My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Google invests US$75 million in Residential Solar PUC - Aliens in future Energy Market Shakeup

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Google invests US$75 million in Residential Solar PUC - Aliens in future Energy Market Shakeup

Why, then the world’s mine oyster

Which I with sword will open

Shakespeare, Merry Wives of Windsor, II, 2

Google has decided that investing in large scale commercial Alternative Energy projects is just not enough. They have now begun to target Residential Solar in their latest business venture to the tune of US$75 million gold bars as stated in the article “Google: Rent your Solar panels from us”, published September 28 2011 10:55 AM PDT by Candace Lombardi, CNET News - Green Tech and the article “Google helping homeowners get Solar Power with $75 million investment”, published September 28 2011 by Jeff Hughes, DigitalTrends

Those ten thousand (10,000) Residential or Commercial Customers may soon be the very lucky recipients of loans to finance their Green transition via partner Clean Power Finance, racking up Google investment in clean power to some US$850 million gold bars, according to the above sources!

But more importantly, it heralds Google’s attempt to shake up the Energy Market via the use of Alternative Energy combined with M2M (Machine-to-Machine) Communications with a dash of Google Android. Not only that, it may also be a solution to Developing World countries like Jamaica as well as the rest of the Caribbean and Latin America still grappling with Liberalizing their Energy Sectors from private and State Monopolies.

Google is still in a buying mood, especially after plunking down nearly US$12.5 billion gold bars to acquire Motorola Mobility and its treasure trove of patents lock, stock and barrel as analyzed in my Geezam blog article “Google Acquires Motorola Mobility – Weapon of Choice in the IP and Set Top Box Wars”, no doubt subject to regulatory approval before this is official.

So this latest venture, while numerically lesser in size both in terms of the guinea pigs involved and financial dollar amounts, will have a direct impact on homeowners that this concept is geared at transitioning to Alternative Power in their homes on a shoestring budget without the worry of spiraling electricity costs.

Instead of buying the Solar panels and wind turbines and paying the upfront cost of ownership to have them installed, usually around US$50,000 gold bars, Google merely rents you the equiptment, doing all the installation required and you pay a Flat Rate Usage Bill that covers the cost of the installation and Electricity used. Most likely billed to your credit card over a five (5) year period and done after a detailed power audit of the Residential or Commercial Customer’s power usage habits over a test period of three (3) months.

Google is effectively a Residential Solar PUC (Power Utility Company), taking advantage of the efficiency of Power Transmission due to the proximity of Power generated at source to its destination. Google's Director of Green Business Operations, Rick Needham, posted on Google’s Green Blog his sentiments on the venture, which echoes the obvious, quote: “It greens our energy mix by using existing roof space while avoiding transmission constraints, and it can be cheaper than drawing electricity from the traditional grid”.

This announcement comes very close on the heels of local Telecom Provider Digicel announcing that its Corporate Headquarters located by the ocean will be completely off the grid, powered by a combination of Solar panels and Wind Turbines as stated in my blog article entitled “Digicel adds on Green Power to future Corporate Building - Petula Clarke's Downtown Global Warming Crisis” since Wednesday September 28th 2011AD.

Residential Solar PUC’s are not a new idea though, as the desire to get off the grid for most Residential Customers is the same reason as Telecom Provider Digicel in Jamaica: a fear of future increases in Electricity and energy costs as per the assertions of Dr. Michael Taylor as noted in my blog article entitled “Dr. Taylor's states Global Warming increasing Jamaica's Energy Bill - Vybz Kartel's Summertime Soylent Green”.

Petra Solar, a Silicon Valley Solar start-up, partnered with local PUC’s in California in July 2009AD to place Solar Panels on utility poles and resell them electricity under a Net Metering arrangement as stated in the article “N.J. Solar Panels on utility poles to use AT&T”, published July 21, 2010 8:19 AM PDT, CNET News - Green Tech.

And as recently as 2010AD SunRun, another  San Francisco based start-up, entered into the Residential Solar PUC market, installing Solar panels at residential and business locations and bill the Residential or Commercial Customers monthly as stated in the article “SunRun bags money to finance residential Solar”, published October 27, 2010 8:47 AM PDT by Martin LaMonica, CNET News - Green Tech.

