The Truth About Solar Today


The Truth About Solar Today


[Thomas Edds]: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the summit. My name is Thomas Edss, I own Electric Distribution & Design Systems, and you can see my name over there on the left, E D D S, it is 'eeds', not 'eds'. I've been an electrical contractor here in the Dallas area since 1982, wired the 62 story Momentum Bank, the second tallest building in Dallas, the Federal Reserve Bank, the Crescent, all the IBMs, all the TI wafer fabs and everything, but been around. I had a 2,800 employee company here in Dallas until 9/11, and then when 9/11 happened you know, everything kinda went south, so I sold off what was left of my company and started my wind and solar company. So we've been doing wind and solar for about 19 years, I am from out in west Texas, out Midland, Odessa, if you can't tell my slang. So you know, so but wind makes very good sense out there, not so much here in the Dallas area. Wind, a horizontal wind turbine like the ones in the picture there, it takes a 36 to 38MPH wind to get one to work at its rating. We don't get 36 to 38MPH winds here in the Dallas area, except for the winter nights, and so for that reason, anything west of Weatherford is good, north of Denton is marginal 'til you get up in that Oklahoma, but solar works. There's no moving parts. A wind turbine, there's not a wind turbine out there that I don't work on every six months, 'cause it's things that's connected to, mother nature just eats on them and tears them down, and so anyway. But we'll get started on this, we've been in the top 10% for about eight years, in the top 1% since 2014, '15, '16, '17, '18 and '19. That's fat Elvis, that's our first trailer, a small trailer, and then Moby, all our trucks and trailers are all wrapped like that, that's the Kardashian, except for Casper, Casper hasn't gotten wrapped yet. You can put solar on your house, that's actually my house, and my name's Tommy, my foreman is the guy in the cart on the other end, his name is Tommy also, so it's real easy for all our customers to remember. You can put it on your businesses, it's one thing that I just don't understand why more businesses don't put solar on their roof, 'cause they have all these massive roofs that you could put solar on, it's not intrusive to anybody 'cause they can't see it on the roof, that's one thing they like about it, and it pays your electricity bill. Dollar for dollar, whatever you put into solar will replace the electricity bill. So it's not costing you anymore than what you're already paying out. This is a ground mount that we do in schools, you can put them on the ground. If you have any land, that's my preferable if you have land. It's a little bit more, just you know, say $25 a module more expensive than putting it on your house, but you don't have to worry about it you know, it's it's not on your house, you don't have to worry about taking it off or anything else. When you do put it on your house, your insurance company will – I've only had one customer out of – you know, we've installed over 70,000 solar panels, and we've only had one customer that said that their insurance company actually raised their rate. Most insurance companies, some insurance companies, if you cover more than 30% of your roof, will actually give you a deduction because it actually protects the roof. That is a pole mount that we did at an elementary school here in Dallas over there off of Lovers Lane. They were on the news for a while about the guy that teaches the garden class and everything over there at that elementary school and the city of Dallas was taking money away from programs, so the family actually paid his wages so he could stay there at the school and paid for the solar out there. These are charging stations, actually this is over at Brookhaven college, the students that can go out and sit at those tables and plug in their laptops and their cellphones and charge them over there. Also there's a pergola that we built for – there's a trail that runs all the way from Denton to downtown Dallas, and there's a bridge right there on the back of Brookhaven college that this pergola right there, you can see how we put them in the middle of the solar panels and then it broadcasts the shadow on the ground, on the floor, so they they liked that idea and the solar actually, there's charging stations there also, but in the – on the right on the background, you can see the bridge that goes over that creek over there, there's a bunch of lights on it and that solar there is powering all those lights also. So they – we've even put them on boathouses, you know, so we've put them on tiny homes, you can put them on anything. All our trucks, Moby, fat Elvis and the Kardashian, all of them have solar on them that are completely self-sufficient. When we do a service change at some little old lady's house and she's afraid her meat's gonna spoil in the refrigerator, we just plug it into Moby and run an extension cord over there, plug her refrigerator in, and so she's always happy about that. But everybody, the first – well, there's two questions that everybody asks.

[Speaker A]:   I'm from Wylie, I guess we we we have hail.

