Back to top Jump to featured resources

Viewing all Articles Page 142 of 272

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 31, 2011

Distributed Solar: Cleaner and Smarter than Oil

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/distributed-solar-cleaner-and-smarter-oil/

A delightful infographic from 1BOG, residential solar aggregators who are driving down the cost of solar PV across America. 

They also note that the cleanup cost for the oil spill – $32 billion – would buy enough solar to power all of Los Angeles county for 30 years, for less than 15 percent of what Los Angeleos are expected to pay through 2040.

Continue reading

Private Sector Union Density back to 1900-source
Article filed under The Public Good | Written by David Morris | 1 Comment | Updated on Mar 31, 2011

When Unions Are Strong, Americans Enjoy the Fruits of Their Labor

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/when-unions-are-strong-americans-enjoy-the-fruits-of-their-labor/

The only effective answer to organized greed is organized labor. Thomas Donohue, Former President AFL-CIO In the early 1980s Ricardo Levins Morales, an artist and labor activist in Minneapolis designed a bumper sticker with a simple eight-word message,  “From the people who brought you the weekend. “ Since then, he’s sold tens of thousands.  In… Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 30, 2011

Cash Incentives for Renewables Cost Half as Much as Tax Credits

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/cash-incentives-renewables-cost-half-much-tax-credits/

Using the tax code to support wind and solar power significantly increases their cost.  I wrote about this problem last year because project developers were selling their federal tax credits to third parties at 50 to 70 cents on the dollar.

Along these lines, the Bipartisan Policy Center released a study [last week] showing that simply handing cash to clean energy developers is twice — yes, twice — as effective as supporting them through tax credits. [emphasis added]

The problem is that all but the largest renewable energy developers or buyers can’t capture the full value of the federal tax credits.  So, prior to the economic collapse, a number of enterprising investment banks (and others) started buying up tax credits to reduce their tax bills. 

This was great for big banks, but lousy for taxpayers and electric ratepayers.  In fact, using tax credits instead of cash grants for wind and solar projects increased the cost per kilowatt-hour produced by 18 and 27 percent, respectively.  (Wait, why not 50 percent?  Because even though the tax credit is only half as good as cash, the cash payment only covers up to 30 percent of a wind or solar project’s costs.  So cash in lieu of tax credits can only improve that portion of a project’s finances.)

Seen another way, if the $4 billion spent on renewable tax incentives in 2007 had been given as cash instead, it could have leveraged 3,400 MW of additional wind power and 52 MW of additional solar power.  This would have increased incremental installed wind capacity in 2007 by 64%, and installed solar capacity by 25%. 

The increased costs come from higher prices that utilities pay for wind and solar power (and pass on to consumers) as well as the the cost to taxpayers of passing half of the tax credit value to investment bank shareholders instead of wind and solar projects.

The problem isn’t solved, but has simply been postponed.

When the economy tanked, so did profits (and tax liability) for big banks.  Wind and solar producers had no one to buy their tax credits and the entire industry was in danger of collapsing.  The adjacent chart illustrates the idiocy of relying on the tax code for energy policy.

Congress stepped in with a temporary fix, allowing project developers to receive a cash grant in lieu of the tax credit.  The temporary cash grant (currently extended through 2011) kept the wind and solar industry running during the recession and has saved taxpayers and ratepayers billions of dollars. 

It’s also helped level the playing field, allowing for local ownership of wind and solar projects, rather than requiring complex tax equity partnerships.  It’s meant more revenue from wind and solar staying in the local community.  And this means a larger, stronger constituency for renewable energy.

The cash grant option will expire at the end of 2011, but hopefully the climate hawks and fiscal hawks in Congress will take note: we can support wind and solar at half the price with smarter policy.

Hat tip to David Roberts at Grist for the study link.

Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 28, 2011

Grid on Hawaiian Island of Oahu Can Handle 25% Wind and Solar

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/grid-hawaiian-island-oahu-can-handle-25-wind-and-solar/

A new study released in February adds evidence that utility grids can handle high levels of renewable energy penetration.  The latest study examined adding 500 MW of wind to the electric grid on the Hawaiian island of Oahu (home to Honolulu).  The result would be a grid with 25% of the energy coming from wind and solar power.

Results of this study suggest that 400 MW of off-island wind energy and 100 MW of on-island wind energy can be integrated into the Oahu electrical system while maintaining system reliability. Integrating this wind energy, along with 100 MW of solar PV, will eliminate the need to burn approximately 2.8 million barrels of low sulfur fuel oil and 132,000 tons of coal each year. The combined supply from the wind and solar PV plants will comprise just over 25% of Oahu’s projected electricity demand. [emphasis added]

By its nature, the wind and solar power will be largely distributed generation, although much of the wind power reaching Oahu would arrive via undersea transmission.  Regardless, it’s a promising opportunity for Hawaiian energy self-reliance.

Continue reading

current-solar-permit-costs
Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 28, 2011

Colorado Solar Permitting Fees May Fall With New Legislation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/colorado-solar-permitting-fees-may-fall-new-legislation/

A few weeks ago we posted on the adverse impact of solar permitting fees on residential and other small-scale distributed solar PV projects.  Vote solar provides an update and progress in Colorado:

Vote Solar recently teamed up with COSEIA to collect and evaluate the current state of [solar] permitting in 34 local jurisdictions throughout the state.  Survey says? In practice, solar permitting requirements vary widely from one jurisdiction to the next due to different permitting plan review processes and other extraneous fees. This has resulted in piecemeal local permitting practices that are often costly, complex, non-transparent and time-intensive. The process is arduous for solar installers and increases costs to consumers. Among the 34 cities and counties surveyed, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs, and Denver are doing permits on the fast and cheap. On the slower, more expensive end are Arapahoe County, Aurora and Commerce City…

The findings reinforce the need for Colorado’s juridications to adopt standardized, streamlined solar permitting practices. The Colorado Fair Permit Act (HB 11-1199) has passed out of the House on a 64-1 vote and now moves on to the Senate. Stay tuned!

Solar permitting remains a looming cost barrier to distributed solar, so it’s great to see that Vote Solar’s Project:Permit is gaining traction.

Continue reading

ilsr-logo-blue
Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

Community Broadband, A Level Playing Field?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/community-broadband-a-level-playing-field/

Communities pursuing their own broadband network are met with accusations from massive incumbent telephone and cable companies saying that it is not fair for local governments to compete against the private sector. Continue reading

logo-free-utopia-blog
Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

iProvo for Dummies

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/iprovo-for-dummies/

Jesse Harris, of the Free UTOPIA blog, gave a presentation explaining broadband network concepts and definitions without technical jargon. Continue reading