BLOG - Some News Under the Sun

We use our Web Log (Blog) to report on relevant news and opinion that relate to Solar and Solar-Plus related technologies.

An inspiring visit to this new solar installation

posted Dec 19, 2018, 2:04 PM by

Pathways Energy helps Romanini property harvest solar energy

By Susan Bryer-Shelton, Energy Program Coordinator

As a solar energy advocate, I admit to experiencing a bit of an elevated heart rate whenever I have the opportunity to check out a bright and shiny new solar installation. There’s something inherently exciting to me about each and every person’s newfound commitment to harnessing the sun’s energy.

When Astrid Romanini decided to pull up a few rows of grapes on her east Sonoma property, she freed up an ideal site for a solar array -- a level, southwest facing site with ample room for a ground-mounted system. (A ground-mounted system suited her best so she did not have to disturb her home’s curved tile roof.)

Astrid was motivated to go solar after 40 years on the property because “it just made sense,” particularly now while the Federal tax credit remains at 30%.

She wasn’t sure how to get the process started, so she reached out for a free solar consultation with the Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division (ESD). After talking with Astrid and assessing her situation, ESD encouraged her to call Solar Sonoma County to receive three bids from qualified local contractors.

Ultimately Astrid selected Pathways Energy to manage the 17.5KW project. Pathways’ Dan Lambert studied the property’s electricity use for the past year and worked with Astrid to assess what future new electricity demands might be in the works. The property’s existing electrical load includes Astrid’s residence and swimming pool equipment, as well as a sizable commercial refrigerator for an herb distribution operation that works out of the property.

Astrid intends to “fuel switch” her residential heating system from a central propane furnace to efficient electric heat pumps. While heat pumps are not as common in the US, Astrid is confident in them:  “I know they work, because my sister who lives in Oslo (Norway) uses them and they work great for her,” she says.

Astrid also has her eyes on an electric car when she decides to retire her 1995 Honda, which for the time being suits her just fine. Pathways took these upgrades into consideration when sizing her system, so she’ll be all set to “electrify everything” over time and maximize her solar system’s impact.

Will 2019 be your year to go solar? Solar Sonoma County is here to help. You can check out our vendor roster here or give us a call at (707)654-4350. We’ll connect you to three qualified solar vendors who are active participants in the local solar community. They’ll provide free consultations without high pressure. Please let us know how we can assist you.

And when your beautiful new system is installed, I’d welcome the opportunity for a visit.

Solar + Storage funding boost from JP Morgan

posted Dec 11, 2018, 11:15 AM by

Pairing energy storage with photovoltaics and wind is exactly the national solution to increasing renewable adoption to the grid. UtilityDIve explores this here

Photo: Origis Energy

Express your solar passion: Solar Rights Alliance

posted Dec 2, 2018, 1:56 PM by   [ updated Dec 2, 2018, 1:57 PM ]

From Solar WakeUp: 
Q and A with Dave Rosenfeld, Executive Director of Solar Rights Alliance

Solar Sonoma County is partnering with the Solar Rights Alliance to help mobilize solar owners in California. Here's a recent feature about what they're up to.

Zinc Air Battery Breakthrough

posted Sep 28, 2018, 8:54 AM by   [ updated Sep 28, 2018, 9:55 PM ]

Visionary policy and entrepreneurial persistence are driving innovation in energy storage technology. These are the kinds of breakthroughs we'll need to move to the next generation of solar implementation: solar + storage = this is how to "make the sun shine at night."

Technology Disruption Alert!

posted Mar 22, 2018, 3:07 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 22, 2018, 3:19 PM ]

Recently I was given the opportunity to view a 1-hour long presentation by renowned San Francisco-based technology disruption expert Tony Seba.

Tony Seba
What Mr. Seba has to say will keep you on your toes, and in awe of the technology innovations that await in energy and transportation. Before you purchase a new gas or diesel car, build a new home, or invest in ANYTHING that is fossil-fuel related, you need to watch this presentation!

So grab your lunch and an electrically-heated cup of coffee, and settle in for an hour of inspiration and information that you will not soon forget!

click here to Roll the Film

Geoffrey Smith

Solar Sonoma County Program Coordinator

Center for Climate Protection

Darned the Solar Import Tariffs, Full Speed Ahead

posted Mar 18, 2018, 11:08 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 18, 2018, 11:16 AM ]

Position Statement on Solar Module Import Tariff

Synergy Solar Ground Mount Installation

posted Dec 19, 2017, 3:09 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Dec 19, 2017, 3:17 PM ]

Synergy Groundmount

New Solar Sonoma County Intern Jake Saville

posted Aug 31, 2017, 2:20 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Aug 31, 2017, 2:31 PM by Unknown user ]

My name is Jake Saville, and I am a 26-year-old intern at Solar Sonoma County. I am currently pursuing my B.S degree in Energy Management and Design from Sonoma State University, and plan on completing the program by December 2018. Before becoming a transfer student at SSU, I spent four years enlisted in the United States Air Force as Aerial Porter or Air Transportation specialist. Now that my enlisted career has come to an end I am interested in entering the renewable energy field, primarily Solar, but I also have a lot of interest in Green Building and other areas. My connection to the Santa Rosa area stems from finishing my last few years of High School at Novato High and furthering my education at Santa Rosa Junior college before my enlistment. I am a friendly person who enjoys among other things; hiking, swimming, backpacking, and watching sports. If you want to know more, don't hesitate to ask.

