Sunday, June 28, 2009

Navajo Go Solar with Grant Money

Sacred Power Inc., in Albuquerque haas got its hands on half a million dollars of stimulus funding for off-grid power. It has been awarded a $500,656 grant through the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help bring solar- powered electricity into homes on the Navajo Nation currently without electric power.
The Native American-owned company has partnered with local Chapter Houses on the Navajo Reservation in New Mexico and Arizona to secure USDA grants to install modular hybrid Solar Photovoltaic (PV) power stations to provide electricity to off-grid homes.
“It is hard to believe that with all the technology that exists there are still people in our country living without electricity,” said New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman. “The grant awarded today will help bring renewable energy Navajo homes.”
According to USDA, the modular hybrid power station combines solar PV panels plus controls, battery storage, and a backup small wind turbine or propane generator to provide reliable power to the home. The modular systems are built at Sacred Power’s Albuquerque plant and then moved to the home site.
Bingaman is the author of a law that authorized millions of dollars in federal funds to bring electricity to Navajo residents that currently lack service because of the high cost of extending electric lines in rugged, rural areas. The funds from that program, granted through the Department of Energy, are used to both extend traditional sources of power, and to implement renewable energy sources and other advanced electric power technologies

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Cap n Trade - how it works and the bill behind it

How cap-and-trade works
This is where the House bill comes in. Known as Waxman-Markey after its two sponsors, Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), the bill attempts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through a system known as cap-and-trade.
Under a cap-and-trade plan, the government requires companies emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases to obtain a permit for each ton they emit each year.
Most of these companies are electricity generators, including big industry that generates its own power. The number of permits issued each year is then reduced. As the more limited supply of permits increases their price, companies can either pay to install cleaner equipment, fund carbon-offset projects like tree farms, or buy these permits on a secondary market from other companies that have cleaned up their operations and now have extra permits to sell.
The ultimate goal is to make fossil fuels, the main source of energy and of man-made carbon emissions, more expensive and low carbon technologies like wind, solar and nuclear more competitive.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

EV Tesla + Solar Charging Station by Solar Universe

Newcastle Family Strike Balance of a Greener Life

During the Loomis earth day I was having a conversation with a gentleman at our Solar Universe booth regarding the impact electric cars would have on our electrical grid, and the cost of charging these vehicles. We discussed the benefits of solar for a few more minutes and both agreed that solar is the natural answer.
It was then that Fred and Gabriela Michanie walked up and said they were on a waiting list for an electric car for Fred to commute to work in. They liked the idea of using solar to offset both the load on the grid and to charge the car without additional cost on their energy bill. The Michanie family is very green oriented and wanted to solve the fuel and emission problems associated with the daily commute, but did not want to create a larger energy bill and put more load on the grid.

Together we agreed to work on designing a solar system for their home that would offset their current electric usage and provide additional energy to charge their car at night during off peak hours, and we did just that!
Solar Universe electrician Brandon Hurlock assessed the home, main load panel and the location for the charging station. Brandon concluded that the main load panel would need to be changed out to accommodate the solar system and the car charger. From there we designed a custom system and went to work. Today, the Michanie family is enjoying the ability to create extra power during the day that’s sent back to the grid, and charging their sporty Tesla electric car at night when utility rates are lower. By doing this they are now offsetting their energy bill and realizing their goal of greener life and a clean efficient commute.

It was a great pleasure working with the Michanie family on this project. Fred and Gabriela are truly passionate about living a greener life and having fun doing it!

