Solar Electrical Systems is honored to be included in Solar Power World’s Top 250 Solar Contractors List for 2013.  SES was listed at number 44 in the overall list, and number 15 in the commercial solar contractors list. The list honors companies that helped the solar industry grow the most, and have dedicated themselves to bringing solar energy into the mainstream.

In business for over 30 years, Solar Electrical Systems has always been a solar pioneer.  We would like to thank our customers for making our success possible.  For more information about our company, please visit our home page at or call us at 805-497-9808.

Important Solar Bill Signed by Gov. Brown

Brown vows to protect existing solar customers while creating an unlimited solar market to meet
California’s growing need for clean energy

October 7, 2013

Sacramento   – AB 327 (Perea) was signed into law today by Governor Jerry Brown. In  signing the bill, the governor issued a rare statement clarifying that he expects AB 327 to protect existing solar customers while continuing to encourage more consumers to invest in rooftop solar through continued robust incentives for renewable energy.

“California is once again making history and setting a new bar for solar power,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of CALSEIA (California   Solar Energy Industries Association). “With this law, Governor Brown paving the way for truly capturing the vast potential of solar power in California.”

AB 327 (Perea) began 2013 legislative session, largely under the radar, as a residential rate reform bill. After significant amendments driven by Governor Brown’s office late in the session, AB 327 was passed by the California   Legislature as one of the state’s biggest solar energy bills in history.

The most significant aspect of AB 327 is in its stipulation that the CPUC create a Net Energy Metering program that is uncapped and unlimited, thereby opening up the market to millions of new customers. Net metering is the policy that allows a solar system owner to spin their meter backwards during the day to generate a bill credit for when the sun is not shining. It is a critical component of the economics of solar power and one that has long been fought by utilities.  Previous law capped the number of homeowners, businesses, farms, and schools able to invest in solar via net metering at 5% of a utility’s peak load.

The law also stipulates that the state’s goal of getting to 33% renewable energy by 2020 is a floor, not a ceiling, allowing the state’s utilities to generate more of their energy from renewable resources like solar, wind and geothermal power. The law also makes it clear that consumers can continue to   sign up for Net Energy Metering, as it is currently structured, through July 2017. The bill concerned existing solar customers over vague grandfathering language but those concerns were largely addressed in the governor’s signing statement.

In signing the bill today, Governor Brown described it as one that gives the CPUC the authority to “maintain robust incentives for renewable energy investments.”  The governor also wrote, “As the CPUC considers rules regarding grandfathering of net metering customers, I expect the Commission to ensure that customers who took service under net metering prior to reaching the statutory net metering cap on or before July 1, 2017, are protected under those rules for the expected life of their systems.”

The new law leaves details of how to achieve this future to the state regulatory agency overseeing electric utilities.

“The devil will be in the details hammered out at the CPUC,” said Del Chiaro.   “We greatly appreciate the governor’s vision and support of solar power as a smarter way to generate electricity and we look forward to working with him and the CPUC to craft regulations that protect existing customers and open the doors to millions more.”

Source:  CalSeia

Does Senator Lamar Alexander’s energy speech mark a shift in GOP tone?


In a speech at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) lauded distributed solar power, called for more R&D funding of clean technologies, and warned that humans are causing climate change.

The speech was a notable departure from recent GOP rhetoric on clean energy, which has been largely focused on playing up a handful of high-profile bankruptcies and questioning the validity of climate science.

Senator Alexander plays an influential role in Washington when it comes to energy policy. As the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, he helps guide how the Department of Energy is funded. The Senator is a major proponent of R&D spending on both cleantech and fossil fuels. He is also very outspoken about energy tax subsidies and commonly uses the term “big wind” in his efforts to repeal the production tax credit for wind.

Alexander’s speech covered many familiar talking points. He worried about the cost of state-level targets for renewable electricity, criticized the government for trying to “pick winners and losers,” and called for eliminating the wind tax credit in favor of more R&D spending.

However, his speech also included a few “maverick” comments that break from current GOP thinking on energy.

Early on in his remarks, Alexander commented on the need to develop low-carbon energy in order to address climate change.

“While the United States has made more gains in reducing the use of carbon than any other industrial country, the National Academies of the U.S. and twelve other countries have warned that human activity has contributed significantly to climate change and global warming,” he said. Alexander then went on to criticize cap-and-trade legislation.

Alexander also criticized state targets for renewable energy, warning they would put “too much reliance on sources that generate power only intermittently” and take up too much land area. However, he pivoted quickly to his support for distributed solar, which he said shows “great promise.”

