Our caring community


The most important role of a leader — be it an AYSO coach, pastor, executive, teacher or parent — is getting people to care. Caring is not binary; we care to varying degrees about all we experience. The greater the degree of our emotional engagement and commitment, the more likely we are to achieve progress and happiness.

Our community cares — intensely about lots of things. We care about our environment and climate. The arts and music. Our kids and schools. Downtown and open space. Development and housing. Transportation and parking. Growth and taxes. Homelessness and hunger.

We have a front row seat at our office, witness to myriad community members and groups that weave the fabric of our community. In 2018, we have donated our space and hosted meetings/events for the Third Space Art Collective, Jumpstart Davis, Cool Davis Foundation, Davis Electric Vehicle Association, Holistic Health, Think Resilience, Bike City Theatre Company, Valley Climate Action Center, Yolo Interfaith Alliance for Climate Justice, and Soroptimist International of Davis.

Please join us in supporting these organizations, along with the 50+ we have donated to via our YoloShines program. And, if you’re involved with a local nonprofit, mi casa es su casa … we are happy to host your next meeting or event. Please swing by or drop us a line.

Tesla Model S vs. 3: First Impressions


Aunt Laurie and Uncle Clif reside in Portland. They're car peeps, specifically (emphatically) Tesla junkies. In 2013 they registered the first Tesla (a Model S) in Oregon. A few years later, they welcomed a Model X, and quickly jumped in line (and vaulted me to the front, riding shotgun courtesy of their second reservation) when Elon announced the Model 3. 

Laurie and Clif have drank the Tesla kool aide ... they are fanatics. To wit, here's a 48-hours-after-souped-up-Model-3-purchase recap from Aunt Lor:

Something felt odd to me about the 3 so I've had to give it some thought. l think I understand now ...

I got spoiled by the S.

3 not as fancy by far, but heck, it's at least $45k cheaper! (Even tho we bot the interior upgrade, fancier paint, rims, & long range 310 mi battery.)

Positives: It's more nimble, it's shorter by 11", so easier to maneuver round town. It does have more headroom as it is taller. It has spunk for sure, auto park & auto drive features. Simpler controls. Odd no driver dash gages, only an ipad like screen that is placed near center of dash? But now I get it. 

After 1 day I realize that simple design is clearly paving way for no driver & autonomous. Simple steering wheel "almost" feels superfluous in design. iPhone acts as one's fob, like calling Uber.

Clean lines w/smooth front. Elon no longer has to make cars look like other autos to be accepted; I predict more space age looks in near future.

So my conclusion:

The S is the brilliant stepping stone from normal luxury cars to electric luxury cars.

The 3 is stepping stone from human driver elec cars to elec autonomous vehicles. 

Just wait until 200,000 are on the road.

The future 


IMPORTANT to include enhanced autopilot hardware on your order. It incorporates the eight cameras & smart brains that enable lots of future software upgrades. 

W/o it the car won't be sought after on resale. 

The fully autonomous can be added later. 

Trump tariff: #Sad #NotFakeNews #TheSunAlwaysRises

trump blurry.jpeg

On Monday President Trump instituted a 30% tariff on solar panels manufactured outside the United States. Optics/first take: Defies logic, common sense, and basic economics … not surprising given the ignoramus in chief.

On the surface, it's sad: Ideology trumps reality. Here's a quick summary of the irrationality of POTUS's move: 

  • Solar is the fastest growing industry/job creator in the U.S., and is projected to grow faster than any industry over the next 10 years.
  • Less than 5% of solar panels are manufactured domestically. Why such tepid market share? We cannot produce a reliable, cost-effective product.
  • When property owners go solar, the economy benefits and is decentralized: Less money is paid to utilities, more money is kept (and recirculated) by home- and business-owners.
  • And, the environment benefits, immensely.

In reality — importantly -- it will not matter. The 30% tariff will increase the gross cost (investment) of a solar system by 8-10%, at worst. Much of this inflation has already been priced into the market: Solar panel prices increased $0.15-0.20 per watt in September, in fear of the pending tariff. (We were fortunate to secure enough solar panels (at pre-tariff prices) to supply Repower property owners through early spring.)

