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Byline: Jesse Hiestand Staff Writer

California's energy crisis has sparked sudden interest in solar power by homeowners desperate to cut costs and avoid threatened blackouts.

Before deregulation Deregulation

The reduction or elimination of government power in a particular industry, usually enacted to create more competition within the industry.

Traditional areas that have been deregulated are the telephone and airline industries.
 threw the utility industry into turmoil, GO Solar Company in Sylmar got less than one inquiry a month about residential solar systems solar system, the sun and the surrounding planets, natural satellites, dwarf planets, asteroids, meteoroids, and comets that are bound by its gravity. The sun is by far the most massive part of the solar system, containing almost 99.9% of the system's total mass. .

Now owner Graham Owen fields about 12 calls a day and twice as many e-mails.

``In the last couple of weeks there seems to be more concern that the electrical grid will go down and next summer there will be brownouts and blackouts,'' Owen said.

Unlike traditional solar users looking to heat their pool, water heater or trim the monthly bill, many of those now considering sun-generated electricity want to pay the extra $3,000 for a battery bank to keep the juice flowing in a blackout, he said.

Woodland Hills-based Utility Power Group of Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera Solar Inc. said it is getting about four times as many calls as usual about photo-voltaic systems, the industry standard.

``Some people are really irate i·rate  
1. Extremely angry; enraged. See Synonyms at angry.

2. Characterized or occasioned by anger: an irate phone call.
 and want to do something to get back at the utilities,'' said project manager Gilbert Duran. ``The one beauty to this is the high level of stability. Once you've paid for the system you don't have to worry about rising utility costs. You're basically buying all your electricity now.''

That cost is still relatively high for power generation hindered by shade, overcast skies and roof orientation.

Pool heating systems start at $3,500. Arrays of rooftop solar panels capable of generating 1 kilowatt kilowatt: see watt.  of electricity cost at least $7,500 even with the solar panels now costing about one-third of what they did a decade ago, Owen said.

Still, the average household requires two to four times that much power, meaning a $30,000 system to save about $15 per month for each kilowatt of power generated, he said.

``How many years until you generate enough electricity to offset the investment? It's 20 years at least,'' Owen said.

Other solar companies say the cost savings can come in as little as three years, but most solar systems are sold not as an alternative to a utility power but as a contentious move to help the environment.

There is sudden interest in solar power across the region, especially in areas served by Southern California Edison Southern California Edison (or SCE Corp), the largest subsidiary of Edison International (NYSE: EIX), is the primary electricity supply company for much of Southern California. It provides 11 million people with electricity. , one of the state's three big investor-owned utilities that say they will go bankrupt if they cannot raise rates dramatically.

``People just want to save money,'' said Eddie Dombrowski, officer manager of Stanley Louis Company, a Redondo-Beach solar firm with customers from Ventura County to Orange County. ``They've seen the increase and say, 'Why should we have to pay for that?' ''

Further fueling the interest in solar power are incentives from the California Energy Commission The California Energy Commission is California’s primary energy policy and planning agency. Created in 1974 and headquartered in Sacramento, the Commission has responsibility for activities that include forecasting future energy needs, promoting energy efficiency through  and, locally, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) is the largest municipal utility in the United States, serving 3.9 million residents in 2006. It was founded in 1902 to deliver water and electricity supplies to residents and businesses in Los Angeles. .

Since 1998, the state has installed 333 systems, mostly for residential customers who get reimbursed $3 per watt or 50 percent of the capital costs. This is available to customers of Edison, Pacific Gas & Electric Company and San Diego San Diego (săn dēā`gō), city (1990 pop. 1,110,549), seat of San Diego co., S Calif., on San Diego Bay; inc. 1850. San Diego includes the unincorporated communities of La Jolla and Spring Valley. Coronado is across the bay.  Gas & Electric.

``In the last week or so we've seen a surge in interest mainly from small residential customers that want to protect themselves against the price spikes,'' said Marwan Masri, manager of CEC's renewable energy Renewable energy utilizes natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity to biomass and biofuels for transportation.  program.

Los Angeles' DWP DWP Department of Work and Pensions (UK)
DWP Drinking Water Program
DWP Dynamic Weapon Pricing (gamin, Counter-Strike: Source)
DWP Department of Water & Power
DWP Drinking Water Protection
 has a solar incentive program that went into effect Sept. 1 and offers a rebate of $3 to $5 per watt, the latter if the equipment used is manufactured in the city.

That can cut the cost of a solar system by more than half, said DWP spokesman Walter Ziesel.

State deregulation of the electricity market required the DWP to set aside money for such programs, which Ziesel said the utility pays for through internal cost cutting, not higher rates.

``It enables you to have clean power, guarantees against future fuel increases, lowers the monthly cost on electricity and the excess comes back into the system,'' Ziesel said.

Solar energy solar energy, any form of energy radiated by the sun, including light, radio waves, and X rays, although the term usually refers to the visible light of the sun.  can actually benefit the utilities because excess power from the solar cells solar cell, semiconductor devised to convert light to electric current. It is a specially constructed diode, usually made of silicon crystal. When light strikes the exposed active surface, it knocks electrons loose from their sites in the crystal.  flows back into the grid through the homeowners' fuse box, actually causing the meter to run backward.

For that reason, solar power is cut off when the power grid has a blackout because utility workers could get electrocuted.

Solar battery banks use special power panels to keep power running to the house when there is a blackout.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Daily News
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 9, 2001

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