top of page

Public Meetings 2018

ASA has Speakers every Month at our
Public Meetings

Alabama :  The Last Frontier for Solar

Why?  Alabama Power still actively discouraging Solar residents

Alabama - Compared

with our

Neighboring States

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

Alabama # 50 

it's not becuase we don't get

enough sunlight . . .

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

2018 Presentations at the ASA Monthly Public Meetings


Jan 23  by Michele Sneed

 NO PowerPoint presentation is available


Michele is a PermaCulturist in Huntsville

thermomitor in shape of planet 3.gif

"Energy Mobility :  The Future of Solar Energy" Apr 17

by Daniel Chang, PhD in Advanced Energy Engineering

  • In order to have truly sustainable energy for all, it must be portable and resilient.  Some Solar Energy must be stored during the daylight hours in order to furnish electricity during the night.

  • Installed solar energy is expected to triple by 2030.  75% of energy storage systems will be lithium-ion battery technologies.

  • Today, most US commercial applications requiring batteries are Li-ion.

  • Efficiency of a battery system is determined by

Real Time Monitoring and Controls

Technology & Lightweight

Safety and Mobility

  • 4 leading battery technologies

Sodium sulfur (NaS)


Flow battery


  • Li-ion batteries are smaller & lighter weight for the same electrical potential, no maintenance and last 10-20 yrs if discharged & charged properly.

  • They are manufactured as modular ‘pouch’ cells that can be combined/stacked together to the desired energy potential.  The current cost of a cell is 20 cents/Wh.  That is expected to reduce by 30% by the year 2020.

  • Each lithium-ion battery cell has 4 key components: Anode, Cathode, Separator, and electrolyte.

  • China will produce than 70% of Li-ion batteries sold by 2020.

  • As batteries become larger & more a part of our Electricity producing systems, Battery Management Systems (BMS) become necessary.  BMS monitor & control a series of batteries.

  • 13.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) Tesla Powerwall 2.0 has a list price of $5,500 (which includes a built-in inverter).

"Mobile Solar Applications"  

Feb 20 by Will Marsh 

Advantages of solar panels on a boat:

  • Independence from the grid

  • Backup electricity

  • Charge devices & continual charge of boat batteries

  • Auxiliary propulsion for a sailboat

  • Running a fan 24x7 to circulate air and ward off mold and mildew.

Main lead acid battery issue which lead to loss of capacity after a couple of years. - Cannot be discharged below 50% without shortening battery life.


  • They can discharge down to 10%, and for long periods of time, without any issues.

  • Much greater charge/discharge cycles without reduction in capacity.

  • Extremely low self discharge rate.

  • Completely dry and without fumes.

  • Half the weight of lead acid to store the same amount of energy.

  • Respectable power density: they can supply 1/2C of current for extended periods of time.


  • Charging characteristics (maximum 3.6v per cell).

  • Discharge voltage curve is flat over most of its range of charge states.

  • Never overcharge or allow to go completely flat.

  • A series of cells do not self balance during charging.

  • Battery management system (BMS) continuously monitors cell voltage and shuts the

  • battery down if any cell gets too discharged.

  • Balancing shunts allow some charging current to bypass a cell once it is charged.

  • Cell balance checker allows quick assessment if some cells are flat.

  • The cells don’t heat up much during high current draw.

New conforma1 solar panel

  • 32 6v modules.

  • The modules are encapsulated in clear plastic on a plastic substrate for durability.

  • The modules are wired in 8S4P configuration - 8 cells were wired in series to form a string, then 4 strings are wired in parallel to form the panel.

  • The cells are mounted on a curved panel and attached with Velcro.

  • The panel generates up to 60 watts

  • fixed the voltage drop issue  - maximize conductor cross section.

Gov. & Utility Incentives

to Install Solar Panels


- 30% Federal Tax Credit

- Accelerated depreciation for commercial systems

- TVA Green Power Purchase - 
currently TVA pays the rate you what you would pay them for electricity

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

"Panels & Inverters"

Mar 20 by Larry Bradford of Southern Solar Systems, Inc.

Larry is the founder & President of Southern Solar Systems, founded in 2007.  He was involved in the US government’s R&D in finding an alternative to Electricity from oil when, in the 60’s, the cost of crude oil/ barrel suddenly sky-rocketed.

  • Although the price of oil did eventually go down, Europe kept the research in alternative energy going.

  • Larry predicts the Off-Grid Solar Systems are about to gain popularity because of the Car Industry’s  R&D advances in batteries for electric cars

  • solar systems have decreased in cost 4-5 times in the last 10 yrs.  He predicts in the next 3-4 yrs, their cost will decrease another 30%

  • Many Utility Companies are taking this alternative electricity very seriously.  When located at the end of their grid territory, it saves them money by reducing the size & cost of the lines run.

