Top Solar Picks, Nov 21st: Thanksgiving Issue

What are you thankful for? This edition, Vote Solar shares recent solar stories that we’re thankful for. At the top of our list is giving thanks to all the folks in the solar community – the entrepreneurs, the installers, the adopters, the sales teams, the advocates, and solar supporters of all kinds – who have transformed the American energy landscape and made solar really shine. We encourage you to share what you’re thankful for too and post it on our Facebook wall. Happy Thanksgiving!


infographicSolar: Power Shifted
It’s been a wild five years for U.S. solar power. Record growth. Incredible price declines. A backdrop of economic recession. Intense global competition. Messy election politics. The growing pains of any maturing industry. Through it all, solar innovators and entrepreneurs in all 50 states kept making big inroads into one of the most entrenched industries around: energy. This infographic is a reminder of just how far we’ve come in such a short time. Click it. Save it. Share it. Post it. And now let’s get back to work because there is so much farther we can go….


coalThe Jobs Project: Unemployed Coal Miners Install Solar Panels In West Virginia
A group in Morgantown, WV devoted to creating alternative energy jobs in Central Appalachia is building a first for West Virginia’s southern coalfields region this week – a set of rooftop solar panels, assembled by unemployed and underemployed coal miners and contractors.


vetVeterans find jobs, and new mission, in solar
When military veterans search for jobs, they often want more than a paycheck. Many say they look for rewarding work and a team of dedicated people focused on a common mission. With the war in Iraq officially over and the American presence in Afghanistan winding down, many veterans are finding new careers and that strong sense of purpose in the growing cleantech economy. The support of clean energy is directly tied to saving lives, says Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, who has pointed out that for every 50 convoys of gasoline brought into a war zone, a Marine is killed or wounded. Companies hiring vets include BrightSource, Tesla Motors, First Solar, SunPower, SolarCity, and GridAlternatives. The latter organization has partnered with veteran groups across CA and CO, including Swords to Plowshares and Veterans Green Jobs, to help unemployed vets get experience to find jobs in the solar industry, while providing affordable power to homeowners in need, many of them veterans.


Solar + jobs = BFFs
Did you know solar creates more jobs per megawatt than any other energy resource? According to the latest census from The Solar Foundation, solar job growth continues to be a particularly bright spot in our recovering economy with 119,000 workers across all 50 states, up an impressive 13.2% since last year. The report also showed that the majority of American solar jobs and job growth are in sectors like installation, sales, distribution, R&D and finance. This is in line with expectations as the majority of overall solar job creation occurs in these downstream areas of the supply chain. More good news for domestic employment: as a general rule, these downstream jobs are also inherently local to the markets they serve.


h4hSolar Panels On Habitat For Humanity Homes In California
Solar isn’t just for the rich, and it doesn’t only belong on skyscrapers and McMansions, but also on homes for families who qualify for Habitat for Humanity. PG&E has donated about $1.7 million in the form of solar panels for 64 Habitat homes in the Bay Area. The solar paneled homes generate about 300 kilowatt hours a month and cause a yearly reduction in utility bills of about $500.


sandyDeploying Solar in Hurricane Sandy’s Harrowing Aftermath
Even two weeks later, the air quality in the hardest hit areas of New York City is still extremely poor. It is in this bleak context that The Solar Sandy Project was conceived to deploy five solar generating units (equipped with battery storage) as quickly as possible. These solar generators can provide power for warmth, cooking, electronics charging, and whatever else people need. And they do all this without burning gas that (a) might be better put to use in cars right now, and (b) would preferably not be burned anyway. Click the link to see how you can help or request a generator.


teslaTesla S Named Motor Trend’s Car of the Year
Motor Trend has announced that the made-in-California, Tesla Model S luxury cruiser is their pick for the 2013 car of the year. This is the first time an electric vehicle has won the distinction. This selection is momentous not just for Tesla but for the future of electric cars.


Preparing For “Cheaper Than Grid” Solar Electricity
It started with off-grid locations, places where electricity was either carried in or generated on-site. Then it beat expensive diesel generators. In 2010, unsubsidized solar electricity could best on-grid retail electricity prices of major utilities in Hawaii. In the next decade, residents in metropolitan areas representing 100 million people will watch the biggest solar barrier yet – economics – fall by the wayside. This short presentation outlines the challenges and solutions from Hawaii.