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A Solar Boom So Successful, It's Been Halted

wanted to join what's seen as a solar revolution in Hawaii. Shortly after buying their Oahu home earlier this year, they plunked down $35,000 for a rooftop photovoltaic system.

The couple looked forward to joining neighbors who had added panels, to cutting their $250 monthly power bills and to knowing they were helping the environment.

Their plans shifted the day after the PV panels went up in early October. The Walkers learned from a neighbor about a major change in the local utility's solar policy. It led to those 18 panels sitting dormant nearly three months later.

Read more: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=a-solar-boo...

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Wait a minute......

Why are solar panels connected to the grid? I thought the whole idea was to get off the grid, completely.

Maybe the solar panels don't provide all the electricity required to live off the grid. Also, I thought the government subsidized or gave tax credits for solar panels.

Yeah, I completely agree that HECO is throwing out BS because they fear losing profits but that's like horse and buggy manufacturers trying to shut down the auto industry.

To be fully off the grid

you have to have a battery system installed also which for many is not cost effective.

Au contraire, mon ami!

As we all know, the whole idea is for the power company to make a profit by getting their subsidies increased.

Although I'm aware this is the typical Fascist corporation/government agency, I'm not convinced this rapid transmogrification* of the network doesn't have significant costs. If their customer base is likely going off the grid as costs come down as projected, the utility may need to develop a different revenue stream or work out golden parachutes and close.

My guess is the power company just needs another fix from the government if they are going to be Co-OPerative.

*Calvin & Hobbes

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ

Well duh. Solar panels arnt

Well duh. Solar panels arnt meant to have you live off gid and if you believed that, you need to go do some research.(I will admit only in extreme cases where the people likely paid as much as their house is worth for the system but of course almost no one does that)
The sun does not shine all the time so solar panels cant be relied upon 100%.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

You mean like this kind of research?

$30,000 - hardly the cost of a house



Also, youtube is chock-full DIY solar panels and other ways to get off the grid. Any determined person can get off the grid.


You can live off the grid

You can live off the grid with Solar Panels, there are many who do.

I said you can, but then you

I said you can, but then you either dont use electricity all the time or you pay even more in order to make and store more energy. These systems are pretty expensive.
Most people use solar to help offset electrical costs, not live off grid so my comment still stands.

To climb the mountain, you must believe you can.

I am setting up

3 windmills on my property this year. Making my own chemical batteries. Adding solar shingles and 3 extra panels to our 3,000 sq ft house. I will be completely off the grid by 2015. This will also run my 40x40 shop,the well pumps and horse tank heaters. :-)

Cost, apprx 19K dollars and I am doing all the work.

Ammunition -- 9mm - 40s&w - 45acp - .223/5.56x45 -- www.ammopit.com
Bulk Components starting this month also with 223 bullets!

Stand alone

why dont they install the panels and not hook up to the grid. Use the solar generated power to reduce their usage from the grid. I dont see how they could restrict that.

Do your best have no expectations


What comnsense99 said.

"Timid men prefer the calm of despotism to the tempestuous sea of liberty" TJ

Reminds me of another solar boondoggle

Solyndra was a manufacturer of solar cells based in Fremont, Calif., that received a $535 million federal loan before going bankrupt in 2011. Most of Solyndra's funding was provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in 2009 because Obama cares about boondoggles.
Solyndra also received a $25 million tax break from California's Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority.
After being touted for its advanced solar technology, plummeting silicon prices prevented Solyndra from competing with manufacturers of more conventional solar panels. In 2011, the company ceased operations, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and laid off all employees. The company is being sued by employees who were abruptly laid off.

Gotta love it. Solar gets zapped.

At first blush it's a predictable chuckle. Seems the people counting on rebates and incentives have to trade out other incentives and breaks because other people aren't getting their share of the blessings and everybody wants to keep their special loopholes.

