Solar Southwest Florida - Solar Energy and Solar Panel Information for Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, and Port Charlotte Areas

Solar Southwest Florida

Solar Energy and Solar Panel Information for Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, and Port Charlotte Areas

Meet Florida’s Newest Licensed Solar Contractor

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On June 28, 2014
2014 06 28 16 17 39 300x74 Meet Floridas Newest Licensed Solar Contractor

Jason Szumlanski, Solar Contractor CVC56956

Florida’s most recently licensed certified solar contractor is, you guessed it, me!

I passed the required tests long ago, but just recently decided it was time to go forward with securing my own CVC license. I was assigned licence number CVC56956.

This brings the number of certified solar contractors at Fafco Solar to three, which happens to be triple the number of solar contractors at any of our competitors. While I have chosen to keep my license in an inactive status (there’s no reason to purchase separate insurance), I thought making things official was an important message to send – we have an incredible amount of talent, knowledge, and expertise at Fafco Solar. Licensure is one way of proving that a company has the experience required to do things right.

Well, the match was great… A big win for the US team. Maybe Ghana should have let power lapse during the match…

In case you missed it, I posted on Monday about how Ghanaians have a power shortage, and they “purchased power” from Ivory Coast to make sure TVs stayed on during the World Cup match against the United States. To tie this into solar power, I wanted to point out how Ghana can alleviate some (but not all) of their power woes – by installing solar panels, of course!

world cup us ghana dempsey goal 150x150 How Ghana Could Have Kept TVs on During the World Cup with Solar Power

USA’s Dempsey reacts to goal against Ghana.
Source: http://time.com

Ghana’s power comes largely from capacity built up in a reservoir behind a dam. The Lake Volta reservoir is the largest man-made lake in the world, making it one of the largest “batteries” in the world, providing a “fuel” source for the 1 Gigawatt Akosombo Dam hydroelectric plant. The amount of power and energy that can be produced is limited by the power rating of the generation plant and the amount of energy stored in the elevated reservoir.

Solar photovoltaic panels add to power generation capacity, but in a very different way than a hydroelectric plant. They can help keep the lights – and TVs – on during the day. The bad news is that grid-interconnected solar energy systems are typically installed without batteries. The capacity to generate power is variable with the amount of sunlight available. If production does not coincide with consumption, solar energy does not contribute toward correcting power woes. In the case of the Ghana vs. USA match on Monday, it was already dark in Ghana by the time the match started, so solar power would not have effectively contributed to solving the problem. Solar power Monday night would have been like a dam in front of an empty lake.

Akosombo Dam Ghana 150x150 How Ghana Could Have Kept TVs on During the World Cup with Solar Power

Akosombo Dam, Ghana

Think of these three components in any generation system: power rating, fuel source, and storage capacity. With solar plants the power rating is based on the number of panels; the fuel source (solar radiation) can be massive, but is always variable and somewhat unpredictable; and the storage capacity is nil. In a hydroelectric dam the power rating is based on the size of the turbines; the fuel source is steady, predictable, and finite (but replenished over time); and the storage capacity (water in the reservoir) is variable. In traditional fossil fuel burning plants the power rating is based on the size of the generator; the fuel source is steady, very predictable, and virtually unlimited (in relation to the power rating); and storage is nil.

There are other factors, like ability to ramp up and down production, and other sources, like nuclear and wind.

Because each source of energy has it’s pros and cons, and no source can currently supply all electricity needs reliably in the short- or the long-term, we need to understand and accept the reality of the situation and adopt a good energy mix. Regardless of how much solar capacity we install, without storage we cannot function on solar power alone. The relationship between power production sources is critical to grid stability, but with smart planning, many energy sources can form an economical and reliable mix so we can continue to quench our thirst for more and more electricity. For now, the relative amount of solar energy installed is minuscule, so few technical barriers to expansion exist.

