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Solar Energy

Minnesota’s Community Solar Program

Minnesota was one of the first states to enable community solar and became an early leader as its program flourished. The original policy, passed in 2013, established a community solar program bound to the state’s largest investor-owned electric utility, Xcel Energy, and was noteworthy for allowing for unlimited development. A 2023 policy (HF 2310) has expanded the program, while also introducing new rules and limitations. Community solar is still only available to customers of Xcel and will be administered by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Under the new rules, a qualifying community solar garden may have no more than five megawatts of generation capacity, must have at least 25 subscribers per megawatt, and no consumer may subscribe to over 40 percent of a garden’s capacity.

Movement That Built Puerto Rico’s First Community-Owned Microgrid

For two weeks after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in 2017, Lucy’s Pizza was the only restaurant open in the central mountain town of Adjuntas. The town’s 18,000 residents, like those on the rest of the island, were entirely without electricity. “No one has power, you can’t get gas, it’s difficult to make food, so everyone came here to eat,” says owner Gustavo Irizarry. “The line,” he gestured down the block along the town’s central plaza, “endless.” Using a diesel generator, Lucy’s was running at about 75% capacity. The generator was loud, emitted dangerous fumes and wasn’t always reliable.

Bridport Goes Solar

A Transition group is exploring a new way to make it cheaper and easier for residents to install solar panels on their roofs. Sustainable Bridport (the new name for Transition Town Bridport) negotiated a discount from a local PV panel installer – if the group facilitated a number of homes to come forward for solar panels at the same time. Sam Wilberforce said the approach allowed them to smooth the way for individual householders, who may not have time or knowledge to research different options. Yet neighbours often live in similar houses and face similar challenges – looking at a whole area can be more efficient.

All-Electric Community Powered By Solar And Battery Microgrid Launches

Menifee, California - About one-fifth of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. come from fossil fuel residential energy use, like natural gas, oil and coal, which contributes to more frequent and severe weather events. According to the most recent U.S. Energy Information Administration data, from 2013 to 2020, the duration of blackouts caused by extreme weather and other events related to the climate crisis has tripled, reported PR Newswire. This makes the transition to renewable energy all the more important. In a collaboration between the University of California, Irvine, SunPower Corp., Southern California Edison, Schneider Electric and KB Home, a new collection of Energy-Smart Connected Communities — more than 200 homes powered entirely by solar energy — are being built in Menifee, California, and are the first of their kind in the Golden State.

100% Solar-Powered Town Left Virtually Unscathed After Hurricane

Hurricane Ian caused mass destruction to Southwest Florida, taking dozens of lives and leaving millions without power. But in the midst of devastation, a small solar-powered community was left virtually unscathed — despite being just 12 miles northeast of hard-hit Fort Myers. Babcock Ranch is a solar-powered town with roughly 2,000 homes and more than 700,000 solar panels. Homes and businesses in Babcock are built to be energy efficient and weather resistant, many of them constructed with durable insulated panels meant to withstand Florida’s extreme weather. Many residents have additional solar panels and solar battery systems as an extra layer of protection from power outages. If Hurricane Ian was a test of the town’s resiliency, Babcock Ranch passed with flying colors.

National Community Solar Programs Tracker

For decades, rooftop solar has allowed homeowners to generate their own renewable electricity — reducing their dependence on monopoly utilities and lowering their energy bills. However, solar rooftops are not a viable option for many people. What about those who can’t afford one? What about renters? Plus, only a portion of buildings have roofs that are large enough, facing the right direction, and sunny enough for solar. Community solar picks up where traditional rooftop solar fails. Through community solar, individuals subscribe to a portion of a nearby solar garden and get credits on their energy bill for the electricity it produces. This way, people without the financial means for solar on their rooftops and people who don’t own suitable rooftops can still reap the benefits of renewable energy.

As Illinois Coal Jobs Disappear, Some Are Looking To The Sun

Matt Reuscher was laid off a decade ago from Peabody Energy’s Gateway coal mine in Southern Illinois, in the midst of a drought that made the water needed to wash the coal too scarce and caused production to drop, as he remembers it. Reuscher’s grandfather and two uncles had been miners, and his father — a machinist — did much work with the mines. Like many young men in Southern Illinois, it was a natural career choice for Reuscher. Still in his early 20s when he was laid off, Reuscher “spent that summer doing odds and ends, not really finding much of anything I enjoyed doing as much as being underground.” By fall of 2012, he started working installing solar panels for StraightUp Solar, one of very few solar companies operating in the heart of Illinois coal country. He heard about the job through a family friend and figured he’d give it a try since he had a construction background. He immediately loved the work, and he’s become an evangelist for the clean energy shift happening nationwide, if more slowly in Southern Illinois. With colleagues, he fundraised to install solar panels in tiny villages on the Miskito Coast of Nicaragua, and he became a solar electrician and worked on StraightUp Solar installations powering the wastewater treatment center and civic center in Carbondale, Illinois — a town named for coal.