The Billing is done via a M2M (Machine-to-Machine) transaction between the Residents installed digital Smart meter with the Residential Solar PUC Main Server over a Telecom Providers Network 2G GPRS (Global Packer Radio Service), EDGE (Enhanced Data Rates for GSM Evolution), 3G or LTE (Long Term Evolution) Broadband Inter net, allowing seamless billing of the Residential or Commercial Customer without a need for staff to visit the Residential or Commercial Customer’s location to read their meter.

This as described in my blog article entitled “Alternative Energy and Residential Solar Power - The Social Network”. As for the concept of using a Telecom Provider’s Wireless 2G Network to communicate with Smart meters and Power Station installations, be they Residential or Commercial Customers, ample examples of this exist.

In the US of A, Duke Energy has invested US$1 billion denari in monitoring smart meters and Power Station Installations via a Telecom Provider AT&T and Telecom Provider Verizon’s 2G Network as descried in my blog article entitled “AT&T overcharges for unlimited SMS again - Duke Energy's US$1 billion Investment in The Dead Zone”.

Folks, Exhibit A as to the coming death of Voice Traffic on the mobile Telecom Providers Switched Voice Networks in The Dead Zone (1983)!

Here in Jamaica, JPS Co Digital Meters, now the center of controversy as it relates to over billing of some Residential or Commercial Customers, are actually an implementation of the very same thing that Duke Energy is doing.  My blog article entitled “Senator Phillip Paulwell and PowerLine Broadband - Ice Station Zebra” first pointed out this discrepancy and originally explaining why Senator Phillip Paulwell idea for Powerline Broadband was not feasible.

This despite the misinformed rantings of JPS Co Corporate Communications Manager Winsome Callum, who asserted that JPS Co uses Power Line Carrier (PLC), a secure communication standard to communicate over Power Lines as stated in the article “Security flaws in Some Smart meters”, published Sunday April 18, 2010 by Mark Titus, Gleaner Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner, when in fact Microwave Antenna atop their Buildings and a detailed examination of a Digital Meter provides evidence to the contrary.

Security is guaranteed as the sending discrete Data packets such as timestamps, voltage readings, etc, are all encrypted using 64-bit A5/1 Encryption inherent on GSM Voice Platforms or CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) in the case of EV-DO as noted in my blog article entitled “ScotiaBank, A51 Encryption GOJ Security on Telecom Providers GSM Networks”.

As for the payment side, screening of the initial ten thousand (10,000) guinea pigs….or residents….. to ensure that they are capable of owning up to a monthly obligation for the next five (5) or so years, at which time the investment may begin to make returns. Not much different from a Telecom Provider, which traditionally makes return on investment in approximately eight (8) years.

Google has significantly more cash and armed with their extensive experience in provisioning Telecoms Service such as Google Voice, they may be able to make it cost effective enough to work with a small number of participating residents.

Google business model may be as loosely described above and thus may have Residential or Commercial Customers in this original test trial as far flung as New York, as the location of Residential or Commercial Customers need not be within the same state, thereby eliminating state taxes as it relates to selling electricity across state borders.

Something tells me that this push into the Residential Solar PUC may be Google way of shaking up the Energy Business in much the same way it is shaking up the Mobile Business with Google Android. It may also have smartmeters and equiptment powered by Google Android Ice Cream as stated in my Geezam Blog article entitled “Apple’s Revolution: Android @ Home and IceCream Sandwich in 2015AD”. More indications as to why my appliances, cars and now houses may be your future friend when AI (Artificial Intelligence) becomes aware, Aliens (1986) Style.

This as, based on this Business Model, Google could come to Jamaica the Caribbean and Latin America in the future, once they have ironed out the bugs in their business model. They can apply to become a FDI (Foreign Direct Investor) and set up a Residential Solar PUC, WITHOUT the need for Energy Sector Liberalization.

This as there are no laws against generating ones own Power, just distributing in over a Private Network, for which the JPS Co has an exclusive ten (10) year license. This could herald the coming of competition to JPS Co monopoly in Jamaica, as under a Bilateral Trade Agreement, Google would have waivers to import Alternative Energy Equiptment, making doing business not only profitable, but giving residents the option to disconnect themselves from JPS Co for good.  

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