Category Archives: Solar: A Smart Energy Choice

December Film: CARBON NATION

December film: Carbon Nation

When: Wednesday, December 12, 7 pm; Where: Peacock Theater


Carbon Nation, a peppy documentary directed by Peter Byck, is perfectly timed given the urgency of the climate crisis publicized in the recent IPCC report. It is addressed to Americans who already believe that we must make drastic changes in the way we live as a nation and as individuals. But even more, it is targeted to those who do not care or are antagonistic toward talk of global warming. That is why you will see spokespersons for large corporations, the military, and entrepreneurs stating that a low-carbon economy is good for business. Byck has gathered an astonishing and varied group of American citizens to educate us about solutions to the very-real crisis we are facing. It’s pragmatism is appealing across the political spectrum. It celebrates solutions, inspiration, and action.


The most enthusiastic and hopeful believer in a low-carbon economy and its positive impact on poor people is Van Jones, a civil rights activist who founded Green For All which brings new jobs in this burgeoning field to disadvantaged communities. A magic moment for him is watching trainees of Solar Richmond & Grid Alternatives installing solar panels in a California home.

Another activist is Bernie Karl, a geothermal pioneer in Alaska who has found a way to use 165 degree water to create geothermal power. He has come up with what many are calling a game-changing technology which can wean us from dependence on oil.

Dan Nolan, a former army colonel, shares the workings of the Green Hawks, people in the U.S. Department of Defense who are pushing the Pentagon’s move toward energy efficiency and sustainable power. There is a competition among base commanders around the US to become the first net-zero-energy base, to create all the energy they use, to use water in the most efficient manner, and to have bio-waste energy generators on base. Being off the grid makes the military more resistant to terrorism.

Cliff Etheredge, a rancher in West Texas, brags about the money he and others are making by leasing their land to wind companies. This project of green energy has brought new life back to a dying community.

Others featured in this engrossing documentary talk about:

  • the benefits of white roofs (Dr. Arthur Rosenfeld),
  • the search for a biofuel replacement for jet fuel (Richard Branson),
  • the generation of energy at or near the site where energy is used (Amory Lovins),
  • the fact that going green will save U.S. companies millions of dollars and create many new businesses (Thomas I. Friedman),
  • the benefits of plug-in hybrid cars (R. James Woolsey),
  • and the challenge of making energy efficiency in homes and offices universally accessible (James Rogers).


The consensus view of these movers and shakers in American society is that climate change can be dealt with before it is too late, but only if citizens, politicians, scientists, and businesses all work together on some of the solutions presented on Carbon Nation.

It is 84 minutes long. Sorry, no captions.


Residential Solar and Virtual Net Metering

Net Energy Metering (NEM) and Virtual Net Energy Metering (NEMV) were the highlight topics at the November 2018 Sustainable Rossmoor general meeting. Resident Norm King described his experience having NEMV installed in Mutual 48. Jeff Parr, owner of Solar Technologies, explained solar basics, how NEM and NEMV work, their installation and considerations.

NEM and NEMV is a bill crediting system for community solar. It refers to solar installed on a roof shared among residents. NEM is good for single family or town homes. NEMV is for condo or multi-unit complexes.

Mutual 48 Solar and NEMV Installation

Norm King shared Mutual 48’s experience making solar available to all of its residents, regardless of whether or not their individual manor has a south-facing or shaded roof. The process started in 2015 with all member meetings to learn advantages of solar, determine support, and adopt a “fairness principle.” In 2016 24 homeowners signed up, PG&E requirements were met, and building and fire permits were applied for. By the end of 2017 MOD, and building and fire inspections were completed. In 2018 there are significant electricity bill reductions and CO2 savings. Click here to download the 2-page Word file of Norm’s presentation notes which has an outline of activities for each year.

Norm King describes getting solar in Mutual 48 at Sustainable Rossmoor November meeting.
Virtual net energy metering and solar panel installation on multi-unit complexes

Benefits of Solar

Jeff Parr said residential solar panel systems reduce energy costs and have tax incentives. Plus, we’ll be doing our part to help the environment and combat climate change. It takes 5 to 7 years to recover our investment. Purchasing solar can increase the resale value of our homes by more than $5,000 per kilowatt added. Solar Technologies is the firm developing the one-megawatt solar array for Golden Rain Foundation.

