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Individuals can receive up to $6,000 under the new grant program, amounting to one big green tax cut for the citizens of San Francisco.  (Source: Elsa Wenzel/CNET)

The current solar power installations in San Francisco are pictured; expect a lot more dots coming soon.  (Source: San Francisco Solar Map)
San Francisco is looking to get off the grid and save money with a vast solar push

Independent solar power efforts are growing rapidly.  With a number of businesses providing unique, online-coordinated installation options, individuals and small businesses are adopting the technology.  And part of the new rate of adoption is thanks to local government grants. 

Many cities and states give citizens large grants to bear some of the capital brunt of buying solar panels.  These grants are in essence a big tax break as the consumer will typically make a good deal of money of the solar panels in their lifetime.  They are the alternative energy version of the business world's small business grants.

This Tuesday, San Francisco looked to keep the good times rolling and put some green back its citizens' pockets with the approval of a massive new grant campaign.  Solar panel manufacturers and installers received the news with giddy anticipation and are preparing for the new boom.

For the next ten years, citizens can get $3,000 to $6,000 in a one-time grant to install panels.  Both businesses and charities are also receiving some solar love.  Businesses and nonprofits can get $10,000 grants, while nonprofit affordable housing can get up to a whopping $30,000.  Mayor Gavin Newsom states, "This rebate program further establishes San Francisco as America's solar energy leader and symbolizes the commitment of the city to make affordable solar power available to those who want it."

The mayor says the program should launch this July and will only cost the city $3 million yearly.  He says the benefits are far reaching and go beyond just putting money back in the hands of consumers and businesses in energy cost savings.  Newsom says the program will attract businesses and will grow green jobs.

If San Francisco can really pull of the green transformation it will be a significant accomplishment.  In the green-savvy California, San Francisco has traditionally been somewhat of a laughing stock of the alternative energy community.  The city was ranked last in the Bay Area by a recent assessment by the San Francisco Solar Task Force.  Of the city's 195,000 rooftops, only 744 had solar panels, less than 1 percent.

The mayor hopes that the new efforts will panel nearly 10,000 rooftops over the decade, or roughly 5 percent of the city's rooftops.  If successful, this would produce around 50 MW of power.

Lyndon Rive, CEO of installer SolarCity, whom DailyTech recently reported on, is thrilled by the effort.  He anticipates the number of panels tripling and as the city's largest solar installer; he's in prime position for success.  With 40 current employees his company is expanding with a "green" job training initiative in a low-income part of the city.  Rive complements the new program stating, "It's simple, easy to understand, and easy to implement."

While his company offered solar leasing, he acknowledges that this strategy was not as cost effective and that most citizens couldn't afford it.  Now between city, state, and federal tax credits, rebates, and grants, an average consumer who would have paid $30,000 for panels can pay a mere $6,000.  Kevin Gage, sales director for San Diego-based installer Borrego Solar states, "This is just gonna spur the industry.  The market was essentially shut down in San Francisco. Now a lot of companies like ours are gonna move into San Francisco."

Ironically the approval was announced the same day San Francisco utility Pacific Gas & Electric announced a 6.5 percent electricity rate hiking on surging fossil fuel costs.  San Franciscan Sylvia Ventura is excited about the relief the move may provide her fellow citizens, but she's a bit fearful that the myriad of installers will confuse them.  She states, "This business was done for a long time in the shadows and some installers took advantage of people being intimidated by the data, not understanding metering, wattage, and what to pay."

She and her husband Dan Barahona launched a new effort, One Block Off The Grid, which aims to use collective bargaining and other subsidies to further reduce the cost of the panels to an attractive price of "free".  She says that the first 50 homeowners that sign up for the program will receive panels free of cost, thanks to the effort's clever negotiating.  However, corporate partners are still in the process of being secured and the list is currently only half full.

Whether the new grant program is a glowing success or just a modest one, at the end of the day its putting money back in the hands of the hardworking tax payer.  With rising energy and food costs, the consumer in San Francisco will finally get to see some light.



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I don't get it
By drebo on 6/12/2008 11:39:22 AM , Rating: 2
What I've never understood about these so-called "Green Power" proponents is how in the world can you think that covering our desserts with solar arrays and peppering every hill in the country with wind turbines is more environmentally friendly than nuclear power?

They promote energy independence, yet refuse to let us exploit our oil deposits...counter-intuitive much?

Maybe I'm just missing something. Or not.




RE: I don't get it
By gmw1082 on 6/12/2008 12:05:02 PM , Rating: 5
While I agree with what you say, your comments are outside the scope of this article. These grants are about installing solar panels on rooftops, not littering the countryside with so called green solutions.


RE: I don't get it
By drebo on 6/12/2008 12:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
Is it, though?

Roof-top solar solutions are NOT going to be enough to power a whole city, under any circumstance. It can augment the power grid, sure, but never will it be the sole provider of power.

However, the more these so-called "green" solutions are advocated and promoted, the more people will think they are a viable solution to replace our entire power source. This will lead to the stonewalling of any other type of mass power generation, such as nuclear.

Government endorsement goes a long way with consumers, and that's exactly what this is.


RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:09:08 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Fisson is a terrible idea unless we find some way of disposing of it's waste-and so far we've found none.


Uh....yes we have. It's called fuel reprocessing. And you can do it practically forever. The French do. The British do. The US does not. Because it can produce weapons grade material which people complain about.


RE: I don't get it
By NicoloPicolo on 6/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: I don't get it
By Denigrate on 6/12/2008 5:14:08 PM , Rating: 3
You have no idea what you are talking about. Last article I read stated that after use, nuclear fuel is ~97% used up, and the remaining portion has a half life of 200-300ish years. The fuel is basically recycled over and over again, which flies in the face of your position. Do some research before you open your mouth and spread FUD. It'll save us from having to tell you just how wrong you are.


