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Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Rumbles (solar)

From Malcolm Drake, via ROPnet
While attending the Solwest Energy Fair (July 27th-29th in John Day, www.solwest.org) would likely be a lot of fun, another way to gain a lot of knowledge about alternative energy is to visit http://www.energytrust.org/.

Energy Trust of Oregon was the main reason I am the proud owner of a 3000 watt photovotaic (aka solar electric) system.

Four years ago, I was investigating the practicality of “going solar” (Athough I’ve been designing and building passive solar houses for almost twenty-five years, and have been heating water with solar energy for over thirty years, I had not yet taken the plunge to power my electricity with solar power)

After much research, I concluded that the cost for the 1000 watt system I was seeking was just too much money, and too much trouble, to take on.

In addition to the approximately $11,000 in materials costs, there were “hidden costs” of such things as building permits, electrical permits, ancillary meters, disconnects, ground rods, other whistles and bells, dealing with a reluctant power company, etc. And then there were the labor costs, if I chose not to do it myself. It would have taken me a whole lot of time to figure out how to put this whole mysterious solar project together.

One year later, thanks to Oregon Energy Trust, and Oregon tax credits, I bought a system three times as big (3000 watts vs. 1000 watts) for a whole lot less money. After all was said and done, I paid about $7800 for the system. What’s really cool is that this system was turnkey; e.g. everything was taken care of by the solar contractor. I did not have to deal with the power company, nor the building department, or anyone else. I did not have to pay extra for meters, disconnects, nor any of the other hidden costs.

Summary: Energy Trust got me a turnkey operation for $2.60 per watt, installed, whereas the system I’d investigated previously would have cost over $11 per watt, uninstalled!

And it gets better: I recently got a bid to install another 2000 watt system on my roof, for a turnkey cost of $4000--$2 per watt. This is the best deal yet, and is partly due to the federal tax credit.

I’ve been hearing rumbles of Oregon increasing tax credits, but can’t say for sure, but Oregon Energy Trust can, for sure.

Check this out, people; my system has operated perfectly for the past 3 1/2 years, and has produced, as of today, 13,686 kilowatt hours of electricity-about five percent better than Oregon Energy Trust estimated for my site. For those of you who are concerned about global warming, it’s also prevented about 16,500 pounds of Carbon Dioxide from entering the atmosphere.

The time for “thinking about” doing something is over. Time to step up to the plate: GO SOLAR!
Malcolm Drake
Grants Pass

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