Meanwhile, the industry holds its breath to see if a deal can be worked out to avoid a big setback

Posted July 28, 2008

Over the past few years, wind energy has experienced a tremendous, if precariously fragile, boom.

Last year alone, wind-power capacity jumped 21 percent in the United States. Wind is now one of the country’s fastest-growing electricity sources, buoyed by strong consumer demand, mounting concerns about fossil fuels, and—perhaps most notable—vital government support.

Wind turbines churn at Invenergy's Buffalo Mountain windfarm near Oak Ridge, TN.

Wind turbines churn at Invenergy’s Buffalo Mountain windfarm near Oak Ridge, TN.
(Charlie Archambault for USN&WR)

Nearly every American-bred source of energy, from coal to nuclear power, gets some sort of federal push, and wind and solar companies receive theirs in the form of tax credits, which enable them to line up investors and overcome enormous start-up costs. (Hundred-foot blades don’t come cheap.)

The credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year, enjoy almost universal support on Capitol Hill. Politicians of both parties routinely champion them.

And yet because of continued bickering, Congress this year has failed to renew them—with potentially drastic consequences.

The mere prospect of these credits expiring, in fact, has already begun to rattle the renewable-energy industries. Some wind developers are putting projects on hold and, in more extreme cases, laying off workers. “We have four projects right now that are what we call construction ready—we could install them and get them up and running by spring 2009,” says Leon Steinberg, CEO of National Wind, one of the nation’s leading wind-energy developers. “But none of our financial institutions will finance these projects with just the hope that the tax credit will be renewed.”

As a result, Steinberg says, construction on these projects has yet to start. The rationale for waiting is simple: The wind-energy tax credit is good for 10 years and pays developers about 2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of electricity they produce, but it must be available on the date that a project comes online. If a new wind farm starts pumping out electricity in January 2009 but the credits haven’t been renewed yet, it loses out.

The solar industry, which gets a 30 percent credit on new investments, is in the midst of a similar shake-up. Some large-scale developers have tabled projects as they await Congress’s decision, while smaller operations are scrambling to get solar installations up and running by December. “With solar, we can put things in place a little more quickly, so you are seeing a tremendous jump in solar installations right now,” says Gilbert Metcalf, a professor of economics at Tufts University and noted tax policy expert. “It is driving up the cost of solar panels and installations.”

If the credits are not renewed, he warns, the solar market could collapse, and solar-technology firms may have to lay off workers. “It will retard the progress we are making,” he says.

The uncertain future, in turn, is sending ripples through the economy, affecting, in particular, the nation’s nascent “green” manufacturing industry, which has quietly emerged in the tow of the renewable-energy market. In the Midwest and other industrial regions, factories that manufacture turbine parts or solar panels are seeing a slowdown in new orders.

New York officials recently warned that the state could lose 7,000 jobs if the tax credits are allowed to expire, and national estimates put the potential losses above 110,000. In the past, green manufacturing in the United States has been somewhat stifled by volatile levels of government support, and industry observers warn that the trend could worsen—with more green jobs and companies going overseas—if Congress refuses to act.

History hints at the possible long-term damage if the credits expire in December—because it has happened before. In 1999, 2001, and 2003, Congress didn’t renew the tax credits, and in each of the following years, wind-power installations fell dramatically, according to the Department of Energy.

In 2000, there was a 93 percent drop in new wind projects; in 2004, a 74 percent drop. “This is not rocket science,” says Greg Wetstone of the American Wind Energy Association. “When the credit is in place, wind energy and renewable energy has grown dramatically. When the credit has lapsed, the level of wind development has fallen dramatically.”

The solar industry suffered a similarly dramatic bust in the early 1980s, when Congress, looking to cut spending, eliminated the solar tax credits and effectively cut the industry in half.

Today, ironically, there is overwhelming bipartisan support for the incentives—even Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, a conservative Republican and vocal global warming skeptic, is a strong proponent. Few consider the tax credits’ estimated price tag of about $8.2 billion a significant drain on the federal budget, especially in light of the measurably larger incentives awarded to oil and coal. In fact, a recent study by General Electric found that the tax credits more than pay for themselves, because they create jobs and profits, resulting in 2007 in a net gain of $250 million for the federal treasury. Also, the American public is behind them: About 94 percent of Americans support government development of solar energy.

