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article imageOp-Ed: Solar is Green and it's the sign of the times, says one man Special

By Jonathan Farrell     Sep 30, 2015 in Entertainment
Sonoma - It used to be that electric cars and things powered by the sun was something way off in the distant future. But if you were to speak with Anthony Abate, "the Solar Hamlet" he would argue that the time for alternative forms of energy use is now.
This past summer Abate has been a regular at the weekly Farmer's Market on Friday mornings on the East side of town. He demonstrated with his state-of-the-art solar oven that solar baked chocolate chip cookies are just as good if not better than ones baked in a traditional oven. "with sun-baked cookies, cooking times may vary depending upon the recipe."
People gathered around, especially as the aroma of the cookies wafted towards them. Abate quickly then set down the tray of cookies and did an impromptu Shakespeare-style dialog of his "Solar Hamlet." "To be or not to be solar, that is the question..." And, "Alas! Petroleum, we knew it well."
Abate hopes that the days of dependence upon fossil fuels come to an end very soon. Petroleum and other combustable fuels are harmful to the planet because of the emissions and debris they leave behind. Solar is clean and renewable and he believes the time to embrace solar wholeheartedly is now.
He explains as he noted. "This is the age of making a strong decision in favour of human beings and the environment. Now we have to be serious about a new and powerful energy source," he said. "With climate change and global warming at the forefront of the agenda, there has been much discussion and research into finding an alternative to traditional sources of energy. Finally we find out one of the best options is Sun Energy (or Solar PV). Solar electricity systems capture the sun’s energy using photovoltaic (PV) cells. The cells convert the sunlight into electricity, which can be used to run household appliances and lighting."
Abate sees this as a viable and vital energy source and people should make use of it's beneficial aspects before the harmful effects of fossil fuels become irreversible for the plant to manage.
Serving up  Sun-baked  chocolate chip cookies that Friday morning at the weekly Farmer s Market in S...
Serving up "Sun-baked" chocolate chip cookies that Friday morning at the weekly Farmer's Market in Sonoma certainly got the attention of some people. Independent Solar consultant Anthony Abate provides information and counseling to homeowners who are thinking about installing the use of solar power in the home.
Solar PV offers a number of advantages over other sources of renewable energy. Its impacts include: the effect of emissions on human health and welfare, agricultural productivity, and infrastructure; the security costs of ensuring a reliable oil supply and a safe nuclear resource; and the potential costs of adjusting to global climate change.
In the following are nine basic reasons Abate notes as to why investing in solar PV for your home and business benefits you financially and helps the environment.
1. No harmful emissions or greenhouse gases. Solar power is a clean, renewable and sustainable source of energy.
2. Solar PV technology is low maintenance. It's durable and completely noiseless. Compared to other renewable energy sources like wind turbines there are no moving parts to break and no noise pollution. Once installed, notes Abate, PV panels require very little maintenance, and are incredibly durable.
3. The sun is an unlimited. It's a free source of energy that is available worldwide. PV panels only require daylight, not direct sunlight to produce electricity. This means that they are not just effective in the summer months, but all year round, even on the cloudy days.
4. Free electricity during the day. When your PV system is generating electricity during the day, you will not have to buy electricity from your supplier. Therefore running appliances during the day will help you save hundreds of pounds off your electricity bill.
5. solar PV technology is versatile. Depending on your preference, you can choose between having PV panels installed onto your existing roof, or integrating the technology into the building materials themselves with solar tiles or slates.
6. Solar PV is a good investment. With the introduction of the Feed-In Tariff, homeowners are now paid for every unit of electricity they generate from their PV panels, even if they use it themselves. solar PV not only offers the highest payments, but also the longest payment period.
7. Protect yourself from rising energy prices. The cost of traditional energy sources is rising and is likely to continue to do so. By installing a solar PV system on your home you will have your own source of free electricity and therefore depend less on electricity suppliers to power your home.
8. A solar PV system could increase the value of your home. As it is a source of free electricity and income thanks to the Feed-In Tariffs, a solar PV system is likely to make your home more attractive to potential buyers.
9. Easy, hassle-free installation. Once a site survey has been completed for your home to ensure it is suitable, the installation process is very simple.
A specially designed solar oven was used to bake the  sun baked  chocolate chip cookies.
A specially designed solar oven was used to bake the "sun baked" chocolate chip cookies."
Abate also points out, there is "No maintenance, with a long functional lifetime of 30-plus years. He also pointed out that PV solar installed in the 1960’s is still working. Other benefits to solar is the fact that it is silent in operation, works all year-round. And, No planning permission needed.
