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


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

SES21USA, LLC and its affiliate companies.]


DOE guarantees financing for 733 MW of rooftop installations . . . perfect!

August 5, 2011 § Leave a comment

Seal of the United States Department of Energy.

Image via Wikipedia

But wait, it’s not for you . . . it’s a big win for the big players.

The Department of Energy (DOE) announced this week conditional loan guarantees totaling $1,400,000,000 for 750 warehouse roofs.  Should we be happy?  Well, I am not exactly thrilled.

Here’s the deal.

Project Amp . . . a consortium of large cap players: NRG Energy, Prologis, Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

  • NRG is one the largest wholesale power generation companies in the U.S.  Its portfolio includes 24,000MW of nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, and utility-scale solar generation.
  • Prologis is a leading owner, operator, and developer of industrial real estate (warehouses) in America.
  • We know about Bank of America and Merrill Lynch.

NRG and Prologis will own the solar projects and receive cash grants or ITC and accelerated depreciation.  NRG Solar undoubtedly will be the sole project contractor, and apparently, the big banks need a U.S. government loan guarantee to make secured project loans.  Really?

Amazingly, DOE Secretary Chu states:

This unprecedented solar project . . . will help us meet the SunShot goal of competitive solar power with other forms of energy by the end of the decade.

Please Mr. Secretary, do we really need to wait eight more years to declare something that is within reach today?  Why are you feeding the big fish instead of homeowners across America?

So, as solar enthusiasts, we cheer solar projects of any size and description.  But still . . .

What if instead of Project Amp, the Secretary had announced a loan guarantee program for 366,000 2kW home solar systems (733MW/2kW = 366,000).  At $1,400,000,000, this would be a loan guarantee of $3,800 per home or about 50% of the after PTC costs.  Perfect!

If resources are limited, should we spread the benefit to a larger community of owners and contractors?

For 366,000 2kW home solar systems, imagine the number of homeowner solar advocates, local contractors (jobs!), community bank loans, suppliers, and more.

This is how we take solar to the market . . . one home at a time.  Homeowners vote and are policy advocates; warehouses just sit there and are depreciated and sold and resold.  If you want to advance distributive solar energy, begin with homeowners.

Market supply and demand will determine when solar power is competitive.  Indications are that we already are there . . . we do not need to wait until the end of the decade.

Bank of America should learn again how to make a secured project loan.  It’s not that tricky!

Solar is scalable, distributive, affordable, and economic . . . let’s bring it home!

Chet Boortz, CEO


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

EPA to limit toxic emissions from coal-fired plants . . . thank you EPA!

March 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

Power Industry complains new rules too expensive.  What?

In response to a federal court ruling in February, 2008, the EPA waited until the last possible day (March 15, 2011) to propose rules to limit toxic air pollutants – mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel, and acid gases from industrial emissions.  According to the EPA, power plants are responsible for half of all mercury emissions in the U.S., and within the electric utility group, coal-fired plants are responsible for 99% of all mercury emissions.

Under the proposal, the utility industry simply is required to install state of the art pollution technologies to reduce harmful emissions.  Why does this take a court order?  Why has it taken over 20 years since the Clean Air Act Amendments required control of mercury pollutants?

In its proposal, the EPA suggests that household bills may increase $4 per month and 9,000 long-term jobs will be created when the regulations are fully implemented. Meanwhile, the ERCC (Electricity Reliability Coordinating Council) complains the EPA has overstepped its bounds, and these rules may be the most expensive regulations in EPA history . . . and will have profound impacts on electricity supply, price, and job creation.

Please ERCC, get a handle on reality and your priorities!

Mercury emissions are not friendly.  Mercury causes neurological damage to children in the womb and in early childhood; it is linked to premature deaths, heart disease, and respiratory disease and it pollutes streams, lakes, oceans, and the fish we eat.

Here in Texas, we are the national leader in coal-fired power plants . . . 19 active plants and 10 or more in various stages of planning.  According to the EDC, Texas is home to seven of the nation’s top 16 mercury emitters.

