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Showing posts with the label PACE

Five Reasons to Let the Wind PTC Expire, And Reinvest in Solar and Efficiency

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The Production Tax Credit (PTC) -- a 2.2 cent per kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit for wind energy corporations -- is set to expire at the end of 2012, and a bevy of corporations and environmental organizations are calling on Congress to renew it immediately.  The tax break costs $1 billion dollars a year, which is much smaller than the subsidies Congress is giving to the fossil fuel industry, but has still drawn opposition from Congress and, of course, the fossil fuel industry.

We should oppose the Wind PTC, but for much different reasons than those put forward by its traditional opponents.  The bottom line is that wind energy does not meet even a modest "green" standard, and we should be putting our money to much more sustainable energy generators.  Our energy choices (mistakes?) so far have ensured that we will feel the effects of climate change for hundreds of years -- rushing to deploy a destructive and subpar "bridge" technology will only cost us more in the long r…

Speak Up for Local Clean Energy

Here is another opportunity to remove barriers to local and democratic clean energy, so get ready to fire off an e-mail to Uncle Sam no later than 26 March.  Instructions below.

What is PACE?
So far, 27 states have approved Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) programs, which allow homeowners to improve energy efficiency or install rooftop solar panels and pay the costs over time through their own property tax assessment.  PACE is similar to other "special assessment" programs that have been used by municipalities for decades to finance public or private property improvements that benefit the community.  Since energy efficiency and distributed generation reduce greenhouse gas emissions, create local jobs,  and are better alternatives than building expensive new power plants and transmission lines that destroy wildlands, PACE is certainly in the public's interest.

Who is Blocking PACE?
Despite Washington's rhetorical support for clean energy, it is a Federal agency th…

A Distracted Washington is Missing an Opportunity

Congress will attempt to grill Solyndra executives today to figure out why the ill-fated company received over 500 millions dollars from the Department of Energy loan guarantee program.  Just yesterday, First Solar Inc announced that it could not receive a DOE loan guarantee for its Topaz solar power project in California, which would destroy over 6 square miles of the Carrizo Plain.  First Solar's stock dropped to record lows as disappointed investors walked away. But First Solar's stock had already been dropping because of worries that the Solyndra scandal and a faulty White House investment strategy would undermine First Solar's other loan guarantees, including one for the Desert Sunlight project near Joshua Tree National Park.  Obama's energy policy has converted our fledgling clean energy sector into a casino, where big rollers can cart off public land and taxpayer money, and losers go bankrupt or watch their stock prices tumble?

The Obama administration chose to …

National Clean Energy Summit Dismissive of Dangers

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Political officials and energy industry executives gathered in Las Vegas today to discuss renewable energy policy at the National Clean Energy Summit (NCES).  Many of the headline speakers at NCES were focused on the country's most vexing issue, jobs, with just a very thin veneer of "green" to make it seem like they were talking about something new. The overall tone of NCES was disappointingly dismissive of the proven dangers of Big Solar and Wind energy, with few voices reminding the attendees that all Big Energy--even solar and wind--exact a toll on the environment.  The reluctance of national leaders to acknowledge the ecological impact that their policy will have on the land is not much different than political candidates denying the science behind climate change.

The NCES website was adorned with an image of a large transmission line pylon, and the image of a towering white turbine occasionally flashed on the screen for streaming video coverage of the conference, a…

Solar Where We Live

A recent article in Sierra Magazine praised the benefits of rooftop solar leasing programs, which allow homeowners to install solar panels with little or no up front costs.  These programs and other policies can revolutionize the way we obtain our energy, and erode the old paradigm of destroying wildlands to power our refrigerators and microwaves. 

As renewable energy expert John Farrell told Sierra Magazine, "[o]ur policy is favoring Big Solar—or Big Anything, really—at the expense of the small stuff." We need to pay more attention to the solution right in front of us.  Parking lots, rooftops, reservoirs, and so on.  Solar panels can make use of these spaces as "distributed generation".

In addition to the solar leasing programs identified in the article, we need policies like feed-in-tariffs and Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).  PACE programs enable homeowners to pay for rooftop solar installations through installments on their local property tax over time. …

Legislation Could Revolutionize Rooftop Solar Financing

A bipartisan bill introduced in Congress this month would enable homeowners across the country to install rooftop solar and pay by installments on their local property tax assessment, also known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE).  The PACE Assessment Protection Act of 2011 (H.R.2599) would cut red tape placed by Federal mortgage lenders (Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac) and free homeowners to take advantage of local PACE programs.  PACE does not involve government subsidies or broad taxes, and at least 27 States have adopted legislation supporting this tool, but are currently held back by the Federal mortgage lenders.

Rooftop solar installations have a positive impact on property values, according to a study by Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory,  and paying for an installation over time through PACE makes such upgrades much more accessible to the public.  One pitfall in the legislation is that it may put rural communities or homeowners in lower economic brackets at a disadvantage.  The bill…

Measuring the Renewable Energy Land Grab

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One thousand square miles.  That's how much public land energy companies want to bulldoze over the next few years in California for massive solar and wind facilities, according to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) list of pending and approved wind testing and solar applications.   That is more than two times the size of Los Angeles, over four times the size of San Francisco, and more than 14 times the size of Washington D.C.  But what would 1,000 square miles of solar and wind projects get us? Will it stop climate change?  Not nearly.  The proposed projects would generate 13.7 gigawatts of energy.   That is less than a quarter of California's total energy generation capacity.  Building fields of glass and metal the size of the cities they are meant to power does not make sense. 

There is a lot of political momentum pushing these massive projects at the expense of investing in distributed generation (such as rooftop solar) which would spare our wildlands for future genera…

Solar Executives Ask for More Taxpayer Land and Money As Protesters Gather

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Protesters gathered this week outside the offices of Oakland-based BrightSource Energy, which is building the 5.6 square mile Ivanpah Solar Energy Generating System on public land and using nearly 1.6 billion dollars in taxpayer-backed financing.  The project is now expected to kill hundreds of adult and juvenile tortoises, according to a revised biological assessment by the Department of Interior, which has temporarily halted the project until the US Fish and Wildlife Service makes a determination on how the project should proceed.  

The protesters outside of BrightSource's corporate offices drew attention to rooftop solar, a much wiser alternative to destructive utility-scale projects that enables homeowners and businesses to invest in their own property and cut utility bills.  Solar energy industry executives, however, are more interested in receiving handouts from Washington for their destructive projects in the desert, and are planning to request even more public land and mon…

Distributed Generation Can Save the Desert

According to an interview of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president Michael Peevey by mydesert.com, the State of California supports distributed solar generation (such as rooftop solar) and is in favor of policy changes that makes it easier for taxpayers and businesses to benefit from distributed generation.  The State's support for distributed generation is critical to the preservation of desert wildlands, since solar installations in our cities and on our rooftops are far more efficient and economical than massive facilities in the middle of the desert.

Clearing the Way for Distributed Generation
According to CPUC president Peevey, he is staunchly in favor of Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), which allows a homeowner to finance a rooftop solar installation over time through their property tax.   Rooftop solar generally increases property values, and cuts down electricity costs over time.   Peevey criticized the Federal Housing Finance Administration…