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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-29

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, May 29 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Top 10 Solar Utilities Announced

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has released its second annual report revealing which of the nation's utilities have added the most megawatts of solar capacity in the past year, and which utilities have the most cumulative megawatts of solar capacity. The results for 2008 shouldn't be too much of a surprise: the most solar integrated utility was Northern California's PG&E, its 85 MW of new solar capacity blowing the competition out of the water--those 85 MW were over 44% of the total field. Second was California Edison; third, SDG&E. In fact, California utilities occupy 8 of the top 10 slots, with one each for Hawaii and Nevada.

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Better batteries in store?

We can transform sunlight and wind into electricity. Why aren't we using these free, limitless natural resources to provide all our power? Of course the answer to that is manifold, involving a lot of words like "deployment" and "technology to scale" and "existing model" and "lobbyists". But all the little details aside, we actually couldn't use renewable resources to power ourselves fully, and the one major hurdle standing in our way is storage.

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Taiwan Unveils Purely Solar-Powered Stadium

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, May 26 2009 under: international solar

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California: will it revise NEG payment rules?

There's a big to-do at the moment about a certain state bill making the rounds of the California legislature. Bill AB-920 (full text here), sponsored by Democrat Assemblyman Jared Huffman, proposes revisions to the state's current net metering laws. But before I go into that, let's do a real quick crash course in net metering. The setting: your solar electric (PV) system generates electricity. Now, one of two situations apply:

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-22

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, May 22 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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GetSolar summer reading list, part 2

Posted by Adam Sewall In Friday, May 22 2009 under: learn, Solar Panels, renewable energy, reading list, Solar Power Info

With Memorial Day weekend upon us, it's time to start thinking about beaches. And sun. And backyard BBQs. And everything else that makes summer, summer -- including a proper reading list. (I can hear the groans...). This time last year, I put together a list of five books on an array of topics, including renewable energy, climate change, economic growth and innovation.

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Good news for solar power in Wisconsin

Posted by Adam Sewall In Thursday, May 21 2009 under: Wisconsin Solar, MGE, incentives, Solar Energy, Energy Policy, Cost and Financing

The installed cost of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels is partly a product of solar energy incentives designed to lower out-of-pocket costs and boost adoption. These incentives include: (1) a 30-percent federal renewable energy tax credit; (2) any solar tax credits, rebates or production-based incentives available in your state. Given that these kinds of solar incentives can help lower costs by between a third and half, depending on the state and/or utility, it's no wonder that some state programs -- like Connecticut's -- are regularly oversubscribed.

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On the importance of a qualified solar installer

What we do at is educate consumers of all kinds about the values of solar energy and help them determine if solar is right for them. Then, we connect those consumers with qualified, experienced solar electric or solar thermal installers who can provide competitive quotes. This means the consumer doesn't have to worry about whether or not the installer behind the quote has a good service record, or up to date insurance and licensing, or good business credit: we've taken care of all that already.

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Amidst Cheers, Warnings About Italian Solar Sector

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, May 19 2009 under: Solar Industry News, international solar

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Solar panels: Measuring cost

Posted by Adam Sewall In Monday, May 18 2009 under: pricing, panels, levelized cost, Cost and Financing, solar

Updated for 2016: With talk of "continued recovery" and "glimmers of hope" in the U.S. economy, there's a distinct possibility that consumers may actually continue to spending money (gasp!). And with a 30-percent federal renewable energy tax credit* Extended for 2016 through 2020-- plus a number of new, state-sponsored solar incentive programs either in place or soon on their way -- what better time to consider installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) panel system?

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-15

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, May 15 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Solar and affordable housing

If there's one thing everyone knows about solar, it's this: solar panels cost money. Even with state incentives, the great federal tax credit, and taking into account the fact that the investment eventually pays for itself, installing solar panels in your home is a serious financial undertaking. Yet since the value of a solar PV system lies in its ability to reduce monthly utility bills, the people who arguably need it most are exactly those who can afford it least. What to do about this dilemma?

