Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

By Donna Westfall – January 31, 2018

In Part 1, we’ll talk about what led up to Paul Senyszyn’s solar power installation.

In Part 2, we’ll talk about the installation process.

Finally, in Part 3, we’ll talk about how the finances worked out, and details around the performance of the system after its been in service for several months.

Paul answers two basic questions:

1) Why did you look into “going solar”? 

2) How did you choose a solar power provider?

Let’s start with question #1:

“I work for the school district as the Energy Technician looking for ways to help the schools save on energy, and pointing that out to the maintenance and administration.”

Further Paul said, “I try to apply the same methods to improving efficiency in my daily life. After performing all of the possible energy efficiency upgrades to my home, the only next step was to put a solar system on my house.”

Have you always been interested in going solar?

“Actually, since I was a teenager in high school. I urged my parents to consider it for decades without any success. I wanted to go solar for many years also, but was misinformed about how easy it can be. What I mean by that is that I was always told that I would have to pay for the entire system up-front. And that system of the size needed would be outside of budget constraints, if I had to pay up-front. I think that’s what most people think, that they aren’t aware of financing options that fit their budget and make perfect sense.”

What changed?

” A friend came to visit last spring and told me about a program  which provides zero out-of-pocket solar financing. Additionally, after looking into the low financing it still made sense on my small budget.”

“By using the zero-down up front and extremely low cost of financing (3.99%)  through a company called “Mosaic,” all that was required of me was a good credit rating.”

“I spent a great deal of my time improving the efficiency in my home which used to use close to $200/month in electricity. I got it down to a more reasonable cost of only $95/month. My research indicated that even with an electric bill averaging only about $95 per month, my payments for a fully installed and warrantied system are just about that. In twelve years, once the payments are complete, I will own my system which will generate energy every day and well into the future. As a family man and someone thinking about the future for my children, currently 11 and 9 years old, going solar made perfect sense to me.”

2) How did you choose a solar power provider?

“The first program I learned about, Powur, boasts their ability to weed out the bad guys by vetting providers based on a number of strict factors. Each provider must offer zero down financing and meet other criteria suggesting the likelihood they’ll be in business to honor their warranties. The goal is to increase the likelihood of a good customer experience. Other factors include warranties (no less than 25 years), licenses, quality customer service, and more.”

“Powur pointed me to three different companies: one out of Murrieta (south of LA), and another from the Bay area. The closest was Westhaven Solar, based in Yuba City, with a satellite office in Blue Lake, CA, just a short drive away.”

Paul said, “I gave all three a chance to prove their willingness to travel to Crescent City to upgrade my home to solar. The decision was easy after researching three companies, who met all of my requirements.”

“The final decision resulted in choosing Westhaven Solar.”

“When it came to actually getting a firm quote, only one of the companies was actually willing to send out a salesman and install a system.”

“As it turned out, the owner of Westhaven Solar and I made an instant connection and I soon learned that we not only attended and graduated Humboldt State University, but we happened to be there at the same time, and yet never connected, as I was in the biology program, and he was in environmental science and the renewable energy program.”

“Mark Schaeffer, CEO and founder of Westhaven, explained also that the other company from southern California, had oversized my system to account for weather. Mark explained that the cooler temperatures make the system so efficient during production, that the other company would have built a system far larger than what was necessary to zero out my electrical use. He went on to say that this is a common misconception in the industry that cloudy rainy weather along the coast, and the persistent cool temperatures require over-sizing a system. Mark explained that the cool temperatures that we get in Crescent City are perfect for taking advantage of the high efficiency of the panels.”

Thank you, Paul, for allowing us to come on this journey with you. I can’t wait to learn more about solar working in Crescent City/Del Norte County.


5 thoughts on “Paul goes solar: Part 1 of 3”
  1. I am not quite sure that an opinion piece and an Obama era bit of government figures is something to bet the house on. I certainly wouldn’t. My big problem with solar is that the physical materials to make enough solar panels simply DOES NOT EXIST on this planet. Current estimates are that there are enough physical materials to build solar systems for about ten percent of the world’s current usage. Someplace we are not at yet. With the increase of electrical usage per year, it will require about 800,000 new panels installed per year. I don’t see that as a reality. I have posed a series of questions to you about cost, maintenance and panel life expectancy and you continue to give flowery language about solar power but do not answer the questions that would be prudent for any one to know the answers to before investing nearly $15,000 in a solar system.

  2. Hi Samuel,

    Thanks for providing these great points, all of which have potential for a thoughtful response. Perhaps Paul will chime in and provide some.

