Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Thoughts about solar

Our electric bill averages $275 a month. That might be considered high but we have a large home, (with 75 windows and 5 glass sliders doors) and both of us work out of it. Vicki is running a potter’s kiln half the time at temperatures between 1,800 and 2,600 degrees and then I have all my office equipment plugged into some socket. We have taken all the usually energy conservation steps, ceiling fans, the whole house fan and very limited use of the AC but just can’t seam to get a PG&E bill lower than $250. I have looked at spending $25,000 on a solar energy system but I am not convenience that it is worth the initial investment. Now, it appears that solar may be worth another look.
Pushing California's status as a trend-setting progressive policy state, California's Public Utilities Commission, by a vote of 3 to 1, approved the $3.2 billion "California Solar Initiative".
Among its provisions is a subsidy program that will pay hundreds of thousands of home owners a third of the cost of a solar system large enough to supply all of a home's electricity needs.
The initiative's funding is enough to help finance solar systems on 1 million buildings statewide, commercial, public and residential, by 2017. That's equal to more than 3,000 megawatts of electricity, the generating capacity of six power plants and enough juice to serve 2.3 million people.
Funded by an average $1.10 increase in monthly utility bills, the program comes with a big piece of sunshine for home owners -- a $9,000 rebate on a $27,000 home solar power generating station.
The $27,000, before federal tax credits and other incentives, is the going price to install a flush-mounted, rooftop, 320-square-foot photovoltaic (PV) 3 kilowatt residential solar system generating enough electricity to zero out the electricity bill of a 2,500 square foot home, according to Tom McCalmont, chief engineer at REGrid Power in San Jose, CA.
Solar powered homes remain wired to the grid for extended periods of gray days or when battery-stored power dwindles. Home owners must still pay a connection fee and the costs of maintenance and upkeep, but the electricity bill virtually vanishes.
"It nets out to a zero. You run positive in the summer as the meter runs backward and negative in the winter (when there's less sun), but it nets out to zero," said McCalmont.
The new initiative effectively solidifies the cash benefit for the next 10 years, thrusting the solar-powered home to the forefront as another icon of the California lifestyle. California gets more sunshine days than any other state except Arizona, according to the National Weather Service.
Home owners in some jurisdictions still will have to overcome the prohibitively high cost of solar permits which can tack more than $1,000 onto the cost of a solar system, but the expected boost in demand for sun power will help lower the cost of solar systems already down 50 percent in the last 10 years.
Another issue, will be to see if home buyers will spend thousands of dollars more to buy a home that has no electric bill? If not, sellers who pay the price for conversion to solar will not recapture their investment if they sell too soon.


Post a Comment

<< Home