As the PV industry scales in size . . .Let’s make a case for a grass roots movement and a local industry

November 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

The news from Solar Power International 2011 in Dallas is that the American market for PV continues to scale in size across all sectors.

Sector 2010 Sector 2010 percentage 2011 projection
Residential

264 MW

30%

19%

Non-Residential

372 MW

42%

27%

Utility

242 MW

28%

54%

Total

878 MW

100%

100%

Source: SEIA/GTM; Solarbuzz

More and more utility-scale is the dominate sector; more and more the non-residential sector is comprised of larger and larger systems completed by project developers; and more and more the residential sector is dominated by large solar lease aggregators that sell their lease contracts to Wall Street tax incented investors.  What about the local installer in local markets?

At SPI 2011, SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) announced that the trade association’s number one political objective in 2011 was a one year extension of the Department of Treasury Section 1603 cash grant program.  This program and the 100% bonus depreciation available through 2011 have helped to skew these market sectors to large players and large-scale systems.

Are these trends to large scale good for the PV industry?  Sure they are!  As an industry, we need all PV sectors to grow and prosper.  And growth in one sector does not need to be at the expense of another sector.

At SPI 2011, I made a presentation entitled:

Small Scale PV for Large Scale Market Penetration

The intent of the presentation was to highlight the inherent attributes of scalable, distributive, grid-tied PV in small-scale residential systems and to make the point that for the PV industry to prosper over a long period, the industry needs advocates – a political base.  Ultimately, that political base is comprised of one homeowner or one small business at a time.

If politics is local, so is the PV industry.

I have attached a copy of my SPI 2011 presentation.

Large Scale PV Market Penetration Through Small Scale 10.11.11 (ppt).

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES21 USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]

Thinking about PV Solar for your Home or Business?

September 26, 2011 § Leave a comment

Photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of a hou...

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Good idea … now, consider these additional ticklers.

If you have been following this industry you know that solar PV component prices are down 60% in the last two years.  Never has there been a more compelling time to consider a grid-tied PV system for your home or business.

PV systems are an affordable and economic investment now — yes now!  In addition to perfect timing, consider these additional benefits for grid-tied PV systems:

Avoided costs . . . a tax benefit for homeowners.  As a homeowner with a grid-tied PV system, you will purchase less electricity from your utility.  You will avoid that additional cost.  OK.  Since you pay for electricity with after tax income, your PV benefit, for investment comparison purposes, is properly measured in before tax income.

For instance, if you save $30 a month with your PV system and you are in a 28% marginal tax bracket, your before tax equivalent savings is $30/(1-.28) or $41.66.  It takes $41.6 of before tax income to pay $30 to an electric utility.  This is the proper monetary measure of the PV benefit for a homeowner.  Caution: this does not apply if your lease your PV system.

No increase is property taxes.  In most jurisdictions, the capital investment of a PV system for your house will not increase the assessed value of your home or you annual property taxes.  Quite the opposite for a kitchen remodel or swimming pool!

Grid-tied PV systems are scalable.  2kW is as efficient as 5kW or 20kW.  So start small.  You can always add to your PV system at a later date.  A PV system equal to 15% to 20% of your electricity consumption is perfect and costs well less than $10k.  You do not need 25 panels or a $25k investment.  For home or business . . . go small.

A grid-tied PV system will increase the value of your home or business.  Of course it will; your PV system is virtually maintenance free and lowers the cost of operation.

For a home, a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report affirms a 20:1 value ratio: that is, the value of your home increases 20 times the first year savings.  Spend $6,000 to save $300 a year: 20 x $300 = $6,000.  Payback?  It’s done!  Caution: this does not apply if your lease your PV system.

For a business, reduced operating expenses equal increased NOI.  Business are valued at a multiple of NOI . . . the increase in value is automatic.

PV systems are a very long term investment!  Most PV panels are warranted to 80% of rated power performance after 25 years, but these panels can last for 40 years or more!  Think about it.  2051 and you still are producing a lot of electricity.  Can you imagine?  A grid-tied PV system of any size is a terrific hedge against rising electricity costs.

Environmental attributes . . . Light from light.  PV systems are sustainable and renewable . . . no fuels, no water, no emissions, and no noise.  How do you measure the value of clean air over 40 years or more?  Ask your children, not your politicians!

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES 21 USA

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]


It’s back to school

August 24, 2011 § Leave a comment

Solar powered School Zone flashing light warni...

Solar Powered School Sign - Image via Wikipedia

Welcome back students, now turn out the lights

It’s been a long hot and dry summer in Texas.  While the students were away the miracle Governor, in the face of a $27B Texas budget deficit, cut $4B from school districts over the 2 year biennium period.

This is the first decrease in student spending in Texas since WW II . . . larger classes, fewer teachers and administrative positions, fewer school buses, less maintenance.

Get used to it kids!  This is Texas.  And, by the way, turn up the thermostat and turn out the lights.  The much celebrated ‘deregulated’ Texas utilities forgot to plan on your electricity supply.

So, what’s up?  Texas has deregulated it utilities.  We need more power generation. Where is the free market response?  The free market has responded: no thanks Texas schoolchildren.

