The Utilities of Shelter

The Solar Story

The Way of the Buddha:
Develop Sanctuary With Working Utilities.

Solar power systems transform the sun's light into 'almost free' power as long as the sun may shine and only if California's legislature would think! Here is wisdom.

A quote from my book, Grasshopper StickieNotes, version 9.9.2, which can be found only in the dark moist recesses of my frontal lobes.

Our solar story began long before we ever got to writing an Offer to Purchase for our land. We have often said, "If we ever built our own home, it should be powered exclusively by solar power". The original idea of living somewhere in the western states of the U.S. was driven by this idea. The design of the house with lots of windows on the south and western walls and a single story with cathedral ceilings was all done with the expectation of being 'total solar' without any need to connect to the grid.

One day while in Russia on family visits I happened across an article on CNN's website about then-Governor Schwarzenegger who was extolling the virtues of California's new Solar Initiative in housing, complete with tax credits. I was hooked!

We bought our land. We hired an engineer with knowledge of solar power and an orientation toward green design. We kept our idea burning bright in our minds. I started discussions with Wholesale Solar located in Mt. Shasta City about the right system for our planned home. We were getting ready to sign an agreement when I got an e-mail from our engineer.

Brad had talked with someone in the Siskiyou County Planning Department and was informed that we could have solar, but we would also have to hook-up to the Pacific Power & Light (PPL) grid.

We were taken aback. I went to the Planning Department office immediately. I asked why we would have to connect to PP&L's grid. The gentleman took out a huge volume of the California Housing Code Rules and Regulations. He flipped to the section called the 'Preamble' and pointed to the first sentence in the second paragraph. It said, in effect, that if a building is located within 300 feet of an existing power line, that the building MUST (my emphasis) be connected to the power grid.

If anyone is thinking seriously about solar power, then one must think about the 'pay back' on the investment in the power generating panels, converters and battery storage system costs. I had already done an analysis online with the folks at Wholesale Solar. That analysis showed that we would barely break even after 10 years of use and normal maintenance. The normal life of some components in that solar system would be 8 years while other components had 15 years. If we had to invest more money into a connection to the power grid with the extra components that allowed isolation/connection from/to the power grid, then we would never be able to break even - NEVER. And we had NO choice about it. Anger gripped my shorts and squeezed hard.

Our solar plans 'burned up' on the spot. Congratulations to the dimwit politician(s) who 'bowed' to power company lobbyists to keep that statement in the laws.


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