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Andy Cochrane, President

Power Trip Energy

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Time to Read Your Production Meters

If you have a grid-tied pv system and are enrolled in Washington State’s Renerwable Energy Production Incentive, it is time to make some notes for yourself.  The 2013-2014 production metering year ends on Monday, June 30th, and the 2014-2015 production year starts Tuesday, July 1st.

Many of you know the process, but for many new customers, this will be your first production payment.

Different utilities handle this metering and payment in different ways.  Some of them will take the meter readings themselves (eg PSE and Jefferson PUD), and some may rely upon you to report this reading (eg Clallam PUD).  In either case, we recommend that you also take this reading and keep track of it in order to verify correct payment.  If you have the record of payment you received from last year, this may be the best place to write it down.

All of our grid-tied pv installations have a production meter which measures the accumulated kwh output from the inverters.  This meter reading is the reading to take on June 30.  If you have last year’s reading, if you subtract that, the result is this year’s production.

We would LOVE that production figure for our records as well.  We have mentioned in the past that we are accumulating data to perform statistical analysis to learn what we can about the various brands of equipment, and the micro-climates within which we work.  While we have not been able to complete that study in a scientific manner (the number of variables is challenging) we still want the data for the systems we have installed.  Please e-mail your annual production figure, if you have it, to

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Barclays Downgrades Utility Bonds

Barclays downgrades utilities that are not reacting well to distributed renewable energy. When the world changes around you, lack of ability to change yourself leads to negative outcomes. Times of change are also times of great opportunity for those that can be flexible and creative. How will our local utilities fare?


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SunPower news

We recently saw a significant price decrease from the leading pv manufacturer SunPower.  They have consistently lagged behind other manufacturers with their price decreases and we are glad that this is so.  It may sound strange, but we are happy that SunPower is slow to react to market price dops and here is why – in 2013 they were able to generate $221 million in net profits of $2.6 billion revenue.  It is of crucial importance for a manufacturer to generate net profits in order to re-invest in research and development and improved operations.  Many leading pv manufacturers have struggled to maintain profitability in this very competitive market, especially in the face of continued Chinese dumping.

We also saw another big announcement from SunPower in the second half of last year, and that was the improved warranty.  They offer a full 25 year workmanship and repair/replace/reimburse warranty on their modules in addition to the industry-leading 87% power guarantee warranty after 25 years.  All of this is very strong, however there is another aspect of SunPower’s operations that make it even stronger.  They are currently maintaining a $140 million long term warranty reserve fund.  All while only showing 27 failures per 1 million modules shipped.

SunPower continues to charge a premium for their product compared to the myriad of their competitors on the low end.  Despite this higher price, for many of our clients, we feel they offer the best long term value because of the quality of the product, the industry-leading efficiency, and the financial health of the corporation.  SunPower employs about 1770 US workers among their global workforce of about 6000, and we are happy to be their partners.  Good job on the recent price decrease, it will help us install more of these high quality products and make more clean energy.

4 kw SunPowerSunPower Advanced Certified logo

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George Meyer RIP – Washington Solar Champion

It is a sad day for those of us who have been involved with Solar Washington as we found out we lost a longtime friend and solar advocate.  George Meyer was reliable, kind, and generous with his time and energy, often asking nothing in return.  He especially went above and beyond the call of duty to organize the webpage, listings and maps for the state’s Solar Tour.  He maintained a positive and cheerful attitude exhibiting grace under pressure.

George passed away April 24.  Our thoughts are with his family, and he will be greatly missed by all who knew him.

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The Coming Utility Transformation – Efficiency, Distributed Generation, and Storage

Scott Sklar can write a great essay.  In this essay he cites the overwhelming belief by utility execs that their business models will be significantly changed in the next decade and a half.  He also ties threads together using the evidence of opportunities for increased energy efficiency developments in building, the wildfire pace of deployment of renewable energy at the site of consumption as distributed generation, and the coming wave of distributed energy storage.  Mr. Sklar’s essay puts into words some of our aspirations here at Power Trip Energy, and we are gratified to see these trends.

There is a major trend that is not mentioned in this essay which utilities should view as their best coming opportunity, and that is the electrification of our transportation system.

His summarizes well when he states that regulators are becoming aware that the market is already out of their control, as the utility sector tries to navigate the rapidly changing world.

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SunPower Ranked #1 in “Highest Quality” in Another Study

In a recent international survey conducted among PV system installers, integrators, EPC providers and PV module distributors, there were two interesting findings that align with our business practices here at Power Trip Energy.

Firstly, 99% of these respondents said that module reliability was a more important purchasing factor than price.  We have made this determination long ago.  As a small installer with a single crew and over 400 systems installed in the last 11 years, we are happy to have made the decision to work with high quality equipment, and not necessarily chase the lowest cost per watt.  As a result of our choice, our single crew is always scheduled to be installing a new system, and is very rarely called off in order to be dispatched on a service call.

Secondly, SunPower has come on top again as being rated #1 in highest quality.  Admittedly, this is a survey and so represents opinion and is not a technical study, however we have previously referenced  technical studies that reached the same conclusion.  We are proud to be Authorized SunPower dealers, and we are confident that this strategic partnership will serve us and our customers well over the coming decades.

Read more on this particular survey:–say-solar-customers_100014622/#ixzz2xHFHb64N

We are currently installing SunPower 335 and 327 watt modules, as in this recent wintry installation at Heather and Tony’s home in Port Orchard pictured below.

Heather and Tony House 5x7

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