>> Welcome here to our On-Site Solar and Net Zero Energy Building for Colleges and Universities Conferences. We are so delighted to have you here today. I'm Georgeann Moss. I'm the Executive Administrator of Sustainability Outreach and Initiatives for Dallas County Community College District. And you may or may not know that on May 4th, DCCCD voters passed a $1.1 billion bond issue for the community college district. So, we're very excited about that. We're very grateful to the voters for putting their trust in us. And we believe it is our fiduciary responsibility to the tax holders who entrusted us with this project to build the most energy-efficient buildings possible, and to ensure that we help Dallas reduce its air quality issues by either purchasing or generating our own renewable energy on-site. So, that is why we're having this conference today. Our team wants to learn more about the opportunities in these areas. And DCCCD's sustainability team, many members who are here today, are strongly encouraging our colleges to consider including on-site solar on their existing campuses and on new buildings. We're also encouraging them to consider building Net Zero Energy Buildings in the new bond program. So, in preparation for all of the planning and the decision-making that needs to be done, our facilities directors ask for an educational opportunity like this. And so that's why we're here today. However, we knew that we weren't the only ones who had these kind of questions. So, we opened it up to other colleges and universities and to other ISDs as well. So, today, we are scheduled to have representatives from all seven DCCCD colleges. We're scheduled to have reps from UT Arlington, UT Dallas, and Southwestern University, and also Denton ISD and Garland ISD. So, we're grateful to our sponsors who helped us promote this event. And that would be TRACKS, which is the Texas Regional Alliance for, Texas Regional Alliance for Campus Sustainability. And also the RCE, the Regional Center for Excellence at UT Arlington. We're especially grateful to the excellent presenters that we have here today, and a video will be made available to you after today. It will probably take about a month to release it. And so feel free to share that with anyone else at your organization who you like, who you would like to do. And so one of the things that I want to mention is that there are at least two ways to do solar on your campus or at your ISD or on your university. And there are probably more ways, which Dan will tell us about later. But the first way is to purchase and maintain the equipment yourself, right? And so we're going to talk about that today. But the other way is you can participate in a power purchase agreement with a third party vendor who can use the tax credits that are attached to it, and they will install and maintain a solar system on your system on your property for you. So, basically, you're just buying the energy from a third party vendor. And they'll take care of all the maintenance and everything. So, so, that's, I just want to kind of set a framework for this. Dan's going to tell us about all of those different options today. And we will continue to have more workshops in the future as needed. And so what I really want to hear from y'all later is what do you want to hear about in the future, and we will go ahead and put those together for you as well. So, now it is my pleasure to introduce our keynote speaker, Mr. Dan Lipinski. And Dan has been serving the solar industry since 1972. He is a widely recognized expert in North Texas, and quite frankly, nationally as well. He was awarded the 2010 State of Texas Renewable Energy Industry's Association honoree and award recipient for meritorious achievement in renewable energy. In 2016, he received the Memnosyne Institute's Sustainable Leadership Award. In 2017, or since 2017, he's been working with the United States Department of Energy National BCAP Project, and he is still working on that. And he is a member of the Texas Energy Advisory Council. So, that's just a small portion of his awards and recognitions. Again, Dan will tell you more about his background as we go on. But right now, if you will help me welcome Mr. Dan Lipinski to the podium.
>> Thank you. It doesn't sound like the audio is working very well. At least maybe it's better elsewhere. I will be audible I hope in the entire room. Thank you, Georgeann. She left out a couple little tiny items that may help. The United States Department of Energy Program that she was talking about, nobody knows what NECAP stands for, you know, and it's not bottle cap either, it's more like, it's the Building Codes Assistance Project. And in 2015, I was put under contract by the State of Texas as the state's subject matter expert on solar and tasked with conducting a lot of workshops around the state. At about the same time, the Department of Energy came out and said, hey, we've got another program. Do you have anybody that might be interested? State forwarded it onto me. And on a lark, I went ahead and filled out the proposal form and sent it back. Didn't even think anything about it. They received proposals nationwide, literally from all over the country. They selected seven people, two of which are engineers, and I'm one of the two engineers they chose for that project. It's ongoing and it's an education project where we're teaching engineers and architects how to incorporate energy efficiency and solar in the new construction. Having said that, let's just go ahead and get started very briefly. I am a licensed professional engineer, which allows me to tag the letters PE after my name. A lot of folks say, what does PE stand for? I say, at least in my form, it's plain English. I hope to at least keep that for all of you today. I'm going to turn this kind of presentation a little bit on its head. A lot of times, you in in and they're presentation-heavy. This is going to be presentation-light, question-heavy. Write down questions as you get through them, and we were going to have--we're going to have a lot of Q&A time. And if you say, I don't even know what to ask, that's a starting point. Just a very brief rundown on me, the only one that's really important up there is the bottom one. Kind of rattled through some of those others. Today's presentation. We're going to go through a very minimal amount of technical. In fact, the very first page is the only page where there's anything technical at all. We're talking a little bit about the economics.