Unfortunately, Ghana would not have benefited in this case from solar energy. Being the country closest to 0º Latitude, 0º Longitude, the solar resource capabilities in the country are tremendous. However, with excellent natural gas reserves and an electricity grid focused on hydroelectric power for baseline demand, solar energy may not become a large part of their energy mix any time soon. Without additional peak demand plants (likely natural gas fueled), Ghana will probably need to continue purchasing power to meet peak demand from its neighbors.

Ghana to Purchase Electricity for World Cup? Not Exactly.

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On June 16, 2014

I was driving home today listening to Miller and Moulten on ESPN radio like I often do. They were talking about how Ghana is planning to purchase electricity from Ivory Coast to make sure television sets stay on during the 2014 FIFA World Cup match tonight against the United States. They were quoting an [erroneous] news report that said the same thing*. They almost got it right…

Ghana has problems delivering power (and, thus, electricity) to it’s people at times. Right now water levels are low in reservoirs, causing hydroelectric dam power output capacity to be low. That means power outages may occur if too many people turn on their TV sets (or lights, or anything else that requires power). Ghana is planning to solve this problem to ensure people can enjoy the match by purchasing power. Notice that I said power, not electricity.

It reminded me of my primer on power vs. energy written a few years ago. I’m a stickler for these kinds of things.

Allow me to establish an brief analogy. Let’s say a bank has a million dollars in the safe one day, and a hundred people come in to get a thousand dollars each. No problem, right? They have the “power” to deliver that withdrawal rate. Now let’s say a couple thousand people come in to get a thousand dollars each on the same day. Problem, right? Ghana has a very small bank vault, and lots of people want a few bucks right now.

The size of the bank represents power. The amount of money being taken out in a given amount of time represents energy. If you don’t have a big enough vault (power), you will run out of capacity to satisfy withdrawals (energy).

The problem with my favorite local sports commentators’ segment was that Ghana is not purchasing electricity. Ghana is purchasing 50 megawatts of power (capacity to deliver electricity) from Ivory Coast. What Ghana is really doing is asking Ivory Coast to open up it’s power generating capacity to the people of Ghana during the world cup so individual consumers can purchase as much electricity (electrical energy) as they want. Consumers purchase electricity (energy), not power. What Ghana is trying to prevent is a shortfall of power.

Ghana may be paying Ivory Coast for this privilege, but they are not paying for electricity. They are paying for power – the capability to deliver the desired electricity to consumers. In reality, Ghana is probably not going to pay for power at all. They have asked Ivory Coast to make 50mW of power capacity available so that people can purchase electricity. If the demand requires 30 mW of power for three hours, Ivory Coast will have no problems delivering 90 megawatt-hours of energy to help the Ghanaian people lose their first match to the United States in the last three World Cups (the match just started – gotta go!)

 

* To be fair, the news release from Ghana’s own Public Utilities Regulatory Commission also got it wrong.

Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) Solar Friendly?

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On June 6, 2014
LCEC Hot Lug In Meter Socket in Cape Coral 300x225 Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) Solar Friendly?

A hot lug in a meter socket in Cape Coral holds up a solar electric interconnection.

One of the subjects that often comes up at the start of a solar electric (photovoltaic) system conversation is whether the utility company will “allow” a solar energy system to be installed. Is Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) solar friendly in Cape Coral, Sanibel, Marco Island, and the other areas they cover?

While there are challenges, utility companies are generally bound to Public Service Commission Rules, including Florida’s Met Metering Rule, which give consumers fairly broad power to install customer owned renewable generation equipment. LCEC is no different, and it’s actually quite easy to get a residential or small to medium commercial system installed.