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SRP customers in Arizona: Act now!

The EarthWise Solar Energy rebate program, sponsored by SRP in Arizona, will soon reduce the amount of money available to homeowners and businesses who install solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or a solar water heating (solar thermal) system. According to SRP's Web site, "[e]ffective June 1, 2009, the EarthWise Solar Energy program will be changing. All applications postmarked on or after June 1, 2009, are subject to these new incentive levels."

What are those new incentive levels, you say?

SRP is reducing the residential solar electric incentive from $3.00 per watt to $2.70 per watt, and is reducing the commercial solar electric incentive from $2.50 per watt to $2.25 per watt. The current residential and commercial solar water heating incentive level of $0.50 per kilowatt-hour will remain unchanged.

In addition, SRP is revising the cap on commercial solar water heating incentives to $250,000 per site, limiting the size of eligible residential solar electric systems to 5 kilowatts and limiting the commercial solar electric incentive cap to $450,000.

The incentives have been adjusted to accommodate the tremendous increase in requests for participation. We believe that increasingly generous federal tax credits, coupled with declining solar costs, will help offset the slight decrease in the SRP incentives. Ultimately, these changes will allow more customers to take advantage of the funding provided by SRP.

Essentially this means that if you're an SRP customer -- either commercial or residential -- and you've been meaning to install some solar panels or a solar hot water system, you've got about two weeks to get your stuff together. If you act fast, it's not too late to get set up with an installer and apply for the current (higher) rebate amounts. While the reductions are by no means huge, those dimes and quarters really add up when you're talking about installing thousands of watts of solar PV power.

Get started on your project by filling out our solar energy information form. It's free and takes just a few minutes to complete. For more info on AZ solar power incentives, check out our Arizona solar energy incentive pages for residential systems and commercial systems.

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Solar high-speed train proposed for AZ

Driving from Phoenix to Tucson should take a shade under two hours. But traffic pushes that up by forty minutes or an hour, at times--no one's idea of a nice day trip, much less a commute. But what if you could hop on a train that would get you there in thirty minutes? No security lines at the airport, no flight delays: just thirty minutes at a blazing 220 miles per hour, traveling in science fiction-esque comfort aboard a completely solar-powered train.

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A British Solar Example

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, May 12 2009 under: international solar, Solar Homes

The United Kingdom may be notorious for its seemingly perpetual rain and fog, but, as this Guardian profile shows, a British residential solar panel installation that will potentially pay itself back before Prince Charles ascends to the crown is indeed feasible. The author, Ashley Seager, documents in detail the various costs associated with the installation and the financial incentives provided by the British government, concluding that he will receive a payback period of ten years. After installing the Kyocera 3kW photovoltaic system on his terraced Victorian roof two years ago, Seager estimates that the system is currently supplying 90 percent of the electricity used in his four-person household. I’ve included his number-crunching below, though I’d recommend perusing the entire article, if only for an interesting point of comparison. (And, last time I checked, the exchange rate was roughly $1.51 on the pound.)

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APS pilot program may offer free solar panels

We all know there's no such thing as a free lunch. But if Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) gets its way, there may be such a thing as free solar panels. Arizona's largest electricity utility is working on plans to offer 200 Flagstaff customers a discounted electric rate, over time, in exchange for installing free photovoltaic (PV) panels on their roofs.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-08

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, May 8 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Country's first solar air conditioner installed

In Florida, where air conditioning is considered more of a human right than a luxury, what is apparently the country's very first solar-powered central AC unit has been installed. With a price tag of about twice that of a standard unit, this Sedna Air system uses the sun to superheat its environmentally-friendly fluid. This means the compressor doesn't have to do anything but pump. And that means the unit saves mongo electricity. Usually, the compressor literally compresses the refrigerant fluid to produce heat, changing it from a cool low-pressure gas to a hot high-pressure gas that flows through the condenser to become liquid. That cooled liquid then absorbs heat from the building and changes back to gas and cycles into the compressor again. (Now you know enough about air conditioners to bore your friends at parties--congratulations!)