It is tempting to think that all this goodwill would have presaged easy passage. But Congress, despite its pledges of support, has lately ground into something of a stalemate, and on multiple occasions in the past few months it has defeated or blocked bills that would have salvaged the credits.

At the moment, the main obstacle to progress seems to be a philosophical one. House Democrats, led by the so-called Blue Dog Democrats, a group of fiscally minded moderates, have insisted that the cost of the credits be offset by savings elsewhere. Their solution, which would raise taxes on offshore companies, has rankled Senate Republicans, who insist that no offsets are needed in the first place. And so a parliamentary standoff has unfolded. Twice the Senate attempted to attach an amendment to the now recently passed housing relief bill that would have renewed the credits; twice it was stripped out by the House. Meanwhile, a House bill with similar aims was defeated last week by a Senate Republican filibuster.

At a breakfast meeting with reporters on Monday, Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate energy committee, said that passing the tax credits this week is one of the Senate’s top priorities before it adjourns for its August recess.

It remains uncertain how he and his Democratic colleagues intend to reconcile the squabbling over offshore drilling and oil speculation that has tied up most energy legislation this summer.

Industry observers remain optimistic that the credits will get renewed, but they somberly note that each day Congress waits, the greater the financial loss becomes. They add that if Congress were really serious about supporting renewable energy, it would make the credits permanent, just like its support for fossil fuels, which they argue would spur green-collar jobs across the rust belt. But they’ll take what they can get, preferably sooner than later.

Our Perspective:

If Congress really believes there is an energy crisis in the making, they will extend the credit. The states are jumping in and passing provisions to make alternative energy affordable. This along with the Federal tax credits has spurred the growth of the alternative energy market.

If Congress drops the ball or continues to drag its’ heels, we will be right back where we began. We can all look forward to paying higher prices for electricity and face the possibility of rolling brownouts, for our local providers will be unable to meet the growing demand for electricity.

Let us know how you feel? Should you want to know more about solar opportunities email george@hbsadvantage.com

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Another Test for the Shills on the Hill

Do the 535 elected leaders in the United States Congress have what it takes to help America solve its energy and climate crises?

Apparently not. Congress flunked a crucial test on climate change earlier this year when the Senate failed to bring a cap-and-trade bill to a vote. The House hasn’t even brought a bill to the floor.

Another crucial test is scheduled this week on a proposal to extend tax incentives for renewable energy industries. The incentives are critical to the rapid development of wind and solar systems in the United States, technologies that are essential to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Unless Congress votes to extend them, the incentives will expire at the end of the year.

How much science does it take; how many droughts, wildfires and natural disasters; how many energy crises; how many entreaties from world leaders before Congress does the right thing?

For some historical perspective, here’s another question: What do Tim Wirth, Al Gore, Claudine Schneider, Ernest Hollings and Daniel Patrick Moynihan have in common?

The answer: They all are former members of Congress who sponsored legislation on climate change nearly 20 years ago in the 101st session. Yet today, U.S. carbon emissions are higher than ever and still growing rapidly.

To be fair, Congresses over the decades have approved 96 different laws that mention global warming, climate change or greenhouse gases. This week, the Presidential Climate Action Project (PCAP) is releasing a new study that identifies how the next president can use those statutes to act on climate change without waiting for further votes on the Hill.

Current climate statutes span a wide variety of topics in the U.S. Code, including agriculture, commerce, conservation, education, foreign relations, Native Americans, labor, public health, transportation and the Internal Revenue Service. They include provisions addressing coastal zone research, government conservation, federal procurement, R&D, small business loans, electric utility standards, forestry management, air pollution, energy independence, alternative energy resources, building codes, and more.

Many laws that do not mention global warming — for example, some of the country’s landmark energy and environmental statutes — also give the President, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal officials authority to act on climate change. The federal government’s inadequate response can be blamed in part on past and current administrations. A key question for the next President is whether these laws are being fully obeyed.

But this week, the important question is what our elected leaders will do going forward, and that brings us back to renewable energy incentives in federal law.

If you ask an industrialist what public policies are most useful in moving a new technology to commercialization, he or she is likely to give three answers: some type of financial assistance, public and/or private, to help the technology reach market viability; consistent federal policy; and a sufficient sustained market. When a new technology is critical to national security, federal subsidies are both justified and important. That’s the case for emerging energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies in the United States.

But Congress apparently doesn’t understand the concept of continuity. It has been the renewable industries’ runaway bride. Since 1999, it has allowed the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power and Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar power to expire three times. When it has extended the incentives, it has done so for only two or three years at a time — perhaps because it wants energy industries both for and against the credits to keep those campaign contributions coming.

