solar in yolo

Shade on my solar panels: What to do?

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A few times each week we tender discussions with homeowners (who are interested in going solar) that begin with a similar question: How do I know if my home/roof is a good candidate for solar, given shading from surrounding trees? Or, perhaps it's a statement: Solar won't work at my home because I have too much shading.

With kudos and thanks to THE GREAT Mike Kluk -- one of hundreds of terrific Cool Davis volunteers that propel our community's sustainability -- we now have an in-depth look at technologies we employ to help mitigate shading (and, thereby, maximize electricity generation of solar panels that are shaded). Mike just published an article in The Enterprise, Rooftop solar: Partial fixes for partial shade. If you're contemplating solar, it's well worth a read.

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Mike to help inform his research and prose. An excerpt:

Every residential solar installation is unique. Roof size, angle, and orientation to the sun all affect production. But for installations where intermittent shading is an issue, the addition of optimizers or microinverters typically increases production from 15 to as much as 25%. Over the lifetime of a system, 20 to 30 years typically, that is a tremendous amount of power that you will not need to pay for.

Our take: Solar does not work for everyone. However, by employing SolarEdge's power optimizers, the downside of shading is mitigated.

Most important, we are happy to perform an assessment and quantify the impact of shading. The end result may be a no-go, but it's worth contemplating.

 

 

Tesla Model S vs. 3: First Impressions

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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. 

YoloShines: Yolo Food Bank

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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?

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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.

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’

A clean solar panel is a happy solar panel: Simple tips for cleaning your solar panels

In mid-June it rained. Hard. In Davis, California. Call it what you’d like: Weird weather, climate change, global warming. One thing’s for sure with the unseasonal rains: Solar panels (and their owners) were smiling on a rainy June day. Now that the rains have subsided and peak-solar generation season is in full swing, our solar panels are collecting dust and pollen and bird droppings. The panels are increasingly frowning.

What’s a solar owner to do?

Solar PV systems require modest maintenance (read: cleaning) to maximize production efficiency. Below are a few tips that will help guide your steps over the life of the system. First, the warnings: exercise great care in accessing the panels. Roof materials get unexpectedly slick. And it’s easy to damage many roofs.

Keep in mind that many owners do nothing for the entire time they own the system. Equipment failures are rare and when they occur, it’s within six months of the installation. Panels are designed to last 25-years or more; inverters last at least 12 years. In short, none of the conditions mentioned below impacts many owners. Still, for those seeking full information, keep reading.

If your home or business is powered by solar, there are three options:

1. Do nothing (i.e., let the rain cleanse your panels).

2. Do it yourself (periodically clean your panels).

3. Hire a cleaning service.

Option #1 (do nothing), obviously, generates the least amount of electricity. Option #3 (hire a professional to clean your panels) optimizes efficiency, but can be quite expensive; the cost of doing so oftentimes exceeds the value of your increased solar generation. (Researchers at UC San Diego concluded, “You definitely wouldn’t get your money back after hiring someone to wash your rooftop panels.”) Herein we focus on the most common alternative: Do it yourself.

As solar panels have no moving parts, the main area of maintenance is to keep them clean. We recommend to check the panels periodically especially during dry periods when precipitating dust occurs with the morning dew. Dirty panels can reduce electricity production as much as 8-12% (results from Department of Energy studies vary). Most dirt can be easily removed with water sprayed from a hose or from rainfall. (Do NOT use high-pressure sprayers as it can damage the seals around the frame.) Important: Wash/spray the panels in the morning to reduce drastic temperature changes. If you cannot ascend your roof, simply spray from the ground and let gravity do the trick … a small wave of water will cleanse most dust. Do not scrub the panels with any harsh materials. If a brush is needed, make sure it has soft bristles, or opt for a common window squeegee. If you notice rapid dirt build up—or bird droppings—then more frequent cleanings are warranted.

Generally, we recommend cleaning your panels every six weeks, commencing in early June (given that our last rains, typically, occur around Picnic Day) and continuing through early September. Hence, 3-4 cleanings every six weeks will suffice.

We monitor the production of 100+ solar systems in our community. Thereby, we can tell when a homeowner has cleaned their panels … solar production increases 5-6%, and then gradually decreases. In addition to our general rule-of-thumb — cleaning every six weeks during peak production season (late May through mid-September — it’s worthy to keep an eye on your web-based monitoring system to gauge if/when your panels would like a bath.

And, of course, feel free to contact us if you have questions.

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.

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: Make It Happen for Yolo County

One of the most rewarding virtues of our YoloShines campaign is learning about fly-under-the-radar, little-engine-that-could nonprofit organizations that are making a difference in our community. In this case, they're making it happen!

