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Lodi residents look to solar fair to reduce electric rates

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Posted: Monday, January 14, 2008 10:00 pm

Hutchins Street Square was filled Monday with people interested in buying a solar power system and 23 vendors who wanted to sell a solar power system, and everyone wanting to take advantage of Lodi's solar energy rebate that began Jan. 1.

"We want to make a presence here because of the Lodi rebate program," said Jonathan Mack, a solar consultant for Premier Power in El Dorado Hills. "You can save 30 to 70 percent on your bill and remain viable."

Dave Haas, a 22-year Lodi resident, was one of approximately 250 people who attended the fair. Hass said he attended a previous solar fair and wanted to see if there were any new vendors.

"I'm looking for a way to reduce my electric bill," said Haas, who pays about $300 per month for electricity in the winter.

Though people can save a substantial amount of money, it will take 10 to 20 years to pay off the initial investment, depending on where you live, vendors say.

For Lodi and Sacramento County, it will take about 20 years for the system to pay for itself, while in San Joaquin County communities that use Pacific Gas and Electric Co., the return of investment ranges from seven to 12 years, Mack said.

The reason it will take longer to recoup your savings in places like Lodi and Galt, Mack said, is that their rates are lower than PG&E's, especially at the higher tier.

Lodi Electric Utility is offering about $6 million in rebates over the next 10 years for customers who install solar photovoltaic systems that meet Lodi Electric Utility standards.
Rebates are $2.80 per watt and decrease seven years each year. The maximum rebate is $375,000 per system, with a cap payment of $75,000 per year.
For example, if a customer installs a 100-kilowatt system this year, the total rebate is $280,000. The customer would get $75,000 each year for three years, and $55,000 the fourth year.
For more information, call 333-6762.
Source: Lodi Electric Utility.
• Visit California Energy Commission, http://www.energy.ca.gov, then click "Go solar California."
• Visit California Contractors State Licensing Board, http://www.cslb.ca.gov.
Source: Lodi Electric Utility, Premier Power.

Most of the vendors were peddling solar panels that can be placed on roofs, but a few offered a variation. For example, Wiser Watts, based in Rio Vista, promoted its thick Apex wall, which they say will offer greater insulation and require fewer solar energy panels, salesman Bryan Sharpley said. The firm also sells solar heating systems.

Rob Lechner, customer service and programs manager for Lodi Electric Utility, said he wanted to put on a second solar fair within six months to whet residents' appetites for the city's rebate program. There were 23 vendors on Monday, compared with 15 at the July event, Lechner said.

Lodi resident Lon Peterson is sold on solar energy, and it didn't take much to get him to the solar fair.

"I think everybody in America should have one," Peterson said.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 5:17 am on Tue, Jan 15, 2008.


    If you think there's anything on the up and up with Lodi or its educational district, why has this dirty little town sunk into oblivion since the mid 90's and is now considered a piece of Stockton? Thank your wealthy and good old boys for that.

  • posted at 5:15 am on Tue, Jan 15, 2008.


    The city is only offering less than a half dozen of these rebates per year. The council said that Lodi doesn't have enough funds to pay all at once, hence you see that 6 million spread out EVENLY over 10 years. Watched the CC meeting and that's a fact.Call LEUD and ask Mr. Lechner how much is available this year. It'll make you want to vomit. Just another feel good story with no details and just half-truths.

    The presentation the CC put on at their meeting stressed basically residential only because we Lodians are subsidizing rates for companies like Cottage bakery, General Mills, who, by the way, sells electricity back to LEUD at the end of the month for more than they get it for, the plastics plants, the PCP cannery and Lodi Iron, just to name a few.

  • posted at 5:07 am on Tue, Jan 15, 2008.


    Are you sure those figures are right. After watching the presentation at the council meeting a month or so ago, these figures in the Sentinel seem to be untrue. Are you referring to a large system for a manufacturing plant? Why wouldn't there be some comparison for a typical one-family home?

  • posted at 2:40 am on Tue, Jan 15, 2008.


    If people go for these what is the city going to raise to make up for the loss in revenue? And please don't tell me they will be so happy that people have gone solar they won't raise anything.

  • posted at 2:11 am on Tue, Jan 15, 2008.


    Solar sounds great and makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, BUT!
    What bank is going to lend a business money with a 10-20 year break even? And to compound things the ROI calculation bets on fuzzy math with utility rate increases etc. UNtil the ROI can be shortened to 5-7 years Solar is DOA.



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