The result has been recurring boom-bust cycles in the wind and solar industries. The American Wind Energy Association estimates that each time the tax incentives have lapsed, investment in wind projects has fallen 70 to 93 percent. As I noted in a letter to the New York Times last February, the fits and starts have led to “under-investment in wind turbine manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and variability in equipment and supply costs,” according to Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The lab estimates that a 10-year extension of the PTC would bring the installed cost of wind power down by up to 15 percent compared with off-again, on-again credits in place today, and would create more local economic development and jobs.

In terms of the overall federal budget and America’s enormous energy industry, the cost of the two tax breaks is chump change — about $1.8 billion each year. But supporters on the Hill have been hung up by the majority party’s pledge to offset each new spending increase with cuts elsewhere — a necessary discipline to bring the federal budget deficit under control.

When the new energy bill moved through Congress last December, renewable energy supporters proposed to pay for the solar and wind tax credits by reducing tax breaks given to the oil industry a few years ago. After all, the oil industry is doing very well and is quite capable of taking care of itself. But the White House threatened a veto and a sufficient number of Members balked, killing the extension.

In February, supporters tried to include the tax credits in the economic stimulus bill. The Senate dropped them. In June, supporters tried again by including extensions of the credits in the Energy and Job Creation Act. A filibuster in the Senate blocked the legislation.

Now, proponents are proposing that the cost of the renewable energy credits be covered by closing a tax loophole that allows hedge fund and investment managers to shield income from U.S. taxes by parking the money overseas. That would seem to be a bullet-proof trade-off, but head-counters say it remains doubtful that the Senate can muster the 60 votes needed to bring the extension to a vote.

Why? Each time the solar and wind tax incentives come up, opponents roll out an old theme: that Democrats want to raise taxes. For example, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky issued a statement Friday complaining that the latest attempt to renew solar and wind incentives “permanently raises taxes on some to extend temporary tax relief for others.” McConnell is correct: Closing a loophole does raise taxes — for tax dodgers. It seems reasonable to argue that helping the solar and wind industries gain a stable foothold in the U.S. economy is more important than helping hedge fund managers evade taxes.

Democrats are in the majority of the Senate and House this session, but they clearly aren’t in control. On party-line issues, they don’t have enough votes to override a presidential veto or even to force a vote on the floor of the Senate.

But surely they can use their bully pulpits better to shape the energy and climate debate underway in Congress right now. They are letting the oil lobby hog center stage with its argument that we can lower gasoline prices with more drilling offshore and in environmentally sensitive areas. Yet the Bush Administration has been issuing oil leases to the industry for years, as quickly as federal agencies can process them. That hasn’t prevented the crisis at the pump today.

Someone has defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If that’s true, then it’s time to send drilling proponents to the funny farm. The dialogue we really need in Congress (dialogue, because it should be beyond debate) is how to create a new economy that works in the 21st Century and that’s fueled by carbon-free, limitless domestic fuels.

I’m a peace-loving guy. I would love to see the members of Congress have a collective epiphany and a big group hug, and start working together with the American people to secure that future.

But if old-think continues ruling on the Hill, it will be time to call on T. Boone Pickens. If he really wants to see wind and solar power take hold in the United States, the best investment he can make is to deploy his swift boats against the oil industry’s shills on the Hill, while giving the presidential and congressional candidates who are serious about America’s energy future as much of his money as the law allows.

To learn more about solar opportunities in the NJ and Phila surrounding area contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com Ask about our free solar proforma.

This week T. Boone Pickens provided an overview of the current energy crisis as he sees it.  Click on the link provided below to watch his presentation. 

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To learn more about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area contact HBS Solar  856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com

07-09-2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                             CONTACT:  

July 9, 2008                                                                                                     Chuck Ardo

                                                                                                                        717-783-1116

 

Michael Smith (DEP)

717-787-1323

 

Governor Signs Special Session House Bill 1; Underscores Importance of Continuing Work to Address Pending Electricity Rate Spikes

 

YORK – At a time when conventional energy prices are at or near record highs, Governor Edward G. Rendell today signed into law a new fund that will save families and small businesses money on their energy bills by supporting investments in energy conservation and efficiency. 

