by Rob Wile
6/3/14 — Barclays recently downgraded the entire U.S. electric utilities sector to “underweight” on the threat posed by widespread adoption of solar-storage. These systems allow homeowners to use rooftop solar panels and a battery to cut all but the figurative emergency backup cord to their local electric grid, putting a severe strain on an industry that has been a defacto monopoly.
The firm’s sweeping case focused in large part on debt markets’ apparent ignorance to challenge utilities are facing. We wanted to zero in on the astonishingly simple steps that makes Barclays lays out to make shaking up utilities quite possible.
by Denis Hayes and Scott Denman
(CNN) — 4/22/14 At long last, this Earth Day we celebrate the true dawn of the Solar Age. That sunrise is hastened, here and abroad, by the slow demise of the once-touted “too-cheap-to-meter” Atomic Age of nuclear power.
As utilities find nuclear power less and less cost effective, new solar photovoltaic installations in the United States are springing up. New solar installations in 2013 reached a record 4.2 gigawatts, bringing the total to 10. On average, one gigawatt of solar photovoltaics powers 164,000 U.S. homes. That means power for 1.6 million homes.
Read the whole article: CNN
by David Biello
3/25/14 — Americans have begun to battle over sunshine. In sun-scorched Arizona a regulatory skirmish has broken out over arrays of blue-black silicon panels on rooftops, threatening the local utilities that have ruled electricity generation for a century or more. With some of the best access to sunshine on the planet, Arizona boasts the second-most solar power in the U.S.—more than 1,000 megawatts and counting. The state hosts vast photovoltaic arrays in the desert as well as the nation’s first commercial power plant with the technology to use sunshine at night—by storing daytime heat in molten salts.
Read the whole article: Scientific American
by John Moore
3/17/14 — PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest power transmission grid organization, announced recently that wind and solar power could generate about 30 percent of PJM’s total electricity for its territory covering the Mid-Atlantic region and part of the Midwest by 2026 without “any significant issues.”
That’s engineer-speak for “no big deal.” Even better, we would see more clean power at less cost and with far less pollution than our current mix of coal and natural gas power plants.
PJM’s new renewables integration report, prepared by General Electric, is required reading for anyone who questions the ability of the electric grid to handle large amounts of wind, solar and other renewable energy. GE estimates that about 113,000 megawatts of installed wind and solar power resources (including distributed/generation), could produce about 30 percent of the region’s total energy. That’s enough energy to power 23.5 million homes annually.
Read the whole article: Greentech Media
by Dave Williams
ATLANTA 1/28/14 — Georgia property owners would be able to contract directly with solar energy installers to finance the installation of solar panels under legislation introduced in the General Assembly Tuesday.
The bill would let property owners lease solar panels instead of having to buy them with cash up front, said Georgia Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, the bill’s sponsor.
“We want to make it clear that you can use whatever financing is available to finance your solar panel,” Dudgeon said.
Previous attempts by other lawmakers to grow Georgia’s solar industry by opening the market to third party financing have failed to gain headway in the General Assembly.
Read the whole article: Atlanta Business Chronicle
by John Schwartz
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. 1/25/14 — In conservative politics, solar power is often dismissed as an affectation, part of a liberal agenda to funnel money to “solar cronies” of the Obama administration and further the “global warming hoax.”
So one would not expect to see Barry Goldwater Jr., the very picture of modern conservatism and son of the 1964 Republican nominee for president, arguing passionately on behalf of solar energy customers. But there he was last fall, very publicly opposing a push by Arizona’s biggest utility to charge as much as $100 a month to people who put solar panels on their roofs.
The utilities, backed by conservative business interests, argue that solar users who have lower power bills because of government subsidies are not paying their fair share to maintain the power grid. Mr. Goldwater and other advocates have struck back by calling the proposed fees a “solar tax,” and have pushed their message in ads on Fox News and the Drudge Report.
Similar conflicts are going on in California and Colorado, with many more to come. And as the issue pops up, conservatives are even joining forces with environmental groups. In Georgia, a Tea Party activist and the Sierra Club formed a “Green Tea Coalition.”
Read the whole article: The New York Times
by Grace Wyler
11/21/13 — These days Barry Goldwater, Jr. is on an unlikely crusade. In March, the former California Republican congressman founded Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed, or TUSK, after Arizona’s largest electric utility proposed a hefty new fee on solar customers and a plan to lower net metering rates, which dictate how much electric utilities pay solar customers for excess energy sold back to the grid. “Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice,” Goldwater said in a statement on TUSK’s website. So he cobbled together a ragtag coalition of libertarian-minded conservatives, solar industry advocates, and business groups to wage a colorful guerrilla campaign. In the past few months, TUSK has run ads attacking the electric utility on conservative talk radio and the Drudge Report. They’ve posted clever YouTube videos, including a song parody sung to the tune of “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “They Totally Think We’re Not Smart.”
Read the whole article: New Republic