And, the first 2.5 gigawatts (GW) -- or, 2,500 megawatts; 2.5 million kilowatts; 2.5 billion watts; simply, ~8 million solar panels -- imported each year are exempt from the tariff. (By comparison, an estimated 7 GW of imported solar modules were installed in the U.S. in 2017.)

Worst-case: The simple payback for a residential system will increase by 4-6 months. From an article in today's Politico:

Since solar cells and panels make up only a fraction of a new solar system's costs, analysts expect the tariffs to bump up overall installed prices by 6 percent for residential rooftops and about 10 percent for utility-scale plants. Rocky Mountain Institute's own analysis says that the ongoing decline in solar installation costs will wipe out the price increases from the tariff in 18 months.

It could have been worse, and many solar industry leaders are relieved the Trumpster did not throw the solar industry in the dumpster. Solar is a but a crumb of our economic pie, and the tariff is much like a small sliver in your had: Temporary pain, but long-term it's nothing.

Solar is an ever-growing bonfire. Even with the tariff, solar-generated electricity still much less expensive that utility electricity (i.e., you can generate solar energy for ~8 cents per kWh; the average cost in PG&E territory is 26 cents/kWh). Again, from Politico:  

"I don’t want to suggest that anyone is invulnerable," said Greg Wetstone, CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy. "But we have a tremendous amount of momentum in the marketplace. I think the administration understands it's not in their interest to get in the way of the driver that is producing tremendous amounts of investment and creating jobs."

Be calm, solar on.

YoloShines: Yolo Farm-to-Fork

Kids with lettuce - WestmoreOaks.jpg

When the sun shines, so too do our children and, increasingly, those who harvest fresh produce from their school gardens. Enter Yolo Farm-to-Fork (YF2F), another little engine that is making a tremendous impact on our community.

We've had the fortune of supporting YF2F and its programs over the past few years. Pun intended, they are planting seeds for healthy living and regional sustainability. Recently, we engaged Suzanne Falzone, president of the nonprofit, to share more about YF2F.

1. Why does YF2F exist?

Yolo Farm to Fork supports edible school gardens, providing garden- and farm-based education to students because kids love to eat what they grow, creating healthier eating habits in the process. Hands-on learning that starts in the garden easily connects to all areas of the classroom curriculum AND encourages kids to improve their diets with more fresh produce.  We have started and currently sustain 40 public and private elementary school gardens through our “Dig in Yolo” program.  Seven additional schools participate in our “Growing Lunch” project whereby students grow, harvest, weigh, wash and deliver garden fresh produce to their cafeterias for inclusion in school meals by district food service staff.  “Our Go Visit a Farm!” program has provided hands-on learning through farm visits for over 1600 students countywide.  Our ultimate goals are to introduce kids to the joys and skills of growing food in ways that connect to classroom curriculum, and to improve their nutrition and consumption of more fresh produce.

2. In 2017, YF2F ...

Our three programs reach more than 8,000 students in elementary schools throughout Yolo County. We serve preschoolers as well, introducing garden-based learning to Head Start centers in Woodland and West Sacramento. Students in our Growing Lunch project delivered more than 3,200 pounds of fresh produce to their schools’ cafeterias in 2017. College students benefit too as we offer garden internships to students from UC Davis and Woodland Community College – 24 interns to date with a new group oriented at Cesar Chavez Elementary on January 13. (Repower note: Love this ... we have a constant flow of UC Davis interns/employees churning the gears of our company, and our children went to school at Chavez!)

3. Share a YF2F story.

“I helped plant this tree when I was in first grade,” announced Graciela to her apricot-picking team of 4th graders.  “Just pick the ones that are a little bit soft, but not mushy,” she instructed, “mushy ones go in the compost, and leave the hard ones and the green ones on the tree to pick later.”  She led her team to the garden shed, and each of them weighed the bag of apricots they picked while Graciela recorded the weight by each team member’s name.  “We got almost 10 pounds today,” she boasted, following them over to the washing station. The fragrant fruit tempted a tasting before washing, but washing the apricots was fun too, so nearly all the apricots got washed and shared in the classroom.