Gary Hayworth

Thursday, June 18, 2009

CA Dept of Transportation Bonds for Solar

California, where the sun always shines except when it doesn't, is implementing a tax-credit bond program specifically designed to fund renewable energy projects.
Another in the long line of the cumbersomely named "alphabet soup programs" that the state seems to love, CREBs, or clean renewable energy bonds, was jump-started by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer this week with the sale of $20 million of these bonds to install solar panels in 70 California Department of Transportation facilities.
California's Alternative Energy and Advanced Transportation Financing Authority (yep that's CAEATFA) sold the tax-credit bonds last week on behalf of Caltrans. They'll have a 1.45 percent interest rate over the 15-year term of the bonds. 
Total debt service costs over that span will total $22.5 million, and over that period Caltrans will save $24.7 million on its energy bills. Over the 25-year lifespan pf the photovoltaic solar panels, energy costs savings will come to $52.5 million, Lockyer estimated, with $27.8 million coming after the bonds are repaid.
The deal is the authority's first use of the CREBs program, which was created by the Energy Tax Incentive Act of 2005. CAEATFA is also authorized to sell this type of bond under a similar program, called NCREB, established by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The federal deadline for NCREB applications under ARRA is August 4.
Under the program, the federal government pays bondholders up to 100 percent of the interest directly in the form of a tax credit, and it allows borrowers to get financing with a minimal interest rate.
"This project is a great example of how to use innovative financing to green state government, make it more cost effective for taxpayers and bolster businesses and jobs in a vital sector of our economy," he adds.
A big chunk of money is available for the program: It has a volume cap of $2.4 billion. Besides solar, eligible projects include wind energy, closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, geothermal energy, small irrigation power, landfill gas, trash combustion, marine and hydrokinetic energy, and some hydropower facilities.
Projects must be owned by a "public entity," such as state or local government; public power provider; tribal government; or a cooperative electric utility company.
Is California once again showing the green way?

Registration Opens for Solar Power International '09 in Anaheim, Calif.

Largest B2B Solar Event Expected to Draw 25,000 People from 90 Countries;

Anaheim, CA
Registration opened today for Solar Power International 2009, the largest business-to-business solar conference and expo in North America. Presented by Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Solar Power International 2009 will take place October 27 – 29 at the Anaheim Convention Center. As of today, the show has already attracted more than 650 exhibitors, up from 425 exhibitors in 2008. Total exhibit hall floor space this year is 200,000 net sq. ft., with 167,000 net sq. ft. (more than 83 percent) already booked. This represents growth of more than double the size of last year's show. Judging by these early booking numbers, organizers are confident of another advance sell out of both exhibit space and registration. New this year, the show floor – which covers all solar technologies and all parts of the solar supply chain – will be segmented by product type, making the show easy to navigate for businesses looking to build and expand relationships.
"Solar Power International is the gateway to the U.S. solar market, providing a rare opportunity for the entire solar industry and its customers to come together for face-to-face meetings and exciting networking events that are so critical for expanding business."
--Julia Hamm, SPI Conference Chair and Executive Director of SEPA
The conference features highly anticipated keynote addresses from top industry leaders, 200 expert speakers, 65 break-out sessions, and dozens of training workshops. Solar Power International is expected to again break attendance records, attracting more than 25,000 people from 90 countries. With unparalleled opportunities to grow business and network with foremost members of the industry, Solar Power International 2009 is the essential U.S. event for the global solar energy market.  Unlike other solar conferences and expos in the U.S. – typically presented by for-profit entities – the proceeds from Solar Power International are reinvested by non-profit organizers SEPA and SEIA back into policy, research, and education activities that support the continued and expedited growth of the U.S. solar market.
“The solar industry continues to adapt and grow, even in these uncertain economic times. Solar Power International is the gateway to the U.S. solar market, providing a rare opportunity for the entire solar industry and its customers to come together for face-to-face meetings and exciting networking events that are so critical for expanding business,” said Julia Hamm, conference chair and executive director of SEPA. “With dynamic speakers, cutting-edge panel topics and an expansive exhibit floor, Solar Power International offers a comprehensive and relevant program for industry veterans and newcomers alike.”
In his 2008 address to attendees, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “[The] Solar Power International conference and expo is by far the biggest and best in the United States. It's a showcase for this industry whose time has really come. And the prospects for solar energy have never been brighter.” In fact, according to SEIA’s “Year in Review,” the U.S. industry grew 16 percent in 2008 despite a faltering economy, with photovoltaic growth leading at an unprecedented 81 percent and solar water heating growth at 50 percent.
“There’s no question 2009 is shaping up to be a game-changing year for solar, and Solar Power International is the key venue for the solar industry to assess the latest developments in policy, finance, technology and markets,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. “We’ve come a long way since 2008, with implementation of the economic stimulus package underway and a historic energy and climate bill moving through Congress. But the monumental task of upgrading our energy infrastructure has only just begun. The solar industry is creating jobs and supporting economic recovery now. It can and must play a critical role in our clean energy future.”
 Although the focus of Solar Power International is business-to-business interaction, the conference will once again present the ever-popular “Public Night,” a free opening of the expo floor to local residents on Wednesday evening, Oct. 28, 5:30 – 8:30 pm. Solar Power International’s Public Night has become a tradition and will be a major draw for members of the public eager to learn about the latest solar technology for their homes and businesses.
Registration, sponsorship, exhibitor and program information can be found at

