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School solar initiative exceeds expectations

Original post made on Mar 28, 2012

Since the systems first came online in October 2011, average production has exceeded 100 percent of expected kiloWatt hours (kWh). In February, the solar system generated 369,030 kWh, exceeding predictions by 19 percent. According to district [Web Link records], the excess electricity saved $129,161.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 26, 2012, 12:59 PM

Comments (42)

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Posted by George
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 28, 2012 at 9:15 am

You're living in a fool's world if you think these solar arrays make economic sense. Unless underwritten by the Fed (er... taxpayers), these systems are nothing more than expensive alternatives (toys) to gas, hydro, coal, and/or nuclear power generation. The U.S. needs a reasonable energy policy based on fact, not fantasy. See you at the polls.


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Posted by Public Employee
a resident of Danville
on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:16 am

I guess data means nothing to you, only ideology.


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Posted by Diane
a resident of Alamo
on Mar 28, 2012 at 11:19 am

Not surprising that they would perform well -- in this, their first winter, the weather has been exponentially sunnier than usual.

Let's see what happens in the next few years as the equipment and fittings age and the weather returns to normal patterns.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 28, 2012 at 3:33 pm

Diane - Don't waste your time responding to Public Employee. He/she has posted very ignorant statements on other school related stories in the DE and should not be given the time of day!


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Posted by Public Employee
a resident of Danville
on Mar 28, 2012 at 8:06 pm

Really? If you only knew.


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Posted by PSMacintosh
a resident of Danville
on Mar 28, 2012 at 11:35 pm

All our schools should immediately construct additional solar cell fields. First on the roofs of all school buildings. Then build a solar roof structure over all sports fields. The revenue will pay for it all. Make all football fields into enclosed stadiums.
Yes, generate massive amounts of new electricity and money from our school lands. This is why we have school systems.
Forget the Electric Companies; we don't need them, we have SCHOOLS.
(Oh, and have the Government get involved in providing Health Care for all.)
There are no boundaries to what government and schools could and should be engaged in.
The justifications are there--it makes money!


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Posted by JT
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:09 am

The school solar systems are great to have installed, I will give you that. But since they are purported to make so much money, then why don't all homeowners have them on their roofs? Go back to the initial up front cash outlay that was required for this, and you will see that as an investment analyzed properly, this was a truly LOUSY deal. The return was calculated to take over 20 yrs!!!

The only reason it was a "good" deal to install the solar panels, was because of federal cash up front and ongoing tax breaks. Any Republican should be spitting mad at this white collar welfare, no different than other entitlements.

In addition, it exposes a huge weakness in school budgeting... in that there are separate accounts,one is capital money for projects and the other is ongoing cash for expenses. The project would have spit out more cash savings, if they had instead invested the capital money with a Goldman Sachs money manager. Compare the annual returns of Goldman Sachs versus the energy savings as expressed in dollars, and you would be WAY ahead with Goldman. An in fact after twenty years you would likely have quadrupled (4X) your investment versus having useless old worndown broken scrap heap solar panels.


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Posted by Public Employee
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:51 am

The federal money had to be used for facility improvements. It could not have been used for a Goldman investment so they could get rich off the funds set aside for education. Goldman is screwing enough people over, we don't want to add schools to their victim list.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:52 am

Gee, all my neighbors must be fools. They are all busy installing solar panels. PG&E is investing $100 million in solar. And I was recently in Cuba where homes all across the country are using solar water heaters. Military bases in the California desert may soon host seven gigawatts of solar power installations—roughly equivalent to the output of seven nuclear plants—according to a study commissioned by the Department of Defense. Fools all of them.


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Posted by PSMacintosh
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 10:59 am

Public Employee says "The federal money had to be used....."

Therein lies the problem.
Local people can't say no to the offer of Federal money. We'd be wasting it, not to get our share.
We're being bought (with our own money).
The offer. The trap. The pitch to our greed/need.
Federal money should STAY OUT of State and Local issues. It should be illegal!


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:25 am

JT, the reason why we don't have more installed solar is, quite frankly, we've been dumbed down and manipulated by the fossil fuel industry. Their solution, along with a few here, is to drill hundreds of thousands of holes into the Earth to extract a finite, dwindling and increasingly expensive resource.

