California Caps Solar Permitting Fees

Gov. Jerry Brown of California has signed a law designed to help reduce the costs of solar installation by limiting permitting fees up to $500.

According to S.B. 1222, the bill’s sponsor, State Sen. Mark Leno, Californians’ costs for solar have “remained much higher than necessary in some places because of inconsistent local permitting fees and costly inspections that are ill-suited for modern solar technology.”

The law prohibits a city or county from charging fees greater than $500 for installations up to 15 kW, or $500 plus $5 for each kilowatt more than 15 kW. Exceptions can be made if a local agency submits “substantial evidence” of its administrative costs to issue the solar permit.

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Rooftop Solar Power To Be Installed By US Military

Why is Uncle Sam going solar? It can save BIG money.

Washington D.C. – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a $344 million loan guarantee that will support the SolarStrong Project, which is expected to be a record expansion of residential rooftop solar power in the United States.  Under the SolarStrong Project, SolarCity Corporation will install, own and operate up to 160,000 rooftop solar installations on as many as 124 U.S. military bases in up to 33 states.  SolarCity expects the project to fund approximately 750 construction jobs over five years and 28 full time operating jobs.  Many of the jobs are expected to be filled by U.S. veterans and military family members, who will be recruited, trained and employed to install, operate and maintain the photovoltaic (PV) systems.

“This is the largest domestic residential rooftop solar project in history,” said Secretary Chu.  “This groundbreaking project is expected to create hundreds of jobs for Americans and provide clean, renewable power to our military families. It can also be a model for other large-scale rooftop solar projects that help America regain its lead in the solar industry.”

The project, which could create up to 371 megawatts of new solar capacity, includes the installation of residential rooftop PV systems on existing privatized military family residences and other privatized buildings, such as community centers, administrative offices, maintenance buildings and storage warehouses.  The project will provide low-cost, renewable electricity to privatized military housing and is expected to avoid over 250,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.  The SolarStrong Project will have the added benefit of helping the Department of Defense (DOD), the single-largest energy consumer in the U.S., secure its energy needs from domestic renewable sources that are independent from the utility grid, at no additional cost to taxpayers.  DOD has a stated goal that 25 percent of all energy consumed by 2025 shall be supplied from renewable sources.

The project will be rolled out over five years, starting with a four megawatt installation at Hickam Air Force base in Hawaii, with construction currently underway.  SolarStrong is expected to sell electricity produced from the projects through long-term electricity sales agreements or lease solar systems through long-term lease contracts.

USRG Renewable Finance, an affiliate of US Renewables Group, is acting as lead lender in partnership with Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  USRG Renewable Finance submitted the application under the Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP).  In a FIPP financing, the Department of Energy guarantees up to 80 percent of a loan provided to a renewable energy project by qualified financial institutions.

The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office administers three separate programs:  the Title XVII Section 1703 and Section 1705 loan guarantee programs, and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) loan program.   The loan guarantee programs support the deployment of commercial technologies along with innovative technologies that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions, while ATVM supports the development of advanced vehicle technologies.  To date, the Department has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling nearly $40 billion to support more than 40 clean energy projects across the United States, including several of the world’s largest solar generation facilities, three geothermal projects, the world’s largest wind farm, and the nation’s first new nuclear power plant in three decades.

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Florida Power Reopens $5 Million Solar Rebate Program

Florida Power & Light (FPL) is reopening the application period for its 2011 solar rebate program to distribute approximately $5 million in remaining funds. Applications can be submitted at the FPL website starting at 8:30 a.m. on Aug. 30.

The solar power rebates are $2 per watt of the DC output of a PV system, up to $20,000. Rebates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, and funds are expected to run out quickly, FPL says. The application process for the 2011 rebates first opened on June 29, and customers claimed reservations for the available solar PV funds in less than an hour.

Rebates for solar water heating are also still available, FPL adds. The solar water heating rebate is $1,000 per installed solar water heater. According to the FPL as of this writing, there was $124,000 in water heating rebate funds available.

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Solar Price Alert – Save on Samsung Home Solar

Save on Samsung Home Solar!

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Solar Panels Online

  • Samsung systems qualify for 30% tax credits and local utility rebates.
  • You could go solar for a record-low price of under $3 per watt.
  • If you’ve been thinking about going solar, NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT!
PLUS, get an extra $500 off any Samsung Solar System
use coupon code laborday by Monday September 5, 2011

Get a Samsung pre-engineered home system that has everything needed to get the job done in 2 days or less – and save a bundle. Kits include Samsung solar panels with 25 year warranty, AC Inverter, rooftop mounting racks, wiring, hardware, step-by-step instructions and permit-ready documentation. You and your handy local electrician provide the labor and utility connection to SAVE BIG!