This is the Whitman's Sampler. You get a little bit of everything. And in the breakout sessions, we've got two that follow. We're going to flesh out what you're seeing there on the screen right now with the majority of the items that you need to know. We're going to touch on each one of these in this first hour, and then go into them in more depth in the following two hours, okay? If you do have questions, if we can handle it while we're running, I like to answer questions on the fly. If we're finding that it's dragging down the session too much, I may ask you to hold it. But if that happens, I'll let you know. Otherwise, let's just go ahead and get started. This is today's agenda, at least for the morning session. Frankly, it should have been done a little bit reversed in a way. The folks from McKinstry who are going to be talking to you this afternoon, I find that energy efficiency in buildings is more important upfront than the solar. You do the efficiency part, then you don't have to put as much solar on a building or elsewhere to have a good impact. So, what they're going to give you this afternoon is probably even a little bit more important than what I'm about to give you this morning. I'm glad to have you guys here. Let's go ahead and get started. This is the most complicated part of the entire program today. You're going to hear me rattle through some of these. We talk about photovoltaic. We abbreviate it PV. Just like I don't say I'm going to take, and I'm not going down to the automobile wash, I'm going to the car wash. Well, it just simply means electricity from light. We talk solar, we talk about PV. And I will use PV through the course of the presentation. Solar cells. I've got samples today. I want you guys to take a look at them. You never get a chance to see what a solar cell looks like. These are just simply a component that converts sunlight into electricity. A photovoltaic module. That's just a collection of solar cells put into one unit. I even brought us a couple of solar panels with me. You'll get a chance to see them. We talk about solar panels. I'm old school. An array is just multiple solar panels. I've got a picture coming up. You'll get a chance to see it. Direct current. Solar panels generate direct current from sunlight. That means it just flows in one direction, just like electricity from a flashlight cell, or a car battery, or anything else. Water through the garden hose is direct. It just means it's going in one direction that doesn't go back and forth. Its counterpart is the alternating current like we get from an outlet in our homes or our businesses.
Watts? Well, that's energy. It's very simple. See, amount of electrical power. Watts is like your speedometer in your car. How fast are you going at any given moment? Whereas its counterpart are what we call watt hours. That's like the odometer. How much have you consumed over time?
And then last but not least, I've got a four-letter word here. It's called math. It's just 1,000. I mean, we talk about kilometers, kilograms, kilo anything. It's 1,000. Watt hours is too small of a unit, so we talk about kilowatt hours even more when we're talking about energy. Last but not least, there is a box. It changes all of the solar electricity into something that we can connect to the utility grid. It converts, or changes the direct current into alternating current that we can hook up to the wires. This is the extent of the technology that we're going to be discussing today. Everything else is absolutely plain English. I know a lot of folks think, well, solar energy is a fairly new thing. Actually, archaeologists have found Grecian remains, if you will, you know, sites and so forth, where they built buildings more than two and a half centuries ago, or we added to the Sun to help keep them warm in the winter and cooler in the summer. This is from the 1882 World's Fair in Paris. That dish that you see and that little cylinder in the middle, I held water, it boiled water, and what you're looking at is a printing press that was run by steam, created by sunlight. This is an actual drawing of that event. It preceded the cameras easily. 1909, 1906, pardon me. This is a hot water system. I even brought a baby hot water panel for you to look at. Hot water is actually even better use of the sunlight. It's just not as sexy. More than 100 years ago in California, Bell Telephone, Ma Bell is credited with actually inventing the solar cells, in part because they used to have batteries sitting on the telephone poles to keep electricity for the phones. Problem was, batteries would go dead every three to four weeks, and so there was an army of guys running around, constantly changing them out. They discovered; they, AT&T discovered at that time, Bell Telephone, that they could put these on the power lines, and it substantially extended the battery life. This is what they look like. Some are black, some are kind of a beautiful mosaic blue, some slightly different color, but they're all made from one common element, beach sand, silicon. Same thing that we have in our microprocessors and other things.