RE: I don't get it
By JonnyDough on 6/14/2008 8:57:53 AM , Rating: 2
RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/16/2008 9:57:33 AM , Rating: 2
From what I've found with a quick search even at best that doesn't eliminate all the stuff that needs to be disposed of-and they're still building yuka-mountain-esque places in Europe.

And as mentioned, the "bury it" idea doesn't actually work. Yuka mountain is a sham, at best.


RE: I don't get it
By JonnyDough on 6/16/2008 9:50:56 PM , Rating: 2
I think the idea is that it won't find its way into our lives by being buried in a mountain. A long time from now we'll let future humans deal with it. Maybe they'll have better science then to get rid of it.

That's just like our generations to go thinking that way though, isn't it? Sometimes our daily lives reflect this...like throwing trash out the window on the highway and letting someone else pick up our mess.


RE: I don't get it
By arazok on 6/12/2008 3:09:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Fisson is a terrible idea unless we find some way of disposing of it's waste-and so far we've found none. Now if they get fussion working well enough that it's generating power


The waste is completely disposable if we choose to. You can store it indefinitely (as we do now), bury it (as we will eventually), or you can reprocess it (as we should). Reprocessed waste has a half-life of ~100 years, at which point it can safely be disposed of.

quote:
And I'm completely baffled by these comments. How is reducing the amount of energy you have to use by switching some of it to solar a bad thing?


It's a great thing if you feel it's justified and pay for it yourself. It a bad thing if you feel it's justified and I pay for it.


RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/16/2008 10:05:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
The waste is completely disposable if we choose to. You can store it indefinitely (as we do now), bury it (as we will eventually), or you can reprocess it (as we should).


It can NOT be disposed of. We're not capable of building completely sealed storage devices that will last hundreds of thousands of years (at least not at present). Human beings have NEVER built anything like that, and we're talking about needing to store this stuff longer than not only any country has lasted, but longer than humans have even existed to date. Does that honestly sound feasible?

quote:
Reprocessed waste has a half-life of ~100 years, at which point it can safely be disposed of.


Even if true, and even if you were left with nothing but material with a half life of 100 years, that would still mean you'd need to store this in a fool proof way for thousands of years-not 100. Granted that's more plausible than hundreds of thousands to millions of years, but it's still a huge risk, still would have to outlast any country that's ever existed. And that's assuming the hype about it is actually true, and the rest of the materials can actually be used, etc.

I'll say it again-if we get Fussion to the point where it's economical, we've got something. Fission is an insane way to try to replace fossil fuels-especially when we have cheaper alternatives!


RE: I don't get it
By Reclaimer77 on 6/12/2008 4:19:02 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Fisson is a terrible idea


Yes but right now its the best we've got. So shut it.


RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/16/2008 10:14:12 AM , Rating: 2
Wow. How insightful. This takes the cake for nuclear fanbois. Care to explain why perusing fission is a better idea than other options we have?


RE: I don't get it
By FingerMeElmo87 on 6/12/2008 2:51:20 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Roof-top solar solutions are NOT going to be enough to power a whole city, under any circumstance. It can augment the power grid, sure, but never will it be the sole provider of power.


its not ment to be genious. solar panels are just a supplementary form of power which will help the person that has them reduce there dependence non-renewable energy. thus saving money and reducing the overall carbon foot print of the populous. it makes perfect sense


RE: I don't get it
By Spuke on 6/12/2008 3:33:47 PM , Rating: 1
That's not his point. His point is that it gives regualr people the impression that it WILL be the entire solution since it works on a small scale which is misleading.


RE: I don't get it
By JonnyDough on 6/14/2008 9:00:27 AM , Rating: 2
Is it? You don't think that as solar panels become cheaper and bulk pricing comes into play as more are made due to this "push", and that as the technology continually improves this couldn't be a future answer? What if tomorrow they came out with a cheap 65% efficient panel? Boy, wouldn't you feel like a dumbass?


RE: I don't get it
By Samus on 6/13/2008 3:03:48 AM , Rating: 2
they aren't intended to power a whole city, just offload a little bit of stress from the utility companies. these small array's can easily power a house. the batteries in my friends setup are always above 50% and during the day he produces so much power it is recycled into the power grid, meters, and he gets a paycheck from ComEd (our electric utility) every two months.

the setup cost him $20,000 and he received a $5000 from the federal EPA greenpower grant in 2006. it has already paid for half of itself in 3 years!


RE: I don't get it
By Spuke on 6/13/2008 12:12:13 PM , Rating: 2
How large is his place and how large is his system? $20k sounds like a REALLY small system.


RE: I don't get it
By elgueroloco on 6/13/2008 2:18:56 PM , Rating: 2
I disagree that solar will never be able to power a city. Current solar technology won't; however, recent discoveries and the technology that will come from them could make it happen.

Let's look at some numbers. With current technology, 5% of SF's rooftops should produce 50MW, according to the article. A recent experiment with silicon microwires (covered in a DT article) found that solar panel output could be increased seven fold (and more cheaply than current tech). Assuming that further work does not improve on that, that would bring that number up to 350MW being generated by 5% of SF's roofs. Now, let's say we put panels on 100% of SF's roofs, that would bring the total up to 7,000MW. I don't know how much it takes to power a city, but 7GW seems like it might be sufficient.

Also keep in mind that currently solar panel installations do not cover the whole roof. They cover only about 1/3 to 1/2 of a roof. If we were to cover the whole roof, we could double that to 14GW. Seems pretty viable to me. Now we just need to make it cost-effective.


RE: I don't get it
By Jeff7181 on 6/13/2008 6:58:33 PM , Rating: 2
As I see it, the goal is not to replace other power sources with wind or solar power, but supplement them.

I think it's a good idea... get more people to adopt and buy the product so the companies making the product can spend more on R&D to make the product better and cheaper.

Would be pretty nice if you could put a $5,000 solar panel roof on your $200,000 house and save $1,000 a year in electricity and heating costs.


