davis solar company

Purchased a home and want to add solar panels? Five considerations to ponder

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This week, we have been engaged by three new homeowners to help them evaluate solar. Thereby, we begin with a simple, open-ended question: Why solar, why now? Responses vary, but generally their motive is twofold: Why not, since I just bought my home; and, PG&E’s rates are only going to go up. While we agree with the latter, we believe the former warrants consideration.

Before adding solar to your recently purchased home, here are five considerations:

1. The condition of your roof. Since new homebuyers have recently had their roof inspected, they have an objective evaluation regarding the condition and remaining life of their roof. In simple terms, if your roof has less than 10 years of remaining/warrantied life, you do not want to install solar (on such roof planes); if your roof has 10+ years, you’re in good shape.

2. Historical/future electricity use. Since new homeowners have limited (or zero) electricity use data, we recommend one of four approaches (to forecast future use and accurately size and model their prospective solar system):

  • Live in your home for 12 months and, thereby, quantify how much electricity you will use.

  • Wait until you have occupied your home for six months -- particularly 1-2 months of summer use, when electricity demand peaks. (Thereby, we can model 12 months of electricity demand based on your use pattern and comparable homes).

  • Employ comparable homes’ electricity use (based on their vintage, neighborhood, size, occupancy, etcetera) to model your home’s future electricity use. Fortunately, we have several hundred data sets — electricity use patterns for homes in all neighborhoods in our community — to approximate future use.

  • If it’s not too late, request 12 months of PG&E data from the home seller. Oftentimes, this is a futile effort, but it’s worth trying.

3. Home improvements. Stating the obvious: Many new homeowners improve their homes. Adding a pool and/or hot tub will increase your electricity use, as would replacing your furnace with an electric heat pump (an increasingly common practice for Repower homeowners). Conversely, replacing windows, adding insulation, or installing a variable speed pool pump reduces your electricity use. In all cases, we model the impact vis-a-vis solar system sizing.

4. Electric vehicle. If you own — or intend to purchase, in the next 12-24 months — an eV, you’d  want to factor future charging of your car into the sizing of your solar system. We find that eVs travel 4 miles per kWh of electricity. The math is simple: Take the number of miles/year you anticipate driving and multiply it by the percentage of charging you believe will be done at home (versus your workplace, public chargers, etc.). Then, divide the number by 4 to quantify additional electricity use (in kWh). For example, if you intend to drive 10,000 miles per year and charge your car 80% of the time at home (fueling 8,000 miles), you will consume 2,000 kWh of electricity.

5. Your electrical panel. Though adding solar does not increase your electrical demand, we need to ensure your electrical panel has sufficient capacity (or space) to accommodate the solar inverter. Furthermore, we will evaluate non-solar changes to your electrical demand — car charger, spa, swimming pool, heat pump, etcetera — to determine your panel’s amenability. (We perform load calculations and review your future electricity use with the city or county to ensure solar will work.)

 Net-net, going solar is simple, but there are a few nuances worthy of consideration … particularly if you recently purchased a home. Feel free to contact us to learn more and receive a free solar assessment.

Is my solar working?

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Since today is election day, this post should engage, “Is my democracy working,” versus concentrating on the vitality of solar systems. Late tonight we’ll (hopefully) get an answer to the former; today we will concentrate on the latter.

We field a handful of calls each month from owners of existing solar systems, posing a simple question: I’m not sure if my solar system is working; can you help? For the 200+ Repower homeowners — and thanks to real-time solar system monitoring — we keep an eye on their systems. Twice each week, we: 1. Check to ensure the system is operating; and, 2. Gauge each system’s electricity generation vis-a-vis National Renewable Energy Lab projections. 

Two quick observations about Repower solar systems: We have yet to have a solar panel fail (out of 11,000+), and the median system is generating 4.6% more energy than we modeled. To the former, it’s what homeowners should expect: Solar panels are tested by the manufacturer and prior to when they’re installed; they have no moving parts; and, if they work day one, they should not fail. Solar systems simply work.

That said, the calls we receive are from homeowners who had their systems installed by another solar company. Oftentimes, a new homeowner adopts a solar system (with their purchase of the home) and has no idea when it was installed, which panels and inverters were employed, who installed it, and how it’s doing. They simply know they have a solar system and want to understand how its doing.

To wit, two approaches:

  1. Contract the solar installation contractor and engage them to diagnose your system’s performance. (Apologies for being terse!)

  2. If you do not know who installed the system (or, if the solar company is no longer in business), contact us and we will assess your system (at no cost). For our initial diagnosis, the following vitals will propel our assessment:

- System specifications (installation date, solar panel model and quantity, inverter type).