In fact, I just had a very pleasant experience with a LCEC employee. I won’t name her, but we ran into a problem with an interconnection and the LCEC employee was a terrific help in resolving the issue. Our customer had an unforeseen problem with the existing utility meter socket. This was discovered when LCEC went to install the customers new bi-directional (net) meter. There was a lug in the meter can that was “hot,” meaning it was loose or there was an overload condition. Either way, it was unrelated to the solar installation, but there was a safety issue with leaving it as-is. The LCEC employee coordinated getting us pictures from the LCEC Journeyman who discovered the fault condition. The homeowner hired a electrician to resolve the issue quickly, and the next day LCEC came back to install the new meter. The customer is now up and running with a new solar energy system!

In a way solar energy contractors are competitors with utility companies, and in other way we are suppliers. This sets up a situation where we have mutual customers. It is refreshing to see a level of cooperation that satisfies the mutual customer rather than putting them in the middle of a situation that could easily become a dispute.

Anyone who reads my blog frequently knows that I’m not very complementary of our local utilities, FPL and LCEC, but this is due to company policy and the regulatory environment in which we operate. I want to point out that the people in the trenches working with us solar contractors are generally very helpful, cooperative, and friendly. It would be very remiss of me to not mention that. The end result is that home and business owners that wish to install solar panels can do so without fear of utility interference. That makes utility companies “friendly,” or at least their employees with whom we work are friendly!

Big Box Stores Go Solar

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On May 13, 2014

You’ve probably heard of high profile investments in solar by large retailers like Ikea, Kohl’s, Costco, and the world’s largest retailer, Walmart. These investments leverage the long terms assets (real estate) of the companies into income producing machines both inside and out. Coupled with various tax credits, accelerated depreciation, rebates, and other incentives, investments in solar make great financial sense for companies who have maximized interior square footage, but haven’t taken advantage of massive swaths of roof space. Walmart alone has installed over 65 megawatts of solar capacity to date.

301180 2370615142224 1610767135 n 300x275 Big Box Stores Go Solar

Susan O’Neal Gear of Upstream Insight

Susan O’Neal Gear of Upstream Insight has an interesting perspective on big-box solar investments. She hypothesizes that investments in solar may help consumers feel good about the brands they consume. While greenwashing is rampant among those seeking a quick marketing boost by installing a few solar panels, large retailers committing to a renewable energy strategy as part of their investment portfolio and core strategic principles can gain considerable respect among consumers for “doing the right thing.”

Read Susan’s recent post here about Walmart’s commitment to solar and what it means from a marketing perspective, and don’t forget to subscribe to her insightful blog while you are there.

Brand loyalty is a powerful thing, and engaging your customer base in a unique, albeit tangential way, is part of the effort to attract and retain customers. Walmart is surely one of the largest consumers of energy among retailers. Air conditioning, heating, and superb lighting don’t come cheap in terms of energy consumption. The 65 MW investment in solar is a drop in the bucket compared to the annual energy consumption of Walmart’s stores.

Think about this – Nationwide Insurance is a NASCAR sponsor, and they would probably frown upon driving 200 miles per hour, right? However, NASCAR actually has a lot to do with safe driving, safe cars, safe tires, etc. Nationwide’s investment in something tangentially related to what they do creates a connection between consumers and their brand.

Speaking of NASCAR, even those 98 octane gas guzzling speed demons use the green movement to promote their brand. They have a well funded and well known green program called NASCAR Green with 22 corporate partners. Check it out – pretty interesting marketing strategy, and the list contains some of the world’s most successful brands.

2014 05 02 09 00 05 Air Bubbles in Pool and Pump Filter Basket May Be Caused by Low Pool Level

The water level in this pool is a couple of inches too low. The water should come up about half way on the tile in most pools.

Air bubbles in pools can come from several sources. One of the first things to check is whether there is air inside the filter basket of you pool pump. If so, the leak is coming from the suction side of your pool plumbing. There may be an air leak at a joint in the plumbing itself, or the air may be coming from another source like a pool vacuum hose. One of the most common air intrusion sources on the suction side of pool plumbing is very simple to diagnose and resolve. Your pool may simply be low on water!

