April 30th, 2013
With over 250 megawatts producing enough power for about 31,000 homes, Arizona has installed more rooftop solar than almost any other state. Residents of this sunny state see solar power as a no-brainer. They’re reducing their utility bills and investing in a competitive local solar industry in one fell swoop.
But not everyone is happy with so many Arizonans going solar. The state’s largest utility, Arizona Public Service (APS), is currently working to slow down rooftop solar growth by rolling back its net metering policy. » Read the rest of this entry «
December 17th, 2012
Did you read this article in Bloomberg about how rooftop solar is costing California ratepayers BILLIONS!!!!??? Then you should know it’s largely horsemalarkey.
What the article doesn’t say is how the utilities arrive at their figures–but based on previous assertions, we think it’s safe to assume the approach is grievously flawed. Let’s take a look behind utilities’ net metering ‘math’:
» Read the rest of this entry «
September 12th, 2012
This morning Vote Solar and our partners at SEIA released a report on the top corporate users of solar power in the U.S. The standings might surprise you . . .
The Top 20 in terms of the amount of on-site solar installed are: Walmart, Costco, Kohl’s Department Stores, IKEA, Macy’s, McGraw-Hill, Johnson & Johnson, Staples, Inc., Campbell’s Soup, Walgreens, Bed, Bath & Beyond, Toys ‘R’ Us, General Motors, FedEx, White Rose Foods, Dow Jones, Snyder’s of Hanover, ProLogis, Hartz Mountain Industries, and Crayola. See the full report at www.seia.org/SolarTop20
What do all of these major businesses have in common? They know a good deal when they see one, and so they are all going solar in a big way across the U.S. Solar energy is being deployed on a massive scale by the most iconic brands and best-managed companies in the U.S. in order to help lower operating costs and increase profits.
» Read the rest of this entry «
August 17th, 2012
California Senate Bill 843, sponsored by Senator Wolk, passed out of the Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday, August 16, bringing thousands of California energy customers closer to being able to go solar! SB 843 would allow customers to invest in solar even if they don’t have a roof of their own to put it on. Customers could subscribe to a shared solar facility, and receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the clean energy produced. SB 843 would be especially effective for giving thousands of businesses, non-profits, and public facilities the ability to go solar for the first time.
We’re working with Senator Wolk’s office and a broad coalition of supporters to make sure the final version of the bill is one that will work for residential and small commercial customers.
The next step is a vote on the Assembly floor, then the Senate floor, then to Governor Brown’s desk! But it will take your help to get there. If you live in CA, tell your representative to vote YES on SB 843!
March 27th, 2012
State Pledges Long Term Commitment to Solar
In the two weeks following the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s March 2 approval of the first stages of the state’s new Residential Solar Investment Program, homeowners have submitted applications for about 425kW of new PV. According to the Connecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA), 66 applications had been received as of March 15, and 57% of the $1.25 million budget allocated for the first step of the incentive program had been reserved. CEFIA has allocated another $5 million for Step 2. In other words, Connecticut homeowners think solar is hot stuff! » Read the rest of this entry «
March 24th, 2011
Nevada lawmakers are considering significantly increasing the amount of rooftop solar energy systems on the state’s homes and businesses – a move that would empower energy consumers to go solar and provide local economic opportunity in one fell swoop.
Nevada already has a strong track record of developing large-scale solar power plants. Utility-scale projects like Nevada Solar One have helped make the state top in the nation in solar per capita. But the state’s rooftop or “distributed” solar market has not kept pace – largely because the SolarGenerations rebate program for Nevada energy consumers is consistently oversubscribed and underfunded. That means Nevadans aren’t investing in solar as they’d like to and the state is missing out on a significant piece of the solar economic opportunity pie. » Read the rest of this entry «
March 4th, 2010
In partnership with our friends at Environment Colorado, we recently issued “Investing in the Sun,” a new report estimating the jobs and economic benefits that would result from an increased investment in solar in Colorado.
The response? We are going to need a bigger internet to hold it all:
Colorado expected to boost Renewable Energy Standard to 30%, Sustainable Business News, 03/08/10. Key Provisions in HB 1001 are expected to create 23,450 jobs in the state, according to a new report released by Vote Solar and Environment Colorado.
