Pacifica Tribune July 26, 2006


Response to PV Letter

Response to LttE, 7/12/06

I’d like to thank Mr. Natwick for his thoughtful letter.  A small PV system may indeed save some money.  But recognize that by using PG&E’s rate structure, you are gaming the system, just like Ken Lay and Enron did.  You’re not helping the environment; you are just saving yourself some money at the expense of your neighbors.

Somehow, the Tribune reporter got the quotes correct at the foggy dedication ceremony for our 300 KW PV system at the sewage treatment plant. She quoted, that “in the heaviest fog, the system will lose 20 to 30 percent of their effectiveness.”  She also quoted that “on Monday, the panels at their peak generated 110 KW.”  Hmm.  Does anyone see a problem here or did you all fail math.

Numbers were flying around like fog cutters at the fog fest. I heard that PV systems actually perform better in the fog.  And power costs are going to go up by a factor of ten.  I questioned these numbers at the event, but I was only “the guy who wrote the letter.” 

Didn’t anyone else notice that the whole system is built level with the horizon?  Every 13-year-old girl knows that you need to elevate the chase lounge by 38 degrees (60 degrees in July) to get the best tan.

On dedication day, our PV plant produced about 700 KW-hr, saving $91.  At this rate, we’ll get our money back in about 100 years, if we can convince grandmother to give us a zero interest loan.  If we can get her to pay for half AND give us the zero interest loan, the payback time is only about 50 years.  If we believe that power costs will go up by a factor of 10, it might pay back in 10 years.   If we move the system to Sacramento, where the sun shines most of the daylight hours, but power costs much less that ours, the payback is only 50 years or 25 years, still at zero interest rate.  If, if, if.  Is the smoke burning your eyes yet?

Political correctness has let junk mathematics and junk science terrify our kids with global warming fears, put chloramine in our water, send people door to door to collect money for sunglasses to protect children in Argentina from the ozone hole, ban DDT, regulate second hand smoke and spend public money on PV projects that private industry would never consider. 

Mr. Natwick, the only point I have to make is that you please show me the money.  How much did your system cost, how much did it cost you, how much did/does it save you year by year?  Numbers.  Your numbers may indeed make sense for your family’s finances.  Our sewage treatment plant PV system cost $3.1M, $1.7M after you and I subsidized it, and saved $91 on dedication day, one of the longest summer days of the year but with light fog.  Ninety one dollars!  This system needs to return $700 per day year around to pay back society for it’s environmental costs. The numbers don’t look too promising to me.

 Editor, please publish the output of all of our Pacifica PV systems and money they save the same way you publish rainfall and temperatures?