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We should have built solar plants already

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Posted: Tuesday, January 22, 2013 12:00 am

First, I would like to thank all of the good people who support clean energy. This is what I have worked for the past 40 years, just for people to understand that the sun works.

The sun gives us life itself; to ask for a little thing like energy from the sun is no big deal. It's people like Dan Haynes, Kevin Paglia, Doug Chaney and Ted Lauchland who will make a better, cleaner future for our kids. I can only say, keep up the good work.

Solyndra was a great idea, but had bad people in charge — greed. How would I know? I've seen it before.

And again, photovoltics, batteries, are good for homes and small business, but not the grid. The grid needs a solar plant that can store energy for a month with six hours of sun.

Steam is at 212 degrees Fahrenheit and the sun is more than 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, so collecting and storing energy is not a big deal. We have way more energy than we need — and it's free and simple to build.

These solar plants should have been built 25 years ago.

Gary Kries


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  • Ed Walters posted at 4:32 pm on Sat, Jan 26, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 638

    Mr. Kevin: A guy I know showed me a tankless water heater, it is less than half the size of a standard water heater, operates on the same principal, however it does not store water. It has a copper coil inside of a steel casing, the water is heated by gas. The best part that it is tankless and you will never run out of hot water. It is a bit more sophisticated than a 30-40 gallon water heater, no pilot light is needed, it works on the same principal as todays modern gas furnaces. To think the kids can use all the hot water they want for showers and there is still more than enough left for you.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 10:32 am on Sat, Jan 26, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    Kevin and Josh, do some research on Bloom Energy and you will see another amazing technology that''s already being used by many large corporations that have huge officemanufacturing and office complexes, with some saving up to 40% of their energy costs using this new still being developed technology. Lodi electric in the next few years better hope they have other interests to sell their energy to with solar and the Bloombox being on the horizon of new and very affordable renewable energy resources. Why doesn't the city of Lodi mandate themselves to using as much solar as possible rather than pay that 22 cents kwh, highest in the nation? The city of Lodi has buildings all over town that are antiquated and power wasters and it's sad to see they don't care about their own power consumption and take measures to conserve. As long as they have a relationship with the dysfunctional Northern CA Power Assn., I doubt things will ever change with their antiquated system and "advisors".

  • Ed Walters posted at 10:53 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 638

    Bobin: As I read your post I could hardly believe what I was reading, Your gas bill was $200.00 dollars, did you ever have that hole in your roof repaired, closing all the windows would be of a big help. An energy audit is a must for you surviving and freezing at the same time. Our house is kept at 72 degrees at all times, except at night when it is turned off. Due to the cold weather, nothing has really changed, yes our bill went up to a blazing $80 dollars. Electric costs more than gas be used as a dryer since it is hotter and will dry faster, anything electric will cost more. Solar is out of the question, I am not wealthy but my bills are within reason, remember you can control your bills as I do. Doug doyouexpect to get 22 cents a Kw in return. PG@E will cost you about 11-12 cents a Kw hour. Sounds like SMUD is the one that playing you.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:23 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    Ms. Bobin brought up a good point, looking at ways to make your home more energy efficient. Solar is just a tool, the first step HAS to be the efficiency of the home.

    One of the very cool things I have seen done is the thermal sweep of a house. Shows where heat/cold are coming from and can help find where insulation needs to be added, seals replaced or such things.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 3:05 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    Great question Josh. Let just say first I am in NO way an expert on the issue, just passionate.

    On to the question. There are two variables moving the costs closer to a <10year payback. First is the ever increasing costs of current electrical rates. As resources get in higher demand the cost will go up and the faster we "greenies" will see a payback.

    The second variable is the tech in the solar cells themselves. Like any tech, it is developing, becomeing more efficient and lower costing. The unfortunate part of this variable is that it has to be driven by consumers (so companies see value in developing more tech), but most consumers ARE waiting until the costs go down. The real key is to find a more efficient material to collect the solar rays.

