Saturday, April 30, 2016


There's nothing like a road trip to get your blood moving and improve your attention span.  Quite often the girls around town head out, having kept track of every festival, wine tasting and quilt show in California. I had planned on a solo trip, but since recently getting Diane (on the left) addicted to quilting, she didn't want to miss the show in Fresno.
For the first time ever, it wasn't exactly my kind of fabrics.  That's a shock, right??  Believe it or not, I didn't buy one single piece.  I've finally learned not to purchase all those pretty fat quarters without a pattern or idea in mind.  Diane on the other hand, hasn't learned that lesson yet.  

Lydia in the middle, loves all the fabric and wants to sew, but currently doesn't possess that all important piece of equipment ... a sewing machine.  She asked the price of the embroidery machine and being the good friend I am, I picked her up off the floor when she heard ONLY $13,999.  I'll take Lydia to Walmart later.

We were a little late getting started due to Diane's solar installation, so at 1:30 we wandered in to Todd's Cookhouse for some Que.  I'm pretty sure they thought I had picked a bad place.  There were only two people in the huge building.  Todd really needs to be a little more creative with his menus.  A badly scribbled piece of copied-over-500-times paper was really hard to read.
I had a huge brisket sandwich stuffed with perfectly smoked pieces of mouthwateringly tender cow and their pepper coleslaw.  It was delicious!!  It could have used a little more sauce for my taste, but I'd still go back ten times over.
Finally back home, we checked out Diane's new acquisition.  Solar panels for her house ... it's all the rage around here with probably ten companies vying for everyone's dollars.  I questioned her about the deal she got and here's what she said.  It costs her nothing!!

I find that hard to believe since even though I'm not the sharpest crayon in the box, I DO know that nothing in life is free.  There is no equipment charge, no building permit charge, no charges of any kind, just sign on the dotted line.  Then they take your PGE bill for the last full year and average it out .... $140 a month in this case.  
Here's the best part ..... she pays her average $140 a month EVERY month for the next 25 years to the solar company.  Correct me if I'm wrong here, but isn't that what she would pay anyway?  Unless PG&E raises their rates, which is of course a possibility.  In 25 years they own the system free and clear, along with any repairs or maintenance that needs to be done.  

But what about all the electricity the solar panels are producing, you ask?  It is purchased by PG&E (minus what they actually used, which I'm assuming would be about $140 a month) with all the proceeds going to Vision Solar.  Think about that for awhile and let me know your thoughts!!
While in Fresno, I never did find any material that suited my current project, so today I'm off to either the fabric store in Turlock or back to Clovis!!  I'm dead in the water until I find something, not a comfortable place to be while waiting for June's trip back up the coast of Oregon and Washington.  

In the near future .... a tamale festival and painting a purple cow.  Blu needs a friend!


  1. In this case, free does not sound free to me. Also, what happens if she needs to move in less than 25 years?

    1. Apparently if you move, the entire thing stays with the house. Maybe the new owner continues the contract?? I'm not really sure.

  2. You just know I'm going to chime in on this one
    Well the famous circus man Mr. Barnum Bailey got it right there's one born every minute and that's what those companies are taken advantage of
    As Bob Barker used to say the price is right come on down
    That's only $1680 per year or $42,000 over the next 25 years
    Now the national average per house is $19-$21,000 that's if you paid out of your pocket now that has nothing to do with the tax rebate for the solar energy rebate that most states give you back
    Need I say anymore
    Now if I counted right she has 23 panels not counting the one hide behind the chimney SHADOW so based on a 240 W solar panel the dollar pr,watt comes to $5600 throw in $5000 for the components and another five for installation Even if she saves 50% of her electrical bill per month she should at least be able to recoup that in at least 10 to 15 years maybe even less it would be interesting to track her input output data cost wise Good lord woman I'm in the wrong business
    But it all boils down to most people don't have that kind of money sitting around and most banks won't lend you that Because most banks don't look at it is home improvement equity
    Ask Mr. C he'll tell you he put it on his house
    i'm sure it was partly a selling point but I would have been curious to know as to how much %

    1. I was hoping you would chime in!! It just sounded to me like they weren't really saving ANYTHING, just averaging their PGE bill, which you can do without solar. I suppose in 25 years they will have free electricity if the panels last that long.