  • 99.9% of PVs is use are crystalline | another type which is promising in the future is 2nd Generation PV Laminates (laminated PV films on glass) – better for low sunlight (early morning & late evening)

  • Solar Shingles are not cost effective

  • Initially PV’s were necessary in Aerospace applications.  PV’s have been used for over 40 yrs.  Panels over 25 yrs old are still ‘in the field’ and producing electricity – average degradation of output is only ½ %/yr

  • Grid-Tied Solar Systems 2 major components – PV Panels & Inverters | Off Grid Solar Systems additional major components are Batteries & Charge Controller

  • Inverters :  String (for multiple panels) or Micro (usually 1 panel) – good for keeping DC output in partial shading of system but increases labor cost in wiring.  2 good brands of string are SMA & Fronius, both guaranteed for 10 yrs.  Inverters are 94%-98% efficient

  • Inverters should be slightly ‘smaller’ than panels output to turn on sooner in the morning & turn off latter in the evening

  • Brand of PV is insignificant, as long as it meets the American standard | His experience – there is only a 3.55% variation in output.  Guaranteed for 25 yrs & if the company goes out of business there is a Cash Insurance Policy to back replacement cost.

  • Current cost of a PV system is $2/W for a residential | $1.75/W for commercial

  • 30% Federal Tax Credit continues until end of 2019 | in addition, for commercial only, Accelerated 5 year Depreciation for 85% of total cost { equates to decrease in cost of system of 20-30%

  • For residential systems, it will take 10-14 yrs to recover init. investment, after that they make you money (by saving you money on electrical costs) for the next 20 plus yrs.

  • Banks/financial institutions/ Insurance companies now recognize solar systems as a good investment and loan money for installation – system reduces your mortgage payment by making you money as soon as hooked up

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. 

" LEED Building"   

Jul 17 by Kay Detter of ASA (President)

LEED is green building.

40% Global energy related emission from buildings.

60% of our waste is generated by building activities.

An integrated process that focuses on the relationship between the built environment and the natural environment creating a sustainable environment

Involves the design, construction and maintenance of resource-efficient, high-performing, healthy, cost-effective buildings

  • Reduced energy and water usage

  • Reduced operation costs

  • Reduced construction waste during the building process

  • Increased indoor air quality

  • Better Health for residents


a Canadian house in retrofitted

by standards similar to LEED

"AL, TVA and Local Sustainable Energy Policy Update"    Aug 21 by  Daniel Tait of Energy Alabama

           – Alabama Law

  • PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) Law passed but not implemented.  It’s a financing structure that enables commercial property owners to finance energy efficiency upgrades and then repay loan through a small increase in property taxes each year. 

  • new AL law in 2015 but not implemented – creates an “Energy Management” division in the AL state government.  Has authority to mandate energy efficiency rules for state agencies and their buildings.   

  • new AL law limits Wind energy in setback & sound maximum

  • Leasing/3rd Party Ownership of panels AL law is too vague to be implemented.

  • Joint Permanent Legislative Committee on Energy AL law passes this year.

           – TVA –

          Huntsville Utilities –

  • installing smart meters on its larger customers to enable big electricity users to monitor usage.

  • Home Uplift Project *pilot* to improve energy efficiency and indoor air quality/health in gov.-subsidized housing

Comparison of Solar in AL with our neighboring states

  • AL is dead last compared to other US states in buildings with solar.

  • AL is dead last compared to other US states in solar jobs.

  •  – Alabama Power is being sued by Southern Environmental Law Center due to charging outrageous “unjust & unlawful” fees to solar producers.

  • What We Need In Alabama

    • Third Party Ownership

    • Fair Valuation of Renewable Energy

    • To Actually Regulate Monopoly Utilities

    • Active Citizen Engagement!

"Residential Solar Installations"       Sept 18 by Chris Shearburn of Southern Solar Systems

Southern Solar has been in business for over 10 years

Founders have decades of experience in solar energy fields

  • Alabama is the "last frontier of solar" in the U.S.

  • Federal government gives a tax credit of 30% til the end of 2019

  • goes down to 26% in 2020 & 22% in 2021

  • TVA reimburses for solar electricity via a 20-yr contract in the "Green Power Providers" program at 9 cents / kWh (7.5 cents for system over 10kW) - New in 2018: does NOT keep up with actual Electric Rate over 20-years

  • In the last 10 years, solar costs have gone down in price 75%

  • a 10kW solar system, after tax credit, costs $14K & at an income / yr of 1K, makes a total income of 29K

  • Return on Investment is 5.2%, annualized

  • types of Residential Systems

  1. grid tied   (cost is $1.50/W)

  2. AC Coupled Behind the Meter (w storage) – contains DC to AC Inverter, Battery Controller, Lithium Ion Batteries with no ventilation requiredHome powered by solar 1st, battery 2nd & grid last(cost is $3-4./W)

