Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Follow up on AP post

The Sun Finally Rises on Solar Power
Q. How can the company afford to install this complete solar system with no upfront cost to the consumer?
A. Because we handle everything ourselves from the solar grade silicon to the final installation, we create savings at each stage of the production. Plus we are building the largest plant for solar power in the world. When you combine our vertical integration with our economies of scale, we are able to produce the final product at half the cost of our competitors.
Q. This sounds like the company required a large amount of money to make all this happen?
A. Yep, $650 million.
Q. Now I know why no one did this before you guys. So the customer does not have to give any money to have this complete solar system installed on their house?
A. Actually we do require a security deposit of $500, at the time of installation. The customer gets this deposit back with interest at the end of the contract. If they don’t pay their bill and walk away from the contract, they lose their deposit and we come take the system off their roof. They are also required to pay a monthly rental for the solar energy system.
Q. And how is that rent calculated?
A. By the amount of energy that the system produces.
Q. But they are paying the same rate they were paying before, right?
A. Often it is actually less. The company bases their rates on a customer's average bill with their electric utility for an entire year, using the most recent full year's data. Since rates tend to go up each year, many customers will save money on their first bill, and this will only increase as the years pass. We provide a calculator on our website that will tell specifically what they will save with their particular utility and their monthly usage. Many customers save over $10,000 just by switching to the sun. Our whole mission is to help people join the solution and stop being part of the problem.
Q. I like that. How long a contract do they have to sign?
A. One year, five years, or 25 years. Over 80% of our customers sign the 25-year contract because that locks in their rate for the entire term of the contract. If they sign a shorter contract, their rate is recalculated according to current energy rates at the end of their term.
Q. What happens if I sign a 25-year contract and I want to sell my house in 10 years?A. You have three options. First, you can ask us to move the system to your new house. We do that one time for free. Second, you can transfer the contract to the new owner. This can potentially add value to your house because if energy rates keep going up like they are and they are 60% higher in 10 years, then your buyer would get a 60% decrease on their energy bill because of your foresight. The final option is that you can contact us, tell us that you just want to end the contract and we will remove the unit. With this third option you do lose your security deposit.
Q. Sum up the advantage to me.
A. There are three advantages to the customer:1) They are part of the "solution", and,2) they lock in their current electric rates for a contract period of their choice, 1 year, 5 years, or 25 years, and3) they can knock dollars off their monthly bill by referring other customers, or, they can become more involved and make a living showing other people how to become "part of the solution", and save money on their electric rates.
Q. What's my worst case scenario?
A. Worst case scenario is if a person wanted out of their contract, did not want to move it to their new home, and the next owner of their current house did not want it, they loose their $500 security deposit as the cost for the company to take down the system.
Q. Is there any money due now?
A. There is no money due before the system is actually installed under a design plan that the home owner agrees to...(all systems will go on the roof, not out in yards and such...I think...I might be wrong)...if the home owner agrees to the plan (where the panels will be placed, etc), then the only money due is the $500 security deposit, which the homeowner will get back at the end of the contract with interest.
Q. When will system installations start?
A. System installations will start sometime after September 2007, but if the customer signs up now, they get to lock in current electric rates even though the system won't be installed for several months, plus, they get to be one of the first folks to get a system.
Q. How long will installation take?
A. The company says installation will take less than one day.
Q. What are my total costs?
A. The company takes care of all building permits and everything else involved in the installation, the ONLY "cost" to the customer is the $500 security deposit, which, again, the homeowner gets back at the end of the contract with interest.
Q. Can this system be used as backup power for my house?
A. The system will have the ability to supply electricity to your home if the grid goes down and the sun is shining.There are some challenges to this. The reason for this is that current laws require our systems to have anti-islanding software that keeps our units from delivering electricity to the customer's main panel. The reasoning is that if a lineman is working on the network somewhere near by, and there is no anti-islanding precaution, the lineman runs the risk of being electrocuted. We certainly do not wish for this situation to ever occur.We have two current solutions:(1) supply a utility grade switch that will completely sever the connection to the utility during a black-out and will allow the system to continue delivering power to the Customer (the switch is very large and is typically displeasing to the Customer aesthetically), or(2) we can install a secondary panel that is designed to continue running critical and preferred loads during a power outage.Our engineering wizards will continue to design innovative solutions that provide customers the best possible experience.

Solar energy gets affordable

Solar energy gets affordable
OTIS HART Thursday, 18 January, 2007

There's a company that wants to throw solar panels on your house and reduce your electricity bill -- for free.

Yeah, we didn't believe it at first, either. But Citizenre, a renewable energy corporation based in Delaware, looks like the real deal. Its REnU program (for Renewable Energy Unit) complements your current utility setup to take advantage of the sun's resources and reduce the juice you get from "the grid."

