Team USC keeps building steam with the latest boost coming from our good friends over at Enphase Energy who have just completed the donation of 36 M215 microinverters complete with cabling and an Envoy monitoring system for fluxHome™ - USC’s Solar Decathlon entry.
As you can see from this image taken from the live feed, fluxHome is really starting to take shape.
The donation from Enphase - along with earlier contributions - means that the equipment needs for the solar component of the project have all been met. Now the USC team will be able to demonstrate to the thousands attending the Solar Decathlon this October down in Irvine how each individual solar module is producing power thanks to the module level monitoring provided by the Enphase system.
Given that one of the ten competitions in the Decathlon is Communications, this augmented ability to show the public what the solar system is doing could be a key component of an overall communication strategy.
We at Run on Sun are proud of our role - minor though it may be - in helping to make this donation happen and we are confident that the brilliant and dedicated team at USC will make the most of this opportunity.
The gear in these boxes will soon be helping Team USC to power fluxHome in the Solar Decathlon competition - and ultimately, they will be providing clean power for a lucky family in the neighborhood around USC.
Way to go, Enphase - way to go, Team USC! Fight on!!!
We wrote previously about our chance encounter with Evyn and Stephen from the USC Solar Decathlon team at a solar tweet-up and how great it was to meet such smart, enthusiastic, and talented young professionals dedicated to advancing sustainability. It was the kind of encounter that made you want to roll up your sleeves and help them reach their goals.
Well, now we are pleased to announce that our meeting has born fruit. Thanks to our friends at Unirac, we have some great news!
Unirac has agreed to donate all of the racking gear needed for fluxHome™ - USC’s entrant in the 2013 Solar Decathlon. And not just any racking, but Unirac’s flagship product, SolarMount Evolution, which provides the most secure roof-top attachment system in the business.
Soon, this hardware will support solar panels on USC’s fluxHome™
We often write about how the solar industry is really supposed to be better than other endeavors - more focused on the future and not just profits in the present. After all, the systems that we install are supposed to last for 25 years and the reason we build them in the first place is to help create that sustainable future. So it is tremendously affirming to have a partner like Unirac that has a similar vision. (Nor is this donation an outlier for Unirac - read about their efforts to assist with the installation of a solar power system on a home for children in Haiti.)
We are proud to have played a small part in making this happen and prouder still to be associated with the USC Solar Decathlon Team and their efforts at providing lessons in sustainability for us all. Fight on!
Yesterday we attended the public hearing held by Senator Kevin de León (D-SD22) to discuss his proposed SB 39 which is intended to provide the mechanism for allocating Proposition 39 funds. We went into the meeting with significant concerns given the failure of the bill’s initial draft to say anything about clean energy generation. We came away impressed with Senator de León and encouraged for the future path of this legislation. Here is our report.
The hearing - technically a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Fiscal Oversight and Bonded Indebtedness - was held at Murchison Elementary School in Los Angeles, a school which could certainly benefit from the funds to be raised by Prop 39 and potentially allocated by Senator de León’s SB 39. De León chairs the subcommittee, but neither of his colleagues - Ricardo Lara or Mimi Walters - attended. Instead, Senator de León was joined on the dias by Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-AD15) - an old friend from Berkeley City Council days and one of the leading environmentalists in the State legislature. (Sadly, Assemblymember Skinner had to leave before we had our turn to speak. Perhaps she will read about our comments here.)
The format of the scheduled three-hour meeting was to take testimony from a number of invited speakers - representing LAUSD, the LA Chapter of the Green Building Council, the Building & Construction Trades, Global Green USA and the Coalition for Clean Air (my officemates from my time at CBE out in Venice) - and then hear from members of the public. During the course of the hearing it was hard not to be impressed by Senator de León’s concern for the largely working class community that he represents (Murchison school is in his district), his knowledge of the issues and his desire to come up with an appropriate formula that would be equitable and effective. He was articulate, passionate, friendly and humble - a combination rarely found in an elected official.
One topic kept coming up again and again - how best to allocate these funds so as to do the most good. Governor Brown is proposing to allocate the funds on a per capita basis - which seems even-handed, and easy to administer, but may not do such a good of applying the money to the greatest need. Senator de León was clearly focused on finding a different solution and he pressed the witnesses to offer their suggestions.
