In the 1940s and 1950s, the glamor of Los Angeles was dimmed by choking clouds of brown smog. Parents kept their children out of school, while rates of asthma and lung disease shot up. Los Angeles was among the dirtiest cities in the country. Today, things have changed dramatically. The city is pursuing an ambitious sustainability plan, which is powered in part by solar power in Los Angeles. In fact, the city that was once infamous for its noxious pollution was ranked the number one solar energy city in America by the California Research & Policy Center.

How did the City of Angels manage such a miraculous turnaround, and what part did solar play in its lofty revitalization? Finally, how will major new environmental decisions within the city and the state of California affect Los Angeles residents in the future?

Attack of the Smog

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It would have made for a good Hollywood horror flick – in the early 1940s, residents of Los Angeles noticed a foul-smelling, brown tinge to the air, which made their eyes water and their lungs burn. The effect was so dramatic that some residents believed it was a chemical attack from the Japanese as part of the ongoing war!

Over the following decades, smog would regularly choke residents of Los Angeles, forcing children to stay home from school and canceling athletic events. Doctors noticed more and more patients reporting asthma and lung conditions, while lung autopsies on young car accident victims in 1987 revealed that over 25% had seriously damaged lungs!

The citizens of Los Angeles demanded answers, and their protests helped lead to the first nascent environmental laws. In 1963, Congress enacted the first Clean Air Act, which was updated with stronger regulations in the 1970s. It wasn’t until 1975 when the United States required that all new cars include catalytic converters, that the problem of smog finally began to dissipate (though it is still a serious problem in major cities throughout the world, most notably in Beijing.)

While the catalytic converters helped make driving a little less dirty, it didn’t change the fact that Los Angeles and the entire country was powered by dirty fossil fuels. The city and the country needed an alternative, but alternative energy technology was seriously limited.

The Slow Evolution of Solar Panels

Solar panels may seem like a relatively new technology, since they only started appearing en masse on rooftops over the past two decades. The truth, however, is that the technology was discovered over 150 years ago in 1839 by French physicist Alexandre Edmond Becquerellar.

The first solar panels as most of us would recognize them were invented in Bell Labs in 1954, during some of the worst smog years in Los Angeles. At that time, however, solar panels were more of an amusing novelty. Boasting an anemic one percent efficiency, they could hardly keep a few lightbulbs shining, much less power entire homes!

For several decades, the promise of solar power remained unrealized. Oil was cheap and climate change was a virtually unknown threat still on the horizon. It wasn’t until the oil embargos of the 1970s forced Americans to line up at gas pumps across the country that researchers, politicians, and everyday citizens recognized the value of developing alternative energy. This led to a rush of funding, research, and development into renewable energy.

In 1978, the federal government passed the Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act and the Energy Tax Act, which laid the groundwork for net metering and offered tax credits to consumers who adopted solar panels.

Spurred by all this interest and money, solar panel technology improved quickly, along with the manufacturing process. Together, these trends led to big increases in solar panel efficiency and significantly lower costs.

Today, many of the top solar panel brands offer an efficiency of just over 20%. Prices for solar panel systems have also dropped around 60% over the last decade. These big changes have led to a steady increase in solar adoption across the entire country.

But how did Los Angeles become the leader of the solar panel pack? It starts with that fact that Los Angeles is located in a state that embraces renewable energy.

California – Land of the Solar Panels

Los Angeles may produce the most solar power of any city in the country, but it is hardly an outlier in California. The Golden State has made a big bet on going green and put into place some of the most ambitious (and strictest) clean energy laws in the land.

In 1996, Governor Pete Wilson deregulated the state’s investor-owned utilities and offered incentives for the public utilities to allow solar systems to connect to their grids. This paved the way for California’s incredibly powerful and successful net metering system, which makes solar power in Los Angeles so affordable.

In 2015, Governor Jerry Brown set what seemed like an extremely ambitious goal by signing Senate Bill 350, which required the state to produce 33% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020 and 50% of its energy from renewable sources by 2030. In response, California rose to the challenge and surpassed its 2020 goal three years early!

Perhaps it was these impressive results that convinced Governor Brown to cement his green energy legacy by signing Senate Bill 100 just this past month, which committed California to becoming 100% energy independent and carbon free by 2045. This commitment dramatically raises the bar for California and makes it only the second state in the union to commit to completely cutting their reliance on fossil fuels.

How will California and Los Angeles achieve such a big goal? Solar will be a big part of the equation. In May of this year, California made big waves when the California Energy Commission voted unanimously to require all new homes and businesses to have solar power, starting in 2020.

California’s aggressive environmental goals mean that every city within the state, especially its most populous, will need to make big changes. How is solar power in Los Angeles helping the state meet its carbon-free commitments?

