Yesterday Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm signed the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) law, making Michigan the 24th state to enable cities and counties to provide financing for on-site renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements via the property tax system. But it’s unclear how many municipalities will move ahead given the roadblocks facing residential PACE… Continue reading
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Yesterday we discussed the spread of solar carports in California, highlighting the Milpitas School District’s 14 distributed solar PV arrays. According to a news story, the district anticipates savings of $12 million over 25 years from the projects, which were financed by a power purchase agreement with Chevron Energy Solutions. But would the district have… Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago I was invited to spend a day in Detroit meeting with local entrepreneurs and sharing ideas for spurring small business development. I came away feeling that Detroit has quite a bit to teach the rest of us about how to build a local economy from the ground up. Continue reading
Today, 75 years and 4 months since Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act, a Democratic president is ignoring his wisdom and abandoning his strategy for protecting the program from shifting political winds. If congressional Democrats go along with Obama on this, it could mark the beginning of the end of Social Security as we have known it. Continue reading
With environmental (e.g. desert tortoise) and political (NIMBY) questions raised about centralized renewable energy generation, it’s worth noting that we can generate a lot of power by covering already developed spaces. See California, where solar PV arrays cover parking lots, providing peak power and soothing shade for the shielded vehicles underneath. Not only are these… Continue reading
The seeds of the current Canadian health system were sown in rural Saskatchewan in the early 20th century when small cities with no doctorsbegan to subsidize a physician to come and set up practice. Several communities then joined together to open publicly-funded hospitals.
In the 1930s, a new Canadian political party, whose name reflected its philosophy, the Cooperative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), came to powerin Saskatchewan.
We’ve talked previously about the perversity of using tax credits to incentivize renewable energy production, increasing transaction costs and reducing participation in renewable energy development. But there are other perversities in U.S. state and utility renewable energy policies, especially with upfront rebates and net metering. Let’s start with rebates. Many states and utilities offer upfront… Continue reading
We’ve discussed the unconventional wisdom that economies of scale are limited for wind and solar (and likely other renewable energy technologies). Another piece of evidence comes from a December 2009 report by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI): Solar Photovoltaics: Status, Costs, and Trends. This chart, taken from page 14, illustrates the percent of the… Continue reading
If you like reading about “what we can do better” in community solar policy, check out our report – Community Solar Power: Obstacles and Opportunities – but if you like a very detailed exploration of how the three major models for community solar navigate the ins and outs of existing incentives and regulations, and a primer on how to set up a community solar project, you can’t go wrong with NREL’s Guide to Community Solar.
The world’s most effective clean energy policy – the feed-in tariff – isn’t a government program, but rather reshapes the electricity market to favor renewable energy production. And it increases competition, as well.
An even more appealing outcome of this innovative program is that it has decentralized Germany’s energy market. Whereas four major utilities used to control all of the electricity production in the country, the guaranteed access to the grid and the fixed credit have opened up the electricity market, rapidly decentralizing the country’s energy oligarchy. The shift has been so dramatic that utilities only account for a tenth of the entire renewable electricity market in the country. Instead, it is small businesses, families and farmers that are responsible for producing the vast majority of the clean energy used in the country. This has ensured that the economic benefits of clean energy have been broadly distributed – helping to ensure that more Germans will benefit from the boon and creating even greater support for the industry. [emphasis mine]
Decentralizing renewable energy production means more widely shared economic benefits and more political support for renewable energy.