NewEnergyNews More: February 2015

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  • Wednesday, February 25, 2015


    Appraising Solar Energy’s Value; Solar Panels and Home Values

    Lisa Prevost, February 20, 2015 (NY Times)

    “New research sponsored by the Department of Energy shows that buyers are willing to pay more for homes with rooftop solar panels — a finding that may strengthen the case for factoring the value of sustainable features into home appraisals…[ Selling Into The Sun from] Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory…examined sales data for almost 23,000 homes in eight states from 2002 to 2013. About 4,000 of the homes had solar photovoltaic systems, all of them owned (as opposed to being financed through a lease with the solar company)...Researchers found that buyers were willing to pay a premium of $15,000 for a home with the average-size solar photovoltaic system (3.6 kilowatts, or 3,600 watts), compared with a similar home without one…The Berkeley lab report notes that more research is needed into the effect of leased systems…” click here for more


    Report: Solar, wind energy has huge potential in state

    Russell Hubbard, February 21, 2015 (World-Herald News Service via The Grand Island Independent)

    “…[Renewable energy has the potential to supply almost 75 percent of [Nebraska’s] needs…[according to Powering Up Nebraska from Creighton University and] ‘significant cost declines’ for electricity generated by wind and solar power are spurring development in Nebraska and nationwide…[T] he renewables industry is responsible for $1 billion worth of investment in Nebraska so far and has the potential to create as many as 44,645 construction jobs…Renewable energy is set to be a larger part of the state’s output. With environmental laws phasing out coal-fired plants, Nebraska Public Power District says it already is close to reaching its 2020 goal of 10 percent of its energy with renewables, primarily wind. The Omaha Public Power District says it has a long-term goal of generating 30 percent of its electricity from wind…” click here for more


    Samsung makes a big play for electric cars by nabbing a battery pack firm

    Davindra Hardawar, February 23, 2015 (engadget)

    “Samsung wants to ensure it's as integral to the electric car world as it is to the mobile arena. The Korean electronics giant is acquiring…Magna Steyr, which will fit nicely inside of Samsung SDI, its component division. SDI has already scored a major deal with BMW providing batteries for its new i3 electric car and i8 hybrid, and it will make up eight percent of Tesla's battery supply this year (it's also in talks to build even more)…[The move] should make Samsung a stronger competitor to Panasonic, which is Tesla's biggest supplier, as well as its partner for the massive "Gigafactory" battery plant…[Magna was] one of the companies Apple reportedly talked to for its rumored electric car project…[This is likely] a reaction to those Apple Car rumors, but [fits] with Samsung's general strategy for new markets: Make the components everyone needs and reap the profits…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 24, 2015


    Bill heads to Senate in effort to establish solar development authority

    Jacob Geiger, February 23, 2015 (Richmond Times Dispatch)

    “...[The Virginia Solar Energy Development Authority will go before the state Senate]…The authority would encourage the solar energy industry in Virginia by developing programs that make it easier for solar energy projects to get financing. And it would also help Dominion Virginia Power…the state’s largest electric utility…invest $700 million in large-scale solar photovoltaic projects in a number of locations. The projects would generate at least 400 megawatts of power by 2020…An amendment approved [in committee] was tailored specifically to Dominion. It charged the authority with assisting Dominion’s plans by ‘providing for the financing or assisting in the financing of the construction or purchase of such solar energy projects’ authorized by state law…[A Dominion lobbyist who was previously a Republican delegate from Fairfax County…said the amendment will help Dominion develop solar power plants as cheaply as possible...[because] much of the solar power industry relies on tax-exempt financing or government grants for which Dominion is not eligible. The changes to the proposed solar development authority will help Dominion and private developers who might build the projects…” click here for more



    2014 a record breaking year for wind turbine manufacturers

    Charlotte Malone, February 23, 2015 (Blue&Green)

    “For wind turbine manufacturers, 2014 was a record breaking year…[though] the sector could see a fall in demand in 2016 because of regulatory uncertainty…Global Wind Market Update – Demand & Supply 2014 [from FTI Consulting reports]…that global wind capacity reached more than 50 gigawatts in 2014, over 40% growth on 2013. The record breaking growth is mainly driven by China, Germany and Brazil. All ten of the top wind turbine original equipment manufacturers have benefitted from the growth, reporting individual records for installations…[T]he wind industry is continuing to see a transition away from feed in tariffs and towards more ‘market-reflective’ support mechanisms in 2014. Despite the progress made last year, it adds that the global wind market is likely to fall next year, partly due to uncertainty in regulations…” click here for more


    Now is the time to invest in real geothermal energy; Thousands of drilling rigs are idle. Why not put laid-off roustabouts to work drilling for renewable energy?

