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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 29, 2011 1:22 PM. The previous post in this blog was The morning after. The next post in this blog is Portland is off the hook on treating Bull Run water. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why they cancelled your bus

Tri-Met has more important things to do than get you where you need to go.

Comments (31)

"Numbers released by TriMet show the project will cost just over $370,000, with the panels producing a savings of about $3,700 a year in the form of a credit from Portland General Electric."

This is a win for the region! TriMet has finally, finally figured out how to invest and make money...a staggering 1% annual return on cost. That's just fantastic! A train load of geniuses, I say! Brilliant!!

What? That 1% is before annual maintenance costs on their solar "array"? Financing costs are likely 5% annually because TriMet had to borrow money to build it?

In the words of Homer Simpson...."Doh!"


"Let them ride streetcars." ~ Marie Portlandianette

There are several other hidden costs besides the panel, maintenance and debt cost. Shouldn't PSU be charging for the real estate needed for this extensive array?

If someone wanted to place over 6000 sq/ft of solar panels over my 5000 sq/ft lot I certainly wouldn't do it for free. Plus I'd have to cut down five trees to do so, and that is forbidden by Planners. And I'd be living totally in the panel's shadow. I'd say my lot would be almost totally devalued. So to pay the lot taxes, and rent for the lot, I'd need to collect an additional $2400 in rent per month.

TriMet and PSU seems to have caught up with PDC in disregarding true costs of their newfangled endeavors.

What? That 1% is before annual maintenance costs on their solar "array"? Financing costs are likely 5% annually because TriMet had to borrow money to build it?

Never mind that the life of these panels may be 25 years - about 75 short.

I seriously looked at "solarizing" my home a few years back. I obtained a few proposals, and the result was a 1% annual return (energy savings) on my out of pocket costs, and that was after some cash back from the Energy Trust of Oregon.

I couldn't come to shell out all of that cash, so I declined. I was soon bombarded with calls from Energy Trust and the contractors, all of them telling me "you're not only going to recover 1% of your costs each year, you'll be saving 17% or so on your electric bill, so there really is much more in this for you than you think."

That's how they sell it.

Elvis wept. A massive solar array, in a town where people scream and flee the big yellow hurty thing in the sky when it occasionally appears from behind the clouds? Isn't that like building a ski jump in Dallas?

lw -

PSU ain't paying real estate taxes on that lot. You and I are. Our RE taxes are marginally higher to make up fpr what PSU isn't contributing.

From the Tri Met website:

Our mission

To build and operate the "Total Transit System"

The Total Transit System includes frequent, reliable and comfortable service, easy access to stops and stations, clear customer information, and a safe and secure trip—while ensuring transit equity and environmental justice and moving toward sustainability.

* We strive to make life better for our community by providing high-quality transit service that is safe, dependable, responsive, easy and inviting.
* We believe that we will reach the highest level of service excellence in a work environment where safety is a fundamental value.

First of all, what the heck is "transit equity and environmental justice"?

Second of all, how "sustainable" is this project when it has NO possible chance of EVER paying for itself? Sustainability isn't just about the environment, in my opinion.

First of all, what the heck is "transit equity and environmental justice"?

You think that is bad?

Imagine what it's like to actually work here and be a free thinker!

“The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief”
(Jacques Ellul)

Haha!
While they are building solar panels the

**real TRIMET**

is captured in this text message I just got from a driver on duty:

"friggen bus sounds like its gonna blow up, I hope it does...doesnt shift...constantly in high rpm and chirps like a bird"

I guess that wouldn't be much good in a press release would it?

Don't worry about the numbers on this project just yet.

The city astronomer is estimating a 20% growth in the amount of sunlight over the next 50 years based on the arrival of a binary star to this region of the galaxy. This means that the solar panels will pay for themselves plus our sun's new companion will also create 1,000 new astronomy jobs in the South Waterfront district.

This project is a perfect example of how stupid the management at TriMet is. They can't even perform a simple return on investment analysis.

The fact that the panels wear out before the project even breaks even is priceless. Is there anyone on the TriMet management team with an IQ higher than room temperature?

Why don't they go ahead and spend all of our money on a solar powered deer baby sculpture while they are at it?

Thanks, Bill -- Ha ha ha! And the Metro al

...And the Metro alchemists are researching how to convert gold into paper.

Hey Al - if you're such a "free thinker" and don't like what TriMet is doing... why are you still working for them? Just curious.

If AL wasn't union he'd been fired a long time ago me thinks.

Have wondered what that steel skeleton was for the past several months. It's at the end terminus of the yellow/green lines by PSU. Tri-Met is already running tracks following a similar curve to head back downtown to the north, so doubt there's much additional property there for the panels.

And, Tri-Met's goin' to make their money back - why, I'll bet electricity costs will be a million times higher by 2035, or whenever the million or so people will have moved here.

Al M's days with TriMet are numbered. He enjoys poking his employer in the eye via the internet. One of these days they'll poke him back with a well deserved pink slip.

How is disagreeing publicly with one's publicly financed employer grounds for dismissal?
And TiMet has not been in the business of efficiently transporting people for a very long time.
It is not Al M who should get the pink slip, it is ALL of his so called superiors who are idiots!

The Oregon National Guard just spent $1M to build a solar panel installation producing as much energy as the engine in a Camry. Looks like the annual return before costs is about $30,000 at best.

Nonny, true that PSU doesn't pay property taxes, and yes that the rest of us make up for PSU. But any legit forensic audit considers the value of real estate to any endeavor.