For more information check the California Public Utilities Commission Virtual Net Metering web page (

Solar Makes Sense – Earth Matters

People often ask why I want solar and I always respond, “Why not? The sun is free.” Think of that earth-scorching summer heat. Why not turn it into something that can benefit me economically and simultaneously help save this planet for our grandchildren?

Today, because of global warming, dry days are drier, wet days are wetter, hot days are hotter and cold days are colder. Our air conditioners, furnaces and heat pumps are working longer each day and more days each year. The March 8, 2017 Rossmoor News recently reported the “bill shock” experienced by many Rossmoor residents due to PG&E’s recent rate increase. No matter how consciously you try to conserve, you still end up paying more every year. The impact of utility rate increases would be minimal if we all had solar panels on our roofs.

Cost of rooftop solar

Another frequent comment I heard about rooftop solar is “it’s expensive.” People may like the idea of harvesting free solar energy and they may also care about the environment, but are discouraged by the upfront purchase and installation costs. However, with the advancement of technology and the state and federal policies that promote renewable energy, prices of residential solar energy systems are no longer unreachable for many of us.

When California established the Million Solar Roofs Initiative in 2006, the ultimate goal envisioned by state policy makers was to make solar energy readily available and cost-competitive to the state’s residents and businesses. It was the most ambitious solar energy policy ever introduced in the United States. The initiative provided $3.3 billion in funding to support the installation of one million solar energy systems on homes and businesses over a 10-year period. That would generate an estimated 3,000 megawatts of new solar energy, equivalent to about 40 peaking power plants.

The idea behind the initiative was to use financial incentives to stimulate growth and demand in the solar energy market. Over time, as experience, innovation and competition grew, prices would drop. As prices dropped to a level where they could compete with investor-owned utilities, the solar industry would become self-sustainable and the incentives would discontinue. According to a 2015 report published by the Environment California Research and Policy Center titled “California’s Solar Success Story,” the average cost of a residential solar system was $9.68 per watt in May 2007 when the incentive program began. By June 2014, the average price had dropped to $5.32/watt. The price of a non-residential system was $8.86/watt in 2007, and by 2014, the price declined 50 percent to $4.32/watt.

Federal tax credit

In 2015, Congress extended the federal Solar Investment Tax Credit for residential homes for five more years. Taxpayers can receive tax credits equal to 30 percent of the cost invested in solar energy system if construction begins before the end of 2019. For example, if your total cost to have solar panels installed on your roof is $20,000 and the work begins between now and Dec. 31, 2019, you can get $6,000 deducted from the income tax you pay for the year in which the work started. So you basically get a 30 percent discount on the purchase price. The tax credit steps down to 25 percent in 2020 and 22 percent in 2021.

Cost vs. benefit

The financial benefits of going solar are now well documented. Many homeowners, including myself, see solar panels as an “investment” with strong rates of return. Utility rates will continue to rise and homeowners generating solar electricity can diminish ever-increasing electricity bills.

How soon a homeowner can break even on their solar investment depends on the capacity of their PV [PhotoVoltaic] system and electrical usage prior to the installation. Nationwide, the average time of return is five to 10 years. The system we had installed on the roof of our Danville home in 2010 would have paid for itself by next year had we not sold it and moved to Rossmoor.

Installing solar panels can also increase a home’s property value. Since a solar system reduces a home’s electricity costs, they make a home more attractive to buyers – similar to homes in good school districts and those with good home energy ratings. New York Times reported in February 2015 that a study conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that buyers were willing to pay a premium of $15,000 for a home with the average-size solar PV system.

Rooftop solar in condo communities

As Rossmoor residents may have learned, there are many obstacles in the path to acquiring residential solar power in condo communities. Efforts are underway to address some of those obstacles. Condo owners in larger buildings can also pool their resources and share the benefits, as is being done in Mutual 48. Due to limited space, these will have to be addressed in another column.

By Jennifer Mu

Jennifer Mu can be emailed at barnhartmu8833@

Emerging Issues Between Davis-Stirling and Solar Rights Act.

