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Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Original Post - Oct 11, 2008 - 11:12pm PT
Attached to the $700,000,000,000 federal bailout, the solar tax credits were renewed and expanded. Starting 1/1/09 The Federal Govnt will provide a solar tax credit of 30% of the cost of new solar installations on homes. In addition, there are rebates in most states and many cities. If you install solar in San Francisco now you can get 60%+ paid for.

AND, a way to save even more money is through Solar Power Community Purchasing. You get a bunch of neighbors together, who then bid out the projects to installers to get a bulk discount of 10-20%.

The group is called One Block Off the Grid

So, i am planning to go Solar at my home in South Lake Tahoe next spring. I am making an attempt to get other people in the area psyched so we can all save $$$. anyone else psyched? Also, I am trying to convince all my friends and family that have homes to look into solar. When you get 50% of it paid for, its a no-brainer investment (and good for planet).

You can read a cool article about One Block Off the Grid here:

More info on the new tax credits here as well as some solar links:

I put solar panels on the SuperTopo Global HQ
just passing thru

Oct 11, 2008 - 11:19pm PT
"If you install solar in San Francisco now you can get 60%+ paid for."

Way to go Nancy Pelosi!

Thanks for saving our markets from crashing with your brilliant bail out!!!

Edit: And props to McCain for his vigilant fight against earmarks for voting against this bill, what a maverick



Trad climber
Oct 11, 2008 - 11:24pm PT
We love our solar water heater. Rarely turn on the electric one so we save a few $$. Our electric bill is barely $100/mo, and I think the water heater being turned off helps quite a bit.

Get one folks!

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Oct 11, 2008 - 11:50pm PT
Chris, report back if you can actually install meaningful generation on your site.

Facing east/west - half the houses in the country is a loser - and you likely won't get a credit.

Being shaded by trees even in the winter by deciduous is also a loser.

Then there are those chimneys that wipe out an amazing chunk of your roof.

A shaded solar panel is like a resistor reducing output of the other panels.

That said, if you have the site, go for it!
Karl Baba

Trad climber
Yosemite, Ca
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:00am PT
I have no problem with the government investing any amount in wind and solar. It's one of our true investments in our future while we burn billions every week in Iraq.

Good on ya Chris


Mike Bolte

Trad climber
Planet Earth
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:06am PT
hey Chris,

we put in a 3.2KW system two years ago. Love it.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 12:10am PT
good point, i should have said "I would encourage people to see if their site works." i am lucky to be on a south facing slope that gets all day sun.

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:12am PT
Here's an example of the kind of *investment* The Government tends to make.

The prison where my brother-in-law works is installing a solar-to-electric generating system.

This will cost the Taxpayers $65,000,000.

OK so far, until you find out the prison only spends about $55,000 a month on electricity.

If everything works as planned, it will take almost one hundred years to pay for itself, assumimng no maintnence costs and also assuming the thing lasts a hundred years.

Government spending is a lot of things, but "investment" it isn't.


Mountain climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:29am PT
Chaz, which prison is the solar generation system at?


wondering if its this one:

(see also )

SunEdison Sets Up Solar Power at Ironwood Prison

June 2, 2008

Ironwood State Prison in Blythe, Calif., and SunEdison on May 28 announced the activation of a new 1.18 megawatt (MW) ground-mounted photovoltaic solar power system.

The photovoltaic system was deployed through a public-private partnership between the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and SunEdison, North America's largest solar energy services provider.

Under a solar power services agreement, SunEdison financed, constructed, and will operate the solar energy system. The department avoids all upfront capital costs and will purchase the solar energy at predictable prices equal to or less than current retail rates.

Trad climber
sorry, just posting out loud.
Oct 12, 2008 - 12:37am PT
so what you all are saying is that the environment is important to climbing, and therefore is on topic. cutting it close here peeps.


second the motion on which prison. I've got 3 inlaws that are DOC.

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:08am PT
I'm pretty sure that's the joint. There are two prisons out there, right next to each other and I can never remember the exact one where he works (turning keys or something - NOT making license plates).

I'm glad to see the State not paying for this, but why does it take so damn long for a system to pay for itself?

Give me something that will start making money while it's still new enough not to need maintnence and I'll buy two.

Sunshine is free. Wind blows for nothing. Why are these two sources more expensive than the usual coal/petrolium/nuclear we're getting power from now?

I'm going to lay the blame at American Capitalist Greed, which seems to infest Big Green as bad as it does Big Oil. Maybe worse, because as noted above, wind and sun are free and are everywhere, while oil costs money, is hard to find and has to be hauled great distances.
Number 666

Oct 12, 2008 - 01:09am PT
the sun is good

because from light comes darkness...

(just sayin')

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 01:20am PT
When you predict payback time, you have to take into account rising energy costs. Nobody know what future energy costs will be. I think on average, energy costs have increased on average 5.5% a year over the last 30 years.

Oct 12, 2008 - 01:24am PT
I read a while back that the amount of energy it takes to manufacture solar cells is more than it's return.

An inefficient technology when you look at the WHOLE picture.
nick d

Trad climber
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:25am PT
Since Chaz got every other aspect of the story wrong, anybody know what it actully did cost?

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:29am PT
It's going to get better and way cheaper in the future, like everything else technical.

I'm willing to wait. I don't want to be the idiot sitting on the $900 1990 DVD player because I just had to have it right now.

Trad climber
My Inner Nut
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:38am PT
WBraun: Contrarian, exacerbator, curmudgeon, Spiritualist, Saint.

The kind of guy I want saving my ass in Federal Parks. haha, Werner!

Trad climber
So. Cal.
Oct 12, 2008 - 01:41am PT
You're right, Nick. I was working from memory on a Saturday night. Always dangerous.

I was indeed wrong.

It will take 130 years to see a return on the *investment*, not the "almost one hundred years" as I had said earlier.

"$6.5 million project"

"...the system unveiled Wednesday is expected to save the state $50,000 a year in energy costs"

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Oct 12, 2008 - 01:51am PT
The panels may get cheaper. But its hard to imagine there will ever be more rebates. For example, in san francisco, you could get a 3kw system after rebates for $6000. That can wipe $100 off your bill per month. it pays back in less than 5 years. at which point you are then saving $1200 x (cost of energy increases) per year.

if you didn't have $6000, but could get a home equity line of credit for 6%, you would be financing the system for $30 a month while saving $100 on electricity.

not for everyone. but some people can save a lot money, get away from future rate hikes,

Oct 12, 2008 - 02:00am PT

It takes energy to make the cells, right? .... No?

The amount of energy required to make the cells is more than the amount you get back.

Am I wrong?
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