Energy costs seems to be a hot topic. You can hear most people openly talking about the rising cost and offering their thoughts on what they feel should be done.
How do you feel?
What are your thoughts?
How do the 2 presidential candidates stand on these issues?
Which one has views that are most closely aligned with your views?
I saw this article in Huffington Post and thought I would share it with you.
By Dan Shapley

 

The cost of oil peaked above $140 a barrel this summer, nearly double the price of a year earlier and 40% higher than worst-case scenarios discussed just months earlier. Gas prices followed suit, going well above $4 a gallon during peak driving season and sending drivers, carmakers and politicians into fits. Heating oil prices started climbing to record levels months before heating season.

The cost of coal, too, tripled in about a year’s time, leading electric power producers — who produce 50% of U.S. electricity by burning coal — to raise rates. Natural gas, also a major source of U.S. electricity, doubled in a year’s time before plummeting in July.

The increase in the price of energy, largely due to the global nature of the market and rising demand in China, India and other nations, has led to the first significant reductions in vehicle miles traveled, large cars bought and homes renovated for efficiency in a generation. As painful as higher prices are, some argue that they are precisely what the Untied States needs to embrace more efficient and alternative technologies that cost more up front, but pay themselves off by using less energy over time.

What’s a President to Do?

Most experts answer, when it comes to gas prices, “not much.” At least, not in the short term. Today’s president can often have more influence on energy prices a decade from now than prices next month.

Sen. John McCain’s Position on Energy Costs

John McCain tops his agenda with expanding domestic production of oil and natural gas, though experts criticize the idea because it would have no effect on prices for about a decade, and then only a small one. He would offer a $5,000 tax break to those who buy zero-carbon vehicles, which don’t now exist (McCain is counting on a hefty tax credit to create an incentive for carmakers to develop such cars) and a $300 million prize for anyone who develops a battery good enough to make electric cars feasible. He’d eliminate the 54-cent-a-gallon tariff on imported ethanol, which experts say would have a modest effect on price. He opposes a windfall profits tax on oil companies, which could presumably mean oil companies might pass record profits on to consumers in the form of lower prices, not that they’ve ever done that before.

McCain would focus on improving the energy efficiency of the federal government, the largest single power user in the U.S., which would save taxpayers some on energy costs and could drive down price by slackening demand. He would also try to deploy “SmartMeters” in households so individuals can better monitor their energy consumption and its cost, with the goal of inspiring people to use and spend less. He would create predictable tax incentives for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, thereby decreasing dependence on volatile fossil fuels.

Sen. Barack Obama’s Position on Energy Costs

Obama would also enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies and use the money to give families a $1,000 “Emergency Energy Rebate.” By investing in plug-in hybrid cars and boosting fuel economy, he would aim to reduce oil imports — and fuel consumed — dramatically through increasing efficiency. He would also take expensive grades of oil stored in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and swap it for cheaper grades, a scheme many experts have dismissed as pandering.

Obama has pledged to spend money generated by a cap-and-trade regulation designed to lower carbon emissions on projects to boost home energy efficiency, and to provide credits to people struggling to pay higher electricity bills. He would require local utilities to derive 25% of energy from renewable sources by 2025, thereby decreasing reliance on volatile fossil fuels. His $150 billion energy plan aims to transform the way America uses energy, which would no doubt cost more in the short term, but would likely cost much less than the status quo in the long term.

 

Let us know your thoughts?  Email george@hbsadvantage.com

Advertisements

Who will take the lead?

