Comments by OldDawg

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Posted on September 14 at 6:42 a.m.

Leaving a legacy of land. Isn't this what we're trying to accomplish by channelling development toward infill projects with higher density? Like what's proposed at San Marcos & Hollister? Where else are you going to provide places for your children to live, that does a better job of leaving a legacy of land to them?

Are you supporting a big low density tract house development in Naples to house your kids, so you can preserve as a legacy for their enjoyment that wonderful parcel of land bookended by Cody's and Von's on one side, and Sungate Ranch on the other?

On Let's Leave a Legacy of Land

Posted on September 13 at 7:48 a.m.

JohnLocke, help me out if you would. You said that 10 years ago SB City government was half it's current size, but I'm having a hard time confirming that. I looked at the City's budget documents for FY 2012 and FY 2002 (at their website), and they show that overall city staffing has actually declined (modestly) over these past 10 years. Then I looked at overall budgeted operating expenditures, and this did show real growth of 30%, after controlling for inflation over the 10 years ... but that's nowhere near the 100% growth that your comment suggested. Is there another measure for the size of the City government that you had in mind when you said it has doubled over the past 10 years? Thanks in advance.

On Must the County of Santa Barbara pay such lavish, "competitive" pensions to its retired executives?

Posted on September 8 at 7:27 a.m.

They're obviously not confined to a wheelchair, they'd very quickly have another viewpoint. The old terminal was horrendous.

On Not Fort Wayne Here

Posted on August 26 at 10:14 p.m.

She still loves you, as you do her.

On Hope Ranch Fire Kills One

Posted on August 24 at 1:36 p.m.

side241>>"Congratulations on only paying an average of 18 cents kWH! This shows that you have a far below average consumption, which can only come from conscientious usage. But are you considering all the junk fees that are tied to your kWH usage? It adds up."

I am considering the total bill from Edison, including taxes, fees, etc. divided by kWh used as shown on the bill. My consumption and rate are not "far below average." The US Energy Information Agency reports that the 18 cents/kWh that I pay is actually above the average for California. See:

side241>>"Our calculations factor in the cost of replacing inverters in year 15, the 30yr historically provable inflation of 6.7% for electricity..."

Again, according to the US Energy Information Agency, the average annual increase in the residential price of electricity has been only 3.1% per year over the past 30 years. Same figure goes for the full 49 year period back to 1960 reported by the EIA. Not the 6.7% that you claim proof for. Visit the following page for the EIA price data, from which you may calculate the inflation figures I report:

side241>>"MY JOB, at Planet Solar, is to give our customers the best value and the most thorough information available."

I'm confident you give your customers very good value. I think you're a good guy! And even though I quarrel with your rate of return data, I think that with all the free money and tax credits that typically sloshes around to your client's projects, it all works out fine for them... privately. But for us as a society, and for the grandchildren ... it doesn't work out fine at all.

side241>>"I am surprised you denigrate my customer for putting up a solar system so he can use his AC guilt free."

I don't begrudge your clients increasing their electricity use after installing their systems ... so long as they did the project fully on their own dime, no subsidies, no tax credits. More power to them (no pun intended ;). However, I very much begrudge them expanding their consumption if, to do their solar projects, they have used taxpayer dollars, and ratepayer dollars, and dollars funded from government debt to be paid by the grandchildren. They should feel very guilty.

On Solar Project Biggest in the Country

Posted on August 23 at 7:08 p.m.

@side241: I appreciate your enthusiasm and spirit. But your numbers defy logic and just don't add up, by a mile -- and frankly they do damage to the credibility of our common sustainability cause. Re your answers to my questions:

side241>>"(3) ... if this were a private commercial project, the payback would be about 6 yrs with a Return on Investment of about 23%. Where else can you find a guaranteed return of over 20% these days?"

With 6 yr payback and 23% ROI ... then why aren't you simply overwhelmed with business? Why are your promises of a guaranteed 23% return on investment going begging in this greedy society, and you are only able to expand your business when a project comes along that requires 100% life-support from free money courtesy of the Federal government and the Cal Solar Initiative?

side241>>"(1) the system will produce about 2,725,000kWH per year or (2) the equivalent of about $68,000 per month!"

Assuming you are correct in estimating the value of the electricity produced monthly at $68,000, then it will take about 15 years before this project produces enough electricity to cover the $12.25 million cost. How do you reconcile this fairly long payback period to the 6 year payback you asserted in (3).

More importantly ... assuming the $68,000 is an average monthly value, then you're saying these panels generate electricity worth 12X$68K = $816,000 per year. Since you say that the panels generate 2,725,000 kWh per year, then you must think that the electricity is worth about 30 cents per kWh throughout the year ($816,000 / 2,725,000 kWh). Please tell me, where in Santa Barbara County are residential customers paying an average annual rate of 30 cents per kWh?

More likely, they're paying something closer to what I pay in Edison country on the South Coast. It varies, but it hangs close to 18 cents per kWh. If I use that rate, the 2.725 megawatt-hours produced annually by the panels are only worth about $490,000 per year --- and the payback period (simple) on the $12.25 million cost is ... 25 years. The rate of return? About 1.2% figured over 30 years, if the panels/roofs last that long. A very far cry from the guaranteed 6 year, 23% rate of return you claimed above. How do you reconcile this?