B-b-b-but wait say the solar folks, we paid for these panels. Well yeah after you figured in for the rebates and the loopholes you thought you qualified for. And it came with a contract. Yup. A contract with the government which at the time was a great idea since government was in your favor but now it's not.

OOPS. I guess nobody told the 33 year old homeowner in this article that government has this little habit of changing it's mind.

But here's the part I love. So this strapping young 33 your old successful dude buys himself a lovely house and slaps panels on top. And merrily runs his dishwasher, his microwave, his TV and computers, the blender, the AC, the pool pump and the doggie blow dryer.

He's spending $250 a month on electric, not bad really, but like most Americans he hits every button in the house when he gets home from work until he goes to sleep. His system isn't designed for that peak demand. So he figures he's got this law that lets him sell back his excess production to the utilities.


Can anyone calculate the carbon footprint of producing the cells to begin with?

The utility companies are correct as referenced in the article. Our present grid isn't designed for mass inputs. Not in the "final mile" scenario in a lot of places. It was frankly ASSUMED by one and all that we'd "modernize the grid". Well guess what? The utilities think it's a bad idea to let go of your wallet, the states are broke and guess who else is?

They'd have to call for further debt spending wouldn't they? On a set of investments, in the case at hand, that aren't going to pay off.


The crux of the matter is we have crap batteries. It's just too expensive to store energy. We need more technology on that issue. But that's the fact.

For now we have not great cells, crap batteries, no grid infrastructure and as "investment" it's COMPLETE, TOTAL CRAP from people who don't even shive a git enough to change their lifestyle.

Because off grid means you learn to live different. It means you change your ways.

I'm Smudge Pot and I support pollution free energy. And most of what I'm seeing is mass stupidity which seems to be our truly renewable resource.

There is nothing strange about having a bar of soap in your right pocket, it's just what's happening.

You must have been looking in the mirror

when you said most of what you're seeing is mass stupidity because that's all your comment is. It's pure stupid and there's others here who are simply jumping on board because they don't know any better (like those you just called stupid). I think a little factual info is in order.

The norm for many years now has been to be able to count on the rebates as passed into law so why should he be denigrated for not assuming the regulators would be captured and the entire cost negated? That's stupid.

A $250 monthly electric bill in Hawaii translates to around 640 kWh per month where the national average is around 750. This means he likely either really cut back or he insulated and cut back some. Knocking him for wasting power is stupid.

PV doesn't just fail at the 20 year mark, it fades a percent or two each year and can be economic out to 50 years. At $8/watt installed cost for PV in Hawaii, a $35k system is only around 4.375 kW. At their rate of $0.351/kWh and 6 hours sun average, he'll likely return double his cost in its 20 year 'guaranteed' lifespan and $200k in its more likely 50 year usable lifespan. This is even before we count on 3% inflation of the utility rate (low for recent times) raising the price of power had he not gone solar. Because of this, it's just stupid to shout misleading information in all caps to justify knocking the amortization here, wouldn't you think?

With the current crop of PV panels (his 18 panels are likely 240-250 watt) at 17% efficiency, the carbon footprint is around 20-40 gCO2eq/kWh which means in 2.5 years, it's produced the same energy it cost to build and install it. Inferring misleading info about energy payback or carbon footprint after its been debunked for years is stupid.

To be clear, solar does need a shot of new technology to help its adoption and grid cooperation levels. However, the utility companies are more complicit in this problem than the homeowners. They can make small equipment changes to make bi-directional power monitoring just as easy as one-way. Most of that equipment gets replaced every other decade anyway and they have foreseen this problem for longer than that so half should have already been upgraded. The problem is that this would have led to an instant, free market for electricity where the user-generated power would be valued equal to the utility's power. After all, it is out grid. We've paid for it numerous times through subsidies and monopoly grants. ...and its just stupid for us to allow them to push us deeper into their monopoly and longer.

Way to go Smudge!

Way to go Smudge!

~ Engage in the war of attrition: http://pacalliance.us/redamendment/

Mass stupidity...

...our only truly renewable resource.

I think I'll quote you on that.