The Sun Is the Biggest Star in Hollywood

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Los Angeles is ready to lead the state of California and the country in adopting solar power. According to the report, “Shining Cities 2018: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America,” Los Angeles has installed 349.3 megawatts of solar power through the city. That’s enough energy to power 82,500 homes, take over 40,000 cars off the road, and eliminate 187,304 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Tinsel Town is just getting started. The city recently unveiled a 2.21 MW(megawatt) solar installation on the Los Angeles Convention Center, which represents the largest solar system on a publicly-owned convention center on the entire west coast.

Mayor Eric Garcetti has also unveiled an ambitious multi-pronged Sustainable City pLAn for Los Angeles that includes a focus on installing more solar power, improving air quality, managing the city’s water supply, investing in green jobs, and completing 28 major Metro projects by the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic games.

As part of the Sustainable City pLAn, Los Angeles has already launched “Solar Rooftops,” a program that installs solar panels in communities with low solar penetration. The Sustainable City pLAn has also streamlined the online permitting process, making it faster and easier than ever for LA residents and businesses to go solar.

With so much focus on solar installation in Los Angeles, what can residents expect for LA’s solar future?

A City with a Bright Future

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As California begins to implement its goal to go carbon neutral by 2045, solar power will be a big part of that solution. In 2020, all new homes and businesses within Los Angeles will be required to have some solar capacity. That means that solar panels will become much more abundant throughout the city, even in low-income neighborhoods, thanks to Los Angeles’ “Solar Rooftops,” initiative.

However, citizens may not notice as much of a visual change. That’s because Tesla is producing solar panel roof tiles that look just like ordinary roof tiles. (They currently offer four options: Tuscan, slate, textured, and smooth glass tiles.) Other companies are working to improve the appearance of solar panels by eliminating the frames or even making “solar skins” that help panels blend into a home’s existing roof.

LA residents may also be able to enjoy a lot more bang for their solar panel buck. While today’s top panels offer just over 20% efficiency, researchers have been able to achieve 46% efficiency using advanced materials in a lab setting. It may be a while until a solar panel with that level of efficiency hits the consumer market, but we now know that it is possible.

The near future may also crack one of the biggest challenges of using solar – the relative lack of storage potential. Solar panels have always been hamstrung by the fact that they only produce energy when the sun is out and shining. New battery technology, including Tesla’s Powerwall, are starting to change that dynamic and make it possible for homeowners and utilities to store excess solar power. Exciting announcements in this field may presage even more advancements in battery technology.

One of those big technological leaps may be happening right here in Los Angeles. Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong recently announced that his company, NantEnergy, based in Phoenix and El Segundo, has developed a battery that utilizes zinc and oxygen, which he claims is much more affordable, safe, and powerful than the lithium-ion batteries we use today to power electric cars and store solar power. Dr. Soon-Shiong, who also owns the Los Angeles Times and is a part owner of the LA Lakers, has already tested the zinc-oxygen batteries in several villages in Africa and Asia and cell phone towers in the United States. The next huge leap in solar technology could already be here, right in the heart of Los Angeles!

Solar Power Is Home in Los Angeles

Los Angeles has come a long, long way from a city choking on poisonous smog. Today, it is leading the charge to adopt clean energy, fight climate change, and protect the health of its citizens. As solar panel technology continues to improve, especially in the department of solar battery storage, Los Angeles could one day become a city that runs entirely on renewable energy in a state with a zero carbon footprint.

It may seem like a wishful daydream, but Los Angeles is all about making dreams come true. We are glad to be a part of that dream. If you are interested in solar installation in Los Angeles, contact us today to schedule a free, no-pressure energy analysis.

 

 

Believe it or not, solar power has been around in California since the 1800s. Of course, it took another 80 years for a PV cell to be developed, but our history with solar is still impressive. Clean energy runs deep in CA. It also happens to be the way of the future. The popularity of California solar power has skyrocketed in the last few decades and legislation is finally catching up. As of 2020, most new-build residential properties in the state will have mandated solar panels installed during their construction.

We shouldn’t be surprised that something so trendy is picking up steam in Los Angeles. Fly above the Hollywood Hills, and you just might catch a glimpse of the light bouncing off rooftop PV cells. Indeed, celebrities have been all over solar for at least a decade, and some have been champions of clean energy for much longer than that. There are a lot of big names on board with using solar to power their Los Angeles homes — and they may just inspire you to follow in their footsteps. Here are nine names known for their love of solar that you may recognize.

1. Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen

When you cross a Super Bowl MVP and a Brazilian supermodel, you get a couple of cute kids… and a love of sustainable energy, as it turns out. Tom Brady and Gisele Bündchen built their Brentwood abode with eco-friendliness in mind. They used green building materials, practice composting, and have a conservation-based irrigation system in place. The couple also installed two solar panels. With one panel in the garden and one in the house, they say they can power their property entirely with solar. Given that Bündchen works with the United Nations Environment Programme as an ambassador, it’s no surprise that she would prioritize clean energy in her home.