August 28, 2008

 

T. Boone Pickens, Carl Pope and John Podesta walk into a big tent.

OK, OK, the “isn’t it weird that these guys agree?” joke is getting a little tired, so I’ll cut it here. But the best take I’ve heard so far came from the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope himself at a panel with Pickens the oil man and Podesta from the Center for American Progress.
Pope said that the fact that the three of them were on the stage meant that something was wrong with the government — that if there was anything that the three men with divergent views on nearly everything but energy could all agree upon, it should have been acted upon long ago.
The star of the panel was, of course, Pickens. He said he’d met with Obama, McCain, Gore, Bush and others about his plan to reduce American dependence on foreign oil, or as he put it — to stop “the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind.”
He said President Bush asked him who could lead the way — and Pickens responded “George Patton.”
The joke was lost on the crowd of bloggers — or maybe just not well-received, as Podesta, a former Bill Clinton chief of staff, pointed out that some in the crowd may have been skeptical of Pickens and his donations four years ago to the Swift Boat Veterans who slammed John Kerry. Patton, a World War II general, is of course dead. But the point Pickens was trying to make was that the government needed a “general” — someone who would be able to take orders from the president and get things done.
“Tell ’em, ‘There’s the hill; take the hill,'” he said.
Pickens’ TV ads have been running far and wide, but he said that NBC refused to run a recent ad that said Iran was switching cars to natural gas in order to sell more expensive oil to the U.S., and that the U.S. was doing nothing about it. According to Pickens, NBC wouldn’t run the ad because Pickens couldn’t provide proof that the U.S. was doing nothing.
 
Here’s the ad that didn’t run on TV: Click on link to view

http://push.pickensplan.com/video/video/show?id=2187034%3AVideo%3A834021

 

Find more videos like this on PickensPlan
A couple of other Pickens highlights from the panel:
Pickens on offshore drilling: “This isn’t about the oil industry wanting to drill offshore — they don’t think anything’s there, just look at what they did and didn’t lease when the western gulf tracts were offered up.”
Pickens on Obama’s plan to put one million hybrid cars on the road: “One million plug-in hybrids is nothing. We’ve got to get a hundred million.”
Pickens on global warming: “Global warming is on page two for me.” He elaborated, saying that first the idea was to reduce the dependence on foreign energy here in the U.S.
Pickens on people telling him his plan sounds so simple they can’t believe it hasn’t already been done: “Nothing is simple when you get to Washington.”

As reported in Huffington Post Green

Maybe you’ve been hearing more about geothermal energy lately — it gets mentioned more in the mix with solar and wind these days, especially when politicians are listing off, quickly as possible, all the forms of renewable energies they can think of. In case you don’t know much about it, HuffPost Green has compiled this little FAQ.

What is geothermal energy?

Geothermal energy is a cheap and largely untapped natural energy resource. It’s an intriguing sustainable energy source due to its unlimited supply, 24-hour availability and ability to decrease reliance on fossil fuels.

The EPA defines geothermal for us:

Geothermal energy is produced from the constant temperature of the earth. This can be accessed by drilling into the earth and extracting that heat and turning it into usable energy. Geothermal energy is an enormous underused resource that provides clean renewable energy in virtually unlimited supplies.

Blogger Michelle Bennett of CleanTechnica praises geothermal energy’s non-stop energy supply:

The potential return could be as enormous as the forces of nature at work: clean, green, unlimited energy for the rest of this geologic era. Unlike solar and wind, geothermal generates a steady supply of energy 24 hours a day, everyday. Anything so abundant and predictable won’t go untapped for long.

What geothermal energy is, can essentially be described with the sentence; heat contained and produced by the heating of the earth in two different ways. The more powerful geothermal energy comes from deep within the earth, where the temperature is hot enough to melt the surrounding rocks. The second source of geothermal energy is as a results of the suns rays beating down on the land surface. We shall now look into these two main sources.

How Does It Work?

One of the methods to generate electricity from geothermal energy is by pumping hot water into sedimentary hotspots. The steam generated by this method is used to produce electricity. The condensed steam is again circulated into the permeable sedimentary stream of a hotspot.

Another method is by using volcanic magma. The temperature of partially molten magma is approximately 650 degree Celsius. This heat is used to boil water to generate electricity.

Some geothermal plants also use the hardened magma that is extremely hot. This system uses hot dry rock. Pipes are looped through these hot dry rocks through which water is circulated. The heat of the rocks converts the water into steam prior to transferring the heat to a steam generator.

How Much Energy Could Be Generated?

