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Chico, CA: hotbed of solar crime

Posted by Margaret Collins In Tuesday, March 31 2009 under: Solar Power Info, crime, theft, Chico, California Solar

The educational observatory in Chico, California was the city's first all-solar building. And now, hardly more than a week after the police arrested a suspect in the case of the theft of solar panels off a Chico elementary school, the observatory might have to shut down its solar operations due to the theft of three of its roof-mounted panels. The director of the Chico Community Observatory said the facility will stay open to host a couple of field trips this week, but after that, it will have to close until the solar panels have been replaced. He noted that

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Top 5 ways to bankroll your solar PV system

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, March 30 2009 under: PPA, Commercial Solar, Solar Homes, EEM, financing, Cost and Financing, solar

(1) Cash. This is how P. Diddy rolls. If you can swing it, paying cash for your solar PV system is the best way to go, especially in times (like these) when credit is tight. Added bonus: you may get to share rank with America's brightest stars, like Brad Pitt, Tom Hanks, Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle. Just check out BP's Solar Neighbor celebrity participant list.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-27

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, March 27 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Stimulus Good for Solar

Posted by Eric Messinger In Thursday, March 26 2009 under: Solar Power Info

The stimulus package at the center of the Obama administration's legislative efforts looks like it might do the trick for renewable energy. The New York Times' Green Blog reports that stimulus money is assisting the solar (and wind) industries in weathering the economic downturn. This is fantastic news. We knew the package, which we followed on its path through Washington some weeks ago, was going to make a strong push for increasing the presence of renewables in the United States, but to see that this push will also carry with it some real help - real results - is heartening.

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Solar Power: not green enough?

It's a huge relief to many that the reality of climate change is sinking in for politicians, not to mention the general populace. Advocates of clean energy are, deservedly, among the happiest--yet for the first time, such advocates are finding themselves pitted against environmentalists, groups that have hitherto been strongly supportive of each other in the fight to get climate change taken seriously. Methods for addressing global warming have gone in hand in hand with the cause of clean energy activists: one of the largest-impact methods of reducing GHG emissions is to turn to low-carbon energy sources. Namely, renewable technologies like solar power, wind, geothermal and biomass.

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Administration Offers Its First Loan Guarantee to Solar Company

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, March 24 2009 under: Solar Industry News, Commercial Solar

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The importance of energy efficiency

A lot of what we do here at GetSolar involves helping individuals and businesses answer the following question: Does solar PV make sense for me? The short answer, we usually say, is that there is no single answer -- it depends. The ROI and payback for a particular system are the product of a host of different factors, ranging from the amount of shade that hits your roof, to the types of solar incentives (beyond the 30-percent federal investment tax credit, which is available nationwide) that are offered in your area. The bottom line? In some instances, a solar PV system offers a great return on investment. In other situations, where PV can offer only modest returns, some people still choose go through with their project because they believe it's the right thing to do for the environment, and/or because they want to promote energy independence. Finally, there are scenarios in which solar PV just doesn't make financial sense. Your roof gets no sun. You're a renter. You live in Nebraska (where there are virtually no state-sponsored incentives for solar).

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-20

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, March 20 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Government report offers guidance on new incentives

Up to their usual helpful tricks, the folks at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) have once again teamed up with the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to offer some much-needed guidance through the wealth of renewable energy incentive choices now available for commercial installations. They've just released a report that walks you through the differences among the feds' new incentives: the production tax credit, investment tax credit, and cash grant options. Since you can choose one but you can't choose them all, it helps to understand the real differences behind each option in determining which can be of most use to your business. Solar is not eligible for the production tax credit, but pretty much everything else is (geothermal, wind, biomass, hydroelectric, get the picture).

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AIG sells stake in Spain-based solar

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, March 19 2009 under: AIG, 35 megawatts, international solar, Spain, Commercial Solar, solar

While AIG chief Edward Liddy was taking a pounding from the House Financial Services Committee, AIG Financial Products Corp. (AIGFP), an AIG company, announced on Wednesday its sale of its interests in three solar PV plants in Spain. The three plants -- operated variously by City Solar, Proener and SunPower -- represent a combined 35 megawatts (mW) of capacity. According to AIGFP Cheif Operating Officer Gerry Pasciucco, the move "continues AIGFP’s ongoing program of investment portfolio dispositions, further reducing its overall risk profile.”

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Solar Panels Finally Popular Enough to Steal

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, March 18 2009 under: Solar Power Info, stolen, Chico, California Solar

Last month, over 40 solar panels that had been installed on the roof of a California school went missing. Proving once and for all that they hadn't just blown off in a freak mini-tornado or something, the panels were discovered this week in a storage locker, home to a variety of stolen goods. Only 17 of the 46 panels were recovered, unfortunately; so it seems likely that some roof, somewhere, is producing black-market clean energy.

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Italy as the Next Big European Solar Power?

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Climate as a global public good

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, March 16 2009 under: global public goods, Solar Power Info, Climate Change

At the risk of boring the pants off you all, I've decided to do something a little different this Monday: I'm posting an excerpt from my master's thesis. (I can hear the groans...). Why? What could possibly possess me to such a thing? Well, I wrote about climate change, an issue that's intrinsically linked to the topics we tackle here on the blog. Plus, now that my thesis has been graded, there's a good chance that it will never, ever be read again. Might as well give it a modest send off before banishing it to the annals of my backup drive, right? (For those of you who are curious, I'll be receiving my degree from The Fletcher School.)

