[amsat-bb] Re: Solar Power (I was wrong)

Jeff Yanko wb3jfs at cox.net
Thu Oct 1 18:04:43 PDT 2009

Interesting topic.  Here in the desert, Las Vegas, NV, I've seen a few homes 
with solar panels on their roofs.  Not a lot but a few here and there. 
Actually, I see more with roof heating systems for the pools than anything 
else.  However, I'm sure there are more out there than I'm seeing.  In any 
case, a topic has risen about generating and selling power back to the 
utility company.....taxes.  Some states are now implementing taxes on 
residential owners who generate and "sell back" their power to the utility 
company.  Pennsylvania happens to be one of them.  I believe the standing is 
if you sell back over 50,000 watts of power you will incur additional taxes, 
adding to your state personal income tax.  Apparantly, after 50,000 watts 
your considered a "generating" or "generator" entity and are subject to tax. 
Lets say you were able to generate and sell back 100,000 watts to the 
utility company.  The first 50,000 watts would be "free".  From then on out, 
it's taxed.  Not sure what rate they are or would be applying but lets say 
15 cents per KW. At 50,000 watts that would be $7.50.  Doesn't sound like 
much, then again 15 cents per KW is probably nowhere near what they really 

I believe you will see this happen more often as states look for additional 


Jeff  WB3JFS

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Robert Bruninga" <bruninga at usna.edu>
To: <amsat-bb at amsat.org>
Sent: Thursday, October 01, 2009 5:37 PM
Subject: [amsat-bb] Solar Power (I was wrong)

> Since Satellite design is heavy into Solar power, and I talk
> about that a lot, you may have heard me compare my Solar car to
> Solar panels on the roof of your house as not economical, I WAS
> WRONG.  I was overlooking many recent changes in the
> environment:
> 1) Solar panels (PV) are 1% of what they cost in 1970
> 2) PV dropped 40% this year due to 2007 Energy Boom and 2009
> economic bust
> 4) $5,000 to $20,000 tax and cash back incentives for YOU
> 5) Grid-tie systems operate at 95% efficiency compared to 70% of
> battery systems
> 6) Local electric rates DOUBLED in the last 2 years
> 7) Laws require utilities to pay you the same peak rates they
> charge you.
> 8) Solar Energy credits can gain an additional $275 per 1Kw
> system per year
> 9) Payback is at least 10% per year or better
> 10) The same money in the bank gets 1% interest
> So I was wrong in not keeping current with all the changing
> environment, and now I am full speed to get my system approved
> and built and correct any miss-guidance I may have helped
> propagate.
> Sorry. I am claiming this particular email is on-topic because
> of public statements to the contrary I have made at satellite
> forums.  But this hot topic should probably spin off elsewhere.
> We need a HAM Solar Power group somewhere...?
> Summary:  Do NOT make the mistake (as most of us do) of thinking
> in terms of stand-alone Battery back-up solar power systems .
> They cost more and you don't need it in most places where you
> have access to the grid.  They cost $5 to $10,000 more, are only
> 70% efficient (compared to 95% for grid-tie) and are a never
> ending maintenance headache.  Instead, most any enterprising ham
> should be able to provide his own backup power using a cheap 1
> kW inverter for about $150 from any auto store or radio shack
> running off his car's 12V system for any power outages.
> That, a few deep cycle batteries, (and using CFL lightbulbs in
> your house) will give you enough emergency power to operate your
> full Ham station, all the lights in the house you want plus your
> refrigerator for as long as you can buy gas.  But the other
> 99.99% of the time, sell your solar power to the power company
> (at peak rates during the day) and buy it back cheap at night
> (you win and you don't even have to worrry about batteries)...
> And even if your grid-tie solar array produces nothing (in the
> way of AC power) when the grid goes out, you still have many
> Killowatts of DC power on your roof, that you can surely find
> lots of things to do with until the grid comes back.  For
> example, have the electrician wire a 250 volt string of the 200
> Watt solar panels in the array to a DPDT switch so they can be
> disconnected from the Grid Tie system and the 250 VDC can be
> available to you.  THen you can plug in as many modern DC/DC
> pwer supplies into that 250 VDC to give you LOTS of amps at 12
> volts, or ... almost any modern gizmo has a universal power
> supply input that will run on anything from 110V to 330V DC as
> is.
> Anyway, for similar hints www.aprs.org/FD-Prius-Power.html
> Sorry for the off-topic.  But  I was wrong. PV works! (even in
> Maryland).  If you live in the SW, you are lucky, and it works
> TWICE as much or at HALF the price!
> A Born-again Home PV junkie
> Bob, WB4APR
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