SOLAR TODAY Blog


>>Palin: Mccain climate actions would be “voluntary”
October 29, 2008, 8:30 pm
Filed under: Policy

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin gave a policy address on energy independence this morning, and laid out a carbon emissions policy for a McCain administration: No new rules or regulations, just some incentives for emitters to change their evil ways.

Joe Romm, writing in his blog Climate Progress, provides context and analysis for the Palin speech.



>>Renewable energy and the economy
October 28, 2008, 4:16 pm
Filed under: Investing

Corporate budgets are tightening, credit is hard to find, and a lot of renewable energy stocks have tanked (along with the rest of the market).  And so, despite the extension of renewable energy tax credits, the future of some energy projects is uncertain.  The New York Times today reports that Google’s renewable energy ambitions hold the promise of big profits — but may meet with some pushback from stockholders. Meanwhile, a report released on Monday by Greenpeace echoes earlier studies by ASES and others to the effect that massive conversion of the energy infrastructure will produce millions of jobs and strong economic growth.

Elsewhere, there are signs that, once funded, it may be easier and faster now to get your project built. NPR noted this morning that as the market for new high-rise condos has cratered, dozens of heavy construction cranes have disappeared from the Miami skyline. If you’re a wind or solar contractor, you ought to be able to schedule a crane faster and cheaper than ever. It should be easier to find construction labor, materials, and all sorts of equipment.



>>Will financial meltdown slow renewables growth?
October 13, 2008, 8:34 pm
Filed under: Investing, Policy

During the recent stock market crash, solar energy stocks fell faster — and recovered more slowly — than the market at large. Over past 30 days, the Dow dropped 30%, while Suntech fell 47%, Trina fell 57%, JA Solar fell 51% and First Solar fell 59%.  This despite passage of the long-sought renewable energy tax credit extensions.

What’s going on here? The San Francisco Chronicle suggests that politicians and financial firms focused on their own survival have little taste for investing in climate change solutions right now. It’s true that some of the biggest backers of renewable energy projects — Lehman Bros. was one — are stressed or gone. Beyond that, the economic meltdown gives added ammunition to fossil-fuel advocates who claim that investment in renewable energy would act as a brake, not an spur, to the economy. But the most important issue is that when banks don’t loan money, homeowners don’t get home improvement loans, installers can’t stock up on components or meet payrolls, and importers can’t send letters of credit.

Clarity may emerge with the new Congress in January. Members of the House of Representatives have already begun shaping the next run at cap-and-trade legislation to limit carbon emissions.



>>NJ approves 350MW deepwater wind farm
October 3, 2008, 8:10 pm
Filed under: Utilities

Press release: (October 3, 2008 – Newark, NJ) – The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJ BPU) today announced that it has chosen Garden State Offshore Energy (GSOE), a joint venture of PSEG Renewable Generation and Deepwater Wind, as the preferred developer of a 350-megawatt wind farm off the coast of New Jersey. As the preferred developer, GSOE will proceed with evaluation of the project’s environmental impacts and wind resources quality as well as begin the permitting process at both the state and federal levels.

GSOE’s proposal calls for 96 wind turbines arranged in a rectangular grid 16 to 20 miles off the coast of Cape May and Atlantic counties (for map showing location in relation to N.J. coast, go to www.gardenstatewind.com). At this distance, the wind farm would be barely visible from shore, addressing one of the major concerns of beach communities. The wind farm could begin generating energy in 2012 with the entire project operational in 2013.

The New Jersey Energy Master Plan (EMP) calls for 20 percent of the state’s New Jersey’s energy to come from renewable sources by 2020, a major portion of which is envisioned to be from offshore wind. This decision marks the state’s ongoing commitment to aggressively encourage the expansion and creation of clean energy solutions to meet the state’s energy needs.


Also see New York Times story.
Continue reading



>>Bailout bill passes House, 263-171
October 3, 2008, 5:30 pm
Filed under: Policy

AP report: Pres. George Bush signed the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act at about 3 p.m. Eastern time.

Press release from the Solar Energy Industries Association:

WASHINGTON – Today, by a vote of 263 to 171, the U.S. House of Representatives passed historic legislation that extends the 30-percent federal investment tax credit for both residential and commercial solar installations for 8 years. This landmark legislation is part of H.R. 1424, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008, designed to address the U.S. financial crisis. It is the most significant federal policy ever enacted for the solar industry. President Bush has vowed to sign the bill into law. The Senate passed the bill on Wednesday night.