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Solar: Low cost solutions

Interested in harnessing the power of the sun but not quite ready to make a big investment in solar panels? Here are three affordable solar-powered solutions for your home, each of which saves money, hassle, or both.

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Small business success: Dunkin' gets solar

Posted by Margaret Collins In Wednesday, May 6 2009 under: Massachusetts Solar, Commercial Solar, small business

When you live in New England, and the Boston area in particular, you come to love Dunkin' Donuts for a number of reasons. The way ordering your coffee "regular" gets you cream and sugar; the fact that when espresso drinks came on board, it was with 100% fair-trade espresso beans; the way you can walk 100 yards in any direction and bump into one (seriously, my home town has a Dunkin for every 4000 people). And now, we can love the fact that three local franchises are going green.

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Foreign Manufacturers Pin Hopes on US Solar Sector, Despite the Recession

Posted by Connie Zheng In Tuesday, May 5 2009 under: international solar

Stumbling stock markets and all that pesky "recession" talk notwithstanding, a number of overseas solar power manufacturers have either begun to or are contemplating setting up shop in the United States. This terrific International Herald Tribune article humorously profiles the recent push German manufacturer SolarWorld AG has taken into Oregon, where it has invested $500 million to build a factory that currently produces enough solar cells to fit 1,700 solar panels a day. The company’s presence has been well-received in its neighboring community of Hillsboro, as well as Oregon itself, which, as the author of the article notes, has an unemployment rate second only to Michigan’s. Yet Boris Klebensberger, the head of SolarWorld’s American branch, is upbeat.

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More on Texas solar rebates

Texas -- which already leads the country in wind generation -- is jockeying to become a leader in solar power, too. As Margaret outlined last week, the Texas Senate passed a bill that would increase the subsidies available for solar installations across the state. The bill, which has been forwarded to the House for approval, proposes $500 million in solar incentives and would include rebates, which would be initially set as follows:

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2009-05-01

Posted by GetSolar Staff In Friday, May 1 2009 under:, Solar Power Info, Twitter, tweets
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Get to Know an Installer: Sustainable Energy Solutions

This is the first installment of our new Web series, "Get to Know an Installer." We’re going to introduce you to the people who really make the solar industry tick. We also hope to show you how, exactly, our partner installers work with customers to help them meet their energy goals. So without further ado, here's a profile of Paul Fleury and Greg White, two hard-working guys who are trying to bring affordable sustainable energy to greater Charleston, South Carolina.

Spend about a minute on the phone with Paul Fleury, and you'll realize you're speaking with someone who loves what he does for a living. The affable Maryland native left his previous job in the automobile industry to co-found Sustainable Energy Solutions, a Charleston, South Carolina-based company that specializes in installing solar thermal systems. Now Fleury and his partner, Greg White, spend their days helping homeowners understand the benefits of using the sun to heat their domestic water.

When asked what they enjoy most about their new jobs, Fleury chuckled. "No longer having a boss." He then went on, " We enjoy contributing to the community in a way that really helps people. We're trying to help move Charleston forward to becoming a sustainable city. We want people to know that they can reduce their energy use and save money without giving up their lifestyle."

Fleury and White, who both attended the University of Georgia, met in 2004, several years after they graduated. In the interim, White had gained considerable experience with structural wiring and smart monitors for residential applications.

On site in Charleston, South Carolina

Following some preliminary conversations, the two decided to get serious about starting their own company. They spent four months putting together a business plan. The decision to install solar thermal systems was "a natural choice," according to Fleury. He noted that such systems are relatively affordable compared to solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, and offer a solid return on investment. "We saw solar thermal as one of the best ways to help homeowners save money and energy, right off the bat," Fleury noted.

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