- PG&E net-metering data (we will share how to obtain).

- A few photographs/screen shots of your inverter’s screen.

With the above, we can determine if your solar system is performing as it should.

Finally, a quick binary check (to check your solar sanity :) : Green is good, yellow or red is bad. If your inverter’s light is green (during the day), that means it’s generating power; if it’s yellow or red, the inverter (most likely) has faulted.

Feel free to stop by our workspace or contact us with questions. Like democracies, solar should work for you.

Giving thanks, one solar panel at a time

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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:

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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.

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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!

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

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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’.

Retrospective

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’

The coolest organization in our cool city

Sunday, in arms with our comrades Indigo, we had the great honor of hosting Cool Davis’ annual donor celebration. Magnificent vino was poured by Senders Wines and tasty eats were tendered by ChickPeas, tantalizing the palettes of several dozen community leaders. In addition to honoring those committed to enhancing the sustainability of our community, we toasted Indigo's wonderful abode, the first zero net-energy commercial building in Davis (now boasting a beautiful, 46-panel solar array!). A good time was had by all, with special thanks to Judy Moores, Lynne Nittler, Chris Granger and Kerry Daane Loux for their orchestration.

During the event, we shared an update regarding RepowerYolo’s impact, in concert with Cool Davis’ Double Up on Solar Davis campaign. Over the past few years, Repower has helped homeowners install more than 5,500 solar panels. Panel by panel, home by home, the aggregate clean energy impact is pretty cool. Namely, the clean electricity generated by Repower homeowners is the equivalent of: 

- eliminating 16,696 metric tons of carbon dioxide;

- taking 3,519 cars off the road; and,

- planting 429,224 trees

To boot, Repower homeowners are projected to save a cumulative $9,804,774 in PG&E expenses. That makes us smile, and we deeply appreciate the support and confidence of the community.

Back to the coolest organization in our cool city. Cool Davis is the little engine that IS making a difference, proactively fulfilling its mission to "inspire our community to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to a changing climate, and improve the quality of life for all.”

Here’s how you can get involved:

1. Act: If you would like a hand reducing your carbon footprint, here are a few examples of how you can take action.

2. Donate: Like all nonprofit organizations, Cool Davis can use your support and we engage you to join Repower in making a contribution. Our assurance: Every dollar Cool Davis raises is invested in pragmatic, impactful measures. 

3. Volunteer: There are myriad ways to get involved, beginning with Cool Davis’ Coalition and Partner forum. Attend and you’ll learn more about last year’s Sustainability Summit, along with recent post election community gatherings on Environmental Justice and Climate Change. Come prepared to work on planning forums, and forming working groups on local policy dialogue and discussing new collaborative projects.

4. Learn: Cool Davis’ website has a wealth of useful tips and tools … click here for the latest news, and here to explore resources.

We are grateful for our collaboration with Cool Davis and their mutual commitment to make Davis a more sustainable place. The time to act is now. Please join us!

Thinking about going solar? Five key considerations

There’s a lot of sunshine being monetized by our community. In Davis alone, one in four single family residences have solar PV systems (versus approximately 5% in PG&E territory). Such rapid adoption is driven by four factors: PG&E’s ever-escalating electricity rates, a sharp decline in the cost of solar systems, the 30% federal tax credit, and (increasingly) grand concerns about our climate and planet.

The formative stage of the Repower program involved extensive research. We assessed the quality, reliability and pricing of solar equipment; the efficacy of solar installation contractors; the pricing (through a group purchase program) of solar; the most viable financing options; and, the most systematic installation methodology. Since pulling the pieces together and enabling the Repower program, we have had the fortune of helping more homeowners in our community invest in solar than any other solar provider.

If you are pondering going solar, here are five key considerations:

1. How long do you intend to reside in your home? If your horizon is less than five years, think twice; if more than five (and given you have a de facto agreement with PG&E to purchase electricity), dig deep.

2. What is the condition (and remaining life) of your roof? Solar systems have a 25-year production warranty. Though it is possible (and common) to replace a roof with an existing solar system, if your roof’s remaining life is less than 10 years, you should consider replacing all or part (i.e., the portion under the solar panels) of your roof.

3. What are the installation contractor’s qualifications? Thereby, it’s critical to speak with local homeowners who have worked with the contractor. Furthermore, you should seek a 10-year workmanship warranty and ensure the installation contractor is financially solvent. Finally, the contractor’s experience with your type of roof is paramount.

