Tags: solar power

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08/31/11

  01:25:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 188 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Solar Events, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar

Run on Sun Turns Five - But You Get the Presents!

Normally we avoid the blatant sales pitch in this blog, but September
Party! marks Run on Sun’s Fifth Anniversary - no mean feat in this economy, thank you very much! - and we are celebrating with our best sale ever!

When you combine our Special Anniversary Discount with the lowest equipment prices of all time and add in the recently lowered sales tax rate throughout L.A. County - you are looking at some serious savings!

Here’s all there is to it: for every contract that we sign during the month of September, we will take a full 5% off our already affordable prices.  This offer is good throughout the Run on Sun service area and applies to all systems 5 kW or larger.  All you have to do is mention that you saw this blog post and the savings are yours!

So what are you waiting for - September won’t last forever!  Pick up the phone and give us a call (626-793-6025) or better yet, click on the Sun over there on the right and fill out our easy online form to get the process started.

Happy Anniversary from all of us at Run on Sun!

08/24/11

  09:02:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 538 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Electric Cars that Run on Sun, Commercial Solar

Costco Cutting Chargers - Cites???

Every now and then you come across a news item that leaves you scratching your head - “What were they thinking?” you wonder. That was our reaction to a NY Times article reporting that giant retailer Costco is removing its already installed charging stations for Electric Vehicles (EVs). Really? Now they are doing this?  Just as modern, capable EVs (and plug-in hybrids or PHEVs) become widely available, they are removing their charging stations?  How does that make any sense?

sorry we are getting rid of this chargerCostco had originally installed its chargers back during the original EV boom that was documented in Who Killed the Electric Car.  That boom ended when the California Air Resources Board caved on their EV mandate and GM - which had only leased, not sold its EV-1 vehicles - recalled them from their drivers and sent them to the scrap pile (despite howls of protest).  But all of that took place years ago.  So why remove the chargers now?

According to Costco management, the chargers were not being used enough to justify keeping them.  Now part of that might be due to the age of the chargers which makes them a poor match for today’s EVs.  Yet, the California Energy Commission has a program in place to help pay for upgrading old chargers - like the ones at Costco - with state-of-the-art models that are perfectly matched to the new round of EVs.  “Not interested,” said Costco.  According to the article:

Mr. Hoover [the general manager for Costco in northern California] said that E.V. charging was “very inefficient and not productive” for the retailer. “The bottom line is that there are a lot of other ways to be green,” he said. “We have five million members in the region, and just a handful of people are using these devices.”

Mr. Hoover said the company was aware of the state-funded upgrade program, but did not see a compelling reason to take advantage of it.

“Why should we have anybody spend money on a program that nobody’s thought through?” he said.

Hoover’s dismissive attitude was reflected in the comments - particularly the comments “highlighted” by NY Times editorial staff - that were shockingly ill-informed.  Here’s one example:

Isn’t it enough the public has to subsidize the purchase of these slow-moving boondoggles, must we continue to coddle them throughout their entire (mercifully, short) lifespans? Calling them “green", btw, is laughable, as if the electricity coming through these chargers was generated by pixies using fairy dust. In the unlikely event these fadcars ever became popular, they’d add to the stress on our already over-burdened electric grid.

As we have noted before, we don’t believe in electricity produced by “fairy dust” - but we do believe that EVs, when combined with solar power systems - provide a way to have an incredibly cleaner driving system than what most of us are using today.  And numerous studies have demonstrated that for EVs charging at night, they will impose no burden at all on the grid.  Indeed, as the grid gets “smarter” EVs have the potential to help even out demand by providing power back to the grid.

The good folks over at Plug In America have launched a letter writing campaign to try and reverse Costco’s curious decision.  We encourage you to check it out.

08/12/11

  05:00:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 227 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar Economics, Commercial Solar

IKEA Aims for Energy Independence

IKEA Burbank Store with Solar

IKEA’s Burbank CA Store with Solar

We noticed before that furniture giant IKEA was installing solar at six stores in the U.S., but we had no idea that their ambition was so grand.  “The direction of travel for us is 100 percent renewable,” said chief sustainability officer, Steve Howard. “We’re likely to hit 70 to 80 percent by 2015."  Wow!

 

As a starting point - well beyond those six U.S. stores - IKEA is installing 39,000 solar panels on its stores in the UK as well as purchasing a 12.3 MW wind farm in the Scottish countryside.  Those two steps alone will cover 30% of IKEA’s UK electricity consumption.  Altogether, IKEA owns 67 wind turbines (in the UK, Denmark, Germany & France) with a combined generation capacity of 127 MW.

So why is IKEA making this investment in renewable energy sources?  That’s easy - to save money, just like any other company.  According to Howard, in the past, IKEA has been subjected to electricity price spikes that cost the company $1.7 billion (USD) per year.  By purchasing renewable energy sources, IKEA is able to avoid those spikes and lock-in its energy costs for the next two decades.

The lesson for U. S. companies (and particularly those in sunny SoCal) should be clear - solar is an investment that will pay handsomely to the bottom line while making the world a cleaner, healthier place.  Independence, after all, is such an American value!