    Lloyd Alter, February 22, 2015 (Mother Nature Network)

    “…[Geothermal energy systems use the Earth's underground heat] to make steam, which drives turbines, just like coal or nuclear plants do. This heat is close enough to tap at geologic faults, so the hot spots are along the Pacific rim and Iceland, the geothermal capital of the world…[T]hanks to the drop in the price of oil, now might be a good time to drill…[D]rillers are parking rigs as oil prices collapse and have laid off thousands of workers…[I]n Alberta, Canada, the] head of the Canadian Geothermal Energy Association (CanGEA), Alison Thompson, is teaching drillers how to adapt oil technology to geothermal drilling…Tech transfer from the oil industry is actually happening in the geothermal world; Norway's Statoil is drilling for geothermal in Iceland, and Chevron is a big player in geothermal…[Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS)] can provide base-load electric power and heat at a level that can have a major impact on the United States, while incurring minimal environmental impacts. With a reasonable investment in R&D, EGS could provide 100 GWe or more of cost ¬competitive generating capacity in the next 50 years…” click here for more

    Monday, February 23, 2015


    Report: Apple aims to launch electric car by 2020

    February 22, 2015 (Fox News)

    “…Sources familiar with [Apple’s unannounced electric car project said the company is moving forward with an aggressive plan to develop a battery-powered car to compete with Tesla, General Motors, Nissan, and other established automakers in the electric car segment. Production on a car could reportedly kick off in five years…[T]he tech company has been luring engineers from other outfits in the automotive sector, including Tesla, and has been in contact with a manufacturer capable of producing vehicles on a contract basis…[E]lectric car battery-maker A123 Systems, has reportedly gone as far as filing a lawsuit to try to stop Apple from poaching its staff… A123 Systems is owned by Wanxiang Group, the parent company of Fisker Automotive, which [is revamping] its Karma plug-in hybrid sedan…Apple is already heavily invested in the automotive sector with its Siri Eyes Free and Apple Car Play software platforms, which allow its mobile devices to work with a variety of in-car infotainment systems…[It competes with Google’s] Android Auto system…Analysts have estimated that Fisker and Tesla each spent about $1.5 billion to develop the Karma and Model S, respectively, and Apple is currently sitting on a cash reserve of $178 billion. That's more than enough to buy Tesla outright six times over, or GM, Ford and Chrysler combined at their current market capitalization, let alone develop its own car from scratch…” click here for more


    NextEra Energy plans to build Hawaii's largest wind farm on Maui

    Duane Shimogawa, February 20, 2015 (Pacific Business News)

    “…[NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, plans to build, own, and operate] the largest wind energy farm in Hawaii on the southern coast of Maui…The more than 120-megawatt [Kahikinui Wind project would be built on about 500 acres of Department of Hawaiian Home Lands at the Kahikinui homestead on the southern slopes of Haleakala leased for 35 years. NextEra] said that it would benefit Hawaii to develop up to 200 megawatts of additional wind or solar capacity on Maui…NextEra also is one of the companies looking to build an undersea cable that would connect the electric grids on Oahu and Maui…First Wind owns the biggest wind farm in Hawaii, the 69-megawatt Kawailoa Wind project on Oahu's North Shore [and three other wind farms]…Sempra U.S. Gas & Power owns one wind farm in Hawaii…California's Champlin Hawaii Holdings LLC has plans to build a $90 million, 24-megawatt wind farm near the Kahuku Wind project on Oahu's North Shore…” click here for more


    Kaiser to buy solar power from Riverside County project

    Sammy Roth, February 19, 2015 (The Desert Sun)

    "…[Health care giant Kaiser Permanente will] buy 110 megawatts of power from NextEra Energy Resources' Blythe solar project…NextEra can now start construction on the stalled Blythe project, which is expected to employ nearly 500 people at the height of construction and should come online by the end of 2016, just in time to secure a 30 percent tax credit…Kaiser committed in 2012 to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2008 levels by 2020, and it now expects to meet that goal three years ahead of schedule…Federal officials approved the 485-megawatt, 4,000-acre Blythe project in August, but NextEra didn't start construction right away because it hadn't found a buyer for the electricity the project would generate. Now that Kaiser has signed [a 20 year, $25 million contract], NextEra will start building…At least half a dozen [other] large-scale projects proposed for [the eastern California Mojave Desert] have stalled or slowed…hamstrung by an inability to secure power-purchase agreements with utilities. As California's major utilities have gotten closer to meeting the state's 33 percent renewable energy mandate, they've had less incentive to sign contracts…That could change if California lawmakers adopt a 50 percent renewable energy mandate…" click here for more

    Wednesday, February 18, 2015


    Koch brothers and Sierra Club unite behind Tesla

    David Muller, February 18, 2015 (MLive)

    “…The Koch brothers' Americans for Prosperity conservative political advocacy group and environmental protection group the Sierra Club have signed a letter decrying the ‘anti-consumer effects of laws [in Michigan, Texas, Arizona, New Jersey, Maryland, and other states barring Tesla Motors’ direct-to-consumer] vehicle sales…Acknowledging their broad range of public interests, the signatories of the letter…note they frequently find themselves on different sides of policy debates…[but jointly oppose efforts] to forbid car manufacturers from opening their own stores or service centers in order to deal directly with consumers…[It] goes on to say that the group's concerns are not limited to just Tesla, but apply also to other companies…[because direct to customer sales] could reduce costs and increase consumer satisfaction…” click here for more


