by Bradley Bartz, Founder ABC Solar Inc.
Los Angeles CA (SPX) Oct 24, 2011

11 years ago I founded ABC Solar Inc and started to really study the solar market, the history and origins. In my journey as a Los Angeles based Solar grid-tie installation company, I have run the range of emotions from tears of joy in my client’s eyes to yelps, grunts and grins when their electric meter spins backwards. The opposite of that is dealing with red-tape. I believe it’s called red-tape because of how gosh darn mad the implementer of policy can make me.

So, here I sit in October 2011 and I can declare victory for solar is at hand.

It is evident, in the last gasp for control, the utility companies are doing everything they can to stop the adoption of solar. LADWP should be criminally liable for the intent to cause financial damage to solar companies such as mine.

SCE is just simply incompetent to handle the rebate and net-metering interconnection process. I would call on politicians to clean house and the such, but, as my argument will unfold below, I now believe the utility companies are irrelevant to the mass adoption of solar.

Let me explain. The solar rebate programs have run their course and accomplished their mission of bringing solar pricing down. Way down. For the enlightened, we can show great return on investments for solar without getting utility rebates. The real point to focus on is on the California law that says only 5% of ratepayers will have the opportunity to go “grid-tie” solar.

We are fast approaching this 5%. This artificial barrier brings life to the conspiracy that the monopoly utility companies hate solar. Hate solar is too simple a way to put it. Disdain? So many words come to mind, but they do not adequately express the damage that SCE and LADWP have done to solar adoption in Southern California.

To make one point: the California average for solar adoption is 2 homes per 1000. In LADWP territory it’s a pitiful .5 a home per 1000. This is 75% less of an option rate than the state overall. Occupy Los Angeles should equate the red-tape abuse by LADWP, SCE and the notorious Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety to the lack-of-jobs. Further, it’s not just the low adoption, it is the extreme documentation requests for simple solar installations that continue to dog the process.

For example, the SCE application for the 250 MW big solar projects was 1 page. The application for a SCE Solar rebate can be more than 44 pages of documents. In addition, SCE actually requires the submittal of a copy of the electric bill with the application, even though the bill is right on the computer screen in front of them.

One more dig at the old monopolies and then I’ll get to the meat of this opinion and what I call the other 95% of the solar market. I might have another plug against the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety too. I believe it is a conspiracy between LADBS and LADWP mid-level staff to prevent the adoption of solar. The reason for the slowing of adoption, in my opinion, is so that friends of LADWP and LADBS can learn about solar and catch up to industry leaders.

“It’s just so new.” Said a key manager at LADWP a few days ago to me in regards to why my Enphase solar grid-tie installation has been blockaded.

The hard part has been finding the motive. What is the motive for lowly utility company staff to block solar?

I have four solar projects that have turned into a complete nightmare, administratively speaking:

1. LADWP outlaws Enphase micro inverters. I have a project in LA installed in April 2011, with final approval by LADBS April 25, 2011 that is still not connected to the LADWP grid. ABC Solar had to seek a variance on the use of Enphase micro inverters even though a supervisor told me that “I approved this months ago.” Even after getting a signed variance the line staff refused to final the solar system for interconnection. Enphase has installed 1 million inverters and LADWP is the only jurisdiction that has outlawed them. Shocking!

2. LADWP approves 1st master metered multi-unit low-income apartment building to go solar (in 2011, the first!). LADBS takes 11 months to approve permit. Complaints formally issued to city. An amazing man at LA City with the title of Green Building Manager called a few minutes ago agreeing to “investigate” my Solar Blockade by the LADBS.

Webster defines Blockade as: any obstruction of passage or progress. The point of this #2 is … master metered building can go solar in Los Angeles. Another ABC Solar first.

3. SCE over inspects smaller solar companies. In an effort to give money to retired SCE executives, the SCE California Solar Initiative Rebate department is abusing inspections. Should be 1 in 7, ABC Solar faces 1 in 3 and has never had a failed inspection in our 65+ installations. It’s a burden that is another method used by SCE to slow the adoption of solar. You see, each inspection is a $500 event for ABC Solar in time and money. By abusing the inspection routine, SCE has cost ABC Solar over $10,000. This is money and time that should have been used for marketing and solar advocacy. This also delays payment of the rebate to the client…motive?

4. You call it tomato I call it a couch. Los Angeles County can be the worse red-tape solar nightmare of them all. I call on the Supervisors to wake up and remove redundant permit review departments. In particular we call for the dismantling of the Department of Regional Planning. It’s simple ministerial review mandate has turned the solar permit into elusive goal. A goal with moving goal posts. The Permit Streamlining Act of California impact on actually making permits easier is the dismantling of such overbearing, over-reaching and redundant operations such and the Department of Regional Planning.

SCE and LADWP complication of the rebate process is astounding. If it’s not intent to cause harm to the solar industry, then it is simply lack of competence in the administrative arts. If it is the latter, then the Citizens of California should demand the removal of LADWP and SCE from the rebate application process. As a software and online solar calculator designer I’m shocked by non-automation of this solar adoption process.

The Other 95%
The Other 95% of the solar market is Solar Peak Shaving by ABC Solar Applications. Solar Applications are the direct running of devices from the Sun. When the sun is shining, the application works. At night it’s off. During cloudy days it gets partial solar light and power.

The goal of these solar applications and their beauty is that they are designed by nature to perform best during Time-Of-Use Peak Energy pricing periods.

ABC Solar has made a special effort to work on solar off-grid applications that can be used for peak shaving. Our special love is solar powered pool pumps that take pool water circulation and filtration off the grid. 1 million pools in California can all fire the old time pool guys and step into off-the-grid pool design. Crystal clear pools without throwing your money down a john.

Your pool is most likely the biggest electrical user in your home. Our 180 volt DC pool pumps deliver a full 1.5 HP of water pumping power. The solar panels are wired direct with no need to change the power: when the sun rises the water pumps, as the sun sets the solar pump retires for the evening.

ABC Solar Applications for business include up to 200 HP 3phase motors run directly from solar panels. The purpose is to take air-compressors and CNC cutting machines off-the-gird during Peak energy pricing times.

In Southern California Edison territory Demand KW pricing is causing the greatest damage to small machine shops. A machine shop has sporadic use of hi-power cutting equipment. For a granite design shop it may only use this power a few minutes a day. But, that peak KW Demand triggers a month long impact on the bill.

I regularly see bills where actual kWh usage is very low and KW Demand is high and the bills are $3000 a month. $3000 a month for electricity for a small business is devastating.

The ABC Solar Applications provide a solution to beat the Utility company without having to Grid-tie. The real beauty in ABC Solar Applications is that no utility company involvement is needed. NO RED-TAPE, just go solar.

Let me say this a different way, by taking your manufacturing processes off the grid with our ABC Solar Applications you don’t have to ask for the utility companies permission. We still get building permits, but we don’t have to apply to be a grid-tie application. Also, these ABC Solar Applications can keep your factory open during the frequent brown out and black outs that LADWP and SCE experience.

Some great ABC Solar Applications being designed are for Solar Air Compressors, Solar Pumps, Solar Process Heat, Solar Air Conditioning, Solar Storage and so much more. The point of ABC Solar Applications is letting the Sun do the work. Forget Edison, forget LADWP, just focus on your process and anything the “spins”.

All of our ABC Solar Applications qualify for a full 30% tax credit and this year 100% depreciation in year one. The impact of the rebate in Edison is nothing.

Warning about Smart Meters
The coming future is the “Smart Meter” and their devastation of the consumer. Time-of-use and smart metering is designed to charge more during peak hours in order to discourage usage. Under the guise of environmental protection, the smart meter has allowed the utility companies ways to jack up rates to unbelievable highs.

I recommend those living in Los Angeles leave the city when the first smart meter bills start to really hit consumers. My belief is that charges consumers will face will break hearts. I plan on staying away for three months.

Grid Tie is Dead, Long live the sun.

Será que no Brasil a guerra será a mesma?

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