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Venice, CA

"...your book answered all my questions about solar energy, wind turbine energy, and more!...I didn't know there were different options including the portable options, my first project and very easy... and off the grid too!... with your help, anyone can save money on their electric bill and help the environment by going green with your solar energy, wind energy, and other ideas. I think my own mother could do this...NOW!"
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"...just wanted to drop a line to say thanks. After receiving your guide we made our own solar panel grid, and it's giving us more than enough energy to power our household appliances. OUr next step is to build a wind powered system for those cloudy days. We've already noticed how much money we can save!

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"...After reading this valuable information, I now can create my own energy saving solar generator as well as a wind turbine. This book made me realize how easy it is do these tasks. Maybe easy is not the word, because it does take energy on our part to get out there and use these devices to work for us! I would recommend to anyone wanting to save the environment (for our children) to grab hold of this book, and more importantly use it. You won't regret it..."
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Solar Power Homes vs. Palo Verdes Homes Association – And the winner is…

Image credit: Tom Underhill, Peninsula News

Image credit: Tom Underhill, Peninsula News

Solar Power Homes of course! You know anyone who’s beaten the mighty sun yet? :-)

The Palo Verdes Peninsula News first broke this story here. It appears that the Art Jury (yes they actually have one of those) of Palo Verdes Homes Association was repeatedly denying solar permits. Why, you ask? Because the solar panels chosen for this solar residential project happened to be blue in color. The Art Jury prefers black colored solar panels for aesthetic reasons. They are “really concerned about the aesthetics and the impact it will have on surrounding homes”. However, for solar power homes‘ owners, this was problem as black solar panels cost 30% more than the blue ones.

Fortunately, after being denied three solar permits, Bartz, owner of a solar system installation company, decided to make a stand. The city of Palo Verdes, CA sided with him, and approved the solar power homes, bypassing the Homes Association’s ruling. Simply enough, The Solar Rights Act prohibits cities and home owners’ associations from preventing solar panel installations unless they are a danger to health or safety of any resident. This was obviously not the case here so Solar power won.

This sets a great precedent for those people who want the energy savings, but suffer from “Not in my backyard” syndrome. For readers of this blog, I hope you feel encouraged by reading this. If you or anyone you know has ever been blocked in the solar panel installation by local organizations or authorities, then you know that you probably have a good case against them. The law really is on your side this time.

Technorati Tags: residential solar power, solar power homes, solar power house, solar power residential, solar residential, solar roof panels

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Solar Power House Owners – Would you like some shotguns with that?

Before you all start piling up on me for making my posts take a ‘violent’ turn, hang on a second and read on. There is a reason for my admittedly outrageous topic. It seems that lately it’s it not just people like you and me who are part of a growing legion of Solar Power House fans. Some of these new fans of solar energy, it seems, are thieves.

Solar panels were stolen from Jim and Shayna Powell’s roof in Palm Desert, Calif. Image Courtesy: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Solar panels were stolen from Jim and Shayna Powell’s roof in Palm Desert, Calif. Image Courtesy: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

Glenda Hoffman, of Desert Hot Springs, CA, has had 16 home solar panels stolen from her solar roof top in 3 separate burglaries. The thieves are in for some solar powered heat directed towards them if they attempt a fourth one. Glenda Hoffman’s response to the burglaries: “I have a shotgun right next to the bed and a .22 under my pillow”. She vows that if she ever catches the troublemakers, “they are not going to leave walking”.

Not that I promote gun-slinging in any form, but this would for sure be a well-deserved justice in traditional wild wild west style!

This New York Times article recently broke news about this growing trend, especially in California. The law enforcement has always been familiar with thefts of home construction items, including copper, wires, pipes etc., but this one has left them scratching their heads.

It makes financial sense from the point of view of a thief. A single solar panel can sell for several hundreds of dollars on ebay, while to make the same amount of money from say, copper, a thief would have to steal several tons, conceal it, transport it, and then try to sell it. Much easier to go for a solar panel, it would appear!

Ken Martin Jr. lost 58 panels from the roof of an office building he owns in Santa Rosa, Calif. He estimated they would cost $75,000 to replace. Image Courtesy: Noah Berger for The New York Times

Ken Martin Jr. lost 58 panels from the roof of an office building he owns in Santa Rosa, Calif. He estimated they would cost $75,000 to replace. Image Courtesy: Noah Berger for The New York Times

From the point of view of the victims, the losses can be substantial. It’s not the cost of the solar panels themselves. So far with number of thefts, being relatively small, the homeowners’ insurance is still paying out without much resistance. However it does take time, time which can be costly, not to mention the added hassles of redoing the entire solar energy installation. For example, in the very hot town of Palm Desert, CA, some thieves stole 19 solar panels from the Powell’s solar energy installation. This caused their air-conditioning bill to shoot from $3 to $300 per month for the entire summer. They were not happy.

This of course means that we, the Solar Power House owners, need to be extra vigilant in our efforts to protect our hard won greenness. Law enforcement authorities suggest etching unique identification such as driver’s license on the panels. But would you feel comfortable that personally identifiable information (potentially usable for identity theft) fall into the hands of a thief? Talk about adding insult to injury!

I would personally think etching something else uniquely identifiable, such as a combination of birth dates of family members, combination of drivers’s licenses etc. be rather used. Some enterprising Solar Power House owners are even going in for alarm and video camera installations.

By the way, for more practical tips on how to build, finance, manage and maintain Solar Power residential projects, feel free to check out my Solar Power newsletter here.

Solar Powered Housing enthusiasts – You have been warned, there is a snake in our green garden of Eden :-)

Technorati Tags: solar power for house, solar power homes, solar power house, solar power housing, solar power residential, solar powered housing, solar residential

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Solar Power House owners – You’d be crazy to refuse these free $$$ from the government!

A Solar Power House financed by Palm Desert municipality. Image Courtesy: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

A Solar Power House financed by Palm Desert municipality.Image Courtesy: J. Emilio Flores for The New York Times

We have all heard of how we can buy solar panels for a few hundreds of dollars for your Solar Power House, and immediately become card carrying members of the green brigade.

However, the fact is that average cost for creating an average fully Solar Powered Housing runs about $50,000 and several tens of thousands dollars more for a larger home in hot climate.

This enormous initial cost has become a severe stumbling block to installing solar power for house. Homeowners often balk because they fear they might not stay in their solar power housing long enough to recover their investment, which can take up to 20 years.

Enter the municipality of Palm Desert, in the beautiful state of California :-)

A new financing program run by the municipality lends homeowners money, and allows them to pay it back with interest over 20 years as part of property tax.

The beauty of this system over private lending is that ANY local homeowner is eligible, not just those with good credit rating. Additionally, the obligation to pay the loan is attached to the the solar power house and passes on to any future buyer.

This is a win-win for both the city municipalities and homeowners. Homeowners get access to credit with lower personal risks. Cities in California are required by state laws to reduce their carbon emission, and providing access to credit for green technologies helps them meet the state requirements.

As a gauge of the popularity of the program, when Palm Desert ran this as a pilot program, it was immediately fully subscribed.

Free electricity, on easy term loans? What’s not to like :-)

Technorati Tags: solar power for house, solar power homes, solar power house, solar power housing, solar power residential, solar powered housing, solar residential