When the water level of your pool goes down due to evaporation, splashing, or water leaks in plumbing, your skimmer basket may start to suck air into the circulation system. This may result in continuous bubbles in the pool as a vortex is formed in the round skimmer inlet. It can also be intermittent as the skimmer door bobs up and down or gets stuck in the closed position. Either way, adding water to the pool up to the proper level should alleviate this issue.

One way to diagnose air in the skimmer is to shut off your skimmer suction line and draw all water from the main drain(s). If the bubbles go away, you have air getting into the skimmer, and a low pool level is your likely issue.

This time of year in Southwest Florida is the most common time people run into this issue. Evaporation rates are relatively high due to rising ambient temperatures, warming pools, and steady winds. Solar and traditionally heated pools have even higher evaporation rates. You will need to add a significant volume of water to your pool in the spring until the regular afternoon rains come. I’m running my hose about 30-60 minutes per week this time of year.

A pool cover will substantially reduce water usage, but I’ve found that this is the time people are enjoying their pool the most, and the hassle of using a pool cover is often undesirable. An automatic fill mechanism can be added by your pool professional, but these systems can be wasteful and may mask leaks causing an unexpectedly high water bill. There is a trade-off for convenience.

Here is a video showing what you might see in your pump filter basket if you have air coming into the skimmer basket. Notice the intermittent nature of the bubbles.

FGCU High School Solar Go-Kart Challenge

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On April 5, 2014

Today I am at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) to see eleven teams that came from as far away as Key West compete in the second annual High School Solar Go-Kart Challenge. All carts feature a completely electric drivetrain and will compete in speed and endurance races. Powered by three photovoltaic panels and batteries, solar go-karts highlight both the simplicity and complexities of electric powered vehicles, and mirror the interest in street-legal neighborhood electric vehicles and fully electric cars like the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model S.

Today is mostly sunny, which obviously helps in terms of endurance and speed. The event is co-hosted with the SW Florida STEM tour, and will surely be an event to remember for all the the teams competing.

The teams attending this year’s race are: Charlotte, Dunbar, Estero, Naples, South Fort Myers, Bishop Verot, Labelle, East Lee County, North Fort Myers, and South Plantation.

Dr. Joseph Simmons is excited about this year’s event, and proud  about the event’s expansion to teams outside of the Southwest Florida area. The event is expected to continue an grow each year.

 

 

Here is a video from last year’s event:

 

[Edit] Naturally, I was partial to the Bishot Verot High School team from Fort Myers, the school being me alma mater. Here are more pictures from the event and the Bishop Verot entry:

FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 6 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 7 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 8 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 9 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 10 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 11 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 12 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 1 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 2 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 3 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 4 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge FGCU Solar Go Kart Race 2014 5 150x150 FGCU High School Solar Go Kart Challenge

Integrity Florida, a nonpartisan, nonprofit research institute and government watchdog whose mission is to promote integrity in government and expose public corruption, has just released a scathing report on how utility companies influence the Florida legislature and utility regulators. While it’s not shocking to discover that big business uses big money to influence lawmakers, it does paint a picture of an incestuous club of cronyism that results in harm to the Florida energy consumer.

Full disclosure: my company is currently embroiled in a battle with FPL over interpretation of the “Net Metering Rule,” 25-6.065, F.A.C., Interconnection and Net Metering of Customer-Owned Renewable Generation. I have requested informal assistance from the PSC, which has yielded at least a response and continued dialog with the investor owned utility. Unfortunately, in my opinion, the utility continues to twist the language of the PSC adopted Rule, and ignores both the intent and the explicit qualifications for interconnection of a solar photovoltaic system under the Rule.