On behalf of RepowerYolo homeowners Mike and Dawn Hughes, we are pleased to donate $500 to Make It Happen for Yolo County (MIH). According to Mike and Dawn, here's what makes MIH special:

Make it Happen for Yolo is a small non-profit that provides assistance for foster children who have "aged-out" of the system and are trying to get a college degree. They do wonderful work for a very needy group of young folks. Thank you for making this generous gesture. 

UC Davis, alone, is poised to have 35,000 students in 2016-17. Add tens of thousands of community members who attend community colleges, CSU Sacramento and vocational schools ... there's a growing population of at-risk late teens who can use a hand.

From MIH's website:

The purpose of MIH is to provide support, resources, referrals and community outreach to under served and at-risk youth of Yolo County.

MIH provides household supplies and furniture for under served youth in Yolo County. An additional purpose is to provide resources and support, as well as advocacy for this population.

MIH receives referrals from Social Workers in the Yolo County Department of Employment and Social Services as well as other individuals and agencies involved with these youth . A MIH "wish-list" is sent to the referring person, completed by the youth requesting assistance and returned to us. A pick- up/delivery time is then arranged for the youth to receive your donations.  Confidentiality is maintained throughout the process.

Please join Mike, Dawn and RepowerYolo in supporting MIH ... it's the Little Engine that CAN! Your gift of furniture, household supplies, gift cards or money will fuel lives.

Buying or selling a home with solar? Five questions to ask.

Buying or selling a home with a solar PV (electric) system should be a no-brainer: The solar system’s clean energy reduces the home’s electricity bills and, thereby, increases the value of the home. True, if you apply common sense and logic; not so fast, if you dig deeper.

One in five single family homes — 2,300-plus -- in Davis have solar PV systems. Solar is no longer an oddity: It is becoming an ante for homes in Davis.

RepowerYolo’s objective is to help 1,000 homeowners reduce the cost and simplify the process of going solar. Concurrently, over the past few years we have helped dozens of Yolo County home buyers, home sellers and their Realtors assess existing solar systems. To wit, here are five fundamental questions to engage in evaluating the viability and value of a solar system before you buy or sell a home:

1. Ownership: Who owns the solar system? 

If the existing home owner purchased the solar system, you’re in good shape. Congratulations. If not, buyer beware, particularly if the solar system was leased (i.e., installed at no cost to the homeowner, and owned by a third-party, tax equity fund). Approximately 60% of solar systems in California are leased and, upon sale of the home, either the home buyer opts in to the remaining term of the lease, or the home seller buys out the system. Action item: Review the solar lease documentation to determine the transfer and buy-out options.

In addition to homeowner-owned and -leased solar systems, a growing number of solar systems have been funded through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, employing the property tax system. In these scenarios, homeowners pay an annual assessment — typically over 20 years — to finance the improvement to their property. The special assessment may transfer to the new home owner (upon sale), though it’s not certain. Action item: Learn if any energy-saving improvements have been financed via PACE and, if so, the amount of the annual assessment and whether it can be transferred.

2. Equipment: Who manufactured the solar panels and inverter(s), what are the remaining warranties, and what’s the financial condition of the manufacturers? 

Of the several hundred companies that manufacture solar panels, only one-dozen or so are qualified as Tier 1 (or investment grade) by Bloomberg, evidencing their financial stability. Most solar panels have 10-year product and 25-year performance warranties. Likewise, there are a handful of high-quality inverter manufacturers, and most inverters have 10-12 year product warranties. Action item: Review product warranties, assess the financial stability of the providers/manufacturers, and ensure the warranties are transferable.

3. Installation: Who installed the solar system, what is the installation contractor’s workmanship warranty, and is it transferable?

We believe its imperative for homeowners to receive a 10-year workmanship warranty from solar installation contractors. Unfortunately, myriad solar systems have been installed in our community sans such protection. Action item: Review the contractor’s warranty, determine if they are in business, and ensure their warranty is transferable.

4. Performance: How is the solar system performing, and how much money is it saving each year?

This is simple: Review the solar system’s historical electricity generation via either its monitoring system or its inverter, and compare to its forecast. And, download and review PG&E net-energy metering data to determine the solar system’s annual savings. 

5. Details: Was the system properly permitted and interconnected to the grid?

Again, basic stuff: Review the building permit — if it’s not available, call the building department to ensure no permits are unsigned — and the PG&E interconnection agreement. There should be no surprises.

RepowerYolo provides complementary solar system assessments — employing the above five steps — for a select group of Realtors in our community. If and when you are buying or selling a home with solar, feel free to contact us or your Realtor to learn more.

