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CA School District Spends $23M on Solar Panels, Won't Break Even for 16 Years (ever?)
Daily Tech ^ | September 18, 2011 | Brandon Hill

Posted on 09/18/2011 1:41:55 PM PDT by decimon

San Ramon Valley Unified School District installs 10k photovoltaic panels at five schools

In a move that is proving to be controversial with some, some California school districts are looking to a high-tech way to save money, even if the payback won't be achieved until well over a decade later. CNN is reporting that some California school districts are looking to low-interest federal loans to install solar panels on schools.

CNN singled out the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, which has installed roughly 10,000 photovoltaic panels at five of its 35 total schools at a cost of $23 million. Under the most optimistic projections, the photovoltaic panels would offset energy usage at the schools by 67 to 75 percent.

According to spokesman Terry Koehne, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District will pay back the loans courtesy of the energy savings from using the solar installations. However, this won't be a quick payback for the school system -- it will take roughly 16 years to break even on the photovoltaic panels.

Koehne, however, points to the upside of embarking on this expensive venture; "It's pure profit after that. And following that, we're going to start realizing savings of $2 (million), $3 (million), $4 million a year."

(Excerpt) Read more at dailytech.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Government; Society
KEYWORDS: default; socialists; teachers; tyrants
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1 posted on 09/18/2011 1:41:59 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon

In five years they’ll be rusty hulks with half the efficiency they have now, which ain’t much to begin with.


2 posted on 09/18/2011 1:44:08 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Palin is coming, and the Tea Party is coming with her.)
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To: decimon
and the MBTF of the panels is...???
3 posted on 09/18/2011 1:46:29 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: decimon
and the MTBF of the panels is...???
4 posted on 09/18/2011 1:46:44 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: decimon

I live near one of these schools...the solar panels, economical or not, sit in the parking lot on steel girders and are ugly on a stick.


5 posted on 09/18/2011 1:50:52 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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To: decimon

The spawn of the spawn of the spawn of the children taught morality by these school districts will vandalize these solar panels to the point that I guarantee you that a break even will never be achieved.


6 posted on 09/18/2011 1:59:43 PM PDT by RingerSIX (My wife and I took an AIDS vaccine that they offer down at our Church.)
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To: decimon

Reading lifespan of 20 years. Maybe they cn get better than that but I’m sure there will be many troubles in between.


7 posted on 09/18/2011 2:02:58 PM PDT by Sacajaweau
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To: decimon

“It’s pure profit after that. And following that, we’re going to start realizing savings of $2 (million), $3 (million), $4 million a year.”
///
if they took the exact same 23 million, and invested it wisely, how much would they have after 16 years, when the solar panels will finally just break even?

(...assuming they optimistic projections on energy savings,
and assuming no maintenance costs.)

and the technology IS improving. simply waiting a few years, might give them, a much better investment, for less money.
Government makes decisions, that no responsible homeowner or businessman on a budget would make...


8 posted on 09/18/2011 2:06:28 PM PDT by Elendur (It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes. - Thomas Jefferson)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum

Liberals don’t look that far ahead. They don’t look past their check from the government.


9 posted on 09/18/2011 2:07:10 PM PDT by RC one (Voting isn't a simple act of civic duty anymore, it's a complex act of civil war.)
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To: All

I’m in favor of solar power if it finds its niche without subsidy. I doubt that any subsidies were factored in to the payback period for this project.


10 posted on 09/18/2011 2:11:01 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon

they should have done there research on that junk- the oil field has tried solar panels for years and they suck big time- they constantly break, a magnet for bird chit, and expensive azz deep cycle batteries, plus the $50.00 per hrs. hands to work on it. - most platforms i know through that junk in da garbage- this system wouldnt even keep (4) nav-aids lights running efficient


11 posted on 09/18/2011 2:22:39 PM PDT by chicken head
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To: decimon

California = result of too much inbreeding!


12 posted on 09/18/2011 2:31:51 PM PDT by antidemoncrat
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To: decimon
interesting tidbit I found at the builders (chevron energy) site.

Bank of America owns the solar equipment and sells power to the district through its Banc of America Public Capital Corp Energy Services team. The district will purchase electricity under a service contract at set rates below market utility rates. This arrangement provides the district with general fund savings and budget predictability.

I did the math, 10k panels generating 5.5MW each panel generates 550w. Cost $23,000,000 or $2,300 per panel. So 550 watts for $2,300 for 20 years. So if I did the math right it costs you $9.50 a month (2300/20/12) to run 10 60watt light bulbs 24x7. Now at 12 cents per KWhr these same light bulbs would cost you (.12 x 24 x30) or 86 but we are only using 550 so 86 x .55=$47.52 Wow $9.50 beats the heck out of $47.50, I must be doing something wrong here, cause I did not think the payback on solar beat 12 cents a kilowatt hour yet. HELP!