2. Alicia Silverstone

You probably know Alicia Silverstone as a vain teenager who couldn’t drive in the cult classic “Clueless,” but in real life she is anything but empty-headed. The actress is a big proponent of all things environmentally friendly. From choosing recycled plastics whenever possible to eating vegan, Silverstone is trying to leave the earth no worse for the wear of her lifestyle. Part of her efforts includes a solar array on her LA rooftop. She also uses energy-saving appliances and looks for other ways to cut back on her carbon footprint. Silverstone is outspoken about her green living and says she has encouraged building developers to think about installing solar panels on their buildings to cut down on their use of the main grid.

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3. Pierce Brosnan

He once went by Bond, James Bond. He is also known as a major champion of solar power. Plenty of big names in Hollywood can say they have a star on the Walk of Fame, but how many can say they have a spot in the Environmental Hall of Fame? Brosnan can boast both. His family has so many solar panels on their Los Angeles area home that he sells the surplus back to the grid. In addition to using solar to power the house, Brosnan has a solar-powered compost heap. The actor takes other measures to make his home more efficient, too. Insulated windows and a water recycling system can also be found on the environmentally-friendly property. We all know we’re supposed to turn off the lights when we leave the room, but the actor’s house is wired to turn off the lights whenever a room is vacant for more than 5 minutes — just in case.

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4. Edward Norton

Edward Norton has been selling people on solar for nearly as long as he’s been the face of the famous phrase “The first rule of Fight Club is you don’t talk about fight club.” The actor teamed up with BP to create the Solar Neighbors Program way back in 2004. After researching solar for his own California home, the actor realized he could make a bigger change if he not only retrofitted his own home, but also helped families go green and lower their own utility bills in the process. The program donates a solar panel system to a low-income family for every celebrity that purchases a system for their own home. As if all of that wasn’t enough, Edward Norton is also the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Biodiversity. And, of course, he continues to use solar power and other green energy efforts in his own home.

5. Jane Fonda

Before she was the queen of the workout video, Jane Fonda was a loud proponent for the potential of solar power. In 1978, she was one of the celebrity speakers and activists to speak at Sun Day in San Francisco, where she said that solar power could liberate consumers from the irregular pricing of traditional utilities. The actress’s love of eco-friendly practices didn’t end there. She built a solar home in the early 1980s and her most recent home in Beverly Hills was outfitted in sustainable materials like cork floors and a solar-heated swimming pool. The home also had PV panels on the roof. Given Fonda’s history of using green energy, we can assume her latest LA home will also be made quite sustainable.  

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6. Lisa Ling

This journalist and former talk show co-host is as savvy about eco-friendly living as she is about crafting the perfect questions. Lisa Ling has created a Santa Monica home that uses a wide array of green practices, from tons of natural light that mitigates the need for artificial lighting (and LED lamps when needed) to Smartgrass astroturf in the yard that doesn’t require watering. Perhaps the coolest thing about Ling’s property is the Passive Solar Panel System that heats water and then supplies it as radiant heating beneath the floors. The same system heats all of the family’s water needs, from the shower to the swimming pool. Ling also has additional solar panels on the roof to make the property as self-sustainable as possible.

7. Julia Roberts

This Pretty Woman is also compassionate about making the world better for future generations. Back in 2009 she admitted that having children had turned her into an eco-warrior of sorts, and she completed a massive renovation on her home to give it green upgrades. Among those changes? Solar panels that cover three roof surfaces. The other green changes to the home included recycled tile and sustainable building materials. Roberts’ 6,000-square foot Malibu home has its footprint in check.

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8. Bryan Cranston

He may have starred as a drug dealer living in a modest suburban pad in Albuquerque, but in real life Bryan Cranston lives beneath solar panels in Los Angeles near the beach. The actor turned what was once a small party pad on the water into an eco-friendly home with lots of tech upgrades. Working alongside designer John A. Turturro, Cranston was able to create a space that leverages the sea air as a natural cooling system. The home is also covered in American clay to keep the humidity down without using a lick of electricity. Finally, Cranston has solar panels on the roof to generate his own energy.

Thinking Beyond Solar Power in Los Angeles

Living like a celebrity is usually associated with expensive cars and a lot of square footage. But you don’t have to be a millionaire to adopt the green practices of these eight celebrities. Solar power is quickly growing popular (and more affordable) in urban and suburban areas alike. Even better, if you get solar it’s more likely that your neighbors will, too. You can change your community by investing in PV panels.

While major cities like Los Angeles can certainly benefit from having fewer homes on their already congested electric grid, any community will reap benefits from the use of residential solar power. No matter where you’re living, solar power makes you more energy independent and creates a sustainable future for your property.

Are you ready to make the switch to solar power? There’s no reason to wade through these waters alone! Contact Semper Solaris today to get a solar estimate for your property. There’s never any pressure: just a thorough estimate and explanation of how solar can improve your home and way of life. We’d love to talk to you about what’s so great about solar in California.