The one cell goes into a module. One module adds up two or more into an array. That's as far as I'm going to go with that. The one common question: I've got an old solar panel here leaning against the wall. This is one that people often ask. I'm going to answer this one early for you. They say, how long do solar panels last? Well, I'll tell you right now, this is more than 40 years old now, and it still works. So, when somebody says, how long are the solar panels going to last? The answer is, I don't know. They're still working. This is one of my first solar panels right here. The plastic was white as you see here. I've got plastic here in the back that's white. But in the front, it turned brown. Somebody said, why? I said, well, if you sat in the sun for 40 years, you'd be kind of brown-colored too. But the fun part is that it actually changes the chemistry a little bit in the plastic. And they found ways around that ever since. Now, when we talk about solar, I don't know about you guys. Everybody has a home. You pay a utility bill, I presume. And I don't know about you guys, but a lot of folks feel this way. This is what's happening with, oh my gosh, here comes the utility bill.
Very basic. I start out and say, where does electricity come from? Well, let's start out with this tomato. Let's pretend that it's New Year's, and at New Year's, you might have a party. You're off, you're not working, schools are closed. As a part of that party, you serve a salad. Well, what goes into salad? Lettuce, cabbage, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes. But on December 31st, that tomato did not grow here, it didn't grow in Minneapolis. It's too cold. I mean, we've had snow on New Year's. Where did that tomato come from? Maybe Southern Florida, maybe very Southern Texas. Southern California, Mexico, other places, but certainly not here. Ever seen a tomato seed? They're the size of a head of a pin. And from that little tiny seed, we end up with tomato plants. Well, somebody had to plant that seed. Grow it, cultivate it, get it to where you had fruit on the plant, harvest the fruit, take it to some kind of a warehouse or other packaging facility, put it into crates, put the crates in the trucks, ship it out to a distribution center, sometimes thousands of miles away, put it into another warehouse where it's put into packaging or other means where it's now taken down to the local grocery stores, so that you can go drive in your car, buy the tomatoes, go back to your house, clean them, slice them, and put them in your salad. From the beginning of that plant as a little tiny seed to the time that tomato landed on your table, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how much, generally how much energy it took to get it from that seed to your table. A lot.^* Pretend now that tomato is growing in a large 15-inch clay pot on your back porch. Maybe you've got a little clay pot with the--you've got two or three tomato plants sitting there. Go out on your back porch, you pluck out a tomato or two; take it inside, how much energy went into getting that one to your table? When you grow it where you use it, you eliminate everything else in between. Let's take a look at a real picture of kind of how the United States power grid operates. But this is generally applicable worldwide. You look up on the one side, the left side, and you see all the power plants. We have a NIMBY, not-in-my-backyard attitude. I want my electricity, but I don't want them anywhere near me. If it's 300 miles away, I'm fine. If it's visible, I don't want it. So, those tend to be long distances away. Then you've got all those big transmission lines. You drive out on the interstates and you're headed across state, across country, even here in the cities you see these great big lines carrying the electricity. That's Encore. That's Center Point. That's other people that own those lines. Next, you've got, as we look at it, the retailers. Now, this is almost, almost, in a way, like the food stores. You've got the producers, you've got the people that transport it, you've got the retailers. Then what? The customers. We're the tail end of that whole thing right there. Starting from where it says electric generation companies, electricity generation, to the time it starts to the time it ends, it's been proven that we lose somewhere between half and three-quarters of all that energy. So, for every one unit of energy you save, there's two to three more units that weren't lost along the way. It's a very inefficient process.
This is how it works. Now, realize, this is a residence, but there's an old movie that I remember. There was a time when Jimmy Stewart--now, I'm looking around, anybody here know, not know who Jimmy Stewart is as an actor? Well, I walked into a room of college kids not long ago, and I said Jimmy Stewart, and they said, Jimmy who? Well, that hurt. He was in a movie. It was called Flight of the Phoenix. One of the men onboard this aircraft that had crashed in the Saharan Desert turned out to be an aircraft engineer. And he helped them resurrect what they could of that airplane. Halfway through the movie, I'm sorry, I hope I'm not breaking the plot line for anybody here, partway through the movie, he's sitting there reading this model airplane magazine, and he said, oh, we see you're into the models too. He says, no, this is what I do. And they said, you're an aircraft engineer. He said, I am, it's just a matter of scale. What happens here is exactly the same as happens anywhere, whether it's on a home, a school, a business, or anywhere else. This is how it works. Very simply, the solar panels sit out in the sunlight and they generate electricity from the sun. There's that little box that's shown in the picture. In this case, it's shown as a white box. And that changes the sunlight direct current into alternating current that we can plug into our house wiring or our business wiring. You've got the nasty utility meter, tells us how much we've used. But in this case, when you put solar in your home and you do it with the arrangement with the power company, they also think it's just a meter to measure anything that you may generate in excess. The excess means if it's producing all that you need and more, it will provide power for the entire home or building and go backwards with the excess into the grid, and you can accrue credit for that from some power companies. Now, there's a federal law called PURPA, says they're supposed to give you credit. It just doesn't say at what rate. So, they keep it low enough. A lot of the companies just don't even mess with it. This is the whole thing. Now, at some point through the day, I brought in a demo here that I use. And this is no joke. And, again, I don't mean to disparage bankers. They're the least technical people that I generally know. I can show this to them, and they understand that process over here in 30 seconds. They get it right now. I'm going to give you an opportunity. We'll circulate through and we'll give everybody a chance to see it. Now, some key points that Georgeann wanted me to touch on a little bit. And, again, we're going to delve into this in more depth in the breakout session. Site selection.