Friday, June 12, 2009

Louisiana Solar Heats Up

by Molly Reid, The Times-Picayune
Saturday May 30, 2009, 4:35 AM

Spectators watch from a nearby platform as solar panels are installed on the roof of a Lower 9th Ward house that's part of nonprofit Global Green's development there.
Gathered on a platform next to the roof of one of the two-story single-family homes in the Lower 9th Ward, onlookers watched as installers with South Coast Solar of New Orleans mounted a set of photovoltaic panels onto a metal roof.
"We are trying to demystify the use of renewable energy equipment and green building techniques," Global GreenExecutive Director Beth Galante said.
The installations were a minor milestone for Global Green, which began construction earlier this year on the second and third of five planned sustainable homes in Holy Cross, ending a year-long delay following the completion of the first house. Beyond that, the installations provided a platform to celebrate the expanding solar industry. Assisting South Coast Solar in the project was Julio Cardoza, a trainee with Delgado Community College's solar installation course.
Cardoza is interning with South Coast Solar to complete the hands-on portion of the Delgado course, which requires trainees to help complete two on-site jobs, said Steve Shelton, executive director of the Louisiana CleanTech Network, a nonprofit that helped implement the solar installation course at Delgado.
"This is the sixth course we've done" in about a year, with similar courses implemented in Lafayette and Monroe, Shelton said. The courses have produced 140 trained solar panel installers in Louisiana and across the country, as about one-third of the trainees come from out of state, he said.
"We've been the only solar training course in the South except for one in Florida," Shelton said, adding that the CleanTech Network is helping set up six courses at community colleges in Texas.
The past year has significantly expanded residents' options for finding an installer, Shelton said.
"What we've found is that we weren't just training installers; we were training companies," he said. "When we first started (at Delgado), there were two (solar installation) companies in the state. Now there's 40."
Whether the consumer market is ready to employ all these new installers, however, is unclear. Louisiana offers some of the best incentives for solar panels in the country, with a 50 percent state tax credit that falls on top of a 30 percent federal tax credit. That still leaves the average consumer with an upfront cost, for a typical single-family home system, of about $25,000.
For South Coast Solar, upfront costs haven't slowed business. According to CEO Tucker Crawford, the company has a three-month waiting list.
Of the Delgado training course, Crawford said: "It's growing the industry."

PG&E Purchases More Solar Power

San Francisco, United States
Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has entered into a contract with AV Solar Ranch 1, LLC, a subsidiary of NextLight Renewable Power LLC, for 230 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic power. On average, the project is expected to produce 592 gigawatt-hours of renewable electricity each year for PG&E customers throughout northern and central California.

On average, half of the electricity PG&E delivers to its customers comes from carbon-free generating sources, the utility said.
NextLight's project will feature photovoltaic technology, from as yet unnamed supplier. The project will be located in Antelope Valley, California. It is expected to begin deliveries in 2011 and be fully operational by late 2013.