    I have heard some say that these two variables will be optimal in the next 10-15 years, I think it could be longer. We are still in the infant phases of Solar and wind. It won't be until the "teen" year when we see things really explode.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 2:37 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Thanks for the info, Mr. Paglia.

    With the housing industry in the tank, the company I work for created a division that does "energy audits" and then offers improvements such as insulation, energy effiecient windows, heating/air, repairing ductwork, installing tankless water heaters, etc. This was really popular when the "stimulus" was offering low interest loans combined with federal tax credits for energy efficient improvements. Just last fall they added a solar option with low financing.

    We had already made a lot of energy efficient changes over the years as we "remade" this house, but I'm sure there is more that can be done. I guess I'll have to rethink solar and concentrate on other areas.

    They've done a really good job

  • Josh Morgan posted at 1:33 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Josh Morgan Posts: 542

    Kevin, what is your opinion about recouping the investment. In non-real estate investments I've always looked at a seven to nine year payback. Twenty years seems like an awfully long period of time. Although I've lived in my home for almost 30 years the average homeowner only lives in their home an average of seven years. Do you think the cost of alternative energy will ever get to the point where you can break even after a shorter period of time? I realize that unless we have a crystal ball to tell us the future costs of energy it will be difficult to accurately predict those numbers.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:26 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    And I want to be clear here, I don't exect EVERYONE, or even half of the population to switch to solar/wind power on their residence. I would love to see 10%, but know that in all likelyhood, unless utility costs skyrocket less than 1% will switch over.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:24 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    In referance to the wind turbine concept. Here is a portion of a write up from Popular mechanics 3+years old. The tech has gotten better.

    "Homeowners installing small-scale wind-energy systems—with a capacity under 100 kilowatts—get 30 percent of cost discounted by the government. This credit is extended until Dec. 31, 2016. State incentives can further compound the savings.

    Price Per Unit /// About $4500 prior to the 30 percent federal tax credit. Afterward, the price drops to about $3150. ***I know California has some rebates and Lodi may have some as well**

    Price Per Watt /// $2.25 per watt without installations (where costs vary). Expect that price to roughly double with installation. With the 30 percent federal tax credit, the price works out to about $1.58 per watt without installation. This price reflects only one year of use. Given five years without repair costs, the price drops to 22.5 cents per watt, just roughly double the current national average.

    Kilowatt-hours per year /// In average class-four winds, according to Imad Mahawili's calculations (see his chart, below), the Honeywell Wind Turbine can put out as much as 2042 kilowatt-hours per year.

    Payback period: The Energy Information Administration lists average U.S. residential electricity prices at 11.23 cents per kwh, as of February 2009. A turbine that puts out 2000 kwh a year saves $224.60 annually at that price, making the payback period just under 20 years on a $4500 panel. (The government rebate would lower the payback period to about 14 years.)

    Drawbacks: Installation will require an electrician and a major overhaul of the roof—Honeywell plans to provide the experts for those who buy the turbine, at a price. Turbulence, reliability of wind speed and county restrictions could all be problems"

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 12:03 pm on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    Ms. Bobin: To be honest with you being mostly plumbed for gas, the cost of converting to electric appliances AND solar installation may be a fairly hefty investment and short to medium (under 25 years) you would likely not see a financial benefit to using solar. If you had a plan to switch over to electric over the years then the payoff would be there.

    Our water-heater is gas as well, but if we end up staying in this house long term (a slight chance of a job transfer) the we are considering switching from a gas water-heater to a tankless heater system.

    With such a minimal energy usage a good supplement might be residential rooftop wind turbines. They are a much lower cost to install, can cut your utility bills between $50-$100. But that figure is unclear as to if that is PER wind turbine or multiple.

    If we do stay in this area after the kids are grown I would love to move to a larger piece of land and the property would be an example of how effective alternative power can be.

  • Joanne Bobin posted at 9:50 am on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    Joanne Bobin Posts: 4488

    Maybe Mr. Paglia can address this question. My energy costs include not only COL Electric, but also gas from PG&E.

    Gas runs my hot water heater, gas heat in winter, my stove and my dryer (unfortunately, a "friend" told me I'd save electricity with a gas dryer when I had to buy a new one and then gas prices skyrocketed!).