YoloShines: Progress Ranch

Want to learn more about your community? Look beyond the obvious and tangible roadside attractions; look inside. Sharpen your lens on the myriad behind-the-scenes, little-engines-that-could nonprofit organizations that weave the fabric of our community. We are who we are because of these groups.

And, we all have favorites: Some care about the environment or economic justice; others lean toward education and athletics; the arts and combatting hunger strike emotive strings; healthcare, childcare and animal welfare do it for others. Regardless of our individual ability to give — personally and financially — we all care.

Since 1976, Progress Ranch has provided an East Davis home to a half-dozen six-to-15-year old boys. Beyond sharing a roof, Progress Ranch helps kids build a life. Here’s their mission:

We strive for the following outcomes for our boys:

- Health and well-being

- Confidence and social skills

- An optimistic and hopeful outlook

- A capacity for meaningful relationships

We work to achieve these outcomes by:

- Providing a nurturing home environment

- Being involved in a supportive community

- Emphasizing education

- Offering individual and family therapy

We visited Progress Ranch’s home last week. Amazing. On behalf of Repower homeowners Jonathan and Jeanette Lewis, we are pleased to donate $500 to Progress Ranch. Thank you to Jonathan and Jeanette for the suggestion and introduction.

Please join us in supporting Progress Ranch. If you can’t donate money, they can always use household staples and volunteer services. Or, if golf’s your fancy, join us July 23 for the 18th Annual Villanueva Memorial Golf Tournament benefiting Progress Ranch. Your contribution will make a difference in the lives of young boys.

Mi casa es su casa

Last October we relocated our practice to 909 Fifth Street, contiguous to Indigo Architects’ office (aka, the old Dairy Queen; click here for a few pics). It’s a terrific place to hang our hats: 20-foot ceilings, abundant natural light, radiant heating and cooling, and an occasional symphonic greeting from a passing train. We love it.

In addition to be enamored with the workspace, there’s an unforeseen virtue: After-hours, our office hosts numerous nonprofits and their events. To date, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting meetings, educational sessions and social events for Toastmasters, Cool Davis (and its myriad tentacles), Valley Climate Action Center and the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy, among others.

John and I serve and have served on the boards of numerous nonprofit organizations. All share two characteristics: they have a great purpose, and they scrap to stay afloat. Nonprofits need help, be it contributions of money, time, or space. Through YoloShines, we help local nonprofits raise money; as volunteers, we contribute our time; and, with our office, nonprofits have a place to host membership events, retreats, board meetings and fundraisers.

Importantly, there’s no cost for nonprofits to utilize our space -- we can host up to 40 seated folks and 80 or so standing people, or employ our conference room for a small gathering. If you’d like to learn more, please contact us today.

YoloShines: Yolo Food Bank

The next time you have some spare change, consider this: A $1 donation to the Yolo Food Bank will fund three meals for a hungry Yolo County neighbor. Or, the $1 will magnify to $5.50 in wholesale food purchases. Like fresh produce? Your $1 will buy seven pounds of fruits and veggies.

Not to lay on the guilt, but here are two sobering facts to ponder:

- More than 20% (44,000) of Yolo County residents do not have enough to eat.

- One in four children do not know where their next meal will come from.

Enter Yolo Food Bank, one of our favorite community organizations. We have had the fortune of working with the Food Bank over the past year. On behalf of RepowerYolo homeowners, we have donated more than $5,000 to the Food Bank.

The latest: In the name of Repower homeowners Matt and Holly Bishop, Ron and Andrea Forrest, Elaine Lau and Carlton Larson, and Kathleen and Michael Rockwell, we donated $2,000 last week to the Food Bank. That’s 6,000 meals for hungry neighbors thanks to the YoloShines program.

Every dollar makes a difference, and we’re endeavoring to elevate our support for the Food Bank in 2016. Please join us in working to reduce hunger in Yolo County: Click here to donate, or you can learn more about volunteering here.

YoloShines: River City Rowing Club

Yesterday we gave thanks to the Oshima family for their suggestion to donate $500 to the Davis Schools Foundation. It hit home, which made the gift even more special. Today’s recipient of $500 through our YoloShines program strikes a similar family chord.

On behalf of Repower homeowners Don Mooney and Samantha McCarthy, we are pleased to gift $500 to the River City Rowing Club. Here’s the (my) family connection: RCRC’s boat house in West Sac is named after my wife’s late grandfather, Curt Rocca. Grandpa Curt was big into crew in his days at UC Berkeley, and his affinity rippled (perhaps through his myriad business interests in Japan, and hence the Port of Sacramento) to our local crew organization. Very cool.