Google will invest $10 million to the development of enhanced geothermal systems (EGS). According to Treehugger, it takes just 2% of the heat present beneath North American soil to fulfill the United States’ energy needs. Last week, scientists asserted that just 1% of Australia’s geothermal energy potential is enough to power the nation for 26,000 years. This change in Australia’s energy source will help to drastically reduce worldwide carbon emissions.

Currently Australia generates about 77% of its electricity from coal and is the world’s largest per-capita carbon emitter, with individual emissions being five times those of China.

Where Is It Currently In Use?

Geothermal energy is currently used in homes throughout Europe and is most popular in Iceland, Sweden, Norway and increasingly in the United Kingdom. In June, Germany instituted a tariff to build up its geothermal electricity use. By 2015, the German government hopes to run hundreds of geothermal power plants.

An increasing amount of organizations are utilizing geothermal energy such as the Oregon Institute of Technology, which is the first university to be fully sustained by geothermal power.

But if you’re a politician and want a chance to list off as many renewable energy types as possible, check out the new visitor center at the Queens Botanical Garden: \

It’s considered the greenest public building in New York City due to its advanced green construction and energy-saving technology. The NRDC hails the building as the “model of efficiency.”

It gets 17% of its energy from rooftop solar panels, it heats its water using geothermal power and has an 8,000 square foot green roof that is performing beyond expectations. According to Jennifer Souder, the Garden’s Director of Capital Projects, preliminary tests from last summer measured the building’s green roof temperature at 82 degrees, while nearby white and black tar roofs were cooking at 115 and 170 degrees respectively. Expect significant energy savings and a reduction in the “urban heat island” effect to result from this facility.

Our Perspective:

As I have previously stated, there is no silver bullet solution. In order to make strides in achieving energy independence we must bring together all the possibilities that show promise and makes sense.

Bottom line, in order to build momentum, incentives must be offered to produce a ROI that makes sense. As advances are made in green solutions, prices will fall and these incentives will disappear. 

We have backed ourselves into a corner. We ignored all the warning signs over the last 30 to 40 years. Nobody thinks twice about where the energy is coming from when they walk into a room and turn on a switch, or they walk over to the thermostat and turn it down to get the room nice and cool. Energy was always there. Problem being, with the increasing demand for energy, the utilities will not be able to handle this increase in demand in the next 8 to 10 years.

What seemed loke a good idea 30 years ago, alternative energy is now becoming a needed solution to help us meet this increased demand.

To learn more about alternative energy solutions and opportunities in NJ and PA email george@hbsadvantage.com

As reported in Huffington Post  Green

 

Modelslab Last week, in case you missed it, Zurich hosted an International Society for Asphalt Pavements symposium. Now, before you go scurrying off, consider what you’ll be stepping (or rolling) on. Concrete production not only accounts for a surprisingly hefty chunk of carbon dioxide emissions, but it just sits there. Fortunately, ISAP is devoted to figuring out how asphalt can be more environmentally-friendly and serve as more than just a smooth surface. 

Rajib Mallick, an associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (pronounced “Wuster” or “Wista,” depending on where you’re from), took the symposium as an opportunity to present a concept he’s been working on for the past two years with Novotech, Inc., an infrared and semiconductor technology company. Using an existing parking lot or asphalt surface, the new system would be installed during a resurfacing. A special piping network runs through the new pavement and as cool water runs through it, the water is heated and can be used for electricity generation. “The system cost is around $20-$50 per square meter and has the capability to generate up to 800 kilowatt hours a day six months a year in New England,” Mallick says.

Since so many parking lots and roadways already exist, Mallick expects the solar collector costs to be orders of magnitude lower than the cost to produce traditional solar cells. Lab tests showed that the system can reduce the heat island effect commonly found in urban areas. Summer is quickly fading now, but I haven’t forgotten the blistering heat radiating from New York City’s streets. Next up for Mallick and his team: securing more funding and getting the concept off the ground. Or, rather, in the ground.

Our Perspective:

The evolution of alternative energy is taking many roads. I don’t believe there is just one answer. Given the vision of energy independence there are many options. I saw this article and found it to be interesting and wanted to share it with you.