In Graciela’s school, nearly 90% of the students come from low-income families, eligible for free or reduced cost school meals. Many of them had never tasted a fresh-picked apricot, and sharing the tasting in the classroom resulted in a flood of new adjectives from class, each written on the white board by the teacher along with a journal writing assignment about apricot adventures. Learning that starts in the garden sticks to minds better than apricot juice sticks to fingers.

4. How can people help (monetarily, personally, professionally)?

We invite individual volunteers, business support and monetary donations to join our cause. Healthier kids lead to a healthier future and economy for all of us.  Check out the “get involved” tab on our website: www.yolofarmtofork.org.

For fun AND support, plan to attend our Park Winters Gala on March 19, 2018 – a celebration of Yolo County agriculture with a 5-course gourmet dinner complete with Yolo produced beverages.  All the information can be found on our website or through our Facebook posts. See you at the Gala!

YoloShines: Yolo Food Bank

YFB Volunteers.jpg

Today is MLK Day, a celebration of social justice and a day to reprise the leadership and selflessness of Martin Luther King. A tenet of social justice is hunger: Our society's responsibility to feed those in need. Central to such efforts in our community is the Yolo Food Bank.

We have had the honor, at the request of Repower homeowners, of donating more than $12,000 to Yolo Food Bank over the past few years. We are fortunate to do so and the Food Bank does not disappoint: For every $1 donated, YFB provisions three meals. Amazing.

We engaged YFB's Kevin Sanchez to elaborate:

1. Why does YFB exist?

The Yolo Food Bank exists to ensure that the people of Yolo County not only have enough food to eat, but enough nutritious, culturally appropriate food to feed their families.  YFB is the largest hunger-relief organization in Yolo County and the only organization with the infrastructure in place to receive, sort, store and distribute millions of pounds of food annually to more than 36,000 food insecure people.

2. In 2017, YFB?

In 2017, YFB partnered with over thirty Yolo County Farms to provide more fresh produce to clients.  Over 4.25M pounds of food were distributed and more than 1M pounds was fresh produce.

3. Share a YFB story.

The Walmart Foundation started a Grocery Recovery Program and YFB applied for a grant seeing that Yolo Food Bank wasn't very involved in grocery recovery outside of major distributors. We were awarded a $25,000 grant and used that funding to outfit our partner agencies with items like hand trucks, coolers, scales, refrigerators so they may better handle perishable foods. We then paired them with grocery stores, markets, and other food retailers in Yolo County so that they pick up on a weekly/bimonthly schedule and receive grocery store items directly from the donor, saving the agency money on purchasing items, and enabling them to provide grocery items for their clients that are harder to come by.  By strengthening our partners, we have enabled them to become more self-reliant and better able to serve the needs of their clients.

4. How can people help (monetarily, personally, professionally)?

Yolo Food Bank encourages our community to help in many different ways. Monetary donations are highly sought after since they allow us the flexibility to spend on our most urgent operational needs. Secondly, volunteering is always encouraged. Yolo Food Bank has volunteers who have been with us for over 5 years and volunteers who come on special occasions once a year. We appreciate any and every volunteer that come through our doors. Yolo Food Bank has very flexible volunteer opportunities. We encourage everyone to submit a volunteer application that you can find online at www.yolofoodbank.org/givetime

Community members can volunteer for harvest events throughout the summer. When we do not have enough volunteers, we have no choice but to leave crops in the field, crops that would otherwise be distributed to families in need in Yolo County.

5. The Campaign to End Hunger in Yolo County … overview and update?

Screen Shot 2018-01-15 at 1.41.27 PM.png

Yolo Food Bank is engaged in a $6M capital campaign to repurpose an industrial building they own into the food bank of the future. When completed, this new facility will increase its dry storage by 2.5 times from our current capacity. A new cold storage facility will handle 8-fold what we currently store and will have multiple temperature zones. At the heart of this new facility will be a commercial kitchen where food will be preserved, processed and repurposed into value-added food products for our programs and a culinary academy, where students will take accredited courses in the culinary arts. The campaign has raised $4.5M in cash and pledges so far and continues to seek out investors to help the Food Bank reach its goal. Construction has begun with the goal of occupying the building in August of 2018.

