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Solar Currents (As originally published in The Danville/Alamo/Lafayette Today Newspaper, Aug 2013)

By Mark Becker
| May 12, 2014

Read Original Newspaper Article PDF here

If only we could predict the future. Would it create more happiness? My initial thought would be yes! In the stock market, absolutely! Is it going to be a boy or girl? Well…sometimes surprise is nice. On further thought, despite its benefits, I think that being able to predict the future would take the excitement out of life.

I would have never predicted that the disappearance of the California Solar Initiative rebates for residential customers (except for new or fully remodeled homes) would have had no negative impact on the solar business. Conversely, business is better than ever. Aside from an improving economy, the continued adoption of solar PV can be attributed to a growing recognition on the consumer’s part that there is essentially very little downside risk for solar as an investment. Unlike the potential of picking a poor stock or being stuck in a declining stock market, energy prices continually rise. A high percentage of our solar PV projects are installed on the homes and businesses of the financial professionals; their only concerns are the details of the installation vs. the details of the financials. They know they want solar, and they are simply seeking the right contractor to install it. They understand the advantage of hedging energy costs at prices lower than today ’s PGE prices. If you could have bought all the gas for your car ten years ago at $1 .50/gallon, think of the money you’d be saving today. It’s the same principle. The financial professionals also understand that payments to PGE will never provide a  financial return on investment. “Solar, part of a diversified investment portfolio” is how the purchase of solar PV is viewed by these professionals. They also understand that the lowest long-term cost of ownership of a solar PV system is not achieved by lowest installation cost. It’s achieved by choosing field-proven products and a specialty licensed installation team. It’s you roof and a 25+ year investment.

Electric Cars (EV): I’ve found that my EV has saved me the cost of maintenance and gasoline; it’s a business write-o?‘ as well. ‘There’s no doubt that a car fueled with electricity is the car of the future. If you purchase or lease an EV, check out our website to determine if switching to an electric car charge rate is the correct choice for you. Not all kilowatts are charged equally. In most cases, due to the nature of the “time of use” costs of the PGE car charge rate, there are better rate choices unless you have a solar PV system installed. To reduce the cost of an E EV there are California and Federal rebates available up to $10,000. Many EV‘s are inexpensive to lease as well.

Further validation of the financial returns of solar: The United States has just surpassed 10 gigawatts of installed solar PV capacity, the fourth nation to do so. We’ve increased our energy sources and reduced the amount of emissions into our environment. It would be logical for one to think that the world’s largest economy, with the world’s largest energy demand,would have the most solar energy capacity. However, that title goes to Germany. To their credit, the world’s worst polluter, China, is trying to clean up its act by tripling their amount of solar PV production Not all of this program is altruistic.This program has the added benefit of propping up their failing solar panel companies; even more reason to buy American.

Technology: One of the most common questions posed to me is about solar PV technology; whether a customer should wait for something new.Two years ago I had the fortunate experience of visiting the home of the lead solar PV scientist for Lawrence Berkeley National Lab. I posed the same question to him His response: “There is no new technology that will be within financial reach of the average business or homeowner for the next ten years. ” It turns out that there are materials more efficient than silicon, but silicon is currently the most plentiful and inexpensive material to turn sunlight into energy.

Quote of the Month: “I’ll talk to you first , then see if other contractors are bull(****)ing me.” I guess such is the nature of being in a service industry.
“The future is not something we enter. The future is something we create. “ ~ Leonard I. Sweet

By Mark Becker, GoSimpleSolar

Mark Becker is the President of GoSimpleSolar, by Semper Fidelis Construction Inc, a Danville based Solar Installation Firm (License 948715). Mark can be reached at 925.915.9252. Visit GoSimpleSolar’s showroom at 114 West Prospect Avenue in Danville or, or email