Another thing that is troubling are some of the unrealistic comments on maintenance costs, or disregarding them, here and at the O.

I've had over 35 years of solar panel experience on my own home. The first maintenance was the computer control panel replacement in the first five years. It cost over 25% of the total solar installation bill. Then about 15 years later to replace the roof underneath, over 33% of initial cost was incurred for the removal and replacement of the roof system. Then there's been two major repair jobs on the roof panels, plus the semi-annual cleaning costs.

You can't disregard the maintenance costs in PSU/TriMet/Oregon Energy Trust calcs. It's another sales job on their part. Maybe Bill has something to say about the binary minds of the sales force.

"“TriMet’s going to be here for a long time. So we’re taking a long view of the investment that we make in solar energy,” said Hastings." Unfortunately and wasting money while doing a poor job as well.

What the news media is NOT reporting is that the $370K that TriMet dropped on the solar panels isn't even the entire cost:

http://trimet.org/news/southterminus_energy.htm

To build the steel structure that surrounds the substation equipment and on which the solar panels will sit on, TriMet blew through $1.2 million - yes, MILLION - on that big ugly steel thing.

So the total project cost is not $370K...it's over $1.5 MILLION!!!

To put it in perspective, TriMet could have purchased 35 brand new buses (at $42,000 local share and the feds paying the rest of the cost). 35 buses, that would have an immediate impact on LOWERING operating costs by reducing maintenance and fuel expense. That would immediately reduce carbon emissions. That would improve the TriMet rider experience (by having buses that just show up and don't break down!)

Instead...TriMet blew $1.5 MILLION on this contraption. And TriMet wants to RAISE MY FARES?!! Not just no...but EFFING NO!!!

Our mission

To build and operate the "Total Transit System"

The Total Transit System includes frequent, reliable and comfortable service, easy access to stops and stations, clear customer information, and a safe and secure trip—while ensuring transit equity and environmental justice and moving toward sustainability.

Does anyone believe that TriMet is meeting its own mission statement with regards to the rail versus bus divide?

The agency says they’re paying for the project with funds remaining from the recently finished Green Line construction, in addition, to an Energy Trust of Oregon rebate and other help from PGE.

The Energy Trust of Oregon means you are paying this part. Check you gas and electric bill. That charge on your invoice called "Public Purpose" goes to the Energy Trust of Oregon.

In the last 12 months, we have paid Public Purpose fees in the amount of $96.23 to the gas and electric companies.

You probably paid a similar amount.

Another thing that is troubling are some of the unrealistic comments on maintenance costs, or disregarding them, here and at the O.

I've had over 35 years of solar panel experience on my own home. The first maintenance was the computer control panel replacement in the first five years. It cost over 25% of the total solar installation bill.

I've been wondering if anybody had even considered the maintenance costs on this puppy. It's why, despite all the ads from SolarCity and other companies hawking their "free" systems, I haven't bit.

It doesn't make a lot of sense now, and I can't imagine why anybody would have gone with it 35 years ago. I'd figured on just the costs associated with the roof system, as leaves and crud tend to build up around the panels, which will hasten deterioration. As well, I assumed there would be a need to clean the panels themselves several times each year in order to maximize solar capacity.

The computer control panel hadn't even occurred to me.

John:

At least they give you "free" stuff - toxic bulbs and an "energy-saving shower-head and aerator" (translation: have a couple of sodas, and you can pee a stronger stream than you'll get out of these things).

https://energytrust.org/esaverkits/default.aspx

Through state legislation, tariffs and other requirements, Energy Trust is funded exclusively by customers of Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural and Cascade Natural Gas. Customers of all four utilities pay a dedicated percentage of their utility bills to support a variety of energy efficiency and renewable energy services and programs.

(Translation: We've already taken your money. Neener, neener).

I had an Energy Audit done. What a joke. First of all, it took 8 months to get someone to come out. They scheduled it 6 months out from my original call, claiming they needed to have other houses in my area schedule an audit as well, as it "wasn't efficient" to come all the way to Sandy otherwise. They even suggested I try to sign up my neighbors to speed things along. No one showed up for that first appointment - probably because it was schedule 6 months previously. Good thing I had that day off anyway.

When the "audit" did finally occur two months later, they sent out a 21 year old girl. No offense - I am female, and there is no task they do that a woman could not perform - but this cute, young thing sure did curl up her nose at the thought of getting down into my crawlspace to check out our insulation (or lack thereof). I took pity on her and told her not to bother. She was very relieved.

So essentially, Miss Priss checked the temp of my hot water with a handy little instrument that measured it out of the tap; and as someone above mentioned, gave me three of those curly bulbs and two awful lo-flow shower heads - which we did not install either.

Wow. I couldn't have figured that out on my own. What a handy service. I'm thrilled that money is also going to pay for Tri-Met boondoggles as well.

“This is a very important pilot project for us,” said TriMet architect Bob Hastings. “This really has allowed us to understand how solar energy can work for TriMet.”

According to my TriMet-riding college student daughter: "Some projects shouldn't move beyond theoretical."

Hello TriMet architect Bob Hastings, this is reality calling. When you spend $370,000 on something that provides you with an annual savings of $3700, it isn't a good investment. No need to actually waste the money to find that out. It is simple math. Even for an architect.

Oh how I long for the old Rose City Transit days....good cheap service, nice drivers, on time busses, that were clean....sigh!

Perhaps the huge solar array was designed to give the impression the "Green" line runs on Solar Energy like the Springfield Monorail episode on The Simpsons.


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