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Public Meetings 2017

2016 US Stats on Solar Industry Growth Rate

  • Solar employment now accounts for the largest share (43%) of workers in the U.S. power generation field, surpassing coal, gas and oil, according to DOE.

  • In 2016, the solar workforce increased by 25% over the previous year.

  • 2.2 million Americans are employed in the design, installation and manufacture of energy efficiency products and services.

ASA has Speakers every Month at our
Public Meetings

Why Solar ?

  • Renewable 

       - the energy source, sunlight, is
         unlimited (esp. in Alabama)    
       - clean / good for the environment

  • Reliable    
     - panels are guaranteed for 25 years    
     - actually will last 30 to 40 years, with
       very little  maintenance

  • Independence     
     - from foreign sources     
     - from utility prices

  • Good Investment     
     - the electricity generated will make 
       you money    
     - adds to the property value of your

Green Energy Building Construction

Gary used :

  1. strong ICF (Insulated Concrete Form) walls

  2. Radiant Thermal Barrier

  3. Geothermal Heating and Cooling with Energy Recovery for Hot Water

  4. metal shingle roof &

  5. R-13 windows

R & R uses 46% the electricity by building with:

  1.  tilt-up ICFs (Insulated Concrete Forms) and SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels) instead of traditional Stick Frame construction

  2. 10 kW grid-tied solar farm

  3. Geothermal Heat Pump which takes 1/3 the electricity to operate and furnishes their hot water needs during the hot months

Michele used:

  1. 2" x 6" studs in the outside walls (more buffering from outside temps) 

  2. 9 KW Solar Array

  3. Geothermal Heat Pump which takes 1/3 the electricity to operate

  4. Solar Hot Water System

  5. roof is insulated with 12" foam

2017 Presentations at the ASA Monthly Public Meetings

"Solar Power Generation"  

Feb 21 by Doug Elgin

  • How a  PV (Solar panel)  Works - a silicone wafer is doped with negative charge on 1 side & positive charge on the other.  The photons of sunlight ‘excite’ the electrons and cause them to flow, producing current

  • types of PV - Monocrystalline Silicon, Polycrystalline Silicon & Other :



Thin film


  • There is a lot of excitement in the research of Perovskite right now because, in the lab they are 22% efficient while monocrystalline PV’s are 16% - 20% efficient (reflectors increase the electricity output by 20%

  • also Solar City is talking about Solar Shingles

  • the NPV, Net Present Value, (measures profitability of an expenditure over a time period) of a PV investment on your home doubles your investment in 30 years

  • Since an off-grid system is not tied to the utilities company, it needs a battery to store excess electricity while the sun is shining in order to provide energy at night.

  • Costs of PV’s is dropping below $1 / watt.

  • now the cost of labor is more expensive than the cost of the HW

  • example - a  5 kWh PV installed system now costs ~ $18,000. before incentives

net cost after incentives is $11,600

NPV is $11,800, which means you make that after costs

  • Germany has cut the soft (labor) costs down half of US numbers

  • browse PVWatts Calculator  for a good, rough, but easy, potential PV system financial analysis

"Solar Power Projects"

Mar 21 by Chris Shearburn of Southern Solar Systems, Inc.

Southern Solar (SS) is an alternative energy business serving the southeastern US since 2007

  • Licensed in AL, TN, LA, MO, TX and NC

  • Providing solar photovoltaic (PV) and geothermal heat pump system design and installation

  • Alabama -The “last frontier” of solar in the US

  • Federal tax credit of 30% of the total installed cost of a solar PV system has been extended til end of 2019 - no 'cap' on amount of credit

  • For businesses, in addition, IRA allows MACRS Depreciation, an accelerated 5 yr depreciation, an additional  ~30% cash value

  • TVA pays the current retail rate for each kWh produced with a 20 yr contract

  • in the past 10 years, the cost of a residential system has dropped 75% to $2/W

  • For a PV system, lasting 30+ years, payback is in about 10 years

  • For a Geothermal Heating/Cooling system, lasting over 20 yrs, payback is less than 10 years

  • In addition, your hot water is free in the warm months & it reduces your electricity by half

  • Other things Chris talked about –------>

  • Bifacial panels increase efficiency by 20%

  • Batteries on a off-grid PV system last about 10 yrs

  • most Inverters are warrented for 10 yrs

  • micro inverters on each panel optimizes output of each panel

  • a PV system facing E or W results in a 15% loss of electricity generation

  • Lithium Ion batteries is the new generation for PV systems

"Laws/Policies that Affect Adoption of Renewables"  Jan 19  by Jen  Howard of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz, P.C   in B’ham

 Jen is a lawyer in Birmingham. She works with various laws and regulations that encourage or work against renewable energy development, especially in Alabama.

She has experience with US & Alabama (& some Local) corporate & finance laws involving green energy & public policy and energy regulatory matters of

  1. Anaerobic digesters

  2. Landfill-gas-to-energy

  3. Solar installations

  4. natural-gas-fired plants

  • 2 types of projects are “Utility scale” (large selling ALL energy directly to a utilities co.) & “Distributed generation” (installed on homes/businesses (only selling excess energy to utilizes co.)