4. Who manufacturers the solar panels and inverter(s)? The assessment herein is twofold: What is the efficacy and reliability of the products, and what is the financial solvency (i.e., strength of balance sheet) of the manufacturer, and thus the validity of their performance warranty. Bloomberg qualifies a dozen or so solar panel manufacturers as “Tier 1” or “investment grade” … make sure you’re purchasing a product from this class.

5. Who will own the system and/or how will you pay for it? Frankly, leasing a solar system — whereby your solar panels are owned by a third-party, tax equity fund — is a raw deal for homeowners. You should own your system. Many homeowners employ a home equity line of credit (HELOC) or credit union financing (Yolo Federal Credit Union) to finance their solar system. (Contact us if you would like to learn more about Property Assessed Clean Energy [PACE] financing … we helped developed the first PACE programs in Sacramento and Yolo counties.)

 

At the end of the day, you'd like to know the likelihood your solar system will meet or exceed its energy forecast. Most solar companies use the same forecasting tools. It's the assumptions that feed these models that vary. You should feel confident the forecast presented is reasonable and not some pie-in-the-sky result. Hence, ask solar companies the proportion of systems installed that meet or exceed the originally forecast energy generation. (You should also ask the number of systems monitored to ensure it's a meaningful proportion.)

We do not have all the answers — there is no surefire, perfect solar solution — but we do have strong opinions and extensive experience in our community. Nobody wants to get a bad deal or make a short-sighted decision; filtering through the noise of pesky solar solicitations can be migraine-inducing. To wit, feel free to contact us if you need a hand.

RepowerYolo siting (in Morocco!)

We believe an unofficial world record was set this weekend: The farthest distance -- 5,990 miles -- traveled by a RepowerYolo t-shirt! Our colleague, friend, fellow sustainability advocate, Davis resident, and (hah!) international correspondent Yvonne Hunter reported in from Ourazette, Morocco.

Greetings from Morocco. My Repower tee shirt went along on the trip and was worn today in the city of Ourazette - in the Sahara.  

Lots and lots of solar PV all over Morocco and imagine my surprise at seeing that a solar festival is here now.  No chance to attend but the poster and outside signs were nifty.  In French and Arabic!

Many thanks to Yvonne for sharing the solar love in the Sahara! (And, hopefully, she did not hug a solar panel.) 

Electric cars + solar panels: Does 1+1=3?

A quick note of thanks to The Enterprise for publishing the below article online today and in tomorrow's print edition. You can access the story here, and below is the prose.

A few times each week, we tender conversations with homeowners who own (or are considering purchasing) an electric vehicle and are thereby contemplating installing solar panels.

The psychology is similar: Electric cars (and solar) are good for the environment, and electric cars (and solar) are pragmatic/less expensive than the alternatives. Seems like a no-brainer – power your electric vehicle with cheap, clean energy generated by your solar panels.

But, is it?

Since 2010, nearly half of all plug-in electric vehicles sold in the United States are registered in California; the top-three models — Chevrolet’s Volt, Nissan’s Leaf and Tesla’s Model S — dominate the electric highway.

(And, many see the advent of Chevy’s all-electric Bolt in late 2016 and Tesla’s Model 3 — my deposit is in; please, Elon, late 2017? — as a tipping point for electric vehicles.)

Similarly, nearly half of all solar electric systems in the U.S. sit atop California households. (As we’ve shared, nearly one in four single-family residences in Davis now has a solar electric system, far out-pacing an estimated 5-percent penetration in PG&E territory.)

As transportation is increasingly electrified and energy generation is decentralized (from carbon-based, utility delivery to solar-generated, homeowner systems), does going solar to power your home and transport make sense? Let’s do the math.

Electricity costs
We have had the fortune of helping several hundred Yolo County homeowners evaluate solar. What we’ve learned: Their average cost of PG&E electricity is 25 cents per kWh, and their median monthly electricity bill is $185. Conversely, their cost to generate solar electricity averages 8 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh), amortized over the warrantied life of their solar panels. Solar saves money.

Transportation costs
For comparison, let’s assume an average car is driven 12,000 miles each year. If the car averages 25 miles per gallon, powered by petroleum, it will guzzle 480 gallons of gas annually. At $2.50 per gallon, annual fuel costs are $1,200, or 10 cents per mile.

Electric vehicles yield, on average, 4 miles of range per kWh. Hence, you will consume 3,000 kWh to drive 12,000 miles. If you are purchasing electricity from PG&E, your annual “fuel” cost is $750 (or, 6 cents per mile). If your electric car is powered by solar, your annual cost is $240 (2 cents per mile).