Renewable energy would create jobs, Pueblo Chieftain, 03/03/10. Colorado would create thousands of jobs with legislation requiring large utilities to increase their use of renewable energy, a study released Tuesday by Environment Colorado said. But Republicans are questioning how much the measure would impact the state’s economy, as well as the number of long-term jobs that have been created under previous renewable energy requirements.
Energy standard measure moves, Denver Daily News, 03/03/10. A Democrat-controlled Senate committee yesterday backed a bill that would increase the state’s renewable energy standard to 30 percent by 2020, over cries from Republicans that the measure would raise utility costs for business owners.
Backers of renewable-energy bill foresee 23477 new jobs, Denver Post, 03/03/10. Backers of a plan to require more Colorado energy to come from renewable sources said Tuesday that if their bill continues its progress in the state Senate, it could produce thousands of new jobs at small solar companies. But an analysis that shows 23,477 new short-term and permanent jobs installing, designing and maintaining rooftop solar panels leaves out the number of jobs that could be sacrificed in the coal industry as the state relies less on traditional energy sources.
Whitehead’s bill moves in Senate, The Durango Herald, 03/03/10. Sen. Bruce Whitehead’s renewable energy bill passed its first test in the state Senate on Tuesday. House Bill 1001 would require the state’s largest utilities to get 30 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020. That is triple what the standard was in 2007, when Gov. Bill Ritter took office.
Renewable energy bill passes another hurdle, Summit Daily News, 03/02/10. Colorado is one step closer to increasing requirements for electricity generation from renewable sources, like wind and solar energy.
As state Senate mulls renewable energy bill, report shows jobs potential, The Colorado Independent, 03/02/10. A report released ahead of state Senate debate on a bill that would up Colorado’s renewable energy standard (RES) to 30 percent by 2020 finds that HB 1001 would generate 23,450 new jobs over the next decade.
Study says renewable energy creating jobs in Colo., KRDO/Colorado Springs, 03/02/10. The Senate Local Government and Energy Committee has approved a bill that would require large utility companies to generate nearly one-third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. An environmental group says Colorado has already created thousands of jobs with legislation requiring renewable energy, and the legislation approved Tuesday will add thousands more, but they can’t say how many.
Renewable Energy Bill Could Increase Colorado Jobs By 23,000. Huffington Post, 3/2/10, Environmental advocates supporting a bill in the state Legislature that would require Xcel Energy to get 30 percent of its power from renewable sources released a report Tuesday saying the higher mandate could create 23,000 jobs in the state’s solar industry over the next 10 years.
Colo renewable energy bill passes another hurdle, Summit Daily News, 3/2/10olorado is one step closer to increasing requirements for electricity generation from renewable sources, like wind and solar energy.
In hospital, Ritter overshadows his top legislative priority. KDVR Fox 31, 3/2/10Heading into his fourth and final legislative session, Gov. Bill Ritter decided to make House Bill 1001, a push to increase the state’s Renewable Energy Standard, his signature bill; and, last month, he even testified on its behalf, something he’d only done twice before in his first three years in office.
Study says renewable energy creating jobs in Colo. KJCT ABC 8, 3/2/10. (AP) – The Senate Local Government and Energy Committee has approved a bill that would require large utility companies to generate nearly one-third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020.
State Representative Touts Benefits Of Green Energy Jobs. KRDO ABC, 3/1/10- State Representative Sal Pace (D-House District 46) spoke about green energy jobs in the Steel City Saturday.
Study: Renewable Energy Would Create Jobs In Colo. KMGH ABC 7, 3/2/10- Colorado would create thousands of jobs with legislation requiring large utilities to increase their use of renewable energy, a study released Tuesday by Environment Colorado said.
Study says renewable energy creating jobs in Colo. Vail Daily, 3/2/10- An environmental group says Colorado has created thousands of jobs with legislation requiring renewable energy, but Republicans are questioning the long-term impact on the state’s economy.