“This bill is a major step in our long journey toward energy independence and ensures that solar energy will be a significant part of America’s energy future,” said SEIA president Rhone Resch. “This long-term extension of the solar tax credits will create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing clean, affordable, carbon-free energy to millions of American families, businesses, and communities.”

“On behalf of the 60,000 Americans employed by the solar energy industry, we would like to thank Leaders Reid and McConnell and Senators Baucus, Grassley, Cantwell and Ensign for their dogged support of the solar tax credit extension. In the House we are thankful to Leaders Pelosi, Hoyer, Boehner, and Blunt, and Chairman Rangel, Ranking Republican McCrery and Rep. Camp among many others who have long worked to bring solar energy to the mainstream. These leaders have broken through partisan politics and have provided a bright future for solar energy in the United States,” said Resch.

“By passing this bill, Congress has finally given the solar energy industry ‘policy certainty’ that will attract investment, expand manufacturing and lower the cost of solar energy to consumers,” said Roger Efird, SEIA chairman and president of Suntech America, a leading Chinese solar power manufacturing company. “This will allow companies like mine to move forward with expansion plans to serve the growing U.S. market.”

“This bill puts the sun to work for every American,” added Resch. “And by 2016, we expect solar energy to be the least expensive source of electricity for consumers.”

The solar investment tax credit (ITC) provisions will:

· Extend for 8 years the 30-percent tax credit for both residential and commercial solar installations;

· Eliminate the $2,000 monetary cap for residential solar electric installations, creating a true 30-percent tax credit (effective for property placed in service after December 31, 2008);

· Eliminate the prohibition on utilities from benefiting from the credit;

· Allow Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) filers, both businesses and individuals, to take the credit;

· Authorize $800 million for clean energy bonds for renewable energy generating facilities, including solar.

The solar tax credits were originally enacted in the 2005 and have created unprecedented growth in the U.S. The amount of solar electric capacity installed in 2007 was double that installed in 2006.

“Over the last 2 years, these tax credits have turned the solar industry from a small, cottage industry into an economic engine for America. Electricians, plumbers, roofers and construction workers can now get back to work. These jobs are the backbone of the American economy and the solar industry is creating them at a time when they are needed the most,” said Resch.

According to a new economic study by Navigant Consulting, Inc., the 8-year extension of the ITC will create 440,000 permanent jobs and unleash $325 billion in private investment in the solar industry. This study did not factor in elimination of $2,000 monetary cap on the residential credit, so the actual job creation and investment could be even greater.

“This is a big boost for the residential market in particular, allowing homeowners to contribute to our nation’s energy independence,” said Efird. “It also opens the floodgates for building large, utility-scale solar power projects that need longer timeframes to complete.”

To date, there are 27 such utility-scale solar power projects totaling 5,400 megawatts of power in various stages of development; most were on hold due to uncertainty surrounding the expiring tax credits.

Because solar energy components are manufactured near their markets, this extension will create manufacturing and installation jobs in all 50 states. The states that will enjoy the largest economic boost are California, Florida, Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, and Washington.

Similarly, the economies of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Ohio and the rest of the Great Lakes region will grow significantly as a result of the extension. This area of the country has suffered greatly from a huge decline in jobs in the automotive and traditional manufacturing industries.

According to the same study, more than 28 gigawatts of electricity will be produced from solar energy by 2016 – enough to power more than 7 million homes.

“Success has not come easy. It required a strategic campaign that included dedicated SEIA staff, a committed board, and active membership all focused on one goal. It took seven votes in the House and 10 votes in the Senate, but in the end, Congress came through. This effort has established SEIA as a major energy player on Capitol Hill,” said Resch. “We have a lot of opportunity in front of us and will be back next year to work on critical issues such as transmission infrastructure, renewable electricity standards, and combating global warming.”



>>House to vote on rescue bill Friday
October 3, 2008, 5:02 am
Filed under: Policy

The New York Times reports that on Thursday night House leaders feel they have enough votes lined up to bring the banking rescue bill to a vote on Friday.  They implied there is a comfortable margin of representatives now committed to passing the bill.



>>Pelosi: No vote unless passage certain
October 2, 2008, 8:19 pm
Filed under: Policy

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that she would not bring the banking rescue bill to a vote on Friday unless and until passage is certain.

House leadership is unwilling to risk another failure, which might send financial markets into another sharp spin. U.S. stocks dropped for a second straight day on Thursday, by 1.2%, on uncertainty that the House will approve the Senate’s revised bill. Over and above the potential $700 billion price, tax credit extenders added to sweeten the deal are worth $110 to $200 billion, depending on whose calculations you read.

See the AP story, and reports in the British evening papers: the Reuters report and the Daily Mail.