Saturday, April 28, 2007

Our Installation Starts Monday

Monday will be a red-letter day for two reasons. It's the last day for homeowners to sign contracts with SolarCity that will allow them to get the group discount price, and it's the day that installation of our solar system will begin.

Even though I've been working on the solar project for three months now, the phone call asking if we were ready for installation seemed like a bolt from the blue. It's hard to believe that in just 4 days we'll be solar owners.

Friday, April 13, 2007

We Did It! 175 kW of Clean Solar Power

APRIL 13 -- We did it!

Today, the number of kilowatts we've purchased just went over the 175 mark.

Dan from SolarCity wasn't able to give me the exact figure over the phone, but he says they have closed a lot of business in the last few days. Congratulations, Mountain View!

My "Guest Opinion" Column in The Voice

The local paper, The Mountain View Voice, printed the Guest Opinion column that I submitted in its April 13, 2007 issue. Here is a link to the article:

The Editor, Don Frances, has been very generous in the amount of publicity he has given to the project in his weekly column, and I appreciate being able to write the 450-word opinion column.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

First Home Goes Live

Steve and Andrea Lacy are the first of our buyers group to have their new solar system up and running and producing clean solar power. They were approved by PG&E yesterday (April 10) and Steve writes about it in this posting to the new MVSolar Yahoo! Group. Congratulations Steve and Andrea!

Monday, April 9, 2007

ABC News and "Fast Company" Pick Up the Story

Today I was part of a group of about a dozen people who were photographed for an article about SolarCity and its Community Power Program that will appear in Fast Company magazine. The photo shoot was at Mary and Chris Dateo's house near Cuesta Park. Their solar system is nearly installed, and the photo included the community champions for Menlo Park and Atherton as well as Twana and me, Mary and Chris, and several Solar City employees.

{Later -- the story and photo appeared on Page 37 of the June, 2007 issue of Fast Company. Unfortunately for our 15 minutes of fame, we were cropped out of the photo. Darn!}

While waiting for the photographer to set up, Nicole from SolarCity told me that the company had been featured on Friday, April 7 in a segment of the national ABC News. I've added a link to it in the "Media" section of the blog.

I also sent in my Guest Editorial to the Mountain View Voice. It will appear this coming Friday.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Congresswoman Eshoo Supports Bill to Enhance Tax Breaks for Solar

About a week ago I e-mailed Senators Boxer & Feinstein and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo about a pair of bills that would dramatically expand and extend the federal tax credit for Solar Power and other forms of renewable energy. The House Bill is H.R. 550 and the Senate Bill is S. 590. The impact of this bill would be enormous. It would raise the federal tax credit for a typical 3 kilowatt solar system from $2,000 to $9,000 !! If this sounds like a law you'd like to see passed, write to Senators Boxer and Feinstein and see if they will co-sponsor S. 590!

Here's the reply I got from Congresswoman Eshoo. The reason why this bill is so appealing is highlighted in red. The bill would be retroactive to cover systems installed after Dec. 31, 2006.

Dear Bruce,

Thank you for contacting me about H.R. 550. I'm a cosponsor of this bill, the Securing America's Energy Independence Act of 2007.

I believe Congress must provide incentives to encourage the development of sustainable sources of energy and I'm a strong supporter of legislation that expands federal investments in renewable sources of energy. H.R. 550 amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend until 2016 energy tax credits for those who choose to utilize or install solar and fuel cell technologies at their businesses and homes. It raises the credit for residential solar power equipment to $1,500 per half kilowatt of capacity and it removes the caps on the maximum credit that can be claimed by home owners and businesses that install photovoltaic equipment. The tax credits may also be applied against a taxpayer's alternative minimum tax liability.

I will do everything I can to see that this bill is enacted into law and I will continue to work to encourage the widespread use of efficient and renewable sources of energy. Adopting sustainable energy policies will help us meet the challenges of global climate change, provide greater energy security, and offer economic opportunity to emerging energy providers.


Anna G. Eshoo
Member of Congress

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

San Rafael Had the Most Residential Solar in 2006

Steve Lacy sent me an interesting link on the Northern California Solar Energy Association's (NCSEA) site. It's a table that shows the cities that are "most solar" as measured on the basis of watts per capita of residential-sized system.

The data that NCSEA analayzed included all systems of less than 15 kW installed from 1998 through May 31, 2006. (15 kW is five times larger than a typical Mountain View solar system, but is about right for a large home in a hot climate like Fresno.) The data showed that San Rafael was the leader with 9.41 AC watts per capita of residential solar. Mountain View was not one of the top 10 cities last year.

I was able to tap into the same data source that NCSEA used, and found that as of 5/31/2006 Mountain View had installed 222.4 kW of residential-sized solar systems. Our population is about 73,000, so that put us at 3.05 watts per capita, roughly 1/3 as much as in San Rafael.

Another 44 kW was installed between 5/31/2006 and the start of the SolarCity program, so if we assume that SolarCity participants sign up for 200 kW, then by 5/31/2007 Mountain View will be home to a total of 466 solar kW.

When NCSEA releases their 2007 figures our solar watts per capita will be about 6.4. That still trails where San Rafael was a year ago, but it should be good enough to get us into the Bay Area Top 10 for cities with a population of over 50,000.

But if you add in the 1,600 kW that Google is installing, the 480 kW that Microsoft brought online in 2006, and the 90 kW from the new City parking structure, then I think that Mountain View has to be THE most solar medium or large city in Northern California, based on watts per capita.