“There certainly is a place for these renewable technologies, and solar power especially seems to me to have great promise,” said Alexander. “Fortunately, we have plenty of rooftops on which to put solar panels. And when they become cheap enough and aesthetically pleasing enough, they will probably become an increasingly important supplement to our country’s huge appetite for electricity — especially because the sun shines during the peak use hours.”

Throughout last year’s election season, GOP leaders and party allies made solar and other clean technologies a top target in their campaign to unseat President Obama.

Last spring, groups spent more than $10 million on Solyndra attack ads in one month. In July, the party rolled out an interactive website touting debunked claims that Obama’s investments in renewable energy and electric vehicles were outsourcing jobs overseas. And Republican challenger Mitt Romney called Tesla (which recently paid back its loan guarantee) a “failure,” while also proclaiming that federal loan programs were hurting investment in solar.

So does this speech mark a change in tone from the GOP?

In a speech five years ago, Senator Alexander called for more investment in electric vehicles, solar, biofuels and green buildings. Given his past support of such initiatives, Alexander’s latest speech isn’t a dramatic shift for the Senator.

But some Republicans are watching closely to see how it influences others in the party. Michael McKenna, a GOP energy lobbyist, told National Journal that Alexander’s remarks are important for Republican leaders as they consider shifting their platform in the 2016 election cycle.

“Lamar is a pretty interesting guy. Given his swingy nature, lots of people are going to pay attention to what he is saying,” McKenna said.

The political divide between liberals and conservatives over specific policies like tax credits and cap-and-trade may not close anytime soon. But if Alexander’s speech is any indication, Republicans could try to swing back to the center and take up more moderate policy positions like they promoted in the 2008 election, when “climate change” and “renewable energy” were not dirty words.


Source:  Stephen Lacey: May 30, 2013

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The Army, Navy and Air Force Go Solar

(Solar Electrical Systems is proud to have helped the military reach its renewable energy goals.  SES installed 2 solar carports at the Los Angeles Air Force Base that provide 360kW of power, and provide shade for over 200 cars.  Check out our video of the project at


From the battlefield to stateside bases, the U.S. military has proven that solar is reliable.


The Army, Navy and Air Force are using more than 130 megawatts of solar for everything from powering remote special operations to air conditioning and lighting for U.S. base residences. And the forces intend to keep building toward 3 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2025 as part of a much bigger Department of Defense (DOD) commitment.


While detractors were declaring solar too intermittent to be reliable at home, U.S. Marines were successfully relying on it at battlefield sites in the Khyber Pass, according to Enlisting the Sun: Powering the U.S. Military with Solar Energy, a new report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), released just in time for Armed Forces Day on May 18.


The DOD’s annual $20 billion energy budget makes it the biggest single energy consumer in the world.


USC 2911 of DOD’s title 10 Energy Performance Goals, as updated in 2009, requires 25 percent of total military facility energy consumption to come from renewable energy sources by 2025.


Driven by that target, the Navy has installed more than 58 megawatts at or near bases in Washington, D.C. and twelve states. It has plans to exceed the basic plan by obtaining 50 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025. Its plans call for 57 percent of its new renewables to be from photovoltaic (PV) solar through 2017.


The Air Force, the military’s biggest energy consumer, has built 38 megawatts of solar capacity operating in 24 states. It will procure 1 gigawatt of renewables by 2016. The plan is for PV to be more than 70 percent of all new Air Force renewable capacity through 2017.


The Army has installed over 36 megawatts of solar installed at bases in sixteen states on its way to procuring 1 gigawatt of renewable capacity. Solar will account for one-third of the Army’s planned renewable capacity additions through 2017.



Pool Cover for Solar Pool Heating

The pool cover keeps in the heat the solar pool heating system generates.

by Lauren Dansey

We couldn’t be more pleased with our solar pool heating system.  We have been swimming since late March, and the pool has been 85 to 90 degrees without turning on the gas heater.  But there are some good reasons why we’ve been able to maintain that temperature.

The solar pool heating system heats up the pool during the day, but that heat will be lost at night if you don’t use a pool cover.  As you can see from the picture, we cut the bubble cover we got when we built the pool to fit the pool almost exactly.  We also bought a pool cover reel to make it easy to put the cover on and off.  Without the reel, I think the cover would be too difficult to deal with.  Now, it’s one man (or woman) job to put the cover on or off.

We usually end up swimming on the weekends, and just leave the cover on during the week.  The pool will usually maintain its temperature over the weekend without the cover.  We’ve actually wanted to cool the pool down a little on some of our warmer weekends, and that happens at night without the cover.