[Thomas Edds]:  Yeah, I know, yeah. First question is always, what if my roof leaks? We've installed over 70,000 panels and I have never had a roof leak where the solar panels are mounted. We've had roof leaks on the other side of the roof that we didn't put solar panels, but we were the last ones up there so we fixed it. It wasn't any argument for that. And the second question is always hail, how do they hold up to hail? Well I have never, out of 70,000 solar panels, ever replaced one, even in Wylie, the hail stones was going through the decking, through the sheetrock and breaking furniture inside the house, and I didn't have one single solar panel break. They're that tough. This is on a commercial roof down downtown Dallas, it's actually a roofing company that we put solar panels on, and there's an elevated neighborhood right back behind them, and on New Year's Eve there's certain demographics that like to discharge their weapons on New Year's Eve, and that was three years ago, and this is last year. It actually lodged in the solar panel, the first one you can see, it didn't it didn't penetrate the solar panel, it just broke the glass, but the the one last year, it actually – that's a .45, it penetrated the glass and mushroomed behind the glass, and it's still working today. The moisture is the only thing that really will will hurt a solar panel, the glass and everything on the front is very tough, like we said. Forklifts aren't very friendly to them, but you know, other than that, the only way you can damage a solar panel is on the back of it, there's a plastic water barrier that seals it and everything. If you scratch the back of it, then it will degrade over time. Modules, almost all the modules are warrantied for 25 years. How many things do you know that somebody would stand behind their warranty for 25 years, you know? 'Cause there's no moving parts, it's just one of those things that they guarantee that they will do 80% in 50 years. So but this is a little video just to show you how tough they are. So yeah, they are very very tough. Like I said, I have never replaced one from hail until about three months ago, there were six and I can't say that they were quality modules to begin with, out in McKinney from that last hailstorm. It did not break the glass, what it did, it broke the module underneath the glass. So the little cells, the black areas there, the cells, it actually broke the cell underneath there and it looked like little gold lightning underneath it, and that's the only way we could tell. They're still working, I have them in my shop, but we replaced those and gave them a bigger system. But you know, they are tough, it's amazing. One of the first jobs that I did that – I don't know, eight years ago over in Arlington, they had a tornado come across south Arlington right over 20, I had just put a system on a house over there and we – I mean it was like two days before we finished it – after we finished it, and so I heard about all the hail and I turn on the news that morning, and the news people were standing in that couple's front yard, they were filming the house across the street 'cause the tornado basically took the top of that house off. So I called them up, I said dude, what does my solar panels look like? You know, I wanted to know. He said, we had 18 inches of hailstorms, 18 inches deep in their front yard, not a single solar panel was broke. He said the tornado came right over the top of their house, but we put the solar panels over the master bedroom and the son's bedroom, just the razor over that part 'cause it needed to face the south, not by design, it's just that was the best location for it. The tornado, not a single shingle was missing over the bedroom, their son's bedroom or their bedroom, not any damage whatsoever, but the living room, kitchen and the garage was on, and I'll show you in a little bit the process of why that happens. Actually, this is starting it. When we start a system, we'll draw it out on the roof with chalk, that way, first rain, the chalk is gone, but we find our joist. We have to actually find the joist and we pre-drill a 5/16ths whole to make sure we hit the center of the joist, we put some roofing pookie around, and then we put this flashing over it. It's the same thing that like your plumbing flashings over your roof and everything, we've used those for 100 million years you know and seals the roof. Well, systems that we put on all have flashings on them. Now I can't say that all solar cells companies use these things, they just will actually just screw a screw through your decking and they don't have flashings and everything. To me, it's not worth my $5 that I have to put into this job to worry about somebody having a roof leak. That's why we've never had a roof leak at the solar modules, and some of the biggest name companies don't use flashings. Once we put the flashings down, then we'll put the rails on and the rails is where the modules will be mounted. This system has micro inverters, under each module it has its own inverter, it inverts – the modules produce DC electric, each one of them produces about 36 to 42 volts DC, that little micro inverter will invert that 40 volt DC to a 240 volt AC, so then it's run through your house in AC just like the rest of your house is. That's a micro inverter system, there's a strung system, kind of the first systems that we came out with years ago that we still use, it's more like the Christmas tree stuff. Like you were saying a while ago, if one module goes bad, then what happens to the string? Well on a strung system, each – on this micro inverter system like this, each individual one is an individual string. They all are talking back to each other, they'll all say hey, I'm okay, you're okay, or one's going hey, something's wrong, I don't have the sun, but y'all take my power and everything and boost yours so you don't lose any power, they're very very smart. The strung system though is kind of like your old Christmas tree lights. If one goes bad, usually the system won't go down because we're aiming for like 600 volts, we're stringing all these modules together to go up to say 500 volts, the new systems are 1,000 volts, the newest one that they're trying to come out with right now is 1,500 volts DC. If you've ever been shocked in your house with 120 volts AC, the reason why you can get off of AC is because it passes zero 120 times a second. In DC, it goes up to that voltage that you're at and it never goes back to zero, so when you get hung up on DC, 600 volt DC, it hurts, and you have to you have to really be mindful to take yourself and let yourself go, force yourself to get off of it. Tommy, one day, was talking about, he was bragging about he was the only one that's a member of our crew that wasn't a member of the 600 volt DC club. Well he talked too quick, 'cause that same day on the way out to Denton to the job, my other helper, we were inside the garage making up the inverter and he was up on the roof and all, and he's about 250, 260, and you could you could hear him, it was picking him up and just flopping him like a like a whale on the beach, and he was hung up pretty good and then he finally got off of it and let go. He said, I didn't know whether just to fall off the roof, or you know, what to do, but he finally got off and he was – like I said, he talked a little too quick for that day. But once we put the rails up and all, then we put the modules on, all the wiring, one thing that the National Electric Code and all the inspectors look for is wire management. All the wires need to be tie wrapped or strapped some way to the railing or the modules, they can't be hanging down on the roof, 'cause the winds will chafe that, the insulation's on the roof and all and then you'll have bare wires and it can damage your system. Used to, the wires that they used when they first came out years ago, it was like candy to squirrels. Squirrels just loved it. Well, the last eight years, the wire manufacturer put some stuff in the wire where varmints don't like it, so we don't have any of those problems anymore, and that's that's the end phase. That's the new IQ7, it's the newest one of