    Would I have to convert to a complete electric hot water, heat, stove and dryer in order to get off the COL & PGE grids? (think I know the answer) or could I just use solar for electric and keep the PGE ball and chain?

    I just received my last PGE bill, which generally runs from $30-40 in summer and maybe $100 in winter. Unfortunately, with the cold snap and the holidays, my bill jumped to $200 just for GAS! Like you, I keep my thermostat at 62 and turn it off at night even though the house has gotten down to 50 degrees by morning these past couple of weeks.

    I shudder to think what my next COL bill will be (and we qualify for the 25% medical discount due to my husband's heart condition).

    Anyway, please give me some insight on this. Obviously, to be COL/PGE free, my conversion costs would go up if it includes replacing appliances.

  • Doug Chaney posted at 6:48 am on Wed, Jan 23, 2013.

    advocate Posts: 502

    All the residential solar systems in Lodi belong to the wealthy and well connected individuals and most larger companies that are the biggest users and wasters of electricity. The city of Lodi got grant funding for solar residential/commercial rebates and rather than using a short term plan they stretched it out into a ten year plan to only allow few residential/commercial users to have a solar grid system installed and it appears that in the past LEUD could pick and choose who would be the "lucky" lottery winners of those chosen few. I'll bet you can't guess who they are? LOL. This year the program is being offered by an outside company. Future Energy Savers of Elk Grove, and I had an estimate for a solar system large enough to power my home with enough energy conserved that I would be able to sell some back to LEUD each and every month. At over 22 cents kwh, that could be a nice chunk of change. My out of pocket cost after rebates will be approximately $13,000. It's time to end the stranglehold that the city of Lodi and LEUD have on us residential electric ratepayers, with one of the highest residential rates in the nation, if not the highest. Even if I don't qualify for the LEUD rebate, as I'm sure I'd probably be one of the last on their pandering list, my cost will be less than 20,000K. If you're tired of LEUD's high residential rates, I encourage anyone who can afford a solar system to at least have an estimate and eventual installation to circumvent your choice of being forced to use LEUD with their high residential rates and dysfunctional NCPA " family" along with councilman Hansen as chair of the dysfunctional board, and not having to see your utility bills pay for the free spending city of Lodi and their council, management and all city credit card authorized users rather than renewing the outdated and crumbling delivery system that brings the power on only a one way grid owned by PG&E and/or reducing rates for its residential ratepayers to lower the residential cost from the now over 22 cents kwh.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 8:44 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    Ed. In the winter you can still draw a positive charge from your solar cells. Even in the miserable northwest with all their clouds they can draw a positive charge for all but a month or so in the typical year. I have in-law cousins up there that have solar power on one of the Islands. Their battery pack reserve, when fully charged can last for three months. Additionally in this area the addition of rooftop wind turbines would more than supplement the cloudy days.

    I agree, if it was just two people living in a house then power would be much lower. There are five in my house. We run the heater at 60 degrees in the winter and at 85 in the summer. We do have a pool, but it added just a little a month to my overall bill. We range from under 200 to a little over 300 depending on the outside weather.

    I agree nuclear power is a cleanISH power source, but the radioactive aftermath it a monster. Plus the Long Island and Chernobyl events would counter the green potential. OF course the disposal of Solar cells is a major issue I recognize. Fortunately most solar companies are acting AHEAD of regulations and recycling as much material as possible.

  • Ed Walters posted at 6:58 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 638

    Kevin, I like this first name basis. I read your post and am glad I was sitting down, your friends must have expensive tastes to run up a power bill over $800 a month, perhaps under $200 a month. I don`t consider myself a cheap skate, perhaps a bit furgal as my power bill is under $100 and thats in the summer with the A/C on. Just my wife and I, and at times I will suggest she closes the fridge door, or turn off a light that doesn`t need to be on. Now you know why my bill might be less than most. I have had 3 pools in my life time and would never have another one, older folks hate brushing pools and checking for Ph count along with the filter. Even with solar you will run up a bill in the winter time. The power company buy back program will only give you what they charge per Kw hour so you won`t get rich. Perhaps it will help lower your bill. Before my fingers fall off Kevin, nuclear is clean energy same as wind or solar. A good post and I believe the suits at the LNS would agree.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:29 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    There is one point that I do agree on with Mr. Walters comments. Big solar farms will not help in big cities. Getting countries like China to go solar is unlikely. In all reality even getting the federal government to go solar is just dreaming.