Well, he admits, the part about "no planning permission needed," is a bit tricky. Solar panels and their installation are subject to regulation, especially in California. There are specific "Green Building" regulations and ordinances that must be adhered to when installing solar panels for homes and offices.
Established in 2013 the California Energy Code became effective throughout California. Referred to as "CalGreen", The County of Sonoma has adopted CALGreen and the California Energy Code. The 2013 CALGreen applies to all newly constructed buildings as well as additions and certain alterations. The planning commission and its department of Sonoma asks that homeowners and builders use a set customized checklists to document the compliance procedures with CALGreen. Revisions to the CalGreen code were made in 2015. At present there are at least eight forms to be filled out and filed with the county.
As reported by the Sonoma County Gazette back in 2013, Sonoma County took progressive steps to establish a uniform residential solar permit. That was back in 2009. Since that time,10 local jurisdictions in the Sonoma county area had accepted the original uniform solar permit and guidelines spearheaded by the Redwood Empire Association of Code Officials (REACO). Yet as the SC Gazette reported, unfortunately knowledge of the permit and the consistent use of it among building officials and solar installers later proved to be a persistent challenge. And adding to the situation, variations in interpretation of the California State Fire Marshall guidelines introduced in 2010 led to inconsistencies. These in turn, caused complications and difficulties in local jurisdiction approvals of roof‐top residential solar projects.
As it is now, a permit is required by the County of Sonoma for solar panels. But that, according to Rob Gjestland of the Sonoma Planning Commission is part of the building permit. "There used to be a design review for the panels. but not anymore."
While Sonoma County and other places are working to make solar and other forms of renewable energy a part daily energy program use, there are other hurdles. PG&E has its California Solar Initiative program. The California Public Utilities Commission, through its California Solar Initiative, provides over $2.1 billion in incentives for existing residential homes, as well as new and existing commercial, industrial and agricultural properties.
Yet, as of 2013, The CSI Residential program stopped accepting new applications. According to Go-Solar of California, The closure of PG&E's nonresidential waitlist is a sign of success. This Go-Solar of California apparently got from PG&E officials, but does not explain why PG&E stopped accepting new applicants. Go-Solar is an outreach of the California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission.
Since 2007, the nonresidential program has issued more than $560 million in incentives to PG&E customers. According to PG&E representing over 400 megawatts of installed solar. PG&E extends their appreciation to all who contributed to the CSI program’s accomplishments and success in transforming the solar market.
 I ve had hybrids but I really like the  electric   said Robert Howard  a Sonoma County native.
He m...
"I've had hybrids but I really like the electric," said Robert Howard, a Sonoma County native. He mentioned that PG&E has a program called Electric Vehicle Rate Options, sometimes referred to as EV. "For my car here, it's 0.3 cents a kilowatt." "I think it's a pretty good deal," he said. California represents 40 percent of all electric cars in the U.S. According to Wikipedia, that makes California the largest plug in car market in the nation.
While on the surface this sounds encouraging, it is an effort. Abate is a alternative energy user and has over a dozen solar panels on the roof of his home. "Solar energy is doable," he said. After his Hamlet performance at the Farmers Market he did elaborate further that pursing solar use in the home takes persistence. There is the local power company (PG&E) one must deal with when installing alternative forms of energy use. "You have to understand the Net Energy Metering Agreement and how that will work with your power needs."
Two of his consulting customers Chris Steinfeld and Chris Spaulding said they were very pleased with Abate. "I have gotten my third 'true up' he said. In solar panel language that means everything is lined up; all set. I have a ground mount of 24 panels instead of the roof panels," Steinfeld said. Like Spaulding, "I am pretty darn happy about it."
No doubt the time and cost fulfilling all the requirements is something to consider. While consultants like Anthony Abate are eager to preach the advantages of solar power, there are still some hurdles that homeowners must face when considering the installation of solar as a power source.
David Dikinis, of BDS Solar noted, "there's paperwork involved and PG&E is very strict about it. All information must be filled out exact or it all gets returned as incomplete." And, yes PG&E has a separate charge for solar users too. While the details are considerable, the price of solar panels and equipment has been leveling off in price, making it more affordable.
Dikinis recognizes the viability of solar and like Abate, he believes it is an answer to our current energy needs. Even with the considerable effort involved Dekinis believes in the long end, solar saves money. As far a person installing panels and equipment on their own, "that's like trying to sell your house on your own without a realtor," said Dikinis.
If someone agrees to solar, a certified consultant like Abate and his contacts like Dikinis and others are there to get the job done. To learn more about Anthony Abate, independent solar consultant and some basics about solar energy, visit his Solar Hamlet web site.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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