Going solar. How much does it cost? Probably one of the most complicated questions, and one that most homeowners find a hard time getting an answer for.
The cost of switching to solar includes more than just the cost of a solar PV panel itself; you need to factor in the full financial investment needed to purchase, install, finance, and keep up this system over the course of its lifetime. However, the potential to save--and earn money back--must also be considered.
The easiest way to factor the value of going solar is determining how much you pay for your current electricity from a local grid on a monthly basis compared to how much you can get paid for the electricity produced from PV after those initial costs are deducted over the course of the system’s lifetime. This is the amount that should matter to homeowners when they consider whether or not solar can save them money.
Caught up in this big picture approach is the idea of solar grid parity.
Defining Solar Grid Parity
So what exactly is solar parity and how does it affect the decision to go solar? It is the point at which the amount of money needed to produce power from solar panels is either equal to or less than the cost of paying for electricity from the grid. The sooner we get to solar parity across the country, the cheaper it will continue to get.
Essentially, the more people recognize the benefits of solar and choose to invest in this renewable energy source, the sooner it will become adopted across America, making energy cleaner and more affordable for homeowners.
How does this work? When solar companies can buy in bulk to meet the growing consumer demand for solar panels, they can lower the cost of installation by getting better prices on materials. This also boosts investment in transmissions lines and helps the cut solar costs, which means it can meet the rising cost of electricity sooner, resulting in parity, or equality, until solar eventually becomes even cheaper.
How Close Is the U.S. to Solar Parity?
So what is the timeline for solar parity in America? That depends on a number of factors, with each state facing different challenges, from limited sun exposure to transmission line investment costs. The country has set a target of boosting renewable energy usage to 20% by 2040, which would likely result in solar parity nationwide.
While we have some ground to cover as a country, California is leading the way as one of the 20 states at grid parity.
Why California Homeowners Should Be Going Solar Now
The point of parity on the grid has already been reached in California, which means installing solar panels is now more affordable than the average electricity bill homeowners have to pay off every month. Solar isn’t just an option for investing in the future of affordable energy, it can start saving homeowners money right now.
The average homeowner will cut back on their costs between 20% and 40%--especially when they choose to partner with a company like Semper Solaris. With zero down and zero out of pocket, solar energy has never been more affordable and realistic for homeowners.
Factors that make going solar affordable to homeowners now:
26% federal tax credit
Net metering can result in money back from electricity companies
California has already reached grid parity
Great savings in Semper Solaris’ online specials
Some properties may go months without having a bill
Interest is tax deductible
Low income and low FICO scores can still finance through PACE
What Is PACE Financing?
The PACE Financing program is a great option that makes setting up solar energy easier for homeowners, ultimately pushing us closer to solar grid parity. Short for Property Assessed Clean Energy, PACE is a financing option designed to help homeowners save money when investing in cleaner energy while adding more value to their property. PACE covers 100% of the solar installation cost and can be paid back over the course of 20-30 years, with an assessment added to the property tax bill. This also means homeowners start saving from day one!
The Senate bill on PACE (SB-242) will add more consumer protections for residential PACE programs in California, providing even more peace of mind to homeowners wanting to invest in energy upgrades that wouldn’t otherwise be accessible to them.
With California at solar parity, switching to solar is the smart investment for homeowners who want to instantly save on their energy bill and be a force for renewable energy.
Ready to Go Solar, American Style? Semper Solaris offers zero-down solar solutions. Start with a free energy analysis!
The White House has long served as a symbol of America, and our nation’s Presidents have been careful in how they choose to decorate and present this historic monument. Not only do the President and his staff live there, but the media also often has its eye on this important place.
For these symbolic reasons, as well as a few practical ones, several Presidents throughout the years have chosen to install or uninstall solar panels on the White House roof—and by doing so, to make statements about how this powerful symbol should get its power.
