Friday, March 24, 2006

Architects say tenants want more solar

Hey solarDwellers:

I just read this article about a meeting in Vegas next week for architects/construction people hosted by an org called the Construction Specifications Institute. Now that's the group you want to be talking about solar! Get that solar in at the planning stages, on big buildings with lots of tenants inside who need electricity. It's so much cheaper to include solar into the design of the building and to not have to put the wiring and support structures on top later. Or at least have the building "solar ready" with conduit/wiring and mounting foundations in place to make it easy to make the "solar decision" later on.

Unpredictability, like spikes in natural gas used in power plants, makes budgeting for electricity, well, unpleasant for organizations. Take a look at some quotes from the article, focusing on how tenants see solar as a way to "freeze" their electricity cost up front, making that energy cost more predictable.

"We are very clearly poised at a launching point," said Israni, pointing to rising cost for oil and natural gas, and the resulting rise in electricity bills.
Architects are getting hammered by their clients to address the energy issue," he said. "Either you are building in a system or you are designing the room so that you can add a PV system when that state comes online with a strong incentive plan."

Israni said that -- while the upfront cost of a photovoltaic system remains high -- owners benefit not necessarily from low costs but more from the predictability of the bills. Natural gas-fired power plants are plagued with volatile fuel costs. While the price per unit of electricity is high with a solar system based on construction costs, the fuel going forward is free.

Irsani pointed to a school district in California inquiring about such a system.

"We asked them at the very beginning, why do you want to consider this?" he recalled. "They said 'We need to have a reliable, and predictable cost of energy so we can plan for the future.' Customers are not necessarily concerned about cheaper."

--the solarDweller
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