Please join us and help Yolo -- and the Yolo Food Bank -- shine.

Does solar increase my home’s value?


We are asked, often, if solar increases (upon resale) the value of a home. The short answer is yes: There are myriad studies that quantify the increase in a home's value (presuming, of course, the solar system is owned versus leased; if leased, it could devalue the home). However, we posit that you should not assume solar will increase your home's value ... there are too many unknown unknowns, including market conditions when you sell and, most important, the value the buyer will place on solar.

Fortunately, there's an effective, easy to use, free tool that calculates the increase in a home's value with solar. Developed by Energy Sense Finance (and funded, in part, by the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Initiative), PV Value walks you through a series of questions to quantify the value of your existing solar system. Take a peek and let us know if you have any questions.

In addition, Energy Sense recently released the U.S. Solar Market Value ReportThe intent was to help homeowners and other real estate professionals make an informed decision regarding how to value and whether to maintain (or remove) an existing solar system.

The report reveals that the mean value for an existing solar system in 2016 was $3.93/watt in California. (Interestingly, new solar systems, net of the 30% federal tax credit, cost ~$2.50 per watt.) The inflated value of a new versus old system amplifies the value of solar ... the future utility savings, even when discounted, significantly exceed the cost of a new system.

The report also addresses new versus older systems, and found that older solar systems do, in fact, retain their value. Specifically, a 12-year old solar system was found to retain 50 percent of the value of new systems installed in 2016. This means that, not only do homeowners with solar have the opportunity to save on monthly energy bills, they also have equity in the system itself, which retains significant value over time.

Again, take a few minutes, poke around, and feel free to contact us if you have questions. For home buyers, home sellers and real estate professionals, at a minimum this tool can help value existing solar systems and thereby determine whether it makes sense to install a new system.

YoloShines: Yolo Crisis Nursery

YCN Photo 12-9-15.jpg

As we’ve shared, every time a homeowner goes solar we donate $500 to the local nonprofit of their choice. We call this program “YoloShines,” in great part because we believe nonprofit organizations are the underlying fabric of our community — they make it shine! — and, thereby, we have a responsibility to support such groups.

Over the past year, seven Repower homeowners have selected Yolo Crisis Nursery (YCN) for their YoloShines gift; hence, we had the fortune of donating $3,500 to YCN in 2017. In an effort to shine a light on YCN and engage the community to join us in our support, here’s a quick profile of the organization.

First, a story that amplifies the impact of YCN:

About one year ago, a distraught young mom named Jess first came the Yolo Crisis Nursery.  After the birth of Jess’s second child she was home alone with her newborn and her toddler, and realized she was having trouble caring for them both by herself.  Jess’s decision to call the Nursery probably saved her baby’s life.

Over the phone, YCN staff invited Jess to bring both children to the Nursery, where we could care for them at no cost and give her a much-needed break.  Once the family arrived, the situation took a dramatic turn.  Executive Director Heather Sleuter looked at the baby and saw that he was far too listless.  She asked when he had last been fed.  Jess said she could not remember.

Heather directed one of our caregivers to comfort and care for the toddler and then drove both the baby and Jess to the hospital. 

The emergency room staff attended to the child, successfully treating him for severe dehydration.  The doctor told us the baby had come within hours of death.  Meanwhile, Jess received the medical attention she needed.  County authorities made arrangements for both children to move into temporary foster care.

While county officials and Jess worked toward family reunification, her health stabilized and the children eventually returned home.  The family was then enrolled in YCN’s Family Life Skills Program.  A Nursery staff member visited the family’s home for two hours a week for 12 weeks for hands-on parenting education.  Families who complete our program significantly increase the likelihood that they will remain together,’

Today, a year later, this family is doing well.  Jess is working and the children are happily enrolled in day care and preschool.

Wow. Thanks to Cam Stoufer with YCN for sharing the story of lives saved and changed.