With virtually unlimited funds for lobbyists, campaign contributions, and legal counsel, the state’s investor owned utilities wield an incredible amount of power (no pun intended). A handful of non-elected officials are responsible for ensuring we have an affordable, safe, and reliable electricity supply. An appointment to the PSC often results in lucrative opportunities in the private sector, presumably influencing commission members and creating a de facto conflict of interest. Reappointment hinges on following lock-step with the legislators that confirm appointments, who are ultimately influenced heavily by the utility companies. The report outlines a history of this unsavory relationship between regulators, lobbyists, and the legislature, and outlines $18 million of political contributions from Florida’s four largest electric utility corporations.

This report comes on the heels of HB 825 being squashed by Rep. Ritch Workman, R-Melbourne, chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee. Rep. Workman refused to allow a hearing on the bill which would put an amendment on the November ballot giving Florida’s citizens an opportunity to codify a de facto property tax exemption for commercial solar energy projects. This exemption was in place prior to the 2008 legislative session, and has remained in place in practice, but the confirmed legal exemption is critical to the burgeoning [job creating] solar industry that needs to demonstrate clear energy and tax policy to prospective business clients. The companion Senate Bill SB 917 was unanimously approved by the Senate Community Affairs Committee.

This just shows how a single member of the legislature can have tremendous influence on public policy. Rep. Workman claims he is not a shill for the state’s utility companies, but it’s worth noting in the report that his Republican Party accepted almost $12 million in political contributions from utilities during the period studied in the report. A Florida Division of Elections search of contributors to Rep. Workman’s 2014 Election Campaign shows that Duke Energy, TECO, and FPL or associated Political Action Committees all donated the maximum allowable by law to the campaign. In failing to hear the measure, Rep. Workman cited his belief that the solar industry should not be “propped up” by tax breaks, but contradicted his altruistic vision in the same session by approving and backing a measure for a sales tax holiday on gym memberships. He went on to pat himself on the back for a $400 million tax reduction package.

The full Integrity Florida report is available here.

For more information on Integrity Florida, visit their website.

The Florida Net Metering Rule in its entirety is available here.

Change Time on SunTouch Solar Pool Heating Controller

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On March 9, 2014

We sprung forward last night for Daylight Saving Time, and naturally many people want to change the clocks on their Pentair SunTouch Solar Pool Heating Controllers. It’s actually quite simple, and I’ll show you how here.

Here are the steps to change the time on your Pentair SunTouch for spring Daylight Saving Time:

  1. Press Menu 5 times
  2. Press the right arrow
  3. Press the up arrow
  4. Press the right arrow 2 times
  5. Press the left arrow to return to the main screen

In the fall, do the same thing, except in step 3 you will press the down arrow. If you need to adjust the minutes because the clock has drifted off a little, in step 4 you can use the up and down arrows between the two right arrow presses.

Here is a video showing the above process:

Here is another video on general time setting:

FPL Sends Email About Netmetering Changes

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On March 5, 2014

If you are an FPL Netmetering customer with a solar electric system, you may have received an email recently describing changes to the program. All of these changes apply only to new Netmetering customers, and no action is needed for existing customers.

The only significant change that applies to non-government entities is that a manual disconnect switch is no longer needed for new Tier 2 and Tier 3 interconnected systems (systems with a gross power rating exceeding 10kW).

Specifically, the email addressed these following changes:

  • Eliminating the requirement for a manual visual load break disconnect switch on U.L. 1741 listed inverter based renewable energy systems. It is still required on non-inverter based systems.
  • Adding text to recognize the insurance limits that apply to governments in Florida.
  • Changing the agreements so that you can type in the information, print, have it signed, and return.
  • A witness signature is no longer required.

If you have any questions regarding the changes to the FPL Netmetering program, let me know!

What the Heck Does FAFCO Stand For?

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On February 22, 2014

It’s not uncommon for people to mishear or misunderstand our company name as Fasco, Fastco, Falco, or something else. Even people that know us well might wonder why we are called Fafco Solar.

