Category: "LA Renewable Energy Society (LARES)"

05/08/10

  01:29:57 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 790 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, LA Renewable Energy Society (LARES), Solar News, AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding, NABCEP

Report from May 5th Stakeholders Meeting

LA County held a Stakeholders Meeting on May 5 to discuss the present state of development for the LA County Energy Program.  The vast majority of the two hour presentation was focused on energy efficiency measures and how those will be developed and deployed.  Only secondarily was support for solar installations mentioned.  Our report on the meeting follows the break.

This meeting, like the previous Stakeholders Meeting last December (read about it here), was held in the Board Meeting Room at MTA headquarters.  While there were a number of solar industry folks on hand - notably Zoe Starr (head of the LA Renewable Energy Society), Ron Mulick (President, SoCalSEIA) and Joia Gibble (LARES member) - the majority of the audience either came from the Cities or from the building efficiency industry - notably Dan Thomsen (President & Founder, The Building Doctors).  The presentation reflected that audience, focusing on how the LA County Energy Program will pull together many different programs and rebates around home retrofits and efficiency upgrades, with AB 811 funding being merely a part of that equation, and support for solar an even smaller part.

This distinction between the energy efficiency aspects of the program compared to the energy generation portion was never more apparent than in the discussion of consumer protection and the need for contractor credentialing.  Indeed, contractors looking to work in the energy efficiency sector must have at a minimum a BPI Building Analyst certification, while additional credentials, such as being a HERS II Whole House Energy Rater will be required for other aspects of the energy efficiency program.  What about contractors doing solar power installations?  What credentials must they have?  "Only those required by the California Solar Initiative” was the response.  When it was pointed out that the only requirement for being listed under CSI was to send your contact information in to the website, the consultants designing the system simply looked blankly back and observed that they really had not thought of that issue.  How can that be?  After all, energy efficiency measures are small potatoes, dollars wise, compared to solar installations, and yet the folks designing the Program have way more to say about contractors doing efficiency work than those installing solar?  Where are the consumer protections there?  In side conversations after the meeting it was stressed that the program should consider requiring NABCEP Certification for all contractors who are participating.  Such a requirement would protect consumers from shoddy workmanship and help raise the professional standards of the solar installer industry in LA County - a win-win situation to be sure.

Some additional details that emerged from this meeting:

  • Eligibility criteria - the criteria for qualifying for AB 811 funding (or PACE funding [for Property-Assessed Clean Energy] as it is more generally known) are coming into focus, and some consumers will be left behind.  Here is what we know now:
    • Funding applicant must be the owner on the title; if multiple owners, all must join the application;
    • Single family or multi-family housing (up to 4 units) only at this time;
    • Property must not be subject to any involuntary liens;
    • No delinquency on property taxes in the past five years;
    • Must be current on mortgage payments;
    • Loan to property value must not exceed 10%;
    • Debt to property value must not exceed 80%.

It is that last criteria that we anticipate excluding the most potential participants.  Given the steep drop in property values since the LA County peak in 2006 and the time it takes to build equity in a home through mortgage payments, our calculations indicate that anyone who purchased their home after 2002 will be excluded on this basis.

  • Interest rates - at present, they are anticipating 8-9% at the outset of the program.  Although aware of SB 77 recently signed by the Governor, the speakers were unable to assess what impact, if any, that bill would have on program interest rates.

In any event, it is now clear that what will be presented to the County Board of Supervisors on May 25 will be a framework and nothing more.  Assuming passage on the 25th, the program staff will continue to work out the details while the validation lawsuit proceeds.  If all goes well, the first loans are expected to be provided sometime in September.

Thus, the LA County Energy Program remains very much a work in progress.  Will high interest rates and overly restrictive participation criteria doom the program to failure?  Will a lack of proper solar installer credentialing allow for shoddy work and unhappy consumers?  Will a failure to provide timely progress payments on solar jobs exclude small business owners - even those with the most sterling credentials like Run on Sun - to the benefit of the VC-funded national players?  Or will the Program achieve its potential to usher in a new wave of green jobs and greener homes?

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04/06/10

  09:03:50 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 759 words  
Categories: ASES, LA Renewable Energy Society (LARES), Solar News, ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour

Call for Nominations - ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour - Application Deadline May 15

The Los Angeles Renewable Energy Society has just announced its Call for Nominations to participate in this year’s ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour!

The announcement in full follows the break and the Nomination form and Owner’s release are attached.  Look forward to hearing from you.

To: Los Angeles Area Solar installers, Architects, Designers, Integrators, Builders, PV Panel Manufacturers, Building Owners
Subject: Call for building nominations for the ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour - October 2, 2010 – 
Applications and owner release forms (attached) due May 15, 2010

The Los Angeles Renewable Energy Society (LARES) has issued a call for nominations of residential, business and commercial buildings with unique examples of solar installations that may include an emphasis on sustainable and energy saving building features and unique architecture to be showcased at the First Annual ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour on October 2, 2010 to coincide with the ASES - American Solar Energy Society - National Solar Tour (www.ases.org).