All organizations have a purpose … Why does Yolo Crisis Nursery exist? The mission of the Yolo Crisis Nursery is to provide early intervention services to nurture healthy and resilient children, strengthen parents and preserve families. Our vision is that every child in Yolo County grows up in a safe, loving and stable home. The Nursery’s overarching goal is to prevent child abuse and neglect among young vulnerable children by partnering emergency childcare with wrap-around services for families in trauma or crisis. In doing so we keep children safe and families whole in our community.

In 2017, Yolo Crisis Nursery’s accomplishments included:

  • Families receiving childcare services who did not become clients of CPS: 99%
  • Families linked to case management counseling and community resources: 267
  • Families completing referral to wrap-around services: 98%
  • Children served and childcare slots provided: 178 (individual count - up 45% over previous year) and 2,342

Very significantly, 98% of the families the Nursery serves do not become clients of Child Protective Services.

Now, our punchline ... here’s how you can help (monetarily, personally, professionally): Yolo Crisis Nursery is a 501c3 nonprofit organization (Tax ID #47-1006055) which welcomes support from individuals, businesses, foundations, service and faith-based organizations in our community.  The Nursery provides care packages to our families and in-kind support is always welcome in the form of diapers, formula, clothes toys and other items for children.  Volunteer service projects occur throughout the year to maintain and enhance the Nursery facility for our children and families.  Volunteer positions are available annually on the Board of Directors and ongoing as members of the Friends of the Yolo Crisis Nursery, the fundraising and advocacy auxiliary of the Nursery.  Lastly, the community is invited to participate in the annual Krustaceans for Kids Crab Feed to support the Nursery’s programs.  This year the Crab Feed will be held on Saturday, March 24 at the Woodland Community and Senior Center from 6:00 to 9:00 pm.  Tickets and sponsorships are on sale now.  More information is available at: www.yolocrisisnursery.org.

Please join us in supporting Yolo Crisis Nursery, a shining light in our community.

Happy New Year: It’s 2018 and the solar world is still standing

trump solar photo.png

Percolated by the political atmosphere, we field numerous questions/concerns each week regarding the future of solar. General fear: Is Trump going to kill solar? Partisan question: Was the 30% solar tax credit aborted in the Republican tax bill? Regulatory: Is PG&E changing their solar (net-metering) program? Federal, again: What about tax credits for electric vehicles? And, finally, international trade: I’ve heard about the pending solar tariff case … What's going on?

In short, the solar industry entered 2018 standing strong. Here’s a quick peek at the commonly posed questions:

1. Is Trump going to kill solar?

Frankly, who knows? Logically, it would defy common sense and basic economics: Solar is the fastest growing (read: job creating) industry in the U.S. and it’s increasingly bipartisan. Putting climate change hoaxes to the side, if it’s about jobs-jobs-jobs, President Trump would be asinine to impede property owners’ ability to go solar (and, thereby, solar companies to serve property owners). Our bet: We’re safe, sans potential short-term harm (see #5 below).

2. Was the 30% solar tax credit aborted in the Republican tax bill?

No. Not a whisper during the sausage/bill making process. The 30% federal tax credit — granted based on the total cost of a solar system — is valid through 2019. Thereafter, it steps down 4% per year (i.e., is reduced to 26% in 2020). No worries, no rush (to go solar).

3. Is PG&E changing their solar (net-metering) program?

No. In 2016 PG&E, as directed by the CA Public Utilities Commission, doubled the size of its net-metering program. Property owners that go solar before mid-to-late 2020 are grandfathered in for 20 years, whereby PG&E is required to credit you at the full retail rate (based upon the time of generation) for your solar electricity, less a nominal “non-bypassable charge”. Again, no worries here, but PG&E will continue to modify its rate schedules, impacting (positively and negatively) solar- and non-solar property owners. We’ll keep you abreast.

4. What about tax credits for electric vehicles?

Lots of fear here, and rightfully so: Several Congressional tax bill drafts aborted the $7,500 Federal tax credit for new electric vehicle owners. Fortunately, the tax credit was maintained — at the full $7,500 — in the final tax bill. Hence, if you purchase an electric vehicle in the near future, you will receive $10,500 in incentives: $7,500 Federal tax credit, $2,500 state rebate, and $500 PG&E rebate. There has never been a better, more pragmatic time to consider an eV; IMO, the electrification of transportation is an ever-growing bonfire.