It also lets those of us spooked by Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" to do our small part in limiting the country's dependence on coal and natural energy sources.

Life as usual, really, only greener.

REnU rents you solar panels on a kilowatt-hour basis. You pay Citizenre whatever rate your local electricity provider charges at that time. The bonus is you're locked into that rate for the entire length of the contract, whether it be one year, five or 25. (That's how you'd actually save money.) They install the panels on your house free of charge and take care of all upkeep.

The REnU program won't be fully operational until September. It needs a state that has instituted net-metering which essentially allows you to store up energy credit. (All but nine states have passed some sort of net-metering policy...check them on the service territory at the bottom to the right from the calculator).

Citizenre CEO David Gregg is a man with a mission. The "secret" to the company is vertical integration. They plan to open a factory in the U.S. in the next few months and set up a nationwide transportation system to eliminate middlemen and dependence on state subsidies.

As of Thursday morning, 3,467 homeowners have signed up for the September launch, and over 80 percent have opted for the 25-year contract, according to Gregg.

The average retail price of electricity rose almost 12 percent between 2002 and 2005. [In southern Fl last year FP&L raised the rate %20, but the hue and cry made the PUC cut it back--4%!] Citizenre's fee doesn't change from the moment you sign up. So, if the electricity rate continues to rise over the next 25 years, you won't feel the pinch.

But aside from the potential cost savings, users will reduce the amount of fossil fuel required to power their houses.

"Conceptually, the idea of making an energy service available is done on a commercial basis," said Cecile Warner, principal engineer of the National Center for Photovoltaics at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. "Residential customers have had options to buy renewable energy, but this is among the first companies that I have seen where it's available as a service rather than buying the system."

While buying a system is a great investment, the savings you might receive via leasing matches up over the life of the contract.

"I think that overcoming this (expensive) hurdle for most households will be very attractive," she said. "A lot of people just can't scrape together the money to pay for the system up front."
(Otis Hart, asap reporter )Want to comment? Sound off at soundoffasap@ap.org on a deal that seems too good to be true.

Sunday, January 28, 2007


Here is more information about REnU's general program [(620) 294-1402] and a recorded Question & Answer session with the Company's CEO. They have dealt with and solved most of the problems using solar at a residential level. It is becoming into a grass-root phenomenon! If this catches on it can really help with the energy crisis and the environmental crisis with global warming greenhouse gases.
Aware of the energy landscape’s imminent change, and its remarkable opportunity, Citizenrē is positioning itself to be the world’s leader in the development of renewable energy infrastructure. Through project development and strategic alliances, Citizenrē is on its way to becoming a Top-5 global photovoltaic (“PV”) manufacturer, the largest global photovoltaic system installer, and the No.1 owner/operator of PV generating assets.

...The Citizenrē Corporation’s purpose is to modernize the global energy infrastructure and to increase global energy supplies. In fulfilling such a purpose, Citizenrē expects to use its technologies and know-how to capitalize on the projected 59% increase in world energy demand over the next 25 years – and, of course, the correlative $17 trillion in needed investment. In return, Citizenrē believes that its efforts to modernize the energy infrastructure and increase energy supplies will lead to sustained growth and socioeconomic stability.

What a vision!It has already been reported on TV. See what Ed Bagley,Jr. the actor and environmental activistist has to say!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

New Technology, from nanosolar to a huge Solar Collector

Thanks to aggressive government subsidies, Germany and Japan are currently the global leaders in solar production, with Japan's Sharp Electronics the world's biggest manufacturer of solar cells. But in September, Silicon Valley took a big step toward the industrialization of solar when Applied Materials launched an ambitious drive to repurpose some of the technologies it now uses to build machines that make silicon wafers and flat-panel video displays.

Nanosolar is big in Silicon Valley as "Lighting up the $1 trillion power market."

"Silicon Valley has changed the world once. Now, thanks to a wave of investment and innovation in solar power, it's on to the next revolution: a massive disruption of the U.S. electricity market."..."driving a sizzling $11 billion worldwide market in solar energy, part of a rapidly expanding alternative-energy economy that promises to shake up the way power is produced and consumed as profoundly as the region's computer and Internet companies upended global communications and commerce in the late 20th century." wrote Tom McNichol and Michael V. Copeland, Business 2.0 Magazine (October 30 2006)
Picture a 260-foot-diameter cylinder 1,600-foot tall (taller than the Sears Tower) encircled by a two-mile-diameter transparent canopy at ground level. About 8 feet tall at the perimeter, the solar collector will gradually slope up to a height of 50 to 60 feet at the tower's base.

Acting as a giant greenhouse, the solar collector will superheat the air with radiation from the sun. Hot air rises, naturally, and the tower will operate as a giant vacuum. As the air is sucked into the tower, it will produce wind to power an array of turbine generators clustered around the structure.

