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According to Onell Soto, "Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is poised to sign a bill to ensure that a key financial benefit for installing solar power systems doesn’t go away too soon."

This is not a benefit for all. Even under the new law, only 5% of all SDG&E customers will be eligible for net metering. At the current time, less than 2.5% of all SDG&E customers have grid-connected solar panels that make them eligible to zero out their electric bills, based on their excess power being taken by SDG&E for sale elsewhere.

As for the rest of us, there is always the option to pull more and more of our power-hungry appliances off the grid.

One local merchant chain offers a 45-watt off-grid solar panel setup for under $300. A power inverter for converting DC into 120-volt AC is available for about $50. 12-volt batteries are available at any auto parts store. The combination is enough to power a laptop computer with ink jet printer or a couple of table lamps at night.

Purchasing additional panels every few months could lead to powering down the typical electricity bill by half or more per participating household.

The benefits of the above off-grid setup is that not one dime goes to the local power utility, and the entire setup appears to be exempt from San Diego's recently increased grid-connected solar system permit fee. Such full-blown systems are eligible for state and federal tax breaks and other incentives, but they require licensed contractor installment and at least $20,000 to invest in installation and remodeling.

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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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