 

What happens when you have too much of a good thing? Easy, you share the wealth with your neighbors. In this case that “wealth” is California solar power, and California has so much of it, including solar power from Los Angeles, that it has been giving some of that sunshine goodness away to neighboring states, like Arizona and Nevada, for years! How has our state and our big cities like Los Angeles produced so much solar power that they need to give it away (and in some instances actually pay other states to take it)? Is there a way for our state to better utilize our solar energy so we don’t have to send it to neighboring states? Let’s shine a light on these questions and see if we can find some answers.

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California’s Aggressive Solar Push

California has long been a renewable energy leader. The Golden State passed Senate Bill 350 in 2015, which requires all utilities in the state to source half of their electricity sales from renewable sources. That obviously wasn’t enough of a stance against carbon-heavy fossil fuels. Earlier this year the California Energy Commission unanimously adopted standards that require solar panels on most new homes and buildings created after January 1st, 2020.

In other words, California is betting big on renewable energy, especially solar. The results have been impressive. In 2010, California’s power plants generated just 15% of their energy from renewable sources, which were mostly wind and geothermal power. By 2017, that number had risen to 27%, almost all of the increase coming from solar. Additionally, in 2017 Pacific Gas & Electric relied on solar for 13% of its power, whereas San Diego Gas & Electric utilized solar for 22% of the energy it provided to its SoCal customers.

Where is all of this solar energy coming from? If you were to jump on a plane and scour the state, you’d come across some of the world’s largest solar farms spread out in California’s desolate inland, including the Topaz Solar Farm (550 megawatt capability) in the Central Valley, as well as the Ivanpah Solar Power Facility (392 megawatts) and the Beacon Solar Project (250 megawatts) in the Mojave Desert. These major facilities combine to provide over 1,000 megawatts (MW) of solar power capability for the state.

Of course, you don’t even need to rent out a plane to see how solar is transforming California. You can see the increase in solar power in Los Angeles just by taking a jog around the neighborhood and counting up all the homes with solar panels on their roofs.

With this rapidly increasing solar capacity, it’s no surprise that California is making gains toward it’s renewable energy goals. What is surprising is just how laughably easy that goal seems now. The state has already easily surpassed its first milestone of generating 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, and we might even hit the entire goal of 50% renewable energy production ten years early.  

This is where too much of a good thing might actually become a problem. California has started to generate so much solar power so quickly that the state’s existing infrastructure is scrambling to adapt. In the short term, this has meant handing off some of our solar power to our neighbors and even in some instances begging them to take it!

Why California Doesn’t Use All of Its Renewable Energy

To understand why California is giving away solar power from Los Angeles and its other big cities, we must take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) is the state entity in charge of running that state’s massive electrical grid. One of its prime directives is to prevent blackouts and brownouts, which have plagued California in the past.

California generates energy from a wide variety of sources, including from natural gas plants. It’s up to CAISO to figure out how to use all of this incoming energy effectively. The rise of solar power has made this balancing act more difficult. That’s because solar power is not a consistent energy source. During long, sunny days in the summer, solar energy can surge. At night, or during a stretch of cloudy days, the amount of available solar power can drop precipitously, forcing the state to rely more heavily on natural gas plants and other power sources.

The biggest energy glut typically comes in the winter, when power usage is low but solar energy production remains high. (In the summer, the heavy use of air conditioning across the state eagerly sucks up excess solar energy.) To some degree, California has the ability to turn off its solar tap. CAISO can ask its utility companies to cut back their solar energy production. Still, this isn’t always enough to manage the incoming energy supply. After all, the utilities can’t turn off the growing number of residential solar power systems.

Why not turn off the natural gas plants during sunny days when solar energy production jumps? That would certainly be a better deal for the environment, but not for California’s budget. It is costly to stop production at natural gas plants, which means solar plants are usually the first target for energy cuts.

In some cases, even cutting back on solar power isn’t enough to stem the flow of too much energy production. If too much power goes through California’s electrical grid, it could cause a brownout or blackout, almost like allowing too much steam to build up in a closed system. When this situation occurs, CAISO has to find a way to release the pressure and get rid of the excessive energy.

It turns out that sharing really is caring! CAISO often turns to California’s neighboring states to offload excess energy. According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, California paid Arizona to take its solar power for eight days in January of 2017, nine days in February, and 14 days in March!

Arizona isn’t the only beneficiary of this largess. California has also been known to give its solar power away to Nevada and other neighboring states.  

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Why Does California Have to Pay for Its Neighbors to Take Its Energy?

You’d think that Arizona and the other states would be happy to get free energy. However, it’s all about supply and demand. If Arizona needs energy, it might be willing to pay California for its excess or accept the energy for free. However, if Arizona is producing enough energy on its own, it will actually need to turn off its own energy valves in order to take California’s energy, which costs it money.

In other words, when California desperately needs to get energy off its hands and no one wants it, we have to pay up!

This seems like a bizarre state of affairs, doesn’t it? California has gotten too good at producing solar power. How can our state figure out a way to actually use all the solar power it produces?

