Ag Cities Like Visalia Need Solar

Why Visalia will see a complete shift to solar in the next decade

In California’s technical potential to install 128.9 gigawatts of rooftop solar panels, Visalia’s booming agriculture industry will begin to see a shift toward solar, especially considering the city’s environmental issues.

Visalia is the fifth largest city in California’s agricultural San Joaquin Valley. Because of its geographic location and dependence on four-wheel transport, smog and air particulates hang heavily in the city’s air. The area is vulnerable to atmospheric inversion that collects exhaust from any vehicle type, manufacturing plants, and airplanes. And since it gets very little rain (11.03 inches a year), pollution does tend to accumulate for days on end. Despite the Clean Air Act and California’s mandate for low-emission vehicles, it is still considered one of the most polluted cities in the country, the 11th in fact.

As a result, Visalia needs all the help it can get to reduce its carbon footprint. One way is to encourage more renewable energy sources by going solar. This should not be a problem with the state of California’s energetic renewable energy goals and receptive policies. High insolation and vast open spaces also contribute to making this city an ideal host for solar energy systems.

Solar energy use reduces reliance on fossil fuels which make the pollution situation worse. Switching to solar power can enhance the quality of the air in the city while bringing in more jobs and developing its solar energy market. Solar alternatives bring economic, environmental, and health benefits to the citizens of Visalia.

Visalia’s solar profile reveals that it annually produces 1,504 kWh/kW energy yield, with an aim of 33% renewables by 2020. If Visalia had merely 5% city-wide electricity use sourced from solar power, it could reach as much as 28,751 kW of installed solar power, 43,240,788 kWh of energy generated annually while creating 276 job-years and generating $53.2 million economic activity. At that minimal solar energy use, the equivalent CO2 gas offset would be as much as that of 10,628 acres of trees being planted and as many as 2,701 cars being taken off the road in terms of CO2 offset.

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The city’s residential section also has a great as-yet untapped potential for rooftop solar panels Visalia solar power utility companies could take advantage of. Solar panels or solar modules consist of solar cells. A solar cell is somewhat round with a two- to three-inch diameter. Such cells are arranged in columns and rows on a solar panel. A 150-watt solar panel is typically organized in a four-by-nine grid of solar cells.

There can be many types of solar cells, but the most basic which can be found in the solar energy market are single crystal silicon solar cells, polycrystalline solar cells, as well as thin-film technology. The single crystal type is the most commonly used but is also the most expensive among the types of cells. This cell type is the reason why solar power has earned the reputation of being expensive and low in cost-effectiveness. The polycrystalline type is less expensive; however, it is also less effective in terms of energy conversion.

As we know, solar energy is produced when sunlight is converted into electricity. Polycrystalline solar cells are poor in this regard. Thin-film technology can be easily mass-produced compared with crystal cells and costs less too. But its durability is doubtful as well as its conversion efficiency. Crystal and polycrystalline cells last much longer than this third type.

When planning to have a solar energy system installed, it is best to know even just a bit about the materials being used. The efficiency of your system will rely much on that. Not all solar panels are made equal, so when deciding on the type of solar panels Visalia utility companies may do as much as present you with the many alternatives, but in the end, you have to be the wiser in choosing. It is the same when considering other parts of the system that you will be needing.

Another thing which needs to be considered is the cost of the system and how much you can save by falling back on certain legislation and policies that have been put in place to incentivize the switch to solar power use.

The federal tax credit incentive takes 30% off of expenses for the purchase of a solar energy system, claimed either as a residential or a commercial tax credit. On a state level, California offers the California Solar Initiative (CSI) which allows customers cash rebates on solar power systems installation in homes, schools, farms, commercial spaces, and government as well as non-government organizations by any of the three investor-owned utility companies. This includes the purchase of any type of solar panels Visalia residents choose to install on their homes, without an upper limit.

Besides the cash incentives and tax credit, there are also loan options available for residents who qualify. The Energy Efficiency Loan of the Educational Employees Credit Union allows members to take out between $100 and $4,000 for the installation of solar energy systems and increase energy efficiency.

Eligible Visalia homeowners could also seek PowerSaver Loans at a competitive rate, up to 20 years for the purchase of renewable energy systems for installation in their home.

The Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO) program was just recently added to the options for upgrading energy efficiency, water efficiency, and the renewable energy system at home. Interest rates are fixed and low. Payment terms are also flexible, up to 20 years. Repayments can be made through property taxes. The program can be utilized to fund activities that may increase the value of your property, lower utility bills, create a more comfortable home, as well as help the larger community more energy-independent.

The Rooftop Solar Challenge program from the United States Department of Energy also funds an initiative called the Southwest Solar Transformation Initiative which has the purpose of making solar energy systems more affordable for communities by improving the climate of the local solar market and making the approval process more efficient.

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