I had the distinct pleasure of spending a substantial amount of time with the busy man behind the name this week. FAFCO is an acronym for Freeman A. Ford COmpany. Freeman (I think it’s safe to say we are on a first name basis) is a visionary in the solar thermal industry, having revolutionized/started the solar pool heating industry in addition to a variety of other solar thermal technologies. He is what my father-in-law, who I similarly respect, calls a “thinker.” Always inquisitive, Freeman brings out the best in people by asking them well-crafted and prescient questions.

My employer is actually Fafco Solar (note capitalization). Fafco Solar is a fictitious name (dba) of Solar Pool Heaters, Inc., a Florida corporation. FAFCO, Inc. Is the California manufacturer of our main product offering. Another visionary, Ward Morrissey, the late father of Fafco Solar’s current owner Dan Morrissey, brought the FAFCO brand to Southwest Florida in the late 1970′s. Later, Dan asked permission to use Freeman’s company acronym in his company’s name. It was both a sign of ultimate respect and a brilliant marketing coup that continues to bring us recognition to this day.

Freeman and I have a bit in common. We are both private pilots. We started businesses from the ground up, enduring hardship and embracing success. We have an insatiable appetite for knowledge and understanding. Having a couple of decades on me in age, he’s clearly and understandably more accomplished in all of these areas, and I look forward to the mentorship that he may not even be aware he is providing.

I’ll take the opportunity to sit next to Mr. Ford any time, be it in a national sales meeting, at a spectacular Las Vegas dining experience, or at a Cirque de Soliel show, all of which I gratefully had the opportunity to experience this week. Our time together is invaluable, and his gracious hospitality is extraordinary.

The FAF in Fafco Solar is Freeman A. Ford.

How to Select a Solar Pool Heating Company

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On February 20, 2014

What are you looking to get out of a solar pool heating system? Do you know how it works? What made you consider a solar pool heating system? Why do you want a solar pool heater? Have you experienced a solar heated pool at a friend or neighbor’s house? What other pool heating sources have you considered? Are you aware of the alternatives? Are you aware of the options? How did you find us, and what prompted you to call me? What are your concerns about buying a solar pool heater?

These are all things you might hear out of a solar company’s sales professional. Notice something? That’s a lot of questions!

I didn’t enjoy my educational experience until my last year of college. For the first 16 years of formal education that I received, I endured daily lectures on what I needed to know. Very few educators asked me what I would like to know! When I finally hit my stride as a Finance student at the University of Florida, my advisors and professors started asking questions. They wanted to know about my career aspirations, what I expected to accomplish as a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange, and how I would treat my employees as I rose to the top. They identified the education I needed, and they delivered it with a genuine interest in my success and happiness. Fortunately as a result, I changed my tune and never pursued my lifelong interest in becoming a high-flying Wall Street stockbroker. That life was not for me.

A good solar company is an educator that tells you what you want to know, not what they want you to know. Let’s face it – you probably don’t know much about solar pool heating when you start making calls. You need an education.

I insist that our solar advisors learn about you, the customer. They should leave your home understanding how you use your pool and what your expectations are about the performance of the a solar pool heating system. If we fail to understand your needs and desires, the likelihood of you becoming a satisfied customer that refers your friends and neighbors is far lower.

Sure, we can give you a long-winded monologue about the technical details and features of our product, and how our product is so much better than the competition’s. We will probably give you at least an overview of how the system works and for what you should look in a solar pool heater. However, the most important thing is that we understand what you want, and then DELIVER a solution.

Ultimately, you are going to do business withe a solar company that you trust. Gaining your trust comes from understanding you. If a solar company approaches you without a clear interest in solving your problem, they are not the company you should hire. The relationship developed between you and the solar advisor is key to your future happiness.

Solar a Sure Bet?

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On February 18, 2014

I’m in Las Vegas learning and sharing with the FAFCO folks, and let’s just say I’m feeling lucky… not just in the Sports Book, but because of the valuable information and face time we will get this week. This is the time of year we all get a good status check and go over trends in the industry. Serious meetings – with a little fun sprinkled in. icon wink Solar a Sure Bet?