RE: I don't get it
By JonnyDough on 6/14/2008 9:02:55 AM , Rating: 2
No, the goal IS to replace them as more environmentally friendly and economical sources. However, right now the most we can do is supplement because we can't change our entire energy system overnight.


RE: I don't get it
By NicoloPicolo on 6/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: I don't get it
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/12/2008 12:15:20 PM , Rating: 5
Russia's complete screwup was never possible in the USA, and quite frankly most other risks aren't a big deal when modern Reactors are brought into the equation.


RE: I don't get it
By dblind1 on 6/12/2008 12:30:39 PM , Rating: 2
I have to agree with Master Kenobi on this. Ive been to a plant and they all have a whole group of people that do nothing but communicate with the other sister plants (no matter what energy company owns them) and discuss problems and jointly come up with solutions. Our government oversees them and if one thing that our government does pretty well is cover their own a**. Also, engineers build these things to live through earthquakes, tornadoes, F5 hurricanes, etc. Nuclear power plants have so much redundancy these days, short of God himself stomping on one, they will be there after all the cockroaches die.


RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: I don't get it
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
See above.


RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/16/2008 10:11:11 AM , Rating: 2
Likewise, see above.

Also, the idea that these plants can survive severe earthquakes, hurricanes, etc. is implausible if you saw any of the coverage of these things following 9/11.

Like I said though that risk is negligible compared with the issue of storing the waste.


RE: I don't get it
By Wolfpup on 6/16/08, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it
By weskurtz0081 on 6/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: I don't get it
By d0gb0y on 6/12/2008 1:51:48 PM , Rating: 3
Why don't you enlighten us?


RE: I don't get it
By Creig on 6/12/2008 12:57:32 PM , Rating: 5
I know I wouldn't want MY dessert covered with solar panels.

Or pepper, for that matter.


RE: I don't get it
By drebo on 6/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it
By Hellfire27 on 6/12/2008 6:02:04 PM , Rating: 2
That was hilarious, kind sir.


RE: I don't get it
By JosefTor on 6/12/2008 2:20:42 PM , Rating: 5
I'm a nuclear reactor operator and I don't know why so many nuclear proponents dog other green options. Nuclear plants are not renewable! They are just clean energy (except for the whole massive drilling for uranium and other materials which causes a pretty big environmental dent). They are part of the solution and I hope that there is a nuclear resergence in America (it would be stupid if there isn't since they are the fastest way off of oil dependence in the energy sector). I hate the ignorance of our politicians on the safety of nuclear power plants. Oh wait... that's a different topic all together.

What I was saying is that solar panels are getting more powerful and more efficient, use a completely renewable source... the sun, don't require massive labor or construction costs, and by installing them on roofs they aren't lining the desert and can provide power for the house and possibly enough to sell back to the grid. Also, I've driven through the midwest and it is miles and miles (and miles) of desert. I've seen the towns there and I feel bad for them. By installing solar panels on these practiculary useless lands it will make them useful and provide them with jobs. I don't see the problem with that. It seems like wind and solar is a great idea for these undeveloped land. Nuclear power plants aren't that big (and pack a lot of power---which is why they are so useful) so it isn't like you are going to line the desert with tons of the plants. I am as much a fan of a nuclear resergence as you but... don't discredit other actually renewable sources of energy (and probably cheaper if you put all the costs together).

I definitely agree with you on the oil deposit thing. Democrats can largely be blamed for the price of oil today. We have massive oil reserves which don't really impact the environment much at all if we tapped them. Second... they want to tax American oil companies so we push them to find oil overseas and not in America??? Democrats need a lesson in economics. Too bad at face value their solutions seem great in a news report but in actually are bad for America. I'm VP of an environmental club E3 and we can promote a cleaner and more renewable earth but not at the expense of humans! If we are all poor then we aren't setting our future generations up for much either.

And yes drebo... I don't see how miles and miles of solar arrays and wind turbines is very environmentally friendly when oil rigs 50 miles off our cost or in Alaska aren't.


RE: I don't get it
By dblind1 on 6/12/2008 3:14:38 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I think at least some of the Democrats know what kind of change drilling our own oil will make. The bad thing is it is an election year and none of the Dems really want to see things turn around right before an election of 'change'. They can block it for 6 month and then the new Democratic President can say ... 'we should drill for oil in the US .. create jobs .. blah blah .. lower gas prices ... blah blah ... the republicans couldn't fix it .. blah blah ... look at us.' I just hope everyone looks and who blocked the opening up of US oil and remembers that when they cast their vote .. after all, 6 months more of climbing gas will do nothing more than make things worse for the economy.


RE: I don't get it
By masher2 (blog) on 6/12/2008 4:13:50 PM , Rating: 2
> "Nuclear plants are not renewable"

There's enough fuel on earth to last tens of thousands of years -- longer than all of recorded human history by far. I'd call that renewable for all intents and purposes...we're not going to exhaust it.


RE: I don't get it
By NicoloPicolo on 6/12/08, Rating: 0
RE: I don't get it
By Ringold on 6/12/2008 5:52:44 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
nuclear plants are not renewable


News flash: nothing on Earth is fully renewable. That includes the raw materials that go in to solar panels. Earth is a closed loop, unless we start pulling in raw materials from the Moon or asteroids. If you looked outside your comfortable little world you'd notice all the strange, varied markets across the world that are experiencing supply shortages due to solar and wind turbine construction -- wind towers, I've read, are gobbling steel, for example. Those towers will have to be replaced at some point over thousands of years -- and the gods aren't increasing Earth's supply of iron.

If any source that can last longer than recorded human history isn't enough for you, then its quite obvious you aren't looking for a real solution.


RE: I don't get it
By Spuke on 6/12/2008 5:54:33 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
then its quite obvious you aren't looking for a real solution.
His "real solution" isn't on the TV so it can't be right or desirable.


