GRID Alternatives Solarthon: a mega-strategic initiative

You may know from my post on hiking that I value the idea of a strategic initiative, taking one action that affects many areas at once. George Lakoff, in Don’t Think of an Elephant,┬ánotes that focusing on alternative energy is a powerful strategic initiative, because it affects not just energy and sustainability but a host of other areas, such as jobs, health, the environment, foreign policy, developing countries, and more. This is a major reason I’m drawn to alternative energy; it gives a lot of bang for the buck, and it deals with the most urgent issues facing humanity today. Continue reading “GRID Alternatives Solarthon: a mega-strategic initiative”

Condoizing solar, part 3: patience required

As I noted in previous entries, getting a solar system for my condo complex will be a long process. I’ve had representatives from four solar companies assess our site, and they all said we have enough roof space for a system that would provide energy for the common electricity—on which we spend about $2000 a month. Three of the companies have submitted preliminary proposals for systems that would cost between $74,000 and $450,000, before incentives and rebates. We’ll have to decide how big we want our system to be and what we can afford. Continue reading “Condoizing solar, part 3: patience required”

Condoizing solar, part 2: off the grid

Last week I attended a “solar mixer” hosted by 1 Block Off the Grid (1BOG), a community-based program that helps people buy solar panels. By negotiating group discounts, they lower costs—and perhaps even more valuable is their help in sorting out all the confusing details that homeowners face when they attempt to go solar. They even help people deal with net metering, which allows you to feed power you generate back to PG&E when you’re not using it and then get it back at no charge when you need it. (That’s right, 1BOG is not technically about being off the grid, since that would require batteries—but you get the idea.) Continue reading “Condoizing solar, part 2: off the grid”

Condoizing solar, part 1: getting started

Partial view of the Sierra Heights roofs. The block to the north has four houses with solar panels.

As I stood on the roof of our condo complex on a recent sunny day, I could see the roofs of several blocks to the north and east of our three buildings. We live in one of the sunnier areas in San Francisco, so perhaps it shouldn’t have surprised me to see four roofs with solar panels on one block, three on another, and three on the third. But San Francisco is unusual this way; according to the representative from a Fremont-based solar company who stood with me on the roof, more people in San Francisco than in Fremont choose solar, though Fremont is sunnier. Continue reading “Condoizing solar, part 1: getting started”