Archive for May, 2010

The Death of Arizona Anti-Solar Bill HB 2701

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

The Death of Arizona Anti-Solar Bill HB 2701

Arizona house bill 2701, introduced by Rep. Debbie Lesko, was on its way to killing the state’s solar sector until it was recently dropped.  HB 2701 was to allow the state to include nuclear and hydroelectric power in the renewable energy standards of Arizona’s 2025 goal of generating 15% of all its energy from renewable sources.

Representative Kris Mayes, chairman of the Arizona Corporation Commission and author of the state’s current RES program, said HB 2701 “would surely be the death knell for advancing solar energy in the state.”

HB 2701 would prevent solar investment in Arizona by sending the wrong message to utility companies.  Permitting nuclear and hydroelectric sources to be used for distributed energy transmission would not leave room for solar companies like SolarCity, Kyocera Solar, and Suntech to provide renewable power to the grid.  Needless to say, HB 2701 would also prevent all the solar jobs that were bound to develop in the state.  HB 2701 contradicted a mandate for utilities to generate 30% of their power from rooftop systems.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer’s office issued a statement about HB 2701 and its author: “Representative Lesko’s wise and thoughtful actions today to withdraw HB 2701 should be lauded. This sends a clear and united message to employers around the world – Arizona remains the premier destination for solar industries.”

HB 2701 would have made Arizona the only state to include existing nuclear power plants in a renewable energy standard.  It’s amazing to think that in 2001, Arizona was one of the first states to introduce an RES attracting many opportunities for solar manufacturing, installation, and research/development.

Rich Hessler Solar
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Why the Green Revolution and America Need Each Other

Monday, May 24th, 2010

Why the Green Revolution and America Need Each Other

Other than Green Revolution, it has also been referred to as a “Green Economy” or the “Green Industry”.  What I speak of is the movement to rethink our energy consumption, resource conservation, and environmental impact while still growing our economy and creating jobs at home. 

We have a lot to clean up as a nation.  Not only does our environment need cleaning up but so does America’s reputation across the globe.  Being at the forefront of this Green Revolution will help us to achieve both of those. 

The Green Revolution needs America just as much as we need to participate in this movement.  Actually, we need to do more than participate.  We need to use the Green Revolution as an opportunity to reestablish the confidence that other countries once had in us. 

Post 9/11, America has suffered huge public relations losses with the rest of the world.  In an age of fear, America has engaged in two wars and has been blamed by other nations for our globalized collapse.  The state of our world has not been a result of recent decisions and actions.  This has occurred over time and America naturally must be part of the solution for any success to be reached.  

Just as America is seen as part of the problem, they must also be seen also as be part of the solution. America needs to begin taking advantage of renewable energy, participating in wide-spread recycling, and energy conservation. As energy will continue to cost more and less secure, we need to begin investing in secure energy resources.

Rich Hessler Solar
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Chevron Redefines Itself by Testing Solar Technologies

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Chevron Redefines Itself by Testing Solar Technologies

On an 8-acre dirt plot, which used to be one of their old refineries pumping out gasoline and asphalt, the oil powerhouse Chevron will begin testing seven emerging photovoltaic technologies to add to their energy portfolio.

The test site will be home to 7,700 solar panels. The seven different photovoltaic solar technologies represented will come from seven different solar companies that are in a position to manage the power demand for all of Chevron’s worldwide operations.  Of the seven technologies, six are thin-film technologies from Abound Solar, MiaSolé, Schüco, Solar Frontier, Sharp, and Solibro, and one is a crystalline-silicon photovoltaic technology from Innovalight.  Chevron will monitor all of the panels to compare performance and cost versus output.

With operations in 100 countries, Chevron officials say that they are looking for solar panels that are significantly affordable but still more reliable and efficient than other products.

Ever since Chevron started monitoring their resource usage in 1992, they have been saving money by employing hydrogen fuel cells and solar technologies at their facilities.  They have cut energy use by a third and have saved approximately $3 billion in energy. 

Des King, president of Chevron Technology Ventures, said “By bringing together seven emerging solar technologies, Project Brightfield represents one of the most comprehensive solar energy tests of its kind and is an innovative approach to evaluating new technologies.  Testing competing technologies side by side means that we can better understand their potential application at other Chevron facilities.”

Chevron Technology Ventures is a division that identifies, evaluates, and showcases emerging technologies.

Rich Hessler Solar
Home to Solar Financing and Solar Marketing 

Clean Coal: Pulling the wool over American eyes

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Clean Coal:  Pulling the wool over American eyes

Have you heard of the “tooth fairy”?  Have you heard of “Bigfoot”?  Have you heard of “clean coal”?  You’ve heard of the tooth fairy and Bigfoot, but you’ve never seen either.  Why is that?  Because they are not real.  This may be a huge let-down, but “clean coal” is not real either.  It is make-believe just like the other two.  The coal industry would like you to believe that clean coal is the new and improved energy of the future, but this could not be any further from the truth.