Our goal is to make the ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar tour the most exciting, educational and entertaining community building grass-roots event in LA County. The Tour offers an exciting opportunity for Los Angeles residents and building owners interested in solar and green building design to tour around various cities, learn from the building site hosts about solar energy and other energy efficiency features, and to truly see, experience and sense the possibilities of sustainable living and how they can be a part of the Solar/Sustainability Revolution in greater Los Angeles.

About LARES, ASES and ASES National Solar Tour

The Los Angeles Renewable Energy Society (LARES) is organizing as the Los Angeles chapter of the nationally known ASES. Our core mission is to increase the intelligent use of solar energy, energy efficiency and other sustainable technologies. Our vision is for the Los Angeles region to become the “Solar Capital” and the leader in solar and other renewable energy usage and initiatives.

Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society is the nation’s leading association of solar professionals & advocates. Its mission is to inspire an era of energy innovation and speed the transition to a sustainable energy economy. ASES advances education, research and policy. ASES publishes the award winning Solar Today Magazine, organizes and presents the ASES National Solar Conference and leads the ASES National Solar Tour.

The ASES National Solar Tour is the largest grassroots solar energy event in America. The 2009 ASES National Solar Tour had over 5,000 homes and commercial buildings on display with 10,000 volunteers and more than 140,000 tour visitors. We are excited about organizing and bringing this very popular solar tour to Los Angeles and hope that you will be too. Please join us in this exciting solar tour event by submitting an example of your solar and sustainably built residence or building.

Increase Your Company’s Visibility, Share Your Vision and Spread the Solar/Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Revolution in Your Community

LARES selection committee will recognize two buildings – one residential and one commercial/business – as the ASES Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour winners that represent the best of solar design and sustainability in the Los Angeles region.

Specifics:
  • The Los Angeles Grand Solar Tour is a grassroots event organized by volunteers to be held on October 2, 2010 between the hours of 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
  • This will be a self-guided tour. The participants will sign up in advance for the tour and get information about the location of the sites on the Tour shortly prior to the tour date.
  • Based on the number and location of the selected tour sites, there will be several tour “areas” across Los Angeles County for example: Santa Monica/Venice Tour Area, Pasadena/Glendale/La Canada Tour Area, etc. The Tour will be organized as such that the tour participants will have the opportunity to visit sites that are close to their own neighborhood.
  • The building/site or part of the site should be open to Tour participants, The building owner will decide which part of the site will be open to Tour visitors. Tour guides (installers, building owners, architects, builders, volunteers, etc.) must be available during the Tour hours (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) to guide visitors and answer questions.
  • No charge to Tour visitors. No application or selection fee to solar site hosts
  • Residence and commercial/public building submission applications, site sample photos and building owner’s release forms (attached) must be received by May 15, 2010. Please feel free to submit multiple sites, however, each site needs a separate application and release form.

For more information or assistance, please contact:

info.lares@gmail.com

Thank you and looking forward to your participation.

Warm Regards,

Zoe Starr
Los Angeles Renewable Energy Society
www.LA-RES.org
www.ASES.org

02/23/10

  04:42:19 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 248 words  
Categories: ASES, LA Renewable Energy Society (LARES), Solar News, AB 811/PACE/LACEP Funding, PWP Rebates, Pasadena Solar, PWP

A Conversation with PWP

Yesterday I spent 90 minutes talking solar with the folks at Pasadena Water & Power.  It was a great conversation and it really re-confirmed my belief that these folks are true solar proponents who - while understaffed, overworked and underpaid - are working hard every day to make solar in Pasadena a reality.

Here are some highlights from our conversation:

  • Regarding the July 1 decline in solar rebates – the decline is in response to not just built systems, but committed rebate allocations.  A big chunk of that is destined for Cal Tech which will be installing more than 1 MW of solar in 2010.  (In many respects it is only right that Cal Tech should get the biggest share of the rebate funds since they are the biggest electric customer in PWP’s service territory.)  All the more reason for the rest of you folks to get on board now before the rebates go down!
  • AB 920 – the folks at PWP emphasized their desire to have solar customers participate in the AB 920 rate-setting hearing process.  They anticipate contacting solar customers before the hearings occur so that customers can have their voices heard.  Of course, we will be blogging more on the AB 920 process as the hearing(s) approach.
  • Support for the LA Grand Solar Tour – although the details are yet to be worked out, PWP expressed interest in assisting with, and perhaps even co-sponsoring the LA Grand Solar Tour - the signature event for LARES (the Los Angeles Renewable Energy Society) the now-forming Los Angeles chapter of ASES.
Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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