Energy Matters – February 2017

Article written by Mark Becker for Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today, February 2017.

Forward, or Backward?

As we move into the next four years of our new President’s term, there are both nervous and cautiously optimistic energy leaders around our nation and our world. Alternative energy has proven to be a non-partisan issue, and citizens throughout the political spectrum hope that the clean energy revolution will continue on its current path. In terms of energy production, the world IS changing. Having multiple options of energy providers in the free marketplace will always be good for consumers, good for job growth, good for our economy, and especially good for domestic security. The more energy we source domestically, from all energy sources, reduces the negative petro-politics associated with imported oil. American sourced energy is homeland security.

2016 Solar Milestones:

Solar Projects in California now number over 500,000. Solar growth in PGE territory in 2016 outpaced all other years.  Reason: Electric costs keep rising, the installation cost of solar PV, although mostly stabilized, continues to slowly decline. These elements make for a greater Return on Investment (ROI) on solar PV. There’s plenty of room left for solar growth in our utility grid. Solar PV generates just 5% of all energy production in PGE territory.

California Net Metering 2.0 has become active: A big win for the solar consumer, Net Metering 2.0 allows a solar customer to continue to arbitrage utility rates, at PGE costs, for the next 20 years. PGE lost the battle to excessively limit payments to solar customers for the excess energy we generate. Solar PV reduces the amount of electricity PGE has to generate, and PGE, through Net Metering, is allowed to resell this excess electricity generated by solar. Properly managed, the solar and utility relationship is a win-win for both the utility and the electric ratepayer.

Energy Storage is gaining traction: Energy storage (traditionally batteries) can serve different purposes. It can be used as an emergency back up power source for critical equipment such as medical devices, or it can be programmed to “Peak Shave” high cost power at certain times of the day with or without an accompanying solar PV system. Indeed, if your home or business is severely shaded, or your business simply needs to reduce the dreaded PGE “Demand Charges”, these simple devices may provide you with some very good ROI.

The Federal Tax Credit for solar PV, which was due to expire on January 1st, was extended for another 5 years through a bipartisan effort in Congress. This tax credit from the federal government covers 30% of the cost of a solar PV system, as well as any associated roofing costs that are borne when installing solar PV.

Employment: Over 40,000 new jobs were added to the solar and energy efficiency sector. Many of these jobs were filled by returning military veterans. From an economic growth potential, the number of jobs in the clean energy sector can easily replace the total number of current jobs in the coal industry.

More than 50% of all new electric generation in the United States was provided by alternative energy, mostly from solar and wind energy sources.

PGE Electric Rate Restructuring: In 2016, PGE, with approval from the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), essentially re-wrote how electric ratepayers will be charged for their electricity for years to come. Increased electric costs in the late afternoon serves to de-incentivize (reduce) electric use, and incentivizes solar PV deployment. With Net Metering, these increased afternoon electric costs increase the value of a solar PV system by providing higher credits to the solar customer who exports power to the grid at these times. PGE can rely on, and re-sell this electricity to make up for any shortfalls in electric production, especially during high electric use summer days. By 2019, every rate- payer will be moved to a “Time of Use” rate, further advantaging the grid, and those who have solar PV installed.


Mark Becker is the President and business owner of GoSimpleSolar, by Semper Fidelis Construction Inc, CSLB 948715. GoSimpleSolar is one of the very few solar PV installers utilizing both licensed roofers and licensed electricians for installation work, project managed by a solar PV NABCEP professional. For more information visit or come by our showroom at 115 West Linda Mesa Avenue, Danville