You think $4/gal gas is pricey, just wait a couple more years as the Chinese and Indian middle classes take shape. Particularly in the case of the Chinese, they have outmaneuvered us in securing future contracts and reserves, PLUS positioned themselves quite well in renewables. They are poised to eat our lunch and hasten the handoff of being the #1 economic superpower in the world. The sad part is we're still sitting here today too blind to see it happening.

Germany could be touted as the most successful solar country on the planet. They started 20 years ago. Yes, with government subsidies to get it rolling. But they are being weaned off of that.

A fairly high northern latitude country that already has the 9 gigawatt installed base. Thereby saving themselves the building of 9 nuclear power plants.

For those who think winter or cloudy days render solar infeasible I would recommend you read up on current technology and efficiencies of photovoltaic. Plus research the German successes.

As for those who insist the government should stay away from subsidizing adoption of new technologies; I will remind you the technology you are using to read this message was government subsidized and in modern form(html and the technology to deliver it) didn't exist 20 years ago in any meaningful way for the consumer.


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Posted by Public Employee
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 11:35 am

"America's success for over 200 years was largely due to its healthy, balanced public-private partnership — where government provided the institutions, rules, safety nets, education, research and infrastructure to empower the private sector to innovate, invest and take the risks that promote growth and jobs." -Thomas Friedman

The federal government has always played a role in creating an infrastructure. It does play a role and it has always been successful in the past. Thank you for the interstate system, bridges, schools and universities, airports, rail systems, etc. None of that would have been possible without the federal government. Solar and other new energy alternatives are the same thing. We need to create a sustainable energy infrastructure and the solar projects in the SRVUSD were just that and we will be much better off financially and environmentally for it.


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Posted by Douglas
a resident of Blackhawk
on Mar 29, 2012 at 12:04 pm

Gee Public Employee and those like you -

Are your memories so short that you have forgotten about Solyndra? Now, Sunpower (the company those solar panels are from) is in trouble as well...


Web Link

It is people like you who need to think something COMPLETELY through before you start it. Unfortunately, it is people like you who are going to DESTROY this great country of ours!


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Posted by Public Employee
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Oh right, a blogger from FoxNews Business. This is a legitimate source. Just proves everything about the radical conservative ignorance which hangs all hopes and fears on a corporate biased news station. Way to go, you almost had me.

You are on the wrong side of history. The liberal agenda has always prevailed which is why we are so great today. You better believe that we will not be taken back to a time of conservative, religious dominance aka Middle or Dark Ages. If I were you, I would try on some new colors...and maybe install a solar panel or two!


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Posted by Duffy
a resident of Danville
on Mar 29, 2012 at 12:24 pm

I wonder how solar panels work under two feet of snow? As soon as the global warming
hysteria has run its course we will wake up to the fact that the climate is cooling and
we will return to the pattern of the 1930s. The Donner Party will be replaced with the Danville Party.


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Posted by [removed] clarification
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm

Dear Editor,

Several important points are to be considered about Sunpower, and likely First Solar:

#1 - Sunpower is wholly owned by Total, a French Energy Company, and any liability for projects and operatios falls to Total.

#2 - Sunpower is now a merged technology company focusing on new installation methods and product technologies to suit a) Industrial Power Generation as installed at SRVUSD, b) Rooftop commercial and residential generation, and c) Large field utility generation.

#3 - Sunpower, like most solar technology companies, is looking toward mass production of new technologies that are known to lower costs below the end-of-life crystalline technologies produced in China and SE Asia.

#4 - Solyndra is quite separate in its complex technology and approach to panel production. It was failure to achieve global production capability for a technology capable of lower cost production that produced the costly failure.

Reality is Solar PV and Solar Thermal technologies are effective generation capabilities waiting for commercialization of current cost-effective products and low-cost production methods. It remains a global industry, like all energy, and will emerge where nations make investment in advancement and sucessful usage.


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 29, 2012 at 2:21 pm

Solyndra failed for several reasons. Not the least of which was a collapse in the pricing structure of panels in a short 12-18 month period. You can't sell a product at $4 that your Korean competitor is selling at 85 cents and expect to survive. That is roughly the cost difference that was going on when they went down.