 

As part of the $650 million package, residential consumers and small businesses will be eligible for $92.5 million in loans, grants, reimbursements and rebates to support energy conservation and weatherization projects that can ultimately reduce energy bills. Another $40 million is available to provide financial assistance through the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, and establish an energy efficiency loan fund through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

 

Households and small businesses can also qualify for $100 million to support the installation of solar energy technology. Solar power is a key cost-saving technology that enables homes and businesses to generate their own electricity and sell any excess power back to the grid through net metering.

 

Carnegie Mellon University estimates the technology could help reduce electricity demand by 5 percent during the 100 most expensive hours of the year—typically, times when the sun is most intense and temperatures the highest—which would save Pennsylvania ratepayers $1.9 billion annually. Electricity rates can be 15 to 30 times more during periods when demand is highest.

 

The Governor said these kinds of investments are important today because consumers who now find it difficult to pay for gasoline, diesel fuel, natural gas and heating oil will only face greater financial hardship when the generation rate caps that have held electricity prices in check since the mid-1990s expire, leading to double-digit rate increases.

 

“Families are having to make the difficult decision of whether or not to stay in their homes because they can barely afford to fill up their gas tank or go to the grocery store where higher energy prices have pushed up the price of food,” said Governor Rendell. “Likewise, businesses are questioning whether or not to shut their doors because it costs so much to keep the lights on and the machines running. 

 

“This should concern all of us because the residential consumers and businesses in the five utility service territories where rate caps haven’t expired—PECO, PPL, Allegheny Power, MetEd and Penelec—are facing a $4 billion increase in their electricity rates by 2011,” said the Governor. “At a time when gasoline and diesel fuel are at $4 and $5 per gallon and natural gas has more than doubled since last year, these rate increases will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

 

“We’re putting new resources in place that will help consumers lower their energy use and generate their own power in a cleaner and increasingly more cost-effective manner.”

 

The Governor will also work throughout the summer to reach an agreement with the legislature on measures that will improve what he called the state’s flawed energy policies and protect consumers from the pending electricity rate spikes.

 

“While I’m disappointed we were unable to reach an agreement on key measures related to electricity, specifically on conservation, energy efficiency and requiring service to be provided at the lowest reasonable rate, I’m encouraged by the commitment by all of the parties to get something done this fall. We’ll work throughout the summer to improve Pennsylvania’s energy policy so it works for consumers and protects them from the volatility of the open market and collusion or fraud.

 

“It is a moral imperative that we act promptly to protect consumers from these rate spikes. It has been more than a year and a half since I first unveiled my plan to shield families and businesses from feeling the financial pain that will result from the shortcomings of deregulation.  Too much time has elapsed and our ratepayers are now that much closer to paying billions of dollars in electricity costs,” the Governor said.

 

In addition to supporting energy conservation, efficiency measures, and financial assistance, the Governor outlined new strategic investments made possible under the fund that will spur billions of dollars in new, private economic development projects from alternative energy companies and early stage businesses that will create thousands of jobs in a rapidly growing industry.

 

“Pennsylvania has established itself as leader in developing and deploying clean renewable energy resources,” said the Governor, citing some of the world’s leading businesses that now call Pennsylvania home, like Conergy, Gamesa and Iberdrola. “However, the $1 billion in private investment that has flowed into Pennsylvania and the 3,000 jobs we’ve created in the renewable energy industry only begin to scratch the surface of our potential.

 

“This new investment fund will strategically target new resources to leverage as much as $3.5 billion in private investment and create at least 13,000 new, good-paying jobs in an industry that is sure to be to the 21st century what information technology and biosciences were to the later 20th century.”

 

Included among the new $650 million fund is $500 million that provides:

 

  • $165 million for loans and grants to spur the development of alternative and renewable energy projects (except solar) among businesses and local governments;
  • $100 million to provide loans, grants and rebates that cover up to 35 percent of the costs residential consumers and small businesses incur for installing for solar energy technology;
  • $80 million in grants and loans for economic development projects in the solar sector;
  • $40 million to the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority to support early stage activities, such as incubator support services, translational and early stage research in startup businesses that develop and implement energy efficiency technologies;
  • $25 million for wind energy and geothermal projects;
  • $25 million for green buildings. Homeowners and small businesses will benefit from grants and loans to build energy efficient structures or renovate an existing building to improve its energy efficiency;
  • $40 million ($10 million annually for four years) to support LIHEAP so the commonwealth can help low-income customers manage higher energy prices, severe weather conditions, or disasters; and
  • $25 million for pollution control technology to help energy generators meet state and federal standards.