How do you know where to put the stuff? Well, there's only a few places. It's on a building or on the ground. I understand Richmond College has got some here. Anybody confirm that for me? Okay, on the ground?
Oh, parking lot lamps. Okay, site selection. I want you to spend just a moment. I went through and I gathered aerial photos of every campus in your district. Just look at them. Absorb it. Remember it.
Now, I'm going to pause here, because that's where we are right now.
What'd you notice about those campuses? This is interactive now. Go ahead.
>> I think of big surface areas that we could use for panels.
>> Lot of space.
>> A lot of space.
>> A lot of open space.
>> On the ground, on both.
>> You're absolutely correct. Here's the answers real quick. Not all of them, but the important ones. A lot of large open area, a lot of roof space. Now, we spend a lot of time in air conditioning in the summer, or in the warmer months. You know what happens? You put solar panels on there, and they're automatic shade for the buildings. So, you instantly end up with a little bit less heat gain in the buildings. And in the winter, it doesn't matter because you're not getting any heat with the summer, with the Sun anyway. Number two, if you notice that most of them can be--they're running north and south? Eastfield College is a little bit diagonal to the Sun, but that's okay. So, that's southwest. Almost every campus is running north and south, or at least has a lot of north, south roof area. Why is that important? We want to point the solar panels to the south where they pick up the majority of the Sun. And parking areas. There are people that are now installing parking canopies, and they're putting solar panels on them. Now you're not only shading the cars, but you're getting, you know, solar electricity in the process. Those are just a few key points that you might have picked up, just in those photos of the campus.
What else did you see?
This isn't church. You guys are welcome to speak up. Well, we've got one.
>> A lot of grounds.
>> A lot of ground. A lot of open space. It may not be suitable for building. And we're not talking about green space. There's a lot of space that just simply isn't suitable for anything else. It might be a little bit removed from the buildings. That was the other key. You're good. Very observant. Got a lot of open area. If you ever get time, how many people, just by a show of hands, how many people here use Google Earth, or ever have? Most of you. I'm going to point you toward a campus in Phoenix called South Mountain Community College. And they've got a huge set of solar panels set up on the ground away from the campus a little bit. You can make use of that if it's not usable for anything else. So, we talk about purchasing. Again, these are all kind of just little bits. This is not intended to be instructional in-depth at this point. These are all topics that we're going to be delving into in the breakout sessions, okay?
Okay, his comment. What if you can get 350 BTU per hour per square foot from the sun?
He works-- he worked on air conditioning and other systems. Well, it's hard to relate the BTU, 350 BTU per square foot per hour. Well, let's translate that into something that we do understand. At a one ton, quote unquote, one ton window air conditioner rated for one ton of cooling capacity is 12,000 BTU in round numbers. So, if you've got 345 BTU per foot, doesn't take a lot of square feet to start adding up in a hurry.
Actually, we, we actually, believe it or not, for all of our energy work, BTU is kind of a common ground. It's British thermal unit. And it may not mean anything to a lot of you. That's okay. You know, one of the things that I've run into, and I go into conferences and workshops, the first question I almost always universally ask is how many people don't even know what to ask. This is for fun. How many people when you walked in this morning, don't even know what to ask? About half of you, at least. Yeah, that means I can pick on one of the other half of you that didn't raise your hand, and I can retire now, because I don't know what to ask. I'll have to anyway. Georgeann mentioned; here are some options. You can purchase it outright, meaning you buy it, you own it. You've got bond money to work with. That's one approach. There are other financing mechanisms that I'm going to get a little bit off my path here for just a moment. I've got to mention something through the State of Texas called Lonestar. It's all one word. It's annulled through the Comptroller's Office. I've got information on that coming up. But that provides loans to educational institutions, among others, at typically less than 2%. And you'll find that if you structure everything properly, the reduction in your electric consumption, the value of that is greater than what you're paying back on the loan. You might be paying back, I'm just going to grab a number, $10,000 a month for the loan, and your savings in the energy consumption is $12,000. You're already cash flow positive if you do it right. Can you do it wrong? Yeah.^* We're going to touch on some of those too. Now, she also happened to mention a lease. This is also handled through what is called, and we call it a PPA, or power purchase agreement, meaning somebody else owns the hardware. They just put it up on your building and then they sell you the electricity. Twenty years ago, these were a very, very good approach, in many cases, to putting it onto your buildings and your homes and so forth. It is not necessary today. Financing is actually cheaper than leasing. And there's one more hidden gotcha. I serve in both a contracted capacity as a design engineer and a consulting capacity to the City of Dallas. They were looking at solar panels and so forth, and they were looking at this option. And buried way deep in the contract that also showed, oh, and by the way, every year we're going to raise the price on you. So, when you utilize a power purchase agreement through a lease, look for what is called an escalation clause. And you may end up paying--and they started out at, you know, very competitively. But the contract ended up at double what they were paying at that time. So, it can be very expensive. And you don't even see it because it's got so much fine print in the wherebys and therefores. Guess what you guys just did. Congratulations. Well, I'll tell you what. As a district, I saw that go through, and I went wow, at a time when the buying public is getting a little bit shy about approving bonds, the whole east side of the Metroplex, you guys came through. Frisco, Plano, I mean, this whole east side, the public came through immensely for you guys. Very impressive. There are also grants available. You can reduce the costs of the equipment through grants. And I'm talking direct grant money. No repayment required. Just a straight grant.