Jimmy (James) Carter, the 39th President of the United States, was the first President to install solar panels on the White House, and he used them to heat the water for the staff kitchen. Former President Carter’s decision was certainly a symbolic one, as the solar panels were installed during the 1979 oil crisis. He shared that this move was intentional, and in a formal declaration he stated that his goal for solar energy was, “…harnessing the power of the sun to enrich our lives as we move away from our crippling dependence on foreign oil.”
The president directly after Jimmy Carter, former President Ronald Reagan, did not necessarily share Carter’s views on renewable energy. According to Scientific American, Reagan decided to remove the panels when the White House roof was resurfaced, and not to put them back up. Some of the reasons were practical, according to Reagan, who believed it was not cost-effective to keep the panels up. However, some reasons were symbolic, as this was around the same time that Reagan withdrew support for renewable energy tax credits and the Department of Energy. Carter’s panels have since been moved to Unity College in Maine, the Smithsonian Museum, the Carter Library, and the Solar Science and Technology Museum in China.
George W. Bush
Perhaps surprisingly, the next president to reinstall solar panels on the White House was former 43rd President George W. Bush. The administration installed a nine-kilowatt photovoltaic system to produce electricity, and two solar water heaters. Unlike Carter, Bush did not issue an official declaration or state any symbolic reasons for the switch. Instead, it simply seemed like a practical decision: solar technology had now advanced, and the solar panel price had dropped far enough, that it was now more cost effective for the White House to receive some energy from solar power.
American’s 44th President, former President Barack Obama, reinstalled solar panels at a larger scale—and with more publicity—than anyone had since Carter.
“Solar panels on the White House, I think, are a really important message that solar is here, we are doing it, and we can do a lot more,” said Dr. Ernest Moniz, former Secretary of Energy for the Obama administration. Installing solar panels on the White House was a purposeful choice for Obama, who was known for his pro-renewable energy policies.
The panels installed on the White House were around the same size as panels installed on the average American home. Minh Le, Director of Solar Tech at the Department of Energy, shared, “The President is basically doing what Americans all across the nation are doing right now. They’re making the conscious choice to look for renewable energy like solar as the cheaper, cleaner, and preferred energy source for their homes and families.”
Interested in installing solar panels on your own home? Get a free energy analysis from local and veteran owned Semper Solaris.
Homeowners have installed over 580,000 solar panels in California alone, saving thousands of dollars on their energy bills. Since 2007, the costs associated with installing solar panels have dramatically decreased. Best of all, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts solar panel prices will remain at a steady low until at least 2035.
Since utility costs keep rising, now is the perfect time to install solar panels on your home. With more homeowners interested in solar energy, we’d love to help you by answering common questions. Learn more about solar panel installation and solar energy in general from Semper Solaris.
Can I afford to install solar panels? We’ve come a long way since solar panels were first created. Solar panels are now more affordable than ever, and all kinds of rebates and financing programs have been created in recent years. For example, the HERO Program can help approved homeowners pay for their solar panels through their property taxes rather than through high upfront costs. There are also currently several rebates and tax incentives offered by both federal and state governments to help you create renewable energy through photovoltaic (PV) systems. In addition, many companies offer special financing or discounts.
How do solar panels save me money? By using solar energy, you can lower your electricity costs or even bring them down to zero. Through a process called net metering, several homeowners with solar panels actually receive money from the electricity company for all the extra energy that they produce! For homeowners with families, who run the air conditioning often, or who run a lot of appliances and technology, solar panels can mean saving hundreds of dollars per month. In California, “grid parity” has currently been reached, meaning that the costs of installing solar panels are officially less than the costs of paying the average electricity bill each month. Also, unlike your electricity bill, your solar panel payments will eventually all be paid off.
How often do I have to maintain them? One of the best features of solar panels is that they require very little maintenance. For example, at Semper Solaris we only use the most efficient solar panels on the market that come with a 25-year bumper-to-bumper warranty, meaning that they’re built to last 25 years with little to no work on the homeowner’s part. Any solar company should work with you to ensure that there are no obstructions that could decrease your panels’ ability to soak in the sunlight, but you may have to occasionally trim branches or other blockages that grow close to your roof. Solar panels don’t usually have to be cleaned in order to continue to work well, but you’re free to hose them off to keep them always looking new.
