Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Seattle City Light completes community solar project | Fierce Energy

Seattle City Light is celebrating the installation of the largest solar array at any aquarium on the West Coast (Seattle Aquarium), as part of the utility's Community Solar and Green Up programs. The $330,000, 49.4 kW system covers a large portion of the south side of the Seattle Aquarium's roof with 247 solar panels.


"This innovative project lets customers promote and benefit from solar even if they rent, have shady roofs or can't make the big investment of installing their own solar system," Sephir Hamilton, Chief of Staff for Seattle City Light, said. "When customers invest in solar, they also think harder about reducing their own electricity use in order to make the most of their solar production credits."
Read more:

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

'Community Solar' Bill Is Another Victim of Hawaii Legislative Crunch - Honolulu Civil Beat

A bill that would have made it easier for residents of high-rise apartment buildings and renters to switch to solar was killed in conference committee on Friday.

Senate Bill 2934 was a priority piece of legislation for clean-energy advocates. The measure would have allowed residents without roof space or those living in areas where Hawaiian Electric Co.'s electric grid can't accommodate any more solar to still take advantage of solar energy.

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Monday, April 28, 2014

XCEL's Big Projects "Solar Done Right"? Really?

XCEL Energy recently put out a commercial claiming that large, central solar installations are "fair", "responsible", and "solar done right".  This must be news to the folks at Solar Done Right, an organization that promotes distributed energy and questions large scale solar development on sensitive lands.
XCEL energy has been proposing to build very large utility-owned solar projects, while simultaneously attacking net metering programs.  XCEL has proposed a program called Solar*Connect, which would charge customers a premium to support solar power (similar to their existing Windsource program), even though under current net metering rules customers who own or lease their panels onsite or in a solar garden can save money over time.
The empire strikes back.  And strikes back.  And strikes back.
"Solar Fred" put out an excellent deconstruction of the commercial in Renewable Energy World:
Public relations really is an art, and I have to hand it to Xcel Energy for creating a very nice looking commercial that — on the surface — seems to be a big luv hug to solar power! Yay!  And it is — for utility scale solar. At the same time, the video subtly poo-poos little home solar, implying that it’s an “unfair and unequal” way to go solar.
If you’re a solar installer, I think your residential solar customers and prospects in Xcel’s territories may be interested in what this commercial is subtly saying about residential solar, so as a solar PR lesson, let’s break down the art of creating a commercial that implies that residential solar is the wrong way to go solar.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Energy Democracy for All Map– Center for Social Inclusion

This map pinpoints communities across America that are innovating how to build their local economies while taking into their own hands the fight against climate change by developing community-scale renewable energy projects. Our map highlights over 100 projects that are rooted in communities, with a particular lens toward communities of color, who by 2042, will become the majority in our nation. With the threat of climate change becoming more real everyday, communities are coming together now to be participants, decision-makers and owners in a new energy economy. We call this Energy Democracy.
So what are community-scale renewable energy projects?

Community Solar Gardens Sprouting in Minnesota - CleanTechies

On April 7, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission resoundingly rejected (click the link for an annotated ruling) a severely lacking community solar gardens proposal from Xcel Energy and required substantial improvements for the utility's revised filing.

The regulatory smack-down means a promising community solar market for Minnesota (scroll down for the infographic version).

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Land Too Dry? Water Scarce? How Solar Solves Several Problems at Once

As solar spreads around the country, siting can become an issue. Sometimes that’s resolved by using already compromised land -- we’ve seen solar over parking lots or on landfills, even on some Superfund sites.

Many large solar plants are built in desert areas in the Southwest, which have the advantages of ample space -- often not suitable for farming -- and plenty of sun. Those areas are not problem-free, though.

Researchers at the TomKat Center for Sustainable Energy at Stanford were thinking about this, and they noticed a connection among a few problems:
  • A lot of water is needed to clean solar panels in dusty, arid areas. 
  • Desert areas aren’t good for growing most crops. 
  • A lot of farmland is being used now to grow corn and other grains for ethanol, but grains aren’t the most efficient source for producing the fuel.
What, you ask, can those three things possibly have in common?  Read more:

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Solar’s Dramatic Price Plunge Could Trigger Energy Price Deflation | Greentech Media

... And then Bernstein drops this bombshell: while solar has a fractional share of the market now, within one decade, solar PV (plus battery storage) may have such a share of the market that it becomes a trigger for energy price deflation, with huge consequences for the massive fossil fuel industry that relies on continued growth.