  3. I would like to add to what Mister Ed had to say. The average life of a solar panel is about 25 years. Over time the produce less energy by year they are somewhat like a 25-year roof ready for replacement.
    The only ones I see this a good deal for is Vision Solar.


    1. Wow!! I didn't know they produced less over time. That's something I think they forgot to tell her!! I had the same thoughts about Vision Solar.

  4. As with any subject, there's always several angles in which to approach. If you look at someone's average electric bill, let's say Diane's at $140 a month, and she pays the 140 to a solar company instead of PG&E, it's not totally unreasonable to say, she would be paying that anyway, so the solar system is free.

    Well, not exactly. In the long run, she will be paying about 4 times the actual value of the solar system. Not knowing what the cash price of her system would have been, I'll use our solar as a comparison. It looks like her roof has 20 panels, which should equal about a 5K system. We have 19 panels, and the total cost up front, after rebates, was slightly over $10,000. With no solar payment, our electric bill is approx. $12-14 a month. Based on our average monthly electrical usage, we will have recovered our investment in approx. 8 years. So, comparing our situation to Diane's, we will have 17 years of free electricity.

    This is our second residential solar system, and particularly here in AZ, it's the only way to go. Having said that, instead of the various lease options, a homeowner that doesn't have the 10-20 grand sitting around, is much better off with a home equity loan for payment on part, or all of a solar system.

    For example......borrowing 10K on a home equity loan ammortized over 10 years @ 4.5%, the monthly payment is slightly over $100 a month. In this example, you're not locked into a 25 year lease, and the loan can be paid off at any time with no penalty. If the solar system is designed properly, and payments are made for 10 years, electricity is free after the term of the loan.

    The resale issue boils down to the buyer assuming whatever lease the seller is locked into. Most leases are the 20-25 year type like Diane's, that include a monthly payment to the solar company. There are "paid up front" leases, which are better for resale, as there is not monthly payment to assume. Cash solar purchases are the best scenario for resale, as the buyer has nothing to assume, and gets a solar system with little, or no electric bill. Most solar companies will tell you that a solar system will increase the value of your property approx. 10-20%. Not sure if I buy that, but I know that when we sold our home in Lake Havasu City, we got 7% more than what our real estate person said we would get. This subject is purely subjective, but I don't think there's any question that a solar system increases the value of your property.

    There's a lot more to solar than meets the eye, and a discussion like this could go on for hours.

    1. Great explanation Dan ... I'm printing this out for future reference!! An 8 year return on the $10,000 and free electricity after that sure sounds better than the 25 year lease she is locked into at $140 a month!! I'm afraid at the end of 25 years she will have a system that needs to be replaced because it doesn't work any more. Buyer BEWARE!!

  5. Thanks Dan for chiming in you make a point I never thought that it may hinder on whether the customer would buy the house with the existing contract like that thanks for that insight
    Well they claim that based on 5KW home usage they claim that the average home solar system which cost about 3.74 per watt
    Or about $18,000 Bear in mind that's an average cost could be higher could be lower
    If you pay cash for it yourself as Dan said from a home equity standpoint you would get back 30% from the federal government (one time in 2016 )not counting the power companies rebates if anythere (only 34 states they will give a rebate)
    And hypothetically if you take a loan for 10 years and paid off in 10 years that I give you approximately 15 years of free service with minimal maintenance cost
    And using a solar system claims is you would get back approximately give-and-take $84 per month
    Of free electricity per month
    So based on those type of figures instead of paying $140 for the next 25 years she would be getting a Electric bill averaging about 84 dollars per month Plus whatever the loan payments would be per month
    Now as a sidenote
    It also would be interesting
    if she's locked into 140 a month and they can't raise it I have that air conditioning and heating And have the kids turn on every light in the house go on 24 seven I look like the Yankee Stadium at 9 o'clock at night
    Enjoy your day

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