  1. Choose a Samsung Home Solar system to meet your needs.
  2. Receive your Samsung Home Solar system in 2 to 3 weeks.
  3. Use clean solar power and watch your electric meter spin backwards!
2,196 Watts Solar Kit

$6,150 after tax credits
$2.80 per watt
Samsung Solar Logo
6,344 Watts Solar Kit
$15,740 after tax credit
$2.48 per watt
3,172 Watts Solar Kit

$7,900 after tax credit
$2.65 per watt
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7,320 Watts Solar Kit
$18,050 after tax credit
$2.47 per watt
4,880 Watts Solar Kit

$12,450 after tax credit
$2.55 per watt
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Samsung Solar Kits
8,748 Watts Solar Kit
$21,480 after tax credit
$2.46 per watt

Questions? Need Help? Call 888-498-3331

FREE Home Solar Evaluation - CLICK HERE

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Solar panel manufacturers rush to improve efficiency

The costs of solar panels are dropping quickly. The decline in solar prices is compelling manufacturers to find ways to cut costs and improve the amount of power solar cells can convert from sunlight. The company First Solar has just topped the world record with its latest efficiency developments. On Tuesday, the company proudly displayed a 17.3 percent efficient solar cell.
solar panels
The test cell has broken the previous record of 16.7 percent for a solar cell comprised of cadmium-telluride set by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in 2001. The new record is important because it illustrates that solar panels made with cadmium-telluride cells can endure a longer life in the market than originally expected.

When it comes to how much power a panel of a given size can generate – more power equals higher efficiencies. There is a set cost and amount of time for creating each panel, and First Solar’s technology makes a panel is less than 2.5 hours. If the company manufactures each panel with a greater power rating (in watts), then that panel’s cost-per-watt is lower.

First Solar has held the title of the lowest-cost solar panel manufacturer in the industry for quite some time. Producing solar panels on the cheap is a major advantage for First Solar, especially considering that its solar panels are not the most efficient on the market. During the first quarter of 2011, the company constructed solar panels with 11.7 percent efficiency at the cost of $0.75 per watt.

Most solar panels on the market are made with silicon and usually have higher efficiencies than First Solar’s, which are not made with silicon. Silicon panels cost more to manufacture, but also demand higher prices.

So what is the most efficient silicon solar panel on the market today? SunPower recently launched a 20 percent panel that contains cells that can perform at 22.4 percent efficiency. When the cells are assembled into a panel, they don’t all act uniformly, which is the cause of the lower panel efficiency figure. Not to mention, the panel efficiency includes the frame area where no cells are located.

Considering that silicon solar panel prices have fallen by more than half in the past two years, silicon solar panel manufacturers are excited to improve their products’ efficiencies. Just in the past six weeks, prices have dropped by 15 percent, according to IMS Research. In the first quarter of 2011, the typical price was close to $1.80, and now it’s fallen below $1.40 per watt.

Two recent developments have contributed to the decline in prices: the weakening of government subsidies in the world’s two largest markets, Germany and Italy, and the subsequent piling up of solar panels because of the cut in demand. The cuts in subsidies have required solar panel manufacturers along with their component suppliers to lower the price of their goods. If they didn’t lower prices, their customers wouldn’t see the value in investing in solar or building solar energy projects.

Solar panel creators have always understood the need to improve the efficiency of their products. Now, the falling prices have created an urgency that pushes them to do it as fast as possible. Numerous large solar cell and panel makers have looked to technologies such as the silicon ink by Innovalight. The silicon ink has allowed Innovalight customers to improve their cells’ efficiencies by roughly 0.8 percentage point or more. This gained that attention of DuPont, which has recently purchased Innovalight for an undisclosed price.

Pushing the limits of efficiencies in cells made by its production equipment is essential for First Solar to remain in the competition in the future. Solar cell records show an attainable target, but don’t communicate the length of time it may take for the manufacturer to reach that efficiency at scale. The records show the best their holders can produce at a given time, not necessarily what they can produce consistently in high volumes.

By the end of 2014, First Solar expects to increase the efficiency of its market-ready solar panels from 11.7 percent up to 14.5 percent.

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