Quite recently a Republican operative let slip that the whole Solyndra uproar from the right was purely political in an election year. Nice to see how many are willing to swallow whatever dribbles out of their TV set without much critical thinking or independent research into the facts.

Winners and losers are a fact of business. We wasted more money in boondoggle wars in the last 3 days than we lost in Solyndra. Get some perspective, for heaven's sake.

For those stuck on drilling holes in the ground as your answer; let's hope you or a loved one don't suffer a life threatening illness that comes as a result of addiction to those products. We seem to have accelerated our stupidity of late with "fracking". Two years ago the petrochemical industry couldn't get rid of that highly toxic stuff through normal channels at reasonable cost. Now they pump it into the ground via fracking process so it can become the next MTBE type ground water disaster.

Being able to light the water coming out of your tap on fire makes great Youtube video. Not so hot if that's what your family ingests because they are unfortunate enough to live near one of those operations.

We don't seem to learn much from past mistakes.


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Posted by [removed] clarification
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2012 at 7:27 am

Dear Editor,

Some further information for your readers:

#1 - Sunpower has plants in the Phillipines and Malaysia for their end-of-life advanced crystalline technologies employed at SRVUSD.

#2 - There is little solar PV, solar thermal and related solar generation produced in South Korea.

#3 - Solyndra's core technology of thin film tubes was very labor intensive from the start and likely could not have been an economical solution produced in China or SE Asia.

#4 - New technologies using flexible substrates and combined solar PV/solar thermal generation are now ready for mass production at very low labor requirements and equivalent efficiencies to Sunpower's end-of-life panels without the costs of industrial superstructures to support them.

More information? CDSI ZANT members, halbailey@yahoo.com


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Posted by Love America
a resident of Danville
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:40 am

I feel sorry for all these right wingers who are aghast that new technology is actually working as advertised. Hard to believe we could actually exceed the payback we expected.

Go back to driving your Hummers and banning contraception. The 1950's are waiting for you


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:57 am

Hal, I'm talking parent companies. Was primarily looking at the semi production, not the complete unit. If our government is smart, they will start putting some trade policies in place that level the playing field in solar and other renewables. Leveling the field is far different than picking winners and losers, btw.

The alternative is to concede the industries to the Chinese and their heavily government subsidized production.

While I said Korean, and they are a factor, it's really the Chinese dumping of cheap panels into the market that overturned the price metrics in a short period. Prices collapsed by some 70%. So why isn't that relevant fact mentioned in all the rhetoric over Solyndra? Politically inconvenient, perhaps?

Web Link


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Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

Dear Editor,

There are answers to fair questions:

First, energy of all types is a global market and any attempt by our nation, or any nation, to impose restrictions will only move more product and production away. In the case of solar PV, including thin film (semiconductor methods), the industry within USAmerica is primarily owned and/or funded by foreign capital and would depart if our government tried sanctions to level the the market price in USAmerica. It is also true that the lowest installed cost will create installed growth and higher prices created by sanctions would suppress installations.

Appropriate investment in new technologies that offer low production costs and little installation structure is available for US Energy investment, BUT clearly the actual investment in North America is coming from foreign source capital through US funds distribution. It is easily recognized that US Energy and Utility companies have the resources to invest, distribute and install solar PV and solar thermal but choose not to compete with their future in fossil fuels.


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Mar 30, 2012 at 9:49 am

Hal, you obviously didn't read the article. And why do you keep addressing with "Dear Editor"? After this long you still don't understand how forums work?

The USA is a big solar market. If you think the Chinese are just going to take a pass on the potential customers because we put some reasonable trade policies in place, then you are mistaken.

Sorry, but as long as you continue that mindset that you are most interested in being able to buy cheap junk at Walmart, or cheap imported panels, then US jobs will continue to flow overseas. Fewer of our domestic labor force will be working or working with livable wages and the tax base continues to shrink with all the negative side effects of that trend.

Wake up to the big picture. Your race to the bottom approach hasn't been working so hot for about a generation now.

