With has the potential to become one of the nation’s fastest spreading local renewable energy programs, the Berkeley city council last night voted unanimously to use the city’s bonding authority to finance rooftop solar on residential properties. The city will pay the upfront costs and property owners will repay those costs over 20 years through a special assessment on their property tax bills. If a person moves, the solar system will stay at the property and the new owners will assume the remaining years of the assessment.
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The Republicans keep handing the Democrats a winning election issue. And the Democrats keeping refusing to accept the gift. I hope the beginning of the formal election campaign knocks some sense into them.
Thegift is the Republicans’ continued opposition to extending renewable energy incentives. Eight times since the fall of 2007, a Republican-threatened filibuster has thwarted a vote on extending these incentives. They will expire at the end of this year — and with that expiration, many believe the solar and wind industries will come to a grinding halt.
Al Gore’s heroic speech challenging us to make our electrical system 100 percent renewable promised it would simultaneously address three major crises: the weak economy, catastrophic climate change and the dire national security problems inherent in our dependence on imported oil.
He got two out of three right. A crash renewable electricity initiative would provide an immediate boost to our economy and could slow climate change, since electricity accounts for about a third of our overall greenhouse gas emissions.
ILSR vice president, David Morris, responds to Al Gore’s recent speech proposing a 10 year effort to move the United States to a 100% renewable energy electric system to address three major crises: the weak economy, catastrophic climate change and the dire national security problems inherent in our dependence on imported oil. Morris says that Gore got got two out of three right. Continue reading
Can residential rooftop solar compete with new utility-scale concentrating solar electric plants? Only if federal and state incentives are amended to level the playing field. This May 2008 report explores the economics of solar PV and concentrating solar and shows how local ownership is hindered unless government solar incentives change.
Today, cellulosic ethanol can no longer be ignored. Even as the quantity of ethanol from corn increases, the age of corn ethanol is drawing to a close. Few new corn-to-ethanol plants will be built beyond those currently in the ?nancing and construction pipeline. The opportunity to build on the farmer-owned corn-to-ethanol biore?nery model is over. But the opportunity for local ownership is just beginning for cellulosic biofuels. This piece by David Morris was originally published in Ethanol Today magazine. Continue reading
An energy incentive is drifting in the wind Federal tax law discourages individual investment and local ownership of turbines. By John Farrell, originally published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, May 1, 2008 A wind turbine can power up to 600 homes, but 600 homeowners can’t get together to own a wind turbine. Why? Because federal… Continue reading
A wind turbine can power up to 600 homes, but 600 homeowners can’t get together to own a wind turbine. Why? Because federal law makes local ownership virtually impossible. The federal wind-energy incentives — up for renewal this year — discriminate against local ownership and favor absentee ownership. They also severely restrict the number of investors who can finance wind-energy generators.
A debate between advocates of distributed and centralized renewable energy systems is just beginning. It is overdue. Consideration of scale in renewable energy systems has been delayed in part because we first had to bring solar energy in all its forms to market, and in part because the distributed nature of renewable energy resources seemed inexorably to lead to their being harnessed in distributed fashion.