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Best of 2001: Best Way To Generate Your Own Electricity

Solar Electric Inc.
5555 Santa Fe Street, Suite D,
Pacific Beach
858-581-0051
www.solarelectricinc.com
or contact: Utility Consumer Action Network (UCAN)
1717 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
619-696-6966
www.ucan.org

What's a desperate SDG&E addict to do? The three best answers, says UCAN's chief, Michael Shames, are: First, go for a fuel-cell generator, which you install outside your kitchen, chemically powered by natural gas, propane, or methanol. A company called Plug Power (www.plugpower.com) has the technology. Only problem: it's at least a year before the fridge-size generator's on the market. Second, says Shames, there are micro-turbines. Like big gas-powered generating stations, only small. Problem: not small enough for private residences. Small businesses, yes. Your place, no. "Right now, there's only one way to go," says Shames. "Solar power." Turns out every day enough sunlight falls on Earth to supply our energy needs for four or five years, at the present rate of consumption. Solar power's only problem is initial cost. Mike Collins of Solar Electric, which claims to be the largest solar electric company in the U.S., says a rule of thumb for cost is $1000 per kilowatt hour per day. Don't panic: If you use, say, 10 kilowatt hours per day (look at your SDG&E bill), you're talking maybe $10,000 to install a solar system that can handle that load. But look for rebates to reduce that. The California Energy Commission has a significant "buydown" program, for instance. Contact UCAN for a list of solar companies in the county.

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Solar Electric Inc.
5555 Santa Fe Street, Suite D,
Pacific Beach
858-581-0051
www.solarelectricinc.com
or contact: Utility Consumer Action Network (UCAN)
1717 Kettner Boulevard, Little Italy
619-696-6966
www.ucan.org

What's a desperate SDG&E addict to do? The three best answers, says UCAN's chief, Michael Shames, are: First, go for a fuel-cell generator, which you install outside your kitchen, chemically powered by natural gas, propane, or methanol. A company called Plug Power (www.plugpower.com) has the technology. Only problem: it's at least a year before the fridge-size generator's on the market. Second, says Shames, there are micro-turbines. Like big gas-powered generating stations, only small. Problem: not small enough for private residences. Small businesses, yes. Your place, no. "Right now, there's only one way to go," says Shames. "Solar power." Turns out every day enough sunlight falls on Earth to supply our energy needs for four or five years, at the present rate of consumption. Solar power's only problem is initial cost. Mike Collins of Solar Electric, which claims to be the largest solar electric company in the U.S., says a rule of thumb for cost is $1000 per kilowatt hour per day. Don't panic: If you use, say, 10 kilowatt hours per day (look at your SDG&E bill), you're talking maybe $10,000 to install a solar system that can handle that load. But look for rebates to reduce that. The California Energy Commission has a significant "buydown" program, for instance. Contact UCAN for a list of solar companies in the county.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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