Go with a local solar vendor and own your solar rooftop installation!

posted Mar 1, 2017, 5:07 PM by Christine Rogers   [ updated Aug 31, 2017, 2:12 PM by Unknown user ]

By Chris Rogers, Solar Energy Program Intern

If you had solar panels installed on your roof over the last decade, you more than likely do not own your installation because you entered into a 3rd party contract with the vendor.  Now however, due to the increased demand for solar power, lower prices, the simplicity of financing and solar-friendly state policies, more opportunities have opened up for local solar installers across the country.  This means you can work with a local vendor, obtain local financing and buy your rooftop solar installation so that you own it outright when it’s paid off.

You can read the complete article about this solar news update, written by Andrew Beebe called “The Revenge of the Long Tail” at

Andrew Beebe states that over the last decade, non-local national solar companies have helped bring solar within reach for millions of Americans with what is known as ‘the tax equity-based power purchase agreements’ (PPAs). These contracts allow third parties to own individual systems and sell energy generated by them.  During the period from 2010-2014, we saw a market dominated by a few third-party ownership players, with no room for the thousands of small solar installers across the country.  

Today, local vendors can offer simplified loans to home and business owners, giving them real ownership in their low-cost clean energy future.  A loan is much less complex, but also does not require specific tax equity partners and therefore can easily be offered by a smaller scale solar installer.  The County of Sonoma also offers financing for solar installations through their Sonoma County Energy Independence Program (SCEIP).  Going local makes sense and brings competition back to the local level for the national players.

Contact us today and we can answer any questions you have about converting your home or business to solar energy, solar financing or getting a referral to a trustworthy local vendor.

Geoffrey Smith, Your Clean Energy Advocate

Solar Sonoma County, a program of The Center for Climate Protection.

Getting Personal About the Sun’s Energy

posted Feb 28, 2017, 12:00 PM by Unknown user   [ updated Mar 4, 2017, 8:57 AM ]

Getting Personal About the Sun’s Energy

By Geoffrey Smith, Solar Energy Program Coordinator

That gigantic star in the sky that we call our ‘Sun’ has been a focal point of human culture and reflection since us humanoids set our biped feet on the planet. In this modern era of photovoltaic technology, we are redefining our human connection to this intergalactic source of life. A new documentary movie, ‘Catching the Sun’, shares the very personal stories of some people who are discovering a new relationship with their Sun in exciting and meaningful ways.

Catching the Sun at Congregation Shomrei Torah
I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion following a recent showing of ‘Catching the Sun’ at Congregation Shomrei Torah’s ‘Social Action Goes to the Movies’ film series. (Photo: Geoffrey's selfie in the crowd during the film.) For the crowd of over 160 who viewed the movie that evening, rooftop solar became much more than a technology. Our panelists brought home many of the themes in the film:

  • Panelist Laura Goldman’s story of her and her husband’s success with their Sebastopol-based company, ‘Solar Works’, mirrored that of the Chinese entrepreneur in the film whose vision of a solar-powered future has created thousands of jobs world-wide.

  • The film chronicles the personal stories of several individuals who have found work and meaning in the solar industry, stories that mirror panelist Tor Allen’s work in education and developing school curriculum through his ‘Solar Schoolhouse’ and ‘Solarize Sebastopol’ initiatives, which have inspired many to pursue solar on their own homes, and even careers in the solar industry

  • The film talks about young people entering the workforce who are faced with a tough job market and lack of skills. Our panelist Alana Macken is a high school sophomore and a member of the Youth Advisory Board of the Center for Climate Protection. She described the challenge she faces in the classroom learning about climate change when the curriculum, school administrators and even classmates make it difficult to obtain science-based factual information about climate change and renewable energy.

  • The film’s lead character is Van Jones, whose work with Green for All led to his appointment as President Barack Obama’s Special Advisor for Green Jobs. In his role as Clean Energy Advocate, panelist Geoffrey Smith challenged the audience to take action now by choosing to go solar on their own homes and businesses, and to engage with local elected officials at the regional, state and federal levels to promote strong laws and regulations that support distributed rooftop solar.

In the context of today’s national political landscape (POTUS 45), the stories of personal engagement that were shared this evening filled me with hope for a future that is bright with solar energy. It will be a long road to sustainability, but we are all on that road now. I am hopeful. What else can I be?

(Visit to learn how you can watch this film on your PC or TV.)

PS - Half the fun of putting on events like this is the promotion!

KSRO Drivetime with Jaxon
Geoffrey in the studio with Drive with Steve Jaxon on KSRO

Geoffrey with co-panelist Laura Goldman in Laura's Living Room on KOWS

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