How to Keep Solar Power in Los Angeles

One answer is for California to slow down the pace of or entirely stop greenlighting new natural gas plants in the state. Surprisingly, until relatively recently, state regulators have been giving the thumbs up for new natural gas projects. Some utility officials claim that new plants are needed to stabilize the grid, especially at night or during cloudy days when solar power isn’t available. However, the state is home to plenty of existing natural gas plants, and many activists believe new ones aren’t needed. Instead, they want California to focus on finding better ways to harness solar energy.

That has everything to do with improving the way solar energy is stored. Reliable and efficient solar energy storage would allow California to keep all the excess solar power it produces on sunny days (or at least much more than it currently does) and feed that energy back into the electrical grid at night or during cloudy days.

Fortunately, solar storage technology continues to improve at a rapid pace. For example, solar panel batteries are getting better and cheaper each year. (Read our full review of the Tesla Powerwall.) Soon, effective solar storage systems may help eliminate some of the largest challenges of solar, which could, in turn, allow California to fully embrace its growing solar infrastructure without sending its solar energy out of state.

Last year, California Senate President, Kevin De León, introduced a measure that would have required California to produce 100% of its energy using renewable resources by 2045. That measure was narrowly defeated, but de León vowed to bring it up again. If this measure is adopted, California will likely have to increase its solar production capacity even more and find an effective storage solution.

You can help be part of California’s solar solution! If you want to see our state transition to 100% renewable energy, then now is the time to invest in solar panels for your home. Contact Semper Solaris today to request a free home energy analysis.

 

As the first half of 2018 is over, the city of Los Angeles proved to be the best in yet another category. According to a report from Environment America Research & Policy Center, Los Angeles took the title of ‘Best City for Solar’, passing up neighbors in San Diego for the number 1 spot. “In a city full of stars, it’s the biggest of them all –the sun– that is powering our homes, schools, stores, and studios with clean, renewable energy,” said Michelle Kinman, a Clean Energy Advocate with Environment California Research & Policy Center. This was made possible by unveiling one of the largest rooftop solar projects in the city of Los Angeles. The new solar project is gaining interest because of the 2.2-megawatt array of solar panels being placed on the roof of the Los Angeles Convention Center. This installation was the largest solar panel system on any public convention center on the entire West Coast. The city of L.A. alone has a whopping 350 megawatts of installed solar panels, which provides approximately 82,500 homes with energy savings and a decreased carbon footprint.

Want to know the best part?

            This was all made possible by the efforts of many people in Los Angeles, but mostly the utility. They allowed a streamlined process for permitting of solar installations in locations all around Los Angeles. This led to the creation of many solar programs, which provide incentives to those investing in solar energy. “The impressive growth of local solar is also a reflection of the improvements we’ve made to streamline all aspects of the solar programs, making it easier for customers to go solar,” explained General Manager of LADWP, David H. Wright. These incentives are a huge factor for those debating the investment in solar energy. Programs have helped provide over $314 million in incentives for the businesses and residents of Los Angeles.

Coming in Close Second

            As Los Angeles took the top spot, cities like San Diego, Phoenix, San Jose, and Honolulu fall close behind because of their commitment to reducing their cities overall carbon footprint. San Diego actually held the first place spot until this Convention Center Project was concluded. Southern California has no short of sunlight, allowing for Los Angeles and San Diego to dominate the United States in solar energy production. As the twenty-first century kicks off, we will see a huge increase in solar energy installations. Especially with the implementation of the Paris Climate Accord, cities around the world will begin investing in these solar “farms.” These farms will allow for a huge reduction in the amount of greenhouse gas emissions. As Los Angeles leads the way, other cities in the states hope to follow suit because of the great possibilities that Solar Power brings.

In this new age of solar energy, there is a lot of buzz around which type of panels are best for your needs. Living in Los Angeles has its perks but also its downfalls, one being small yards and tall buildings, which can sometimes put a limit on your solar options. But one thing that stands true is that Los Angeles never runs short sunlight. the But as you are researching into the solar panel options you will see that there are many different brands and types of panels out on the market. Today we are here to discuss two different types, the ground mount, and the rooftop solar panels.

Ground Mount:

Ground Mount Solar Panels come in two different types, typical ground mounts, and pole ground mounts, which both have their own use cases. Ground Mounts are driven into the ground at a fixed angle, while pole ground mounts usually come with a tracking system which adjusts the panel to the optimal angle for maximum sunlight. Ground mounts allow for homeowners to utilize the maximum area of land for solar energy generation. Ground Mounts allow you to determine the angle for your panels while roof panels are pretty limited to the contour of your roof. Ground Panels tend to be more efficient in capturing solar energy because of this factor.   

Roof Top Mount:

Rooftop Solar Panels are also a great fit for most projects because of their ability to be installed on any roof! Some people do not have the land to use ground mounts, and this is why the roof panels are the more popular of the two for residential jobs. The roof panels are drilled into the roof and have other support structures to keep the panels set at a set angle. This is great for any areas that have high winds or any sort of unexpected weather.