    Google buys Altamont wind energy to power Googleplex

    Matt O’Brien, February 11, 2015 (San Jose Mercury News)

    “…Google has spent $1.5 billion around the world on clean energy projects cutting the pollution from millions of users…but now it's found a powerful electricity source close to home…[O]ne of the nation's oldest, largest and most iconic wind farms…is about to get a Google-funded makeover…[I]ts 20-year power purchase agreement with Florida-based NextEra Energy will dramatically transform the rolling, treeless [Altamont Pass] landscape…About 770 old turbines from the 1980s will be replaced this year by 48 new machines producing twice as much energy, enough to power Google's corporate campus in Mountain View with 100 percent renewable power…Google is paying for 50 percent, or nearly 43 megawatts, of the power…The other buyer is undisclosed, but Florida-based NextEra said it is neither a utility nor a tech company…Neither Google nor NextEra is disclosing the price…” click here for more


    NRG to provide up to 70 MW of solar power to Kaiser Permanente

    February 18, 2015 (Penn Energy)

    “…[The NRG Renew subsidiary of NRG Energy], the country’s largest independent power producer, has entered into an agreement with Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit healthcare providers, to help Kaiser Permanente achieve its goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions [30%] three years ahead of its promised 2020 date by providing up to] 70 megawatts (MW) of on-site solar…Kaiser Permanente will [offset 6% to 8% of its load and have the most] on-site installed solar capacity among U.S. healthcare companies [and be third among all U.S. companies]…NRG Renew will implement a single-brand, multi-site distributed solar program at as many as 170 sites, which will include medical offices, hospitals, clinics, data centers and other Kaiser Permanente facilities…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 17, 2015


    Solar Funding and M&A; 2014 Fourth Quarter and Annual Report

    February 2015 (Mercom Capital Group)

    “…Total corporate funding including VC, public market and debt financings totaled $26.5 billion in 2014, a 175 percent increase year-over-year…Global venture capital funding in the solar sector saw a sharp increase over the previous year with more than $1.3 billion raised in 85 deals. In comparison, in 2013, $612 million was raised in 98 deals…It was a record year for public market financings, which accounted for about $5.2 billion in 52 deals in 2014, nearly doubling from 2013, which had $2.8 billion in 39 deals…There were seven announced IPOs in 2014. The largest was Abengoa Yield’s raise of $828.7 million on the NASDAQ. Yieldco’s raised about $1.5 billion of the $2.1 billion raised via IPOs…Announced debt financing increased threefold in 2014 with $20 billion in 58 deals compared to 2013 with $6.2 billion in 38 deals. China continued to dominate debt financing activity with $15.8 billion in 21 deals…Solar M&A activity in 2014 was the most active of the last four years in terms of transactions, with 116 transactions compared to 81 transactions in 2013…”

    click here for more


    Whatever happened to offshore wind energy? Five years since Lake Michigan wind turbines proposed

    Stephen Kloosterman, Februaqry 11, 2015 (MLive)

    “…Five years ago, Scandia Wind created quite a stir by proposing a large wind-energy project…[for Lake Michigan off the West Michigan coast but] the discussion of putting wind turbines in Lake Michigan has been relatively silent since…State officials conducted a two-year study of the issue but their recommendations don't include areas in or near West Michigan…[A] top executive at Consumers Energy said there's not much of a market for the offshore wind energy…However, the idea of offshore wind refuses to die…In 2009, wind energy was…part of Gov. Jennifer Granholm's administration plan to help the state's economy rebound from the recession…Scandia Wind LLC got the public's attention late that year proposing 100 to 200 utility-sized wind turbines in Lake Michigan…Scandia had hoped to get the Mason County and Oceana County boards of commissioners to support the proposed development, but that sort of formal support never materialized…Another blow to offshore wind energy on the Great Lakes came last year when the U.S. Department of Energy bypassed a grant application for a Lake Erie pilot project in favor of projects on the East and West coasts...And the market seems headed in the direction of on-shore wind energy…” click here for more


    Cloudy Prospects for Rooftop Solar’s Growth in Florida: Energy

    Mark Chediak, February 16, 2015 (Bloomberg News)

    “…Florida ranks near the top for the amount of solar potential, yet comes in 15th for home solar systems. Texas, which rivals California for most sun resources, comes in 11th in installed residential panels…What makes them different from California, the top market for solar power, is cheaper utility rates and the lack of policies to encourage rooftop panels…The average cost of a home solar system has dropped about 70 percent since 1988, and they are now cost competitive with grid-supplied power in 42 U.S. cities including Dallas and Miami…Many utilities, meanwhile, have been cautious about encouraging residential solar because they lose revenue when customers start producing their own power…Under Florida law, only utilities can sell power to retail customers…[That shuts out] solar leasing, the no-money-down model that’s made residential the fastest-growing part of the U.S. solar market…Solar advocates point to the state’s lack of a renewable power standard as another impediment...Texas has such a mandate…[but] is one of seven states that doesn’t require utilities to [net meter and] buy power from consumers’ home-solar systems…[making] home solar is far less economical…” click here for more

    Monday, February 16, 2015


    Solar energy is playing surprisingly well in conservative parts of the U.S.