What do I have to do to install solar? Most of a homeowner’s work in installing solar panels is in finding the right solar company. But once you find the contractor that’s right for you, they should take care of the rest. A good solar company will be licensed, have excellent ratings with the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List, and will keep you well informed about the installation process. Once a solar company has the proper permits from local governments, the installation process should be very quick and simple.
Where do I go for more information? Contact local and veteran owned Semper Solaris and we’ll be happy to answer your questions about solar panels—and give you a free energy analysis.
Solar Parity is a complex concept most people struggle to undertsand. That is why we created this infographic to help set the record straight. We'll try to explain the ins and outs today in the hope of helping some of you to gain a better grasp of the situation.
PG&E RATES RISE TO AN ALL TIME HIGH!
If PG&E is your electric company, your rates are increasing! PG&E serves huge sections of California, including most of Northern California and Central California, as well as coastal cities like San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara.
If you live in any of these areas, you may be experiencing some of the highest rates in PG&E’s history!
Starting March 2017, PG&E is adding a high usage surcharge. Do you have family members living at home during the day? Do you run your TV for most of the day or night? Or do you use an electric vehicle? All of these could put you at risk for the high usage fee! This means that those who have especially large families or many appliances, or those who just forget to turn off the lights, may be paying especially high rates. For families who may run the heater in the cold months, or who live in hotter environments and have to run the air conditioner most days, this could mean huge increases in the cost of electricity.
Not only that, but PG&E is totally changing the tier system. Did your energy use ever get into Tier 3 or Tier 4? These tiers will no longer exist! Now, it’s just Tier 1, Tier 2, and the high usage fee.
If you use more energy than average, you could be at risk for this extremely high rate.
Right now, Tier 3 energy usage is 40 cents per kilowatt-hour, one of the highest in the country. The high usage fee is likely to be even higher than this. Tier 2 is at 24 cents per kilowatt-hour, but these will likely increase once Tier 2 and Tier 3 are combined. PG&E has also added minimum charges and fees!
Electricity rates are only going up, which means there’s never a better time to go solar than now.
Going solar means that you can start saving today. Solar customers can dramatically reduce or even completely eliminate their electricity bill. Why keep paying rates that only go up and up, when you can install solar panels and start saving? Some customers even receive payments from the electric company for all of their electric company! Don’t just sit back and take the ever-increasing prices—start taking ownership of your rates.
Don't put it off -
Go Solar and Roofing American Style with Semper Solaris, your local and veteran-owned SunPower Elite Dealer
We pride ourselves on our military roots and values, and our team is known for their personal responsibility, reliable word, and faithfulness. We hire as many veterans as we can, and offer special discounts for military personnel, first responders, and their families. We also have an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau for our customer service. Semper is also the only solar and roofing contractor still offering you the equivalent of the California state rebate, up to $3,000. Go solar with Semper. Zero down and no payments until 2018 on approved credit. Why keep paying outrageous electricity bills? Go solar now to get the best rates!
Just last month, CBS Los Angeles reported an upcoming change in Southern California’s electricity. Southern California Edison will now be charging a “high usage fee” for customers that use four times the amount of energy than the average family in the area. At first glance, this change doesn’t seem to be a concern for most Southern California residents. However, there are several groups of people that need to be especially wary of the new charge.
For example, if residents have an electric car, they may hit that high usage cap much sooner than they would expect. Homes with a family member that stays at home for most of the day, or families that need to run the air conditioning or heater often, may also use higher than average amounts of electricity and get stuck with paying the new fee.
CBS noted that there are several ways to approach the new fee if you believe that you may be at risk for high energy usage. For electric vehicle users, Southern California Edison offers a time-of-use plan or an electric vehicle rate plan. These plans offer lower rates for customers that charge their vehicles during specified hours, and the electric vehicle rate plan charges a different rate specifically for the electricity used to charge your vehicle.