5. I’ve heard about the pending solar tariff case …

Two U.S.-based, foreign-owned, bankrupt solar panel manufacturers — Suniva and Solar World — filed a price dumping claim with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). The ITC ruled in September that the importation of cheap solar panels unfairly harms U.S. solar panel producers. (FYI, less than one-percent of solar panels are manufactured in the U.S.; unfortunately, we can’t manufacture a quality product at a competitive price.) The ITC recommended a ~$0.30 per watt duty on imported solar panels, which would increase the cost of a residential solar system by ~8%. Net-net, President Trump will make a final ruling — could be nothing, $0.30/watt, or worse — by the end of January. Again, who knows what President Trump will do … stay tuned. (Fortunately, in September we secured a large lot of solar panels at pre-tariff prices … Repower property owners are insulated through the end of March.)

On New Year’s Day, the sun rose, solar panels shined, and the clean energy industry breathed a collective and confident sigh of relief. Battles will continue but, to be trite, we believe the future is bright!

Giving thanks, one solar panel at a time

turnkey photo.jpg

We’ve had the fortune of helping several hundred property owners go solar. All told, more than 7,500 solar panels shine in our community via RepowerYolo’s guidance. To wit, thank you to property owners who have entrusted us and, thereby, are making the planet a better place, solar panel by panel.

We are occasionally asked, “What makes you tick?” (i.e., why do you do what you do?). Simply, what gets us up in the morning is the growing and aggregate environmental and financial impact of solar systems populated throughout our community. For kicks (and ticks), each solar panel, over its 25-year life, eliminates 7.5 metric tons of carbon dioxide, or the equivalent of:

Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 9.34.49 AM.png
Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 9.35.09 AM.png
Screen Shot 2017-11-21 at 9.35.28 AM.png

And, each panel, over its warrantied life, generates ~$3,000 in PG&E savings.

Combined, the 7,500 solar panels composing RepowerYolo systems are projected to eliminate 56,250 metric tons of CO2 (or the equivalent of taking 12,000 cars off the road, switching 1.9 million incandescent bulbs to LEDs, or planting 1.5 million tree seedlings). And, our clients are projected to save $22.5 million in utility bills. 

That makes us proud and thankful. Gobble gobble to you and yours.

P.S. - Click here to check out the EPA's Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator ... terrific tool that has yet to be closeted by the Trump Administration!

108 degrees. In San Luis Obispo. In late October.

slo sunset.jpeg

San Luis Obispo is known for its beauty, SLO pace and mild climate. To me, admittedly biased because I attended Cal Poly three decades ago, it's Utopia.

Two weeks ago -- October 24, 2017 -- San Luis sizzled, blistering to a record high of 108 degrees. Coincidentally, my oldest son, Scott, a freshman at Cal Poly, gave a speech that afternoon. The topic: Climate change. Irony of ironies.

The day and my son's speech, which was inspired in part by TED Talks delivered by Bill McKibben and Amory Lovins, reminded me of the wealth of climate change comrades in arms in our community. I engaged three colleagues to share three simple, every day tips to combat our changing climate.

First, my tireless and delightful friend, Lynne Nittler, who has and continues to do more to make our community and planet a better place than anyone I know:

  1. Eat less meat!  Try just one day a week.  If we all replaced beef with beans, the U.S. would meet 75% of its Paris Accord commitment!  The fall season veggies are delicious!
  2. Leave the car at home and ride a bike these beautiful fall days!  It's a pleasure, it spares the air, and it's good for your health.
  3. Check your doors and windows for leaks now and replace insulation/weather stripping as needed.  Winter is coming...we think.  (I happen to have a door that shifted with the heat this summer and the weather stripping needs to be changed now, so I'm noticing this.)

Next, a new acquaintance and long-time Davis resident, Bernadette Balics, proprietor of the awesome, impactful Ecological Landscape Design:

  1. Idle off: Turn off your car engine when you are parked and using your cell phone.
  2. Ride your bike or walk to the grocery store once.  Just try it out, on a beautiful day, when you don't have to buy a huge carload of groceries.
  3. Pay your gardener more to rake and sweep instead of using a leaf blower.  Or gift him/her with a high quality electric blower.