Piles of coal are shown at NRG Energy’s W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station

Photo: Texarkana Gazette: Piles of coal are shown at NRG Energy’s W.A. Parish Electric Generating Station

Thompsons, Texas (SW of Houston)    AP

On the eve of his reelection, the Texas governor said Texans don’t want any more ‘feel good’ policies.  Hmm . . . sounds more like industry lobbyists talking than a head of state.  The governor and the legislators don’t ask Texans what they want . . . they tell constituents what they want based on lobbyists-prepared canned scripts.  Don’t wait on Texas to safeguard your air . . . the attorney general is suing the EPA over air quality permitting processes.  And so it goes.

We may suffer from intransigence and a status quo energy policy in the U.S. and Texas, BUT we now have an opportunity to make a difference in our very own energy production.  Simply install a grid-tied PV system on your home or business and invest in 30+ years of clean, sustainable clean electricity.  PV is scalable, so any size system makes a difference.

Electricity from light . . . no fuels and no emissions and virtually no maintenance.  AND, it’s an affordable and economic investment today!

Wide spread adoption of distributive decentralized grid-tied PV technology would mean good-bye to dirty coal plants and mercury emissions.  The utilities may not like it, but they cannot stop you from being your own independent power producer!

Don’t wait on your politicians . . . they are busy having lunch with their donor industry lobbyists.  Make a statement, make a move.  It’s past time for PV in America.

Chet Boortz, CEO


[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.]

Turning the Page on Mideast Autocrats

March 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

. . . Who me?  Yes you! . . . one grid-tied PV System at a Time!

No wakeup call here.  The U.S. once again is caught in a familiar position of disconnecting its moral principles of individual freedom and human rights in favor of strategically located despots who control oil flows.

Democracy is on the march in the Middle East, but Washington is virtually mute.  It’s not a Berlin Wall moment.  No, it’s an oil supply insecurity moment, and our unseemly ‘strategic’ relationships have squelched the joyous celebration.

Source: John Darkow, Columbia Daily Tribune

Honestly, it’s 2011 . . . we have been dealing with oil dependency compromises for sixty years, and since the Gulf War in 1990, we have been inundated with adverse economic and political consequences of our unilateral and steadfast approach to oil dependency.  Don’t look for change or progressive energy policies from Washington DC.  They’re busy, thank you.

Is our government broken?  No, it’s a social, political, and economic organism performing with remarkable efficiency.  The input variables are gerrymandered representative districts and unlimited ($$$,$$$,$$$’s) campaign spending.  The output is status quo and the protection of vested interests.  What else would we expect?

The U.S. government may be hand-tied, but its citizens are not. Let’s assist the brave people in the Middle East and defrock their monarchs and autocrats by making ourselves less dependent on their oil resources one grid-tied PV system at a time.  The U.S. has abundant solar insolation, and clean electricity is the transportation fuel of the 21st century.

We do not need any help, the pieces are in place.  With a 40% reduction in costs since 2009, grid-tied PV systems are economic and excellent investments for home and business.  PV is scalable, so a system that provides just 20% to 30% of your electricity is perfect.

A PV system is a long-term asset and excellent hedge against rising energy costs; it’s electricity produced from light, and it’s sustainable.  PV is distributive energy (on your roof) . . . producing power where you use power — on the load side of your electricity meter.  It uses no water, has no line loss, virtually no maintenance, and no emissions.  And, it is owned by you!  No other conventional or renewable energy resource shares these attributes.

So please, do not wait on Washington DC or your State House.  Those men and women are busy doing what they do.  Let’s have our own ‘energy’ revolution one home and one business at a time.  No one can stop us.  It’s an economic decision; it’s a patriotic decision.  Let’s do it!

Chet Boortz, CEO


[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.]

More DOE Research Funding

February 21, 2011 § Leave a comment

…Solar is Here!  It’s not a Moment, It’s a MOVEMENT! 

President Obama’s proposed 2012 (FY) budget provides $3.2 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), a 44% increase over 2010 levels, and increased spending for clean energy research. Who can fault more government spending for solar and clean energy research?  Not me.  Well, maybe just a little.

 Research appropriation lobbyists will argue more and more money for research . . . looking for that ‘Sputnik’ moment for solar . . . Really?  Hey lobbyists, time out!  The Sputnik moment was October, 1957.  PV already was an adolescent in 1957.