Elsewhere in your comments you talk about how your solar clients have expanded their consumption running air-conditioning etc., "guilt free". It must be nice to live in a psychic-world where you have no guilt for expanding your consumption of electricity ... when your solar system was purchased, in whole or part, from Federal/State debt or from your neighbors paying their solar assessments to Edison and PG&E ... where the whole intention of giving you this free money was to reduce our fossil based electricity consumption. You've thrown our gift away, for your private enjoyment.

Carbon tax now. Stop the con job. Stop the wasteful subsidies funded on the backs of our grandchildren.

On Solar Project Biggest in the Country

Posted on August 23 at 6:35 a.m.

loonpt makes a very good point on the superiority of property rights approaches to the problem, over the regulatory approach. I very much agree.

But I have changed my mind about "cap & trade", which has been one of the leading property rights based proposals for pollution and carbon control. After witnessing the corruption involved in the formulation of Waxman-Markey, I no longer support this method. And guess where the trading occurs: Wall Street. I've had enough of Wall Street in the past 4 years to last a lifetime, thank you.

I prefer the carbon tax alternative to regulation, with a flat per-person rebate of the tax every year. Very simple. Very transparent. Easier to administer. Harder to corrupt. Very efficient in getting the job done, sending the message very clearly: reduce your carbon folks, by whatever means that work best for you. And revenue neutral, so's we don't bog down the project of saving the planet with the interminable life-sapping budget debate going on in DC and elsewhere.

On Solar Project Biggest in the Country

Posted on August 21 at 9:14 a.m.

It would be very good to have these environmental cost figures as well.

In our addiction to energy, we face the huge problems of Peak Oil and the rape of the land and sea that are only beginning to test this civilization and its maturity. To make any dent will require large sacrifice, and the efficient use of every resource we can bring to bear.

Yet, our policy remains this wasteful approach of loading the grandchildren up with huge debts for "green" projects that produce the most modest results. It is un-serious. We pat ourselves on the back, tell ourselves "we did it for the grand-kids", and heaven forbid we inquire further into where the free money came from. Yes, we in Santa Barbara are at the forefront of Solar, using other people's money. Does it feel good?

With their now free solar power, I imagine the Housing Authority occupants will now do much as Don McD proposes to do once his solar system is done ... consume even more power than before. Two steps forward, one step back. Half measures purchased at great expense with free money. So much for our sense of urgency in saving the blue ball.

A modest proposal. We need a hefty carbon-tax, or an electricity tax now. Give the proceeds of the tax back to everyone as a flat rebate per person. Get the price of the power closer to the true full environmental cost of the stuff. Stop throwing the money away at "photo-op" greenery with free money brought to you courtesy of the Chinese and our massively indebted grandchildren.

If we individually bring our consumption down under such tax-rebate scheme, we're in the money. We will have a very powerful incentive to do so. The solar projects on our houses might get a little closer to a paying proposition after considering the tax, and we'll still have the flat electricity tax rebate to throw at it. And doing the solar projects on our own, we'll be less inclined to throw the progress we made away by consuming even more power. The carbon tax will persuade us to do otherwise, and besides we're gonna need all those savings to pay for the solar system we installed on our own dime.

More importantly, we'll all search very hard for more efficient ways of reducing our consumption. Insulation perchance? Not good for sexy photo ops ... but likely better for the planet. Given our modest means, we'll use our money very wisely to get the biggest bang of energy savings we can. Because unlike the purveyors of the free money in Washington, we can't just print the stuff without risking a prison term.

Whatever solutions we the un-subsidized people come up with, they will be less wasteful, and ones that make some serious progress on the truly massive task at hand. We will have met a generational challenge in a way that for once doesn't rest on passing the bill to the next generation.

On Solar Project Biggest in the Country

Posted on August 20 at 8:12 p.m.

Great story, I hope its the first in a series! It's my humble and sincere hope that the journalist will pursue this story in depth, and inform us on the following items:

(1) Under reasonable conditions, how much electricity, measured in kiloWatt-hours per year, will all of these solar panels produce.

(2) Evaluated at the current average residential electricity rate charged by Edison or PG&E, how much money is that annual electricity production worth?

(3) How many years will the panels have to operate in order to cover the $12.25 million cost from the value of the electricity produced?

(4) From other reports, I've heard that half of the $12.25 million came from the Federal government. I presume they borrowed it from China. The other half came from incentives from PG&E and Edison, which also borrow heavily to finance their operations. Ultimately of course, taxpayers and ratepayers pay off both sources of debt. Can the journalist confirm these sources of funding, and provide us with a sense of the interest costs associated with this project?

(5) Can we know whether the County is considered doing similar projects in future using only local government funds? Or does it only pencil out using allegedly "free" money from the Federal government and from the utilities?

(6) I suppose this project fits the category of "green jobs" that the President and Rep. Capps have discussed frequently. The article says "20 new positions" were created. Can we get some more specifics on this? How many people worked for how long on this project. I'm looking for person-hours of green labor that were supported from this one $12.25 million project only.

(7) One last request. Can the journalist conduct some follow-up interviews, with both the County Housing Authority and with Representative Capps? I would like to know their views on the subject of "transparency", and in particular, why this very basic accountability information that I've outlined is not automatically publicized by their offices?

On Solar Project Biggest in the Country

Posted on August 17 at 8:20 a.m.

Hard to tell for sure from the Kirkland video, but it looks like they were using the flags at an intersection already equipped with bulb-outs.

On Flags Up for Pedestrian Safety

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