This is the third major solar contract PG&E has signed this year. Since 2002, PG&E has entered into contracts for more than 20 percent of its future electric power deliveries from renewable sources. On average, half of the electricity PG&E delivers to its customers comes from carbon-free generating sources, the utility said.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Solar Fred Blog

Another solar blog I found with great information:

Solar Financing - Coming Soon to a City Near You?

After a long period of what seems like financing dried up, there are a number of options quickly becoming available. These programs are typically geographically sparce and not yet mainstream, but I can see them quickly becoming viable options across America. Also, keep an eye out on government programs such as AB 811 in CA where a number of pilots and full programs have already been launched.

Residential Lease/PPA:
Commercial  PPA companies:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

India's Electrifying Women

WASHINGTON, Jun 1 ( - In India, teams of "barefoot solar engineers" are bringing electricity to rural villages. The project -- part of a larger campaign to help Indian villagers be self-sufficient -- trains women to build and maintain solar energy units.
A community meeting in a rural Indian village. © mckaysavage (flickr)A community meeting in a rural Indian village. © mckaysavage (flickr)What's the Story?
The solar power initiative is run by the Barefoot College in Tilonia, a village in Rajasthan, India. Founded by Indian activist Bunker Roy in 1972, the college helps Indian villagers become self-sufficient and puts special emphasis on developing women's skills.
"Many have been inspired by women in nearby villages who left for Tilonia with hope and returned grasping the power of light," reports Sathya Saran in an article for Ms. Magazine. "Most of the women are unlettered, extremely poor and often widowed or abandoned. But their eyes blaze with newfound confidence."
Rural women from India, Afghanistan, Ghana, and Syria are trained at the college and then dispatched to train other village women -- who in turn pass on their knowledge -- to construct and run solar energy units.
Writes Saran: "these 'Sunshine Warriors' comprise a force for change that the college sends out to transform lives around the world." (See the full article from Ms. Magazine below.)
Overcoming the Energy-Poverty Trap
Roughly 40 percent of the world's population -- living predominantly in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa -- do not have modern fuels for cooking and heating.
Of these 2.6 billion people, 1.6 billion "have no access to electricity, three-quarters of them living in rural areas," notes Share the World's Resources, a group advocating for sustainable economic practices that alleviate poverty.
In India, 220,000 villages lack electricity.
However, says openDemocracy's Alejandro Litovsky, hundreds of projects from Guatemala to India to Uganda "demonstrate the potential of energy innovations to overcome energy poverty -- a mix of wind, solar, small hydro, biomass power, or technology such as LED lighting."
These initiatives can enable the poor to set up small income-generating businesses and achieve autonomy and independence in energy generation.
"Off-grid projects are increasingly seen in areas where publicly regulated electricity grids have found it unviable to reach," continues Litovsky.
Moreover, he says, new sources of energy "can deliver real change on the ground, enabling citizens to access refrigerated medicines, light schoolrooms, power water pumps, and use mobile telecommunications -- but only if they are tailored to local needs and delivered in sustainable ways."
Poverty in Rural India
India's status as an emerging global superpower rests on narrow economic data drawn from its booming middle class of 50 million people, less than 5 percent of the population. Beneath this veneer, hundreds of millions of people face a daily struggle for essentials.
While varying interpretations of India's poverty figures have been made by the government and anti-poverty institutions like the World Bank, it is clear that vast numbers of households survive close to the poverty line.
Many development organizations like the Barefoot College have focused on empowering women to help these rural villages.
Additionally, "in the remotest corners of the country, women leaders have started questioning corruption, inefficiency, and lack of basic necessities in their villages," writes OneWorld South Asia's Manasi Singh. 
Women in India
The voices of women in India are not always heard or respected, however. "Various social conditions have hindered and undermined the roles of women, denying them voices and opportunity to participate in public life," continues Singh.
Zahira Bano, a woman who ran for public office in India and lost, endured pressure and threats from conservative clerics when she became the first woman to contest election results "in a region heavily influenced by religion and tradition," says Singh.
"Maulvis [religious leaders] do not allow us to come to the fore and participate in the political process as they consider it blasphemy," Bano told Singh. "But nowhere the religion debars women. Take the case of Iran, Iraq -- where women have entered parliament."
A constitutional amendment passed in 1993 mandated that 33.3 percent of the seats in India's local governing bodies be reserved for women. Now, more than 1 million women from diverse backgrounds are serving as elected representatives.
There are, however, still cultural pressures working against women. One manifestation of this is a high incidence of ultrasound gender diagnoses, many of which are followed by an abortion if the fetus is a girl.
The gender ratio in India is 927 girls for every 1,000 boys under the age of 6. This is the most imbalanced gender ratio in the world, and it's declining further.
For more information on poverty, health, development, and human rights in India, see's

