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10/20/14

  07:04:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 393 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, SPI 2014

SPI 2014 Preview - Las Vegas Baby!

SPI 2014 logoSolar Power International 2014 kicks off today in Las Vegas and we will be there.  Here’s our preview…

Geek Out!

SPI is always a great show, indeed, it is often an overwhelming experience.  Add in the extra spice of Las Vegas and this week is likely to go by in a blur!  As always we will be on the lookout for what’s new and improved, particularly when it comes to racking solutions, energy storage (will this finally be the year?), and cool new tools to make the job easier and safer.

We are particularly eager to see what is happening in “Start-up Alley” where a number of new companies will be pitching their concepts in the hope of securing investment dollars - to say nothing of some SPI buzz!  One SPI regular and strong policy voice for solar - Adam Gerza - will be there with his new venture, Energy Toolbase.  He recently wrote to us to tell us about Energy Toolbase and described it this way:

Having spent the last six years building my own Excel models, and using the other software products that are out there – I believe Energy Toolbase is better than any tool that’s ever been built. 

Pretty strong boast there, Adam, and as someone who has been building models since getting into the business back in 2006, I’m looking forward to seeing what you’ve got!

Getting Social

But SPI is about way more than the geek fest that it surely is.  It is about making connections and there will be lots of opportunities to do just that.  Starting with the opening reception this evening, and then the lucky few who made the cut get to attend the Top Solar Contractors Gala, courtesy of the fine folks at Solar Power World.

Tuesday night is the annual Block Party and I’m guessing a block party in Vegas will be nothing short of epic!

Wednesday features the Solar Tweetup at lunchtime hosted by Tor (Solar Fred) Valenza (with some help from his friends at Enphase, Generaytor, REC Solar and Solar-Log, and wraps up with the #SolarChat event featuring Raina Russo, Glenna Wiseman and our own Kendra Hubbard.  Whew!

Look for tweets and Facebook posts during the week and more detailed blog posts after the event. 

Have a great week everybody, and if you see me on the floor be sure to come up and say hi!

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10/13/14

  08:00:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 172 words  
Categories: Climate Change

2014 - Warmest Year Ever?

The folks over at NASA are reporting something that folks out here in the West will not find at all surprising: 2014 is on track to contend for the title of warmest year ever.  (No doubt this will come as a shock to folks who regularly watch Fox News.)  (H/T Climate Crocks.)

Warmest year ever?

The chart shows the temperature anomaly for 134 years with the zoom in on the five warmest. 2014 is the heavy grey line; 2010 (the hottest year on record) is in red.  (Oh, and contrary to the Fox canard about a global cooling trend, in fact of the five warmest years ever, two were in the past five - 2010 and 2013.)

Of course, 2014 isn’t over yet so the dotted lines provide a number of possible scenarios.  To give you a sense of how far “ahead” we are so far this year, if the remaining months simply hit their 21st century averages, 2014 will tie 2005 for the second warmest year ever.

Hang on to this link, you may need to refer to it next month over Thanksgiving dinner!

10/11/14

  08:21:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 360 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Energy Efficiency, Residential Solar

Keeping the Lights on...

We stumbled upon an interesting graphic that highlights just what it takes to keep the lights on in our homes and work places.  It is a tale of both efficiency and waste.  We thought it was worth sharing… (h/t The EnergyCollective.)

The starting point for the graphic (click on the image at left for the full size graphic) is an old fashioned (i.e., wasteful) 100 Watt incandescent light bulb.  If you turned on such a light and left it running for a year, how much energy would it consume?  That’s the easy calculation - 100 W = 0.1 kW.  There are 8,760 hours in a year (roughly - don’t go getting all leap year on me) so our light bulb uses:
0.1 kW x 8,760 hours = 876 kWh. 

Quite a lot, really, just to light a room!

The graphic proceeds to explore what it would take to produce that much power from each of our common energy sources.  Interestingly, only one of these sources is something you can own - and that, of course, is solar.  (While you could own a wind turbine, the one in the graphic is a 1.5 MW turbine, definitely not something to put in your backyard!)  To be fair, the graphic assumes an installation of 100 square meters which is 1,076 square feet, and that is significantly larger than most residential solar systems.  If your system is smaller, it takes longer for your system to keep the light on, but the end result is the same: your own power source meeting your needs, with no pollution or long-lived waste products to worry about.