  3. DC Coupled Behind the Meter (w storage) – contains PVs, Charge Controller, Battery Inverter, Batteries,& sophisticated controls schemePVs power batteries, house runs off the batteries 1st, then grid(cost is $3-4./W)

  4. total off grid (with backup generator) – generator takes the place of the grid AC(cost is $3.50./W)

  • grid-tied system is cheapest & simplest
    BUT current TVA reimbursement does NOT keep up with the Electric Rate for each of the 20 yrs

  • Batteries - costs vary greatly due to technology – Lithium  (LiFePO4) is better long term investment

  1. Lead Acid ( sealed AGM) - $200/kWh, 3,000 life cycles, venting required, $0.13/kWh cost per kWh cycle

  2. Lithium -  $900/kWh, 10,000 life cycles, no venting required, small / lightweight, $0.09/kWh per cycle

"Energy, the Environment, and Me"  Oct 17

by  Morton Archibald

If God had Wanted Us to Have Unlimited
Free Energy - He'd have Put a
Giant Fusion Reactor in the Sky


Strange and unexpected things have happened before - so why not a world powered by solar panels ???

How ?

  1. Plan ahead

  2. Conserve

  3. Nuclear Power from Far, Far Away

  4. Save it for later

  5. Travel smart

  6. Consider climate change

  7. Consider the 100th monkey.





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.

"What Green Team Does in Huntsville" Nov 20

by Joy McKee & Jan Dorning of Huntsville Operation Green Team

Operation Green Team, since 1977, consists of 4 people and reports directly to the Huntsville Mayor.  They support the environment in the city.  This includes education and programs that furnish energy saving & air quality upgrades to low income houses, recycling, littering cleanup and landscape management of public land.

  • Project Share and Home energy upgrades for SHARE participants

  • Bottle Caps – Twist on Twist off caps collected by schools to earn cash

  • Collect used Ink cartridges to donate for cash to a worthy cause.

  • Electronic Scrap & Batteries brought to the hazardous waste disposal on Leman Ferry Rd the 1st Saturday of the month. Unless there is a Monday holiday then they will open the 2nd Saturday of the month.

  • Litter Officer & Litter Cleanup programs

  • Earth Day every year at Hays Nature Preserve 

  • They do Landscape Management on all 9 Cemeteries, green ways, downtown & 565 Parks

  • With the help of volunteers, they planted 700 trees in John Hunt Park

  • They collect plastic bags to crochet into mats for the homeless.

  • Troy Alabama has the world's biggest recycling facility!

  • They collect political signs for $ to recycle


HW Diagram of a Grid Tied Solar System

"A Carbon and Energy Profile of the USA" May 15

by Matthew Scott

  • Greenhouse gases (GHGs)  emitted by man are heating up the atmosphere and the ocean resulting in global warming and climate change.

  • The US is the world’s 2nd largest emitter of GHGs, after China, and produces about 15% of the global annual emission of (GHGs).  82% of which was Carbon Dioxide (CO2)

  • US is the 2nd highest /person GHGs emissions of any nation (after Canada)

  • Since 1700’s the US alone has contributed 27% of the total cumulative amount of CO2 in the atmosphere.  

  • More than 80% of US GHGs are due to energy use from burning coal and natural gas

  • Other GHGs include Methane, Nitrous Oxide & Fluorinated gases (F-gases).  Although only 3% of GHGs are F-gases, they have the warming equivalent of 100-1000 times that of CO2.

  • Sources of GHGs (largest 1st) are  Electricity, Transportation, Industry, Commercial & Residential buildings and Agriculture

  • In the last decade, the trend in US GHGs emissions is slightly decreasing.  China & India’s trend is increasing.

  • Living plants, including trees, absorb CO2 from the atmosphere to grow, and are a Carbon sink.  They sequester only 11% of CO2.


  • U.S. total energy consumption has remained relatively constant since 2000. Our Economy is growing but our Energy use is not.

  • US Energy sources (largest 1st) are Petroleum, Natural Gas, Coal, Renewables & Nuclear.

  • In the last 10 years coal use has steadily decreased while Natural Gas use has steadily increased.  Nuclear use remains the same while Renewable increases.  {Coal emits over double the GHG that Natural Gas emits.}

  • Petroleum refining uses the most energy of any industry at 31%.

  • Electricity generation is only 37% efficient - 60% is lost in the generation process.  Therefore, for every kWh of electricity saved, 3 times that much energy is saved in reality.

  • The future of GHG reduction depends on

● Renewable energy

● Electric Vehicles -

● Energy efficiency

  • Transportation is 27% of our GHG.  If all road vehicles (currently internal combustion engines & 83% of transportation) were replaced by electric vehicles, our GHG emissions would go down by 26%.  This is because of the decrease in GHG from petroleum refining to make gasoline.


for more info, go to  




November 20


West End Grill


Grid Parity

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

bottom of page