    Unconcerned with the short-sighted impulse to assume the worst about the unknown, the world’s scientists and financiers have brought solar power mainstream, and all of the issues you raised are common concerns that have been addressed, solved, explained and learned from by the experts in the process.

    Get answers from experts, and satisfy your own investigative process. I predict you’ll come to the same, well-studied conclusions as Paul.

    When we move beyond doubt and skepticism of solutions for an environment insisting we change our destructive ways, perhaps we can then afford hope for a happy future for our children and theirs.

    Now that I’ve exposed some of my generally altruistic core values, perhaps you can understand why I advocate solar power.

    In this way, I honor the native american practice of “aho-mitake-oasin” which roughly translates to “I honor all my relations”. The deeper meaning of “my relations” refers to seven generations in the past as well as the seven generations into the future.

    In gratitude we remain to those who came before, and kept our waters clean, and earth producing. As responsible stewards, we work for those who follow by keeping the water clean and earth producing.


    Anthony Fogleman

    1. Anthony, I have looked into solar power as an alternative to the cost of power from the electric company and remain unconvinced. Current solar technology has yet to answer most of the issues that I have raised. It makes me uncomfortable when enthusiasts talk like it has reached the mainstream when it hasn’t, and has a ways to go before it can become an alternative to the power company, if that is even possible. Certain physical materials simply don’t exist in sufficient amounts to manufacture but about ten percent of the solar panels necessary to replace a fraction of the current electrical usage. Battery storage remains an issue. Panel maintenance is not something that scientists are going to be able to address easily, nor is the associated cost going to evaporate. More importantly, no one seems willing to address the over all cost of such a system, and whether or not it is in the budget of most people in this area. Many people simply do not have an extra $100 per month to invest in a system.

      1. Hi Samuel,
        Thanks for the lively banter.

        How about some fun facts?

        Here’s a fun fact:
        Exponential Solar Power Growth Means Fossil Fuels Are Toast
        *WARNING: Beware of sharp curves in above referenced charts.

        Here’s another one: “Electric Power Generation and Fuels technologies directly employ more than 1.9 million workers. In 2016, 55 percent, or 1.1 million, of these employees worked in traditional coal, oil, and gas, while almost 800,000 workers were employed in low carbon emission generation technologies, including renewables, nuclear, and advanced/low emission natural gas. Just under 374,000 individuals work, in whole or in part, for solar firms, with more than 260,000 of those employees spending the majority of their time on solar.”

        Did I read this correctly to read that the solar industry just jumped to 20% of all energy jobs in the USA?

        Please verify this if you took math in school. I take it you’ll trust our government to report the correct figures.

        So, now that we are opening our mind to changes that have occurred despite us, but perhaps may have been seen in a vague dream, can we begin to explain why it has happened?

        Well, my dear Samuel, I assure you it’s not because of the environmentalists out there. No, there’s not enough money among the tree-hugging crowd to make very much of a difference in the energy arena.

        It takes banks. We got ’em now. Their hand is in the cookie jar.

        Soon, I promise you, you will say goodbye to dirty energy, and see a world emerge which harvests clean energy from the sun, and says a fond farewell to the dirty fuel that got us through the industrial age.

        Good day!


  3. Before I can take this seriously as a responsible alternative to the power company, both Paul Senyszyn and Anthony Fogelman need to be up front about what a typical system will cost and not dance around the issue. It is also important that people realize that to get optimum performance out of a system that there are maintenance costs as well as costs for parts that fail. It is also important to understand that the components do not last forever, and in the climate we exist within, the components will not perform at optimum level nearly as long as the industry accepted life span of a system of twenty five to thirty years. You have to ask yourself if you take the plunge and buy a system, if you want to be up on your roof on a regular basis cleaning the panels or even servicing the batteries and other electrical components. If you don’t happen to be up to the task of installation or maintenance, how much will that add to the expense of having a system. As I commented before, most systems that I am acquainted with are usually connected to a government facility where cost or maintenance is not a concern. I suppose if you are a technical whizz like Paul, some issues are easily resolved, but we are not all “handy”.
    I understand that many people this day and age seek to be environmentally sensitive, and also want to reduce their carbon foot print. However, the physical materials limitations with the current technology of solar panels limit the maximum replacement value of all solar generated electricity to about 10% of the world’s total overall needs. As the limit on the ability to produce solar panels is reached so will the costs for systems increase. Even at zero down and payments at 3.99% for twelve years. the conditions remain out of reach for many. Just some random thoughts by someone who lived in this County for many years without the power company to light and heat my house.

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