Friday, August 26, 2011

How Solar Power Considerations Factor in Today's Economic Climate

With contemporary political discourse focused on the recent deficit cuts & debt ceiling issues, the mainstream news media happily covered the drama. And recent volatility in the markets had everyone wondering back & forth about the possibility of a another recession. But one thing that popped up from time to time during the debt ceiling debates was discussion of how troubling the lack of focus on the number one priority (JOBS) became as the debates dragged on. It seems that we cannot focus long enough on the number one priority (JOBS) before something else occurs to take our eyes off of it.

JOBS afterall is allegedly the cure-all to what ails us in this sluggish economic recovery. And the lack of it is what threatens us sliding into another downturn. Meanwhile, corporations are sitting on large reserves of cash, not adding JOBS, & have been quite content to reap the rewards of increased productivity. The reason for the cash pile up, by the way, is related to current economic trends (read more here) and is not a sinister attempt to undermine the economy. Anyhow, the unemployed ranks haven't changed much resulting in discouragement from this population segment & this fact further complicates the economic scenario. So, this begets the question: What do we do to change the current trends?

Well, I think there are many paths that can lead us there and it will not be one thing. Nevertheless, one of the ideas that I think is a positive consideration for Corporate America is to tap into some of that cash reserve to purchase & install solar power on their property or buildings across the country. This can mobilize idle labor capacity in the construction industry and the benefits of this undertaking can be magnified by using solar panels & other materials manufactured in the USA.

It is easy to sit back and talk about solar power as a thing of the future, as some tend to do. But doing nothing & having discussions with no follow on action will achieve little or nothing. Actions speak louder than words & insufficient activity in that arena is screaming way too loudly now for us to sit idly by. And, if we fall into the trap of speaking about solar power that way, then we will have to get used to speaking of economic recovery as a thing of the future this same way too.

Here is some interesting points on solar power:
  1. Solar power can provide reliable power for over 30 years & are manufacture warrantied for 25-30 years to a minimum of 80% of its rated power.
  2. The amount of sunlight that hits the Earth's surface in one hour is enough to power the entire world for a year.
  3. Solar panel technology is very versatile & only limited by one's imagination.
  4. It is inappropriate to analyze solar power investments as a short term investment with attendant short term expectations.
  5. Solar power can act as a hedge against future price increases.
  6. Solar panel installation can hold the line on business cost growth into the future much the same way Southwest Airlines purchased fuel contracts.
  7. Calculating the investment in solar power in terms of kilowatt-hours yields an optimal evaluation of the effectiveness of the technology. For example, in the solar sunbelt, the full installed cost (non-subsidized) of a grid tied solar power system can be about $0.17/kWh. Incentives can bring it down below $0.10/kWh to as low as $0.05/kWh.
  8. Aggregating electric power costs over a 30-year horizon with typical price escalation provides the perspective needed to compare with taking action on solar power.
  9. Solar panel installation can provide jobs to current idle labor from the construction industry.
  10. Solar panel manufacturers & other component manufacturers can benefit from locally made purchases, including adding jobs.
  11. These endeavors can be endearing to your customers. And marketing can create an allure to your brand.
  12. Solar panel installation can be designed & installed to overcome concerns about natural occurrences such as snow loading, hurricane winds, earthquakes, etc.
  13. Sustainability investing is essential to creating long-term shareholder value.
  14. Our society is demanding a sustainable, responsible, response to the JOBS crisis in America.
Strategy is "the allocation of resources to increase shareholder value in an economically efficient way." And in a corporation, the board of directors, as a body, has a fiduciary responsibility for the decisions they make with regard to corporate assets and the rights of shareholders. So, our business leaders know these things and are adept at sorting through these issues. But, in an online McKinsey Quarterly interview of David Blood & Al Gore published in May 2007, David mentions some key points that makes the case for a more long-term view in creating long-term shareholder value that I think is critical to overcoming the relative inactivity in solar power integration by our major corporations. He mentions firstly that
" is best practice to take a long-term approach to investing. We think that the focus on “short termism” in the marketplace is detrimental to economies, detrimental to value creation, detrimental to capital markets, and a bad investment strategy. It’s common corporate-finance knowledge that something on the order of 60 to 80 percent of the value of a business lies in its long-term cash flows. And if you’re investing with a short-term horizon you’re giving up the value creation of a business.
"...the context of business is clearly changing. We are now confronting the limits of our ecological system, and at the same time societal expectations of business are widening. On top of that, multinational businesses are oftentimes better positioned than governments to deal with some of the most complicated global challenges, such as climate change, HIV/AIDS, water scarcity, and poverty. Technology and communications have changed, and we’ve reached a point where civil society is now demanding a response from business."
I think these points touch on much of the exasperated sentiment that is an undercurrent of today's debate and is too often missed. Some of the issues relating to unemployment is cyclical & some of it is structural. It is very apparent that "short termism" has wreaked havoc on most households & continues to be woeful to our broader society. Meanwhile, government is mired in highly charged political debates and lack the will to do what is necessary. But, what can typically be overcome by government actions usually addresses the cyclical. However, the structural is persistent and business is better positioned than government to deal with this complicated challenge. This is where our conversation needs to pivot from the fight about government spending and onto the number one priority JOBS.