their micro inverters, and there'll be one of those underneath each module. Where I said, there's one of these underneath each module and does the inverters independently like that. The strung system, you only have one inverter and it'll be on your wall over there by your meter. We have to put a disconnect within six feet of your electrical meter for the power company to come over, and if they're working down line on your street or something, they don't want you to be back feeding onto the grid while they are working on that system, so you have to sign an interconnect agreement and we have to put a disconnect where they can come over there and turn your system off and put their padlock on it while they're working on the lines, and then they'll come back and turn it back on. Once they turn it back on, once we've set it all up you don't have to worry about it, it will automatically come back up and start recording and all that stuff. The nice thing, the thing about string – strung inverters is you can only monitor at the inverter, so if you have a strung system, you only have one place to monitor, you can only monitor the total amount of electricity that you're producing, whereas in micro inverters, you have an inverter at each module, you can actually tell – there's a map that I can show you that we do of your house, and you can see every single module, how much they're producing, and if you have a [audio malfunction] makes it a good troubleshooting tool for us because we can actually see which one is not working and we can go up there in about 15 minutes and get it [audio malfunction] whereas a strung system, it'll take a couple hours to find which one is bad, 'cause it's like hunting for that lightbulb in that Christmas tree string that you used to have to do. Like I said, modules are warrantied for 25 years, most of the inverters now have gone from a 10 year to a 25 year warranty, we've – you know I've replaced the 3 out of 70,000 solar modules, we've probably replaced less than 1% of inverters. They're pretty pretty good. Then all your penetrations in your deck, in your roof that's going into the attic, the wiring and everything, we put a solar deck on there and it's actually got a flange like like the other things, so you don't have any leaks, and there's a thousand caution solar stickers on there, everything has red and yellow stickers that has any kind of solar circuits in there, so the homeowners, any service men that you have working over there, your neighbor that thinks he's an electrician, everybody everybody knows, this is solar, this isn't normal electricity. Like I said, we have to put a disconnect beside the meter and usually there's an inverter – a strung system, the inverter would be the white box that's on the on the right of the disconnect, if it's if it's a micro inverter, there's a combiner box there that we combine all the circuits together before we take it to the disconnect, and then there's a breaker, usually there's a breaker in your existing panel that we back feed right into your panel, you have more pressure than the power company does, so you will use your electricity that you're creating in your house from your solar, you will use it first. Any excess that you have, it will actually push it back out on the grid and turn your meter backwards, so during the day we call what our legal time for solar is 9:00 AM to about 3:00 or 4:00 PM, that's when you'll be producing 90% of all your solar, although on a full moon night you'll actually be producing solar with that full moon. The light fluffy clouds that we have sometimes, if they're white and kinda sparse up in the sky, it will knock a little production down, but the three colors of light that actually make solar works penetrates right through those white clouds. The big black clouds like we've had yesterday and everything, yeah, your system might produce 1%, but they just work. But the all your electricity will go through that disconnect, go back into your back fed breaker in your panel, and you'll use yours and then turn your meter backwards during the day and then let the power company store it, you don't have to have batteries, it's called a grid tie system, and they, by law, they have to allow you to do that. So they'll store your electricity, and then at night when you don't have the solar you just suck it back off the grid and turn your meter forward, and we try to get the system built where at the end of your billing cycle you have you have produced at least 90% of what you've used. We can we can over-bill the system, but the cost of the system versus what you're actually giving back to the power company, you know you're you're actually – unless you're in Garland, I'm in the city of Garland, Garland Power & Light actually pays me for my overage and there is some systems like Green Mountain, TXU has a solar program sometimes, it's – I say it's it's like they pick and choose however they wake up in the morning, what side of the bed they get up on, so you have to be updated all the time which one has got a program on it. Our salesman knows, knows all those guys and they send us all that information all the time. But Green Mountain's kinda the big player of the solar industry, they're 100% renewable generating company and they will, on the end of the billing cycle of that month, if you have an overage, they'll actually book it for a month that you don't have enough. So 9 months a year, we build a system where 9 months a year it'll pay all your electricity, and you'll have a little bit more, but in the summer, the 3 months of the hottest summer, the system isn't built to produce all the electricity there but you have a little money leftover from the winter and so it pays it. Most of my customers say, I haven't had an electricity bill in 7 or 8 years. My electricity bill at Garland Power & Light has been somewhere between $7 and $17 a month for the last 14 years, but I'm fixing to add a little more on it 'cause they got that new program. And then you just let mother nature pay your electricity bill, it's very clean, you know I might be biased but I don't think it's intrusive to the eye, it looks like a big window on your house, and I asked everybody that said, oh, those things are the ugliest things in the world and everything, I said how often do you look at your neighbor's roof you know? You look at their front door and their yard, but how often do you look at their roof? In the state of Texas, HOAs cannot refuse you to put solar on your house. They can make it a little hard for you, for us, 'cause we handle all that kinda stuff to get the HOA approval. Southlake tied us up for two years, but you know, the homeowner was persistent that he wanted solar on his $6 million house, didn't even face the HOA, he was on the back of the property and everything, the HOA property and all, and they just thought that somebody was gonna drive by their house and think, those poor people didn't have enough money to pay for their electricity bill. So they had to put solar up there. But anyway, and then you just turn your meter backwards like I was saying. The wind turbines, we talked a little bit about horizontal wind turbines. This is a vertical wind turbine that that we've been working with Mike over at Be-Wind, they actually are straight up and down like you see. The generators are at the bottom so they they turn in a helix design. This is actually a double helix design. L'Oreal, we put 12 of them on L'Oreals – all the L'Oreal distribution centers. They have nine different distribution centers around the world and we put those on all of them. The biggest one out there of of Mike's, the Be-Wind, is a 7kw, so it's not a big huge producer, but like the solar, you can't see it up there on the roof, so the companies want something to look green so they put those 12 wind turbines in all their distribution centers. We've got a contract now to go put two of them up on all of the Bank of America buildings. We're gonna start with the one in Plano before Christmas. The nice thing about his, they have LED lights on them so they light up at night, so for advertising. But that's pretty much my presentation, if anybody has any questions?