“The behavior from here seems clear: the solar industry will expand. Retaliatory steps from distribution utilities will increase the market for cost-effective battery storage. This becomes -- initially -- a secondary market for battery technologies being developed for the auto sector. A failed battery technology in the auto sector (too hot, too heavy, too rigid a form factor) might well be perfect for the home energy storage market...with an addressable end market of 2 billion backyards.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Construction Set to Begin on Solar Garden - KREX - News, Weather, Sports for Grand Junction | Montrose | Glenwood Springs - Coverage You Can Count On

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. - In just a few days, construction crews will break ground on a solar garden, unlike any other on the Western Slope. The project has been in the making for two years and partners are ready to see it finally get off the ground. Officials say it will be well worth the wait, will savings in the millions expected.

What is now an empty lot, will soon bloom with energy.

"A community solar garden is very new, new to Colorado and very new to the solar industry," said Eric Anderson, energy manager for School District 51.

Read more:

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Could the ‘Shared Solar’ movement work in shady Connecticut?

Manchester – Eugene DeJoannis stood behind his house one recent sunny morning and explained why it should be the perfect candidate for a solar electric system: “It has a nice, south-facing roof. It’s a simple roof. It has no obstructions on it.”
There’s one problem.
“We have a wall of trees,” he said. And they’re not even his trees, so he’s stuck with them.

Four solar Gardens planned near Durango, Colorado

La Plata Electrical Association is getting into gardening – solar gardening.
LPEA’s board of directors has approved a policy agreement with four community solar gardens that will allow its customers to purchase or invest in solar panels to offset their electrical costs.

Policy 366, as LPEA is calling it, will set the stage for local, independent solar developers to construct community solar gardens, or CSGs, generating up to 2 megawatts of power in the LPEA service territory.
Read more:

Edinburgh Council spearheading the Cooperative Council approach

Last year Edinburgh Council promised to run four exemplar projects in Edinburgh after a conference held here to discuss the benefits of  Cooperative Councils. The council is due to report on the progress of these cooperative initiatives at a seminar with trade unions, third sector, councillors and other stakeholders in Edinburgh next month, and to the full council in November after that.
Libraries and other council buildings outwith the World Heritage Site in the city centre could be used for photo-voltaic (PV) solar panels if the council’s plans work. Electric car-charging points will be installed across the city and district heating initiatives will be explored.

Washington: Community solar project would be a first

You can get in on the ground floor of an investment that will rest on the roof of Icicle River Middle School in Leavenworth.
Photo of Icicle River Middle School
Icicle River Middle School may become home to Chelan County’s first community solar project. (Photo from school website)
Investors are being sought to help build a 14-kilowatt community solar installation on the middle school. A public meeting to explain the project will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 17, at the Chelan County PUD office in Leavenworth, 222 Chumstick Highway. If successful, the project would be the first community solar farm in Chelan County to take advantage of the state’s Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Australia: Tathra solar farm a shining light for community

TATHRA'S community solar farm has turned from imagination in to reality.
At the official launch on Saturday morning, Matthew Nott from Clean Energy for Eternity and Bega Valley Shire Council general manager Leanne Barnes signed a memorandum of understanding, sealing the deal for a large solar array to be installed at the Tathra Treatment Plant.
The solar panels will spell IMAGINE when seen from the air by passengers aboard flights into Merimbula.
When complete, the solar farm will produce up to 50kW and account for 50 per cent of the power needs of the sewage treatment plant, which the council said costs around $50,000 a year to run.

You now have the opportunity to invest in clean, co-operative, renewable energy in Ottawa

OREC is pleased offer a new series of Preference Shares, providing Ottawa residents an opportunity to invest in our community’s future while earning a good rate of financial return.
  • A summary with the key features of the shares on offer and how to purchase them is here
  • The full share offering statement approved by the Financial Services Commission of Ontario ishere
  • The share subscription form is here
  • A schedule of information sessions can be seen here.

Help this school in Tanzania go solar

Hi. I was hoping you might support this project. I bought a solar light for this school in Tanzania. They installed it themselves. It allows the students to study at night. It allows the community to meet and work in the evening. For a very small donation you can help provide enough light for the whole school.
Can you pass the word on this project?
The pictures, video and story on the link above show you the panels, the lights, and the kids that will benefit from this project.

We are more than half way there. I just need a few more donors to complete the project!

Even if you can't support the project, please forward this to folks you think will be interested.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Solar Supporters: It’s Open Season on the Utilities’ Duck | Institute for Local Self-Reliance

placeholderThe rapid changes to the electricity system being wrought by distributed solar have utilities crying out, and they've poured much of their distributed solar angst into a chart being shared throughout the energy nerdocracy – the duck.

Read more:

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Solar Decathlon Houses Make Up a Solar Village to Test Microgrid Technology

In yet one more example of the rising interest in how microgrids that incorporate renewable energy and energy storage will change the energy landscape, Missouri University of Science and Technology (MST) has created what it says is the first "Solar Village" in the U.S.

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