And, of course, if you charge at your workplace or one of a half-dozen free sites downtown, your cost is lower.

Environmental benefits
I can’t conceive an environmental virtue of driving a gas-powered car, though admittedly my family owns three (along with an all-electric vehicle). The environmental outcomes of electrifying your transportation with solar, though, are striking.

According to the EPA, over three years (36,000 miles) the greenhouse gas equivalents of clean transportation are:

* Retirement of 12.84 metric tons of carbon dioxide;
* Planting 320 tree seedlings, grown for 10 years; or,
* Averting 4.08 tons of waste sent to a landfill.

Many suns will set before electric vehicles become mainstream. Though cool and cheap and clean, their drawbacks are obvious: Range anxiety (Can I get from here to there?), charging anxiety (Do I need to charge it?), technology phobia (Is it too early/will it work?).

Danny Kennedy, managing director of California Clean Energy Fund, recently opined, “We’re now in a tech world, rather than a resource world. Resources are bound by scarcity — the more you use them, the more expensive they become. With tech, the more you use it, the cheaper it becomes.”

As the cost of solar and electric cars continue to descend, as the efficacy of both improve, and as PG&E rates further escalate, it will become increasingly difficult to dispute solar-fueled transportation.

The future is bright.

YoloShines: NAMI-Yolo

There are a lot of rewarding and fun virtues of doing what we do: Helping friends and neighbors achieve energy independence (while slashing their carbon footprint and saving thousands of dollars) is extremely gratifying. At the top (of the Repower fun/rewarding list) may be when we ask homeowners to select a local nonprofit for our YoloShines program.

And, this time we have a new twist. Repower homeowners John and Alice Provost asked if we could split our $500 donation among two organizations. Of course.

John and Alice selected the Davis School Arts Foundation (read more about our prior support of DSAF here) and Yolo-NAMI, a new organization in our basket of beneficiaries. Here's what John and Alice had to say about Yolo-NAMI:

The National Alliance for the Mentally Ill is a national organization with local chapters throughout the country, including one in Yolo County. Yolo NAMI works with cities and counties in Yolo County as well as private organizations that provide services to residents of Yolo County who suffer from some type of mental illness. This is a population that is greatly underserved and often suffers in isolation due to the nature of their illnesses. Yolo NAMI provides much needed assistance to these individuals and is a very worthy organization to support.

Thank you, John and Alice, for making our community a better place.

YoloShines: Yolo Farm to Fork

As we've shared, Yolo Farm to Fork is one of our favorite (most appetizing?) nonprofits. Like many small, scrappy organizations, F2F does a lot with a little, and their impact spans generations.

With our YoloShines program, Repower homeowners select a local nonprofit organization to which we donate $500. When the selected organization is one of our faves, our donation has even more meaning.

To wit, we would like to thank Davis resident Kirk Mills and his family for choosing Yolo Farm to Fork, and we are proud to donate $500. Here's an encapsulation of why the Mills family selected F2F:

The video on Yolo Farm to Fork's website really spoke to our family. We value buying local produce because it's delicious (mostly), but also because we know it has only traveled a short distance to our local store thereby creating less pollution in the traveling process. The idea of schools using local produce is so exciting. Even more exciting is the concept of school gardens. We know first hand how excited our son gets about our garden at home and how it makes him want to eat what he grows. It is truly a gift to see our son so excited about something so beneficial and positive that he will carry through his whole life.

Thank you, Kirk, for making a difference in our community. Please join the Mills family and Repower in supporting Yolo Farm to Fork.

Considering an electric vehicle and/or solar?

More than half of the homeowners we talk to either own or are, in the near term, considering purchasing an electric vehicle. Part of the combinatorial interest -- clean energy + clean vehicle -- is values based. However, most homeowners who go solar and fuel their transport with sunshine do it for pragmatic reasons: Solar electricity is significantly less expensive than PG&E's energy, and fueling an electric vehicle is much cheaper than pumping gas. Here's a prior post quantifying the economics of solar + eVs.

Though the math is simple, the decision -- which car to purchase or lease, at what time, and how to size my solar system to cover my electric vehicle charging -- has more to it. To wit, there's a delightful new tool for California homeowners to determine if a solar-powered vehicle makes sense. In a few minutes, you can compare options and model the economics/scenarios. Take a peek, poke around, and (we're confident) you'll be impressed by the savings.

And, of course, feel free to contact us if you have questions about electric vehicles and the potential to power your eV with solar. We will perform a no-cost assessment for you, modeling various alternatives and quantifying the impacts.