    Chris Mooney, February 13, 2015 (Washington Post)

    “…There are now over 173,000 solar jobs in the United States…But here’s a perhaps less appreciated reality – solar is also catching on in a lot of states that we don’t traditionally think of as being liberal, do-gooder territory…That’s one upshot of [State Solar Jobs Census] from the Solar Foundation…[L]iberal California is the titan: It has 54,690 solar workers now (as of late 2014), or nearly one third of the national total…[but] solar is making inroads in a lot of other states, too, and the places where that’s happening are pretty politically diverse…The fairly conservative state of Arizona (#3 overall for solar jobs) now has 9,170 of solar jobs. Very conservative Texas (#6) has 6,965 of them — having seen a 68 percent job growth in just one year…[T] he swing state of Nevada (#7) now has 5,900 solar jobs, whereas just a year ago it only had 2,800. That’s a staggering 146 percent growth rate. And North Carolina (#8) has 5,600, having shot up 80 percent since last year…[T]hough not in the top 10, very conservative Georgia] now has 2,890 solar jobs and has seen a mind-boggling 261 percent increase in solar employment in just two years…” click here for more


    Blowing away myths: Study says wind energy could be even more reliable than baseload power

    Kari Lyderson, February 13, 2015 (Midwest Energy News)

    “…[Wind energy helps build a more reliable and balanced electricity portfolio from] the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) explained how wind can actually be seen as a more reliable source than conventional power plants — one that contributes to rather than inhibits the stability of the grid as a whole…[and therefore a good way] of meeting the Environmental Protection Agency’s carbon reduction goals in the Clean Power Plan. No one disputes that wind is a zero-carbon and low-cost source of energy, but AWEA’s report underscores that…[f]luctuations in supply or demand from any given source do not matter to grid operators… [V]ariations in the level of wind energy output are easily smoothed out over the grid as demand also rises and falls frequently and often unpredictably…Since wind’s variability is more predictable and involves a smaller amount of megawatts than the potential variability of power plants, less reserve electricity is needed…” click here for more


    Apple gears up to challenge Tesla in electric cars

    Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Ramsey, February 13, 2015 (MarketWatch/Wall Street Journal)

    “…[Apple Inc.] has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle…[T]he project, code-named ‘Titan,’ has an initial design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, [a source] said…An Apple spokesman declined to comment…[I]t will be several years before an Apple car could hit the road, even if development goes smoothly…[and]Apple may decide not to proceed with building a car…[M]any technologies used in an electric car, such as a long-life battery and in-car electronics, would be useful to other Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad. Apple often investigates technologies and potential products, going as far as building multiple prototypes for some things that it won’t ever sell…But the size of the team and some of the people assigned to it indicate that the company is serious…[Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly] approved the car project almost a year ago and assigned veteran product design Vice President Steve Zadesky [a former Ford Motor Co. engineer who helped lead the Apple teams that created the iPod and iPhone] to lead the group…In September, Apple hired Johann Jungwirth, who had been the president and chief executive of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development North America…” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 11, 2015


    Launch of world’s largest PV plant drives home the pro-ITC message

    Ben Willis 10 February 2015 PV Tech

    The 550 MW Desert Sunlight project co-owned by NextEra Energy Resources, GE Energy Financial Services, and Sumitomo just went online, joining MidAmerican Energy Holdings’s 550 MW Topaz Solar project, which went online late last year, as the two biggest solar power plants in the world in full operation. MidAmerican Energy’s 579 MW Solar Stars project will take the "world’s biggest" crown when it goes fully operational later this year. SunPower, manufacturer of the most efficient solar modules, is the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor for it. Desert Sunlight is the last of five 100-plus MW PV solar projects backed by the Department of Energy’s Loan Project Office (LPO) to go online. LPO loan guarantees of $4.6 billion for them led to 17 subsequent 100-plus MW solar projects representing 3.6 GW of installed capacity built without federal support.