The result: enough clean, green electricity to power some 100,000 homes without producing a particle of pollution or a wisp of planet-warming gases.
wrote Todd Woody, Business 2.0 Magazine assistant managing editor (October 26 2006)

What is coming up next!?

Monday, January 22, 2007

Slashdot has a link to a story on Yahoo News about a man who uses solar power to eliminate his home utility bills. He had to get all kind of support from the state of New Jersey, corporate sponsers, etc. The New Jersey project, which opened in October 2006 after four years of planning and building, cost around $500,000, some $225,000 of which was provided by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. The state, a leading supporter of renewable energy, aims to have 20 percent of its energy coming from renewables by 2020, and currently has the largest number of solar-power installations of any U.S. state except California. Today REnU will do it for only a $500 security deposit and guarantees today's electric rate for 25 years!

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Links for FPL for ALternative Energy

FPL has many programs, but how to find them?
Some residential customers who want alternatives to traditional electricity sources as a lifestyle choice are purchasing photovoltaic systems of their own from independent suppliers for home use. These systems are presently expensive to install and the payback is decades long.*.[my bold] However, many of these systems also are capable of connecting to FPL’s power grid and can return excess generation to the company.
For residential users FPL offers a Central A/C Buying Guide, Duct System Test and Repair program,an Insulation Guide, a BuildSmart program and the On CAll program which yours truely has been an ongoing user.
And today * the REnU Program has overcome the cost factor for the residential consumer. A new day has dawned! And I have already signed on to have my system installed as fast as possible.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Found the best Florida State solar energy Contact

I found the best Florida State solar energy contact person, Jim Tatum ((850) 245-8002, x 5245). I just got off the telephone with him. He gave me all the time and patience I needed, and his expertise was obvious. Kudos to Jim!

Is the Sun finally rising on Solar Power?

Thomas Edison had a conversation(1931) with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone.
I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that.
For houses, it's hip to be green.
As the cost-effectiveness of geothermal, wind and solar power goes up, so does the cachet.
The Federal Energy Policy Act of 2005 give incentives for solar electric for residential consumers of 30% of the cost capped at $2000, but commercial users 30% is uncapped ! Fourtyone(41) states have established "net-meter laws" that require the utility companies to allow renewable energy to flow into the grid and then allow the consumer to pull that same amount of energy off of the grid at no cost to the consumer. To check your state find the little map on the bottom next to the solar calculator. Homeowners have the right to generate power and receive the full retail value credit for the excess power generated. Basically the grid becomes a huge battery. The meter spins backwards during the day when the sun is shining and forwards at night when the consumer pulls that power back off the grid. And if the "condo commandos" don't want you to have it your way send them packing with the law on your side at the Federal level: Empowering America Act of 2006, Section 9 deals with the covenants homeowner association frequently make.
I am passionate and serious about preserving the environment and want to contribute to a cleaner, green energy independence. I think that we must help our world’s environment as we are depleting fossil fuel supplies and polluting the air and waters. The U.S. DOE projected the U.S. demand and additional global energy pressures have forecasted 347 gigawatts of new capacity is needed and will likely come from coal-fired and natural gas-fired plants. In addition our country continues to be blackmailed by continued dependence on foreign sources. Nuclear electric generation has a 10-20 year lead-in time to build a single new power plant here, but many other countries have embarked on large-scaled building programs even despite it's own environmental problems (emissions, storage, etc.)

I came upon the REnU Program ( which stands for Residential Energy Unit ) and found one of the most forward-thinking initiative toward energy independence and preservation of the environment today. I am especially impressed by the principles they espouse, even in their own words. What of a mission statement!
More tomorrow.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

How to save and monitor your electric use

The January/February 2007 AARP magazine (p30-11) have a good article on how to Slash Your Energy Bill.
EnergyHog.org have a site for us adults and a site just for your children!
I have just installed the Power-Save's KVAR PU_1200. I had saw it on TV and the company's documented up to 25% on home energy costs is great. I'll be happy with 10% savings. It works on the inductive load.

...anything in the home that runs by motor (including refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, heat pumps, washers, dryers, fans, blower motors, pool pumps, dish washers, vacuum cleaners and hair dryers,etc.) require a certain amount of reactive power (non-working power) from the utility to create the Electro-Magnetic-Field (EMF) around the motor to make it work... [Your]motors uses what it needs and sends the rest back to your electric panel where it is "lost" - dispersed in heat never to be seen again. This loss is called I2R loss or "line loss". The problem with this equation is that you’ve paid for the lost electricity, because it's traveled thru your meter and been measured.