RE: I don't get it
By DASQ on 6/12/2008 10:10:36 PM , Rating: 2
BAAAWWWLLL SOLAR POWER ISN'T RENEWABLE, THE STARS EXPLODE EVERY FEW BILLION YEARS AND THE UNIVERSE COLLAPSES.

Are you even reading what you post? Nothing is built to last forever, everything must be replaced eventually. Nuclear plants are one of the hardier ones. Wind turbines last for.. what... 30 years?


RE: I don't get it
By Spuke on 6/13/2008 12:37:06 PM , Rating: 2
It's not so much the turbines but the blades that require infrequent replacement. Usually from lightning strikes. Repairs are hella expensive too. Around $5k.


RE: I don't get it
By CheesePoofs on 6/12/2008 7:58:31 PM , Rating: 2
renewable vs. non-renewable. It's rather simple, really. There are limited supplies of oil and uranium (no on can deny there is a limit somewhere) but the sun and wind will only stop burning/blowing a few minutes before we all die.


The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By dblind1 on 6/12/2008 11:16:36 AM , Rating: 4
While I'm a conservative at heart, I think this idea is great. I really wish that cities, states, and/or the federal government should give more incentives to offset the high start up costs of solar. Politics have gotten in the way of creating more power plants, and our dependance on oil and other products from outside the U.S. leave us vulnerable to massive influence of our economy from outside governments/corporations. While this by no means is THE answer to our energy dependency as well as global pollution, I think it is part of the answer.

As a mechanical engineering graduate, I can say it is all about efficiency. The only thing the sun does for us down in MS is bake our roofs and cause us to run air conditioners for most of the afternoon and even at night. However, there are very few financial incentives to move to solar because of the lack of rebates (and of course installers). As many DT readers have seen, the tech for solar panels and batteries makes the near future look very bright, but if we start these programs now and show a high demand for solar, then the prices will come down, manufacturing will go up, and we can help to solve problems such as high energy costs, environmental/pollution problems, and flux in power needs.

Also, this should help with the 'fully electric car'. After all, just imagine the power needs if everyone had just one plug-in car. The need for power would skyrocket out of control.

Anyway, that is my 3 cents.




By Screwballl on 6/12/2008 11:33:06 AM , Rating: 3
Time to move to a magnetic motor running a home generator and whatever is not used is sold back to the grid.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 1:57:29 PM , Rating: 1
First I'll say I see no problem with putting solar panels on a house or business to cut electricity costs. If you live in an area with almost constant sunlight year round, why not.

However having the government subsidize it? No. Because then you're shifting the burden to the tax payers, including those who don't have solar panels or want them.

I would love to know how San Francisco, a city in a state who's budget is a few billion dollars in the hole, is going to pay for this. Instead they need to build more power plants. Nuclear ones which aren't tied to the cost of fossil fuel. I'm sure they'd scream and bitch before and while it was being built. But once it was online and they saw how it was providing them with power generated at an average cost of 2 cents/kW, they'd shut up.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By Wolfpup on 6/12/2008 2:10:58 PM , Rating: 2
A few million a year is probably a drop in the bucket for a city that size. While it's not fair that everyone most likely won't be able to take advantage of the program (at least at first), the public at large WILL be getting many benefits from it, from less air pollution to possibly cheaper energy prices, and I'm sure things I haven't thought of.

At any rate, our government subsides OIL now-so what's wrong with subsidizing something we should actually be moving to?


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:14:05 PM , Rating: 3
We wouldn't need to subsidize oil if we pumped our own. Who's stopping that again.....oh right people like those who live in San Francisco.

And this will do nothing to cut air pollution since California doesn't have enough electricity as it is. The local power plant will still continue to operate at its maximum output.

In reality, this will only help the fairly wealthy. Because the average person can't afford a solar system even with a $6,000 subsidy. You're still looking at $10,000-20,000 out of pocket.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By smitty3268 on 6/12/08, Rating: 0
By Reclaimer77 on 6/12/2008 3:39:47 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
To be fair, the people living in San Francisco aren't the typical American family.


Yeah they sure aren't...
*snickers*


By Spuke on 6/12/2008 3:42:53 PM , Rating: 2
Their money is being spent on the high cost of living. Their disposable incomes are pretty low. When you have two people living together (not a couple...roommates) that make $100k each and can't afford their own houses that's a HIGH cost of living.


By Wolfpup on 6/16/2008 10:23:40 AM , Rating: 2
"Pumped our own"? Are you serious? Don't you know we do that? Don't you know we've already used up most of ours?

Our country was one of the first to really exploit our oil resources, and the halfway point on that (I can't remember the technical term off hand) was in 1971 if I'm remembering correctly. Early 70's at any rate.

And what evidence do you have that California doesn't have enough electricity? You realize those "rolling blackouts" were a scam, right? Even if they don't, I don't see how adding to the power supply is going to hurt.

And yeah, this probably only will help the fairly wealthy directly, although we'll all benefit indirectly.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By Ringold on 6/12/2008 5:58:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At any rate, our government subsides OIL now-so what's wrong with subsidizing something we should actually be moving to?


Look up, from the source, oil industry firm tax rates.

Then consider the standard corporate tax rate is supposed to be 35%. (Might want to consider also that most weasel their way down to average of 25-30%)

Then prove your the above statement with data from credible sources.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By sinful on 6/12/2008 7:34:21 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Then prove your the above statement with data from credible sources.


"The new Democrat-controlled US House of Representatives has voted to reverse one of President George Bush's key awards to the oil industry.

The bill would remove billions of dollars in subsidies to US oil firms. "


http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6277797.stm

$14 Billion, as a matter of fact.
How much green energy would $14 Billion buy us?

Secondly, the point about corporate tax rates is meaningless.
The actual tax amount per gallon of gas is pretty minimal....
So what's your point?
Just whining that the 'poor' oil industry is taxed?