    The other four original DOE-backed projects, according to a new DOE report, are the 290 MW Agua Caliente co-owned by NRG Solar and MidAmerican, the 242 MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch One owned by Exelon, the 250 MW California Valley Solar Ranch co-owned by NRG Energy and NRG Solar, and the 170 MW Mesquite Solar co-owned by Sempra Companies and Consolidated Edison. The US had 22 MW of utility-scale solar when the first five projects were awarded LPO backing in 2008 and the Energy Information Administration predicted there would be only 140 MW of utility-scale PV by 2015. Total U.S. utility-scale PV capacity was 8.1 GW at end of Q3 2014. click here for more


    Coalition urges Illinois to boost energy goals

    Julie Wernau, February 4, 2015 Chicago Tribune

    The Clean Jobs Coalition of labor, business, environmental, and ratepayer advocacy groups and headed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is pushing Illinois legislators to increase the state’s 25% renewables mandate to 35% by 2030 and up the state’s targeted 2025 electricity consumption reduction from 13% to 20%.Chicago-based Exelon, not part of the coalition, has called for an “all-of-the-above” energy strategy and is pushing state legislators to include nuclear power in the revised mandate so it will not be forced to shutter three of its six Illinois nuclear facilities. Nuclear power is increasingly unable to compete in the electricity market with low cost natural gas generation and fuel-free wind generation. Exelon argues that meeting the Clean Power Plan’s goal of a 30% reduction of greenhouse gases from 2005 levels by 2030 would be challenging for Illinois without nuclear generation but members of Mayor Emanuel’s coalition say emissions can be cut with ramped up energy efficiency and new renewables. click here for more


    Duke Energy and REC Solar team to make distributed solar more affordable and accessible to commercial customers

    February 9, 2015 (Duke Energy/REC Solar)

    Duke Energy acquired a controlling interest in commercial and industrial scale developer REC Solar and plans to invest up to $225 million in REC solar-developed projects. REC Solar began as a residential rooftop installer but last year sold that part of its business to Sunrun to focus on sales and financing of larger installations. REC Solar has over 400 commercial-industrial installations representing over 140 megawatts of capacity built or in development.

    By offering third-party funding to finance installations, REC Solar allows its customers who do not want to invest cash and use the tax equity to avoid high up-front costs and ownership and maintenance responsibilities. Duke Energy Renewables has a commercial-industrial and utility-scale renewables portfolio of 15 wind projects and 22 solar installations in 12 states representing about 1,800 megawatts of total installed capacity. The $225 million fund will be used by REC Solar in markets across the here for more

    Tuesday, February 10, 2015


    As Customers Disconnect From Grid, Wind And Solar Energy Are Threatened

    Ken Silverstein, February 9, 2015 (Forbes)

    “…[If utility customers become less reliant on the grid, the potential economic impact is] between $18 billion and $48 billion in lost revenues by 2025…[C]onsumers who disconnect from the grid are challenging utilities to rethink their businesses… [But even rooftop solar customers] who ‘detach’ must still use the utility-provided power to buy electricity when the weather is not agreeable...Utilities, meantime, are trying to modernize and expand their infrastructures to conform to a 21st Century economy. They…collectively spend $25 billion a year maintaining their networks and they say that its upkeep is everyone’s responsibility — similar to how public education is financed…At issue is whether utilities will get overrun by the technological changes hitting the market place or whether they will help shape the eventual outcome…PJM Interconnection, which orders up power sources and schedules their delivery in a 13-state region in the eastern United States, says wind and solar energy can play a larger and more constructive role in its territory. To do so, though, investments in the electrical grid must be made: At a 20 percent penetration rate, 820 miles of wire would have to be installed for around $3.8 billion…Utilities are now in huddle formation figuring out the next play…” click here for more


    The Great Solar Panel Debate: To Lease Or To Buy?

    Jeff Brady, February 10, 2015 (National Public Radio)

    “…More than 600,000 homes in the U.S. have solar panels today — up dramatically from just a few years ago, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Leasing programs that require little or no money up-front have played a key role in that growth [but leases aren't available everywhere]…John Farrell with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in Minneapolis has studied the issue of leasing versus owning solar panels…[He favors ownership as the first choice] because it means keeping more of the dollars — over the lifetime of that solar panel — in the pocket of the owner…[By owning, a resident of Chicago…could save, over the 30-year life of a solar panel, about $6,200…Someone who leases panels would save about $4,000 off the cost of getting power from the local utility during that period…[B]oth are a good deal from the standpoint of saving money, but ownership is about a 50 percent better deal [Farrell said]…If you don't have the money to buy solar panels up front, Farrell says you can borrow it. Some companies offer special financing for solar panels. He plans to take out a home equity loan for a system on his house in Minnesota…” click here for more


    Government taking comments on Carolinas wind energy proposal

    February 9, 2015 (AP via WCTI-12 News)

    "The federal government [is holding three hearings] to get public comment on plans to lease hundreds of thousands of acres off the coast of the Carolinas for wind energy development…The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has identified three areas in federal waters that could be leased for putting up wind turbines…One of the areas is off the Outer Banks. The other two are offshore south of Wilmington and east of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina…The public has two more weeks to comment…” click here for more

    Monday, February 9, 2015


    11 Solar Energy Mythbusters

    Diane MacEachern, February 6, 2015 (Care2)

