Thanks to Austin-based Green Mountain Energy, the office building of Girls Scouts of San Jacinto Council (GSSJC) is home to a brand new 10-kW solar array. On September 13th, representatives from both organizations -- including Green Mountain's mascot, "Super Earth" -- were on hand to "flip the ceremonial switch." The solar installation incorporates 56 solar panels and is expected to save the GSSJC about $300,000 over the course of its lifetime. Here's a snippet from the press release:
A new survey of nearly 1,000 voters in Texas revealed what many might have guessed from the Lone Star State's brush with solar incentives earlier this year: Texans want more solar power. 53 percent of those surveyed said they would support incentives for solar even if it meant adding a few dollars on to their monthly electric bills (electric bill surcharges are the favored way to fund solar rebates). And 61% of those surveyed agreed that solar should supply more of the Texas energy portfolio.
Several weeks ago, we relayed news that Texas was to launch a statewide solar incentive program. The state legislature was reviewing a bill that would allocate $500 million in rebates for utility-scale and small-scale rooftop solar installations. Serious cash was on the table. Observers rejoiced when a net-metering bill and the solar incentives passed the Texas Senate. We dreamed of a $2.40/watt rebate for residential solar panel systems, and a rebate of $1.50/watt for commercial systems. Optimism abounded.
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:
Against the backdrop of Washington's furor about climate change legislation this week, Texas made the very welcome decision to jump into the solar game by voting overwhelmingly in favor of funding a state-wide solar rebate. A monthly surcharge on all electric bills ($0.20 individual, $2 small business, $20 corporate) will pave the way for the $500 million initiative. The rebate will pay for up to one-third of residential solar installations out of a dedicated $30 million per year. Another $70 million per year--at least--will go towards commercial projects.
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.
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".
Is it just me, or has there been a lot of recent chatter about state and city governments trying to attract cleantech investment? As outlined by CNET News, the recently passed fiscal stimulus package will extend billions of dollars in grants, tax credits, loans and loan guarantees to the renewable energy sector, including:
Good news from the Lone Star State. Oncor Electric Delivery Company has announced plans to provide cash rebates for Texas residents and businesses who install solar PV systems. Dubbed the “Take a Load Off, TexasSM Solar Photovoltaic Incentive Program,” the initiative will disperse $16 million over four years. As reported by the Dallas Business Journal, Oncor aims to provide