For more information about solar pool heating, call us at 805-497-9808, or fill out the contact form on our website.

Solar Heating for the Pool – Working Great

The solar pool heating system pumps hot water into the pool most of the day.

by Lauren Dansey

The final installation for our two solar pool heating systems was completed last week, and we couldn’t be happier with the performance.  We installed two systems, a rooftop system (the dark panels below the solar electrical panels on our roof), and an in-deck pool heating system (underneath the concrete around the pool.)  The system begins to pump warm water into the pool as early as 8am, and continues until late in the afternoon. (We do have an ideal south-facing roof.)  We set the desired temperature, and a separate pump operates whenever the water in the solar panels is hotter than the pool temperature.  It shuts off when the desired temperature is reached.  The system pumps out an amazing amount of hot water — the kids are getting exercise by positioning themselves where the water comes into the pool and swimming against the current.

The in-deck pool heating system has an added advantage, also.  The concrete around the pool used to be too hot to walk on during hot afternoons, but now with the cooler water circulating underneath it, the concrete is much cooler.  The heat is carried to the pool.

The goal is to not use the pool heater at all.  We’re going to be careful to use a pool cover at night when the weather gets colder, and between that and the solar, we’ll see how warm we can keep the pool.

For more information about solar pool heating, call us at 805-497-9808, or fill out the contact sheet on our website.

He has only 308 solar panels on the roof of his presidential library, former President Bill Clinton announced at the opening of his Solar Power International 2012 keynote, and he is taking bids to drastically expand. “So if anybody wants in, send me an email.”
He then picked up the subject of creative cooperation he talked about at the Democratic National Convention.
To build “energy that is good economics, saves the planet from the worst consequences of climate change and promotes the national security of every country that is committed to clean, self-sustaining energy, you have to have cooperation between government and the private sector,” he said. “The constant mud fight, fact-free environment in which American politics often operates is counterproductive.”
He told a story about a minister who, during a sermon, excitedly told everybody in the congregation who wanted to go to heaven to stand up. Everybody but one little old lady in the front row did. “Sister Jones, the minister said, you are most devout member of our church. Don’t you want to go to heaven when you die?”
“She immediately jumped up,” Clinton said, “and yelled, Yes! But I thought you were trying to get a load to go right now.”
“Folks,” Clinton then said to the solar industry audience, “we need to get a load to go right now!”
To make that happen, he said, “Americans need to know more than they know now.” Most do not know that 100,000 people work in solar, that more people work in greentech than in coal, that in the depths of the recession, greentech grew at 8 percent, and that venture capital made the U.S. first in the world in greentech investment in 2011.
“To listen to the people on other side of this debate, you would think the President and his allies in Congress totally robbed the Treasury to subsidize bankrupt industries,” Clinton said, but “there are still $22 in subsidies for coal, oil and nuclear for every dollar invested in the clean energy future.”
Most Americans also don’t know, Clinton said, that the European countries that did the best during the recent financial crisis were those that had the most invested in greentech. Germany, he said, recently generated “from the sun alone, the equivalent of twenty nuclear power plants in a country where on average the sun shines as much as it does in London.” A Deutsche Bank study found, Clinton said, “the Germans have netted 300,000 jobs out of their commitment to a solar future.”
No government makes energy policy without public-private cooperation, he said. That creates “far more entrepreneurs, far more privatization, far more variation and creativity than any other way of energy development and electricity production.”
It was in what Clinton called George W. Bush’s “proto-socialist stage” as governor of Texas that the first tax credits went to wind developers, an incentive program that resulted in Texas being the leading wind state, with more installed wind capacity than all but a handful of countries.
“These are things people need to know,” he said. Greentech “is the direction people are going who are thinking about where the future is.” And, he said, “you represent the future. If we sell this as keeping America at the head of the future business, you will prevail.”
During a question-and-answer session with Solar Energy Industries Association President Rhone Resch, the former President turned to the subject of the Solyndra controversy.
It was, he said, “an innovative, interesting design” that ran into completely unforeseeable competition from unprecedentedly inexpensive imported Chinese silicon panels. It is important, he said, to get that basic fact out.
The bankruptcy, he said, “only represented less than 1 percent of the DOE’s investment in clean energy and it had nothing to do with tax credits.”
Take responsibility for the mistake, he told the solar industry, and provide context. “People accept the fact that the industry and the Energy Department made a mistake. Nobody does everything right.”
If a mistake stopped progress, he added, Neil Armstrong would never have walked on the moon because that happened two years after Apollo One burned up on the launch pad and killed three astronauts. And there would be no Mars rover now because that happened after the Challenger space shuttle exploded, killing its crew.
“You’ve got to take chances if you’re going to tomorrow’s dance.”
Resch asked Clinton how voters could choose between the presidential candidates. “Pay attention to what they’re saying,” he answered. “Politicians are more honest and hardworking than you think and they pretty much do what they say they are going to do.”
Clinton also advised the solar industry “to make sure in this political season that the candidates in both parties know what you’ve done,” adding, “make sure there are physical manifestations of it.”
He then recalled his efforts, beginning in 1977, to get Arkansas utilities to decouple energy efficiency improvements from rates. It took until 2010 for those utilities to seize that opportunity.
“You are going to bring America to a tipping point,” Clinton said. “You just need to bear down.” Sooner or later, he promised, “people will see this is good economics, helps in the climate change struggle and improves national security.”