Original Post Appeared On Epic Energy Blog

Emerging Issues Between the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act and the Solar Rights Act

Posted on January 12, 2017 by Joe Kaatz Epic Energy Blog

With the growing installation of solar photovoltaic systems in California, more homeowner’s associations (HOAs) are using a specific provision of the Davis-Stirling Common Interest Development Act (DSA) (Civil Code Section 4000 et seq.) to regulate the installation of rooftop solar on common area roofs of multi-family common interest developments (apartment, condo complexes, etc.).  The DSA defines the form of organization and ownership interest in community apartment projects, condominium projects, planned developments, and stock cooperatives. A specific provision of the DSA governs the restrictions on ownership and transfers of exclusive use of any portion of a common area to a member for the installation of a rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) or solar thermal system.

This post will explain the relevant provisions of the DSA and Solar Rights Act (SRA) to frame this residential real estate issue. It will focus on use of statutory ownership rights and transfer of interest between the board of the association that oversees uses in common areas and an individual separate property owner that seeks to install a rooftop solar PV or solar thermal energy system on a common area rooftop. The discussion is limited to built or future residential common interest developments, as defined by Civil Code Section 4100, and excludes both the Subdivided Lands Act (Business and Professions Code Section 11000 et seq.) and Commercial and Industrial Common Interest Development Act (Civil Code Section 6500-6876).

The DSA addresses the following common interest development requirements:

  • governing documents
  • ownership rights and transfer of interest
  • property use and maintenance
  • association governance
  • finances
  • assessments and assessment collection
  • insurance and liability
  • dispute resolution and enforcement
  • construction defect litigation

In common interest developments, ownership rights are divided between separate property interest, such as the internal space of a condo, and common area ownership, such as a common hallway, stairwell, or roof.  Miller and Starr California Real Estate 4th Section 28:3 describe a common interest developments as “… any real property development that consists of (1) ‘separate interest,’ which are separately owned lots, airspace units, or rights of occupancy, and (2) one or more additional lots or spaces owned in common with the owners of the separately owned lots, or mutual, common, or reciprocal interests in, or restrictions upon, all or a portion of the separately owned lots.”  Under California Civil Code Section 4185 , “separate interest” is defined as follows:

(1) In a community apartment project, “separate interest” means the exclusive right to occupy an apartment, as specified in Section 4105.

(2) In a condominium project, “separate interest” means a separately owned unit, as specified in Section 4125.

(3) In a planned development, “separate interest” means a separately owned lot, parcel, area, or space.

(4) In a stock cooperative, “separate interest” means the exclusive right to occupy a portion of the real property, as specified in Section 4190.

(b) Unless the declaration or condominium plan, if any exists, otherwise provides, if walls, floors, or ceilings are designated as boundaries of a separate interest, the interior surfaces of the perimeter walls, floors, ceilings, windows, doors, and outlets located within the separate interest are part of the separate interest and any other portions of the walls, floors, or ceilings are part of the common area.

(c) The estate in a separate interest may be a fee, a life estate, an estate for years, or any combination of the foregoing.

California Civil Code Section Section 4095 defines “common area” in the following way:

(a) “Common area” means the entire common interest development except the separate interests therein. The estate in the common area may be a fee, a life estate, an estate for years, or any combination of the foregoing.

(b) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), in a planned development described in subdivision (b) of Section 4175, the common area may consist of mutual or reciprocal easement rights appurtenant to the separate interests.

Currently, there are actions by HOA boards to amend their governing documents to exercise the authority and control granted to common interest developments under Civil Code Section 4600 regarding the transfer of interest in any portion of the common area to a member seeking exclusive use for rooftop solar PV.  Under California Civil Code Section 4600, an affirmative vote of members owning at least 67 percent (or other percentage specified by the governing documents) of the separate interest in the common interest development must be cast to grant exclusive use of any portion of the common area to a member.

California Civil Code Section 4600 states that it does not apply in a number of circumstances including specified reasons for a grant of exclusive use.  Section 4600 (b)(3)(J) provides the relevant language that relates to the SRA.  This subsection states that California Civil Code Section 4600 does not apply to any grant of exclusive use that is required “[t]o comply with governing law.”  The SRA, under Civil Code 714 (a), specifies that:

Any covenant, restriction, or condition contained in any deed, contract, security instrument, or other instrument affecting the transfer or sale of, or any interest in, real property, and any provision of a governing document, as defined in Section 4150 or 6552, that effectively prohibits or restricts the installation or use of a solar energy system is void and unenforceable.