The law, originally Special Session House Bill 1, will also establish a $150 million consumer energy program for individuals and small businesses that will support projects that conserve energy and use it more efficiently—something that is increasingly important as the costs for electricity, fuels and natural gas continue to increase.

 

The $150 million will be allocated over eight years, with $20 million annually through 2014-15 and another $10 million in 2015-16 that will include:

 

  • $92.5 million so homeowners and small business owners can cover 25 percent of the cost of purchasing and installing energy conservation tools and weatherize their buildings;
  • $50 million in tax credits of up to $1 million a year per project for developing and building alternative energy projects, which will help Pennsylvania companies invest and grow here; and.
  • $5 million to support an Energy Efficiency Loan Fund through the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

 

For more information on the 2008-09 budget, visit www.pa.gov.

 

For more information about solar opportunities in the Phial surrounding area contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com. Ask about our free proforma.

July 23, 2008

Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell has approved a bill that establishes a $500 million fund to support alternative energy projects. Special Session House Bill 1 authorizes the Commonwealth Financing Authority to borrow $500 million, most of which will be split into six funding sources relating to energy efficiency and renewable energy: $80 million in grants and loans for solar energy projects; $100 million in grants, loans, and rebates for up to 35% of the cost of solar energy projects at residences and small businesses; $165 million in grants and loans for alternative energy projects, excluding solar energy, at businesses and local government facilities; $25 million for wind and geothermal energy projects; $40 million to help start-up businesses involved in energy efficiency technologies; and $25 million in grants and loans to improve the energy efficiency of new and existing homes and small business buildings. An additional $65 million will go toward pollution control technologies and to help low-income families pay their energy bills.

The bill defines alternative energy projects as projects that employ alternative fuels; biomass, wind, solar, and geothermal energy sources; waste energy; waste coal; clean coal technologies; and other energy sources included in the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act. It also includes facilities that manufacture products or parts for alternative energy, alternative fuels, energy efficiency, or energy conservation, as well as research and development facilities for alternative energy and alternative fuels. Last but not least, it includes projects “for the development or enhancement of rail transportation systems that deliver alternative fuels or high-efficiency locomotives.” The bill places no time limit on the payout of the various funds, and it pays off the debt by drawing $40 million per year from the state’s general fund for the next 30 years. See the article from the EERE Network News on the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards Act.

In addition to the $500 million fund, the bill creates a Consumer Energy Program that is funded at $15 million for the next 3 fiscal years, then gradually decreases to $8 million by the 2015-2016 fiscal year, for a total of $100 million. Of that, $92.5 million will support loans, grants, and rebates for up to 25% of the cost of energy efficiency improvements to homes and small businesses, while $5 million will support low-interest loans for energy efficiency improvements to homes. An additional $50 million will be available over the next 8 years to support tax credits for 15% of the cost of alternative energy projects, capped at $1 million per year for each project. See the governor’s press release and the full text of the bill (PDF 250 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

Governor Rendell also approved two bills on July 10 that relate to biofuels. House Bill 1202 could add as much as 1 billion gallons of advanced biofuels to the state’s fuel supply. It requires all retail diesel fuel sold in the state to contain 2% biodiesel, once the in-state production of biodiesel reaches 40 million gallons per year, increasing incrementally to a 20% biodiesel requirement, once the in-state production of biodiesel reaches 400 million gallons per year (but only if vehicle manufacturers approve the use of 20% biodiesel). Likewise, all retail gasoline sold in the state must contain 10% ethanol, once the in-state production of cellulosic ethanol reaches 350 million gallons per year. The state already has a biodiesel production capacity of 60 million gallons per year, so the 2% biodiesel requirement could go into effect soon, if production is high enough. To encourage biodiesel production, Special Session Senate Bill 22 will offer a subsidy of 75 cents per gallon of biodiesel produced, capped at $1.9 million per year for each producer. The bill also expands a hybrid vehicle rebate program to include plug-in hybrids and other alternative fuel vehicles. See the governor’s press release and the full text of HB 1202 (PDF 42 KB) and SB 22 (PDF 20 KB).

Our perspective:

PA has joined the solar revolution. With the approval of the above bill funding, rebates and tax credits are now being made available. Contact HBS Solar and ask for a free proforma. Those businesses located in the Phila surrounding area call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com

by The Associated Press

Tuesday June 17, 2008, 3:44 PM

The Atlantic City Convention Center plans to install what it says would be the largest single-building solar energy project in the United States, providing more than a quarter of its daily electrical needs.