Which option is best for me?

This is a trick question and doesn’t have one answer. It depends on your location in Los Angeles and if you have any sort of land for ground solar panels. Ground Panels tend to be better for people with plots of land because you can allocate certain areas to panel installment. Living in Los Angeles has its pros and cons but most people do not have big yards because of the close proximity to neighbors. The best bet for most residents of Los Angeles would be to invest in Roof Top Panels, this assures you are getting the best return on your investment. At Semper Solaris, we are committed to providing the best quality service no matter your needs. Reach out to a representative to discuss your options today.

 

To Solar or Not to Solar?

Palmdale ranks number two in the nation for savings from installing solar panels on the home. Some people get scared away from investing in solar because of the high costs upfront but over the span of 25 years, the homeowner could save up to $27,000 in energy bill costs. If this isn’t enough incentive to buy in now, then keep reading.

Saving The Planet, While Watching Your Wallet

The residents of Palmdale have a few incentives to invest in solar energy that is provided by a few different entities. There is a Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit that is offered by the Federal Government. The typical credit is around thirty percent of the solar energy system, which is deducted from your federal taxes. There also is a rebate available offered by Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. This rebate is named “LADWP – Solar Incentive Program,” which helps by rebating a percent of your total solar system cost. In addition to saving a lot of money, you will be decreasing your individual footprint on the environment. As the world continues to grow in population, solar is becoming a more and more popular source of power. Buy in now, while the sun is still hot!

Antelope Valley, Home of Renewable Energy

Antelope Valley is known for its long summer and is also home to one of the biggest solar farms in California. It is no wonder that a 266-megawatt power plant, calls Antelope Valley home. This Solar Power Plant harvests energy, which is purchased by Pacific Gas and Electric Company. PG&E then powers up to 75,000 homes with this energy, in effect displacing 140,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide. As you can see, the Palmdale area is the perfect place for investing in solar! If big companies and corporations are investing right in your own backyard, then the time and place for you to invest are just right! You will see a huge decrease in just your first month’s power bill. Eventually, you could even sell energy back to the Energy Company if you have an excess. Or invest in one of the great solar battery storage devices, and keep that energy until you need it! These devices are great for storing energy and using it when really needed. In emergency situations, solar battery storage can act as a backup generator and keep your power on and running, even in the craziest of power outages and weather storms these devices never falter.

Time for Solar

As 2018 comes to it final descent, it is time to invest in your home and take advantage of all the great sunshine that Palmdale offers. Solar panels are one of the best investments because you will see instant return when you receive the first power bill in the mail. They also add value to your home because who would pass on a home that already has solar installed? Palmdale residents are hopping on the solar bandwagon fast, your time is now.  

There are many behind the scene aspects that go into the installation of a solar panel system that many people do not know of. At Semper Solaris, we assure that all laws are being strictly followed, and any necessary permitting is approved before the job is kicked off.

Why Permitting Matters?

Permitting allows for the city to keep a handle on the solar installation process. They can keep track of where and when units are being installed. This also allows the city to keep track of how many kilowatts of solar energy is being produced, as well as where these panels are located. The city sometimes comes off as the bad guy because of the regulations but without keeping a watch on these types of installations, solar panels would begin popping up everywhere. This would cause a huge issue with land usage for ground mount panels, also creating many eyesores for the residents of the city. Solar is a way to diminish our carbon footprint but rules must be followed to prevent solar chaos. Just as buildings must have permits to begin construction, solar energy systems do as well!

Punishing Offenders

The city of San Clarita can be a little harsh sometimes when it comes to the permitting of solar panels in the city. Just recently, The San Clarita Canyon View Estates were hit with a code violation for installing solar panels without a permit. Permits are one of the most important parts of the solar installation, without an okay from the city, you could be losing thousands of dollars by not following the code guidelines. This may seem like a harsh punishment but without permitting, solar farms would pop up everywhere and become a huge eyesore for the residents of San Clarita. “While the City supports efforts to move to renewable energy, the City takes seriously its responsibility to enforce conditions of approval designed to protect the quality of life in Santa Clarita, balancing the need for development with the preservation of open space,” an official stated. These panels that were installed above the Canyon View Estates have been criticized greatly by other residents… “Those panels are such an eyesore! I’m hoping they are ordered to eliminate them permanently! The city should not allow these to remain.” All of these issues could have been avoided if the proper permits were acquired at the beginning of the project.

Commitment to Quality

At Semper Solaris, we go up and beyond to assure that all guidelines are strictly followed. Each city has its own processes for Solar Photovoltaic installations and our staff goes to great measures to follow any codes or regulations that are enforced. You will be happy with the final product knowing that everything will be running smoothly with no issues from neighbors or officials. In addition to peace of mind, you will receive a great product that will bring your returns on investment for years to come.

