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just passing thru

Oct 13, 2008 - 10:41am PT
HA! History is repeating itself. The gov did this years ago. Tons of folk in Boulder ponied up for gov-subed panels in the late 80's. Stuff goes eventually wrong with the system and it is very expensive to fix. 6/10 of the houses on my parent's street have nonworking panels attached. The savings look great on paper…

Social engineering never works…this is similar to the sub prime fiasco in that the gov is helping people into stuff they otherwise couldn’t afford. Who is going to bail you out when sh#t goes wrong with your expensive system?

This is what happens when the gov tries to meddle in the free get contrived solutions...that eventually fail. Talk to Fannie or Freddie about that, they'll tell you…

Solar is the new ethanol...

Trad climber
The state of confusion
Oct 13, 2008 - 10:47am PT
I would question your thoughts, JPT.
Yes, there are old solar panels that are nonfunctioning.
That could be for any number of reasons. If the owner
keeps on top of things, especially with the new technology,
there should be years of worry free power.
I'm enjoying my second year of emission free power, and
love it all of the time.
It will NOT be the next ethanol. . .


Oct 13, 2008 - 11:01am PT
I pulled up the link which is posted out below.Your correction to your correction still seems at odds with this report. You still quote a payback time of more than 100 years. As the state had no upfront costs there is no payback time at all.

Can we get a correction to your correction’s correction?

Desert sun powers Blythe prison
10:00 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 28, 2008
The Press-Enterprise

Better known for its blues, the state's prison system is going green with a 13-acre solar-panel field to provide energy to Ironwood State Prison in Blythe.

The largest and most advanced solar-energy project in the California Department of Corrections, the system unveiled Wednesday is expected to save the state $50,000 a year in energy costs and will serve as a model for 10 other prison projects, said Harry Franey, the department's chief of Energy Management and Sustainability.

"We have finally hit on a formula. Up until now we have only been able to build systems on a one-time basis," Franey said. "Partly because of the economy and the technology, things are coming together. ... We're not going to stop until we look at every single site."

Built and funded by SunEdison, the 6,000 solar panels shift to track the sun across the sky, taking full advantage of the desert sun.

SunEdison used tax rebates to fund part of the $6.5 million project, and the company will recoup its expenses over the course of a 20-year contract with the state, Franey said.

The system is expected to generate roughly 2.4 million kilowatt-hours during its first year of production and offset nearly 38.5 million pounds of carbon dioxide emissions over 20 years, prison officials said. The effect on the environment would be like taking 3,770 cars off the road for one year.

All of the energy produced will be sold back to the medium-security men's prison at a discounted rate, Warden Debra Dexter said.

"We're looking at a 15 percent rate reduction," she said. "We're trying to be good neighbors by doing what we can for the environment."

Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 16, 2009 - 10:53pm PT
I have been telling a lot of friends how solar now pretty much pays for itself (if you get all the tax credits and can finance it for a reasonable rate - see above).

But haven't gotten any of my friends to really go for it... So i realize that before i recommend this to too many more people I should do it myself. Since there is now a 30% instant rebate from the government, i am going to try and do this in the fall - if i can save up pennies. ill keep you posted on how it goes for me.
Ricky D

Trad climber
Sierra Westside
Mar 16, 2009 - 11:03pm PT
Chris - good intentions on ya to give it a try - but for a lot of people, even with the rebates it can an "upside down" investment in financial terms. Takes a long damn time to get your money back so to speak.

If money is not someone's primary concern - than do it for the long-term environmental statement! Absolutely!

Prices on solar panels have dropped about 12% in the past 6 months as global demand has declined. But considering that panel prices had risen upwards of 85% since 2005 - they're still not cheap!

Also, are you going supplemental - meaning panels and controller only so you can only "save" commercial AC during the day?

Or will you be installing a nighttime system which includes deep-cell batteries and an inverter/charger along with the panels and such?


Mar 16, 2009 - 11:22pm PT
Chris- good on ya for taking the plunge. Nevermind the naysayers- change is hard, and they resist it mightily.

Mar 17, 2009 - 01:31am PT
India is way ahead of you guys and they ain't sticking it on top of some stinking prison.