Let us know your thoughts? You can email george@hbsadvantage.com

It’s pretty safe to say that the military doesn’t spring to mind when you’re making a list of organizations looking to go green. But, just as it does for any business, it makes sense — and it’s important — for them to do so.

According to green tech blog Clean Technica, the Department of Defense is responsible for over 1.5% of all U.S. energy consumption, and it’s now looking at greening the military.

The U.S. military has been trying to green up its operations in response to skyrocketing energy bills, toying with everything from biofuel for Air Force planes to solar panels at air bases. On the ground, the lean green fighting machine is now trying to live up to all its name implies–and save lives in the process.

Joshua hill goes on to describe the United States military’s efforts to expand its use of eco-conscious technology:

One such technology that the military is working on is a portable solar and wind power station, being developed at the Army’s Fort Irwin in California. Within six years, such a device could bring electricity back to locations that have, for example, been damaged by a hurricane. […] The search for renewable sources is not a new trend for the military either. The largest solar power array in the US belongs at Nellis Air Force Base outside Las Vegas, Nevada. Guantanamo Bay is powered by wind turbines, and a geothermal power plant has provided China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station in California with its energy for two decades.

The Defense Department is trying a few things. From spraying tents with foam insulation — gotta wonder what that stuff is made of, though — to curb heating and air conditioning, which cut down energy use by 45% to researching hybrid military vehicle innovations, the United States military is fighting to be the leaders in green technology.

“If we can reduce consumption on our forward operating bases by using renewable energy, let’s say wind or solar instead of a diesel generator outside the tent … then we can reduce the number of these supply convoys that need to come forward that are getting hit by these IEDs,” said Tad Davis, deputy assistant secretary for environment, safety and occupational health.

Our Perspective:

The US Government should be taking the lead in the alternative energy evolution. With their vast real estate holdings and energy usage it only makes sense for them to be proactive in reducing the demand off the grid and set an example for all Americans to join the movement toward energy independence.

Let us know your thoughts? You can email george@hbsadvantage.com

If you would like to know more about alternative energy solutions in NJ and PA you may contact us at 856-857-1230. Ask about our free energy pro forma.

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

The Shape of Solar to Come

August 22, 2008

Came upon this interesting article in Huffington Post published by Treehugger. It presents a preview of solar market innovations we will be seeing in the future.  Click on the link provided below. Enjoy!

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2008/08/15-solar-power-panels-cells-energy-innovations.php

Should you want to know more about solar opportunities in NJ & PA email george@hbsadvantage.com you may also visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

As reported in Huffington Post

Written by Carl Pope

Churchill’s blunder” is how Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. characterizes our dependence and addiction to oil, tracing it back to Winston Churchill’s decision before the First World War to convert the British navy to petroleum, thereby making Britain dependent on foreign sources of fuel such as Iran. Huntsman made the analogy at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas convened by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and the Center for American Progress at the University of Nevada.

 

The overarching message from the Summit was one of boldness and a palpable excitement that we have not one but many pathways to reverse Churchill’s mistake and build a clean energy future. T. Boone Pickens laid out how we can get 20 percent of our electricity from wind and cut our dependence on oil by a third; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg laid out his Plan NY and his commitment that New York won’t just shift to renewables from other places, it also will create them right there in the city. Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030 combined elements from his earlier proposals with those from Pickens and others and raised the bar still further, while Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Jon Wellinghoff offered a brand new set of incentives to make clean energy happen even faster.