And, no what-to-do-about-our-changing-climate conversation would be complete without input from THE GREAT John Mott-Smith:

  1. "Just do one thing." Many people are numbed by the number and variety of actions they can take and don’t know how to choose. Michael Pollan opined that doing just one thing, no matter what it is, gets people off the dime and moving towards doing more.
  2. Reduce heating and AC. Assuming this is for folks in Davis, this is the biggest thing that is easy to do and can involve several actions, one of which should apply to anybody, old young, renter, owner; set the thermostat, check/replace your filter, open windows at night etc, for the really ambitious look into a whole house fan.
  3. When the Valley Clean Energy Alliance (VCEA) is activated in fall of 18, don’t opt out. Find out more now. Every household and business customer will be be at least 50% renewables by doing nothing other than staying in VCEA rather than opting out for PG&E.
  4. You only asked for three, but here is one more: Seriously consider solar. It is the best thing you can do. (Note: I swear we did not tickle this out of John!)

Your thoughts? Pragmatic and simple climate curing measures abound. Please share. Thanks.

Shining light on Repower

I had the great pleasure of being interviewed by the UC Davis Graduate School of Management last week. Aside from unearned ego inflation, the session was reflective and prospective: We dug back to our roots at the GSM, contemporaneously navel-gazed, and shared a few thoughts about the future. Net-net, extremely proud to be an Aggie and thankful to the GSM for sharing a little Repower love!

Solar tax credit: Is death on the horizon?


This happened Monday at the Kentucky Farm Bureau:

“I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar."

So opined Scott Pruitt, Director of the Environmental Protection Agency. (Operative word: Protection.)

Anybody with half a pulse and a room-temperature-plus IQ could have seen it coming. After all, it’s written into the Koch Brothers’ playbook, and the Trump Administration is hell bent on aborting anything created or supported by the Obama Administration.

As we expressed a few weeks ago, it would defy logic, economics and common sense if the Republic Congress (rubber-stamped by President Trump) killed the clean energy tax credit. Why deter the fastest growing industry and most vibrant job creation engine in the U.S.? To spite the previous administration? To appease petroleum companies?

I’ve been accused of being overly optimistic, an ignoramus, by colleagues who have seen this coming. No chance, I’d pout, they can’t be that stupid (to dis-incentivize property owners from going solar). Pollutin’ Pruitt’s gonna do it, my environmental friends bemoaned.

I hope they’re wrong. I hope logic prevails, common sense is applied, job creation and environmental protection trump ideology.

But, my posture that there’s no financial urgency to go solar — net-metering is here to stay; the tax credit is written in to the tax code through 2020; PG&E rates continue to escalate — holds less weight. Any property owner who is contemplating solar, and wants to ensure they earn the 30% federal tax credit, should act soon. Before it’s too late.

Is there urgency to go solar? The times they are a-changin'

dylan times changing image.jpg

Over the past few years, we have stressed — STRESSED — to property owners that there is NO urgency to go solar. Here’s a blog post elaborating our perspective on the lack of urgency, and the importance of doing your homework, when evaluating solar.

To quote Bobby Dylan, the times they are a-changin’.


We posited there was no urgency to go solar based on the three-to-four year windows (until expiration) of the 30% federal tax credit and PG&E’s Net-Metering program. Furthermore, solar panel prices eased a bit over the past few years, while PG&E’s rates continued to inflate (22% in 2016; another 8.5% increase this year). The tax credit is locked in, PG&E’s net-metering is galvanized, and the economics of going solar are improving. Take your time, we counseled.

Contemporary perspective

Regardless of your partisanship, solar is in the political cross hairs. Drill baby drill. Climate change is a hoax. Coal is our future. Political chestnuts and hyperbole voiced to rouse the base, but defying logic and economics: Solar is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. (adding jobs at 20x the rate of the economy), and solar has created more jobs than any industry in the country over the past 4-5 years. Furthermore, it’s quite libertarian to enable property owners to create their own energy, hence the bi-partisan extension of the federal tax credit at the end of 2015.