13 posted on 09/18/2011 2:35:21 PM PDT by jpsb
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To: decimon

How come the same Democrats who call for an end to tax breaks for oil companies never call for an end to tax breaks for solar panel and windmill manufacturers?


14 posted on 09/18/2011 2:39:00 PM PDT by AlaskaErik (I served and protected my country for 31 years. Progressives spent that time trying to destroy it.)
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To: decimon

Those panels won’t last anywhere near 16 years, and there is no mention of what it will cost in Maintenance and just the fresh water needed to keep them all clean.

And bet me a burger they bought Chinese solar panels. For sure they didn’t get them from Solyndra.


15 posted on 09/18/2011 2:53:37 PM PDT by Bean Counter (Obama got mostly Ds and Fs all through college and law school. Keep repeating it.....)
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To: jpsb

You’ll get no help from me with that.

Bottom line must be subsidy. Someone gets taxpayer money to make this look workable.


16 posted on 09/18/2011 3:02:42 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon

There’s another Ponzi scheme for the green suckers.


17 posted on 09/18/2011 3:09:06 PM PDT by rfp1234 (Anybody but Baracchio in 2012)
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To: decimon
If solar energy were a profitable industry it would not have to be subsidized ,,, it's been in the market place since the Carter years and beyond . If it were a true value to replace current energy systems it would be selling like hotcakes and the incentive to invest in and buy the systems would be market driven ,, but it isn't and that's the reality . The long term maintenance on these systems tend to minimize the advantage over traditional energy costs .
18 posted on 09/18/2011 3:14:26 PM PDT by Lionheartusa1 (-: Socialism is the equal distribution of misery :-)
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To: Drango
I live near one of these schools...the solar panels, economical or not, sit in the parking lot on steel girders and are ugly on a stick.


At least in our town hall they are using them as sunshades over the parking areas - useful in AZ...:^)


19 posted on 09/18/2011 3:32:13 PM PDT by az_gila
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To: Lionheartusa1
If solar energy were a profitable industry it would not have to be subsidized...

We'll know the time has come when we see people hauling panels out of Home Depot.

20 posted on 09/18/2011 3:50:49 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon

Inverters and balance of plant items preclude the average homeowner from installing a solar system IMHO.


21 posted on 09/18/2011 3:59:13 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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To: decimon

Deport illegals. That will fix school budget problems in a hurry.


22 posted on 09/18/2011 4:56:03 PM PDT by ViLaLuz (2 Chronicles 7:14)
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To: decimon

But will their “meters spin backwards?” ;-)


23 posted on 09/18/2011 5:37:03 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), Army NG, '89-' 96)
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To: Drango
Inverters and balance of plant items preclude the average homeowner from installing a solar system IMHO.

Cheap components and better storage devices could begin to make it viable. Maybe something simple like some outdoor lighting to start. Maybe trickle charging batteries.

24 posted on 09/18/2011 5:46:45 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon
"I’m in favor of solar power if it finds its niche without subsidy."

There are niches with no need for subsidies miles from the nearest power grid hookups, where it's more expensive to pay for the extremely long power lines. I'm in that kind of situation. The only way to make it cost-effective compared to grid electricity, is to study much, look for the lowest prices on the right components for your situation (and the right appliances) and build the power plant yourself. [Can be dangerous for anyone without experience in electrical installations with the NEC) Anything installed by contractors will be very expensive.


25 posted on 09/18/2011 5:52:23 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), Army NG, '89-' 96)
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To: familyop

Can you get DC appliances? 12 or 24 volt?


26 posted on 09/18/2011 6:01:27 PM PDT by decimon
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To: decimon

Yes, some. Here’s one kind that’ll work.

http://www.sundanzer.com/


27 posted on 09/18/2011 6:24:59 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), Army NG, '89-' 96)
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To: Elendur; All
There are no safe havens now. Nothing is certain. Do you trust government bonds with 3% yeild?

The way things are going, we may be glad to have investments that pay out 6 percent a year.

The life of the solar panels is likely a minimum of 25 years.

It is not a “great” investment, but is probably a better one that was made on a lot of Corps of Engineer dam projects.

Just because the government is for it doesn't mean that it is evil. Better the panels than to go into some scam artists pockets.

28 posted on 09/18/2011 6:26:35 PM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: Chode

I’ll bet not one of these college educated geniuses even knows what that is.