Guess what, I get taxed too!


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By Ringold on 6/12/2008 8:01:00 PM , Rating: 2
You cited a news website.

What university did you go to that accepted a news website as a primary source, particularly a source that openly admits its left-wing bias?

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-411846/We-...

Even worse, you were quoting a source that was quoting politicians souped-up numbers. I had a friend who has friend that knows somebody that thinks the Moon is made of cheese, too.

quote:
Secondly, the point about corporate tax rates is meaningless.


The total rate they pay at the end of the day is all that matters. If after accounting for "breaks" and penalties they pay more or less than other industries seems relevant when people (apparently like you) claim that they get some sort of unfair break or subsidy -- supposedly relative to others.

Try again.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/12/2008 10:02:34 PM , Rating: 2
Ah, the myth of "unfair tax breaks" for oil companies again surfaces:
quote:
the table below shows that Exxon paid or remitted $20 billion in various sales taxes, excise taxes, severance taxes, and property taxes. This brings the total amount of taxes the company paid or remitted to $29.3 billion, nearly three times the net profits it earned for shareholders.

The financial statements of two other large U.S.-based oil companies, ConocoPhillips and ChevronTexaco, show similar large tax payments. Indeed, these three companies paid or remitted a combined $47.8 billion in taxes in the first quarter of 2008, nearly $28 billion more than they earned in net profits ...
http://www.taxfoundation.org/blog/show/23178.html

Oil companies as a whole pay more taxes than the bottom 75% of all US taxpayers combined.


By Keeir on 6/13/2008 12:56:22 AM , Rating: 2
And lets not forget. The people who really pay the oil company taxes are the consumers of gasoline.

ALL companies want to make a reasonable rate of return on capital invested. Although Oil companies are making huge sums of money, they also have huge sums invested in infrastructure AND huge operating expenses.

No matter the tax rate on oil companies, an oil company is still going to use pricing to establish a 10-20% return on capital. If we pass new taxes on oil companies, the price of gasoline will rise overnight everywhere such that nearly 100% of the tax is now paid by an increased price. Yay for punishing the big bad companies!n


By Wolfpup on 6/16/2008 10:17:31 AM , Rating: 3
You're quoting from a "we don't want to pay taxes" web site? Really?

You honestly think they're paying what they owe, and that they're not given breaks? Well, I guess a pro-corporate anti-tax web site said so, so it must be true ;)


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By Doormat on 6/12/2008 2:39:07 PM , Rating: 5
Just to point out, the benefit to the taxpayers who don't get the panels is cheaper electricity and fewer (or none) rolling blackouts.

The solar panels will generate energy at the peak of the day, and reduce the peak demand. As peak demand goes down, so do the prices of peak energy. In California, the market has a price limit of $400/MWh (last time I checked). So when the market value of the electricity goes higher, Cali has to deal with rolling blackouts.

By reducing peak demand, California can
1) Not buy as much expensive (peak time) energy, keeping utility costs lower that they otherwise would be.
2) Help keep the price under $400/MWh by reducing demand, which will help reduce or eliminate rolling blackouts.

This is why I'm a big solar proponent. By engaging in "peak shaving" by going Solar, the time for return on investment is shorter than you might otherwise think, because you're generating the most expensive power possible. At 40c/kWh during the summer and 10c/kWh during the other 9 months, a solar power system can pay for itself in 15 years (assumptions: $7/W cost, 275 sunny days/yr, 10 hrs/day).

My question is why is SF doing it. It'd be much better suited for Southern California than NorCal.


By Ringold on 6/12/2008 6:03:31 PM , Rating: 2
Did SF bother to do analysis to see if the net savings to the average resident would outweigh the cost, or did they just jump in to it?

From the article it sounds like they did half of it, but often full-blown cost-benefit analysis gets skipped.

It just sounds to me like the amount of energy SF hopes to generate, probably at high noon on an absolutely perfect day, is such a tiny drop on the bucket that I'd be surprised if it actually put a significant dent in demand.


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By d0gb0y on 6/12/2008 1:58:11 PM , Rating: 2
Rebates sound great! Until you follow the cash. Let’s see, you get a $30,000 roof installation for only $6,000! OK, so who came up with the remaining $24,000? Well, the government in the form of grants and rebates. Where did the government get its money? Did they sell any goods or service? That's right, you paid it! Hurray!

I do think the electric car would be great, if we allowed clean, reliable nuclear power...


RE: The right idea ... now for other cities ...
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:05:09 PM , Rating: 2
Think you got it backwards. They give you $6000. You pay the other $24,000. But yes, the $6000 still comes from you, the taxpayer. And others who maybe didn't want solar panels. But the money they paid still goes to others nonetheless.


By dblind1 on 6/12/2008 3:04:42 PM , Rating: 2
Actually the money can come in from different areas. As mentioned before, if you can shave the peak enough to lower energy costs, it lowers the energy cost for everyone including all the government buildings where you (the tax payer) pay for the electricity. The lights and AC in the court rooms are not free. So while you can argue the fact that the money comes out of the tax payers pocket, you have to follow the money and the FULL consequences. Cheaper power for everyone mean more money to spend on stuff which in turn increase tax revenue (and probably more than enough to offset the grants that get awarded along with the power saving from the government buildings). Besides, I would rather my tax dollars go for something like this verus national healthcare.


By Ringold on 6/12/2008 6:09:06 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
While I'm a conservative at heart, I think this idea is great.


Does not compute.

I think 'conservatives' need to purge their ranks, and get back to basics. When we move away from limited government and start embracing government influence in peoples lives and in markets, you get George Bush, who simultaneously cuts taxes (good!) but radically increased spending (doubleplusbad) on things that they personally think is socially okay, and therefore must be special. This sort of "social" or "compassionate" or "neo" conservatism hasn't worked out too well for us with Bush.

Time to get back to the basics, I say.