It’s getting hard to follow the proposals without a scorecard, so here’s my summary of the big ideas I heard brought to the table:

  1. Repower America. Think Al Gore (100 percent renewable electricity in ten years) and T. Boone Pickens. Use renewables to completely displace fossil fuels from electricity generation and to build a national grid (one of the Bloomberg’s major themes) to get power from the places where it can be cleanly produced to the places where it is needed. 
  2. Refuel America. Combine Vinod Khosla and his investments in cellulosic ethanol; Aubrey McClendon of Chesapeake Energy, who is revolutionizing the American natural gas supply picture; and Elon Musk of Tesla motors. Use lower-carbon liquid fuels (particularly compressed natural gas) in our vehicles as a transition while we wait and see which technology wins the race: all-electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids, or cellulosic-ethanol-powered internal combustion engines.  
  3. Rebuild America. Cross Ed Mazria, Leo Gerard of the United Steelworkers, and Van Jones of Green for All. Eliminate carbon emissions from new buildings by 2030 and double or triple the rate at which we retrofit existing building stock (and, when we perform those retrofits, cut energy usage a half, or even more). Double employment in the building sector, ending the unemployment crisis in our cities, and create millions of new jobs manufacturing green building technologies such as high performance windows here in the US. By 2050, when we’ve slashed our greenhouse emissions by 80 percent, none of us will be paying a utility bill, because buildings will be energy self-sufficient.

 

 

 

There are all technically feasible, all affordable, all American, and all green. Don’t choose among these pathways to success — we can’t afford not to go after all of them. If one slows down, it won’t hurt us if the other two are hurtling along.

So what stands in the way? Big oil and big coal.

What’s their secret weapon? The politics of the trivial.

While bipartisan voices as diverse as Jon Huntsman and Van Jones, T. Boone Pickens and Harry Reid were laying out big ideas for a bright American future at the Clean Energy Summit, America’s mainstream media were allowing the issue of how many dry holes we should drill off the Atlantic Coast to dominate the political dialogue. That’s exactly where Big Carbon wants the focus, and it’s exactly where anyone who’s serious knows that the American future cannot lie.

And what about Churchill? He at least had a big idea that broke boldly with the past (even if we’ve clung to it for far too long). We need the same kind of leadership today.

Our Perspective:

You will find that many of the things we now take for granted started with a bold move. Pres John Kennedy said let’s set a goal to reach the moon in 10 years. Some scuffed at the idea.

His brother Robert Kennedy said, ” Some people see things and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not?”

Now is the time to be bold! We all control our own destiny. Let’s create it together.

Let us know your thoughts? You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

As reported by Associated Press in Huffington Post

LAS VEGAS: Representatives from Google Inc. and General Electric Co. said Tuesday that widespread use of renewable energy in United States would be possible — if it were cheaper.

Renewable energy options will remain “boutique” industries unless their costs are cut to make them competitive with coal and other widely used power sources, said Dan Reicher, director for climate change and energy initiatives at Google.org, the company’s philanthropic arm.

Reicher spoke to a group of politicians and energy experts at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. The meeting’s attendees said they hope to develop a national energy agenda to take to the Democratic and Republican parties at their upcoming conventions.

“There’s a whole set of factors that go into the ultimate cost of energy,” Reicher said after announcing a plan for Google to invest more than $10 million to develop “enhanced geothermal systems” technology to generate energy from rocks deep below the earth’s surface.

Google’s project replicates traditional geothermal systems deep below the Earth’s surface by circulating water through hot rock and running the steam through a turbine that generates electricity.

Google said its goal was to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity — enough to power a major city.

“These are all high-capital-costs projects,” Reicher said.

One by one, speakers at the meeting touted the benefits of various energy-related initiatives, including how large-scale solar power could generate thousands of jobs and why wind power could lessen America’s dependence on foreign oil. Extending tax credits, establishing caps on carbon emissions and modernizing the nation’s electricity grid were also ideas that speakers said would be crucial to building a “green” economy.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the energy discussion was timely, and he criticized presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain for not having a real debate about energy.

“They’re treating us to a political silly season,” Bloomberg said, not mentioning either candidate by name but citing ideas such as tapping the nation’s strategic oil reserve or giving Americans a gas tax holiday.

“The best that can be said about these ideas is that they’re pandering,” Bloomberg said. “Far worse, they’re distractions from the deadly serious business of creating a new national energy policy.”

General Electric chief executive Jeff Immelt did not attend, but said in a video presentation that the government and the business community need to move forward.

“The technology exists, the time is now,” he said. “We need a call to action — not a call to go to another conference.”

