Friday, June 29, 2012

Go Solar - Save Water

Scientific American notes that power production withdraws more water than agriculture... Going solar saves more than carbon, it saves water. Wow!
Power plants are guzzling water across the United States and increasing the risk of blackouts in the Southeast, where the precious resource is drying up.
"Burning Our Rivers," a new report by the River Network, found that it takes about 40,000 gallons of water to meet the average American household's energy needs, which is five times more than the amount of water used directly in that home.
read more:

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Solar Gardens for the Latino Community

NCLR HOSTS TOWN HALL ON COLORADO’S ENERGY ECONOMYHon. Federico Peña emphasizes voting and civic participation in remarks to Denver’s Hispanic community

DENVER, Colo.—The Honorable Federico Peña joined NCLR (National Council of La Raza) today for a town hall meeting to engage the Denver Hispanic community in a dialogue about Colorado’s clean energy economy.  As the first state to set a renewable portfolio standard, Colorado is actively reducing its use of limited energy sources such as coal and oil, while generating more power from renewable sources such as solar and wind.  Participants in the town hall discussed how this shift is affecting the jobs, health, and economic security of Latino workers and families in Colorado.

“Today we heard directly from Latino voters that they care deeply about clean air, clean water, and good jobs in Colorado,” said Eric Rodriguez, Vice President of the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation at NCLR.  “Still, there is much progress to be made to ensure that our community has a seat at the table to shape the future of energy policy at the state and national levels.”

The event took place at Mi Casa Resource Center, an NCLR Affiliate that has served the Denver Latino community for over 34 years.

In addition to Peña—the first Hispanic mayor of Denver and the U.S. Secretary of Energy and Secretary of Transportation under President Clinton—the town hall also included a presentation from Joy Hughes, founder of the Solar Gardens Institute.  Solar gardens, or community-owned solar arrays, are one of several models to make renewable energy more accessible to individuals and low-income communities.  Renewable energy currently represents 10 percent of Colorado’s electricity generation, with a 30 percent target for the year 2020 for investor-owned utility companies.

NCLR—the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States—works to improve opportunities for Hispanic Americans.  For more information on NCLR, please visit or follow along on Facebook and Twitter.


Joseph Rendeiro, Media Relations Specialist
Office of Media Relations

National Council of La Raza (NCLR)
MAIN        202.785.1670
TEL           202.776.1566
FAX           202.776.1794

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

PV as Real Property

Photovoltaic (PV) systems may meet many of the important criteria to be considered real property — a status that could make them eligible for easier financing — a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory, contends.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Community Shared Solar" Bill SB843 Passes California Senate Committee 8-2

SB843 has made it out of committee!  The bill would allow at least 2,000 Megawatts of subscription - model "solar gardens".

Full text of SB843:

EVENTS: Wednesday June 27 - Denver w/ Federico Peña, Pueblo with Sierra Club

Wednesday June 27 - Events in Denver and Pueblo

     I'm back on the Colorado front range - just in time for the "new normal" triple digit temperatures. XCEL's solar garden program will be opening in Late July, so there's no time to waste...

Town Hall Meeting with Federico Peña

Wednesday June 27, 2012 - 11:30 AM
Mi Casa Resource Center - 360 Acoma St., Denver, CO
     The title of the talk will be "Latinos and Colorado's Clean Energy Economy".

     Peña will be giving the keynote speech, and I'll be giving my presentation "Introduction to Solar Gardens", with translation provided. The event is sponsored by National Council of La Raza.

     For more information, contact Jesus at  303-722-1727 Ext. 102.

Solar Garden & Pueblo Presentation
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Beta Desk Center, 113 Broadway Ave., Pueblo, CO

     Join the Sierra Club for this wonderful presentation about solar gardens and community supported energy and how we can work together to make solar power affordable for everyone. The presentation will be on Wednesday, June 27 starting at 6:30pm at the Beta Desk Center located at 113 Broadway Ave. in Pueblo. The talk is free but donations are encouraged. Snacks and drinks provided and children are welcome.

     A solar garden is a solar electric array with multiple subscribers connected to the utility grid. The subscribers may purchase a portion of the power produced by the array and receive a credit on their electric bill. Community supported energy involves residents in the community that pool their resources to build a solar array and then receive a direct payment rather than an electric bill credit. Learn more about other ways to invest in solar without having panels on your roof!

Contact Jenny at 719-582-0249 or to RSVP and for more information. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Solar Supertrees for Singapore

(CNN) -- Singapore's latest development will finally blossom later this month, with an imposing canopy of artificial trees up to 50 meters high towering over a vast urban oasis.
The colossal solar-powered supertrees are found in the Bay South garden, which opens to the public on June 29. It is part of a 250-acre landscaping project -- Gardens by the Bay -- that is an initiative from Singapore's National Parks Board that will see the cultivation of flora and fauna from foreign lands.
The man-made mechanical forest consists of 18 supertrees that act as vertical gardens, generating solar power, acting as air venting ducts for nearby conservatories, and collecting rainwater. To generate electricity, 11 of the supertrees are fitted with solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into energy, which provides lighting and aids water technology within the conservatories below.

Monday, June 18, 2012

9 Megawatts of Solar Gardens in Colorado

In order to make up for a 2012 program start, the 6 megawatt 2011 capacity of XCEL's solar gardens program will be split between 2012 and 2013. When combined with the 6 MW available in each of these two years, capacity will total 9 MW per year.

We can look forward to a late July G-day - when standard offer projects are selected on a first come, first served basis.



From XCEL:

The Solar*Rewards Community program is expected to launch at the end of July, pending a final order from the Colorado PUC. The program will open with 4.5 MW available in the standard offer program (10 kW – 500 kW) and 4.5 MW available in the RFP program (500.1 kW – 2 MW). These amounts include moving half of the capacity from 2011 into 2012. The remainder of the 2011 capacity will be rolled into the 2013 offering. We will provide you with more details, as well as a program launch date, as information becomes available.
Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

PV For All: Low-Income Housing Residents Going Solar | ThinkProgress

Until recently, the low-income housing community has been a tough nut for the solar industry to crack.

Low-income housing developments have historically avoided going solar due to the obvious difficulties of incorporating high-cost, discretionary photovoltaic (PV) systems into affordable housing. However, a unique mix of local, utility, and federal support combined with a little financial creativity allowed a community in Colorado to demonstrate the application of PV into a low-income housing program.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Community Owned Microgrids for Rural Electrification in the Developing World

A small-scale snow cone operation has come to Mali. Women in two remote villages are peddling small, sweet, frozen drinks that are sold wholesale to women in other neighboring villages.  

The business, which is centered on a new community freezer, would not be possible without one key ingredient: electricity. Until recently, the women in the two villages lived as 1.3 billion other people do, without regular access to electricity.

The electrification of thee villages did not come from wires being extended by the local utility, but from a microgrid project called SharedSolar that was developed by Columbia University's Earth Institute as part of the Millennium Village Project.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act | U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware

The federal government should not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the energy market, but for nearly 30 years, that's exactly what it has been doing with a provision in the tax code that authorizes the formation of master limited partnerships (MLPs). An MLP is a business structure that is taxed as a partnership, but whose ownership interests are traded like corporate stock on a market.

By statute, MLPs have only been available to investors in energy portfolios for oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects. These projects get access to capital at a lower cost and are more liquid than traditional financing approaches to energy projects, making them highly effective at attracting private investment. Investors in renewable energy projects, however, have been explicitly prevented from forming MLPs, starving a growing portion of America's domestic energy sector of the capital it needs to build and grow.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Another take on the German PV peak

Deutsche Bank solar analyst Vishal Shah noted in a report last month that EPEX data was showing solar PV was cutting peak electricity prices by up to 40%, a situation that utilities in Germany and elsewhere in Europe were finding intolerable. "With Germany adopting a drastic cut, we expect major utilities in other European countries to push for similar cuts as well," Shah noted.

Analysts elsewhere said one quarter of Germany's gas-fired capacity may be closed, because of the impact of surging solar and wind capacity. Enel, the biggest utility in Italy, which had the most solar PV installed in 2011, highlighted its exposure to reduced peaking prices when it said that a €5/MWh fall in average wholesale prices would translate into a one-third slump in earnings from the generation division.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Monday, June 11, 2012

Report: Wolk Community Shared Solar Bill Would Boost California Jobs, Economy | Business Wire

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California legislation to expand access to solar and other renewables would create thousands of local jobs and deliver tremendous economic benefits to the state according to a new report released today by Vote Solar, a non-profit grassroots organization.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Mark Ruffalo suppoerts NY Solar Jobs Act

"Our partners from the solar industry and environmental advocacy have worked very hard to develop a policy that will create good jobs and more investment in solar power," said Denis Hughes, former President of the New York State AFL-CIO. "This policy will create real jobs, pay prevailing rate where appropriate and will be critical for helping our economy recover. We support solar power as part of a comprehensive energy policy and we have the workforce that is qualified and trained to implement this policy right now. We need help from the leadership in Albany to get started."

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Oxfordshire solar farm (From Wiltshire Business Online)

Westmill solar farm, just outside Swindon, is on the verge of becoming the first community owned and community led solar farm in the UK.

It is a unique opportunity for people to buy into the green future of renewable energy – and it opens on Saturday, June 23.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Thailand: Energy Ministry to build community power plants across country

BANGKOK, 8 June 2012  – The Energy Ministry has joined hands with the private sector in planning to construct community power plants across the country, adding that the nuclear power plant plans is still unclear. 

(The article doesn't make it clear what kind of power these plants will produce...)

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Microgrids - Green Business News

Centralized power plants have been around since the 1880s. More than a century later, we're starting to see growth of microgrids -- decentralized or distributed generation of power at individual buildings, primarily through renewable sources such as solar panels or wind turbines. With microgrids, real estate developers, building owners or the local community builds the power grid for their large development, industrial park, campus or even an entire neighborhood. No longer just a new concept, microgrids have moved beyond the pilot phase – they are now.commercialized with roughly 300 microgrids operational worldwide.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

PULP » Think Outside the Roof: Solar Gardens

I'll be speaking at the June 27 event below in Pueblo.

- Joy


Community gardens? Important, yes, by that's so2011. Add solar gardens to your vocab because they're about to rock your world.

A solar garden adapts the community garden concept but replaces tomato plants with solar panels. This sun-harvesting idea takes the power of many to lower utility bills, lessens our need for dirty forms of energy, and creates a community connection. The garden group is made up of at least 10 "subscribers" – such as residents or businesses – who buy shares of the solar power created by a centralized photovoltaic array. Subscribers receive credit from their utility company, thus reducing their energy bills. The solar array is built and maintained by the host company on a large roof or plot of land. The subscribers own the panels and have a say in major decisions.


The Sierra Club will host a presentation on solar garden opportunities in Pueblo on Wednesday, June 27 from 6:30-8:00pm at Beta Desk Center, 113 Broadway.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Monday, June 4, 2012

Colorado Communities Take Steps to Grow More Solar Friendly - COSEIA

Colorado communities are well on their way to becoming more solar friendly, thanks to work their officials are doing to find ways to make it easier to go solar.

The Solar Friendly Communities project sponsored in-depth workshops this month in Denver, Golden, and Fort Collins to examine current practices and explore ways to streamline some procedures. A similar workshop for Boulder County is planned for June.

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

AB1990: Solar for All passes the Assembly! | California Environmental Justice Alliance

Here's a really promising community solar bill in California.

I have had a chance to witness the wonderful efforts of Grid Alternatives' volunteers to solarize affordable homes in San Francisco. In the same city, the Valencia Gardens affordable housing complex hosts 700 kilowatts of solar arrays, with bill credits provided to the residents through Virtual Net Metering.

This amazing work has been supported through both the SASH (Single-Family Affordable Solar Housing) and MASH (Multi Family Affordable Solar Housing). Both those programs are going away, and if made into law AB1990 will replace them with a new program to make solar more equitable.



Sacramento, CA – Efforts to help communities of color access renewable energy and jobs made a significant step forward on Wednesday. AB 1990, "Solar for All," authored by Assemblymember Paul Fong (D-Cupertino), passed out of the Assembly with a vote of 49 – 27. The bill would create a pilot project throughout California to build small-scale renewable projects in low-income communities and communities of color. AB 1990 is sponsored by the California Environmental Justice Alliance (CEJA), a statewide alliance of grassroots groups working on environmental issues that impact low-income communities and communities of color.

Read more and lend your support:

Read the fact sheet:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Community solar is alive and well in San Francisco!

Community power is springing up everywhere! There’s a huge amount of interest in it. In fact, it’s really a movement -- as was evidenced by the large turnout at our recent Community Solar Confluences in Boston, New York, Omaha, and San Francisco.

The San Francisco Bay Area Community Solar Confluence, which the Solar Gardens Institute co-sponsored with the Local Clean Energy Alliance, drew in 80 people from diverse perspectives:
  • Members of community groups and neighborhood associations
  • Organizations that are funding community power
  • People working on policy to promote community power, or advocating for community power in other ways
  • Members of activist groups like
  • Government employees
  • Solar installers
  • And even individuals not associated with any organization, who were just interested in finding out more about community power
We also had a range of speakers from organizations promoting community power. Though the organizations have different approaches, they’re all working toward the same goal – and that’s to empower communities and help as many people as possible participate in renewable energy.

Joy Hughes, Ted Ko, Eric Brooks, Erica Mackie
We've posted Confluence videos and presentations from these organizations on the Solar Gardens Institute Training page:
Evan Wynns, Andreas Karelas, and Youness Scally

Learn more about policy:
Joy Hughes discussing solar finance

The fact that we had to squeeze the talks and questions into not enough time attests to how much is happening with community power in the Bay Area, and how much interest there is. The Confluence gave us an overview of community solar in the area and introduced many of us to one another. Let's continue the conversation!

If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area, get involved locally:
  • Join the Local Clean Energy Alliance for updates on what's going on, including monthly meetings on community power issues. The LCEA welcomes volunteers in a variety of areas, so here's your chance to keep networking and learning.

Saturday, June 2, 2012 : Guest Commentary : Inconsistencies in Colorado's energy developments

Energy expert Rich Mignogna wonders why the Colorado PUC has little say in the siting of power plants...


... one of the cases that has received much recent attention is the 1041 permit process for a concentrating solar power facility near the San Luis Valley town of Center in Saguache County.

That project, proposed by California solar developer Solar Reserve, posits the development of two concentrating solar electric generation facilities known as "power towers." A number of groups expressed environmental, wildlife, view shed, and quality of life concerns with this proposal to construct two 656-foot towers smack in the middle of the valley on land that is presently dedicated to agricultural use. In a 2-1 decision, the Saguache County commissioners approved the Solar Reserve 1041 permit application, eschewing the aforementioned concerns in favor of the promised economic benefits that the development would have.

The development would create an industrial facility encompassing about 6 square miles, the central focus of which would be two towers that are only 50 feet short of the tallest building in downtown Denver. It is difficult to envision how such a project — with the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the east and the San Juan Mountains to the west — fits into the character of what is largely a pristine agricultural area.

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct

Friday, June 1, 2012

Students harvest solar power | Crescent City California

Sunset High School is reaping the benefits from solar panels installed at the school.

Teacher Tom O'Connor applied for a Blue Sky grant from Pacific Power and the school was awarded $20,000, which paid for 18 solar panels.

O'Connor and the high schoolers installed the solar panels on the roof of the school themselves.

He wanted to help the school save money on electricity by harnessing the sun's energy, but also teach his students about solar energy and how to install the panels.  

Read more:

Joy Hughes, Founder, Solar Gardens Institute
CEO, Solar Panel Hosting LLC
(719)207-3097 direct