America was built upon coal. For decades we have used coal as the primary source of energy.  We still use coal today.  However, coal is not a renewable energy and the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy (ACCCE) wants you to believe otherwise.  They have spent over $60 million on a “Clean Coal” campaign that markets coal as a renewable source of energy when it actually is not.

Coal has the highest carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions than any other fossil fuel- 29% more than oil and 80% more than gas.  Mercury is also an environmental concern since the burning of coal to produce electricity and heat is the single largest contributor to atmospheric mercury emissions.

Clean coal technologies (CCT) refer to the attempt to reduce pollutants of coal burning.  Thus, no coal-burning power plant is really clean.  Clean coal is simply the new method of handling the coal.  Pollutants are redirected from one waste stream to another, still to be released into he environment.  From start to finish, the process of burning coal for power is extremely harmful to our environment and a major risk to public health.

Scientists have spent over 10 years researching technologies tha t can make “clean coal” but no viable, commercial solution has been discovered.  The United States alone has spent over $5 billion to make “clean coal” a reality.

Rich Hessler Solar
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Obama announces 8.3 billion loan guarantee for 2 new nuclear power plants

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Obama announces $8.3 billion loan guarantee for 2 new nuclear power plants

President Obama announced Tuesday, February 16th that a $8.3 billion loan guarantee would be awarded to Southern Company in Burke, GA.  This was part of his plan to create a clean energy economy.  

Nuclear power plants do not create greenhouse gas emissions, therefore appearing more favorable than coal-fired power plants.  In fact, they actually produce nuclear waste which is harmful to the environment since most nuclear waste cannot be disposed of and American plants do not recycle the nuclear waste as France does.  

The two nuclear reactors are set to be in service by 2016 and 2017.  They are positioned to be the first nuclear reactors to reach government approval since 1979. 

The $8.3 billion loan guarantee would help subsidize most of the private loans Southern Company would have to acquire in order to build the nuclear power plants.  The subsidy would cover about 70% of the total cost of the reactors.

The commissioning of these two nuclear reactors is estimated to produce 3,500 jobs for construction and 800 high paying jobs after completion.  They will generate 2,200 megawatts of electricity.  One megawatt of electricity can power 500 homes in Georgia.

This $8.3 billion loan guarantee to Southern Company comes from $18.5 billion set aside for nuclear power programs.  President Obama has urged Congress to triple the nuclear loan program to $54 billion with the intention of funding more nuclear projects in the future.

Obama has found difficulty in convincing Republicans to back his clean energy program because it emphasizes nuclear power as a method of minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Even with an $8.3 billion loan guarantee, these nuclear power plants and all others must still retain radioactive waste on-site creating health and environmental concerns.  These concerns have been addressed but are d eemed less detrimental than those of oil and coal energy.

The United States produces 20% of its electricity from nuclear sources.

Rich Hessler Solar
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Florida Attempting to Save Solar Rebate Program

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Florida Attempting to Save Solar Rebate Program

The recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has awakened America to re-examine renewable energy. One state, Florida, has a solar rebate program in trouble. 

The Florida solar rebate program was established in 2007. It provides homeowners $10,000 for photovoltaic solar installations and $500 for solar hot-water systems. Unfortunately, Florida state Legislature did not fund the program. Florida received $14.4 million in federal stimulus, but most of the funds went directly to solar rebates. This money was quickly used by applicants from the previous year.

Governor Charlie Crist requested $10 million for the program in 2010-2011. So far, Florida has provided no funds.

Currently, there are nearly 10,000 applicants waiting for $25 million in rebates. The program is set to expire at the end of June unless the Legislature reauthorizes its continuation.

Governor Crist said a special session is needed to consider banning oil drilling and investing money in renewable energy.

Ups and Downs in Maryland Solar Industry

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

Ups and Downs in Maryland Solar Industry

A great stepping stone for the Maryland solar industry would be to add solar energy systems to state buildings.  Well, on March 24th, 2010, just that happened.  The Maryland Department of General Services announced that they would be installing photovoltaic systems on 5 of their buildings.  Engaged in a 20-year power purchase agreement with SunEdison to install, finance, own and operate the five solar systems, Maryland taxpayers would not be responsible for the upfront cost of the projects.  Solar arrays would also be a great addition to the state’s renewable energy portfolio.