29 posted on 09/18/2011 6:27:52 PM PDT by Lurker (The avalanche has begun. The pebbles no longer have a vote.)
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To: jpsb
I did not think the payback on solar beat 12 cents a kilowatt hour yet. HELP!

Solar panels price has droped below $2 per watt, so payback on 12 cents per kilowatt hour is somewhere between 5-7 years, I am told by my electrical engineer friend who installed some big solar projects for the military. We use a lot of solar panels for work in remote locations with low power needs. In that type of situation, you cannot beat them. They have proven every bit as reliable as grid power here in southern Arizona, and much, much cheaper, because you cannot extend grid power for 100 yards for the price of installing a solar panel. These panels are a lot more expensive than that at about $4.18 per watt installed, so that makes the payback period that they are saying about reasonable for Southern California. We have a bit more sunshine than they do.

30 posted on 09/18/2011 6:36:36 PM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: Drango; All
Inverters and balance of plant items preclude the average homeowner from installing a solar system IMHO.

Actually, we are very close to it being a reasonable investment here in southern Arizona. The power companies favor distributed production because it helps keep the voltage up on their lines. The inverters have an automatic shut off that takes them off line during a power outage and brings them back on once the power is up.

You get to "run the meter backward" to offset any grid usage. After that you sell to the power company at a somewhat reduced rate.

The most expensive part is installation.

31 posted on 09/18/2011 6:44:20 PM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: E. Pluribus Unum
I wonder if there is many record on the money savings affected by the solar panels placed on the White House by President Jimmy Carter? That happened 30 plus years ago. So, there should be some longer term economic data to see if the savings being pushed by Obama have any basis in reality.
32 posted on 09/18/2011 6:50:09 PM PDT by Nip (TANSTAAFL and BOHICA)
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To: marktwain
we are very close to it being a reasonable investment

Thanks...So we can form our own opinion...can you post some numbers as to your cost and your ROI or pay back estimate?

33 posted on 09/18/2011 6:53:36 PM PDT by Drango (A liberal's compassion is limited only by the size of someone else's wallet.)
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To: decimon

Hey, San Ramon is bad, but Mt. Diablo is worse!

Mt Diablo has solar panels at one school pointed north east! (Clayton)


34 posted on 09/18/2011 6:57:48 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012 !)
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To: Chode

>> “and the MBTF of the panels is...?” <<

.
About 20 years presently.


35 posted on 09/18/2011 6:59:34 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012 !)
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To: RingerSIX

>> “The spawn of the spawn of the spawn of the children taught morality by these school districts will vandalize these solar panels to the point that I guarantee you that a break even will never be achieved.” <<

.
Even without that, the birds dropping rocks on them, as flat ast they are mounted, will make them a huge losing proposition (ask Alameda County about the panels at their Hayward court complex parking lot)


36 posted on 09/18/2011 7:06:15 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012 !)
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To: antidemoncrat
California = result of too much inbreeding East Coast immigration!
37 posted on 09/18/2011 7:09:40 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012 !)
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To: decimon

>> “We’ll know the time has come when we see people hauling panels out of Home Depot.” <<

.
If they won’t fly at Costco, they won’t fly, and Costco gave up after less than a month, and sent them back to the Manufacturer.


38 posted on 09/18/2011 7:16:27 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012 !)
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To: decimon

>> “Cheap components...” <<

.
Big mistake for most.

If the inverters and charge controllers are not from Trace, they will not do the job for long, if at all.


39 posted on 09/18/2011 7:21:19 PM PDT by editor-surveyor (Sarah Palin - 2012 !)
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To: familyop

Thanks.

Small and expensive appliances for now.


40 posted on 09/18/2011 7:25:22 PM PDT by decimon
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To: jpsb; marktwain
A) the panel only produces power (on average) for 12 hours/day, IF weather is ignored

B) the 550w is PEAK at optimal angles and fully rated efficiency; MAYBE 20% of the 12 hours gives peak output

C) other equipment costs not factored in: inverters, battery banks, switching gear, battery chargers, battery & equipment rooms

D) other costs not factored in: maintenance & replacement of batteries over the 16-20 years; labor costs cleaning the panels; replacement of damaged panels (hail; vandalism; accident—on stilts in parking lot; etc.)

E) natural and inevitable drops in panel efficiency over time

It was mainly C-E, though B also played a role, that dissuaded me from installing some for (mainly) lighting an unpowered barn vs running a line to it from the existing meter, which would allow not only lighting, but tool & equipment usage as well.