Naturally I was reflecting on the plane about the “gamble” of going solar. Is it a safe bet? What is the risk/reward trade off?

If I head down to the Casino and drop $100 on red, there is a 52.63% chance that I’m walking away with nothing and a 47.37% chance I’m heading home with $200 stuffed in my wallet (much less after taxes).

There are lots of solar energy options out there, but the odds on most are extraordinary. For example, a solar pool heater is 100% sure to heat your pool. Every single day of the year, your pool will be warmer than an unheated pool, with no additional cost, providing years of enjoyment. There is essentially no risk. As long as you have a suitable place to put panels, the only question you have to ask is whether you want it or not. It’s not a “gamble.”

Solar electric panels will provide electricity to your home every day, some days more than others, but within a reasonably predictable range over the long run. If you expect the sun to continue to rise for the next 40 or so years, it’s a pretty good bet! Unlike securities investments, and Roulette for that matter, there is virtually no chance that your bet will not pay out.

Does that mean I won’t set foot in the Casino this week? Too late for that! I consider it entertainment – a totally unsecured bet. When I get home, win or lose, I can look up at my solar panels and bask in the glow of the safest bet I’ve ever made.

20140218 175138 Solar a Sure Bet?

Unlike the southern tip, the northern end of North Captiva, FL, not accessible by land vehicles, actually has utility electric power available. Just like any mainland homeowner, this one wanted to offset increasing utility bills with solar energy. Working on an island is obviously a challenge, but our amazing crew pulled off this 4.6kW SunPower solar photovoltaic system in two days.

Captiva PV Installers Fafco Solar Completes Solar Photovoltaic (Electric) System on North Captiva, FL

Fafco Solar crew takes a moment to enjoy island time after a North Captiva solar photovoltaic installation.

 

This system is comprised of fourteen SunPower 327W modules, among the most efficient modules commercially available. Paired with a SunPower branded SMA SB-5000US inverter, this system is expected to cover the majority of this homeowner’s electrical consumption. The system was installed to meet the Florida Building Code’s 170 mph design wind speed requirement, and being in close proximity to the water, required additional safety factors to secure the system against wind uplift. The system performance can be tracked remotely using SunPower’s online monitoring system and via mobile devices.

 

Net Metering Under Attack, Florida Spared for Now

Posted by Jason Szumlanski On February 12, 2014

Net Metering, the concept and laws that allow solar electricity producers to connect to the grid and sell back energy, is under attack in the United States. Florida has been spared from the recent trend of utility companies working publicly to repeal or amend Net Metering laws. Utility companies in other states have taken various public and well-funded measures to repeal Net Metering laws or to make Net Metering less attractive to solar energy customers. For example, Arizona utilities recently succeeded in adding a fixed charged for solar producers based on photovoltaic system size. While it was opposed by the solar industry and the final amount was far less than proposed by the utility lobbyists, it was seen as a victory for the utility industry and a dangerous precedent by the solar industry.

Florida is particularly vulnerable because Net Metering is virtually all we really have to encourage solar electric (PV) installations. Lack of state and sensible utility rebate programs puts Florida way down the list of states in terms of new and existing installed solar electric capacity. As a result, Net Metering opponents likely see Florida as a blip on the radar, choosing to focus their efforts elsewhere. The loss or instability of Net Metering in this state would be devastating to the industry.

Opponents of Net Metering in other states are pushing their agenda under the guise of less regulation, less government, and lowered solar subsidies. This is the same utility electric industry that would not be possible without strong regulation, government protection (monopoly status), and massive fuel subsidies and tax breaks. This is a power struggle (pun intended).

Here are some things you can do to keep up to date on Net Metering in Florida and help preserve your right to produce your own energy at an economically viable rate: