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General Info About Photovoltaic Technology

Why PV?

There are many reasons why people choose to invest in a PV system. Some of the more common reasons are listed here.

  • Economics
    • in the long run, the system more than pays for inself in electicity bill savings, making the equipment effectively free, and ultimately a money maker for the system owner.
  • Independence
    • don't need no stinking coal
  • Environment
    • electricity generation doesn't get any cleaner or quieter
  • Commitment to sustainability
    • solar energy is renewable, depleting none of our natural resources
  • Love of technology
    • pv modules are very cool
  • Desire for energy security
    • personally and/or nationally
  • Contribution to society
    • this is one way to reduce our consumption and pollution
  • Clear conscience
    • it's nice to be part of the solution
  • Set an example
    • this is something the next generation will appreciate
  • Good PR for businesses
    • good corporate citizens reap rewards
  • For the fun of watching the elecrtic meter spin backward
    • no really, it's fun!
  • Enjoy getting money from the utility company and federal government
    • take advantage of the rebates and tax credits
  • Having the "coolest roof in the neighborhood"
    • good way to satisfy that competitive urge
  • No more fretting over the electric bill!
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Is it for me?

To decide if a PV system is a good option for you, there are a few variables you need to consider.

  1. Sunny location
    • Look around your home or business to see if you have any of these features:
      • South to Southwest-facing sloped roof area with little or no shading
      • A flat, unshaded roof area
      • Unshaded yard or parking area that could be shaded with a carport or ground array

    If you're located in a densely shaded area or if you only have a North facing roof that you're willing to use, PV is probably not a good option for you.

  2. Cash or Credit – affordable but not free
    • Some people simply pay out of savings for their systems, and some take out an equity loan or use a business line of credit. There are also PV specific loan programs available.
    • Keep in mind that though your electricity savings will have paid for your system after a few years (5 to 10), there is an upfront cost for one of these systems.
  3. Participating Utility
    • Check with your local utility provider to find out if they offer a rebate. Among others, PG&E, SCE, SMUD and Roseville all offer a rebate.
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The CA Solar Initiative (CSI)

The CSI went into effect January 1, 2007; it is a program that provides funding for solar electric systems installed in CA. After a thorough analysis, the CA legislature determined that an economic investment in providing rebates for PV systems was one of the most cost-effective options that Californians have to increase electricity generation in our state. This program benefits every single Californian, whether they recieve a check from their utility company for their own PV system or they simply benefit from the increased generation capacity in the state. Of course it's also the cleanest possible source of power and one that homeowners and business owners can directly purchase and use.

2 incentive programs are available as a result of the CSI, the EPBB (Estimated Performance Based) and PBI (Performance Based Incentive).

  • Typically, the EPBB is the best option for homeowners and small businesses.

Pacific Solar handles all of the paperwork required to take advantage of these rebates and credits your project from the start, reducing your initial system cost.

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Equipment

In the Links section of this site there are several links for pv module manufacturers as well as inverter and installation equipment manufacturers. Generally, there are several options for pv modules. Most of the solar cells we install are crystalline silicon. The inverters transform the direct current electricity from the panels and output ac electricity directly to the home or out to the utility grid.

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Operation

The solar electricity goes to the building first, and any power not immediately used goes out to the utility grid and on to the neighbors. The system meter credits any power sent out to the grid, reducing the sites' electric bill. (This is net metering).

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Legislation

The Califorina Legislature has created the CSI incentive program to help individuals and/or businesses pay for photovoltaic systems. The Federal government is working on an expanded tax credit program. Currently, residential customers can take a $2,000 tax credit for PV systems and businesses can take a tax credit equal to 30% of the cost of the system.

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