To be clear, I'm also not keen on the lobbying effort of Sunpower type companies who only want to eliminate the Chinese subsidy factor, but have little interest themselves in keeping production domestic. What they are attempting is not leveling the playing field, but instead tilting it the other way. Foreign companies would have to do production here to escape tariffs, but domestic companies would have a loophole for production offshore. That's not acceptable either. That doesn't address our outflow of manufacturing which is killing this country.


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Posted by Member
a resident of Danville
on Mar 30, 2012 at 10:47 am

You republicans are so out of touch with reality, you should be ashamed of yourselves. If you had it your way, you would have your good ol boy networks (Corps.) make billions on high enengy bills to the schools and screw the people (99%) who have at least the sense to look at other forms of energy ie. Solar, Wind, to save money. Oh and by the way, had it not been for the federal govt. and the (99%) Goldman would have gone to the way side just like Lehman Bros. They were just lucky enough to know the right cronies to keep their butts afloat.


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Posted by Sam
a resident of Danville
on Mar 30, 2012 at 8:13 pm

You know what I love? How some people on this forum are so quick to criticize the (very small) subsidies that the government provides for solar energy installations (as we try to move toward cleaner, renewable energy sources), they completely ignore the fact that we have been subsidizing oil and gas production for one hundred years.

It's easy to try to pretend that oil and gas are more economical when you ignore half of the equation.


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Posted by [removed]
a resident of another community
on Mar 31, 2012 at 8:36 am

Dear Editor,

There are many topics in this exchange and a few that will focus on the successful use of solar energy at our schools and in our community. As a reporter, you have the opportunity to define the current SRVUSD installations of industrial solar power generation stations in corridor neighborhoods as 1) appropriate and 2) successful.

Reality is such industrial solar power generation stations do not fit the codes in our neighborhoods and have been pursued by SRVUSD as a State District excluded from city and county oversight. Such industrial solar power generation is successful where dry conditions exist with maximum days of sunshine which has been our fall and winter. As noted in this exchange, a more normal fall, winter and spring will reduce performance results.

The more important question is the available of global solar technology to better fit this important power source into our schools, community and neighborhoods. At present, an Alamo hillside resident wishes to used the face of the hillside below his home for a massive solar generation station fully scaring the view throughout Alamo.

New technologies capture solar light and heat for combined generation in unique installations that eliminate industrial structures and appearances. Our goal in to conserve our community and neighborhood character while using an exceptional alternative to fossil fuels. Such technology exists and is in production by global partners in North America.

The story to tell is "What is our region's energy options and future?"


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Posted by Hmm
a resident of Danville
on Mar 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm

"a more normal fall, winter, and spring"?
Do you know what you're talking about?
let me ask: when these deals are priced, what data do you think is used, and what modeling methodology for determining expected energy output is used?
I'm just curious, but I really want to know how you define 'normal' in respect to the algorithms and baseline performance assumptions used by the leading independent engineers in solar (and just so we know you have a clue, who ARE the leading independent engineers in solar - can you even answer that?)


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Apr 1, 2012 at 1:03 pm

The U.S. does not subsidize the fossil fuel industry. The opposite is true. They are subject to special taxes and tax credit limitations and tax deduction limitations that other industries are not. Those who claim otherwise are uninformed or are being deceptive.

Fossil fuels are plentiful and cheap. We have enough natural gas and coal to produce cheap electricity for centuries at a fraction of the cost of solar.

Solar is expensive. If we removed all special tax credits and loopholes, the solar industry would collapse. That's because solar is not cost competitive without government help. Solar costs 22 cents per kWh. Coal and natural gas cost less than 10 cents per kWh.

The solar panels should help shield the school district from electricity price spikes that should occur once California Law AB 32 kicks in, which requires 33% of California energy to come from renewable sources by 2020. This law should artificially raise the price of electricity for most Californians. At that point, those who do not have solar panels could face electricity rate hikes of up to 60% or more.


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Posted by logjam
a resident of Danville
on Apr 2, 2012 at 9:30 am

SPCWT - read your comments with some amount of interest, until I came upon the phrase "should artificially raise the price of electricity".
HUH? so should I pay with an artificial check?

Your credibility went to zero, you're just another nattering nabob (in the words of William Safire).


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Apr 2, 2012 at 10:12 am

Logjam,

Nattering nabob. Ha ha. Haven't heard that one in a while. Lol. What year is it? 1974? I dig it, man.