Of importance is the language “effectively prohibits or restricts” under Civil Code 714.  The California Legislature did not draft the SRA or DSA with the intent of creating conflict.  The SRA is intended to prevent prohibitions and restrictions and remove obstacles to rooftop solar.  The DSA is intended to regulate the various property rights and interest that compose common interest developments.  Both of these statutes should work in tandem, without conflict. HOA governing documents, including bylaws, operating rules, articles of incorporation, or articles of association, that an HOA board amends to include California Civil Code Section 4600 provision are also written to avoid conflicts between the SRA and DSA.

However, it may be possible for a community interest development that requires a 67% affirmative vote to transfer exclusive use in a common area to separate property owner pursuant to California Civil Code 4600 to effectively prohibit or restrict rooftop solar if no separate property applicants are approved or if they are effectively restricted. While the SRA does allow reasonable restrictions under subsection(b) and (d)(1)-(2), a reasonable restrictions is not defined in terms of the transfer of an ownership interest but instead upon increasing cost and decreasing efficiency. Actions that effectively prohibit or restrict the installation of rooftop solar violate the SRA and, by violating the SRA, violate the DSA under California Civil Code Section 4600(b)(3)(J).

Both the SRA and DSA provide civil litigation causes of relief for violations.  California Civil Code Section 4605 of the DSA provides a member of an association with a right to declaratory or equitable relief for a violation of Section 4600 by an association. Section 4605 complaints must be brought within 1 year of the date the action accrues and entitles a prevailing member to reasonable attorney’s fees and court costs as well as authorizes a court to impose a civil penalty of $500 for each violation, subject to specified limitations.  Prevailing associations do not recover any costs unless the court finds the members case frivolous, unreasonable, or without foundation.  California Civil Code Section 714(f) provides a cause of action to the applicant or member for willful violation of the SRA.  This potentially subjects the association to liability for actual damages as well as a civil penalty, not to exceed $1,000.  The SRA allows the prevailing party, whether the member or association, to be awarded attorney’s fees.

Several options exist to avoid conflicts between the DSA and SRA. For existing common interest developments, it would be possible to amend Section 4600 to include an exemption for rooftop solar.  This could be done by either expressly making rooftop solar exempt or by basing the exemption on the use of a license to use a common area for rooftop solar similar to the existing exemption for electric vehicle chargers under Section 4600 (b)(3)(H)-(I) of the DSA where an association grants a license to a common area under California Civil Code Section 4745.  The use of a license would also require amending Section 714 of the SRA to allow for the submission, review, and granting of a license for a rooftop solar system on a common area roof using similar language as found under California Civil Code Section 4745(f) regarding electric vehicle charger installation in common interest developments.  Either of these options would maintain the power of an associations to impose reasonable provisions on an applicant for rooftop solar under California Civil Code Section 714.1, including maintenance, repair, or replacement of roofs or other building components.

For new common interest developments, it is possible to create solar ready developments that include a recorded declaration pursuant to California Civil Code Section 4250 that grants an exclusive use common area, as defined by California Civil Code Section 4145, to each separate interest to install rooftop solar.  Rooftop solar applicants and applicable associations would still be subject to Sections 714 and 714.1 of the SRA.

Additionally, new common interest developments could also exempt rooftop solar from Section 4600 through the grant of exclusive use to separate interests for rooftop solar under California Code Section 4600(b)(2).  This would require that the exclusive use be included in the detailed plan of a phased development submitted to the Real Estate Commission and that the grants substantially conform to the detailed plan of a phased development.  This would make the development solar ready and maintain the review process and other requirements under Sections 714 and 714.1.

This is a repost of an article dated January 12, 2017 on Epic Energy Blog, authored by Joe Kaatz.

Solar Power and Energy Storage in California Are Rising Significantly

In 2012, solar power accounted for just 2 percent of the total electricity PG&E delivered to customers in Northern and Central California. In 2015, solar accounted for more than 11 percent of total retail electric sales. With solar coming from small rooftops and vast fields of sun-drenched panels, solar energy is playing a key role in California’s fight to increase renewable energy sources.