Over the past few months, domestic politics and the macro economy have defied logic and contemporary history:

1. Demand for Tier 1 (investment-grade) solar panels has exploded in China and India, thus constraining supply in the United States (and thereby slighting increasing solar panel prices for the first time).

2. On Friday, the US International Trade Agency (ITC) ruled in favor of two US-based, now insolvent solar panel manufacturers, Suniva and Solar World, agreeing their businesses were harmed due to the supply of lower cost, internationally-manufactured solar panels. The companies are seeking a 40-cent per watt tariff and a floor price of 78 cents per watt on imported solar modules. (In today’s market, such taxes would increase the cost of solar panels by 50-65%, with no viable US-made alternative.) President Trump is expected to issue a final ruling by year’s end. In the interim, large-scale solar project developers are hoarding supply of solar panels, thus increasing the cost (demand > supply) of solar modules for the entire industry.

3. Daily, there are rumblings that a Republican-inspired tax or budget bill will axe the clean energy tax credit, thus dis-incentivizing those who want to transition to clean energy. (Fact: The oil and gas industry receives more than 10X the tax credits/incentives as the clean energy industry. Another fact: Facts don’t matter.)

What to do? We cannot control the macro economy, the president’s actions, or congressional politicking. Instead, we are controlling what we can by securing as many high-quality solar panels as possible, in wake of what’s going on. Prices may increase, tax credits may perish, but solar in PG&E territory will continue to generate attractive, risk-adjusted investment returns. Property owners will continue to transition away from carbon while insulating themselves against future electricity rate increases, most likely with a greater urgency now.

Dylan, circa 1963:

The line it is drawn

The curse it is cast

The slow one now

Will later be fast

As the present now

Will later be past

The order is rapidly fadin’

And the first one now will later be last

For the times they are a-changin’

Yolo Shines Today

Today was a great day. We had the pleasure of donating several thousand dollars to local nonprofit organizations, in the name of RepowerYolo homeowners. (When homeowners go solar, we donate $500 to the local charity of their choice; we call this YoloShines.) 

Today our community shined:

Sounds trite, but it's more fun giving away money than making (or spending) money. The essential fabric of our community is strengthened. Please join us in supporting these -- and dozens of other -- worthy organizations in our community.

Expanding your solar system to charge an electric vehicle

Increasingly — at least once each week — we are contacted by solar homeowners who recently purchased, or are contemplating buying, an electric vehicle (eV). To wit, they are interested in adding panels to their current solar system to cover fueling (charging!) their new eV.

The good news: Solar-charged electric vehicles are the least expensive form of four-wheel transportation, let alone the virtue of aborting fossil fuels. For RepowerYolo homeowners, the average cost to generate solar electricity on their rooftop is 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). For every kWh of charge, eV owners garner ~4 miles of range. Hence, if you have an electric car that’s powered by sunshine, your cost to drive is ~2 cents per mile.

The challenge: While it’s technically (almost lego-esque) easy to add solar panels to a system, the process is, unfortunately, somewhat pricey. There are two scenarios:

1. Your current inverter has sufficient capacity to accommodate additional panels. If this is the case, then the challenge is locating and purchasing comparable (wattage) solar panels. Depending on the vintage of your current system, this could be simple, or it may be that you need to purchase used/refurbished panels.

2. Your current inverter cannot accommodate additional solar panels. Thereby — this is what I did when I added nine panels on my roof to charge my Leaf — you need to either add a second inverter or proceed with micro-inverters. Again, securing compatible panels is the next step.

In both scenarios, we are required to perform full design-engineering-permitting for your additional solar capacity. Though this is not complicated, it adds to the cost; it’s not simply lego-esque, snap-a-few-panels-in-and-go.

An additional caveat: Homeowners can only claim the 30% Federal tax credit once every five years. So, if you went solar in the past five years, you may want to wait until you re-qualify for the credit. 

Net-net, we’re happy to help. There’s no cost to receive an assessment of your current system, analysis of your historical net-energy use, modeling of your future electricity demand (for your eV), and an analysis + recommendations for your additional solar capacity. Feel free to contact us or swing my our workspace.