    That said I am not looking at powering city or the country. I approach the whole "green tech" industry the same way the Boy Scouts approach a fresh camp ground, leave it cleaner than when you showed up. And that is what I am hoping I am able to do with the environment. I recognize even "green" tech has an environmental impact, but I believe that solar and wind turbine tech is MUCH cleaner than nuclear and coal burning. The buzz word is Carbon Footprint. I want to minimize mine. And, Hopefully by demonstrating in a community how to minimize a carbon footprint, then others will follow.

    The government doesn't need to, and in my political views WOULDN'T be involved in driving the green industry. It needs to be driven by the consumer demanding/buying green tech.

  • Kevin Paglia posted at 5:20 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    Kevin Paglia Posts: 2109

    Ed, who ever told you that Solar is more expensive than your local power company lied to you.

    Typical solar powered house makes their non-government funded system costs back in less than 20 years. That all depends on how much your power costs are. I know some people who have power bills over $800 others under $200. Let's take a conservative $300/month average. Most solar systems are about $25000, less than a pool. At $3600 a year for power you'll pay back your system in 15ish years. Let's say 17years with replacing batteries. This also does not take into account the ever increasing costs of power from utilities. FAR less than your hpothetical 30 year life. In reality, while they are garenteed for 25 years, most systems installed 40 years ago are still working.

    Not only will you save on power cost, solar sytemes also increase your house value This green site referances a study done on home sales with solar sunrunhome.com/solar-for-your-home/guide/advantages/increase-home-value

    Additionally current laws allow the power companies to buy excess power so the system starts to make money for you.

  • Ed Walters posted at 4:30 pm on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    the old dog Posts: 638

    Round # 2: In your letter you state you can collect and store energy and it is no big deal. Never the less you don`t say how this will be accomplished. Granted, water boils at 212 degrees to boil an egg, however in a power plant where steam is super heated in order to turn turbins that turn generators which operate 24/7/365. In SF which has a population of 815,358, it is most difficult to believe anything solar could keep all the lights on, which must number in the millions, plus every TV, electric stove, dryer, computer, and everything that needs power, and that is just the small part for homes, now the heavy stuff, industry, sub-stations, power to operate Muni Railway, BART, AT&T Park, Candlestick Park, which require enormass amounts of power. Now think of LA, which would require at least 100 times more power than SF for a population of 3,831,868.

    You mention solar is 20 years too late, agreed, only make that nuclear power which can be built just about anywhere. Nuclear and Hydro are not fossil fuels. The biggest question of all, providing solar would work, where to put the plants and how much room would be needed? Again, explain how solar power would be stored. As far as salvation of the planet is concerned, best tell the Chinese that they are killing themselves with their coal fired power plants. At least very little coal is used in the US and none in California, natural gas is not all that bad. The worst offenders of all are cars. Put solar pannels on a house if you can afford them as they are very expensive, the money for rebails come from somewhere, maybe the Feds, which means it`s your money. I`ll stick with Lodi Electric, if I live to be 100 my bill never amount to what solar pannels on my roof will cost. The pannels themselves will last about 30 years, you folks always look at the bright side, there is a dark side to this also. I`ll agree, the sun is hot.

  • Thomas Heuer posted at 8:45 am on Tue, Jan 22, 2013.

    nth degree wise Posts: 1671

    Mr Kries
    Please keep up your diligence spreading the word. Its only a matter of time before people get turned around and realize what a boon solar energy is. As more investment is made the better the technology becomes and the hurdle of afordability diminishes.Not having to rely on fossil fuels will be the salvation of the planet.


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