    “…A lot of myths swirl around solar energy that prevent people from making a well-informed decision about whether it’s right for them…Myth 1 – I should wait until solar technology gets more efficient…Myth 2 – Solar doesn’t work when it’s cool, cloudy or foggy…Myth 3 – I can store excess solar energy in batteries…Myth 4 – It is a lot of trouble to maintain solar panels…Myth 5 – Solar panels will cause my roof to leak, deteriorate, or collapse…Myth 6 – Solar is so expensive, I’ll never make back the money I put into it…Myth 7 – When the power goes out, my home will still be powered…Myth 8 – Solar will look ugly on my roof…Myth 9 – Installing solar panels will increase my property tax…Myth 10 – Solar panels require a tracking system to follow the angle of the sun…Myth 11 – It is very difficult to figure out what kind of solar system I need…” click here for more


    Ga. lawmakers consider changes to electric car tax credits

    February 7, 2015 (AP via The Moultrie Observer)

    “Georgia’s generous $5,000 tax credit for electric vehicles is the target of three separate bills in the state House, including one lawmaker trying to end the write-off altogether…Two other bills would lower the credit over time and expand the type of vehicles eligible in the meantime — including the plug-in hybrid Chevy Volt or Toyota’s line of hybrid cars and SUVs…The debate in Georgia comes as other states mull credits as a way to boost sales of alternative fuel vehicles with a higher sticker price than traditional cars. The U.S. Energy Department is in the midst of a campaign to make electric vehicles more affordable in the next ten years, with consumer rebates high on the list of strategies…Each bill before Georgia lawmakers would make significant changes to the write-offs that have been credited with lifting the state to No. 2 in electric vehicle sales, trailing only California…The amount of low or zero-emission vehicle credits paid out by the state exploded from about $310,000 in 2011 to about $15.4 million in 2013…Electric vehicles are particularly popular in metro Atlanta, where electric vehicle owners can use highway lanes off-limits to solo drivers in a traditional car and a Nissan dealerships runs regular radio ads claiming best in the nation sales of the plug-in Leaf…” click here for more


    New tool monitors effects of tidal, wave energy on marine habitat

    Michelle Ma, February 5, 2015 (UW Today)

    “…[The ‘Millennium Falcon’] robot will deploy instruments to gather information in unprecedented detail about how marine life interacts with underwater equipment used to harvest wave and tidal energy. Researchers still don’t fully understand how animals and fish will be affected by ocean energy equipment…The UW research team [will eventually deploy the Millennium Falcon and the instruments it transports, called the Adaptable Monitoring Package,in large-scale tidal- and wave-energy projects]…The instrument package can track and measure a number of sights and sounds underwater. It has a stereo camera to collect photos and video, a sonar system, hydrophones to hear marine mammal activity, sensors to gauge water quality and speed, a click detector to listen for whales, dolphins and porpoises, and even a device to detect fish tags. A fiber optic cable connection back to shore allows for real-time monitoring and control, and the device will be powered by a copper wire…” click here for more

    Saturday, February 7, 2015


    Smart Meters: Saving the Environment and Your Wallet

    Emma Bailey, February 10, 2015 (NewEnergyNews)

    Smart Meters: Saving the Environment and Your Wallet

    In 2003, the Northeastern United States and parts of Canada were completely crippled by one of the biggest power outages in global history and it showed the public just how outdated the two nation's power grids had become. The main culprit was a tree branch that brought down a power line in Ohio and the cascading blackouts showed that the region's power grid was stretched to its limits and needed some serious maintenance and updating. In the years since energy efficient appliances coupled with increased infrastructure spending has helped create an much more stable power grid but weaknesses still remained as a software bug caused another massive blackout in New York in 2013. Both of these instances highlight areas of concern that are still looming threats as cybersecurity issues are extremely visible and a need to reduce stress on the power grid continues despite improvements in the past few years. One potential solution to this problem is the "smart meter" which essentially links temperature and power systems into one easily accessible programs. If smart meters come into widespread use, the power savings for the individual would be substantial and the collective reduction of power usage could significantly reduce the workload on the national power grid.

    How Can Smart Meters Help?

    For years government agencies have suggested that American consumers turn their lights off when they leave their residence or turn off the thermostat during prolonged absences but in a society of instant gratification, these daily chores never seem to add up to much of a savings. Yet, even President Obama has cited studies in his speeches that showed that the United States is much less energy efficient than most of the other industrialized nations in the world and much of the waste comes from these habits along with energy wasting appliances and light bulbs. In this vein of thought, energy providers have been touting the smart meters the ability to automatically turn off lights, lower or raise the thermostat automatically and remotely via a special mobile app, and have a detailed report of how much energy is being used and where. Smart meters, coupled with newer and more efficient appliances and light bulbs, could reduce American power consumption significantly and that reduction in demand also has huge implications for carbon emissions and energy sustainability.

    The Specter of Cybersecurity

    With the seemingly endless amount of headlines revolving around which big box retailer handed over millions of credit card numbers to hackers, people are now more concerned with the protection of their privacy than ever. For many, the thought of installing a system that gathers a massive amount of data from their home and then transmits some of it to a corporation raises a lot of red flags and the Department of Energy has been working for the last few years in anticipation of this problem. They've begun to draft up the Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) which is a rough guideline of how smart meter companies should handle their customers' data and what rights the customer has to the protection of their privacy. Given the fact that smart meters are not in widespread usage now means that this is not currently a pressing matter but it will be a very salient issue in the years to come.