Solar: Largest Source of California Renewable Energy

Solar has surpassed other forms of renewable energy such as wind and geothermal to become the largest source of energy eligible under California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS). The state mandate requires utilities to provide 33 percent of their energy from eligible renewable resources by 2020, and a new standard of 50 percent by 2030.

Rooftop solar also continues to grow rapidly in California, providing customers with energy savings and reducing demand on the electrical grid during peak solar production times. PG&E connected more than 65,000 customers to its electric grid in 2015 – about 60 percent more than in 2014. PG&E now has more than 250,000 solar customers, more than any other utility in the nation.

In fact, so much solar has come online in California, that at times, too much electric generation is online and energy companies have curtailed (taken off of the grid) some forms of generation.

The Future: Energy Storage Technology

PG&E is exploring different solutions to help address operational challenges like this in order to maintain safe and reliable power for its customers, including energy storage technology solutions to power the future.

California enacted four new laws in September to promote energy storage even though California already leads the nation in energy storage deployments, but the state legislature decided there was more to do on the policy end.

The legislature directs the California Public Utilities Commission to evaluate the role large-scale storage can play for the integration of renewable energy, create an independent body to resolve storage interconnection disputes, expand funding for the Self-Generation Incentive Program and urge the state’s three investor-owned utilities to invest in up to 500 megawatts of storage projects.

California has set a high bar for clean energy achievement and aims to cut its greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030 to meet the 50 percent renewable requirement. Reaching such high amounts of variable renewable generation all but requires a wider build-out of storage capacity to give the grid more control over when that wind and solar power is consumed. Whereas storage bills have languished in Congress, California’s leaders have demonstrated they know what storage can do and want to enlarge its role in the state.

“These four bills will accelerate the market opportunities for energy storage in California and give the state more options for how to use storage to meet the grid’s needs,” said Alex Morris, director of Policy and Regulatory Affairs at the California Energy Storage Alliance.

With 73.2 megawatts of storage capacity, California has deployed more storage than any other single state. Other states are watching, so the optimization underway in this jurisdiction will set an example for younger storage markets.

What’s Holding Us Back?

In order for a storage market to thrive, developers have to have a simple and predictable way to connect newly deployed systems to the grid. In order to encourage energy storage hits the residential market as well, JLM Energy and Fronius Solar unveiled Smart Solar and storage technology for the home at Intersolar over the summer. When you combine high-tech and energy, really cool things emerge. The two companies debuted a synergistic renewable energy plus storage ecosystem for the home, called Energizr 200.

This technology includes an inverter that connects directly to Wi-Fi, providing customers with immediate data on how much power they are consuming and how much power the solar system is producing. All of this is integrated with the Honeywell Lyric smart thermostat so customers can remotely pre-cool their home during less expensive hours and avoid peak rates during the dinner hour.

Energy storage using battery systems is becoming the next BIG THING in the home energy arena. This technology is especially important in states like California, Arizona, Hawaii and Nevada where net metering is going away and residential demand charges are being added.

This article first appeared in the December 07, 2016 issue of the Rossmoor News, author Kent Steele

Freqently Asked Questions About Solar

In December, world leaders met in Paris to put the world on a path toward ending fossil fuels consumption. The world is now adding more power from renewable sources than from oil, coal and natural gas combined. The United States has tripled the amount of energy obtained from wind and solar since 2008. Prices for solar panels have fallen each year – almost 45 percent drop between 2010 and 2014. Especially for those of us living in all-electric homes, going solar is a smart investment. For those residents who have not gotten around to studying what is involved in going solar, the following questions and answers may be helpful:

Why should I buy a solar system?

The main reason for most of us to go solar is to save money. Once the system is paid for, the homeowners are making money every time the sun is shining. Some of us also enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling we get from knowing that we are doing something good for the environment. The cost of energy from the utility company continues to go up making this a hedge against inflation.

Didn’t the renewable energy investment tax credit just get extended?

Yes, we are happy to report that the 30 percent federal tax credit will be available until 2019.

How does solar work?

The solar panels are made up of tiny cells made of treated silicon. Each one collects solar radiation and converts it into an electric current. The panels are wired together to create an array and the output travels through wires and conduit to an inverter. The inverter converts the direct current to alternating current, which is used to run appliances, lighting, etc. Once this AC current is wired into the breaker box, the homeowner is harvesting the power of the sun. If you are using less than you are producing at any given moment, the excess goes back into the grid as your meter literally spins backward.