On the other end of that scale is the coal plant where our light bulb requires us to burn nearly half a ton of coal and emit over a ton of CO2 in the process!

The good news is that both that wasteful incandescent light bulb, and coal-fired power plants are going away, just not fast enough.  (Changing out your old 100 Watt light bulbs with efficient LEDs will drop these numbers by more than a factor of five.)  Every solar installation directly reduces our greenhouse gas emissions - and saves the system owner substantial amounts of money over the lifetime of the system.

10/03/14

  06:26:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 176 words  
Categories: Electric Cars that Run on Sun

Use Your Torque Wisely!

Readers of this blog know that the only thing we like better than Electric Vehicles are Electric Vehicles that Run on Sun. So when we came across this clever ad from Nissan, we just had to share (and it is perfect for a Friday!).

Check this out:

Frankly, we had that same self-satisfied smile on our face when we got to test drive a Tesla Model S a few weeks ago.  Part of the test drive was a short stint on a local freeway.  As luck would have it, the light turned red as we reached the on-ramp to the freeway.  As luck would further have it, a 5-series BMW pulled up alongside of us - both of us first to go at the light.  Somewhat distracted by the many bells and whistles inside the Model S (and the patter of the salesperson), we weren’t focused on the light, and the BMW jumped ahead as the light changed. 

Poor little BMW, he didn’t have a chance.

Grin.

Happy Friday, everyone - but remember, use your torque wisely!

09/28/14

  08:43:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 441 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, SCE, Residential Solar, Ranting

Support Solar!

Regular readers of this blog will know that solar-friendly policies are under constant attach by the utilities, especially the three Investor-owned utilities (or IOUs as they are known), PG&E, SDG&E and our own SCE.  Well they are at it again, with rate proposals before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) that could harm both solar and energy efficiency measures alike.  Fortunately, we have an opportunity to have our say - here’s our take. (H/t our friends at CalSEIA.)

Support SolarCurrent policies in California, most notably net metering, along with a tiered rate structure (whereby you pay more for electricity as you use more) have provided powerful incentives not only for consumers to install solar, but to also take proactive measures to reduce their energy consumption.  As a result, energy use in California over the past twenty years has grown slower than the growth in population despite the explosion of new electronic devices in homes and businesses during that time.  Indeed, California has lead the way for the rest of the Nation, proving that you can have a twenty-first century lifestyle and still reduce your energy demand.

In other words, these policies have been a success.

The proposals being floated at the CPUC would change rates throughout the three IOU service areas (i.e., much of California) and threaten that success.  In particular, they are seeking to add a flat, monthly fee to everyone of $10 to all bills, regardless of use and to reduce the number of tiers from four to two.  In addition, the rate for the lowest tier would increase, making this a double-whammy not just to solar owners, but to the poorest electric customers who will see a rise in their rates.  (So much for the utilities’ concern over hurting the poor!)

Fortunately these changes are not yet cast in stone and the public, particularly advocates for solar and energy efficiency, have a chance to have their voices heard.  The CPUC is holding a series of public hearings, some in the Run on Sun service area, as well as others around the state.  Here are the upcoming hearings:

FONTANA

September 29, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Fontana City Council Chambers
8353 Sierra Avenue
Fontana, CA 92335

TEMPLE CITY

September 30, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm?

Temple City Council Chambers
5938 Kauffman Avenue
Temple City, CA  91780

PALMDALE

October 2, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Palmdale City Council Chambers
38300 Sierra Hwy, Suite A
Palmdale, CA  93550

CHICO

October 9, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Holiday Inn Chico – Conference Center
685 Manzanita Ct.
Chico, CA 95926

FRESNO

October 14, 2014

2:00 pm & 6:30 pm

Fresno City Council Chambers
2600 Fresno Street
Fresno, CA  93721

We are planning on attending the hearing in Temple City.  If you attend one of these important hearings, please let us know about your experience in the comments.

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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.
In addition, Run on Sun offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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