Misleading sub-title...
By Schrag4 on 6/12/2008 1:01:40 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
San Francisco is looking to get off the grid and save money with a vast solar push


Solar panels cannot be used to 'get off the grid'. Nor can wind driven generators. Nowhere in the world is it always either sunny or windy.

I'm not saying that solar is a bad idea. Just don't claim that it's an answer that can free anyone from 'the grid'.




RE: Misleading sub-title...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/12/2008 1:07:16 PM , Rating: 2
The "save money" part is incorrect also. Solar power stubbornly remains much more expensive than the alternatives.


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By StevoLincolnite on 6/12/2008 1:54:05 PM , Rating: 2
But a combination of both would see power generation of at least 95% of the time, for instance I live on the Eyre Peninsula near a huge wind farm, Even on a day where there is hardly a breeze, the turbines still turn, but the major factor of wind power is large winds, where they have to gear the turbines down and and shut them off.

As for Environmental damage from the land cleared for the wind farm? yes it was a rather large impact, but they did compromise, by covering the area in small shrubbery, and are doing environmental conservation and restoration around the other areas.

The Government here is also making all government buildings, and public buildings "greener" by placing solar panels on top, plus even lighting on our Wharf is all solar powered completely, it does save money in the long run with rebates, and savings on the monthly bill, plus it also reduces the strain on coal power generation.


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/12/2008 2:00:31 PM , Rating: 1
> "But a combination of both would see power generation of at least 95% of the time"

Untrue. Both solar and wind commercial power plants have availability factors that average 30% in highly-suitable areas, lower in others. That means even without any overlap whatsoever, one would only expect a maximum of 60% coverage.

In many places, however, the overlap is high...vast stretches of Texas, for instance, which currently sprout windfarms, and where the winds tend to die out at night...the very time in which solar power isn't available either.

And of course, most regions run below 30%..sometimes far below. Some areas have no strong persistent winds at all, and locales in higher latitudes or cloudy and/or rainy climates are lucky to see availability factors break 20%.

> "As for Environmental damage from the land cleared for the wind farm? yes it was a rather large impact, but they did compromise..."

But why go through that damage at all, when one can generate 25 times the power in 1/100 the space, with a nuclear power plant?


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By acejj26 on 6/12/2008 2:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
Because the mass media hasn't deemed nuclear power "green." If they do, perhaps the majority will realize that it is just about the greenest, most economically viable source of energy we have. Until then, the uninformed will just continue to state the one and only nuclear failure out of the last 35 years out of all of the nuclear power plants in the world (I don't count Three Mile Island) and use that as the reason for not developing more nuclear power plants.


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By StevoLincolnite on 6/12/2008 8:34:49 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Untrue. Both solar and wind commercial power plants have availability factors that average 30% in highly-suitable areas, lower in others. That means even without any overlap whatsoever, one would only expect a maximum of 60% coverage.


Wind power at suitable sites in Australia has a 80-85% up-time at suitable sites, for instance, as I stated earlier, it's not the lack of wind thats the issue at our wind farm, it's "to much wind" which forces the operators to shut them down.

So it's highly Dependant on the region, if a company was silly enough to place wind generation somewhere where it was not optimal, then they didn't really think it through.

quote:
But why go through that damage at all, when one can generate 25 times the power in 1/100 the space, with a nuclear power plant?


Again it's Dependant on the area, where they placed the wind farms here, it was origionally crown land, meaning "Protected Land" where you couldn't go camping, or have animals and what not, about a 100 years or so ago, it used to be farm land, and because of this the entire place was pretty much barren, now once the wind farms were up and running, the entire area is being brought "Back to life" - so really in the end they probably did more good than harm, and over the past few years the Wind Farms -here- have been reliable, and it's actually a nice site, driving past them and seeing everything being regenerated thanks to the direct seeding of native flora.

Like with anything, you have to choose a balance of where you are going to place everything, and do allot of research on weather patterns, at the moment Australia's Renewable energy is at 11% for wind power generation, and is expected to grow to 41% by 2020.


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By masher2 (blog) on 6/12/2008 10:51:53 PM , Rating: 2
> "Wind power at suitable sites in Australia has a 80-85% up-time at suitable sites"

You've confused uptime with availability factor. The first refers to the portion of time it produces any power at all; the second to the ratio of average power produced to peak power output. An AF of 30% means a 1MW turbine averages 300 kilowatts on a continual basis.

> "if a company was silly enough to place wind generation somewhere where it was not optimal, then they didn't really think it through"

But that's just what's happening with this article. San Fransisco rooftops are not optimal locations for solar and, in many cases, not for wind either.

> "now once the wind farms were up and running, the entire area is being brought "Back to life""

I guarantee you that a massive wind farm is going to have a much larger impact on an area than a few oil wells will have in a place like ANWR.


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:01:32 PM , Rating: 2
There are systems out there that can power an entire home both during the night and day. But you need a rather large home with plenty of rooftop space for panels, and a large battery to store energy for the night time. I remember reading about a home that was completely solar powered. They still used a few dollars of electricity a month sometimes though. But also would sometimes be selling power back to the grid.

It also cost a ton. More than most people are able to afford.


RE: Misleading sub-title...
By Schrag4 on 6/12/2008 2:17:28 PM , Rating: 2
That's exactly my point though. I'm not saying solar is bad. If you can afford it and it makes you fell less guilty about the environment somehow, then by all means, outfit your house with one of these systems. My point is simply that you will never, EVER be 'off the grid', unless you have the ability (and the will-power) to go for a few days or even weeks without power. Sooner or later it will get cloudy for several days or weeks on end, and your batteries will run out of juice.


Grants and who pays for them
By Andy35W on 6/13/2008 2:00:21 AM , Rating: 2
It would seem a much better investment to give people grants in the hot parts of the USA to put in solar pannels and for cold to help people properly insulate their homes than a one off tax break that will be spent only once and then is gone.