    As it stands, smart meters purport state of the art encryption and protection software that will thwart any would-be home hijackers, but as hackers have shown endless resourcefulness through the years there are very legitimate concerns regarding the meters' true security. For now, these meters seems like a very convenient solution to a urgent and potentially disastrous energy crisis and hopefully this technology will be seen in the future as one of humanity's stepping ones to true sustainability.

    Wednesday, February 4, 2015


    New dawn for U.S. solar power capacity; Analysis finds parallels between solar power capacity and shale boom.

    Daniel J. Graeber, February 3, 2015 (UPI)

    “…Energy consultant group Wood Mackenzie finds it's getting cheaper to install solar power components. With [record levels of new capacity, solar] has evolved from a niche renewable sector to something that's pressuring conventional business models in the utility industry [as prices decline and technology improves. No] other technology is closer to transforming power markets than distributed and utility-scale solar…The U.S. government is supporting solar development through its SunShot initiative, which aims to make the renewable technology competitive. The program aims to move solar power capacity from less than 1 percent of the national electricity supply to 14 percent by 2030. Wood Mackenzie finds new materials and applications, like roof-top and window installations, are expected to have an impact on future solar development…” click here for more


    Contract will allow Colorado Springs customers to buy into wind energy

    Maureen McMullen, February 2, 2015 (Marcellus)

    “Colorado Springs Utilities signed a [two-year] contract with Xcel Energy…[allowing] utilities customers the chance to help finance wind energy — for a rate of $2.14 per 100 [kilowatt-hours] each month. Average electric use for homes in Colorado Springs is 600 [kilowatt-hours] per month…The company’s last contract had 1,300 customers subscribed; already, the current contract [is] 63 percent spoken for [on a first-come, first-served basis]…Because Utilities is municipally owned, the company is not required to comply with public renewable energy standards, which mandate that municipal utilities use 10 percent renewable energy by 2020…[but] Colorado Springs Utilities has set its goal 10 percent higher than the [state] standard…” click here for more


    Sierra Club Statement On President Obama’s Budget

    February 2, 2015 (Sierra Club)

    “…[T]he Obama Administration] budget proposal for FY2016 that includes…Increases in funding to the Environmental Protection Agency to support climate change initiatives and the implementation of the Clean Power Plan…Increases in funding to the Department of the Interior to permit new renewable energy leases on federal land…A permanent extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy…More than $7 billion in investments to support clean energy technology…Investments in climate and drought resilience programs at home and abroad, including support for the Green Climate Fund, the National Flood Insurance Program, and NOAA coastal resilience grants…Billions to support the health and livelihoods of coalfield workers and communities…Slashing $4 billion in long-standing tax giveaways to oil companies…"President Obama is making action on the climate crisis a top goal of his administration over the next year[Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune said]…This proposal recognizes the obligation we have to act on climate and the opportunity that arises as we do…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 3, 2015


    New Study Shows Alternative Fuel Supplies Could Triple on the West Coast

    Simon Mui, January 31, 2015 (Energy Collective)

    “…For every fifteen gasoline stations you drive by, on average only one will offer an alternative fuel option. That virtual monopoly by the oil industry may soon change, based on Potential Low-Carbon Fuel Supply to the Pacific Region of North America from the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) and E4Tech…[T]he Pacific Coast region can greatly diversify its fuel mix through an abundance of low carbon fuels, which could provide over a quarter of our transportation energy by 2030, a three-fold increase versus today's levels…These potential supplies of low-carbon fuels can be largely driven by [already adopted or proposed] clean fuel standards…in Washington, Oregon, British Columbia, and California, creating one of the world's largest clean fuels markets…A mix of alternative fuels, such as clean electricity, renewable diesel, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, and biomethane, could be utilized to reduce the carbon-intensity of fuels by 14 to 21% by 2030…” click here for more


    A company’s perspective on why wind energy matters

    Jonathan M. Weisgall, January 31, 2015 (The Hill)

    “…A Berkshire Hathaway company, MidAmerican Energy, is about halfway done with building up to $1.9 billion worth of wind farms in Iowa [– the biggest economic development project in Iowa history]…We like wind because it is a hedge against fossil prices. We know the 30-year cost for our wind farms. You can’t say the same for a gas plant…[W]ind helps the resource diversity of the grid, improving our energy security…The availability of wind resources gave Iowa a competitive advantage over other states when the state was competing to get [tech] companies to invest…[because they] want long-term assurance of stable prices…[O]ur rural customers…have benefitted from wind resources because it provides property taxes to the county and lease payments to landowners. For example, our $1.9 billion project is going to result in landowner payments of more than $3 million a year. Farmers see wind as a cash crop…[And] we’re pursuing wind resources because it is a proven technology that can address federal environmental policies…Berkshire Hathaway sees it as a good investment.” click here for more