Seriously, you'd be wise to get some solar panels yourself ASAP before the tax credits expire. You can get an $8,000 tax credit right now for your own solar panel system, complements of Uncle Sam. Who knows how long our Federal Government will continue borrowing money to fund these types of special interest projects.

Isn't it commonly understood that getting electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar will increase the price of electricity? They're more expensive than gas and coal. Simple math. Consider the following report from the state's website:

Web Link

I said AB 32 should "artificially" raise the cost electricity because we could get our electricity from cheap natural gas, but California is forcing PG&E to get 33% of electricity from solar and other renewables, which are expensive.


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2012 at 2:06 pm

spcwt, as an exercise in human psychology, how about standing down at your local gas station for an afternoon wearing a sandwich board with that bold statement that "fossil fuels are cheap" while your neighbors are buying $4+/gal gas.

I'll bet you'll make all kinds of friends. .

Since you appear to have many statistics are your fingertips; can you offer us the readers the estimated number of people who suffer respiratory illnesses brought about through use of solar installations contrasted against the number who suffer same from exposure to coal fired generation plants?

Thanks in advance.

For the cost curve convergence of PV to traditional fossil fuels, I prefer this link Web Link

Even at the most conservative of the range PV matches natural gas in kwH cost by 2022 and without all those annoying and life threatening ancillaries of the fossil fuels.

Other notables:

Cost of PV WITHOUT subsidies over the life of the panels is .15/kWh

Current PG&E rates for 2012 from this link: Web Link

Total Energy Rates ($ per kWh)
Baseline Usage $0.12845 ( )
101% - 130% of Baseline $0.14602 ( )
131% - 200% of Baseline $0.29940 (I)
201% - 300% of Baseline $0.33940 (I)
Over 300% of Baseline $0.33940 (I)
Total Minimum Charge Rate ($ per meter per day) $0.14784

Show of hands: how many think that minimum PG&E charge rate that exists TODAY and currently about matches PV without subsidies will stay where it is?

The only people with a real interest in remaining hitched to fossil fuels are the mis/uninformed or the shills, IMO.


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Apr 2, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Dear Say What?,

Natural gas doesn't cause any respiratory illnesses. It is clean enough to burn inside your home. New coal plants located away from population centers are also relatively safe.

Natural gas has never been cheaper in the U.S. If you have a CNG car (or if you convert your existing car to CNG), you can fill your tank for around $1.25 a gallon. And just wait until all the shale gas really starts getting developed. We are going to have cheap natural gas for a long, long time.

Unfortunately, the world will remain hitched to fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. It's unavoidable. It would be great if solar could provide our energy needs, but that is pure fantasy.

Solar, wind and other renewable will provide less than 5% of world energy needs by 2050.
The technology is simply not progressing fast enough in terms of scalability or stability. And this assumes increased tax credits, mandates and other government incentives continue.

This statistic is from the International Energy Agency (IEA), the autonomous organization and premier authority on energy use located in Paris.

Web Link

Solar panels make sense for Californians seeking to avoid the electricity price shocks that will come once PG&E is forced to get 33% of its electricity from renewables in 2020, as required by AB 32. Naturally, PG&E will pass those costs on to consumers. Enjoy.


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Apr 2, 2012 at 5:59 pm

So you don't really have any direct response to the cost comparisons I just gave you?

What would you say is the cost trend for PG&E supplied power, which is blend of many flavors? UP or DOWN?

What would you say is the cost trend for PV generated power? UP or DOWN?

Comparison in kWh. I thought I laid it out reasonably well, but feel free to point out where I made mistakes. Because I'm seeing comparable costs today, which is not factoring in future sources. That doesn't explain away the current parity. Couple that with the trend lines as illustrated in the links provided.

You are not making much sense when you admit that solar is an escape to PG&E increases. Is there something in the law the prevents PG&E from providing solar through large commercial ops? Why would their PV grids be so much more expensive than consumers generating on a smaller and more inefficient scale?

Finally, since when is exposure to carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and methane considered benign as you portray it here? All are byproducts of burning natural gas. Maybe all those carbon monoxide detectors we place in homes these days are superfluous?

