged Driving, features a wealth of information about the synergy between solar power and electric vehicles - whether fully electric (EVs) like the Nissan Leaf or plug-in hybrids (PHEVs) like the Chevy Volt.  We have been following the site for quite awhile and have learned a lot about upcoming vehicles and the issues associated with their development (such as the debate over adding sound generators so that blind people will know they are moving). If you are interested in EVs and particularly fueling them via solar power, this website is a must read (and their RSS feed makes it easy to follow their posts).

So we were thrilled when the Founder & Editor of SolarChargedDriving.com, Christof Demont-Heinrich, contacted us for an interview about our efforts to cross-market solar power systems with this next generation of EVs.  The result is a wonderful article that is now up on the web, aptly titled: “He wants your next car to Run on Sun.”  So true!  Please check it out, and if you like what you see, please add a comment and share it with your social network.

06/17/10

  09:02:34 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 345 words  
Categories: AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding, PWP

Pasadena First City to Join LA County Energy Program

Residents Will be able to Qualify for AB 811/PACE Funding

On Monday, June 14, with little fanfare or public attention, the Pasadena City Council approved a Resolution making Pasadena the first city to join the LA County Energy Program (LACEP).  The Resolution clears the way for Pasadena residents to apply for Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) funding under the County’s AB 811 program, LACEP.  As we have reported here before, the LACEP will allow homeowners to borrow money from the County (funded through the sale of bonds) to finance energy efficiency measures and solar energy projects.  Those loans are then paid off over twenty years as part of the homeowner’s annual property tax assessment.  If the owner sells the property, the assessment “runs with the land” and the new homeowner (who receives the benefit of the improvements) assumes the assessment.  The County expects to begin accepting applications under the LACEP in the Fall.

Run on Sun has been a strong supporter of the LACEP concept and we are working hard with County officials (meeting with them as recently as this past Tuesday) to make the program work as well as it can for residents and small businesses alike.  While we still have some concerns over the details in the program - including the interest rates that will be charged (9% or more?), eligibility requirements for homeowners (at least 20% equity in the home - but based on what assessment?), the process for certifying qualified contractors to do the work (to protect the county’s investment, the homeowner’s property and the reputation of the solar industry), and the timeliness of payments to homeowners and contractors - we believe that if done correctly, this program could be a great benefit for all involved.

Run on Sun is pleased and proud that Pasadena - our hometown - has become the first of the 88 cities in LA County to get on board.  How about your city?  When will they get in?  If you need more information on what your city should be considering, here is a link to the Staff Report that was submitted to the Pasadena City Council.

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06/14/10

  08:16:37 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 370 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Utilities

Spending Money to Save money - Why Investing in Solar Makes Sense

On Friday we wrote about how corporations are hoarding record amounts of cash - afraid to spend but gaining practically nothing in return.  On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times weighed in on the issue in a piece titled, Earning Zero and Feeling Good.  The article, by Tom Petruno, is worth the read and he reports that Americans now have $5.06 trillion in savings and money market accounts that earn less than 1% annual interest! Another $2.8 trillion is sitting in money market mutual funds with an average, annualized yield of a microscopic 0.04% - truly a return that would embarrass your old mattress.

But interest rates cannot remain that low for long, can they? According to at least one expert they not only can, they probably will - from the article:

Economist Edward Yardeni, head of Yardeni Research in Great Neck, N.Y., figures the Fed won’t move before 2012. Another 18 months of paltry cash returns? “It could really start to get very painful for those who don’t expect to get rich [off cash savings] but who do expect to earn some kind of return better than zero,” Yardeni said.

We feel that pain and are here to help! Investing in a solar power system for your home or business makes perfect sense, as in dollars and cents. According to the California Public Utility Commission, between 1970 and 2004 (last year in the study) the compound annual growth rate for electricity prices for large businesses was 7.2%.  With increases in fuel costs, tighter regulatory controls, and the need to update/replace aging infrastructure, even higher annual increases are likely.

But not when you own a solar power system.  For every kilowatt-hour of energy you avoid purchasing from your local utility, you insulate yourself from those rate increases.  Your cost of energy remains constant for the next 25 years while your savings increase year after year.  And there is no risk in this investment - solar power systems are so reliable that they require no routine maintenance more involved than directing a hose at the solar panels to keep them free of dirt and debris.

It is time to un-park that money and let it start working for you again.  A solar power system is a great way to turn that parked cash into long-term savings.

06/11/10

  10:03:48 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 597 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Solar Rebates, Solar Tax Incentives

Corporations Hoarding Cash - Now is the Time to Invest in Solar

According to this ABC News Report, the US Bureau of Economic Analysis revealed that corporations are hoarding $1.6 trillion in cash reserves, an all-time record.  From the article:

Even looking at the companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index of blue chips – and stripping out financials, which are required by regulators to keep large cash reserves in order to cushion against risk – the cash on hand number is still rather monstrous: $1.1 trillion. To put that in perspective, as a percentage of companies’ total market capitalization, that $1.1 trillion is more than double the ratio seen before the crisis.
“Cash is piling up faster than companies can figure out what to do with it,” said David Bianco, head of U.S. equity strategy at Bank of America.

We have the perfect answer for companies sitting on cash and wondering what they can do with it to generate a safe return - invest in a solar power system on your building(s).  Don’t think that is much of an investment?  I think I can show you that it is, but let’s first look at the competition.

If you were going to invest that cash you would want safety and a decent return. But if you put it in a CD, the highest interest rate available today would be around 3% for a 5 year CD. That’s it - three percent.  Not much of a return, and to get it you have to lock-up your money for five years.  So how does that compare with installing a solar power system?  Let’s look at an example from a real world customer.

Imagine a small business like a printing company.  Takes a lot of electricity to keep the presses running.  For our example we will assume a $35,000 annual bill from SCE and to partially offset that we will install a 30kW solar power system on their roof.  (The economics would work even better with a larger system but in our example we are constrained by the physical size of the roof.)  What would that system cost and what would the savings be?  We estimate a price tag of around $175,000.  Applying rebates and the 30% federal grant brings the out-of-pocket cost down to $108,000.  Based on our SCE rate model, Energy savings in Year 1 would be $7,900.  When you apply the CEC’s historical average electrical cost increase of 6.8% per year and account for the accelerated federal and state solar depreciation rates, you wind up with payback occurring in Year 6 and an Internal Rate of Return over the 25 year lifetime of the equipment of 15.1% By Year 10 you are $57,000 to the good.

Solar costs flat over time compared to utility rate increases

Here is another way to look at it.  For many businesses, one of the major monthly costs is electricity and over time you know that the cost will continue to go up.

In the example above, Year 1 electricity costs from SCE were nearly $0.27/kWh.  Over the lifetime of the solar power system, not even factoring in the additional savings from depreciation, the cost per kWh from solar is only $0.15  and that cost is fixed for the next 25 years. (Click graph image for a larger version.)

Unlike that puny 3% return on your money from parking it in a CD, your investment is a solar power system will pay for itself in just a few years and continue to give you ever increasing returns year after year!

If your company, like the companies in that report, has been hoarding its cash while looking for a safe place to put it, now is the time to invest in solar.  Click on the button at the right or call us and we can help you start saving now.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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