Eco-Friendly Palo Alto Ups the Ante

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in California

The city council in Palo Alto, California, has adopted new measures aimed at making the community more aggressive than the state as a whole in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting green building. Two days before this year's observance of Earth Day, councilors adopted an energy code ordinance that would make new residential and commercial projects 15 percent more efficient than current state targets, Palo Alto online reported.

Georgia Lawmakers OK Third-Party Solar Leasing

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in Georgia

In Georgia, lawmakers have approved a bill that for the first time will allow homeowners and businesses to lease photovoltaic (PV) systems rather than forcing them to buy the systems outright, according to published reports. The Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act is designed to lower financial barriers that prevent some homeowners from adding solar, the website UtilityDive reports.

Analysis Sees Little Benefit in Off-Grid Economics

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in grid-tied

Despite falling prices for photovoltaic (PV) panels and cheaper and the prospect of more efficient battery storage on the horizon, it usually makes more sense to stay connected to the grid than to cut ties completely, a new report published in the journal Energy Policy says. The authors, Rajab Khalilpour and Anthony Vassallo of the University of Sydney in Australia, write that in most cases a better choice than leaving the grid entirely is to minimize the amount of purchased electricity by installing "an optimized size" PV / battery system.

Leased Solar Panels May Complicate Home Sales

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Leased photovoltaic (PV) systems that come with long-term contracts are proving to be a problem for some homeowners when they try to sell their homes, in some cases killing deals when potential buyers get cold feet, a report in the Los Angeles Times says. Although the article didn't quantify the problem, it suggested the number of problem real estate transactions is growing as the number of leased PV installations increases.

Solar Prices Drop in 2014

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Last year was a good one for the photovoltaic (PV) industry and it customers. Prices continued to fall, and the amount of installed capacity was up. According to the latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association, the cost of a residential PV system dropped to an average of $3.48 per installed watt, a drop of 9 percent from the previous year's average of $3.83.

Can Solar Electricity Trump a Ductless Minisplit?

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in ductless minisplit

Ven Sonata's query is simple: If the falling cost of installing a photovoltaic (PV) system has killed off the viability of solar hot water systems, as GBA senior editor Martin Holladay believes, does it also represent a threat to the beloved ductless minisplit for heating and cooling?

Indiana Weighs a Bill Allowing New Solar Fees

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in Indiana

State lawmakers in Indiana are considering a bill that could lead to lower net-metering rates for customers who own photovoltaic (PV) systems and wind generators, and allow utilities to charge new fees to cover the cost of grid maintenance. The legislation easily cleared the House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee and was headed for a full House vote later this month. The Senate has yet to act.

More Solar Ahead for Multifamily Buildings

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in California

Officials from California and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development have outlined plans to increase spending on energy efficiency and solar energy for multifamily buildings in the state. In a news release, the White House said that a pilot program in California would tap into a type of financing called Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).

Solar Leasing Looks for a Foothold in the South

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Florida and Georgia are among only a handful of states that prohibit third-party ownership of residential photovoltaic systems, but initiatives are underway in both states that would open the door to solar leases.

House Members Ask for More Scrutiny of Solar Leases

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

More than a dozen members of the House of Representatives have asked two federal agencies to look into claims that solar leases are being oversold to consumers, according to published reports.

Solar Thermal Is Really, Really Dead

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

Back in early 2012, in an article called “Solar Thermal Is Dead,” I announced that “it’s now cheaper to heat water with a photovoltaic array than solar thermal collectors.” Now that almost three years have passed, it’s worth revisiting the topic. In the years since that article was written, the cost to install a photovoltaic (PV) system has dropped significantly. Moreover, I’ve come across monitoring data that allow for a more accurate estimate of the amount of electricity needed to heat water with electric resistance elements or a heat pump.

New Tariffs on Chinese Solar Panels

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in China

The U.S. Commerce Department has imposed new import duties on photovoltaic panels from China and Taiwan, closing a loophole in an earlier ruling and giving U.S. manufacturers a little breathing room.

‘Plug-and-Play’ Solar is Closer to Market

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Although it won't be commercially available for a couple of years, a photovoltaic system under development by a Boston-based research laboratory could be installed by a homeowner and connected to the grid in about a day.

Report Grades States on Energy Policy

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in Freeing the Grid

An annual survey that gauges renewable energy policies around the country shows that in the past year states have generally made it easier for homeowners to produce their own power with small-scale photovoltaic and wind systems. The report, called "Freeing the Grid," grades U.S. states in two key policy areas — net metering and interconnection, which is the procedure customers must follow to connect their renewable energy systems to the grid. The survey is produced by Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.

Solar Electricity Growing More Competitive

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in distributed generation

If the current federal tax credit for solar equipment remains intact, electricity generated by photovoltaic (PV) panels will cost no more than electricity provided by local utilities in 47 U.S. states by 2016, according to a report from Deutsche Bank. Even if the tax credit drops from its current level of 30 percent to 10 percent at the end of 2016, the cost of solar electricity would reach this milestone (called "grid parity") in 36 states, bank analyst Vishal Shah wrote in the October 26 report.

Veterans Will Get Training as Solar Installers

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

Beginning this fall, some veterans who are leaving active military duty will be able to get training at one or more military bases to become solar installers, the White House said. The effort is part of the U.S. Department of Energy's SunShot Instruction Training Network, which hopes to train 50,000 installers of photovoltaic (PV) systems by 2020.

A Fight Ahead For Solar Equipment Tax Credits

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in federal investment tax credit. Solar Energy Industries Association

The president of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is promising to fight for the continuation of a 30 percent federal income tax credit (ITC) for solar equipment beyond its scheduled expiration at the end of 2016. Speaking to the opening session of the Solar Power International trade show in Las Vegas on October 20, SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said the SEIA would lead the "Extend the ITC" campaign to keep the tax credit at its current level.

Big Companies Offer Employees a Solar Bargain

Posted on April 28,2015 by ScottG in photovoltaic

More than 100,000 employees of several large corporations will get the chance to buy or lease photovoltaic (PV) systems for their homes at discount prices, thanks to a group-buying plan hatched by the World Wildlife Fund.

A New Ground-Mounted Solar Array

Posted on April 28,2015 by user-756436 in photovoltaic

I’ve lived in an off-grid house for the past 39 years. Since I make my own electricity, my electricity costs are much higher than those of most Americans. Because of my off-grid lifestyle, I often lack perspective when I try to help people who ask questions about ordinary energy choices. (I’ve had to compensate for my lack of relevant experience by undertaking anthropological studies of my grid-connected neighbors.)

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