August 24th, 2010
Big solar news from Illinois last week. The Wanxiang America Corporation held a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new $12.5 million, 40,000 sq ft solar module plant in the town of Rockford. It’s yet another example of how product follows policy. Of how manufacturing follows markets. Of how strong solar programs beget new jobs. And of how the race is very much underway to establish new centers of clean energy leadership around the country.
Illinois Governor Quinn attended the ceremony after having signed the state’s ‘solar ramp up’ bill, HB6202, into law that morning. The ramp-up sets Illinois on a clear path to building 750 MW of solar energy by 2016. That kind of commitment to solar is enough to turn the heads of major manufacturers who want assurance that their investment in new factories is going to be located advantageously close to market demand. And even though it’s a relative newcomer to our nation’s solar market, Illinois’ strong solar policies have sent a clear signal to global industry that the state is open for business.
To add frosting to the cake and send Rockford officials into political heaven, Wanxiang solar has also partnered with Chicago-based New Generation Power to start building projects. The two companies have announced plans to build a system of up to 62 MWs near the airport, a project that received $4 million in state ARRA funds. New Generation will construct the first 10 MW in 2011. While manufacturing jobs often get the headlines, about 75 percent of solar’s job creation opportunity actually lies in this kind of project development and installation. Given the state’s new solar requirement, Illinois can expect many more such local job creating projects to come.
Nearly every state we come across would welcome those new green jobs. Policymakers would be wise to take notes from the Illinois solar policy playbook.
Gov. Quinn at the Wanxiang Ribbon Cutting Ceremony, Rockford IL
May 21st, 2009
Posted by Annie Carmichael
Does the sweeping new federal energy plan include provisions to make solar energy, which currently accounts for 1/10th of one percent of our electricity supply, a substantial part of the nation’s energy mix? The accurate answer is nuanced, but the short answer is no.
We just published an article what pending federal energy policies means for solar energy. Read the article online at Renewable Energy World.
April 2nd, 2009
Today is a big day for solar in the Lone Star state with ‘Solar Day: Part Duex’ in full swing in the House of Representatives.
A subcommittee of the Energy Resource Committee is hearing testimony on the dozens of renewable energy bills pending in the House. This hearing follows on the heels of the March 24th Senate version – an all day, all night solar session with the Business and Commerce Committee.
Busy times – and Vote Solar’s doing all we can to help. We armed our Texas coalition partners with analysis of both the economic benefits and the best policy tools for bringing 3,000 MW of distributed generation solar to the state by 2020. We are also supporting legislation to increase to the state’s overall renewable energy goal to 4000 MW by 2020 and policies that provide a fair payment structure for solar system owners that give energy back to the grid. Our friends are probably testifying right now, so if you want to tune it, click here and click on LiveStream 3 to see a live pod-cast.
Also, if you live in Texas, or have Texans friends, make sure to add your name to our petition calling for strong solar policies. We will report back soon, but so far the prospects are looking good!
September 23rd, 2008
Adam Stein, co-founder of TerraPass, predicts that the financial meltdown will cool some of the ardor for carbon legislation, and I agree. But that doesn’t mean that policymakers will throw up their hands. Here are my predictions. One, the framing will shift from making fossil fuels more expensive (e.g. putting a price on carbon, a carbon tax, etc) to making renewables cheaper (e.g. google.org’s motto: RE<C). Two, it’s a great time to be in the efficiency business. And finally, policymakers, especially at a state and local level, will give a hard look at no-cost ways to help. To that point, the Network for New Energy Choices just released an excellent new report, Taking the Red Tape out of Green Power, detailing the ways in which obtuse permitting requirments can frustrate the blooming of a green energy economy. It’s a timely reminder that the path to renewables isn’t just about providing incentives, but also removing roadblocks. Sue Kately of CalSEIA has asked me to note that many of the issues PV faces are also challenges for solar hot water heating, and remedies should be mindful of solar thermal as well. So noted.