Now, I had mentioned I was getting a little ahead of myself. Here's the Lonestar program again that's handled through SECO, the State Energy Conservation Office. I do have a link coming up where you can get it.
Now, we talk about incentives. These are going away slowly as a non-profit, or in this case, as a government entity in some form. We have got federal tax credits as individuals, as businesses, and so forth. At the moment, it's still 30% of the installed cost. If as a business or a business owner, you install, pick a number, $100,000 worth of solar equipment, $30,000 of that is eligible as a tax credit. Not a reduction. A tax credit. And that's important. Encore, our local power distribution company. They don't sell electricity. Many people think of them as a retail provider. They're not. They just simply own the toll road. Encore provides money up to a certain amount, up to a certain size system. Typically, the high end gets you around $80,000. But if you're a small business, that's a pretty good chunk of change. Okay, we're also going to be working with design and installation. And this is an, okay, we've kind of decided we want to go ahead and do this. How do we go about it? What's our first step? Well, I will tell you, like any other industry, solar has had its share of good companies, and unfortunately, some bad ones. I'm going to show you how at least to evaluate companies. Where do you go to find these firms? I'll tell you, I was walking through the EarthX down here at the fairgrounds at the event. And, yeah, I've been at it long enough. One of the nice things is nobody knows who I am. When I walk out in the public, I don't have a name tag on. Most of them don't know me by facial recognition. You know, it has its advantages. I'll give you, sort of slightly off topic, from 2007 to 2013, almost a total of seven years, started out locally on a radio station here called WBAP, and there was a woman who had a call-in show, talking about various things. It was called Ask Andrea. She was the host. She was talking about compact florescence at about that time. This is those little spiral twisty little lights were just coming out. And she rattled off a bunch of information. And I went, hold it, that's wrong. So, I called in a half hour before the end of the show thinking, okay, I'm going to try to cordially pass along correct information. About 10 minutes before the end of the show, the producer came back and said, I'm sorry, we just had too many callers ahead of you. We're not going to be able to get you on. But she wants to talk to you. So, stay on the line. Sure enough, show went off the air. A few minutes later, she said, what did I say that was wrong? Well, here's this, this, and this. She said, okay, let me check into it. Following Wednesday, I get an e-mail back from her, said, oh, my gosh, you were right. Would you do me a favor? Call at the very beginning of the show, and we will put you on right at the top, and we'll get this corrected. Sign of a good person. Solar companies are the same way. They make mistakes, they say, oops, we screwed up, we'll make it right. Got on the air, answered her questions, got it corrected, and then somebody else called in and said, hey, I want to ask him a question. Well, you don't get a caller-to-caller kind of thing. Hey, this is a talk show. She's the host. Well, she said, okay, and he asked, and I answered, and pretty soon we were doing two or three more, and she said, well, we've really got to get back to our guest who's supposed to be on today. Okay, not a problem. A few minutes later after the end of the show, she called me back, she said, can you come down to the studio next Saturday? She said, we want you on the first segment. I said, how long is the segment? She said 20 minutes. Studios are down there in Arlington right near Six Flags. I went down, they put me on. Two hours later, we finished. That was a long 20-minute segment. People were asking questions. A lot of them don't know what to ask. But there's a lot of bad or misinformation out there. And how do you separate fact from fiction and that's hard. There's the attitude of, well, it's on the internet; it must be true. And boy, I've got a collection of those. We've got that same issue going in our industry today. They can use so many what I call buzzwords, or so many confusing technical terms, you don't know. How do you separate fact from fiction? And the problem is in your realm as non-solar people, you can't. But you need somebody who can. The city ran into the same thing.