The Solution: The Power-Save 1200 unit stores the reactive power (non-working power) that would be otherwise lost. This allows your inductive motor load to push in and pull from the Power Save 1200 using the stored power, instead of asking for more from the utility. This process decreases your demand from the utility thereby decreasing your Kwh usage and lowering your bill each month!

I'll let you know how it works. They also have a nice description of the Tax Incentives.

The greenTECHZONE Products for the week of October 16, 2006 highlights Blue Line Innovation's PowerCost monitor. Domestic energy use studies have demonstrated that real-time feedback yields energy savings anywhere between 10-20% when a tabletop energy display device is available.
A detection unit...is affixed to an existing household electromechanical utility meter with a simple ring clamp. This transmitter tracks the energy consumed by counting turns of the meter disk. This is the only component of the PowerCost Monitor that will be in direct physical contact with the utility's electromechanical meter and the clamp mechanism allows it to be attached to the outside of the meter glass. It can also be quickly attached and detached without making any changes to the existing meter.
The display unit located inside the home receives a wireless signal from the transmitter and displays the consumption information in real time in dollars and cents for the end user. Now, after having run it in my house for a bit over a week, I've become addicted to knowing how much electricity my house is chewing up on a minute-by minute basis. I know not everyone will find the same fascination in watching their appliances cycle, but most people will appreciate how well this simple little meter lets you identify the energy hogs and quiet electricity leaks in your home or office.
Once the display is programmed, you can see how many kW-hr you're using, how much per hour it's costing you, a running total of the power you've consumed and the outside temperature. Since the display is also battery-powered, it was easy to hang it up over the house's smart thermostat so I now have a single place where I can observe my home's operation....
The experience of watching how the house power consumption varies over the day has been quite educational for me. For example, I learned that when I'm here in my home office with most of the rest of the house dark and quiet, I still see around 0.7 kW-hr (around 10.5 cents/hr at our normal billing rate) worth of juice being used, with short spikes of 1.0 - 1.2 kW-hr up as the refrigerator, freezer, and dehumidifier kick on and off. When the rest of the family descends on me around 5:30 more lights, computers, TVs, and other stuff goes on and our baseline hovers at around 0.9 - 1.1 kW-hr (14 - 18 cents/hr) until bed time....PowerCost meter is one of those why-didn't-I-think-of-that products which should appeal to the ecology-minded and the budget-conscious consumer alike. After only a few days, it's changed the way I look at my home's energy consumption. While all the meter does is let me know how much power I'm using, it's a really useful conservation tool because it helps me pinpoint where all the juice is going. Now that I'm aware of the fact that my house draws nearly 700 W-hr in its idle mode, I've got the motivation to start hunting down all the unnecessary loads that are adding dollars to my bill, tons of CO2 to the atmosphere.
The PowerCost energy monitor is available now, priced at $149 retail.


Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In 1931, Thomas Edison had a conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone. He said, "I'd put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don't have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that."

We have waited 76 years, but an innovative company may have finally found a solution. The sun supplies enough energy to earth in one hour to supply all of our energy needs for an entire year. But currently solar power produces less than ½ of 1% of our residential energy needs. Why?

In the past, solar power has been too expensive and too complicated. To switch to solar, people had to invest their children's college fund or sell their second car. The average consumer pays $40,000 to convert their home to solar­ plus you are responsible for the installation, maintaining the equipment, getting permits­ ...who has the time (or the money)?

A company called Citizenre has a bold plan to remove all of the traditional barriers to solar power. They offer: No system purchase. No installation cost. No maintenance. No permit hassles. No performance worries. No rate increases. No way!?

Like most innovations, their model is so simple it makes you wonder why no one thought of it before.

You simply pay Citizenre the same rate per kilowatt for power that you used to pay your utility company. But it gets even better: Citizenre will guarantee that your rate per kilowatt will not go up for 25 years. With ever increasing electricity rates, this gives consumers peace of mind and can add up to significant savings. They even have a solar calculator on their website that shows exactly how much you will save over 1, 5, and 25 years. Their results showed I would save over $13,000 and by using clean energy, it was the equivalent of taking 24 cars off the road or planting 400 trees. Nice.

In the past, "going green" usually implied sacrifice. You get to feel good about saving the planet but most "green" products are more expensive than their "dirty" counterparts. With Citizenre, going green can actually save you money.

This is all made possible by net metering laws that require the utility companies to allow renewable energy to flow into the grid and then allow the consumer to pull that same amount of energy off of the grid at no cost to the consumer. Basically the grid becomes a huge battery. The meter spins backwards during the day when the sun is shining and forwards at night when the consumer pulls that power back off the grid. Nine states do not have net metering yet. You check your area on their website.They have a little map on the bottom next to the solar calculator.
Now you can upgrade to solar with no investment.