Southern California Edison Rates Going Up

According to the Los Angeles Times, Electricity Rates are going up for Southern California Edison Customers.  The California Public Utilities Commission has approved rate hikes for SCE.  According to the times, ”

Almost 5 million Southern California Edison Co. customers in hundreds of cities and communities across the southern, central and coastal parts of the state will be hit with higher electric bills early next year and bigger hikes in each of the following two years.

The decision, which Edison says will add an average of $7 a month to residential bills for the first year, covers Edison’s costs to provide service, which amounts to about half a ratepayer’s bill. Other costs for buying fuel and contracting for power deliveries fluctuate and are passed directly to consumers.”

While an average of $7 doesn’t sound like much, most solar customers aren’t average.  If you own a home and have a power bill over $150, your bill will increase substantially.  The rates for 2014 and 2015 are expected to rise 6.3% and 5.9%, respectively.  Once again, this is an average.  Customers in Tier 3, 4, and 5 will be the biggest losers.


Solar panel installation

Cleaning Solar Panels

There are many ways to clean solar panels.  One company produces an automatic system that includes sprinkler heads mounted on the roof with plumbing, automatic controls, soap dispensing and rinse dispensing.  These systems can be expensive.  One company that makes automatic systems is Heliotex.

If you have a pressure washer, or can rent one, there is a company that makes extension wands.  This is a less expensive methodology.  Some of these extension wands extend up to 24′ and can reach most roofs.

Other Vendors for extension wands.

Pressure Washers USA

There are a number of cleaning solutions that seem to work quite well.

Windex Outdoor Window Spray

Power Boost

Washing and rinsing will improve the output of your solar panels.



American’s Love Solar

Hart Research conducted a survey of American views on a variety of Issues including Energy and as a subset, Solar.  The results are surprising.  We are including much of the survey below.

Key Findings
Voters believe it is important for the United States to develop and use solar
power.  A nearly unanimous 92% of voters feel it is very important (58%) or somewhat important (34%) for the United States to develop and use solar power, including 93% of swing voters. Democrats and independents are nearly uniform in their agreement (98% and 95% important, respectively), and 84% of Republicans also agree.

Energy is an important issue for voters as they head toward the final
stretch of the 2012 campaign.  With a wide range of electoral issues on the table, issues related to energy are important to American voters, with 74% saying that energy is one of the most important (27%) or very important (47%) issues as they think about the candidates for president and other federal and state offices this year. For context, this is ahead of the environment (55%) and slightly behind government spending
(90%), Medicare reform (81%), and education (80%). This is true for swing voters (72% say energy is most or very important), Democrats (79%), Republicans (67%), and independents (75%).
Voters have a strongly favorable view of solar energy.
Fully 85% of voters have a very favorable (60%) or somewhat favorable (25%) view of solar energy, including 87% of swing voters. This places solar ahead of wind power (82%), hydropower (76%), natural gas (71%), geothermal (62%), nuclear power (43%), oil (42%), and coal (32%).


Voters are enthusiastic about the federal government doing more to
promote solar energy. Voters express broad agreement that solar development is an appropriate and
desired investment for government, with a strong majority of voters saying the federal government should be doing MORE than it currently is to promote solar power. Fully seven in 10 (70%) voters, including 72% of swing voters, say the
federal government should be doing more (16% favor continuing its current policies and 14% prefer to see the government doing less). This mirrors the 69% of all voters (and 71% of swing voters) who say the government is currently not doing
enough to promote solar power. This consensus holds up across age, education, and racial boundaries.