I have known Don and Samantha’s daughter, Morgan, since she was shorter than a small oar; she and my oldest son, Scott, went through Spanish Immersion together at Montgomery and Chavez. Here’s Don and Samantha’s rationale for supporting RCRC:

We support River City Rowing Club because the coaches work with the teen rowers to inspire them to try their individual best and then beyond while building  a true sense of dedication to the team and sportsmanship. The rowers also learn to set goals and priorities so that they can continue to do well do well in school, crew and life.

Very cool, take two, and it mirrors my family’s support of Davis Water Polo Club (for our oldest son) and Davis Little League (for our youngest).

With the Big Day of Giving nearing, we encourage you to support RCRC. The sun always rises, and so too do committed and aspiring crew athletes.

Solar on a wood-shake roof? Ask Nextdoor

Since its inception a few years ago, my wife and I have thoroughly enjoyed the utility, efficiency and candor of Nextdoor. If you're not familiar with the web site, it's a community, neighborhood-specific forum, a virtual over-the-fence, at-the-mailbox medium for neighbors to communicate. Garage sale? Lost pet? Furniture to sell or giveaway? Break-in to report? Recommendation for a fence-building contractor? 

Nextdoor is terrific. It enables neighbors to earnestly communicate. And, it's a darn good neighborhood watchdog.

Yesterday, my mom, who lives in El Macero, called. Three times. (I was in a meeting.) Then texted, in caps: DID YOU SEE NEXTDOOR?????

I logged in, fearful Maxwell, our labrador, was roaming the mean streets of Willowbank. Fortunately, no lost pet ... simply a solar question from a neighbor:

We are hoping to get solar panels installed to alleviate some of the cost of PG&E. However, we have a wood shake roof. So far, I have not found any company that will put solar on that type of roof. Does anyone know if this is possible, or know of a company that does it? Would appreciate any insight.

I grinned: We've had the fortune of helping a dozen or so homeowners (who have wood-shake roofs) go solar. It's not as straight forward as installing solar on a tile or composition roof, but certainly doable (if your contractor is experienced).

Scrolling down through the neighborhood commentary, here's where my grin grew to a smile:

You might check with Chris at Repower Yolo in downtown Davis.

We also used Repower Yolo (john@repowered.us). They were wonderful to work with and did a spectacular job! Their installers not only knew the solar system, but were also very experienced with roofing. And they're local!

Talk to Chris or John at Repower. I did two homes, wood shake and copper and was very pleased. 

We also used Chris at RepowerYolo and were very happy with the process, and extremely happy with our non-existent electricity bills.

We also used Chris and John at RepowerYolo.com- they had the best price, impeccable service and attention to detail, and highest quality solar equipment- local company who doesn't advertise and saves homeowners a lot of money- We love our solar panels and besides saving a lot of money we feel we are doing our part!! 

Since we do not advertise, cold-call, or employ commission salespeople, such conversations are invaluable. And, it's a key element of how we are able to reduce the cost of solar for Yolo County residents ... whether you have a wood-shake roof or not.

Earth Day thanks

Today is Earth Day. It’s a day of mixed emotions in our shop: Pride and anticipation, gratitude and fortune, reflection and fear. Crazy stuff is happening to our planet, but (through our lens) the future is bright … more and more eyes are opening to what’s happening, and people are taking strides to reduce their carbon impact. We are confident it will continue.

Earth Day is a day of thanks for our team. Specifically, we’d like to thank Repower homeowners. Over the past two years, more homeowners in our community have invested in solar via the Repower group purchase program than any other solar company. More than 2,000 gleaming — especially after today’s rains; yeah! — solar panels welcome the sun at Repower homes. We’re proud and thankful so many homeowners have entrusted us. And, thanks to Repower homeowners, we have donated more than $23,000 to local nonprofit organizations. Yolo Shines!

In mid-2013, solar pivoted from an idealistic to a pragmatic decision. It penciled: The cost of solar-generated electricity dropped below PG&E’s rates. And, it has only gotten better as the cost of solar systems has decreased and PG&E’s rates inflate.

However, the ideals and environmental virtues of solar continue to play a part in homeowners’ decision-making. Here’s the punchline, quantifying the impact of Repower homeowners’ solar systems over the next 25 years:

- Carbon dioxide reduction: 10,596 metric tons

- Equivalent trees planted: 292,356

- Equivalent cars taken off the road: 2,436

Muchas gracias, RepowerYolo homeowners, for making a difference.

P.S. – Wanna make a difference? Go to https://www.cooldavis.org/ to learn how you can reduce your carbon footprint. 

P.P.S. – Another cool stat to share: RepowerYolo homeowners are projected to save an aggregate $5,997,621 in PG&E electricity expenses over the warrantied lives of their solar systems. 

P.P.P.S. – Looking for something to do tonight? Catching the Sun premiers on Netflix. Inspirational, informative, a must see!