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6,616 and Counting (As originally published in The Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today Newspaper, Sep 2012)

By Mark Becker
| May 9, 2014

Read Original Newspaper Article PDF here

Lest we forget : there’s a war going on, and it’s in Afghanistan. What does this have to do with solar or energy matters? We’ll get to that. America is losing, on average, one Marine, airman, soldier, or sailor per day. It’s upsetting that during election time it seems the politicians aren’t even acknowledging the war. Perhaps it’s convenient and easy to ignore the war and its challenges unless political gain can be achieved. The lesson from the Vietnam War, which took America many years to learn, was to never forget those who served. “Support Our Troops” should run deeper than a bumper sticker.

Last month I mentioned I’d continue the discussion on how to achieve the highest level of success in any contracting project. Remember to perform a contractor insurance and license check at Also, check the contractor’s record at the Better Business Bureau; a references check is of the greatest importance. After deciding on a contractor, a DETAILED contract with all the necessary verbiage as outlined on the CSLB website will be the only reference needed should scope of work or pricing disagreements arise between you and the contractor.

The U.S. Constitution requires the Armed Forces of the United States of America to follow the orders of our elected civilian leadership. The military leadership has a responsibility to its members to minimize loss of life while accomplishing the assigned mission. On strategic levels and tactical levels, the Pentagon has prioritized finding alternative sources of energy; the military has recognized that long-term reliance on fossil fuels is a security threat to its members and our nation. Many in our elected civilian leadership are trying to put a stop to this forward vision of the Pentagon. Coal state Democrats and oil state Republicans are equally responsible. In this election year, the loss of American jobs is politically more important than the loss of American lives.

California Senate Bill 843 proposes that California consumers can buy a portion of a solar energy system and be credited their portion of the savings to their own electric costs. SB 843 will be advantageous to urban consumers who don’t have the opportunity to benefit from their own solar system. Perhaps suburbanites can also benefit; if a neighbor has some land they would like to dedicate to a solar array, multiple investors can share in the savings.

At forward operating bases in Afghanistan, it’s encouraging to be able to say that solar energy is playing a part in protecting and saving the lives our service-men. The concept is a very simple one: Production of one’s own energy reduces the reliance of others to provide it. In PG&E territory, this saves the homeowner or business owner money. In Afghanistan, this principle saves service members’ lives.

The facts : Tanker truck convoys ship the fuel required to supply forward bases. One out of every 24 convoy resupply missions is attacked by the enemy, and in half of those attacks a casualty results. Many forward operating bases in Afghanistan now generate a significant amount of power with solar energy. Fewer tanker convoys mean fewer posthumous purple hearts. In America, greater energy independence achieved through a combination of domesticsources (oil, natural gas and renewables) will improve our national security.

PG&E Business Electric Rates : Come November, all PG&E commercial electric rates will change to a “time of use” rate. If your business is utilizing most of its power during the day, and consumes more electricity in the summer months than in the winter months, this will probably result in higher monthly electric costs for your business. PG&E hopes to achieve electric usage reductions by making usage more expensive during the peak hours. If the business has a solar array, all electricity generated during these times and sent back to the grid will be credited at bonus rates.

Forward Thinking : Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. Military has been on the “progressive side” of many social issues. Women officers were promoted and put in leadership positions much sooner than were their private sector counterparts. The military racially integrated its ranks before America became desegregated. Recently an Army General had her new rank “pinned on” by her same sex spouse. The Pentagon is now taking the lead on alternative energy deployment for national security reasons. As one drives along Highway 24, a stark visual reminder of our recent war losses looms on the northern hillside, 6,616 and counting.

By Mark Becker, GoSimpleSolar

Mark Becker is the President of GoSimpleSolar, by Semper Fidelis Construction, a Danville based Solar Installation Firm. Mark can be reached at 925.915.9252. Come visit GoSimpleSolar’s new showroom at 114 West Prospect Ave. in Danville to see, touch, and discuss solar and energy efficiency products. For more details, see or email