Currently, voters’ reservations about solar energy center primarily on
affordability and practicality. While strongly supportive of policies to develop solar power, voters express uncertainty about some elements of solar. For example, a majority (66%) of voters agree that “solar power is too expensive for most consumers” (though just 22% say it definitely is true) and 54% say the same about “solar power is not practical in many areas of the country” (just 11% say definitely true). Communicating the increased affordability and efficiency of solar power is critical in addressing these concerns.






san diego solar panels

Solar Panel Market – California

As goes the California Market, so goes the US.  According to California Solar Initiative data, out of 118 Solar Manufacturers that have reserved rebates in California this year, 66 reserved only one installation in August 2012.  This means that there are 52 Solar Panel Manufacturers that are in serious trouble and surely won’t survive.  In fact, there has been quite a shift from January to August on the leader board.  In January the top 10 included:

  1. Yingli 491
  2. Sunpower 488
  3. Sharp 309
  4. Suntech 152
  5. Canadian Solar 117
  6. Kyocera Solar 104
  7. REC Solar 98
  8. SolarWorld 84
  9. LG Electronics 61
  10. Trina Solar 60

What reversal of fortune for some of these companies.  In August, we have a new leader board.

  1. SunPower 980
  2. Trina Solar 468
  3. Yingli 466
  4. REC 279
  5. Sharp 216
  6. Canadian Solar 180
  7. LG Electronics 127
  8. Suntech Power 115
  9. Solarworld 82
  10. Chint Solar 54

SunPower and Trina powered to the top with Yingli now 3rd, and Sharp a distant 5th.  Kyocera dropped out of the top ten with 35 reservations.  It looks like Sharp may pull out of the US market and more volatility is on the horizon.  Solarworld has declared bankruptcy and a few others are on the ropes.  REC (#4)  in Norway just filed for bankruptcy but, according to Bloomberg, this won’t affect their solar division.  REC’s shares have dropped 97 percent in the last 6 years or so.  The bottom line, if your solar company is in the top 10, they may be around for awhile.  If they aren’t, don’t take a chance and try to stay in the top 3 or so.

According to Greentech Media:

Dead manufacturers walking: Study predicts solar firms’ survival

16. October 2012 | Top News, Global PV markets, Industry & Suppliers, Markets & Trends| By:  Cheryl Kaften

By 2015, seven out of nine of the world’s leading solar module manufacturers will be China-based; and two will be U.S. firms, following a round of flameouts and takeovers in the industry, according to a report just released by Boston-based GTM Research.

Solar photovoltaic modules

Consolidation has done very little to relieve the industry of the ongoing problem of overcapacity.


Among those most likely to hit the chopping block, according to the report, are:

  • Siliken (Spain)
  • Bosch Solar (Germany)
  • Photowatt (Canada, France)
  • Hevel Solar (Russia)
  • Advanced Solar Photonics (USA)
  • Helios (Italy)
  • Martifer Solar (Portugal)
  • OpSun (Canada)
  • Helios USA (USA)
  • Mage Solar (USA)
  • Motech (USA)
  • IsolTech (USA)

The GTM researchers forecast that the ranking leading global module manufacturers by 2015 will include the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Canadian Solar, a Guelph, Ontario-based manufacturer of PV cells and modules, with the majority of its operations headquartered in China;
  • First Solar, the leading (CdTe) thin film PV manufacturer and the first worldwide to reduce its manufacturing cost to $1 per watt, with headquarters in Tempe, Arizona;
  • Hanwha Group, a manufacturer of PV cells and panels based in Qidong, China (and as of August, the new owner of Q.Cells);
  • JA Solar, a producer of monocrystalline solar cells with headquarters in Shanghai;
  • Jinko Solar, of Haining, China, a manufacturer of solar PV cells and wafers;
  • SunPower, with headquarters in San Jose, California, a producer of manufactures PV roof tiles and solar panels based on a silicon all-back-contact solar cell invented at Stanford University;
  • Talesun, a premium quality solar PV manufacturer with production facilities in China and headquarters in San Francisco;
  • Trina Solar, based in Changzhou, China, and a manufacturer of monocrystalline and multicrystalline PV modules; and
  • Yingli Solar, a monocrystalline and multicrystalline PV module producer with headquarters in Baoding, China.

Although it is difficult to say which of the above predictions will come true, one thing that is certain is that the industry will continue to shift to high efficiency in order to reduce costs – and some solar technologies will vanish completely, along with the companies that produce them, as the shakeout dictates winners and losers.