While the elections were exhilarating and grueling all at the same time, they’re thankfully over (read our election round-up here). While pundits are proclaiming that America can re-focus on important tasks at hand, it turns out that solar never stopped working hard. In this Top Solar Picks edition, we give you a handful of examples of how our nation kept racking on the solar victories.
Solar Incentive Program Approved in Utah
Public Service Commission of Utah approved Rocky Mountain Power’s Solar Incentive Program, which will support 60 Megawatts of new distributed solar PV resources in Utah over the next five years (2013-2017). For comparison, that is 6 times more than the current amount of distributed solar PV installed statewide and will generate the same amount of electricity used by 8,750 average Utah homes. Not only is this program paving the way for a strong, stable solar market and new job growth in the state, this program is uniquely designed to be cost-effective, meaning that it will provide net benefits to Rocky Mountain Power and Utah ratepayers.
New York’s Blueprint for Solar Growth
Governor Cuomo’s office released the New York Energy Highway Blueprint – a plan to modernize the State’s energy infrastructure and propel New York’s clean energy economy through collaborative public-private partnerships. Most important for clean energy supporters, the Blueprint recommends extending the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard well beyond its current expiration date of 2015 and further expanding the NY-Sun Initiative.
Solar Brings Power to Sandy Victims
Greenpeace rolled its Rolling Sunlight solar truck into the storm-ravaged Rockaways in New York. The truck’s 256 square feet of solar panels produce 50 kilowatt hours of electricity a day, enough to power a typical household, said Jesse Coleman, a Greenpeace researcher who is manning the truck. And they’re not the only ones putting solar power to good use after Sandy: Our friends at Solar One were offering passersby a solar powered charge amid the outage. And we heard stories from up and down the storm-hit region of solar powered homes with battery storage solar staying lit amid the darkness. All this goes to show that solar is ready to be a bigger part of the solution.
Southeast’s Largest Solar Power Neighborhood Built In New Orleans
The St. Thomas Housing Project had been a somewhat rundown low-income housing project before Hurricane Katrina hit, known primarily for its high crime rate. But now, the area has become the focus of several government agencies working to revitalize it through sustainable and renewable technologies. The new housing, named River Garden Apartments, is designed as a mixed-income development covering eight blocks and around a square mile. It’s currently the largest solar neighborhood located in the southeastern US, and the largest solar project in Louisiana, because of the 420 kW of photovoltaics installed on the roofs.
Solar Provides New Jersey, Pennsylvania Locals Bang For Their Buck
One of solar’s many benefits is that it can deliver power when and where it’s needed most. At scale, that means solar reduces the need for expensive peak power generation, decreases electricity losses in transmission and distribution systems, and lessens the strain on the grid – good cost-saving measures for all ratepayers, not just those who have gone solar. A new report conducted by Clean Power Research notes that in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, that adds up to a 26 and 32 cents per kilowatt-hour in value for more local solar on the grid. “This indicates that electric ratepayers in the region are getting more than a two-to-one return on their investment in solar energy,” said Dennis Wilson, President of MSEIA.
World’s Largest Community Solar Project Now Online
A 5 megawatt (MW) solar PV farm in the UK has become the first cooperatively owned project in the country – and the largest community solar farm in the world. The 30-acre solar park serves 1500 households and next door are wind turbines also owned by a community cooperative. Community solar projects are capturing interest in the US as well. Even though a state-wide effort in California to support the model was squelched in early September, it is likely that the issue will be re-introduced next year and examples of community solar financing models can be found in New Mexico and Massachusetts.
Crowdfunding Helping California Churches To Go Solar
Churches in the United States are non-profit. Therefore, they aren’t eligible for investment tax credits (no federal funding is available to them), and this complicates the process of funding solar panels on their properties. So, some California churches have decided to use an unusual approach, crowdfunding. In this case, crowdfunding the acquisition of small contributions from members of the congregation to the pool of money which will be used to purchase the solar system.
WattPeople App Makes EVs Cleaner While Saving You A Bundle
WattPeople recently introduced an interactive web application that helps people assess the wisdom of bundling a solar power system and an electric vehicle (EV) together. Although EVs produce far less tailpipe emissions than a combustion engine car, EVs need electricity to charge their batteries, and that electricity still comes from decidedly un-green sources: coal, gas, and nuclear. In order to really claim zero emissions, EVs have to take their power from renewable sources. The WattPeople web application attempts to make it easier for people to save money while also virtually eliminating their grid power consumption. The easy to use calculator sums up a consumer’s total energy usage taking into account a consumer’s electricity bill, average cost of gasoline, and number of miles driven per year. WattPeople then allows users to select the electric vehicle of their choice to see when the SolarEV Bundle concept makes sense.
Going Solar? There’s an app for that.
Most of us like the idea of saving money on electricity by using solar energy, but few of us realize just how easy it is to find out if solar energy is a good idea at our particular homes. Even though we don’t have any of the equipment an installer would use to find out the energy savings, most of us have smart phones in our pockets fully equipped to do the job. This new list provides apps that can help you figure out energy output, play around with the optimal angles of your panels and determine your cost savings. Not every app does all of these things, but these are the main functions available.
Solar power saves school music programs
A budget-constrained school district in California’s San Joaquin Valley has resuscitated its music ed classes–shuttered since 2009 for lack of funds–with savings from the solar it’s installed on three of its five schools. The Firebaugh-Las Deltas Unified School District is expected to save more than $900,000 in the systems’ first five years of operation, and several million over the life of the system. A+ for them!
World’s 1st Solar Powered Soccer Ball Could Help the Blind Play Soccer
Greendix, the company that makes these nifty leaf-shaped solar panels has captured our attention yet again with something even cooler – the world’s first solar powered soccer ball! the company is developing the ball with motion-sensing technology in hopes that it will allow visually impaired people to play with it! According to GreenMuze, the solar powered ball’s panels power built-in motion sensors and an audio device which could potentially enable visually impaired people to play soccer/football – each time the prototype is kicked, it emits a tracking sound.