[Speaker B]:  Have you had an experience where electricity might have blown out one of your inverters or cut the line on those panels?

[Thomas Edds]:   Yeah, there's always – I've been an electrician for – since '76. I taught the third and fourth year apprentices out out at North Lake college for 18 years, and as much as we know how to control electricity, we don't know how to control it you know? It will – it has done some of the most oddest things in the world. Why, it would actually go not go across this piece of wire right here and actually go across a piece of plastic that's not conductive. I did third party investigations for the power company and the cities and all that stuff for years and I got some really really gross photos of of people that got tied up in accidents and everything with electricity, and it's just – we just wonder why that happened, we try our best to do a study and figure out what happened and try to create a environment where it won't happen again, but there's some situations you're just like going, I don't know, you know. I'm not the not the smartest guy in the world, but even the smartest guys are like going, we don't know either, so you know.

[Speaker C]:  [unintelligible] Solar power in parking lots, where they put solar power above the cars to generate [unintelligible] and people are parking underneath. Is there any of that here?

[Thomas Edds]:        Well I actually I had – I met with this campus, I met with this campus for projects the last couple years, but last Tuesday I met with this this college here that they're wanting to do that in all their parking lots, just to – because like you said, in California, there's enough parking lot here to pay for this electricity, and it doesn't cost you any more than what you're already paying the electrical company, so why wouldn't you? That's that's always my my thing. We can finance it for a 13 year note and actually get your electricity bill $5 less than what you were paying the electricity company for 13 years. After you pay that note off, then you have free electricity. Well if you stay with the electrical company, you'll pay that that amount to the electrical company for the rest of the life, plus they're raising your rate every every year, 4% - 5%. So I don't know why people wouldn't, you know? All right.