Study: Renewable-energy mandate bill could create 23,000 jobs in Colorado. Denver Business Journal, 3/2/10- Environmental advocates supporting a bill in the state Legislature that would require Xcel Energy to get 30 percent of its power from renewable sources released a report Tuesday saying the higher mandate could create 23,000 jobs in the state’s solar industry over the next 10 years.
March 1st, 2010
On Friday, February 26, the solar industry in California took a big leap forward. On the roof of a solar-powered Macy’s in Culver City, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 510, a bill to raise the cap on net metering in California from 2.5% to 5%. Thanks, Governor, and thanks Assemblymember Skinner for carrying the bill over the finish line. It was way harder than any of us thought it would be.
The bill establishes the right for customers to use solar to reduce utility purchases–at least until we get to about 3,000 MW of customer-sided installs statewide, enough to see us through the California Solar Initiative program.
As solar gets cheaper and utility bills get higher, net metering becomes increasingly valuable. Right now, the clearing price for wholesale solar generation in the state seems to be somewhere between 10 and 16 cents/kWh. Most customers’ retail electricity rates are higher than that, meaning that if you have load to serve, your solar generation is much more valuable offsetting utility bills than selling to the utility.
As the state secures a longer-term visibility for the customer-sided rooftop solar market, it is also establishing new programs for wholesale generation. Both the SCE and PG&E DG PV programs are close to launch (500 MW each), and we expect a Proposed Decision out of the Administrative Law Judge overseeing the proposed 1 GW market-based feed-in tariff any day now. This diversity of approach, I believe, makes for a more robust and resilient market.
The event itself was actually a lot of fun. After the signing, the Governor took the 4 signed copies, looked at the 5 advocates on the podium, and handled a potentially awkward situation with grace. Ladies first, he said, handing out copies to Assemblymember Skinner, Sara Birmingham of the Solar Alliance, Julie Blunden of Sunpower, and Bernadette Del Chiaro of Environment California. Bernadette graciously gave me her copy, which is now framed and hanging on the wall behind Rosalind’s desk (the real rainmaker in the campaign).
Celebrating the passage of California's new net metering law.
January 27th, 2010
Since the start of the 2009 legislative session we fought hard to expand the distributed generation (DG) solar market opportunity in Nevada. Today we can officially celebrate a major victory with the announcement that NV Energy, the state’s main utility, will be greatly expanding incentives to bring online more rooftop solar.
A little background. In 2009 we had ambitious plans to add a specific DG solar requirement to the state’s renewable energy goal, which would have brought online almost 200 megawatts (MW) of solar by 2025. Not everyone (ahem, a certain major Nevada utility that shall remain nameless) liked this mandatory policy approach, and what emerged from the legislature was a compromise to expand capacity in the state’s solar rebate program – known as the SolarGenerations program (Click here to read about the legislation that passed).
For the last five months we advocated at the Public Utility Commission (PUCN) to encourage the Commissioners to craft program rules that streamlined, modernized and expanded the program to make it workable for solar contractors, and more accessible to NV Energy’s customers. We are happy to announce that the PUCN voted today 3 to 0 to adopt an expansion plan that incorporates almost all of Vote Solar’s suggestions (listen to the proceeding here). Commissioner Wagner should be commended for her tireless efforts to bring the stakeholders towards consensus on many sticky issues. Also, serious kudos to the Solar Alliance, Hamilton Solar, The City of Reno and Black Rock Solar for their helpful and sustained participation in this arena.
Under the PUCN plan almost 40 MW of solar could be rebated in the next few years – a major increase from the utility’s original plan. Over 23 MW of solar rebates will be available starting in 2010 (see below for more detail on rebate dispersal).
To put this win in perspective, the SolarGenerations program started in 2004, and to date only 3.66 MW have been rebated. To the utility’s credit, the program has been picking up stream, and this last year we saw a major jump in the awarding of solar rebates. However, the program was limited by inflexible annual kilowatt capacity caps and was plagued by a boom and bust ultra-fast application period that filled up each year in less than a day. Vote Solar looks forward to working with NV Energy staff and other stakeholders to help get this newly revamped rebate program up and running by early Spring.
