2009 November

On-Bill Financing for Commercial and Non-Profit Customers

Posted by | Commercial, Energy Efficiency | No Comments

Commercial and non-profit organizations can qualify for up to $100,000 in zero interest loans for energy efficiency improvements such as better lighting and more efficient ventilation, heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration. The money would be repaid in up to 5 years through SDG&E bills.

Solare Energy helps commercial and non-profit customers identify energy efficiency opportunities and apply for these no-interest loans.

Solar Panel Prices at All-Time Low

Posted by | Commercial, Government, Installations, Prices, Residential, Solar | No Comments

Solar panel prices are at an all-time low. Please read article below from Paula Mints.

Module pricing: Rational, or just plain nuts?
by Paula Mints, Navigant Consulting, Palo Alto, CA USA;

In 2009, the market for solar products continued to soften, and by September, prices had crashed by 32% to 42%. This was great for the system integrators and installers who could source cheaper modules, (hard to resist at these prices!), but not so good for technology manufacturers who experienced squeezed margins and downward sloping revenues.
(In fairness, system integrators have felt pressure to provide ever-lower system prices.)

2006 was a particularly auspicious year for price increases, with average module prices rising by 30% for the small buyers, 7% for mid-range buyers, and 12% for large-quantity buyers. The significant turnaround in pricing of 2009—which could be described as an overcorrection—does not mean that an efficient market price was arrived at. Rather simply, the market was willing to pay more at one point than it was at another.

In 2009, soft demand because of the loss of a major market (Spain), a global recession, and problematic debt markets (among other reasons) drove prices down, while significant levels of inventory on the demand side allowed a vibrant secondary market to develop. Suddenly, there were daily, always-downward pricing changes. The global market for cells and modules pseudo-corrected because it crashed—not a healthy situation for anyone.

On the manufacturer side (supply), the module business was unprofitable for more than 30 years, up until the boom; average pricing during some of these years was below cost. During the boom, margins swelled along with profit, and the industry behaved as if the party would never end.

The PV industry remains in start-up mode with applications, business models, marketing strategies, and technologies continuing to mature. As the high-growth grid connected application remains incentive-driven, it is hard to drape solid economic theory over industry pricing behavior. Moore’s Law (the doubling of transistors per square inch on an integrated circuit doubles every 12 to 18 months) does not apply perfectly to pricing. Over the long term—and only in the long-term—there is clearly a systematic reduction in the price of cells and modules. In the near- to medium-term, though, there are many hiccups (up and down) in cell and module prices, and a smooth line cannot be observed. Until there is true, un-incentivized pull in the market for solar products, wild swings in demand and pricing will continue.

Efficient market theory holds that the market will establish (with the occasional correction) a rational and correct price for a good. This is great in theory; however, the market is an organism that reacts to market pressures by often inflating prices (supply side) when market conditions are good, and madly deflating them when market conditions turn in the other direction. It does this for any good, often regardless of its manufacturing cost.

With easy access to information these days, the overload of constant module price updates can and does trigger much anxiety. Market drives price, and also value, and people are the market. Understanding this does not exactly help manufacturers ameliorate pricing anxiety, particularly when all around prices can be observed dropping like stones into a pond.

So, accepting that the market is not logical or efficient when it comes to pricing, what does this mean for solar? It means that there are no set rules for market pricing, but some understanding of the triggers might slow panicked selling.

In the case of cost reduction, the PV industry can be proud of the significant progress it has made in reducing manufacturing cost and increasing efficiency. In this arena, there is some logic—and in an industry with downward price pressure (live by the incentive, die by the incentive), lower costs are a necessity.

Lowering costs. Now there is a rational war worth fighting.

This article is from Photovoltaics World

SDG&E to Raise Baseload Rates

Posted by | Prices, Residential | No Comments

California Senate Bill 695 (Kehoe) was signed into law in October of 2009. This law repeals a previous law that prohibited SDG&E and other investor owned utilities in the state from raising baseload rates to residential customers for electricity charges. The new law allows SDG&E and other investor owned utilities in the state to increase the electricity charges for residential customers for existing baseline quantities by 3 – 5% per year.

Record SDG&E Incentives for Efficiency

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Over the next three years, SDG&E will spend $278 million collected through customer bills on efficiency programs to help make residential and commercial buildings more efficient.

These funds are part of a state wide $3 billion program aimed at getting people to use less energy by retrofitting 130,000 homes, training 15,000 workers and using smarter appliances.

Read more about this statewide effort in the UT article.

2009 Solar Installations at Record Pace

Posted by | Commercial, Installations, Residential, Solar | No Comments

Even in this challenging economic environment, installations of solar systems in San Diego have continued to grow and set new records. During the first ten months of 2009, incentive reservations for solar PV systems in San Diego County have totaled 21.3 MW, already surpasing by more than 40% the 15 MW reserved in 2008.

The residential sector has experienced the largest growth. Reservations for incentives to install solar PV systems on homes in San Diego County have grown from 2.7 MW in 2007, to 5.2 MW in 2008, to 11.6 MW in only the first ten months of 2009.

You can find more statistics and general information in the state’s official website for the program Go Solar California.

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