A Year In Mill Valley

Marin Energy Authority: Will It Support Electricity Buybacks?

I was talking to some friends in Sausalito tonight, and the subject of solar energy came up. As we were talking it dawned on me that the houseboats are the perfect places for putting up solar — no obstructions anywhere. So when I got home I sat down and wrote this email to supervisors Charles McGlashan and Hal Brown Jr.. I’ll let you know what they say in reply.

To: Charles McGlashan, Hal Brown Jr.
Subject: Idea and questions regarding Marin Energy Authority

Dear Charles and Hal,

I am a resident of Mill Valley and was talking with some friends on the house boats in Sausalito tonight about solar energy, and we came up with this idea:

– we would like to create a solar energy cooperative on the houseboats
– the cooperative would put solar cells on every houseboat (they’re perfect places for solar due to lack of solar obstructions)
– the cooperative would sell the excess electricity back into the grid

The problem with doing this today — where PG&E is the buy-back partner — is that we can’t sell more back into the grid than we take out of the grid, i.e. they have a net zero policy. This means there’s no incentive to build out the solar capacity to its maximum, something we would obviously prefer to do.


1) Has the Marin Energy Authority considered having a policy of buying back any/all excess electricity generated by solar, even above and beyond the amount used by an individual household(s)? And if so, at what rate?

2) On a smaller scale, we have neighbors up the street who have great southern exposure while we have almost none. We would like to split the cost of putting solar on their roof, and have half of the electricity generated credited to our account? Is this something the Marin Energy Authority has considered?

Thanks in advance,
— Frank Leahy

On a related note, I’ve been getting emails from something calling itself the “Marin Common Sense Coalition”. If you look at the bottom of the website you can see it’s an astroturf campaign brought to you by PG&E “This information was provided by Coalition for Reliable and Affordable Electricity, a coalition that includes Pacific Gas and Electric Company”. Yep, definitely astroturf.

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