However, these plans may not work for everyone. For customers who have an electric vehicle and also run air conditioning, for example, there may be no way to escape the high usage fee. CBS Los Angeles offered solar panel installation as a possible solution, but warned that installing solar panels could mean a high upfront cost.
However, for Semper Solaris, this simply isn’t true. Installing solar panels can absolutely dramatically reduce or even eliminate your electric bill, even for those who use a large amount of electricity every month. However, Semper Solaris offers zero down, no money out of pocket solar panel installation. Rather than charge an upfront cost that many homeowners can’t afford, Semper Solaris offers financing plans that can fit each family’s needs. We can also connect homeowners with several programs that offer other financing options. The HERO Program, for example is a local government-approved program that makes energy-efficient and water-saving home upgrades affordable for homeowners. HERO offers 100% financing up to your approved amount, and payments are made along with your property taxes rather than one large upfront payment.
Several of Semper Solaris’ customers, even those who run the air conditioning constantly, have gotten their electric bills down to zero. Compared to the hundreds of dollars that they were paying before, they’re saving a fortune! For many homeowners, the amount that they pay, whether through monthly payments or through other options like property taxes, is actually less than they were paying for their electricity bills. Unlike electricity bills, however, solar panel payments eventually end—and from then on, homeowners enjoy one less bill and plenty of extra energy. Some families are even paid by the electric companies because they produce so much extra energy through their solar panels!
There’s no reason to continue to pay for electricity. Call Semper Solaris today, and one of our experts will be happy to evaluate your home and electricity needs, and to work with you to create a solar installation plan that’s best for you.
Congress passed a law that created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on July 29, 1958. NASA was created to be a civilian agency with the job of coordinating America's activities in space. Since this time, NASA has been in charge of many different expeditions into space. Some of these expeditions involved human astronauts, while others were performed with computers and machines. Thanks to NASA's work, satellites have been sent into space that help us to explore the solar system, forecast the weather, and communicate in faster ways.
The Cold War and the Space Race
During the 1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union were military rivals. At the same time, the two countries engaged in a competition that has become known as the space race. Each country tried to outdo the other in many ways, and when it came to science, space exploration was the focus.
On Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, which was the first satellite to be sent into space. This satellite weighed a little more than 183 pounds, and it went around the Earth in a space trip that took 98 minutes. The United States was surprised by the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik I, and the world was excited about this event. Less than a month later, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik II, this time sending a dog into space. The Soviets knew that they had no way of returning the dog to Earth, and their plan was to keep it comfortable with food and water until it ran out of oxygen after about 10 days. But temperatures inside the aircraft were higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dog only survived for about two days.
NASA launched the first American satellite on Jan. 31, 1958, called Explorer I. Explorer I's main job in space was to measure the radiation present in Earth's orbit. Explorer I orbited around the Earth one time every 114.8 minutes, making more than 12 orbits a day. After it finished its work, it returned to Earth's atmosphere on March 31, 1970, burning up as it fell.
Apollo 11 landed on the moon on July 20, 1969. Pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the lunar module, called the Eagle, and Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon. Aldrin and Armstrong spent about a day exploring the moon.
In 1975, scientists began working on a special telescope that would be able to get a clear view of space, unobstructed by the water and gases that surround Earth. This telescope is named after Edwin Hubble, an astronomer. After 15 years, scientists finally launched the telescope. Through the Hubble Space Telescope, people can see parts of the universe that are billions of light years away.
Pioneer 10 was a spacecraft that left Earth in 1972, bound for Jupiter. Pioneer 10 made it to Jupiter, recording data about the planet, and then it kept going. It left the solar system in 1983 and traveled into interstellar space.
Designing and inhabiting the International Space Station has also been an extraordinary accomplishment, not only for the United States but also for Russia and other countries. Astronauts have spent hundreds of days aboard the International Space Station, studying space and how humans respond to extended periods without gravity.