[Speaker D]:  You're getting money back from Garland, but there's some areas that won't pay, they'll let the meter spin back but they don't really pay. Is it Dallas that doesn't pay?

[Thomas Edds]:        Well Oncor is in Dallas, they don't really pay but your your billing company, you can sign up with TXU or Green Mountain and they will. If you if you're on Oncor systems, you can pick and choose whatever electrical billing company you want. Some of the co-ops don't allow that, Garland Power & Light, Garland Power & Light – I'm on the city council over there – the Garland Power & Light actually owns the largest generating facility in the state of Texas. They own the one that Denton uses up in Denton, but then we use the ones over there in Garland that we have, and the biggest one's down in down by College Station. It's sitting there idle right now 'cause it's a coal fire. But you know, the more we do sustainable to maintain what you're using on your property, like creating your own electricity, getting your – saving your own rainwater that is coming off your roof, I have like 30,000 gallons of rainwater at my house 'cause I'm about 50% flower gardens, front yard and back yard. My wife is a flower nut and I'm a hole digger, so you know, so it works well. So we water all that kinda stuff. All right?

[Speaker E]:  My home has been solar since [unintelligible] the generator, the electricity was sent back to the power company, only evening we use our solar [unintelligible] however I agree that [unintelligible] what do you think about spending energy on environment?

[Thomas Edds]:        For recycling them?

[Speaker E]:  Yes.

[Thomas Edds]:        That's that's you know like everything, we create stuff for one time use and then we bury it in the ground, but that's something that we we do need to come up with a better source, just like all the plastic and all that stuff, the plastic islands that are floating around out in our oceans, we haven't gotten a good answer for all that kinda stuff, but.

[Speaker F]:   So I had a question. [unintelligible]

[Thomas Edds]:        Well there are environments that there's a situation that was built on the other side of Red Oak, California, and Phoenix has done a lot of that where a community, a HOA has built their own power plants like at a at a park. I'm involved right now with – the biggest thing right now is we've gotten solar panels, the modules and the inverters, working really really well, the next thing is actually batteries, how to store that electricity during the day. I can't say a brand that has a symbol that begins with the first letter of my name, they are very good marketers, they're fantastic marketers, and their cars are really pretty good. But their batteries have no place being in your home. They will catch on fire.

[Speaker G]:  Expensive, too.

[Thomas Edds]:  Yeah, well they – the battery systems won't really ever pay for themselves like the solar will. But we can actually reduce the amount of solar put on your house if you back feed what what you were putting back out on the grid, if you back feed it into a battery and then at night use it off that battery, or you know we just had that tornado come through and a lot of people didn't have power and everything. If you had a battery system then you you have your own emergency power. I tell everybody when they start talking about batteries, I just said well, it's like this. I can do enough battery power at a cost that you'll like if you wanna go camping whenever you lose power. But if you want your whole house, you know, there's a three story house hanging off the cliff in in – on Lake Grapevine, his battery room's bigger than this room you know, and we had to pour a 16 inch slab just to hold all the weight. But you know, if you got enough money to throw it away, I'll spend it any way you want me to, but –

[Speaker E]:  Batteries are expensive [unintelligible]

[Thomas Edds]:  Right, but yeah, the Sonnen battery is a German company, German engineered company, they have a lithium battery. There's always another product that's mixed in with lithium to actually make it store electricity. The ones with the single digit name company, the the product that they mix it with is very very flammable. The ones that Sonnen uses, it's not flammable, you can cut it in half with a hacksaw. It's it was such a good company that Shell Oil just bought it, so and Shell Oil is trying to push all that stuff. There's a 600 unit apartment complex that is on plans for the city of Dallas, and we are gonna put a Sonnen battery system in each and every one of those just to start creating, we're gonna put enough solar so they will be 100% sustainable within their walls.

[Speaker H]:  Before you wrap up Thomas, we're almost – time's almost up – would you address the solar tax credits and how that's gonna change –

[Thomas Edds]: Okay, the the tax credits this year ends, the 30% tax credit. Whatever we do for you to put solar up, if we build you a pergola and put the solar up, the structure that's holding the solar up, everything is 30% tax deductible. If you need a new roof, we'll put the new roof on, that's 30% tax deductible. If you want a carport, we can build you a pergola big enough to put your car under but you can't call it a carport, it's 30% tax deductible. It's all in the way you word things.

[Speaker H]:  [unintelligible] in 2020.