As for nuclear power being safe, nothing is perfectly safe and all plants will still have human controllers who will make mistakes, so it is a falacy that a major disaster will not happen again.

As for nuclear waste, well the Uk is spending billions decommissioning our old plants. How much does that add to the cost of the electricty over it's lifetime? Nobody actually knows because the decommissioning costs keep going up as they run into problems. We even spent $1.5billion reducing waste going into the Irish Sea from a currently operating plant, notice I did not say getting rid of, I said reducing. $1.5billion would be grants for an awful lot of solar pannels ;)




RE: Grants and who pays for them
By masher2 (blog) on 6/13/2008 3:06:29 AM , Rating: 2
> "all plants will still have human controllers who will make mistakes, so it is a falacy that a major disaster will not happen again"

Modern plants are designed so that human error can't possibly lead to a dangerous release of radiation. It's difficult enough to even scram the core...but even that's not going to hurt anyone.

> "As for nuclear waste, well the Uk is spending billions decommissioning our old plants"

That's your own fault for shutting them down. Why not keep them running, and continue to generate power with them?

Even with commissioning and decomissioning costs factored in, nuclear power is still several times cheaper than solar or wind power. The cost angle isn't in your favor here.


RE: Grants and who pays for them
By andrinoaa on 6/13/08, Rating: 0
RE: Grants and who pays for them
By Andy35W on 6/13/2008 8:16:50 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly.

We've been saying they would be safe since they first started but history has shown that this is not the case. Even with better technology nothing will be 100% safe, saying it is just kidding yourself.

As for keeping the plants going past their design life that is one way to make them unsafe as well, I am surprised masher even suggests that plants can be kept going ad-infinitum. Eventually they will have to be decommissioned.

As for the costs, as we both mention, nobody knows the final costs of decommisioning, it is a cost that is therefore buried by nuclear proponents as deep as they would like to bury the waste.


RE: Grants and who pays for them
By Spuke on 6/13/2008 2:13:09 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
As for the costs, as we both mention, nobody knows the final costs of decommisioning, it is a cost that is therefore buried by nuclear proponents as deep as they would like to bury the waste.
I like to see some proof of this. Otherwise, you're just BSing.


RE: Grants and who pays for them
By masher2 (blog) on 6/13/2008 2:20:20 PM , Rating: 2
> "I am surprised masher even suggests that plants can be kept going ad-infinitum"

To infinity? No of course not. But while most reactors were originally spec'd with design lifes in the 30-year range, many have been operated for 50 years or longer. With modern materials technology, there's no reason we can't build reactors with a 100-year lifespan.

> "nobody knows the final costs of decommisioning"

Stuff and nonsense. It's an accounting charge, fully quantified, that shows up on the bottom line of every company that's ever decomissioned a reactor.


RE: Grants and who pays for them
By andrinoaa on 6/16/2008 7:09:34 AM , Rating: 1
Now I know , YOU DON'T KNOW!
"It's an accounting charge, fully quantified, that shows up on the bottom line of every company that's ever decomissioned a reactor. "
WHAT BULLSHIT. You are so clever, but dumb as, too.
HOW can a company know how much it costs 100yrs from now for storage of radioactive waste? Its NOT QUANTIFIABLE, so the figures are fudged! Who is going to pickup the tab when we are long gone? Isn't this the SAME as SUBSIDY?!?!?
This is what I am saying, you are full of it, masher2!


What planet is this guy on?
By masher2 (blog) on 6/12/2008 12:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
> "Newsom says the program will attract businesses ..."

Yes, businesses are going to flock to the most expensive and regulatory-restrictive spot in the entire nation, simply because they get $10 grand off the cost of a solar panel....which they themselves wind up paying for anyway, through the cost of higher taxes.




RE: What planet is this guy on?
By Spuke on 6/13/2008 2:16:47 PM , Rating: 2
Don't know why you got downrated. CA IS "the most expensive and regulatory-restrictive spot in the entire nation". CA is NOT very business friendly and that's why a lot of businesses are leaving the state.

Here's a few:
http://www.laedc.org/newsroom/releases/2005/200511...

This one's a little older:
http://www.caltax.org/Vames-BusinessesPonderLeavin...


Fog??
By osalcido on 6/12/2008 4:44:42 PM , Rating: 2
How on Earth can they think its viable to put Solar Panels on one of the foggiest, cloudiest, rainest places on Earth is beyond me.




RE: Fog??
By Azzr34l on 6/12/2008 6:05:54 PM , Rating: 2
Was thinking the same thing. Not getting 100% direct sunlight on the panels yields a very large delta between their rated and actual output.


why not to promote conservation?
By lucyfek on 6/12/2008 2:19:54 PM , Rating: 2
Solar may sound great but it's the real environmental cost/benefit outcome that should matter (and any electronics is just plain dirty to make, sure this may be done in China but ...).
They'd better give tax cuts for every sustained reduction of electric/gas/utility bill which is the true way to lower total demand and everyone could afford it.
Otherwise it's just hypocrisy Al Gore style - preaching the green lifestyle while using hundred times the energy/fossils an average redneck does.
Surely it does make the few feel good about their carbon footprint while they upgrade to 100” screen. But what’s the point?




Solar Roof Shingles?
By teckytech9 on 6/12/2008 8:37:39 PM , Rating: 2
I remember seeing my first solar panel as a kid many years ago. Certainly, I would prefer a shingle instead of a bulky panel. Companies like Dow Chemical and Dupont are developing these shingles now that the price of energy is out of control.

Just insert some thin film material into the roofing shingles, tack it down with a nail and open the circuit breaker. I will say it once again; "Companies like First Solar, Inc (FSLR) will benefit most from these grants. Go FSLR!"