Los Angeles is a great place to invest in solar panels. Not only does the most populous city in the Golden State get plenty of sunshine throughout the year, but the city itself actively encourages its residents to go solar through its Solar Incentive Program (SIP). To make the cost of solar panels in Los Angeles a little more affordable, SIP offers rebates to residents who purchase or lease solar panels. (It helps to have the assistance of an experienced solar panel company in Los Angeles to obtain the rebate.)  That’s right, Los Angeles will actually give you money to put solar panels on your roof. How does the SIP work, and, more importantly, how can you get your check in the mail?

In this article, we’ll explore the history of the Solar Incentive Program, explain how it can put money in your pocket, walk you through the steps to apply, and tell you why now is the best time to take advantage of the program. (Hint: It might not be around for much longer!)

Why Los Angeles Wants to Pay You to Go Solar

 

In 2006, the year of his re-election, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger made history when he signed the California Solar Initiative (CSI), which required that all California utility companies implement a solar incentive program. The CSI was designed to increase the amount of renewable energy that California produced by making solar installation more affordable for businesses and homeowners.

Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles was ahead of the curve. Its massive public utility company, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) had already implemented its own Solar Incentive Program (SIP) all the way back in 2000.

The California Solar Initiative supercharged the LADWP’s program by handing the utility $313 million to funnel to its residents and businesses. In 2007, the LADWP Board of Commissioners released a revised Solar Incentive Program that offered rebates (also called “incentives”) to residents and businesses that installed solar panels on their property.

The program was designed so that the amount of the rebates would decline over time as certain solar power goals were met. The program was slated to wrap in 2017 (ten years after it started) or whenever the program met its solar energy production goals. Fortunately for you, Los Angeles still hasn’t met its goals, so the program is still currently open. (More on that toward the end of this article.)

How the California Solar Initiative Works

In the simplest terms, the SIP is a one-time rebate that is calculated based on the energy your solar panel system produces. In this way, the more energy your system produces, the bigger your rebate will be. The effect of this system is that homeowners who invest in larger (more expensive) solar installations will receive a bigger rebate to help offset their expanded costs.

One of the really nice things about the SIP is that it is available for homeowners who purchase or lease their solar panels. If you don’t have enough money to purchase your solar panels out-of-pocket, leasing allows you to get solar panels, often with no money down, for a fixed cost. As a bonus, you’ll still get your SIP rebate!

As of this writing, the SIP rebate for a residential solar system is $0.25 per watt.

How Much Can You Save?

 

How much savings can you expect from a SIP rebate? The answer will depend upon the size of your system and ultimately how its capacity is calculated according to the SIP’s formula. If you really want to know what type of rebate you could be looking at, it’s best to schedule a consultation with a solar panel company in Los Angeles. Your solar installation company can make a recommendation on the right size solar system for your energy needs and budget and then use that calculation to do some back-of-the-envelope math to estimate your SIP rebate.

Let us stress that these are only ballpark figures, and you should definitely speak with a professional solar installation company with experience in Los Angeles before making your purchase decision.

How to Get Bonus Savings

Want an even bigger rebate for your solar panel purchase? The SIP hands out a bonus rebate if you invest in solar panels (also called photovoltaic cells) that were manufactured in Los Angeles. Again, we encourage you to work with a solar panel company in Los Angeles to determine the right brand of solar panel for your project.

How to Qualify for the SIP Rebate

This whole “get the city of Los Angeles to give you money for purchasing solar panels” thing sounds pretty good, right? Before you start dreaming about how to spend your rebate check (tickets to Wicked at the Pantages, anyone?), make sure that you qualify for the program. It’s not that hard unless you veer pretty far off the normal solar panel path.

Here’s how to qualify for a SIP rebate:  

These standards are relatively basic, and as long as you work with an experienced and trustworthy solar panel company and receive service from LADWP, you shouldn’t have to worry about qualifying for the rebate. Receiving the rebate, however, is a whole other can of worms!

A Step-by-Step Guide to Snagging Your SIP Rebate

This section will look at all the steps involved in applying for and receiving a SIP rebate for solar panel systems 10kW or smaller, which will cover the majority of residential systems. The steps may seem complicated, but keep in mind that your solar installation company should handle the entire process on your behalf. It’s useful to understand what’s involved in receiving the rebate, but you shouldn’t need to actually perform any of these steps.

Why You Should Call a Solar Panel Company in Los Angeles ASAP

Worker installs solar panels on rooftop

At the beginning of the article, we mentioned that the LADWP’s Solar Incentive Program was designed to run out in 2017 or when the LADWP had met its solar power generation goal. The calendar says that it’s past the middle of 2018, and the program is still active, which means that it’s basically living on borrowed time.

We honestly don’t know when the LADWP will meet its solar power generation goal and close down its entire rebate program. It could happen next month, next week, or even tomorrow! In fact, all of the public electric utilities that service neighboring San Diego have already run through their incentives and closed out their own rebate programs. We should also mention that the federal government’s huge, 30% solar tax rebate will be phased out after 2019. Sooner than you think, there may be no incentives or rebates available for solar installation.  