Initially, the spacecrafts designed by NASA were built to be used just one time, since scientists had not yet figured out how to get them back down to Earth without destroying them. Designing reusable spacecrafts was an important achievement. The goal was to make some kind of heat shield that would protect the vessels from the high temperatures that come with re-entering the atmosphere. Then, there was also the problem of getting the spacecraft back down to Earth and landing it in one piece. In 1981, the space shuttle Columbia flew a successful mission as the first reusable spacecraft.
Using satellites that NASA has put into orbit around the Earth, scientists can get real-time images that help predict the weather. Satellites have also revolutionized the way people communicate around the world. An intricate web of telephone circuits has enabled people to communicate easily and relatively inexpensively. Satellites also make it possible for TV and radio channels to broadcast worldwide. Newer types of satellites enable cell phone service.
A Brief History of NASA
This Day in History: NASA Created
Learn About the History of NASA
Space Exploration Timeline
Top NASA Photos of All Time
Early Space History
NASA's Apollo Technology Has Changed History
History of the NASA Skylab, America's First Space Station
530 students from school districts across California are scheduled to take part in learning about solar energy.
Nearly 1,000 students and more than 110 teachers have participated in this program since it was launched in 2012; the enrollment rate for this year’s program is nearly double that of last summer’s.
The program is delivered over the course of one week in each participating region, immersing high-school students in a curriculum of projects and activities structured around the acronym STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Students and teachers are teamed with solar industry professionals in laboratory work and field trips to California solar installations. The program concludes with the students presenting their knowledge to a panel of solar industry representatives, school board members, teachers, and community leaders.
“As solar power plays an increasingly critical role in meeting global energy demand, students participating . . . may be the engineers and business leaders charting our energy future.” “In the process of learning about solar technology and energy solutions, the students’ enthusiasm and ability to understand complex concepts is very inspiring. Solar power is proud of the increasing number of participants interested in solar power.”
The 2016 schedule started with thirty-six students and teachers from Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) joining STEM instructors and California solar professionals at Cabrillo College in Watsonville, California to learn about residential solar power systems.
“This is the third year we are offering this program to our students and staff, and we’re excited to get started,” said PVUSD Assistant Superintendent Susan Perez. “[our solar energy education program] brings relevant and real-life knowledge into the classroom, while preparing students for the challenges of the 21st century. We’re proud to support the development of our districts young people with this valuable STEM curriculum during the summer months.”
Other Northern California districts taking part in this summer’s academy include Antioch, Benicia, East Side Union, Fairfield-Suisun, Mount Diablo, Napa Valley, Oakland, Pittsburg, San Jose, San Rafael City, San Ramon Valley, Tamalpais Union, Travis, Vacaville, Vallejo, Novato, and West Contra Costa. Central Valley districts enrolled in the program include Dinuba, Kern, Lindsay, Lemoore, Orosi, and Porterville. In Southern California, the districts of Santa Ana, Colton, Fontana, Grossmont, Moreno Valley, Oxnard, Rialto, and San Bernardino City are all participating.
In twenty-three districts, the solar power has been installed more than ninety megawatts, which, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, generates an amount of power equivalent to that of 22,500 average Californian homes.
In 2014, The Solar Foundation estimated that over 3,700 K-12 schools in the States have solar power installations onsite, serving nearly 2.7 million students across the nation and saving approximately $77.8 million in annual electricity costs.
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At 2:30 a.m. EST on June 20, 2016, a plane called Solar Impulse 2, piloted by a man named Bertrand Piccard and powered solely by 17,000+ solar cells, took off from New York City and began a ninety-hour journey across the Atlantic to Seville, Spain. This is but one stretch of the plane’s circumnavigation of the globe to land in Abu Dhabi. The story of this remarkable craft is recounted below.
The American designed solar cells that were chosen as the provider for this project produce more efficient and durable solar cells than any other solar cell on the market, and this isn’t their first high-concept collaboration. There was Honda, with whom they won the 1993 World Solar Challenge, a 1,800-mile race of solar vehicles across the Australian outback from Darwin to Adelaide. Twenty years later, an autonomous NASA vehicle named GROVER rolled onto the scene and surveyed Greenland’s frigid icecap. The same technology used in these landmark machines is found in residential, commercial, and power plant solar panels.