Salesmen and advocates (and bureaucrats) are great at using cherry picked figures & glossings over of details to effectively lie; but real figures for a real situation don't lie.

marktwain in post #30 has it right: more effective & cheaper than extending grid; and for critical & remote low power equipment. For most, to replace extant grid power, not so much...and we're at 9 cents/KWH, which makes them compare even worse.

41 posted on 09/18/2011 7:41:18 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch ("Public service" does NOT mean servicing the people, like a bull among heifers.)
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To: decimon

Some companies do more marketing. Others do the best engineering (renegade engineers escaped from the plantation). Made in America.

http://www.midnitesolar.com/


42 posted on 09/18/2011 7:45:25 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), Army NG, '89-' 96)
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To: Lurker
sad but true...
43 posted on 09/18/2011 7:45:47 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: editor-surveyor
so they'll get ~4 years free... thx
44 posted on 09/18/2011 7:47:52 PM PDT by Chode (American Hedonist - *DTOM* -ww- NO Pity for the LAZY)
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To: decimon

“Most powerful MPPT charge controller in North America” there, BTW.


45 posted on 09/18/2011 7:48:32 PM PDT by familyop (cbt. engr. (cbt), Army NG, '89-' 96)
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To: Lionheartusa1
If solar energy were a profitable industry it would not have to be subsidized ,,, it's been in the market place since the Carter years and beyond .

In Concord, CA, ca1966 I drove a Post Office truck daily past Varian Aerograph. They had a large readerboard sign, stating that they were on the verge ('any day now!') of making a breakthrough that would make their solar cells cheap, efficient, and competitive with grid power.

Regularly, there were puff pieces in the Bay Area press about them, touting the same claims.

Now, 45 years later and counting, it still hasn't happened; and Varian is no longer in the solar cell business.

46 posted on 09/18/2011 7:51:42 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch ("Public service" does NOT mean servicing the people, like a bull among heifers.)
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To: Drango
Thanks...So we can form our own opinion...can you post some numbers as to your cost and your ROI or pay back estimate?

Yes, I hope to talk to some installers this week.

My first cut on this is it is not a good investment if the installation costs are more than about 20 percent of the total.

On a grid system, you don't have to have batteries or battery maintenance.

In Southern Arizona, I figure you get about the equivalent of six hours of full output per day, about 360 days a year, so we are nearly the best solar power place on earth.

I suspect the cost of "certified installers" will about offset the subsidies, and that might make it a worthwhile investment.

In the last 20 years, solar cell prices per watt have dropped about 70 percent. If they continue to do so, 20 years from now they will cost about 50 cents a watt. They would be a great investment at that price.

47 posted on 09/18/2011 8:07:59 PM PDT by marktwain (In an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.)
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To: ApplegateRanch

You don’t need batteries for many solar systems. Only if you are off the grid. The excess power (if) produce on weekends would go though the meter running it backward. You have a couple months in many schools where you don’t need A/C. During the summer months while schools are closed, it very possible that they would have a surplus of power. Peak demand in California matches peek efficacy because it is a hot clear day with a lot of sun. If designed right they will have some power during a black out.


48 posted on 09/18/2011 8:09:01 PM PDT by ThomasThomas ( Congressmen should wear uniforms like NASCAR drivers, so we can identify their corporate sponsors.)
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To: RingerSIX

The spawn of the spawn of the spawn of the children taught morality by these school districts will vandalize these solar panels to the point that I guarantee you that a break even will never be achieved.


It may or may not be your reason but you know - you KNOW - that somewhere between now and 2027 SOMETHING will happen which prevents this cost from being recouped. Whatever it is that is the cause will be “unforseeable” and “unfortunate”, of course.

But the liberals will think they have done the “right thing” therefore it will be “worth it” to them even though it didn’t work out.

We right thinking people understand this is pure insanity.


49 posted on 09/18/2011 8:35:03 PM PDT by Personal Responsibility (Government rushes to help the irresponsible and does little for the responsible)
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To: ThomasThomas
Only if you are off the grid.

Or never have grid outages when it's dark, either due to time of day, or weather. Oh, wait; that would mean you ARE "off grid", at least temporarily.

10 days in sunny Southern California, due to Santa Anna winds. 7 days in Oregon, due to storm damage and flooding. 7 days in rural Northern California due to an unseasonable heavy wet snow & freezing temps. 3 days due to a forest fire taking out a major transmission line.

Suspenders AND belt...that's why we have THREE generators with a total continuous rating of 21KW...but no solar panels.

50 posted on 09/19/2011 12:42:43 AM PDT by ApplegateRanch ("Public service" does NOT mean servicing the people, like a bull among heifers.)
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