Biltmore Apartments Solar Carports

Solar Carports reduce electric bills at the Biltmore Apartments in Thousand Oaks, CA

by Lauren Dansey

Solar Electrical Systems of Westlake Village, CA, has completed solar carport installations for two 500-unit apartment complexes in the area, eliminating their $2,000 monthly electric bills.
 New carports totaling 75kW were installed at the Biltmore Apartments in Thousand Oaks, CA.  New carport structures were built, taking advantage of the 30% federal tax credit for the solar electrical system, carports, new lighting and paving, and new electrical systems.  In fact, rebates and tax incentives paid for 85% of the project.  The solar electrical system will save the owners over $4 million over the system’s lifetime, and also improve parking, security, and storage on the property.
 At Oakview Apartments in Westlake Village, CA, 53kW of solar panels were mounted on existing carport structures.  Leaky roofs on the structures were removed and replaced with new roofs when the solar system was installed, again taking advantage of the 30% federal tax credit, with rebates and tax incentives paying for over 77% of the project.  The new system will save the owners over $1 million over the next 25 years.
Solar Electrical Systems is the most experienced solar design and installation company in Southern California, and has helped customers reduce or eliminate their electric bills since 1978.  For more information on commercial or residential solar electricity, radiant heat, solar hot water, and solar pool heating, contact Solar Electrical Systems in Westlake Village, CA at 805-497-9808 or visit

Concrete is poured over the in-deck solar heating tubes.

by Lauren Dansey

As the next step in our in-deck solar pool heating adventure, concrete was poured over the solar heating tubes.  When the concrete was poured, workers made sure that the tubes were approximately 2″ below the concrete surface.  This maximizes the heat that is transferred to the tubes, without the possibility of the tubes showing in the concrete.

The finshed pool and deck, with in-deck solar pool heating.

To the right is the finished pool and deck.  The concrete gets very hot in the direct sun, so we’re looking forward to turning on the solar.  We can’t turn the heat or solar heating on until a  month has passed so the pool surface can cure, but the temperature without heating is a very comfortable 85 degrees.  The rooftop pool solar and in-deck solar heating will allow us to extend our swim season year-round, without increasing our utility bill.  I’ll bring you an update when the solar is turned on and let you know how it affects our heating bill. 

Below you can see the rooftop solar pool heating panels on the roof, below the solar electrical (PV) panels.  We used ten 4 ft. by 8 ft. Heliocol panels.  They are shorter than the normal Heliocol panels, designed for roofs that don’t have room for the larger panels.  Solar pool heating is the most cost-effective use of solar in your home, with a return on investment of just 2-4 years.  We’re looking forward to swimming into the fall. 

Rooftop solar pool heating panels sit below solar electrical (PV) panels.

Solar tubing is placed for in-deck solar pool heating system.

Solar tubing is placed for our in-deck pool heating system.

By Lauren Dansey

The installation of our in-deck solar heating system is progressing.  The forms for the concrete were put in place, and then solar tubing was coiled where the cement will be poured.  As you can see from the pictures, as much tubing was put into the cement forms as possible.  The tubing should be about 2″ below the finished surface.  Darker deck surfaces work better for better heat absorption.

Deck coverage should be about 200 percent of the pool surface area, but we’re just putting in a small system to augment the Heliocol solar pool heating system that will go on the roof. 

In-deck solar pool heating is appropriate for pool decks, tennis courts, driveways and sport courts.  It will also cool your deck or tennis court when the cool water is pumped through the tubing.

Solar tubing is placed for in-deck solar pool heating system.Call us for more information on in-deck solar pool heating, rooftop solar pool heating, solar electricity, radiant heating, and solar domestic hot water.  We can show you how to reduce your home’s utility bills, and extend your family’s swim season without paying more to heat your pool. 

Next step … concrete is poured.
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