Farmers, Women, Innovators Give Hope For Meeting Climate Challenge

When Leela Devi was married in Tilonia village (Ajmer district of Rajasthan), she had not heard of solar energy. But making use of the existence of solar centre of the Barefoot College (BC) near her new home, she learnt adequate skills within a year to set up rural solar units and assemble solar lanterns. Later as India’s External Affairs Ministry teamed up with BC to start an international program for training women in rural solar energy systems, Leela teamed up with other friends from B.C. to form a team of trainers. A training program has been designed for training women as barefoot solar engineers. When I visited the Tilonia campus (before the training program  was temporarily discontinued due to COVID) , a group of  women ( several of them Grandmas) from Zambia , Chad, Kenya and  other countries was being trained.

Is The California Coalition Fighting Subsidies For Rooftop Solar A Fake Grassroots Group?

In the fight over California’s rooftop solar policy, a coalition that claims to represent low-income, senior and environmental leaders is running ads warning about a cost shift that forces consumers to subsidize solar for people who live in mansions. This message, by Affordable Clean Energy for All, is trying to influence the debate as California regulators consider rules that would sharply reduce the financial benefits of owning rooftop systems. But Affordable Clean Energy for All is not a grassroots movement. It is a public relations campaign sponsored by big utility companies that stand to benefit from policies that hurt rooftop solar. Many of the 100-plus groups that make up the coalition have received charitable donations or other financial support from the utilities.

Rooftop Solar Forms An Alternative To Monopoly Utility Models

Since rooftop solar became possible, electric utilities have struggled to incorporate it into their outdated business model. In recent years, this lag in utility recognition has become increasingly problematic, risking the health, environmental, and financial impacts of over-investment in large fossil fuel power plants. In over 30 states, monopoly utilities submit plans for new power plants to public regulators without adequately considering how customers will serve themselves. However, a new modeling approach from Vote Solar and the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) might finally put distributed solar on the same footing in grid planning as the large power plants that utilities prefer. Our method, first filed in a resource plan in early 2021 for Minnesota-based Xcel Energy, showed that the utility could cost-effectively add nearly 2,000 megawatts more distributed solar than it plans to, saving customers billions of dollars.

Cheaper Solar Power Means Low-income Families Can Also Benefit

Until recently, rooftop solar panels were a clean energy technology that only wealthy Americans could afford. But prices have dropped, thanks mostly to falling costs for hardware, as well as price declines for installation and other “soft” costs. Today hundreds of thousands of middle-class households across the U.S. are turning to solar power. But households with incomes below the median for their areas remain less likely to go solar. These low- and moderate-income households face several roadblocks to solar adoption, including cash constraints, low rates of home ownership and language barriers. Our team of researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory examined how various policies and business models could affect the likelihood of people at all income levels adopting solar.

Solar Accounts For 40% Of U.S. Electric Generating Capacity Additions In 2019, Adds 13.3 GW

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX – Solar accounted for 40% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2019, its highest share ever and more than any other source of electricity, with 13.3 gigawatts (GW) installed. Despite policy challenges and a second year of the Section 201 tariffs, the U.S. solar market grew by 23% from 2018, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2019 Year-in-Review report...

Europe Fails To Keep Up On Solar Power

Once a world leader in the technology and manufacture of solar panels, Europe now lags far behind China and other Asian countries. It faces shortages of supplies and disruption to them, according to the annual PV status report of the European Commission’s Science Hub. The report says the installation rate of panels has to increase “drastically” − more than five times by 2025, and double that again if Europe is to convert to electric cars and fuels like hydrogen.

New Laws Require All New Roofs To Contain Solar Panels Or Green Space

Two laws requiring new property owners to build solar panels or green spaces on their roofs went into effect on Nov. 15 — marking a major step towards Brooklyn’s environmental sustainability, according to local green thumbs. “It’s important and very valuable,” said environmental activist Pete Sikora from the New York Community for Change, a local nonprofit. “It’s a critical step for New York City to meet the Green New Deal goals.” The legislation — which Councilman Rafael Espinal (D-Bedford Stuyvesant) first introduced to the City Council in July of 2018...

Excluding Nuclear, Fossils With Carbon Capture, & Biofuels From The Green New Deal Makes Financial & Climate Sense

The Green New Deal and multiple proposed laws and resolutions in the U.S. House and Senate call for the United States to move entirely from fossil fuels to clean, renewable electricity and/or all energy. A new bill was just introduced by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), calling for the U.S. to produce 100 percent of its electric power from renewables by 2035. Recently, though, some vocal advocates have pushed back, claiming that the only way prices will stay low with large amounts of renewables on the power grid is to use nuclear power, fossil fuels with carbon capture, and biofuels, which they claim are “zero carbon.” Here is why nuclear, fossils with CCS, and biofuels should be excluded.
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