Under a 20-year agreement, the center is hiring a private company, Pepco Energy Services of Arlington, Va., to install the solar panels on 290,000 square feet — or about two-thirds — of its main roof.

Pepco will pay to install the panels; the convention center will then buy the electricity they generate from Pepco.

The center says it will save about $4.4 million in electricity costs over the 20-year contract, while also reducing greenhouse gases and helping the environment. It currently spends about $1.4 million a year on electricity.

The project will generate about 2.36 megawatts of energy, or enough to power 280 homes each day. That would make it the largest solar energy project in the country involving a single rooftop, said Monique Hanis, a spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Jeffrey Vasser, executive director of the Atlantic City Convention & Visitors Authority, said the group began planning a solar project a few years ago when Gov. Jon S. Corzine pushed for greater use of sun and wind power in New Jersey.

“We have a great building to do this on, and we wanted to be the first kid on the block to get in on it,” Vasser said.

“This helps a young industry grow into a mature one, helps reduce our dependence on oil, and produces electricity that does not increase carbon emissions into the air,” he said of the multi million-dollar project.

The work is expected to begin within 30 days and be completed by the end of the year. That’s important because it would qualify Pepco for tax incentives for solar projects that are due to expire next year.

Currently, solar energy accounts for only 1 percent of U.S. energy use, the association said.

The convention and visitors authority also is looking into the possibility of building a single wind-powered turbine on land it owns near the center, as well as whether a solar project would work on part of Boardwalk Hall.

 

New Jersey is taking great strides to introduce alternative energy to the mainstream. Since increasing the value of the SREC to $711 per 1000 kw of electrc produced, solar has become the new sexy. For more information about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area contact HBS Solar 857-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com . Ask about our free proforma.

 

(WASHINGTON) — Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens asked Congress on Tuesday to “clear the path” for his plan to boost use of wind and natural gas for U.S. energy needs.

Pickens has been on a $58 million publicity tour to promote his plan to erect wind turbines in the Midwest to generate electricity, replacing the 22 percent of U.S. power produced from natural gas. The freed up natural gas then could be used for transportation.

Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, Pickens said the government should begin building transmission lines for wind-generated power or provide the right of way on private land and extend tax credits so the private sector can build the lines. “If the government wanted to build a grid, I mean, do it,” he said. “But if they don’t want to do it, I think the money is there to do it private, and so it’s kind of like either do it or get out of the way, but give us the corridors to put it in and it’ll be done. You could do this on a very, very fast track if you wanted.”

Pickens suggested that Congress follow the lead of former President Eisenhower, who declared an emergency to build the interstate highway system in the 1950s and 1960s.

Pickens has leased hundreds of thousands of acres for a giant wind farm in West Texas, where he plans to erect 2,700 turbines and produce energy for urban areas such as Dallas and Fort Worth. He has run into some opposition from West Texas landowners who are unhappy with his efforts to obtain rights of way to build the wind farm and a pipeline for a separate water project.

Specifically, Pickens asked Congress to extend a 2005 law intended to speed up the creation of energy corridors, and to give him control over any transmission lines he builds for wind-generated power. All electric transmission lines are now regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Pickens also called for a 10-year extension of a tax credit for energy producers. He estimated it would cost taxpayers $15 billion a year in production tax credits for 200,000 megawatts of wind power. “When you look at $700 billion dollars going out of country every year for purchase of oil, $15 billion is somewhat insignificant,” he said.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., called Pickens’ plan bold and said he hoped Pickens’ testimony would “infect people in a position in Washington to do something about it.”

But the oilman’s plan raised questions with Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, who asked if it would hurt the chemical industry, which relies on natural gas as raw material. He said the industry probably won’t like seeing natural gas costs increase.

Pickens estimated it would cost about $500 billion to increase wind energy production from the 4,000 megawatts to be generated at his Texas wind farm to 200,000 megawatts, the amount needed to power 20 percent of U.S. energy needs. Transmission lines and the tax credit would add another $15 billion.

At that level, he said, “You’re approaching about one year’s supply of oil that you’re buying. But don’t get the idea that replaces that oil, it doesn’t. It will only replace 38 percent.”

In addition to the hearing, Pickens also met privately Tuesday with Democratic and Republican members of Congress as well as Texas senators.

