In Petaluma, California, one of America’s most sustainable small cities, residential solar energy installations are rapidly increasing. Below we’ll consider some of the reasons why Petaluma residents are changing to solar energy and exactly what makes Petaluma as unique as it is..
Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) provides electrical power to Petaluma, as it does to most of California. Golden State homeowners pay about twice as much as those in many other states. The U.S. Energy Information Agency says that,, on average, California residents pay 18.87 cents per kilowatt hour (KWH). Such a high rate for electricity in Petaluma, compared to the solar rate, makes solar installation attractive indeed.
Plenty of Sunlight
Abundant sunlight creates an ideal locale for solar energy installations. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the 260 days of sunlight per year Petaluma enjoys is about 26% higher than the average for American cities. That competition helps make solar energy system installations very cost effective.
Costs Kept Reasonable by Competition and Incentives
The population of Petaluma in 2014, according to City Data, is 59,953 strong. Additionally, Yelp lists over 100 solar installation companies serving Petaluma. This gives homeowners a broad choice of providers, this competition tends to limit rising installation costs. Companies must change their presentations to demonstrate ability, quality, service and the life of their product.
Currently, PG&E offers residents their beneficial Net Energy Metering (NEM) program. Federal tax credits of 30% and other incentives are available.
During the past six years, while home prices have continued to soar, the cost of solar panels and their installation had plummeted. At the same time, just as it has for many years, solar panel efficiency has risen exponentially. According to Bloomberg, these forces have acted to force down solar costs dramatically.
Zillow gives the median home price in Petaluma as $645,300 as of May, 2017, up 7.8% over last year. Zillow predicts home values will rise 0.7 % by next year. The decline of solar construction costs with home prices going up over the same time period helps make solar energy installation a cost-effective improvement to a home while raising its value.
According to City Data, Petaluma’s estimated median household income in 2015 was $83,318. This gives residents more options for financing as well as making solar systems more affordable. Of course programs like SCEIP and CaliforniaFirst make financing available for almost any homeowner, no matter what their income.
Types of Solar Energy for the Home
Solar energy used in the home saves on monthly energy bills, increases the value of the property and reduces the home’s carbon footprint. Solar energy converts the sun’s energy into light, heat, hot water, electricity and even for cooling by means of several technologies. Currently, the most popular technology is the use of solar panel. In addition to the conversion of most visible light they change about half of the ultraviolet and infrared spectrums into solar energy. Below are the major types of solar technology as described by Renewable Energy World.
Photovoltaic (Solar Cell) Systems
Since solar cells convert sunlight (photons) into electricity (voltage), we call the process the photovoltaic effect. Semiconductors, like those in computer chips, make up solar cells. After absorption of the sunlight, the semiconductors detach electrons from the atoms. The electrons flowing through the semiconductors produce electricity. Solar cells for the home are normally placed in modules containing about forty cells. They can be mounted on the rooftop facing south or on a tracking structure that follows the sun. Solar cells can supply power to any size electrical item, from those as small as calculators up to arrays capable of supplying power to electrical utilities or large industrial facilities. The versatility of photovoltaic solar systems allows them to power any electrical device.
Passive Solar Heating and Daylighting
Many cultures have used passive solar energy for thousands of years. To take advantage of the greater amount of sunlight reaching the south side of buildings, most passive systems have large windows facing south. Direct gain is a system that uses floor and wall materials that absorb heat in the daytime and release it at night. A system resembling greenhouses that have been built on the building’s south side is called. Sunspaces. A trombe wall is a thick wall painted black, made of a material that absorbs heat. It heats up gradually during the day and then passes the heat into the house as it cools. And finally, a clerestory provides daylighting from rows of windows near the roofline.
More About Petaluna
The Visit Petaluma website says Petaluma is conveniently located to “take advantage of all the great attractions that are found in the Bay Area.” As the southernmost city in Sonoma County, it lies 32 miles north of San Francisco. And there are many activities for visitors in the city itself, from cultural events to outdoor adventures. Petaluma is home to many managers and professionals of the scientific and technical fields. It has dry, hot summers and cold and foggy or rainy winters.
More information can be found about Petaluma neighborhoods here at the Petaluma Map website prepared by the city. Maps and descriptions of all eight of its neighborhoods are given. More information is available by Petaluma zip codes. They include 94952, 94953, 94954, 94955, 94975 and 94999. Petaluma also boasts of over 50 neighborhoods and areas in and around town, including: Wiseman Park, Wickersham Park, Walnut Park, Upper Mountain View, Turtle Creek, Tri-School Area, Sutter Street, Sunnyslope McNear, St Francis/Ponderosa Dr, Southgate, Sonoma Mountain Rd, Shelter Hills/Astoria, Samuel, Rushmore, Rural Near West Side, Roblar Valley, Riverview, Redwood, Quarry Heights, Petaluma River East, Petaluma Airport, Paula/Magnolia, Oak Hill, Novak, Miwok, Midtown Petaluma, Meadow View, McNear Landing, Marylyn Circle, Lucchesi Park, Liberty/Skillman, Liberty Valley, Leisure Lake Village, Leghorn Valley, Lakeville, Kenilworth, Jessie Lane, Happy Acres, Greenbriar, Gossage Avenue, Garfield, Fallon Two Rock, Ely Blvd South, East Side Petaluma, East Petaluma, Dunham, Downtown Petaluma, Division West, Cross Creek, Crinella, Corona II, Corona Creek, Cader Farms & Highlands, Buck, Bloomfield, Aqus, Anna’s Meadows and Adobe Creek Estates.
The above discussion leads us to conclude that the many characteristics that Petaluma enjoys will lead to an ever-increasing use of solar energy.