08/03/11

  04:19:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 656 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, SEIA, Residential Solar, Safety

The "Dark Side" of Solar Coverage in the LA Times

We have written before about the PR problems haunting solar power and we received yet another reminder of that ongoing issue in the form of a troubling Los Angeles Times article by Tiffany Hsu titled, “The dark side of solar and wind power projects."  We won’t address the specifics about wind power projects since that is outside of our expertise, but the overall tone of the piece and some specific comments about solar demand a response.

One problem we have are the recurring quotations from industry opponents, such as the quote “One of these days, a turbine’s going to fall on someone,” attributed to the executive director of an industry “watchdog” organization called the Industrial Wind Action Group.  Yet according to the Group’s website:

Industrial Wind Action was formed to counteract the misleading information promulgated by the wind energy industry and various environmental groups. Support for this effort comes from a large and diversified group of environmentalists, energy experts, and ordinary citizens.

None of that “large and diversified group” is identified on the website.

Much of what is mentioned in the article is provided with no citations at all.  Here’s one particularly egregious example: “The complicated wiring under solar panels has left some firefighters so bewildered that they have allowed residential rooftops to burn."  Really?  Where and when did that happen?  Hard to refute scary stories that appear without citation.  Not great journalism, either.

The article continues:

Panel parts can also be flammable or prone to melting, or torn off in storms or cracked by hail, testing experts said.

Prone to melting?  We decommissioned a solar power system that had been in use in Furnace Creek - you know, Death Valley, just the hottest place in the United States - and while their performance had degraded over time, none of them had demonstrated melting.  (The online version of the article includes a video taken at a UL lab where solar panels are put through extremes that would never be seen on a residential roof.  Yet no such qualification is included in the article itself.)

Solar panels are not generally flammable (that is why they are given a Class-C fire rating) and when installed by a competent installer (think NABCEP certified) will not be torn off your roof in a storm.  (Tornadoes excluded!)  And as for being cracked by hail, well the Solar Kid “exploded” that myth months ago:

Then, finally, there is the tragic issue of injuries.  Energy generation is a complicated enterprise and there exists a significant element of danger when you concentrate lots of power in a relatively small space.  Toss in the need to be working at heights - often a component of residential solar installations - and the possibility of injury or even death is always present.  Solar installers who are NABCEP certified have demonstrated their knowledge of the safety rules and best practices that accompany working in this area.  As consumers become better informed about how to differentiate one solar installer from another, the emphasis on such certification will certainly grow, and that will be good for consumers and workers alike.

But sadly missing from this article is any attempt at balance about the safety issues surrounding other energy generation systems.  After all:

  • No solar power system has ever malfunctioned to the point where the residents around the facility for 25 miles had to run for their lives.  (Sorry, nuclear.)
  • No solar power system has ever resulted in its workers being buried alive.  (Oh, my, coal.)
  • A solar power system has nothing to “spill” or “gush” or “spew” into the environment.  (Eeew, oil.)
  • Operating solar power systems do not create toxic, cancer-causing, or greenhouse gas emissions.  (Ouch - there goes all fossil fuels.)

Every industry - including the renewable energy industry - needs to be self critical, to learn from its mistakes and constantly strive to improve its safety performance.  But “dark” stories masquerading as journalism don’t help that process, and readers of the L.A. Times deserve better.

07/31/11

  11:59:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 351 words  
Categories: Electric Cars that Run on Sun, Commercial Solar, Residential Solar

Chevy Volt - Charging Forward

Chevy Volt solar powered charging stationReaders of this blog know that we are big fans of EVs, including plug-in hybrids like the Chevy Volt. We are especially drawn to the synergy between such vehicles and solar power systems - truly a match made in heaven.  So we were particularly gratified to see the news accounts of Chevy’s program to install solar-powered Volt charging stations at its dealerships.

The press release from GM lays out what should be clear to all:

“The Chevrolet Green Zone will provide our U.S. dealers with added flexibility when it comes to charging their vehicles, while also reinforcing GM’s commitment to renewable energy projects,” said Chris Perry, vice president, Global Chevrolet Marketing and Strategy.

American Chevrolet in Modesto, Calif., and Al Serra Auto Plaza in Grand Blanc, Mich., are the first U.S. dealerships to complete their solar charging capability by installing Green Zones on their property.

“The question isn’t whether to install a solar canopy, it’s where and how many,” said Joe Serra, president of Serra Automotive. “It’s a win for us because the electricity generated will help reduce operating costs, and it’s a win for the environment since solar power helps reduce our carbon footprint.”

Each canopy generates enough electricity for up to 4,500 charges per vehicle annually. The proof of concept for the Green Zone project is housed at the Detroit Hamtramck assembly plant, manufacturing home of the Volt.

The “Green Zone” program is part of Chevy’s substantial investment in solar project developer Sunlogics, Inc. which will build the charging stations.  Indeed, thanks to this partnership, Sunlogics announced that it is building a $30 million headquarters building outside of Detroit to manufacture the charging stations and will employ more than 200 workers at the facility.  Surely welcome news for Detroit and the auto industry generally.

Now Chevy needs to go one step farther and partner with local solar companies around the country to help Volt owners install solar power systems on their homes.  Such a partnership would provide jobs all across the country and would make owning a Volt an even more desirable purchase.

We are ready to help - hey Chevy, are you listening?

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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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