Trad climber
Tucson, AZ
Mar 17, 2009 - 01:39am PT
I read a while back that the amount of energy it takes to manufacture solar cells is more than it's return.

this is flat out false and has been for several decades now.

What other random things did you hear someone say once?

Trad climber
Mar 17, 2009 - 01:46am PT
"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."

Let's assume those numbers are correct.

"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."

Wrong. The electricity that is generated that isn't used by the prison will be sold so it will pay for itself much sooner.
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 02:04am PT
i am getting a grid tied system. Since ill probably finance it, the pay back period will be zero days: as described in more detail above, my monthly payments will be less than my energy savings. well, that is the theory at least. we will see how it works in practice.

Mountain climber
Mar 17, 2009 - 04:41am PT
Chaz, is money the only 'cost' of coal power?

If you were an American producing solar panels in your garage you would appreciate the news.

Isn't clean energy worth more money than coal? The only cost in clean energy is the unit. The costs of coal/dam/nuclear power includes more than the original units. There are environmental costs to factor in as well.

I want thin film solar panels for window tint. Paste it on the glass, get tint/power from the same thing. Wonder when that will come out...
Danielle Winters

Trad climber
Mar 17, 2009 - 07:50am PT
I installed a small solar system at my Homestead in Alaska about six years ago and have been very happy with it . I run satelite dish, computer, freezer ,washing machine Lights and other small applinance with it .

Let the sun shine!

I will try and and post a few pictures. if I can remember how in a few moments
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Mar 17, 2009 - 10:46am PT
here are two short videos on developements in thin film solar. its actually "ink jet" solar in one case. they "could" bring the cost of solar down a lot. maybe. or maybe not. either way, very interesting stuff
Eric Beck

Sport climber
Bishop, California
Mar 17, 2009 - 02:25pm PT
Good for you Chris.
A proposal which will greatly increase solar installations involves paying people for their excess generation. For a grid tied system the excess of generation over consumption is called can be rewarded in several ways. Here in California we get a credit which may be applied to the following months bill. These credits may accumulate, but at the end of the year, any unused credits vanish. Less politely, they are confiscated by the utility.
In both Wisconsin and Minnesota, excess generation is paid for at retail. In Germany it is paid for at $.40/kwh. In Japan a plan is being implemented to pay $.25/kwh. Since solar by it's nature corresponds to peaking capacity, this is a bargain for the utility, although not as good a bargain as confiscated power. The actual cost to utilities of peaking capacity seems to be closely guarded; I have not been able to learn this. Does anyone have some actual data on the cost of peaking capacity.
Paying for excess generation creates millions of little capitalists. It is an idea even republicans can love.
the Fet

Knackered climber
A bivy sack in the secret campground
Mar 17, 2009 - 02:36pm PT
Great info, thanks Chris.

Trad climber
Anchorage, AK
Mar 17, 2009 - 02:57pm PT
As much as I'd like to, it wouldn't work for us. Our house has good Southern exposure, but a mountain range to the South that puts us in the shade for about 3 months during the winter.

The long term plan is to get some land and build an energy efficient house. Depending on the location I'd consider a small wind turbine, small hydroelectric or solar. Short term plan is to ride my bike to work when the roads are clear.

For our energy use, electricity is at the bottom, first its vehicle fuel, then natural gas for heating, then electricity.

Chalkless climber
the Gunks end of the country
Mar 17, 2009 - 04:04pm PT
The cost of peaking capacity is going to be quite variable.

Depending on the location it could come from something as small as a jet engine or two running on kerosene (jet fuel), or it could be a power plant running on natural gas, or even No. 6 fuel oil. It might even be purchased off the grid from another supplier.

It is easy to understand that it would be hard to find good numbers since you would have to account for the quite variable costs of these types of fuels, even if they were purchased at fixed prices.

In practice, they may even be purchased in fixed quantities at a fixed spread to some reported index (which varies) to the fuel cost.

That said, being paid full retail (running meter backward) is truly a nice little windfall, since if you set up a business, you would normally not get paid close to retail for wholesale supply!
Chris McNamara

SuperTopo staff member
Topic Author's Reply - Feb 4, 2012 - 09:47pm PT
I put solar panels on the SuperTopo Global HQ and wrote a trip report on it at the preceding link
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