Others have run into the same thing. It's no embarrassment to say I don't know. Now, from a design and installation perspective, most of the commercial systems, this is a city code requirement, it's ordinances and so forth, they require a licensed professional engineer, with expertise in this area. You can't hire a civil engineer and say, will you design my system for me. State law says you can't do that. If he's a civil engineer, he designs groundwork, he designs maybe even structural, and so forth, and mechanical. Any more, I could go in, I can't do surveying. Even though we hold same levels of licenses, I'm not trained in surveying. I know what a transit is. I can go in there and look. But I wouldn't have a clue after that. That's most systems. Occasionally, and especially if you're outside of a municipal area, a knowledgeable master electrician would be acceptable. But I'll tell you right now, from personal experience, there's maybe 1% of the master electricians know what they're doing with solar right now. That's not a knock on their profession. It's just so new. And there's so busy doing what they're doing. We've had so many houses being built. They don't have time to stop and learn solar. It's a very different level of electricity.
Installation will be done by solar contractors and other firms. And I said that because I know a couple of roofing companies that are darn good at installing solar. And to be blunt, they're probably some of the better people to be installing it. They know roofs. If they have the appropriate training, now we come back to, well, how you qualify them. I'm going to try to give you a little bit of that today. It's a little hard for me in just a few, you know, a few hours, to give you 48 years' worth of knowledge. You can't do it. So, I'll give you some key points. I'll teach you how to tread water. I can't maybe tell this is how you swim.
So, what does solar equipment mean for facilities people? Georgeann, this is the first question she gave to me. And she says, this is important. I said, okay, let me address that. I realize there are going to be concerns. Let's pretend that you as a school buy solar and install it on your buildings. How many facilities people have we got in here today? Wow. A lot. About half. If solar panels got put on your building, what does that mean to you? Guess what?
It means almost nothing, meaning there's nothing to do.
Just about. You can go up there once or twice a year, or, you know, one of the things that I suggest, but you'd be doing this anyway, let's say you get a monster hailstorm come through. You're going to go up there and check the roof anyhow. Somebody said, you know, okay, fine, make sure that the wind didn't move the solar panels around. Make sure that the hail didn't do anything. That's about it. Now, one time did we have something where, okay, I was monitoring some solar panels one time at a system, and one day I noticed that there was one little part of the system that wasn't quite up, you know, all of them are here, and all of a sudden here's one down here, and then it's back up again. I'm going, oops, something is wrong. I'm thinking there's a leaf, or something else sitting on the front of that solar panel stopping the sunlight from getting to the solar cells. I went up there, and I looked, and I went, wow, I realize this is Texas. That solar panel must have had a flying cow go overhead, because there was, I mean, there was the avian or bird version of a cow patty sitting on the side of that glass, and it was blocking solar cells plural. All I could figure is some very large raptor, a hawk or something, had a very delicious meal, the equivalent of three forks. And then decided to sit down on that solar panel. Of course, his tail feathers were out over the glass, and he let--never mind. I had to go back down, got a bucket of water and a plastic scraper so I didn't scratch the glass or anything else. And go back up, and I had to clean the solar panel, at which point it was just fine again. Would it have been washed clean in the rain? Oh, I'm sure eventually it would have. But I wasn't that patient. That's about the extent of it. The rain washes them clean. There's nothing else to do. I've got a friend of mine that's in the wind generator business. He makes wind generators that are so robust. We know they survive more than 130 miles an hour of wind because his, one of his wind generators was being tested at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado when a huge monster storm came through, and the wind logging equipment blew off the tower at 128 miles an hour, but his wind turbine survived. All we know is that it's at least 128 miles an hour. Okay, solar panels, there's nothing to do. His philosophy was, you go outside once a year or twice a year and look up and see if it's spinning. And if it is, it's fine. Your solar panels, in today's world, we have software that will monitor right down to the solar panel and tell you something is wrong. Nothing to do. If you've got an app on your cell phone or a computer interface, it's all out through the cloud on the internet and everything else, and for a lot of them it's free. Just go ahead and hook it up, take a look at it once in a while, and if there's a problem, it will go, hey, got a problem here. So, then what do you do? You call the people that installed it. And there are others that you could also call. So, that's it. I mean, for the facilities maintenance people, not a worry.
Yep, go ahead.