To learn more about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phial area contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com Ask about our free proforma.

 

The state of Florida is soon going to get three new solar power plants. After all, such a request from the Florida Power and Light Company has just been given the go signal by the Florida Public Service Commission just this week, the South Florida Business Journal wrote. In an approximation, such plants would be able to create 110 megawatts and that is sure a huge amount of power. These three new solar power plants would be known as the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center (which would be built in Martin County), the DeSoto Next Generation Solar Energy Center (which would be in DeSoto County), and the Space Coast Next Generation Solar Energy Center (which would be located in the Kennedy Space Center). With these three new plants soon going to rise, the residents of Florida would sure be benefiting a lot from them. If only all states would have solar centers like these.
Perspective:
This is great news! Florida is taking a big step to secure their energy future. In the next 3 to 5 years you are going to be seeing more of these initiatives. NJ has passed an Energy Plan that calls for reducing electric demand by 20% by the year 2020. To do this they have set a goal of having 22.5% of their energy produced by alternative means by the year 2020.
NJ providers, ( PSEG, AC Electric)  are paying SRECs for every 1000 kwh of electricity produced. These SRECs will be paid for 15 years and are designed to cover over 70% of the investment. Most of the proformas we have done show the SRECs covering the entire cost over a 15 year period. Add to this the 30% federal tax credit and the value of the electricity you are producing and you are in a positive cash flow in year 1.
To learn more about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com Ask about our free proforma.

 

PHOTO (select to view enlarged photo)

BORDENTOWN, N.J. – Manheim, the world’s leading provider of vehicle remarketing services and a subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, Inc., headquartered in Atlanta, Ga., today unveiled the installation of solar panels at its Manheim New Jersey facility (formerly National Auto Dealers Exchange). This initiative generates 15 percent of its detail shop’s electricity, reduces overall energy consumption and creates long-term savings for the operation.

The panels cover the usable portion of the shop’s 42,000-square-foot roof and produce 136 megawatt hours annually. This equates to enough energy to power 12 average-size homes and prevent the emissions of 95 tons of greenhouse gases. The panels are maintenance-free and have a life expectancy of more than 20 years.

Manheim’s use of alternative energy is tied to the New Jersey Clean Energy Pilot Program, which supports businesses in selling solar renewable energy credits to local utilities. The photovoltaic solar panels capture the sun’s radiation energy and convert it directly to electricity. The electricity is used to power all electrical devices in the detail shop, including lighting, vacuums and mechanical lifts.

“I’m extremely proud of how Manheim and its employees have embraced our “Go Green” initiatives. Through their efforts, we’ve put in place a variety of long-term conservation programs, including water-based painting, water treatment and recycling and now € alternative energy,” said Manheim president and CEO Dean Eisner. “As a result, we’re able to reduce our reliance on local energy resources while making meaningful differences in our communities.”

“Go Green” supports parent company Cox Enterprises’ Cox Conserves, a national program aimed at further reducing Cox’s total carbon footprint an additional 20 percent by 2017.

“Through our Cox Conserves environmental initiative, Cox Enterprises is proud to have partnered with Manheim New Jersey in one of our first renewable energy generation projects. We also commend the State of New Jersey in helping to provide the financial incentives for us to build this system, through their innovative Clean Energy Pilot Program,” said Mike Mannheimer, vice president, supply chain services and chief procurement officer, Cox Enterprises.

“Our facility takes great pride in being the first Manheim location to install rooftop solar panels on its detail shop,” said Pete Sauber, general manager, Manheim New Jersey. “Our team, partnering with the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, realized immediately the positive impact this effort would have on the environment and the community.”

Pleased with the project’s early successes, Manheim New Jersey plans to install 70,000 square feet of additional panels, a move that will add 580 kilowatts of electrical capacity to the existing 130 kilowatt solar panel system.

Manheim www.manheim.com is the world’s leading provider of vehicle remarketing services. Through its wholesale operating locations and array of technology products, Manheim impacts every stage of a used vehicle’s life cycle, helping commercial sellers and automobile dealers realize the full value of their vehicles.

The company’s operating location services include reconditioning, certification, inspections, dealer financing, transport, title management and marshaling, among others. Manheim is also the leader in vehicle remarketing technology, using its online tools to connect buyers and sellers around the globe to the world’s largest, most comprehensive wholesale marketplace. In 2007, Manheim handled nearly 10 million used vehicles, facilitating transactions representing more than $59 billion in value.

