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Support Equitable Access to Solar Energy!

Should solar energy only be accessible to those who can afford to invest in a solar system? The California Solar Initiative (CSI) has created financial incentives to encourage California citizens to adopt solar, helping homeowners across California reduce their electric bills.  A residential solar system in California will typically pay for itself in about 5 years, making the upfront cost a practical investment.  The homeowner can watch as her electric meter spins backwards, reducing her electricity bill and giving her the satisfaction of knowing she’s doing her part to reduce her family’s carbon footprint. But what about the homeowners who don’t have the money to invest in a solar electric system? Unfortunately, solar energy is not always an option for people without the means to finance a solar system, even through a lease or power purchase agreement.  When you have mouths to feed and bills to pay, clean energy doesn’t seem to be either an option or a priority. To address this issue, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) offers solar rebate programs specifically designed for low-income homes in California.  The Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH), along with the Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing Program (MASH), was put in place with California Assembly Bill 2723. This law allocates a minimum of 10% of the funds from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) to help qualified low-income households access solar energy through these programs.  The Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH) gives low-income homeowners up-front rebates for the installation of solar electric systems in the service territories of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E).    Unless new legislation is made into law, the SASH program will come to close on December 31st 2015 – or sooner if funds run out before this date. Assembly Bill (AB) 217, or the “Equitable Access to Solar Energy Bill,” was introduced in January 2013.   This bill proposes a new program that provides financial incentives for solar installations on low-income homeowners through 2021.   It would provide 50 megawatts worth of monetary incentives for low-income residents to install solar systems to promote more equitable access to clean energy. If AB 217 becomes law,it will require the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to adopt this program, which would be funded by ratepayers within the territories of the San Diego Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and Pacific Gas and Electric. GRID Alternatives, a nonprofit organization that sponsors AB 217, is currently the statewide Program Manager for the Single-family Affordable Solar Homes Program (SASH).  Through SASH, GRID Alternatives has already helped more than 2,000 homeowners access the benefits of clean...

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The prospect of renewable energy –where will it stand in 40 years?

The prospect of renewable energy –where will it stand in 40 years? In the early years of the new millennium, few people thought that the use of renewable energywould spread wide. Nobody imagined that eventually nearly a third of the global wind power capacity would come from developing countries, or that by 2011 70% of new power capacity across Europe would be renewable. Indeed, projections made for the use of renewable energy by 2020 were already met by 2010. But would this trend go on for the foreseeable future? Let’s take a look at a recent report of potential renewable energy situations in the next few decades. A global partnership   In January of this year, a global partnership of stakeholders led by REN21 released the result of its months-long research regarding the future of renewable energy use. REN21 is comprised of key players from governments, international organizations, industry associations, science and academia, and individual members of civil society whose aim is to promote the global use of renewable energy through facilitating exchange of information, policy development, and initiating joint actions. The report was released after a two-year collaboration with the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) and covers the following areas: Current trends in renewable energy use The challenges and possibilities of future renewable energy use Economic issues covering investments and business models Possibilities at the local/city level such as in urban planning and built-infrastructure, urban mobility, and 100% renewable communities The evolution of technologies involved in renewable energy such as wind, solar PV, Solar Thermal Power (CSP), biomass, hydro, geothermal, ocean, and biofuels From moderate to high outlooks   The report tackled 3 different levels of projection namely conservative, moderate, and high renewables. These projections were sourced from energy companies, scenarios, and experts in various fields. The conservative outlook was based on projections by current energy companies who believe that the future will still be dominated by fossil fuels. Stating cost hurdles and variability challenges, the conservative outlook puts the share of renewable energy use at 20%, not much higher than it is today. The moderate outlook on the other hand puts the share at between 30-45% by 2050. This projection, which includes shares in electricity, heating/cooling, and transport, was based on estimates of current trends and policies from experts. As well, various scenarios that factor in economic and political trends contributed to the overall projection. Much of the projection relies on the assumption that higher shares of renewable energy are integrated into power grids using various ways such as “demand-response, balancing with natural gas, new market structures for balancing services, and some energy storage.” The high...

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Take Action to Protect Renewable Energy!

The war on renewable energy, brought to your state by big oil interests. It is a time of growth and innovation for renewable energy across the U.S.  This is scares big oil companies.  There are special interest groups that are making it a priority to repeal the Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) that have put renewable energy targets into action, promoting domestic energy production, national security, and U.S. job growth. There are currently 29 states that have made the decision to require their utilities get a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable sources, including wind and solar energy. The two of the groups behind these efforts are the Heartland Institute, a think tank dedicated to climate change skepticism, and the American Legislative Exchange (ALEC), a group funded by the big oil Koch brothers that drafts model legislation for state legislatures.  ALEC’s “task force” is a counsel that includes BP, Chevron, ExxonMobil, and Shell.   Under the clever guise of “Electricity Freedom Act,” ALEC drafts model legislation for state legislatures that will repeal state-required renewable energy. According to a report by the Washington Post, the economic analyses ALEC cites to push this model legislation were published by Koch-funded research. “You push the legislation to state legislators and then you fund reports to support the argument and convince state lawmakers,” says Gabe Elsner of the watchdog group called the Checks and Balances Project. The Koch-funded think tanks have a strong history of peddling the false dichotomy that if it’s green, it can’t ever be economically feasible.     The installation of new wind energy capacity outpaced coal and natural gas last year, which was partially made possible by these state standards.  Last year, the U.S. solar employment grew at a rate of 13.2%.   Clean energy is getting cheaper with every year and now is not the time to strip away the renewable energy policies that we chose to implement in our states.  Stop these special interest groups from imposing their fossil fuel agenda on our states.   What can you do?   Take action today!    Tell lawmakers in your state we should not repeal Renewable Portfolio Standards....

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What’s the Future of Solar?
Feb20

What’s the Future of Solar?

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How to Save Energy
Feb20

How to Save Energy

Installing a photovoltaic system will help you offset your electric bill, but there are plenty of practical steps homeowners can take to reduce energy...

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