Greg Brown is doing everything possible to make his family home zero overhead as the first solar home for the City of Gridley's Energy Efficiency Program.

    Greg Brown is doing everything possible to make his family home zero overhead as the first solar home for the City of Gridley's Energy Efficiency Program.

    When everything is completed, meters will identify the amount of energy used by calculating the gross usage and gross production, which will show either a positive or negative bill.
    Because the City sends one utility bill, if more electricity is generated than used, Brown could see a credit for his water, sewer and waste portion of his bill.

    The energy contributed could generate more positive off what he pulls off the grid, depending on how much is used.
    "I'd like to have zero overhead for the house, enough solar to pay taxes, insurance, water and trash," Brown explained.

    As a result of the Federal bail out package from this year, consumers could take a deduction up to 30% off the total system cost off their federal tax bill owed. The direct cash contribution opens up the solar market. Typically, the return was 10 to 15 years before support was given, now it can be ten years or less.

    With additional State and Municipal credit programs, homeowners could offset 30-40 percent of the system with savings accelerated.

    City of Gridley Finance Director Brad Wilkie stated, "City rebates are determined by the size of the panels, the angle of the roof, whether the house is shaded by trees.  The amount of south facing panels on the roof is different from a roof facing northwest, with 35 degree angle being different from 45 degrees.

    "We have all the equipment to determine (preferably before the work is done) to determine the maximum savings the homeowner can get out of the system for the California Energy Commission."

    The home has a new 75-year-roof with composition tile which is lightweight. Insulation has been blown in through all of the walls and attic to increase the level of insulation. All fixtures, windows and utilities are energy efficient.

    The City of Gridley offers rebates for energy efficient AC and Heat Pumps, Appliances, Commercial Lighting, Lighting Ceiling Fans and Electric Water Heaters. See the City's website at for forms and permits.

    The solar program is called the PV buydown program, PV stands for Photovoltaic. Solar generically can mean solar hot water heating, solar pool heating and simply designing your house to efficiently heat and cool using summer shade and allowing the sun in through windows during the winter.

 At this time, the City's rebate on the PV buydown program can be as much as $5,600 per customer. Based on the State's mandate, the City's overall 10 year commitment for rebates is over $415,000. Based on the State guidelines for the program, this should be enough for over 100 solar installations in Gridley alone between 2008 and 2017.

    The resulting energy production at full capacity could be as much as 200kw for a City with a summer peak load of 10,000kw or two percent of the City's energy needs.
    When additional funding becomes available and as the cost of PV installations continues to diminish, the PV buydown rebates could get larger.

    Statewide, municipal utilities, such as Gridley Municipal Utilities, are committed to providing over $780.000 in rebates up to 2017 paid for by the utilities.
    The City of Gridley offers free energy audits for city residents to improve the use of air conditioners for example.

    "Always run your dishwasher only when it is full. This will reduce the amount of water and electricity you use over the year. It is better for the utility and for the State's power system to run your dishwasher in the evening especially during the summer when electric usage is at is peak around 5 p.m. This helps everyone save by not having to produce power at the busiest time of the day," Wilkie said.

    There are additional state and municipal credits that can be achieved.
    If you are interested in applying for a PV buydown rebate, the information you and your installer will need prior to committing to a project is provided on the City's website. City of Gridley residents can also get a set of application forms from City Hall. The City can provide you with additional information on the PV buydown program by calling 1-888-883-9879.  The City will assist you during the application process to insure that you qualify for the greatest  possible rebate amount.

    There are tax credit programs available from both the State of California and the Federal Government. These credits are available upon filing with the two taxing agencies (The Franchise Tax Board and the IRS). You should consult your income tax advisor to see how you may qualify for either of these credits.