You Can Install Solar Today! How would you like to start today?

Sol Oriens Providens


Monday, April 11, 2011

VES Solar Powered Attic Fans

VES Solar Powered Attic Fans

Ventilate your attic with free, clean, abundant solar energy

VES Solar Powered Attic Fans are eligible for a 30% (up to $1,500) Federal Tax Credit (FTC) on the purchase of the fan, installation labor charges, and sales tax. All solar products are sales tax free in the State of Florida. IRS Form 5695 and Manufacturer's Certification Statement must be completed. You can also qualify for Utility Rebates of up to $200.

VES’s line of Solar Powered Attic Fans provides the active ventilation your attic & crawl space needs to reduce the heat build-up that could reach temperatures of 160F and higher. It’s this heat build-up that can overheat your air conditioning ductwork and raise the temperatures in your home’s living spaces.

Adding a Solar Powered Attic Fan will provide the circulation and improved airflow to effectively ventilate your attic and lower the temperature. The result will be a reduced strain on your air conditioner, a cooler house, and a more comfortable living environment.

For example, VES recently completed an install on a 3,100 square foot (SF) home (See Video below). VES installed two (2) of the All Purpose Ventilators (APV)s. Average installation cost is about $200/fan. The homeowner paid $369 for each APV fan plus $200/fan for installation. That is $1,138.00 total cost. The FTC is $341.40. Therefore, the net cost is $796.60 or $398.30/fan.

Benefits of VES Solar Powered Attic Fans:

Improved Energy Efficiency

A well ventilated attic will help reduce your energy costs several ways. Improved air circulation in the summer months will help remove hot air and reduce the temperature of your attic. This will keep the hot, stagnant attic air from seeping through into your living area. It will also help reduce the surface temperature of your attic floor and your interior ceilings.

The reduced temperature in your attic will also assist your air conditioner by keeping the ductwork and the air inside cooler. The resulting effect will be cooler air flowing through your HVAC system and reduced strain on your a/c unit.

Remove Moisture and Reduce Harmful Mold and Mildew

During the winter months, warm moist air from inside your home rises into the attic and collides with the colder underside of the roof. Proper attic ventilation can help remove the moisture and condensation that can build from this event.

The Solar Powered Attic Fan and the All Purpose Ventilator are great ways to effectively ventilate your attic while saving money on electricity.

Prevent Ice Damming

If you live in an area that has snow, the warmer attic air will heat the roof and melt the snow which drips to the eaves where it can refreeze as ice and form ice-dams under the eaves. These ice-dams will cause water to work back up under the shingles into the attic and down to the ceiling.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Orange of Compromise

Two girls are fighting over an orange. Their mom walks in and hearing that they're fighting over the orange, admonishes them to compromise, cuts the orange in half and gives each half to the girls. But it turns out that one of the girls just wanted the orange and the other the orange skin. They each ended up with half (50%) of what they wanted. So, had they both talked it out, they would have realized it and could have gotten all of what they wanted.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Remember Martin Luther King Jr & his efforts

Back in 1947, Martin Luther King Jr argued that the critical intellect requires moral development. It is clear this still holds true even today. "The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." You can find his article here.

I point this out because today's political debate is far too often lacking in intensive thought, critical thinking, and moral quality. And it has been so for some time. It aslo pervades more than just the political debate. Incompetence and malfeasance seem to abound just as much and can only amplify these problems.

Anyhow, these all point back to education as a source of this deficiency. And, specifically, statistics have shown that the US has been declining in math & science educational achievements compared against other nations in the world. These two subjects are especially crucial for developing critical thinking skills. You can understand more about why I think that here (click through the links a bit). Developing a moral character is more tricky. However, one can argue that in the tradition of academia, truth exists objectively and we are not individually in possession of the truth -- but seek it. And one can improve their moral character by observing these traditions of academia. Maintaining objectivity is tough. But gaining the ability & insights to sort through issues can come from a more robust education in science and mathematics. Thus leading to improved ability to maintain objectivity. Maintaining objectivity, is important to one's internal locus of control because it enables a strong moral character.

These subjects can improve the discussion for the following reasons. For one, science & math education can lead to the ability to understand and build a logical argument. Secondly, these subjects provide a foundation and even different processes that can be utilized. For example, the scientific method has a framework that can be adopted for use in the one's daily discourse. And if one were to follow it individually, one may find the quality of thought and even conclusions drawn improving.

Finally, I have always thought of what we do as a nation, as being done in striving for excellence. And I have always figured that individually, we strive to ensure it is so. I think we can take education more seriously. And I also think we can do better at heeding the true goal of education -- "intelligence plus character." The spirit of achieving excellence demands this!