My solar panel installation from Solar City is moving forward. I’m told that the city has approved the building permits so it’s just a matter of scheduling the install.
A lot of people have been asking me why I decided to go with SolarCity rather than do it myself. I am a tech guy and I do have access to the money to buy a system up front. So my friends are wondering, what’s up with that? And why SolarCity as opposed to some other local mom and pop installer or other big company like Sungevity.
There are 2 main classifications of reasons I chose Solar City. One class is economics, but the more important class is environmental/political. So I’m going to address both of these separately.
Economic Reasons for Home Solar Electric Panels
As you all know one of the reasons for going solar is to save money. Even if power is affordable now it’s very likely that power is much more expensive in the future. In fact unless more and more people convert to solar, and we develop better battery technology on the scale that can be used by power plants, we’re going to have an energy crisis. Quite frankly, if a lot of us don’t go solar, we might not even be able to by electricity in the future. The coal and oil paradigm is just plain limited. There’s still various kinds of nukes on the table but the right kind of nuclear technology that is safe doesn’t yet exist.
So – back to economics. If I bought it myself it would cost me about $15,000 and my bill right now is like $75/month. So I’ll be close to 70 before it’s paid for and then, depending on how long I live I might be a little ahead of letting Solar City do it. On the other hand, SolarCity buys in bulk, have installers who do this all the time, and will probably do a better job than me or some other local mom and pop installer.
I also understand that because they still own the equipment that they can take depreciation in a way being a company that home owners can do so that savings helps keep them competitive with me doing it myself. And – of course – doing it myself is work. Although for me it would be somewhat fun doing the research and doing my own designs, it’s not like I’m inventing anything new. And sometimes I screw up and wished I had hired someone who would just come in and do it right.
And then there’s the money up front issue. With SolarCity there’s no money down. My up front cost is $0. So I don’t have to borrow or save the money. And quite frankly, anyone who has enough money to buy a solar system has enough money to pay their electric bill.
So in many cases what makes this attractive is for people who don’t have an extra $15k laying around who want to start saving money from the first bill. The system uses what are called Grid Tie inverters. When the sun is shining in the daytime the excess power runs your meter backwards and helps power the rest of the world. So on sunny days I’m powering my air conditioner and the air conditioner for my neighbors. What that means is that Pacific Gas and Electric doesn’t have to make the power I’m producing. And – if I understand it right, when I make excess power in the daytime when rates are high, it pays for twice as much power at might when rates are low.
So some day when I can afford a Tesla I’m really going to come out ahead. But – my main reason isn’t because I want to save money. My main reason is ecological and political.
Ecological and Political Reasons – Why Solar?
Going green isn’t just a fad for hippies anymore. This planet is our spaceship and it’s size and resources are limited. If we screw it up then we suffer. Global warming is real. I think the effects are somewhat exaggerated, but we are heating the planet. A significant amount of that heating is man made, and the effects are cumulative. The CO2 that does come out of the atmosphere goes in the oceans making them more acidic.
So there’s no doubt in my mind that we need to start migrating away from burning things for fuel. Every year solar gets cheaper and cheaper. Solar is far cheaper than oil if you factor in the damage it does to the ecosystem and the cost of wars it takes to support the oil infrastructure.
The war in Iraq for example was all about oil. So the 3 trillion dollars that we still owe for Iraq should be added to what oil costs. It’s like someone stole your gasoline charge card and bought $10,000 on it and stuck you with the bill. And that’s just for one oil fueled war.
I’m also no fan of Islam. The middle east where all that oil is is also where Muslims slaughter each other in the most horrendous ways. The beheadings, the hanging women who are victims of rape, torture, shooting little girls for going to school, throwing acid if little girls faces, the total enslavement of women. And every time I drive my car I’m funding that. The latest story in the news is that ISIS is telling Christians to convert to Islam or be put to death. I’m helping to fund that every time I fill my gas tank. I’m paying for a way of life that I find disgusting.
And then there’s the whole fracking thing. I’m kind of blown away by the idea that we don’t even get to know what chemicals they are pumping into our drinking water and what the long term effects are. It’s the whole power of the oil lobby thing and I’m tired of being under the thumb of big oil. I come from West Virginia and I hate the strip mining. I can understand why we did it in the past. But I can’t understand why we are still doing it today. Solar is the future. It’s just a matter of if we are going to get there fast or get there slow.
So – why SolarCity? Because of Elon Musk!
So – you might ask, why SolarCity? What made you pick SolarCity as opposed to some other vendor? I have a very specific reason – and that’s Elon Musk – the founder of SolarCity, Tesla Motors, PayPal, and SpaceX. Elon Musk is my hero. I can not say enough good things about Elon Musk. He is the most productive inventor on the planet right now taking humanity in the direction that humanity needs to go in. Elon Musk started with PayPal that revolutionized the transfer of money in the Internet.
Then he realized that humanity needs to move out into space at some point and NASA wasn’t getting us there fast enough. He wanted to go to Mars and if NASA wasn’t going to do it – he decided to build his own rockets. And now he is the first commercial space company delivering supplies to the International Space Station. His rockets are the most advanced rockets on the planet and they are 1/4 the price of anyone else’s rockets. And in the next few years he’s going to cut the cost by a factor of 10 by making the rockets fully reusable.
So then Elon decided that gasoline cars need to go so he started Tesla Motors and Tesla makes the best car on the planet ever. Not just a fully electric car, but the best car on the planet. And in a few years he’s going to have one that’s $35,000, which is cheaper than a gas car because it takes no gas. All the electric cars on the market today are in response to Tesla getting the market going. Elon is moving us to electric cars far faster than we would otherwise have gone. But what about batteries for all these cars? Where are they going to come from? Elon Musk!
Elon is now in the process of building the world’s largest lithium ion battery plant. It’s not just the world’s largest, it’s going to make more batteries than the sum total of all the rest of the world. This is the technology we need not just for electric cars, but for off grid solar systems and energy storage to make solar power be viable for night time use. In fact, the global warming problem is solvable. As the cost of solar goes down and battery technology increases, there’s no reason not use use solar. The best way to deal with global warming is to solve the problem.
Actually global warming is the good kind of problem to have because it is a result of humanity being so successful. So our problem are the good kind of problems to have. But even though they are good problems, we do need to solve them. Now, SolarCity is one of Elon’s companies. It is the nation’s biggest installer of grid tie solar systems. Solar City is well on it’s way to becoming America’s largest electric power company. They will generate more gigawatts of power than any other utility company and quite frankly – I want too see SolarCity succeed.
I want SolarCity to make a profit selling me power. I want them to take my money away from me. I really really like what Solar City is doing and it feel to me like I’m donating to a worthy cause. And that is an interesting concept. I’m someone who often donates to good causes. For example I am one of the funders for the Pioneer Awards that the Electronic Frontier Foundation gives away each year. In fact the only real job I had in the last 30 years was working as the system admin for EFF. Currently I’m in the spam filtering business.
But now I’m realizing that in the case of Elon Musk, giving to a corporation is at least as productive as a non-profit. But I’m not giving them money – they are saving me money. So I can do the right thing and have green energy and save money doing it. It doesn’t get any better than that. I head an interesting quote from Larry Page founder of Google said that he’s going to leave his money to Elon Musk. Here’s a YouTube video about it. How Elon Musk became the real Ironman!
And finally – there’s now way I can say enough here about how much I appreciate the work Elon Mush is doing. So I’m going to share this YouTube video with you that will give you an idea what a great think thing happening in or world because of Elon Musk. So SolarCity – take my money please!