  • Federal Laws include 1) Investment tax credit (“ITC”), 2) Accelerated tax depreciation, 3) Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act

  • She says “State and local laws are the new battlegrounds for solar.  Utilities are trying to scale back laws and policies favorable to solar at the state & local level.”

  • Examples of negative laws/policies are Limiting net metering, unreasonable fees/charges, Zoning & limiting public input.  Example of the last :  AL Power (APCO) does not open the resource planning meeting to the public, but Georgia Power does.   Also AL Power only pays wholesale, 3 cents/kWh and fees/charges highest in the nation.  There are only 60 grid-tied solar systems in APCO territory.

  • 29 states have Renewable Portfolio Standards where Utilities MUST purchase a certain amount of electricity from renewables.  AL is not one of them.

  • 44 states have net-metering policies.  AL is not one of them.

  • Since solar allows energy to come from more than 1 source, there are less line losses, less wear & tear on equipment, better security & more disaster proof.

  • Utilities claim Solar is over-valued.  It’s referred as the Value of Solar (“VOS”) debate.

  • A Third Party Ownership (TPO) is a good alternative to a loan.  The developer buys, installs and owns the solar panels on the customer’s premises, then either leases panels to user or sells the electricity to the user via a PPA.  65% of commercial installations & 72% residential are financed through TPO.

  • Since the laws in AL are not clear, Alabama Property Rights Council (APRC) is lobbying AL to allow TPO.  See     

Donate to

  • AL has no state tax credit.

How Does a Solar Panel generate electricity?

The silicon wafer is the basic component in each solar cell.  This silicon wafer is processed with one side charged + and the other side charged - .  When light hits it, in the form of photons, electrons are "excited" & flow to the other side.  This creates a current.  This current is then transferred to electricity in your house. 

Gov. & Utility Incentives

to Install Solar Panels

- 30% Federal Tax Credit

- Accelerated depreciation

- $1,000 TVA connection credit

- TVA green Power purchase

- 30% (up to $3,000) Federal Grant

"Energy Big Picture" May 21 

by Daniel Tait of Energy Alabama

Energy Alabama focuses on energy policy in AL and educating the public

  • in the past, energy generation has been centralized

  • in the future, with a smart grid & microgrids, energy generation can be distributed, reducing the waste of lost electricity ( also reduces the size & # of power lines

  • smart grids can handle energy as a 2-way street, monitoring the flow & store of electricity during off peak times

  • 3 trends

  1. Decentralization

  2. Zero Marginal Cost

  3. The 3 Laws (Moore's Law, Metcalfe's Law, and Sach's Law)

  • power outages due to weather cost the US Economy $20-40 billion/year

  • At least 61% of all energy in the United States is wasted

  • $500 billion in investment we could save $1.9 trillion in energy costs in buildings

  • PV Systems cost has gone down by 75% in 10 years (from $8/W to $2/W for residential, note businesses get to Accelerated Depreciation on fed taxes)

  • current Internal rate of return is almost 15% on a PV System (the cost of electricity saved, due to generation by your system, is over 3 times the cost of an installed PV system

  • for the future of sustainable energy, these policies need to change

  1. Standardized Interconnection Standards

  2. 3rd Party Ownership

  3. ease of local permitting

  • 2016 solar Report Card Overall Grade for most of AL (not TVA part of AL) is F

  • Battery technology & cost needs to catch up with PV technology & cost but following trend of solar

"The Energy Future - Thorium Nuclear Reactors"   

Jul 20 by Gary Hasemeyer       

  • new power plants needed :  30-50 Gigawatt / decade

  • Nuclear Power with Uranium is higher costs and produces hazardous waste (that we don’t know what to do with)

  • Thorium (Th) is

  1. 4X more abundant than Uranium,

  2. cheaper,

  3. cannot be weaponized,

  4. safer,

  5. 1/10,000 less contaminating,

  6. useable as mined &

  7. 300x more efficient

  8. smaller & located nearer to use (micro grid), cutting loss in transmission by ½

  9. more fail-safe

  10. Can consume existing nuclear waste

  • Why did we choose Th over Uranium in the 1950’s ?  Military needed both Uranium for power and Plutonium for weapons (fed. government heavily subsidized Civilian Nuclear Power)

  • Lithium Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) can operate for 50 yrs on a single fueling

  • China, India (largest source of raw Th), Russia, Japan and South Korea are all leading the way in this technology

"Energy StorageAug 15

by  Morton Archibald of

Affordable Energy Solutions

Morton was the Pres. of ASA for many years.

He owns Affordable Energy Solutions - does solar installations & LED lighting

Energy Storage - The "Other Half"

of Renewable Energy

  • we get enough sun in 13 min. to furnich electricity to the entire world for the day

  • Why energy storage?