If you are considering solar panels, there is seriously no better time to invest in solar power in Los Angeles. Hopefully, this has shown that the LADWP’s solar rebate program can be a little complicated. That’s why it’s so important to work with a local solar panel company in Los Angeles that understands exactly how to use the program. You wouldn’t want to miss out on your rebate, because a national solar installation company doesn’t know what they are doing!

At Semper Solaris, we are proud to have locations throughout California, including in Los Angeles. Our Los Angeles team knows how to obtain SIP rebates for our clients in a smooth and effective way. To start on your solar journey, contact us for a free energy analysis today.  

Our Semper Cares Initiative was a huge success!

On July 3rd, we completed two goodwill projects and unveiled them to the public. Welcomed guests and the local press assembled to join the families and crew to celebrate these veterans and watch as the final solar panels were installed. The two unveiling celebrations radiated honor, pride, and patriotism for this country and for those who fought to defend it.

 

 

In partnership with Habitat for Humanity San Diego, we helped two veteran celebrate their Independence Day by unveiling a new roof and solar power system.

 

Veteran Carl Schaffrina’s roof was in serious need of replacement. Water leaks were proving physically and mentally demanding for the family. Semper Solaris teamed up with the Owens Corning Roof Deployment Project to provide a complete new roof installation expected to last for more than 25 years.

 

In addition, Semper Solaris partnered with Panasonic of North America and SolarEdge to design a state-of-the-art solar system. Panasonic donated all the solar panels provided to Carl and his wife, Jodi. SolarEdge generously donated the DV-AC inverter hardware to complete the system. The project brought our San Diego community together by coordinating with San Diego Habitat For Humanity’s Veteran Project.

 

Former Marine sniper Povas Miknaitis, was given the opportunity to declare his independence from electric companies. Semper Solaris, in cooperation with SolarWorld, and SolarEdge, installed a complete solar panel system to his home in San Diego. This new system will help reduce electricity costs and improve his home’s value. Lowering Mr. Miknaitis’ electricity bills and helping him become more energy independent is especially valuable, since most veterans are on fixed incomes – one fewer bill means greater financial freedom. The Miknaitis project was coordinated with San Diego’s Warrior Foundation Freedom Station where Miknaitis was a beneficiary and is now a volunteer working with other wounded veterans.

 

We are proud of the men and women of our Semper Solaris team, our partners, and the veterans of this great nation. Stay tuned for future Semper Cares initiatives as we continue to help veterans in any way we can. At Semper Solaris, we take pride in our veterans, our veteran origins, and our veteran employees and their stories. As always, thank you for your service.

Having a solar panel system installed can be an environmentally and economically savvy move. In fact, the Solar Energy Industries Association reported that the market doubled in 2016 compared to the previous year. Solar power is not a fading trend – it is here to make the world a greener place. With the wave of solar power comes additional renewable energy options for homeowners, including options like solar batteries for storing solar power not used right away.

What Exactly Do Solar Batteries Do?

When a homeowner has a solar energy system installed, it includes solar panels, mounting equipment, a monitoring system, and an inverter to make the power from the sun usable electricity in a home. Most homes are tied to an electricity grid, which means any additional or unused power created by your panels will flow into the grid. In return, homeowners are able to draw excess power needed when their solar panels aren’t producing enough (such as at night). Typically, a credit will be given to homeowners for any extra electricity their solar panels produce and send to the grid. That means these credits will usually cover any excess electricity needed to be drawn back from the grid when the panels aren’t generating enough power– also referred to as net metering.

So what does this have to do with solar batteries? In theory, the batteries would take that excess solar power, convert it, and then store it for later use. The solar battery would then be the secondary power source your home draws from depending on how much power your solar panels produce.

Any excess electricity produced by panels once the battery is charged is then sent back to the grid. It essentially gives your home an extra storage of usable electricity. If your solar battery is depleted when your panels aren’t producing power, only then will your home draw from the grid. Additionally, solar batteries can act as a quick backup power supply in power outage situations.

Do I Need a Solar Battery for My Home?

Having a solar battery may seem like a natural step to take when you have a solar panel system up and running for your home, but it isn’t always necessary. In large part, whether or not a battery is practical depends on how your utility processes the power produced by your solar panels. If you get compensated through a credit for every kilowatt-hour of electricity produced (net metering), a battery may not make as much sense. If a battery is storing that power, you won’t get any extra savings on your electricity bill. On the other hand, if you are under time-of-use rates or demand charges, you may benefit greatly from having the flexibility of a solar battery to provide previously produced power during those times. Also, if you like the idea of being able to store additional solar power and reducing dependence on the local electricity grid, a solar battery can be a great option.

Still have questions? You can get answers when you trust your solar panel system installation to Semper Solaris. Contact us now to get more insight on how to go solar the smart way.

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