Renewables are not intended to completely replace fossil fuels. They may never even provide us the majority share of our fuel needs. Though there are many countries out there with wildly successful programs we could learn from. I mentioned the German solar program. We could look to Brazil and it's fuel substitutes. Instead we seem to want to remain fat and stupid when it comes to fossil fuels. We cannot and we will not be able to maintain the status quo of being 5% of the world's population consuming 25% of the oil resources.

Our day of reckoning on that could be within a decade and it will be quite painful. The longer we make excuses based on flawed logic, the longer we delay a serious move to alternative fuels. Drilling more holes in the Earth is not the answer. Because there isn't an oil company on the planet that sells on anything but the world market. You can wave your flag all you like. But advocating for more drilling or more pipelines only paves the way for oil company profits. It does nothing for assuring that you and I or America has access to any cheaper sources of fuel going forward. Chevron will sell to the Chinese before it sells it's product at home if the Chinese are willing to cut the bigger check. That's the cold, hard fact.


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Posted by Alvez
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 2, 2012 at 8:25 pm

FWIW, one of the most well paid jobs in Germany is for the cleaning of solar panels. Yes, if they're dirty, they won't perform as well, and you can't clean it with glass cleaner: they're fragile and usually in difficult to access places.

These costs I don't see publicized well.


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Posted by dicktracy
a resident of Danville
on Apr 2, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Really (solar panel cleaning in Germany)? How much do they make? How often do they have to clean them? What do they use? And where are they in difficult to access places? How did you find out all these things? I never would have thought.


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Apr 3, 2012 at 8:50 am

Solar is fantastic. I've embraced it. I love it. But as you know, solar technology is simply not progressing fast enough to meet even 5% of world energy needs for the foreseeable future.

That's the IEA talking, not me.

I hope solar becomes cheap someday so it can survive without billions in taxpayer subsidies.

As for the price parity chart on the link you posted, it uses 2009 data. A lot has changed in the past 3 years. You might want to read up on the shale gas revolution that is underway. The price of natural gas has fallen from $5 MMBtu to $2.04 MMBtu just in the last year alone. We're awash in the stuff and will be for decades, perhaps centuries. I hope solar can be price competitive, but it's hard to see how. I wouldn't bet the farm on it if I were you. Here's a good article from the NY Times giving a word of caution on solar:

Web Link


Thanks for the tip about the health risks from natural gas. I use it every day in my kitchen. Never realized what a dangerous life I lead. Ha ha.


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Posted by SP
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 3, 2012 at 9:21 am

Hey Republicans for "property rights." Please support my request to cover my hillside with solar panels. All I want to do is help this country and be green. Alamo is a dominant Republican town, and as Republicans we firmly believe in property rights. I want to install solar panels on MY hillside, and since it is on my property it is my right to do so. If you think it is going to be a visible scar, that is your fault for buying a house that has a view of my hillside. Next time buy a house that doesn't look that way, or you can sell your home. This is a free country. I bought this house because of the southern hill exposure is perfect for solar installs. You bought your home facing north requiring increased heating costs and having poor solar options. Get out of my business.


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Posted by Say what?
a resident of another community
on Apr 3, 2012 at 9:27 am

spcwt, now you're sounding like one of those instant gratification types. If it's not up to snuff today, you'll badmouth it.

Of course solar isn't progressing fast enough. If the USA had taken Germany's aggressive stance to promoting 20 years ago, I'm guessing it would be much further along. But we let the oil companies lie and buffalo us into inaction.

Crowing about cheap gas doesn't do you or I as consumers a thing. I don't even have to look to see if your numbers are valid. The bottom line is it's not reducing my power bill. So the added margins appear to be swallowed entirely as corporate profits that do not meaningfully benefit the consumer.

The agreed to rate in the article link is not out of line. It's the subsidy sweeteners that I might take issue with. Though the administration clearly put limits on some of those too.

On large commercial scale it is still in infancy in the US. We can learn through trial and error and continue to push back on corporate lobbying and demands for handouts. As rollout picks up steam you wean them off these subsidies. Again, Germany has already been down this road. We're not reinventing the wheel, and in fact, I would say that some of these agreed to rates paid for PV generation are an improvement over what they did in terms of cost effectiveness.