I would hate too
By ViroMan on 6/13/2008 5:56:50 AM , Rating: 2
... fly over that place once they get more solar panels on the buildings. Think about this... your flying your plane, jet, or 747 for that matter, and you look down out your window. BAM! your blinded by the reflected light from the thousands and thousands of solar panels/mirrors.

hmm... I wounder if a bird could get cooked flying through a double dosage of sun light long enough. I bet you could get cooked duck falling from the skys during the right time of the year. The rest of the year it would be seagulls and doves.




Great
By tjr508 on 6/16/2008 12:38:27 PM , Rating: 2
Let me get this straight.

Our tax dollars are being spent on solar panels which are becoming limited in supply to be placed in non-ideal locations in non-ideal configurations; driving up prices and taking resources away from useful solar applications, just so SF can 'appear' to be environmentally friendly.

Wonderful!

These people are not only uninformed, but they are obviously more concerned with receiving recognition for their efforts then they are with alternative energy.

Just to be fair, this will lead to better solar research from a market standpoint, but I still don’t think that competing with real solar energy companies by using government funds and extra cash for ‘show’ is the best way to go about this.

Overall, I see a very negative effect in the short term while the long term benefits remain unknown.

I call smug alert!




Not again!
By andrinoaa on 6/13/2008 6:17:30 AM , Rating: 1
Looks like the "glow boys " are back. Every topic always comes back to...... nuclear is better. Don't these guys get it, nobody wants the shit. Thats why they keep pushing and wining on, they can't handle it!
This is tremendous news, at last a government that is serious about their role, and not pander to the neocons who are happy with the status quo already. After all , better to spend a few million in USA than Iraq, no?




Hmm
By smitty3268 on 6/12/08, Rating: -1
RE: Hmm
By gaakf on 6/12/2008 11:18:43 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how long it will take you to be rated down to -1.


RE: Hmm
By porkpie on 6/12/2008 1:37:56 PM , Rating: 2
About 5 minutes it seems :)


RE: Hmm
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't want to disappoint.


RE: Hmm
By arazok on 6/12/2008 11:28:08 AM , Rating: 4
I wonder how long it will be before the city raises property taxes to make up for the lost revenue going into these subsidies.

The more successful it is, the higher the tax increases will have to be. So it's not really a subsidy, it's a tax hike in exchange for a solar panel on your roof.


RE: Hmm
By BansheeX on 6/12/2008 11:35:28 AM , Rating: 2
You win. The money has to come from somewhere. Where are they getting it? The people via taxes, some of which has to go to the salaries of the government officials coordinating it. In which case, wouldn't it just be better to have not taken it in the first place?

Dee dee dee, da govarnment is hewping me!


RE: Hmm
By Master Kenobi (blog) on 6/12/2008 11:37:15 AM , Rating: 1
quote:
The more successful it is, the higher the tax increases will have to be. So it's not really a subsidy, it's a tax hike in exchange for a solar panel on your roof.

You nailed it. This also doesn't account for the problem of lifespan on these things. What to do with all the old damaged solar panels.


RE: Hmm
By dblind1 on 6/12/2008 12:20:32 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
You nailed it. This also doesn't account for the problem of lifespan on these things. What to do with all the old damaged solar panels.

Actually I'm sure most of these will be made out of Aluminum frames and some silicon base PV Cells at least now. Most are rated to produce 90% of rated power at 10 year mark and 80% at the 25 year mark. I'm sure their will be a recycling program for them. Also, newer more efficient solar tech is coming out. I remember reading about a 40% efficient solar panel (vs about 18% in current mass production panels) on DT not long ago. Since our recent tech is focused more on efficiency, that should mean fewer solar panels in the near future.

After all, people are having to throw away a roof full of shingles every 20 years .. why not just make them photo-voltaic shingles .. no more added waste .. and they could probably be recycled. The government could even give you another rebate for recycling them later. *evil grin*


RE: Hmm
By FITCamaro on 6/12/2008 2:16:21 PM , Rating: 2
You win a cookie. Please allow 6-8 weeks for delivery.*

*Not responsible for loss or damage in transit.


RE: Hmm
By NicePants42 on 6/12/2008 11:44:18 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not sure they'd have any complaints about tax cuts, but they might take issue with the grants. The fact that some people (those who can afford to pay the bulk of the cost of installing solar panels) can take money out of other tax-payer's pockets in order to make more money for themselves could seem dubious to those unable to take advantage of it.

However, I like the general idea of trying to reduce individual dependence on the grid. It means more money in our collective pockets and less money for lobbyists/special interest groups/oil cartels/etc.

[sarcasm]
Plus, since California is full of tax-loving socialists anyway, it seems like the best place to test the longer term effects that grants like these can have.
[/sarcasm]


RE: Hmm
By Ringold on 6/12/2008 6:29:55 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It means more money in our collective pockets and less money for lobbyists/special interest groups/oil cartels/etc.


That'd make sense.

Except for efficiencies of scale.

The idea of individuals and households being islands all to themselves is counter to the last, oh, 250 years of economic developing in the West. :P

quote:
it seems like the best place to test the longer term effects that grants like these can have.


Well, Germany has been doing it for years, and they're responsible many believe for some of the high cost of solar panels. Germany's not exactly the best place for solar, but it's getting a lot of it. So, it appears the effect of government market intervention is just what theory would predict; inefficient allocation of resources, as cloudy Germany is driving up costs of solar panels in comparatively sunny Vegas.


RE: Hmm
By rogard on 6/13/2008 10:41:48 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
...as cloudy Germany is driving up costs of solar panels in comparatively sunny Vegas.

quote:
...and they're responsible many believe...

...for virtually everything bad and nasty, I guess. Why not for expensive solar panels as well?

Hahahaha. Brilliant. Very funny.
Just to make sure: you are joking, aren't you?
(Uh...in case you're serious, please don't correct me, sir. It would spoil the fun I'm having. People are already giving me dirty looks because I can't stop snickering)

Greetings from (right now, sunny) Germany.


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