>> Hi, John Watson, Director of Facilities at North Light. I've just got to add some thought as I listen to the nothing to do part of it. We do owe it to ourselves. We have an obligation as facilities people to learn enough to be able to help sort out the decisions during the installation and operation, the set-up. We will be responsible for helping determine the actual load, usage, all that. We will need to know what type of a system to take advantage of for the sake of durability and maintenance. We will want to educate our staff in some of the different systems, inverter structures, and so it's not like there's nothing to do. The greatest thing we can do for ourselves is attend more sessions like this so we can learn more about it to be able to operate effectively. So, thank you.
>> Excellent comment. And I agree. It's not like you do absolutely nothing. You do get up there once in a while and look, make sure that mechanically it hasn't moved around. On most buildings of this nature, we use what's called a ballasted system, meaning you have concrete blocks that go out and replace them on hardware designs, specifically for that, that hold them to the roots. Properly designed systems of that nature, in fact, systems that the City of Dallas has on some of their police stations, they're considered a very high-risk environment. And they have to be able to withstand 140 mile-an-hour wind. And we've got solar hardware designed and wind tunnel tested and proven to handle 140 mile-an-hour wind. Get up there once in a while and look. Leaves blow onto these things, twigs, branches, flying cows. Don't know. I still to this day have no clue what that bird was, but it was a big one. That happens. So, now, just a brief look ahead, yes, and the odds are, go ahead.
>> I just have one other question, because I know when we've discussed solar in the past that one of the first concerns that comes up is that if you put it on the roof, it will invalidate your roof warranty, or that it will hurt the roof or harm the roof in some way.
>> Did everyone hear her question clearly? Okay, a properly trained installation company realizes that right up front. So do I as a designer. I'm going to get in touch with the people that put the roof on. In fact, that's one of the comments that I have further into the program. If the roof is near its end of life, then reroof first. The projects right now, for example, and I'm using just, I'm using the city ones because they're a very classic example. Flat roofs, they have what are called membrane. It's a special plastic of different kinds. And you can put solar panels on rooves. If it's done properly, it does not invalidate the warranty. There's two ways to do it. You can either use weights. And there's a cushion or a pad that gets put between the what we call racking, and the roof itself, and it's usually just another layer of the same roofing material. So, they're very friendly to each other. And in that particular situation, when you have a new roof, solar panels on top, you can either weight them or ballast them, and there are some installations where you can go through and make holes. And those rare instances, if that has to be, you bring out the roofing company and have them do it, and then reseal it, because they are the experts. Not the solar people. If the solar company, unless they're a roofing company, says, well, we're going to make penetrations, we're going to make holes in your roof, uh-uh, there are ways to do it without making holes anymore. There are rare instances where it may need to be done. But for the greater part, most of the time, we don't need to do it anymore. Did that answer your question?
>> It did. Thank you.
>> Okay, quick look ahead. People want to know, where's this all going? Well, I will tell you right now, and I brought something in. And you'll have to forgive me leaning on the solar panel. I'm actually handicapped. So, that's my crutch. I brought something in that isn't going to mean anything to any of you guys except me.
It's a little hard to even imagine. Inside this little orange plastic is a solar cell. It's orange. That's the side where the light came in. Somebody asked me, how did you get started on solar? And I said, right here. When I was in grade school in third grade, my parents gave me a little experimenter's kit. And there are all kinds of experiments in there. In our software, when we have some part of a program that doesn't work, a little button is kind of a gray color. We just say it's grayed out. It doesn't work. I got that little experimenter's kit, and often one corner there was a little solar something or other, and immediately the rest of that little kit became grayed out to me. I was 10 years old. It's been toys ever since. This is the first solar cell that I ever bought. Why is that important? Well, to me, the solar cell was one of two that were mounted on a cigar box into which I built a solar-powered transistor radio. I built the radio from scratch. I bought the individual transistors and I wound the wires and I did everything, put them into the science fair for sixth grade. And the science fair, I knew I had won, I knew you can't get a sixth grader out of bed, right, not to go to school. And that next day after the judging, I think I was up at about 5:00 a.m. And I ran to school. I knew I had won. Now, I was in a large district. And our science teachers went to school B. School B's teachers went to C, and so on. So, the science teachers who served as judges didn't know the students. Now, this was back in the early '60s B.C., as in before computers. I got a little comment card. They were 3 by 5 little, you know, like you'd get in an index card. Anyway, and one of the teachers had written, next time, pick a different topic. Solar is too expensive. It will never be practical. That's not what you tell a sixth grade kid. Yeah, I was crushed. And, I said, I hope today he's out sweeping floors somewhere. You know, there's that attitude that says we can't do it. Tell that to--I know there's a theory that says the bumble bee is not supposed to fly either. Look ahead. Where are we headed? My crystal ball has been better; it's been more accurate than inaccurate most of the time. I brought this up. This is California. Have you heard that the State of California now requires all new construction shall have solar panels on homes? That's a subdivision right there. Every home has solar panels. That's a state law. Are they hurting for installers? You bet.^* There was a complaint that said, oh, my gosh, that's going to add to the cost of the home. Yes, it does. But you know what? Over the life of the home, the energy that that produces more than offsets its cost. So, you had a question, and you probably need to go to the mic.