Monday, June 1, 2009

Vermont FIT - More of these to come?

Vermont FITs Become Law: The Mouse That Roared

Vermont is now the first North American jurisdiction with small wind tariff.
Vermont's feed-in tariff legislation became law at the end of business on May 27, 2009. H. 446 is the first legislation calling for a full system of advanced renewable tariffs in the US to pass the legislature and become law. The bill includes changes to Vermont's Sustainably Priced Energy Enterprise Development Program (SPEED) that would implement a pilot feed-in tariff policy.
Vermont's action follows closely on that of the Ontario provincial legislature's groundbreaking Green Energy Act and with several states considering similar legislation, the Green Mountain state could be the tipping point for a rapid succession of feed-in tariff policies across the continent.

It may be small states, such as Vermont, and municipalities, such as Gainesville, Florida, that could drive new renewable energy policy in the US and not the big states of California or Florida that are hopelessly embroiled in partisan stalemates.

Unlike the policy in Washington State and in the crude feed-in tariff in California, Vermont's legislation bases the tariffs on the cost of generation plus a reasonable profit. Costs of the program in Vermont are borne by ratepayers, not taxpayers as in the Washington State system.

One unique feature in the Vermont program not found in Ontario is a specific tariff for small wind turbines, those less than 15 kW. Though several bills have contained proposed tariffs for small wind turbines, Vermont's legislation is the first to become law with long term contracts. The tariff of $0.20/kWh is the highest in North America.

Though it has a low program cap of only 50 MW, Vermont's feed-in tariff policy is a serious commitment by a state of its size. Vermont has a population of little more than 600,000.

Vermont's feed-in tariff program contains the key elements of the successful policies found in Europe.

    * Tariffs are differentiated by technology
    * Tariffs are differentiated by size.
    * Tariffs set on the cost of generation plus profit
    * Profit set by a reasonable rate of return
    * Long contracts terms
    * Regular program review

As the technology progresses, Vermont renewable energy advocates expect the tariffs will decrease. The bill directs the Vermont Public Service Board to review and reset the tariffs every two years. The first review begins September 15, 2009 when the PSC will open a case on the tariffs contained in the legislation.

Renewable Energy Vermont (REV) led the successful grassroots' campaign, the first of its kind in New England to focus on feed-in tariffs. REVs Executive Director, Andrew Perchlik, notes that "This law puts Vermont in a leadership role on renewable energy policy and will help to bring vibrant growth and development to our local renewable energy industry."

Here are several key elements of H. 446.

    * Program cap of 50 MW
    * Project size cap of 2.2 MW
    * Contract term: 20 years
    * Wind energy tariffs
          o <15 kW: $0.20/kWh
          o >15 kW: $0.14/kWh
    * Landfill and biogas tariff of $0.12/kWh
    * Solar tariff of $0.30/kWh
    * Future tariffs based on cost of generation plus profit less applicable tax credits and other incentives
    * Profit set at rate of return of Vermont electric utilities
    * Open a regulatory examination of the tariffs by September 15, 2009 and new rates set in January, 2010