This is what happens when you separate power generation from power consumption.  This is why regulated utilities are assured a fair rate of return on their capital investment.  This is why regulated utilities plan ahead and build adequate electricity generation capacity.

Texas has an abundance of sun light.  Let’s put that renewable energy to work for Texas schools.  Most schools have vast amounts of available roof space perfectly situated for grid-tied solar photovoltaic power generation.

Over a long-term period of time, a small fee on Texas consumers electricity bills could finance solar systems on public schools that would provide some (say 20%+/-) but not all of the schools’ electricity needs.  These systems are on the load side of the meter and a prefect antidote for the recurring rolling brownout issues Texas faces in its energy deprived markets.

During the summer when schools are not in operation, the schools would be a net power generator and sell electricity back into the grid further reducing seasonal stress to the grid.

Solar energy is reliable, affordable, and long-term; it uses no fuel, has virtually no maintenance, no emissions, and no water use.  Solar for schools . . . this is not an original thought.

Solar Panel installation in Pasadena, TX.

A project SES 21 USA has been part of: Solyndra 30kW installation, Pasadena Independent School District, Texas

Read more about this Pasadena School District Project here…

Let’s do something bold TEXAS.  We have the schools, we have the sun light, we have the local electrical contractors, we have the relentless demand; we are the absolute leaders in electricity consumption, we are the Energy State . . . the Lone Star (solar) State.

Let’s take the leadership and by 2025 have a solar installation on every public school in Texas.  It’s a long-term investment in sustainable electricity for our schools.  It’s time.  Light from light.  How perfect is that?

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES21USA, LLC 

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES21USA, LLC and its affiliate companies.]

Texas grid operator ERCOT ‘at war’ with hot temperatures. Really . . . it’s a Texas summer!

August 10, 2011 § Leave a comment

Deregulated utilities open the door for distributive solar PV generation.

OK, it’s very hot in July & August, but why is Texas always on the cusp of rolling blackouts? Can it be that our deregulated utilities respond to profit better than public signals? Should we rename the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) the Profit Utility Commission of Texas ($$UCT)?

Electricity demand and high temperature in Texas, August 2011

Electricity demand and high temperature in Texas, August 2011 - Greentech media - EIA

Remember the three R’s of regulated utilities: Resilient, Reliable, and Redundant. When an electric utility needed more generation, it simply built a new power plant with state of the art technology. The cost was included in the utility’s rate base, the return on capital was set by authentic public utility commissioners, and capital was abundant. Perfect.

But, not good enough for Texas. Now, the lobbyists and politicians have dismembered our proud electric utilities and chunked the pieces to the ‘competitive’ markets and private equity guys in the case of Dallas’ Energy Future Holdings (EFH).

Now it’s not so simple to build a power plant. Who is going to purchase the electricity and at what price? The retail bone has been disconnected from the power generation bone. Without assurance of a steady source of repayment, who is going to provide the capital for a free-standing power plant? Apparently, no one.

So, with temperatures soaring and the inadequacies of our deregulated and stand alone T&D grid in full view; what do you think will happen next? Electricity rates going down . . . probably not! This is a perfect time to invest in distributive solar PV electricity as a partial solution to this country’s unabated electricity demand. Electricity from light energy . . . how cool is that!

Grid-tied solar PV is an ideal energy resource to offset peak electricity demand on the grid. If you are a business or homeowner consider just 20% of your electrical load from solar PV. PV system prices are down 40% since 2009. It’s a long-term economic investment that will add to the value of your home or business now!

A PV system may produce power for 40 years or more. It uses no water, uses no fuel, no moving parts, no emissions, no noise, it does not eat anything, it does not need a college fund . . . it just sits there generating electricity day in and day out. When it’s over someday . . . just recycle.

AMERICA . . . it’s time to take some positive and independent steps. Do not wait on your politicians for anything. They are busy with lobbyists. They have work to do.

Distributive PV generation is a ground swell, bottom up movement; get onboard and make a difference for yourself and your community. It’s time.

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES 21 USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of

SES21USA, LLC and its affiliate companies.]

Another scorcher in the Southwest. . . hot and dry . . . no problem!

July 17, 2011 § 1 Comment

Crank up the AC . . . but what about the water?

heat wave in USA

heat wave in the USA

It’s July in America, and we expect it to be hot . . . but, it is so dry. How about an occasional afternoon thunder shower . . . not a tornado please, just a peaceful summer shower. The Texas governor chides Texans to pray for rain (and the nation). Good idea, but then what

about the water? Is this a drought or a longer period of aridification? To be sure, we will need to visit the issue again in 50 or 100 years, but in the meanwhile, it should make perfectly good sense to be mindful of water usage and conservation. Let’s throw the kids a bone.
What about energy and water usage . . . does it matter? Of course it does.
According to a USGS Study on water use in the U.S. (2005 data), thermoelectric (steam electricity generation) accounted for 201M gallons or 49% of U.S. daily water withdrawals:

U.S. water withdrawals by category

Public Supply 11%
Domestic 1%
Irrigation 31%
Livestock 1%
Aquaculture 2%
Industrial 4%
Mining 1%
Thermoelectric power 49%
A March, 2011 study by the non-partisan, World Policy Institute, The Water-Energy Nexus, Adding Water to the Energy Agenda, takes a water centric look at the impact of water consumption, withdrawal, and quality on energy production for transportation fuels and
electricity generation.
The study offers findings in language we understand in Texas. Comparing different fuel sources, how much water is consumed to operate an 18,000 Btu room air conditioner 12 hours/day for one week? [In Texas, think 24 hours/day!]
Fuel source Gallons of water
Hydroelectric 2,000
Geothermal 700
Solar Thermal 400
Nuclear 300
Thermoelectric, coal 200
Thermoelectric, oil 200
Coal, IGCC 100
Wind minimal
Solar PV minimal minimal
SOLAR PV wins!  This is not a surprise.  A home solar system uses light energy as a source fuel.We do not need water to produce light. A home solar system is distributive; the electricity isproduced where the electricity is consumed: on the load side of your electricity meter. No T&D!
So, think about your energy future; think about your water future, and pray for rain too.  Remember, a home solar system is scalable, you do not need to cover your rooftop with solar panels – maybe just enough to equal your AC electricity consumption! PV solar electricity is agrassroots, bottom-up movement. That’s perfect – one home and one business at a time.
Let’s get started today.
Chet Boortz,
CEO SES 21 USA, LLC
[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not representthose of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]

Saving Texas from itself!

July 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

The Dallas Morning News distribution plant in ...

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Thank you Dallas Morning News

Texas’ top newspaper takes a stand against status quo.

Texas’ defiance hurts business and our health.  Where have all the leaders gone?

We cannot wait on Energy Future Holdings (our debt ridden private equity electric utility), our business driven fanatical politicians in Austin, or our presidential candidate inspired governor who struggles even with texting while driving.  Your health is in your hands.

If you or your children prefer clean air, then band together and take a stand for clean air and clean energy.  No one else in Texas is listening or cares.  They are very busy.

Thank you Dallas Morning News for your influential opinion.

Chet Boortz, CEO

SES 21 USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]

Howdy Folks!! Welcome to Texas’ good neighbor policy

July 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

 . . . raining SOx, NOx, coal soot, and mercury on its neighboring states!

Political leaders and utility insiders in Texas are pounding the EPA once again.  In the wake of an anti government biennium legislative session and in the glow of the governor’s presidential aspirations, there is not much hope for protecting the environment in Texas or even in Texas’ neighboring states.  So, eat our soot Oklahoma and Louisiana.  Are you surprised? 

Simply stated, The EPA is concerned that some of the dirtiest coal-fired plants in Texas not only are fouling the air in the Lone Star State but also are sending their toxic message to downwind neighbors: Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana.  If this is the case, then the EPA has regulations that would require these plants to install equipment to reduce emissions. 

Not surprisingly, Texas politicians and businesses are not happy with the thought of spending money to employ yesterday’s scrubber technology to clean Texas’s dirty coal-fired plants.  According to news reports, lobbyists for Luminant, the wholesale power generation unit of Energy Future Holdings, are complaining that this regulation may trigger the closure of four antique coal-fired plants.

Martin Lake coal-fired plant

Martin Lake coal-fired plant

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Panic . . . business leaders apparently don’t like clean air either and are worried the price of electricity may increase.  Oh no.  Republicans and Democrats are complaining to Washington that the EPA should protect business not those of us that breathe air for living, and of course, our misnamed TCEQ (Texas Commission on Environmental Quality) with its three commissioners carefully selected by the governor whine that EPA decisions punish Texas.  Punish?  Really?

STOP!!  TEXAS, are you there?  Have you had enough?  It’s time to take a stand!

  • Governor, PUCT, TCEQ, Texas businesses; you are wrong.  The people of Texas are more interested in a clean air than cheap and dirty energy.  Just try asking.
  • TCEQ . . . honestly, consider resigning.
  • Texas politicians . . . who are your constituents?  Dirty air is not a political ideology.
  • Energy Future Holdings . . . is this our energy future – dirty, antiquated coal-fired plants? 
  • EPA . . . thank you . . . our children need a voice in this fight.

Citizens of Texas . . . what’s up?  

It was the 4th of July . . . now it’s time to act independently.  Install a small-scale solar electricity system on your home or business and retire those dirty coal plants with your own actions.  The governor and the state legislature do not make it easy, but they cannot stop you.  Take a stand for clean energy . . . one home, one business at a time.

A grid-tied solar electricity system is affordable, it’s economic, and it’s scalable.  A small-scale solar electricity system works just fine.  No fuel, no water, no noise, no moving parts, no emissions.  Your solar electricity system will last 30 to 40 years.

Say no to Texas insiders; say yes to a clean sustainable energy future . . . just a little at a time.  Do not wait on assistance or inspiration from your politicians.  They are busy.
Chet Boortz, CEO

SES21USA, LLC

[The comments, positions, and opinions stated above are my own and may or may not represent those of SES 21 USA and its affiliate companies.]

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