    FPL proposes to almost double Florida's solar power by end of 2016

    Ivan Penn, Janaury 26, 2015 (Tampa Bay Times)

    “…[Florida Power & Light, Florida's largest investor owned utility, plans] to build three new solar farms that would nearly double the state's solar capacity…The utility proposes to add 225 megawatts of solar to the state's current 229 megawatts by the end of next year…FPL is still refining the details of the project so the utility did not provide cost estimates. But the company said there would be no significant impact on customer rates…Duke Energy Florida's argument against any immediate deployment of solar power in its service area [is that it is too expensive], though the utility also has been exploring possible sites…Tampa Electric is [also] exploring solar…[Pressure is mounting] on Florida's utilities and on Tallahassee from grass roots organizations that are calling on the Sunshine State to live up to its name by tapping the sun for more of its electricity needs…Floridians for Solar Choice — a coalition of tea party and Christian Coalition conservatives as well as liberals, environmentalists and retailers — has launched a petition drive to add an initiative to the 2016 ballot that would allow those who generate electricity from the sun to sell the power directly to other consumers...That would create competition for the investor owned utilities such as FPL, Duke Energy Florida, Tampa Electric and Gulf Power…” click here for more

    Monday, February 2, 2015


    Renewables Provide Half of New U.S. Generating Capacity In 2014; Beat Out Natural Gas – More Than A Quarter Of New Capacity From Wind; Solar Provides Over 20%

    January 29, 2015 (Sun Day Campaign)

    Ending a year-long race that had been nip-and tuck every month, renewable energy sources cumulatively provided more new electric generating capacity in 2014 than did natural gas…According to the latest Energy Infrastructure Update report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission…renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydroelectric, solar, wind) provided nearly half (49.81% - 7,663 MW) of new electrical generation brought into service during 2014 while natural gas accounted for 48.65% (7,485 MW)…[I]n 2013, natural gas accounted for 46.44% (7,378 MW) of new electrical generating capacity while renewables accounted for 43.03% (6,837 MW). New renewable energy capacity in 2014 is 12.08% more than that added in 2013…New wind energy facilities accounted for over a quarter (26.52%) of added capacity (4,080 MW) in 2014 while solar power provided 20.40% (3,139 MW). Other renewables - biomass (254 MW), hydropower (158 MW), and geothermal (32 MW) - accounted for an additional 2.89%...[J]ust a single coal facility (106 MW) came on-line; nuclear power expanded by a mere 71MW due to a plant upgrade; and only 15 small ‘units’ of oil, totaling 47 MW, were added…” click here for more


    Wind: Arizona's overlooked energy source

    Amanda Ormond, January 30, 2015 (The Arizona Republic)

    “The Super Bowl [was] powered by wind energy…It shows that [the wind industry has] arrived. Wind power costs have come down more than 50 percent in the past five years, and nine states generate over 10 percent of their electricity from wind…The wind normally dies down at night, when the game is played. How does this work? Wind energy is just one energy source in a diverse utility portfolio…The Super Bowl at night in the winter is not a period of high demand for electricity, like hot summer afternoons. During low demand a utility has many resource options. They choose wind and other renewables first because they are low-cost and clean…Arizona's best wind sites are in some of our most economically distressed counties, where wind provides needed tax revenues to local governments and payments to land owners…Wind turbines use very small amounts of land so…can be built on farms and ranches without displacing agriculture or cattle. It's another cash crop…[N]ew, low-speed wind technology that can produce more energy from lesser-quality wind is creating new opportunities...[Unfairly, wind’s] federal tax incentive, which is based on energy production, expires every year or two…[w]hile, for more than 40 years, the coal, natural gas, petroleum and nuclear industries have received government subsidies that never expire…” click here for more


    The best idea in a long time: Covering parking lots with solar panels

    Chris Mooney, January 28, 2015 (Washington Post)

    “…According to research conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, most cities’ surfaces are 35 to 50 percent composed of [pavement]. And 40 percent of that pavement is parking lots…Asphalt and concrete absorb the sun’s energy, retaining heat — and contributing to the “urban heat island effect,” in which cities are hotter than the surrounding areas…[Covering parking lots with solar panels would] cut down on that heat, cool down the cars that park in these lots, power up those parked cars that are electric vehicles (like Teslas), and generate a lot of energy…[O]ne vast solar carport installation at Rutgers University is 28 acres in size and produces 8 megawatts of power, or about enough energy to power 1,000 homes…[T]he problem is cost…It’s the most expensive type of system to build...According to Scott Moskowitz of GTM Research, which released a study of the sector last year, by the end of 2014 there were an estimated 600 megawatts (or 2.5 billion dollars) worth of solar canopies installed in the U.S…The Hoover Dam has a capacity of more than 2,000 megawatts, the world’s biggest coal plant is close to 6,000 megawatts, and even the world’s largest solar plant is 550 megawatts…” click here for more