Another good sign for the Maryland solar industry involves the Maryland Energy Administration updating a new incentive program for the installation of mid-sized solar electric systems.  In an attempt to make clean energy retrofits accessible to local businesses, the two year program would use a total of up to $1.45 million to help subsidize the cost of commercial r ooftop solar projects.  Maryland businesses would qualify for a rebate of $500 per kilowatt of solar electricity installed for systems between 20 and 100 kW, or a grant of up to $50,000.  The MEA incentive program would also cover up to 15% of a solar thermal system, or up to $25,000 per grant.  Business owners should be very attracted to this offer as the economy is prime for building your own solar business from the ground up.  The Maryland solar industry will undoubtedly see growth from this move.

But in the end, one blemish to the Maryland solar industry must be noted.  On March 26th, BP Solar regretfully laid off 320 of their 430 employees putting a halt to all production of solar panels in their Frederick, Maryland plant.

Unfortunately, because we are still in a recession, the Maryland solar industry along with other states’ solar markets will still see setbacks like the one previously mentioned.  This might be another sad event that needs to occur for the entire green economy to move forward.  Some solar companies will have to fail before we see price drops and the huge boom the solar industry seems to be waiting impatiently for.

Rich Hessler Solar
Solar Financing and Solar Marketing 

Utah Solar Rebate Begins

Friday, May 7th, 2010

Utah Solar Rebate Begins

In the middle of April, Utah began the “Utah State Energy Program”. The solar program provides a $2 per DC watt incentive for residential, commercial, and nonprofit photovoltaic installations.

For residential property owners, the rebate is 25 percent of the total system cost or $8,750 (whichever is less). The solar system must be between 900 Watts and 25 kW.

For commercial and nonprofit solar systems, the maximum rebate is 25 percent of the system’s cost or $50,000 (whichever is less). The solar system must be between 5 kW and 100 kW.

In addition, cash rebates provided by utility companies will be subtracted from the maximum rebate total.

The photovoltaic solar system must be grid-tied and installed by a professional contractor with a Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing license.

The solar system must be installed at primary residences (residential) or commercial properties with an active business present.

In addition to the solar rebate, Utah offers a personal tax credit of $2,000 and the federal government offers a 30 percent tax credit on new solar panel installations. These rebates can reduce the cost of a solar system by over 50%.

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Maricopa ED-3 Board Brings Back Solar Rebates

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Maricopa ED-3 Board Brings Back Solar Rebates

Arizona. With an average of 211 sunny days a year and one of the largest cities in the United States (Phoenix at number 5), Arizona seems like a prime candidate for photovoltaic solar systems. To help finance solar installations, Electrical District number 3 voted to continue with the solar rebate program. 

After starting the program in 2009, it quickly ran out of money. Already, the rebate program has caused the company to spend $300,000 more than originally set aside.

Electrical District 3 continued to fund the solar rebate program until it was no longer possible. At this point, 32 customers have installed solar systems and 14 more were on the waiting list.

The surge of solar customers appears to be valley-wide. 113 APS customers applied for solar rebates in 2009. The total number of solar installations in 2009 is greater than the past eight years combined.

Electrical District 3 is now continuing the solar rebate program, except the rebate has been reduced from $3 per watt to $2.15 per watt. The program is funded by charging electricity consumers 30 cents a month and commercial users $12/month.

Electrical District 3 is researching how much consumers are willing to contribute a month to renewable energy. Until this information is collected, Electrical District 3 will hold off on tariff increases.

10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act

Though 90% of Americans agree that we should be employing solar energy to combat our climate and energy crises, the U.S. government has been slow to embrace and develop legislation that addresses those concerns.  In a bill titled “10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act” and introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Feb. 4, 2010, Americans in all 50 states would be eligible for rebates for the installation of solar electric and solar thermal systems.  

The bill known as the 10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act adopted its name from California Solar Initiative’s “Million Solar Roofs” program and is modeled after the incentive programs in California and New Jersey- number 1 and 2 in solar energy, respectively.  It would provide for up to half the cost of any new photovoltaic or solar thermal system.

The 10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot W ater Act will produce 30,000 new megawatts of electricity in the next 10 years.  This amount of energy is equivalent to the output of 30 nuclear power plants.  However, it is extremely more cost-effective.  The program is estimated to cost anywhere between $2-3 billion per year.

The average power plant produces about 1,000 megawatts for the $10 billion spent to build it.  Sanders’ 10 Million Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act aims to produce 30x the energy of a nuclear power plant for only $30 billion.  It would take $300 billion to produce that much energy from nuclear sources.

Distributed energy is much more efficient than energy produced from coal, oil, and nuclear.  Yet, it hasn’t benefited from the same amount of funding as the other more traditional methods.

Proponents of the 10 Mil lion Solar Roofs & 10 Million Gallons of Solar Hot Water Act include Environment and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ),  Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Arlen Specter (D-PA).

by Rich Hessler
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