YoloShines: Davis School Arts Foundation

When given the opportunity to speak to students at UCD, be it about innovation, entrepreneurship, or clean energy, one of my favorite stories to relay engages children and creativity. Quick synopsis:

Creative consultant Gordon MacKenzie, during speaking engagements with elementary school students, would ask kindergarteners, “How many of you are artists?” All would raise their hand. But with older kids, an interesting trend develops. Fewer and fewer students identify themselves as artists as they grow up. By sixth grade, only a small percentage raises their hand in response to the same question of being an artist. As kids grow up, they feel the judgmental pressures from others and don’t want to take the risk of being judged as weird.

Unfortunately, our children become normalized to think they can't be or do something. Sad but true, particularly in our community where the pressure to succeed academically is so intense.

Fortunately, there are organizations like the Davis School Arts Foundation (DSAF), an all-volunteer, non-profit organization whose mission it is to raise money for art and music education in the Davis public schools. DSAF believes the value of visual and performing arts is equal to that of other curriculum and essential for the education of the whole child. 

On behalf of RepowerYolo homeowners (and parents of DJUSD children) Matt Donner and Kimberly Grogan, we are pleased to donate $500 to DSAF. Matt's take on the Foundation:

As a musician and artist myself, I am happy and proud to offer any and all support to this worthy cause! We tend to get caught up in academics and athletics here in Davis and it's worth supporting the arts as well!

Please join RepowerYolo, Matt and Kimberly in supporting DSAF and germinating future artists and musicians in our community.

 

CoolDavis Profiles RepowerYolo Homeowner Mike Hart

Thanks to our friends and colleagues at CoolDavis for featuring Repower homeowner, and Sierra Energy Founder and CEO, Mike Hart in their July/August newsletter. Here's a link to the article on CoolDavis' site, and below is the profile in full. Thanks, Mike, for making our community and this planet a more sustainable, vibrant place to call home.

Local Businessman Saves Money by Installing Rooftop Solar

Mike Hart's 4 kilowatt solar system returns ten percent on invesment

July 1, 2016

By Carla Arango

Mike Hart, CEO and Founder of Sierra Energy, is saving thousands of dollars every year since he installed solar panels. His desire to reduce his carbon footprint encouraged him to go solar, but that’s not the only thing he has managed to decrease.

“When my energy bill comes, instead of a few hundred dollars a month, it’s now three bucks,” Hart said.

Davis-based business manages the process

Hart consulted with RepowerYolo for his rooftop solar system. “They did a great job. They came out, they oversaw everything. Certainly the most difficult part was getting connections with PG&E, and they handled all of that so I thought that was fantastic,” Hart said.

Hart explains how RepowerYolo took care of everything leaving him worry free.

“I thought going with RepowerYolo was a smart move because they’re local, and they worked with us, they worked with the contractor, they made sure that everything was done right the first time, and they’ve done a very good job just setting this up and making sure our system worked well.”

Ten percent return on investment

Hart installed a 4 kilowatt solar system (sic: it's a 7.95kW system) and paid for it in full. He explains he has received a bigger return on investment than if he had invested his money in a bank.

“If you put money, which I had, in a savings account in the bank, you get about half a percent, less than one percent interest on savings, but if you put that money in your roof instead of the bank you get about ten percent. So you make about 20 times the return on your money.”

“Anyone who doesn’t have rooftop solar, but has money in their bank is making a mistake.”

Hart emphasizes that investing in solar is better than putting money in the bank and said that from a financial perspective, he can’t think of a reason not to have rooftop solar.

An extra layer of insulation

Since installing rooftop solar, Hart and his family have maintained their energy use the same but said their comfort level has increased while their energy bill has decreased.

“We’re saving several hundred dollars a month. When the solar panels are creating the greatest amount of energy, that’s typically when most homes use the greatest amount of power for air conditioning, so it has effectively eliminated those bills for us,” Hart said.

In addition to saving money, the extra layer of all that solar covering part of the roof has made his house cooler, decreasing his need for air conditioning.

“If anything we have an extra layer of insulation on our roof now,” Hart said.

Telling friends

Hart has shown his system to friends and neighbors saying how installing rooftop solar has been a good financial decision for him.

Hart encourages people who are interested in going solar to talk to RepowerYolo.

It’s simple

“I have a hard time understanding why anybody wouldn’t have solar on their roof. It can be done with no cost to you, and if you have the money it’s a great way to make a profit,” Hart said.

“It lowers your carbon footprint, gives you a great financial return, and makes your house cooler, so it’s a pretty easy decision. You don’t have to do anything extra. Once it’s done, it’s done. It’s simple,” Hart said.