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Postponing Your Solar Investment Delays Savings (As originally published in The Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today Newspaper, Dec 2013)

By Mark Becker
| May 12, 2014

Read Original Newspaper Article PDF here

In the United States, the commercial and residential solar business is growing at a 30% pace this year. Growth is expected to continue to rise worldwide. Today there are 191,404 California solar projects in operation. Recognition of the financial benefits that a solar PV system can offer a home or business owner is leading this growth. Of course, green bragging rights come hand-in-hand with the financial savings, but they play a distant second. Financial return is by far the most compelling reason for most to “go solar.”

The American Solar Energy Society recently published their annual “State of the Industry” analysis. I’m going to provide some quotes from the analysis and play “Peanut Gallery” to chime in with my observations or commentary. Here it goes.

“Silicon modules are likely to remain stable at 80 to 85 cents per watt for the foreseeable future.”

Due to the Chinese Government losing the International Trade Commission and US Department of Commerce trade cases, Chinese solar panel manufacturers are no longer dumping (that’s indeed a legal teen) their illegally subsidized solar modules into the US market.

Solar product prices have indeed stabilized. A commonly posed question is whether one should wait for prices to continue to come down to take advantage of a lower cost of product. It seems the juty is out. Waiting simply puts potential savings generated by a solar system into the future; a future where the savings can be applied to college tuition, a 401 K, charity retirement vacation travels, or other pursuits or passions.

“The wealthy oil emirates are installing PV factories and solar farms on an accelerating scale because it makes no sense to burn oil for electricity when it can be sold for more than $100 a barrel.”

I read this and I cringed. The Middle East oil Emirates are installing solar energy systems so they can sell America and the rest of the world more of their oil. Perhaps it’s a great business decision for them, but the sooner we’re completely weaned away from Middle Eastern oil for political and financial reasons, the better. Fortunately, what appears to be on the horizon is American energy independence, which at our current rate of adoption of natural gas and renewable sources can come as early as 2025, if we stay the course we’re on.

“In the United States, utility companies are now aware that distributed generation (solar on rooftops) is poised to kill their business model.”

Cry me a river! Although working with PG&E has been for the most part a very positive experience, the fact that PG&E indeed may have to adapt and compete as every other business has had to adapt and compete in this market will be welcome news. As you may have realized your choice of energy providers is extremely limited.

Option One: PG&E. Receive no return on monies paid, recurring for life.
Option Two: Buy your own solar system, and own your own power plant. Typically, a 10% return on investment is easily achieved. One thing is for certain: PG&E rates keep going up which makes the investment virtually no risk assuming the proper products and installers are utilized.
Option Three: Enter into a Solar Power Purchase Agreement and switch energy providers; a financial institution buys and installs a solar system for your home and you pay for the electricity it produces. You’ll end up paying less than you’re currently paying PG&E.
Consumer’s Corner: This time of year generates sales pitch falsehood! coming from solar contractors about the tax credits available for solar energ), systems for residential and business customers. The Federal Tax Credit of 30°A is NOT expiring, simply a customer’s ability to capture the Federal Tax Credit for tax year 2013 expires at the end of the year. The Federal Tax Credit will not expire until January 1st, 2017.

Monetary savings generated by a solar system are very compelling, but equal compelling (to me anyway) are the obvious environmental advantages that coin with generating your own power. Solar can also make your life more stress free my family lives a very efficient lifestyle at home, but we no longer stress about living just a bit more comfortably in a more temperate and well lit home.

Next Month: California Assembly Bill 327, the solar bill of the decade.

By Mark Becker, GoSimpleSolar

Mark Becker is the President of GoSimpleSolar, by Simper Fidelis Construction Inc, a Danville based Solar Installation Finn (License 948715) . Mark can be reached at 925.915.9252. Visit GoSimpleSolar’s NEW and large showroom at 100 Railroad Avenue, Suite B, Danville (behind Pete’s Brass Rail) or, or email