In 1999, Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones became the first pilots to successfully fly a hot-air balloon continuously around the globe. Upon touching down in the Sahara after more than two weeks in the air, Piccard’s vision—to fly around the world without relying on fossil fuel—first took shape.
Soon Piccard and fellow pilot Andre Borschberg founded the Solar Impulse project and set to work researching new developments in solar flight to find a solar energy company worth partnering with. It wasn’t long before they discovered a solar manufacturer that worked with NASA on two flights (Pathfinder Plus and Helios) in the late ’90s. The solar cells developed for these projects were light, flexible, and thin without sacrificing efficiency or reliability.
Four years later, a coalition of thirty engineers and twenty-five technicians completed a prototype craft, which boasted the wingspan of an Airbus A340 at a fraction of the weight. 12,000 solar cells were embedded in the wing surfaces, while a flexible, high-resistance film coated the undersides.
Solar Impulse 1’s first landmark flight was on July 7, 2010, when it was flown for twenty-six hours straight. It went on a historic run from there, setting eight world records as the first solar aircraft to fly straight through the night, to fly between continents, and to cross the United States, among other accomplishments.
Many improvements had to be made for Solar Impulse 2 to make it across the world’s vast oceans. The team’s to-do list included: improving performance and fuel economy; refining the ergonomics of the cockpit; safety improvements including leak-proof circuits for humid conditions and finally, making the plane as light as possible. Solar cell manufacturers have been improving their technology as well, producing cells even thinner and lighter than before. The result was Solar Impulse 2, which began its journey on March 9, 2015 in Abu Dhabi. Its daily routine is to rise in the mornings as high as 28,000 feet, taking energy from the Sun to store in its lithium batteries. As night falls, it descends and glides at a lower altitude until dawn. The plane broke world records last summer, when Borschberg flew it from Japan to Hawai‘i, only touching down for battery repairs.
Piccard’s drive to excellence can best be summed up by a comment he once made in a TED talk: “People will tell you it’s impossible, and it’s exactly why we try to do it.” Later, Borschberg helped make the connection to the mission to change the way the world is (em)powered: “To fly with the Sun, day and night, we had to build an aircraft that is extremely energy-efficient. These technologies that provide energy efficiency can be used in your home, in your car, in the appliances that you buy.”
We at Semper Solaris salute your accomplishments thus far, Solar Impulse, and will do our part to further the cause in the California solar power industry.
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It’s no secret that the United States needs oil. In 2012, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the United States consumed an average of 18.6 million barrels per day of oil and petroleum products. Further, in that same year, around 40% of net imports of oil were from foreign sources. This indicates that the United States is partially dependent on trade with other nations in order for our country to thrive, especially when it comes to oil, and this can ultimately be dangerous.
The U.S. Department of Defense is also reliant on oil, which could be problematic if we are reliant on a single source of energy. With other options, such as an increase in the use of solar energy or other renewable avenues, the military and America itself may have other choices instead of oil. Without that reliance, if anything were to happen to our foreign oil supply, citizens and military personnel alike would not be nearly as at risk.
Another issue with reliance on oil is the nature of the energy supply. If we rely on physical resources, we will have physical locations that are at risk. Coal mines or oil refineries are large and isolated and would be an excellent target for threats. Comparatively, solar panels can be widely distributed to individual homes, buildings, or businesses—and if one is compromised, the rest still stand.
The military has already noticed the potential benefits of renewable resources like solar energy and has been making the switch. According to Executive Order 13693, the federal government is committed to having 30% of their electricity come from renewable energy sources by 2025. As of 2014, renewable energy sources accounted for about 8.76% of the federal government’s energy consumption.
Even the Commander in Chief has made changes and had solar panels installed at the White House. As President Obama and our federal government have indicated, it can be a wise step in the direction of national security and ultimately of energy security to invest in solar energy and other renewable resources. Especially here at Semper Solaris, where we have deep commitment to and experience with the military, we look forward to see the steps that the military makes in favor of diversifying its energy options.
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