  1. backup power

  2. down time (night 1/2 a day, clouds)

  3. peak shaving

  4. off grid

  • batteries store electricity through chemical reactions

  • Lead-Acid (incl Deep Cycle) - cheapest, largest & highest maintenance

  • Lead-Acid, Nano Carbon - med cost, same size as above, long life & deep discharge

  • Lithium Ion - expensive, smallest, low maintenance, longest life & deep discharge

  • water is a great energy storage - Heat (like Hot Water Heater) & Ice Storage

  • capacitors store energy

  • the ground stores energy - Geothermal

  • chemical storage -



"Off-Grid Do-It-Yourself PV System"       Sept 19 by Pete Milly

Pete researched, bought & installed a 3KW (12 panel) roof mounted, off-grid solar system

  • Goals of self-teaching project to produce electricity for critical dedicated circuits (refrigerator & lights) daily, as well as during power outages

  1. lowest cost

  2. reduce electricity bill

  3. Low maintenance

  4. removable to new home site

  • bought a pallet of panels from a Wholesaler

  • used Snap N Rack Roof Racking system to prevent roof leaks

  • used a transfer switch for the 6 circuits to use power from Utilities or solar panels

  • used Ni-Cad Flooded cell Batteries – low maintenance, 50-yr life, no outgassing (safe for indoors)

  • used two 48V UPS (Uninterruptable Power Supplies) for computer server farms

  • After tax credit, spent $4654. for the 3KW off grid solar system

Most solar panels are garenteed for 25 years with only a 20% degradation in efficiency.

"LED Lighting"  Oct 17

by  Harvey Fist  of InLine Lighting

NO PowerPoint presentation was used.


WebMaster's research on LED light bulbs, according to the U.S. DoE (Dept of Energy) :

  • example of energy savings in replacing a 60 watt incandescent bulb with …

    • a CFL uses 25% of the energy

      (4 CFL bulbs use the same electricity as 1 Incandescent bulb) and lasts 10 times longer

    • a LED uses 20% of the energy

      (5 LED bulbs use the same electricity as 1 Incandescent bulb) and lasts 25 times longer

  • Don’t throw out your CFL bulbs !!! 

  • As far as comparing LED to CFL - the energy saved going LED over CFL greatly increases the lower the lumens (brightness). 

  • There is a 50% savings of electricity in the 40 watt LED over CFL. 

  • There is ONLY a 5% savings of electricity in the 100 watt LED over CFL. 


contact Harvey with questions on LED

To extend the life of
your Lead batteries,
keep them at least
50% charged.

5  = 4  =  1

WebMaster NOTE

The above figures are from the U.S. DoE, Dept of Energy.  LED light bulbs are slightly less efficient than other sources on the Internet, but still VERY Impressive in energy savings.

"Converting The World To Solar" Nov 21

by  Doug Elgin

  Doug is the past President of ASA

  • 2015 Electricity Usage in US Houses :  over half is used in Heating & Cooling space & water     (NOTE :  in the South, probably space heating & cooling chart numbers are reversed – 27% for cooling & 12% for heating)

  • 2015 US Energy Source is 10% Renewable Energy, the majority of that is Biofuels, Wood and a Hydroelectric.  (NOTE:  all energy sources were renewable before the Industrial Age)

  • Most energy production burns a fuel that produces Greenhouse Gases (GHG)

  • CO2 GHG content in the atmosphere has increased 40% since the beginning of the Industrial Age

  • 51% of the heat from the sun is absorbed by the earth (land & oceans)

  • Electricity use in the US is down for the last 5 years (thanks greatly to LED light bulbs)

  • Major contributors to the greenhouse effect

- 50%  water vapor

- 25%  clouds

- 20%  CO2 (about 1-2% comes from man-made sources)

  • Renewable Energy Sources

  1. Biomass

  2. Hydropower      (70% of all renewable electricity)

  3. Biofuels

  4. Wind Power

  5. Solar Power

  6. Geothermal

  7. Ocean power

  • US leads in Biofuel production, in megawatts, & Brazil is 2nd (this was the main source of energy for the world until the 1800’s)

  • China leads in Wind energy production, in megawatts, & US is a distant 2nd (Note :  In the US, Wind energy exceeded Hydro, as of 1 year ago.)

  • most of US wind electricity is in mid west states & OR, ID, VT and ME

  • the IEA (International Energy Association) and others are continually UNDER estimating the growth of renewable energy

  • Countries leading in solar electricity production, in megawatts :

  1. Germany

  2. China

  3. Japan

  4. Italy

  5. US          (NOTE :  ½ of Germany)

  • In the US, PV Growth was the # 1 source of new electricity generation capacity in 2016

  • In the world, dollar investment in renewable energy is 5 times greater in the 8 years from 2004 to 2011

  • China leads in dollar investment in renewable energy

  • Most US states have renewable target goals (not AL)

Grid Parity

When electricity from alternative energy is equal to or cheaper than the price of buying it from the power company

Below Figures are from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council), a non-profit international environmental advocacy group

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