>> So, so, the solar panel of the whole new constructions for the heating water or the electricity?
>> No, electricity. The question was what are the solar panels for? Are they for heating water? No. All of those make electricity. They aren't very large. They only make maybe a couple thousand watts. But, you know, it's like a dripping faucet. You ever close the stopper on a sink and you've got a drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, and you come back 10 minutes later, and the sink is full? It adds up. It produces. And whatever it's producing is reducing that amount of consumption. If you're not home and it's making more than you're using, it's going out to your neighbors, and you're getting credit for it. Some electricity companies give credit, some do not. Anyway, California in the solar industry tends to set the standards. In the new building code that was just released, there is an appendix. It's called appendix U, like the letter U. And it says all new homes shall be built solar-ready, meaning you don't have to have the solar panels on, but all the wiring and everything else is pre-done so that all you've got to do is hook up the solar panels, and that little box that we call the inverter, and you're done. It adds pennies to the cost of the house, but it saves 10 to 15% on the cost of the installation. As a consequence, and we now had a number of cities in Texas that have adopted that, the largest of which is a little town called Houston. Lewisville has adopted it, as have others. And it is being adopted slowly statewide. What that means is that the homes will be wired for solar. It doesn't mean the solar equipment will be installed. But it will make the installation substantially faster and lower cost, and it really does not put any kind of a significant dent in the mortgage. I'm literally talking pennies. Planning, what should we do as a school? And somebody mentioned, and there was a gentleman who stood up just a few moments ago, and he said, we need to be able to teach our people. Well, this is where that came in. I love it when, you know, people in a conference or a workshop run ahead of me. That shows you're thinking. I love that. Become familiar with the state policies. Northern Central Texas Council of Governments has got a mountain of information on a website called Go Solar Texas. Review what you're presently doing. Look at C.
Educating yourselves is so important. And somebody says, "I don't even know what to ask." That's a starting point. That in and of itself is a good question. Now, do I expect you guys to be able to have the same amount of knowledge as somebody who's been in the business for 40, 45, 50 years? No. ^* But that's why we exist. Need help? There are people out there that can help you. You've just got to be careful about whom you select. Like I said, and my term is, we do have our snakes. I'll give you one key. If you walk out of this conference today with just one key item, you'll see it here. It's not in this list. It's coming up. But it will help you separate the snakes from the good guys. Take a look at what you're doing. There are good toolkits from reliable sources. Look where you can improve. This is where the McKinstry folks are going to come in. I love the fact that they're here. These are just a few. But you can check. You know that, for example, the Council of Governments is a good authoritative source. There are others. SECO, State Energy Conservation Office. Texas Solar Energy Society. There are others. If somebody has something on their website and you look at it, and if it's an individual or a small company, please question it. It doesn't mean they're bad. It just may mean that they may put something on there that was repeated to them. Don't know. This is the general outline for the next two hours. Again, to the buildings, when you design buildings, and I'm going to give you one right now. How many people here are familiar or aware of Lady Bird Middle School in Irving? Hold up hands. About half of you. Lady Bird Middle School is the first what we call Net Zero school. It was built from the ground up to produce as much energy as it consumes. And they achieved that because the schools there are virtually empty in the summer. And they rack up a whole bunch of extra energy production that they then apply to the school year. And when are they doing it? During the part of the year when the energy production is the highest. So, they get all those June, July, August months built up into their electricity bank, so-to-speak. And then their utility company turns around and gives them credit for it going back.
I know a lot of people think it's ugly. But I'll tell you what. It's not any uglier on rooftops than the solar, than, I'm sorry, than the power transmission lines and the power plants. People used to think of it as hey, it's coming. Uh-uh.^* It's here. Solar now can be installed and produce energy at the same rate at which you're paying for your commercial electricity.
I'm going to say that again. The cost of the solar energy right now at today's prices is about the same as what you're paying for your commercial power. It's just amortized out over a long period of time. You've got to come. We need you at the mic.
>> How much energy in kilowatts or watts you could produce per say square feet of the panel?
>> You know, it varies. He's asking, how much electricity is produced per square foot of solar panels? That's not an easy question to answer because it depends on which way they're pointed, how much tilt they are, and everything else. There's kind of a rough figure. But I don't want to start getting into that. It's a lot easier. When you've got this much roof space, we can spread it out and we can put up--it's like having sails on a boat. You need to move the boat a little faster, you put up a bigger sail.