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-13

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, March 13 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Solar and our consumption habits

Posted by Margaret Collins In Friday, March 13 2009 under: Sustainability, Solar Power Info, lifetstyle, consumerism, consumption

This is Friday the 13th--as good a day as any for considering whether we make our own luck, or not. We talk a lot on this blog about what solar can do for us in terms of saving us money, minimizing the margin of our electricity bill that's open to price fluctuation, and reducing our reliance on fossil fuels (a hazy goal in its ultimate incarnation, since we have not yet figured out how to achieve cost parity with renewables, or reliable safety with nuclear).

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GRU's feed-in tariff: a quick, closer look

As many of you solar geeks out there probably know, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU) recently launched a feed-in tariff, or FIT -- the first of its kind in the country. Generally speaking, FITs create two main benefits for solar buyers. First, they ensure that residents and businesses who go solar get paid a premium for all the electricity output from their solar PV system. This simple premise -- that each and every kWh generated will be purchased -- is linked to the second benefit: that of clarity. Unlike time of use schedules, or net excess generation purchasing at avoided-cost rates, the concept of a feed-in tariff is readily understood. For these reasons, FITs have been the policy tool of choice in Germany, for instance, a country that now leads the world in solar adoption rates.

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Solar jobs in unlikely places

A recent report from a California consulting group indicates that better than 85,000 jobs would be generated if Florida passes a RPS of 20% by 2020, meaning the state would need to garner 20% of its energy (instead of its current 2%) from renewable energy sources by the time 2020 rolls around. The numbers come from an assessment of the number of jobs that would be generated by each megawatt of added solar capacity, times the number of megawatts the RPS would likely add to the state (15-30, and 3,800 respectively). One does wonder if the numbers are a bit inflated--are those 15-30 permanent jobs, or installation-only jobs, and thus 15-30 people could theoretically manage the whole kit-n-kaboodle? (Clearly, you'd need slightly more than a score of folks to install and maintain that many MWs...but 85,000?) Though to be fair, the language does say "jobs" instead of "career opportunities".

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Clean Tech Had An Excellent 2008, and Was on Track to an Excellent 2009

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, March 10 2009 under: Solar Power Info

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AZ may strengthen incentives for solar producers

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, March 9 2009 under: incentives, Solar Energy Incentives, Arizona Solar, APS, SRP, investment, solar

With tons of sunshine and some pretty solid incentives (notably those available from APS, RPS and UES), Arizona is a great place to install a solar energy system for a home or business. By the looks of it, AZ lawmakers are aiming to make the state a great place for solar energy companies to locate their operations, too. As reported by the Yuma Sun,

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-03-06

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, March 6 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Senate Leadership Pushes Power Grid Reform

Posted by Eric Messinger In Friday, March 6 2009 under: Solar Power Info

Heartening news today from Capitol Hill, as Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate Majority leader, proposed a way for the federal government to encourage the growth of renewable energy. Reid envisions the federal government stepping in to provide power lines for renewable energy sources that are in out-of-the-way locations.

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Con Edison: Championing Solar in NY

Recognizing the emergence of solar energy as an important energy resource and the need to understand the feasibility of various solar applications in its service territory, [Con Edison] is proposing the implementation of a Solar Energy Pilot Program. This pilot program, consisting of three initiatives for developing solar resources, is designed to spur the development of approximately 12MW of solar energy over the next 18 months.

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Atlantic City goes big

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, March 5 2009 under: Pepco, Solar Panels, Solar Industry News, New Jersey Solar, Atlantic City

Whoa. As of this afternoon, Atlantic City will officially be home to the largest PV panel array in the entire United States. In partnership with Pepco Energy Services, the city's convention center has installed 13,321 panels -- enough to produce an amount of electricity equal to about a quarter of the center's demand. In place for weeks, the system will be commomorated at a ceremony this afternoon. As reported by CNN,

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Commercial solar's federal grant option

With all the buzz surrounding President Obama's stimulus package--energy efficiency tax credits, a cap-and-trade pollution credit system, tax hikes to the very wealthy, all very chat-worthy stuff--one imporant provision may have escaped your notice. Commercial solar panel installations received a boost when, in the fall of 2008, the federal investment tax credit (ITC) equal to 30% of a solar system's costs was extended for another eight years. In a move designed to encourage movement in an economy where investors are hesitant even about something as attractive as large-scale solar, the stimulus package offers a sweet deal: for commercial solar installations during the next two years, owners can choose between the standard ITC and an actual cash grant of the same value. The grant offer is good for a range of technologies, as is the ITC itself: wind, geothermal, microturbines, CHP, biomass, and more.

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Iraq to Adopt Solar Power?

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, March 3 2009 under: international solar, solar in developing nations

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Early Signs on Carbon Reform

Posted by Eric Messinger In Tuesday, March 3 2009 under: Solar Power Info

The stimulus package recently signed into law by President Obama provided a fascinating union of state and national concerns; the ongoing debates over the acceptance of federal funds that contain strict conditions still reflects this synergy. With the package's legislative battles mostly fading into the horizon, however, the next big landmarks for solar are going to sort themselves out into separate spheres. State concerns, especially in key solar regions facing budget troubles, are going to be one very big piece of the renewable energy puzzle. But today we're going to take a look at the national picture, particularly the early signs about the possibility and nature of carbon reform.

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