Manheim’s subsidiary companies provide value-added remarketing products and services, including paintless dent removal (Dent Wizard), Auto Body Repair and salvage vehicle remarketing (Total Resources Auctions).

Manheim is a subsidiary of Atlanta-based Cox Enterprises, Inc., one of the nation’s leading media companies and providers of automotive services.

To learn more about solar opportunities in NJ and the Phila area contact HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com  Ask about our free proforma.


July 12, 2007

   

 

(Santa Barbara, Calif.) –– Using plastics to harvest the energy of the sun just got a significant boost in efficiency thanks to a discovery made at the Center for Polymers and Organic Solids at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Nobel laureate Alan Heeger, professor of physics at UC Santa Barbara, worked with Kwanghee Lee of Korea and a team of other scientists to create a new “tandem” organic solar cell with increased efficiency. The discovery, explained in the July 13 issue of the journal Science, marks a step forward in materials science.

Tandem cells are comprised of two multilayered parts that work together to gather a wider range of the spectrum of solar radiation –– at both shorter and longer wavelengths. “The result is six and a half percent efficiency,” said Heeger. “This is the highest level achieved for solar cells made from organic materials. I am confident that we can make additional improvements that will yield efficiencies sufficiently high for commercial products.” He expects this technology to be on the market in about three years.

Heeger and Lee have collaborated for many years on developing solar cells. The new tandem architecture that they discovered both improves light harvesting and promises to be less expensive to produce. In their paper, the authors explain that the cells “… can be fabricated to extend over large areas by means of low-cost printing and coating technologies that can simultaneously pattern the active materials on lightweight flexible substrates.”

The multilayered device is the equivalent of two cells in series, said Heeger. The deposition of each layer of the multilayer structure by processing the materials from solution is what promises to make the solar cells less expensive to produce.

“Tandem solar cells, in which two solar cells with different absorption characteristics are linked to use a wider range of the solar spectrum, were fabricated with each layer processed from solution with the use of bulk heterojunction materials comprising semiconducting polymers and fullerene derivatives,” wrote the authors.

The cells are separated and connected by the material TiOx, a transparent titanium oxide. This is the key to the multilayer system that allows for the higher-level efficiencies. TiOx transports electrons and is a collecting layer for the first cell. In addition, it acts as a stable foundation that allows the fabrication of the second cell, thus completing the tandem cell architecture.

Heeger shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 2000, with Alan MacDiarmid and Hideki Shirakawa, for the “discovery and development of conducting polymers.” The tandem solar cells reported in the Science article utilize semiconducting polymers from the class of materials that were recognized by the award of the Nobel Prize.

With Howard Berke, Heeger in 2000 co-founded Konarka Technologies, based in Lowell, Mass., to develop and market solar cells based on this technology.

Heeger recently was presented with the Italian Prize for Energy and the Environment (Eni Italgas Prize) for his discoveries and research accomplishments in the field of “plastic” solar cells. The Italian agency cited Heeger “for research that will begin to contribute to the energy needs of our planet in the near future.”

An exciting aspect of the latest discovery is that it is expected to contribute to third world usage of technologies such as laptop computers in areas that are “off the electricity grid.”

The work described in the Science article was performed at UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Polymers and Organic Solids. Heeger’s longtime collaborator Lee, a professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology, in Gwangju, Korea, made fundamentally important contributions, along with first author Jin Young Kim, a postdoctoral fellow who is also from Korea. Other collaborators from UCSB’s Center for Polymers and Organic Solids include Nelson E. Coates, Daniel Moses, Thuc-Quyen Nguyen, and Mark Dante.

About Alan Heeger

Professor Heeger shared the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2000 for his role in the revolutionary discovery that plastics can have the properties of metals and semiconductors, a finding that created an important new field of research. A member of the UCSB faculty since 1982, Professor Heeger was director of the Institute for Polymers and Organic Solids for 17 years, until 1999. The recipient of many international honors and awards, he is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. In 2003 he was named to a University of California Presidential Chair, an honor reserved for the institution’s most distinguished scholars. Konarka, a company he co-founded, was recently named one of the “Ten to Watch,” in a new book, “The Clean Tech Revolution.”

 

The solar market is buzzing and there are opportunities for all to participate. To lern more about solar opportunities in NJ an dthe hila area call HBS Solar 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantages.com .

Ask about our free proforma.