PV grew up with the NASA program.  The first solar-powered satellite was Vanguard I in March, 1958 . . . 55 years ago!

PV technology has become more efficient and less costly in every year since!  PV equipment costs are down 40% since The Great Recession.  Now, is the time for large-scale adoption.

Today . . . not ten years from now, but today . . .  grid-tied PV technology is a proven renewable and sustainable energy resource.  It is affordable and economic in markets across America. 

Honestly, we do not need more government research to commercialize PV.  It’s already commercial, and the venture capital industry continues to fund billions more to advance PV technologies and applications.  Thank you very much VC’s.

Solar PV is not a ah ha moment! 

 It’s a groundswell MOVEMENT. 

 Hey thrifty congressmen . . . want to see large-scale adoption of clean technology and the ensuing job growth . . . well let’s cut back on research in your pet congressional districts and spend a fraction of the amount on a nationwide public awareness campaign to educate homeowners, business owners, and the population at large on the attributes and economic benefits of grid tied PV solar electric systems? 

For years, the highly subsidized fossil fuel industry and electric utilities have spewed volumes of misinformation about how someday, in the far away future, solar PV will be economic.  Well, it’s 2011, and that dog won’t hunt!  Let’s get the message out! 

Got Milk?

Well, how about Got Solar?  

PV solar electricity is positioned to take its place in the America’s electric future.  It will only get better, and the benefits are immeasurable.  We do not need a Sputnik moment – we need broad scale adoption.  PV will succeed as a groundswell movement, not in the national laboratory.  

Let’s get serious.  Light from light!  How cool is that? 

Chet Boortz, CEO


[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 Morning in America . . . that was 1984.

February 4, 2011 § 3 Comments

            . . . What time is it now? 

The centennial of Ronald Reagan’s birth is February 6, 2011.  Ronald Reagan was the 40th President of the United States, and he is idolized today by admirers for his conservative leanings.  The impact of his fiscal, social, and foreign policy agenda is still unfolding, and it will take another 30 years for scholars the write the book on his presidency and its aftermath. 

The Reagan period is symbolized by his 1984 reelection campaign and his television spot:  It’s Morning in America.  It’s a highly acclaimed political campaign television commercial . . . pure Hollywood and pure Reagan.

So, if it was morning in 1984, what time is it now?  In terms of U.S. energy policy, it’s Dawn in America!  Ten years after the 1973 Arab oil embargo, the supposed energy ‘wakeup call’ for U.S. energy policy makers, we celebrated morning; now, nearly 30 years later it’s dawn, but remember dawn is not dusk!  It’s just time to move in the other direction.  America does not do well with wake up calls

Click on the graph to enlarge

The above EIA chart does not need interpretation.  The 2008-2010 downturn is related first to $4.00 gasoline and then to The Great Recession.  Of course, oil prices are rising again.

Here is what we know: so many of the social, health, economic, trade, foreign policy, fiscal, and environmental issues confronting America are related to the lack of a cohesive long-term energy strategy.  Over and over, the status quo, intransigent politicians, and vested interests prevail. 

So, let’s move up the clock – just a little.  In terms of energy:  IT’S SUNRISE IN AMERICA.

We cannot expect policy makers and their flock of insiders to solve our energy issues.  It just will not happen.  This is America; we are empowered by independence, individual choice, and economic freedom.  So, if you like the way things are . . . perfect, nothing to think about.  But, if you would like to make a difference . . . you are the catalyst, you are the movement, you are the solution; and your politicians will follow in line after the fact.

If you are connected to the electricity grid, consider PV solar electricity for your home or business as a supplement to your electricity consumption.  In a small-scale, become your own independent power producer (IPP).  Produce a portion of your electricity using light as a fuel with your own PV system, and purchase the balance of your electricity from your electric utility.  It’s that easy.

PV solar electricity is a groundswell popular movement, not a government policy.  It’s renewable and sustainable, affordable, a hedge against rising energy costs, and an attractive long-term investment for your home or business.

Say no to political folly.  Say yes to taking charge . . . to clean and affordable solar electricity.  Light from light.  It’s an economic choice today!

It’s sunrise in America.

Chet Boortz, CEO


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