Is my home a good place for a photo-voltaic system?

A well designed solar system needs clear access to the sun during the middle of the day. If your south-facing roof is shaded by a huge pine tree, this probably isn’t for you. If your roof will need to be replaced soon, it may be smart to wait until the roofing job is done to install the panels.

What is the permit process like?

The city of Walnut Creek will require a permit, but the cost is small and the solar installer will handle it for the homeowner. The installer will also handle the paperwork with PG&E.

Is it proven technology?

The technology has been around for over 50 years and some of the initial cells are still operating today. The panels come with a 25-year warranty. The efficiency and cost has significantly improved in the last five years. There are no moving parts to break or wear out.

Should I buy or lease the system?

Some companies offer plans that involve no money down and guaranteed lower electric bills. While the homeowner can’t lose with one of these plans, unless the homeowner plans on owning the home for the next 20 years, owning the system may make more sense. Home improvement loans at low interest are readily available for those homeowners who don’t have the cash. There is also a program called the PACE program that allows payments to be included as part of the homeowner’s property tax bill. The solar companies will be able to discuss the pros and cons of buying versus leasing and options for financing.

April 15 is Earth Day event here at Rossmoor. As part of that event, four or five solar companies will be here to show their wares and talk with residents about the specifics of what will be involved in considering the possibility of going solar. Now may be the time.

The article first appeared in the March 16, 2016 issue of the Rossmoor News, authored by Bob Hanson and Kent Steele

Solar Power Now

We all know oil will all be gone one of these days.  Right?   Natural gas too.  Coal will last for a hundred years or so.  In the meantime causing great pollution and global warming.  So, what will our great, great grandchildren do for energy?  Fortunately, this old earth is blessed with abundant energy from the sun, wind, tides and geo-thermal.  The sun alone provides enough energy to supply our needs a hundred times over.  Enough sunlight strikes the earth every 104 minutes to power the entire world for a year.

If you are like many other Rossmoor residents, you have thought about the possibility of putting solar panels on your roof.  Maybe this column will motivate you to action.


Think you can’t afford to put in solar panels?  There are companies out there who will install them for no money down and guarantee a reduced power bill.  How can you lose on that? From 2010 to 2013, the cost of solar panels dropped by about 30%.  Unlike fossil fuels, solar panels generate electricity without contributing  to  air pollution or  global warming.

Along with these increasingly attractive economics and its environmental benefits, solar power creates jobs.  The U.S. solar industry employed more than 140,000 people in 2013 and the  number of homes investing in solar is increasing at a rate of 50% per year.  A national study showed that job creation in clean energy outdoes fossil fuels by a margin of 3-to-1.

It is estimated that by 2016, solar generated electricity will be as inexpensive as electricity generated by other methods in every state except three.  No, California isn’t one of the three!

Local Statistics

88 different companies have installed one or more solar systems in Walnut Creek alone.  Solar PV panels now adorn the roofs of over 400,000 American homes, including many in places like Massachusetts, which don’t have anywhere near as much sunshine as we enjoy.

Last year, solar energy accounted for 30% of newly installed   electricity capacity in this country.  This year, a new system goes in every 2.4 minutes.  Meanwhile, Germany and a few other countries are ahead of us in solar generation.  Germany has 1.4 million panels installed, along with 24,000 wind turbines.  31 percent of its electricity comes from renewable sources; up to 74% on sunny and/or windy days.

This isn’t experimental, folks.  We installed ours   in 2003 and haven’t had a problem with them.  There are no moving parts to wear out.  We are lucky to have a south facing roof. Not everyone is so fortunate, so maybe you can’t take advantage of this technology.  Some people also have large trees shading their roofs…so, it isn’t for everyone.  When we installed our panels, we received a nice tax rebate.  These incentives are still available.  Lest the Republicans decry me getting this help from Uncle Sam, I would like to point out that fossil fuels have gotten 75 times more subsidies than clean energy…$446.96 billion from 1994 to 2009, whereas renewable energy sources received just $5.93 billion (adjusted for inflation).