From our perspective, while many measures could be used - such as the percentage of students entitled to receive a free lunch - it seems to us that a metric more closely tied to existing energy inefficiency - such as kilowatt-hours per student - might be a better allocation measure given that it is possible to have poor students in an efficient school (even if that is not common). Another possibility would be to allocate funds strictly on a cost performance basis - direct the money to those projects that would produce the most bang for the buck - but pool the savings and allocate them to the neediest schools first. Of course, one of the secondary benefits of more efficient schools is that they also improve the learning environment by being cleaner, quieter and healthier places to study. Those benefits are hard to quantify and they make a “bang for the buck” approach less desirable if those benefits cannot be captured in the equation. Clearly the quest for “equity” here is complicated and it is hard to see how any allocation formula will satisfy everyone. (No doubt the reason for the Governor’s administratively easy approach.)
Which brought us to the time for our comments. Sadly, we represented the only solar installer in the room, although, curiously enough, there was a representative from national SEIA there who spoke before us and in favor of including solar in the mix. (Even more curious, there was no representative from CalSEIA there to speak.)
Given that SEIA made the point to include solar - which Senator de León appeared to agree with completely - we decided to shift gears and make the point about how solar could not only save energy and money, but unlike energy efficiency measures it could also enhance a school’s educational mission. We noted that our project at Westridge had done exactly that - with students and administrators alike excited about the addition of solar on campus, and we even mentioned our geek-fest over the analysis of solar eclipse data. Noting that solar was sexier than an LED, Senator de León agreed with us that both had a place in the mix of Prop 39 funds. As an adjunct to our comments yesterday, and since there is a chance that he and/or his staff will see this post, here is our Westridge video for their viewing pleasure:
It remains to be seen, of course, how SB 39 will evolve to accommodate the input provided yesterday and the process calls for continued monitoring. Still, we came away convinced that Senator de León is committed to doing the right thing and we wish him well in his efforts to balance the competing demands for funding and devise a formula that is fair and effective.
A future hearing is likely to be held at a later date in Los Angeles - we will let you know when that hearing is scheduled.
The best part of an LA Solar Tweet-up is the chance to meet new folks who share the same passion for solar - and that passion was really on display with the two folks from USC’s 2013 Solar Decathlon Team - Stephen Collins and Evyn Larson. Fight On, indeed!
For those who missed our prior reporting on the Solar Decathlon, the competition is a biennial event which previously has been held on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. As cool as that site is, we are really excited to know that this year’s competition will be held here in Southern California - at the Orange County Great Park in Irvine. The competition will run from October 3 - 13 and will be open to the public. (We will provide lots more details about how to attend the event as we get closer to it.)
Twenty teams are competing, with four of them from California, including:
Each team designs and builds a livable home that they must then be able to disassemble, transport to the competition site, and re-assemble for the judging. As the name implies, Solar Decathlon homes are judged in ten separate contests that are either based on objective measurements (such as energy balance) or juried (architecture) or both (home entertainment). (You can read more about the specific contests at the DOE’s Solar Decathlon website.)
Which brings us back to Team USC which joined us for the solar tweet-up last night. Evyn is an architecture major and Stephen is in Electrical Engineering and between the two of them, they are all over this project. Here’s a very cool video highlighting the features of their design:
We look forward to following their progress (and maybe even helping to facilitate part of the process!) and we encourage others to check out their website, go like their Facebook page, and - of course - follow them on Twitter.
It’s a New Year and 2013 is already looking to be a momentous one in Los Angeles Solar. So let’s get together and get the Party Started! And that can mean only one thing - it is time for another LA Solar Tweetup!
Here are the details:
This is a great opportunity to do some networking, talk to real solar pros about what is going on in the industry, and just have a great evening along with some great folks. So please join your solar hosts: @SolarFred, @GoGreenSolar, @SolarCurator, and yours truly, @RunOnSun, at the LA Solar Tweetup - next Saturday night! (You won’t be able to miss me - I’ll be the one sporting the Run on Sun gear!)