Highlights from the New SolarGenerations Guidelines:
Program Structure and Megawatt Capacity: The regulations turn the program into a 5-step declining rebate program (similar to the California Solar Initiative). Beginning in 2010, 23.42 MWs worth of rebates can be applied for by NV Energy customers. The regulation specifically states that the 10 MWs of un-rebated capacity from previous years shall be additional to the capacity starting in step 1. The other 13.42 MWs is capacity from steps 1 through 3, which will be released in succession at the MW reservation targets are hit. The program is still divided into three categories of projects, each with differing capacity limits: residential and small commercial, schools, and public buildings.
Awarding of Rebates in Step 1-3: Beginning in 2010, Steps 1 through 3 can be reserved on a first-come, first-serve basis until the capacity limits are reached. However, the rebates for steps 2 and 3 will not be paid out to customers until 2011 and 2012 respectively. NV Energy will be required to issue a confirmed rebate notice, which companies should be able to use to secure capitol to complete projects.
Rebate Levels: Residential rebates will begin at $2.30 per watt in step 1, declining by $0.20 cents per step. Schools and Public Buildings start at $5.00 per watt in step 1, declining by $0.10 per step.
Start Date of Revamped Program: The step 1 start date was left to the discretion of NV Energy in their annual plan. However NV Energy stated in the public record that they plan to release rebates in April.
Application Approval: First-come, first served method. NV Energy must approve or deny an application within 30 days. The utility is hoping to start the new program in early April.
Signed Contract: To apply for a rebate a customer must have signed a contract with a solar installer.
Completion Timeline: All categories of projects need be completed within 12 months. However schools and public building will be given an initial 90 day period to submit a “checklist” approved by the Commission documenting progress towards project completion.
System Size Limits: NV Energy shall be able to determine individual system size limits in the annual plan. However at the workshop we came to a verbal agreement with the utility that residential customers could receive rebate for up to 10 kilowatt (kW) systems, while public agencies could receive a rebate for up to a 100 kW system. Systems on school will remain at 50 kW with the ability of a school district to petition for an exemption to rebate up to 100 kW. Small commercial projects will be capped at 30 kW as to not eat up the entire combined residential/small commercial category capacity limit.
Revamped Website: NV Energy is required to keep an updated website to indicate total kWs available in each step and each category, including kWs newly available due to reallocations. This information should be real-time, at the least updated weekly. (We need to make sure that this accurately reflects unspent previous allocation when the website is published!)
Contractor List: NV Energy shall maintain a “best practices” guide for selecting a contractor, at a minimum including the contact information for the Nevada State Contractors board. The utility also will keep a “10 Tips for Making Sure Your Contractor is on the Level” document on the website.
Contractor License: Solar installations must be completed by a contractor with a C-2 license with the appropriate sub classification by the Nevada State Contractors Board pursuant to regulations adopted by the Board.
June 20th, 2008
Really big and important new municipal solar programs:
Vote Solar was founded out of a successful effort to put solar on public buildings in San Francisco, and now the city continues its pioneering ways. After a grueling series of hearings, on June 10th the Board of Supes approved a 10 yr, $3 mil incentive program that will help put upwards of 55 MW on 10,000 roofs. More info here. It’s a big deal, and will help put SF on a path to greater energy independence and fewer carbon emissions. Many thanks to City Assessor Phil Ting, whose solar task force suggested the idea, and Supervisors Dufty, Alioto-Pier, Ammiano, Chu, Elsbernd, Maxwell, Sandoval and Mirkarimi who vetted it and voted it through. Next step: a solar loan program, ala the Berkeley model. Many thanks to Claudia Eyzaguirre for her tireless organizing and helping to rally grassroots on this!
Well…San Francisco held unchallenged title to Nation’s Largest Municipal Solar Program for, well, all of a week. On June 17th, the NY State Legislature passed a bill to provide a 35% property tax abatement for solar installed in New York City, a plan born of Mayor Bloomberg’s PlaNYC. That’s also really big deal-there are a lot of rooftops in Queens and environs.
Which city will be #1? We propose a friendly wager on solar development. What say you, Mayors Newsom and Bloomberg? Care to put up some money and bragging rights on, say, greatest per capita amount of solar installed in your fair cities by 2015?