Are you interested in finding out whether solar is right for you?  Fortunately, there is lots of assistance available on the internet.  Two sites in particular will guide you through the process and help you determine how much money you can save and

Don’t let our sunny days go to waste….go solar!

This article first appeared in the Progressive View column of the December 03, 2014 issue of the Rossmoor News, author Bob Hanson.

Why You Should Go Solar Now

The Right Thing To Do

My wife and I installed solar panels on our condo in Rossmoor back in 2003. Our main objective wasn’t to save money. We simply thought it was the right thing to do. Our system cost us about 12 cents a watt after rebates and tax incentives. I am told that today I could replace the system at somewhere around four cents a watt.

Energy experts say that by 2016 power from solar will be cheaper than power generated by coal or natural gas in all but three states. It’s not hard to imagine that California isn’t one of those three states. Solar has never been cheaper. The average California homeowner going solar saves $1,560 a year on his electric bill.

But here’s the catch: Like most government programs, the tax rebate is temporary. PG&E is also mandated by the state Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to use a percentage of renewable energy in its mix. I understand that PG&E is getting close to that cap now, and sometime soon it will start discouraging solar.

Residential solar has been increasing at about 30 percent a year. It isn’t exactly a new idea. There are about 200 different companies that have installed panels on one or more Walnut Creek homes. It’s a highly competitive business. That competitive atmosphere is good for you. If you don’t have any cash on hand to pay for the installations, there are companies out there that will install them for no money down and guarantee a savings on your electric bill. How can you lose on that? However, if you can pay cash, you are probably better off to go that route, so that when you sell your unit the lease won’t complicate the sale.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which is approved by the city of Walnut Creek. A PACE loan pays for the installation and your payments are made through your yearly property tax. The additional tax payments will be lower than your savings on the electricity bill. This, of course, won’t be an option if you live in a co-op.

December 2016 is a date to remember. That is when the 30 percent federal tax credit expires and your net cost will take a bump. If you do the installation now you will be much better off.

If the south- and west-facing roofs on your building are shaded by large trees, solar probably isn’t for you. If your building is scheduled to have its roof replaced in a year or two, it would probably be smart to wait. You will be responsible for paying for the panels to be removed and then re-installed. Otherwise, it is to your financial well-being to make your move now.

Some of our Rossmoor Mutuals are welcoming solar and moving ahead with plans to solve the potential problem of two or more homeowners in a building vying for the same sunny roof space. This will need to be ironed out. In the meantime, my advice is to call two or three solar companies for bids and let your Mutual know you are ready to move. It will save you money on your electric bills, give you a warm, fuzzy feeling knowing that you are doing something to reduce carbon emissions and increase the value of your home.

This article first appeared in the Rossmoor News on August 19, 2015. Author: Bob Hanson 

Residential Solar: Challenges and Opportunities

Carter Lavin David Hochschild December 6, 2016

One of Sustainable Rossmoor’s missions is to provide Rossmoor residents and Mutual Directors with information to help Rossmoor develop more sustainable practices. Recently some of the Mutual Boards have approved procedures for the installation of rooftop solar panels that are difficult, time-consuming and expensive for residents to follow. Sustainable Rossmoor is working to find solutions that meet with both Davis-Stirling requirements and the California Rooftop Solar Initiatives, so that homeowners who wish to have solar energy can have it.

Our Speakers

The discussion today is a step towards moving the process along.Our speakers are extremely qualified to speak about residential roof top solar. David Hochshild is a commissioner with the California Energy Commission.  He was appointed by Governor Jerry Brown in February 2013, and fills the environmental position on the five member Commission. Commissioner Hochschild’s environmental career began when he was Special Assistant to Mayor Willie Brown where he launched a citywide $100 million initiative to put solar panels on public buildings.

Carter Lavin, is the Membership Coordinator at the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA). CALSEIA is a major force behind California’s pro-solar policies. Carter has many years of experience serving nearly every aspect of the solar market.

Sustainable Rossmoor wants to thank, our members Brent Barnhart, Jennifer Mu, Bob Hanson and Jim Ware for making this event possible.

Carter Lavin and David Hochschild’s Talk

The following video is the talk presented by Carter Lavin and David Hochschild, at the December 6, 2016 general meeting of the Sustainable Rossmoor Club.