Energy Matters – May 2016

Article written by Mark Becker for Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today, May 2016.

Memorial Day is a special day for our nation. It is also an especially meaningful day for veterans who have personally experienced the loss of fellow combatants or service members who have died during non-combat training missions.

As an international relations major, green business owner, retired Marine Corps Officer, energy consumer, and all around red-blooded American, I have mixed emotions about a select few Middle Eastern nations conspiring to keep the price of oil low to achieve other long term goals. Petropolitics serves economic and political end goals. Economically, keeping the
price low allows individual Gulf States to keep market share and results in low priced oil here in the USA. From a business perspective, the goal of these nations wanting to keep market share is easily understood, and low prices at the pump is something we all like. Politically, the Gulf States’ goal of maintaining unlimited oil supply is to put stress on the economies of their enemies, Russia and Iran. There is well-founded fear that money from sanction-free Iranian petro-dollars will further fund the regime of Assad in Syria and non-state terrorist actors such
as Hezbollah. The caustic and deadly politics of international oil (in which all oil-exporting nation-states participate) has driven me to believe that the security of the American people is best realized by domestic energy production from oil, natural gas, and renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and bio-fuels.

Myself and other like-thinkers are considered to be “domestic energy hawks.” It’s quite interesting that that a great many of “domestic energy hawks” are former members of our military who have served in the Middle East. While recognizing the importance of the free fl ow of oil to keep the world economy moving, we also recognize we have the resources at home to be self-reliant, and that we can be independent of Middle Eastern or Venezuelan oil. The natural and negative consequence of artificially low oil prices is damaging the USA’s ability to compete in the oil industry. Ironically, it’s less expensive to import oil than it is to produce it at home.

Competition is typically advantageous to any industry, but extremely low prices have a negative effect on our national security. American energy independence limits the interest we may have in Middle Eastern petro-politics.

Many of the Gulf States who claim to be our allies also indirectly fund nongovernmental groups who act against our nation’s best interests. Separating the terrorist threat from petro-politics will allow us to more effectively and objectively target real threats to our nation. I’m simply curious; would people pay more per gallon of gas if you knew that gallon was American and locally sourced?

Gimmicks and solar technology: Admittedly, I’d be hard pressed to defend in a court of law what I consider “gimmicks” now becoming prevalent in our solar industry. The manufacturers of these products tout their “innovations” and “break-through technology” which make for good marketing but not a better long-term system design. GoSimpleSolar is about to undertake complete remediation of another contractor’s very expensive solar project which has the “latest technology” installed. That inverter technology failed, hence failure of the entire PV  system. The installation company and the manufacturer of the equipment are both out of business. Over 170,000 of these failed products were sold. Customers of these products now have no recourse except to hire another contractor (us in this case) to remediate the remaining serviceable portions of the solar PV system at additional cost. Beware the “latest and greatest” technology; some technologies are enduring and are best long-term safe choice for your solar PV investment.

A great many of our customers are finance professionals who clearly understand the how “arbitrage” plays a key role in maximizing solar PV investment returns. For the layperson, ‘Arbitrage’: The simultaneous purchase and sale of an asset in order to profit from a difference in the price. It is a trade that profits by exploiting price differences of identical or similar financial instruments, on different markets or in different forms. The “asset” in the case of a solar PV investment is the cost and credit of a PGE kWh. Being imported and exported from a home or business at different times of the day and season, at different costs and credits, allows a solar PV investment to generally provide better financial return than even the best year in the stock market. Almost all risk can be mitigated from a solar PV project if “done right” by the properly licensed installation professionals utilizing high quality non-proprietary products.

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

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