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Posted by Al
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 3, 2012 at 11:43 am

It's interesting to realize that so many of our supposedly educated local citizens oppose most scientific thought and almost all innovation to stay true to their early 20th century idealogy.

They probably would still buy Bethlehem Steel stock and never think of buying Apple or Google.

The saddest of all is that they still vote.


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Posted by Public Employee
a resident of Danville
on Apr 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm

What I find most interesting about our republican brothers and sisters is that they think they are the ones who are pushing for a revolution. They believe they are the agents of change while they preach for things of the past. What they don't understand is that the revolution has begun and they are not a part of it. As a matter of fact, the revolution is for everything they are against. Like renewable energy production and energy independence, end of corporate control of our lives, puppet politicians, a cleaner planet, economic inequality, etc.

Don't you see, you are on the wrong side of history. You are the dark side and the light always prevails...always. Step away from your propaganda box (TV) and see the world for what it really is. Occupy!!!!


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Posted by spcwt
a resident of Danville
on Apr 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

Dear Say What?,

It's a mistake to try and compare German and U.S. energy markets. Germany has limited amounts of coal and natural gas. Almost all of their natural gas is imported from Russia at five times the price we pay in the U.S. They have no choice but to embrace alternative energy.

Even so, Germany currently gets over 90% of its energy from fossil fuels and nuclear.

Web Link

I feel your pain, man. I remember being a kid and reading how we would soon have flying cars, bases on the moon, x-ray glasses, etc. Sorely disappointed when the technology never materialized.

Sadly, most Americans do not share our altruistic vision. They're cheap SOBs. Price is all that matters. But now, AB 32 will force them to pay for alternative energy whether they like it or not. It may cost more, but it's for a good cause, right? Kind of like how California pays $0.40 cents more per gallon than the rest of the U.S. because we have to have our own special blend of eco-friendly gasoline that's different from the other states.

Dear Al & Public Employee,

I'm right there with you guys! I had this killer eco-friendly Super Bowl party this year. You would've loved it. I had organic chili, socially conscious vegan hot dogs, tofu burgers with locally grown and environmentally sustainable ketchup, pickles & mustard, eco-savvy corn dogs, drinks & ice cubes made with recycled filtered rainwater. Game was watched on a solar powered TV. Guests were strongly encouraged to arrive by public transit and to obey the Kyoto Protocol. Carbon offsets were available.

Don't worry about the fact that I vote. I'm not a Republican, but my candidates rarely win. California has more than enough bright minded people like you to offset votes cast by people like me.


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Posted by Jake
a resident of Alamo
on Apr 3, 2012 at 5:09 pm

One can not argue with beliefs; that seems to be the case about many issues in this forum. May be solar will be economical in the future; it is not today. Even the best scenario studies the "break-even" is so far in the future that any person educated in economic/investment analysis will not consider a viable choice. As those well-versed know any study can be made to show a positive outcome if taken to a long duration and the right assumptions are used. If you want to use because you "believe" in its own goodness do so by all means. As one that has done many energy conservation projects due to perceived "goodness" and positive image consideration for the business that employed me, I would caution you about placing panels on your roof. Roofs require maintenance, they develop leaks and worse yet, they need to be replaced periodically. If you have an option of placing them elsewhere (ground, carports, etc.) do so, as schools have done by building "car ports".

To those who will take exception to what I have said : I am not anti solar or wind, etc. just that the state of current technology has not reached an economic payback yet.

PS: If Chinese or anybody else want to subsidize them to the point that makes economic sense, why would we object? consider it a gift! If they want to sell each panel to us at a loss and expect to make up for it in volume, let them!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Alvez
a resident of Blackhawk
on Apr 3, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Yes, Germany. It's a high paying job, and it's dangerous too, due to the steep slopes on roofs due to snow.

"Even a little bit of dust, for example one-seventh of an ounce per square yard (= 4 grams / square meter) —can weaken a panel's power conversion by 40%.

To put this in perspective, dust deposition in Arizona is about 17 grams per square meter per month, and the situation is worse in many other solar-friendly sites, including the Middle East, Australia and India."
Web Link


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