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The Big Apple’s Sun Farms
May12

The Big Apple’s Sun Farms

2016 has seen an unprecedented surge of solar projects in New York, with federal incentives enticing entrepreneurs to lease remote sites outside the city for community solar installations that can deliver power to the urban population. The growth of solar projects in New York has been on a steady incline according the State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA). In 2011 the state saw approximately 9,000 projects producing 80 megawatts of power compared with 2015, which saw 45,000 projects producing 525 megawatts of power.   Growth in 2016 is expected to accelerate even faster in the wake of New York Governor Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard, which aims to have the state producing more than half its energy from renewable resources by 2030.   Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard includes an array of incentives for residential and commercial installations and has sparked a landrush from businesses looking to get in on supplying clean energy for the city.   While rooftop panels have been the standard for supplying solar energy and are still common, proposals like those seen in the Village of Owego’s project are looking to lease out areas to build solar farms.   The clean energy recipients of the farm-style solar projects vary: some are group projects, some serve commercial users, and some serve municipal users. According to figures from the NYSERDA over 42 applications for farmed solar projects have been submitted at the start of 2016. It remains to be seen, however how well these businesses will do since, unlike fossil fuels, solar is available to anyone who is clever enough to harness it and, currently, so are its...

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Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution
May05

Documentary Shines A Light On The Solar Solution

What do an American worker, a Tea Party activist and a Chinese entrepreneur have in common? They’re all are racing to lead the global future of clean energy and their journeys are featured in Catching the Sun, a new documentary that showcases how doing good by the environment has created a boom in the renewable energy job sector.   “I was fascinated by the idea that solar power could democratize and decentralize energy in a way that creates economic opportunity for workers and entrepreneurs,” said Director Shalini Kantayya.   Kantayya’s film jumps between countries around the world that are fast-tracking solar production and follows some of the stories that have unfolded in its wake.   Among these stories are  Zhongwei Jiang’s , an entrepreneur in Wuxi, China, who grew up without electricity until he was 7. In 2003 Jiang took out a small interest loan from the Chinese government to start a solar company WesTech, which has grown by 50% every year and has expanded to Germany.   Other stories include those of solar installers in America who’ve found job opportunities in the burgeoning industry and a mayor who has fought tooth and nail against an oil corporation’s interests after a spill devastated her town.   The movie shows how one out of 83 new jobs created in the U.S. in 2014 was in the solar industry as a result from nearly 784,000 homes and businesses in the country embracing solar to save money and elevate property values.   Catching the Sun can be viewed on Netflix, downloaded on Vimeo or seen at select screenings taking place around the country....

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Bernies Love For Solar Burns Brightest
Apr28

Bernies Love For Solar Burns Brightest

  Of the three presidential candidates hoping to secure the oval office in 2016, Bernie Sanders’ advocacy of solar initiatives outshines his competitors Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.   As for the latter, Mr. Trump, who believes that climate change is a conspiracy theory and has publicized his dislike of clean energy, the policy agendas between him and Sanders are flagrant; while the differences between Sanders and his party opponent Clinton are less obvious, though still substantial.   Both Sanders and Clinton have publicized plans to transition the country’s energy from fossil fuels to renewable options, but unlike Clinton, Sanders’ plan openly opposes the fossil fuel industry by aiming to rid politics of corporate lobbyists, ban fracking and exploration for oil on public lands. Clinton, on the other hand, whose campaign has taken money from the fossil fuel industry, has avoided outright attacks on it, instead focusing on large government incentives to urge more people to convert to solar.   A look at both candidates’ plans reveals that Sanders is much more detailed when it comes to how he aims to steer Americans to become 100 percent dependent on renewable energy. He also, touches on issues such as bringing the United States’ transportation emissions to zero and taking a much more aggressive position in the global theater to reduce greenhouse gasses–all of which are absent on Clinton’s side.   Sanders’ past political initiatives leave little room for doubt that he will fight for his vision. In 2015 he introduced the Low Income Solar Act, which would provide $200 million in loans and grants through the Department of Energy to make solar more accessible to low-income families and communities.   Then there’s the fact that the environmental super PAC Climate Hawks listed Sanders as the No. 1 climate leader in the Senate for the 113th Congress and endorsed him as its choice for president.   Though Sanders is currently trailing in the primary elections behind Clinton, his efforts have given voice to millions of supporters that are not shy to demand better environmental policies from their government.        ...

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Hillary Clinton’s Sunny Side
Apr26

Hillary Clinton’s Sunny Side

As the dust for the 2016 presidential primaries settles, we’re left with three likely White House hopefuls–Trump, Clinton and Sanders–whose views on solar could steer industry policies in different directions. Earlier this month we reviewed the republican front runner Donald Trump’s inimical position towards renewable power, which is in stark contrast his possible democratic challengers Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders. This week we’ll look at the Democratic party front runner, Hillary Clinton, who has aligned herself as a champion of the sun: To start, there’s her ambitious vision to produce enough clean energy to power all homes by 2027. The plan, a free PDF of which can be found by googling “Hillary Clinton Green Energy Plan”, calls for installing more than half a billion solar panels on homes by the end of her first term. It will also “aggressively” seek to extend Obama’s Clean Power Plan, cutting carbon emissions from power plants and aiming to reduce the country’s overall emissions to 30% of its 2005 levels.  The United States currently generates about 21 gigawatts of solar energy. To deliver on her goals, Clinton aims to bring this number to 140 gigawatts by 2020–more than double the industry’s projected growth should it stay on its current course: Clinton’s voting record and public tweets leave little room to doubt she will be a much more favorable candidate for the clean energy sector than her opponent Trump; though her party opponent, Sanders, has a track record that proves him to be as (if not more) favorable an...

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California’s Net Metering 1.0 – Government Incentives Are About To End
Apr11

California’s Net Metering 1.0 – Government Incentives Are About To End

If you live in California, the sun is about to set on your chance to take advantage of the best government solar incentive program we’re ever likely to see. This is not a drill! The state’s 1.0 incentive program will expire when the total amount of Net Metering for its three major utility companies (PG&E, So Cal Edison and SDG&E) reaches more than 5% of its customers’ peak power needs. And while you can see the Monthly Net Metering 1.0 Program 5% limit is about to be reached…   …the good news is that if your home or business has it’s solar energy system interconnected before the cap, you’ll be grandfathered into the NEM 1.0 incentive program from 20 years.   That’s 20 years!   To pass up a chance like this is similar to passing up the chance to purchase acres of land for pennies back in the day on the government’s 1862 Homestead Act. This is because the current government wants people to go green.   The Net Metering program rewards homes and businesses for using solar energy by giving them credits on their electricity bill.   The Net Metering 1.0 incentive allows people to earn credits at the same rate the utility companies charge for electricity.   So if your utility company charges about $0.15 per a KW and your home generates 1,500 KW, you’d get $225 paid to you by the utility company to either offset your utility bill, help pay off your solar installation or buy that man cheetah outfit you’ve been dreaming of: The soon to be engaged NEM 2.0 incentive program is a 124 page document that imposes time-of-use rates for Net Metered customers, decreasing the amount of compensation energy companies will pay in accordance with the time customers generate excess energy.   While California is one of a few states that’s sided more in the favor of the solar industry, other states, like Arizona, whose Net Metering 1.0 incentives are also set to expire haven’t been so lucky.   Whatever the future of Net Metering may hold, it’s a sure bet incentives, while still remaining fair, may never be as good as they are now.      ...

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