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Energy Matters – October 2015

Article written by Mark Becker for Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today, October 2015.

In mid-September, on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, a diverse group of people and industry released a documentary called The Burden which tells the story about America’s dependence on fossil fuels and the implications of that dependence. The United States Military is taking the initiative to lead our nation away from dependence on foreign sources of fossil fuels from nations, many of which are not our allies.

The mission of the US Military is to protect our nation against all enemies “foreign and domestic.” By developing reliable, renewable, and local fuel sources, the US Military is less likely to be subjected to execute a foreign policy that may put our nation’s service members and domestic security at risk to secure these foreign fuels.

Forward thinking: Our military has become the largest purchaser of solar energy and alternative fuels in the world. In our democracy, the military takes orders from the elected civilian government, but the US Military is taking this initiative on its own, without orders, which ultimately contributes to our domestic security through peaceful means. A policy of energy independence can pay the dividend of peace. A trailer for The Burden can be seen at www. Facebook.com/OperationFREE.

The future is now: With the imminent expiration of the Renewable Energy Federal Tax Credit on December 31, 2016, the solar PV industry is booming. GoSimpleSolar is booked for the remainder of the calendar year. It would be wise, if you’re considering solar PV, to take the following steps: Do your research now to confi rm that solar PV is right for you. Find a high quality installer, and get into their installation queue. At this rate, by May, our installation schedule may very well be booked for the remainder of 2016.

No more competition for roof space: Fafco USA, the largest manufacturer of swimming pool heating panels, has partnered with the largest US manufacturer of solar PV products, SolarWorld, to create a “CoolPV” panel. The principle is simple and unique. Cool water pumped from a swimming pool circulates through solar pool heat panels, which are mounted behind solar PV panels, and a heat exchange results. The heat from the solar PV panel on the roof is transferred to the solar thermal panel, allowing the solar PV panel to operate at a lower and more effi cient temperature, resulting in greater electric output from the solar PV panel. Conversely, the heat transferred from the solar PV panel is circulated back to the pool, which increases the temperature of the swimming pool. What’s the cost? Unfortunately, it’s more expensive than a traditional solar thermal system, but in contrast, this system qualifi es for the Renewable Energy Tax Credit since it’s primarily a PV system with a secondary duty of warming a swimming pool. Because of the lesser total roof space required, solar customers will no longer have to choose between the fi nancial returns solar PV can provide or the luxury returns of a warmer swimming pool; they can have both.

Although not known for their abundant sunshine, Germany’s solar output was greater than their nuclear electric output in July.

PGE update: About a year ago, PGE lost a lawsuit to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which contended that non-solar ratepayers were bearing greater electric costs than solar ratepayers. PGE lost that lawsuit, and as a result, the current benefi cial solar regulations were extended for 20 plus years. These solar rights are transferable with each solar system; if you sell your home, the solar PV system is grandfathered into the solar regulations in place when it was commissioned. Even though PGE resells the excess electricity that is sent to the grid from solar systems, they are still out to get their pound of fl esh from solar customers. Solar customers recently received a notifi cation that their minimum monthly PGE charge is increasing from $5 to $10 per month. With well over a quarter million solar projects in California, this additional $5/month will indeed generate revenue for the utilities. Ultimately it’s less than 1/3 of a month of my solar credits, and simply reinforces the decision I made to go solar years ago. The utilities should focus on more policies that make them relevant versus trying to roadblock progress.

Mark Becker is the President and business owner of GoSimpleSolar, by Semper Fidelis Construction Inc, CSLB 948715. GoSimpleSolar is one of the very few (and proud) solar PV installers utilizing both licensed roofers and licensed electricians for installation work, project managed by a solar PV NABCEP professional. For questions or comments email Mark@GoSimpleSolar.com or call 925-331-8011.