Former President Bill Clinton laid out a 10-point plan Monday that included expanded research for carbon dioxide storage and accelerating a shift toward plug-in hybrid electric cars.

Texas oil baron T. Boone Pickens also presented his plan to develop wind energy to generate 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, then use natural gas to power cars until hydrogen or plug-in electric cars become widely available.

“I don’t see many people from my party,” said Pickens, a Republican. “I’m making new friends, and that’s good.”

Our Perspective:

With the expected increase in electric demand projected to be 1 1/2% a year for the next 8-10 years, America is faced with a challange. To continue with the business as usual attitude experts project that we will be faced with rolling brownouts.  To be proactive, The federal government has instituded a 30% federal tax credit. Many states are either paying additional rebates and grants. In NJ, they have been very proactive by increasing the value of SRECs ( Solar Renewable Energy Certificates). SCRECs are a commodity paid by the local preovider that will ultimately help underwrite upto 90% of the invested cost over a 15 year period.

The alternative energy evolution is here and will help the US to introduce a new green era in energy that will sustain our growth and independence for years to come.

Would you like to know more about alternative energy opportunities in NJ and PA email george@hbsadvantage.com . Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

As reported in Huffington Post
The name says it all. Carbon County, Pennsylvania is a county of 58,000 located in the heart of the Keystone State’s famed anthracite coalfields. The county was famous not just for its coal, but also the notorious Molly Maguires that exemplified the kind of organized violence between workers and bosses that marked 19th century American industrialism. Pennsylvania is also the state that launched the petroleum industry, with the sinking of the Drake Well in Titusville (on the opposite end of the state from Carbon County) in 1859. But times, they are a changin’.
Carbon County, in a poetic turn, is now set to host the second largest solar facility in the nation. State Rep. Keith McCall (D-Carbon) is working with Green Energy Capital Partners to bring the Pennsylvania Solar Park to the area. At 10.6 megawatts, it will avoid some 320,000 tons of carbon emissions over its lifetime. It will be the largest of its kind in Pennsylvania and the second largest in the country.
Other changes are also afoot in the region. Weatherly (one of the boroughs in Carbon County) recently applied to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a permit to install a turbine at an existing dam on the Lehigh River. It would be enough to meet all of the borough’s electricity needs. The New York Times reported in June that neighboring Schuylkill County was considering switching from sacrosanct anthracite to cleaner-burning natural gas–another energy source on the rise in the state and across the country thanks to new discoveries and new methods of extracting it from shale formations–to fuel the county’s boilers.
Though coal may putatively (and politically) remain king in many areas of the country–particularly in Appalachia, the number of people employed in coal mining has plunged. Coal employment in Pennsylvania, for example, peaked at 121,000 in 1942 and hovers at just 8,000 today. The tenacious and powerful United Mine Workers had half a million members in the 1950s, today it is left with just 86,600 members and now represents just 42 percent of the workers in the industry. The loss of jobs in the coal industry has not only brought deepening economic hardship to Appalachia, but since it has come in no small measure as result of mountaintop removal mining it has also wrought environmental disaster. Here’s what the Gore-acle himself had to say about this “atrocity” at Netroots Nation:
 
By contrast, renewable energy is bringing new opportunities to economically depressed communities, including parts of Pennsylvania that were decimated by the collapse of the steel industry. Thanks to the tireless efforts of Gov. Ed Rendell (and smart policies like a state Renewable Electricity Standard and other incentives), Gamesa, the Spanish wind company, has located four factories and its North American headquarters in Pennsylvania–creating over 1,000 new, union-represented jobs and over $1 billion in US sales in under 4 years. Smart policy played a pivotal role in luring the company, as wind-rich Minnesota lost out to wind-mediocre Pennsylvania in the competition for the company’s HQ and first factory in part because Minnesota had no state RES at the time. Rendell’s efforts have lured numerous other renewable energy projects–with some 10,000 new jobs–to the state.
If Carbon County can kick the habit, then who can’t?
Our Perspective:
I love to see these types of stories. So many time we get mired in the past and are unwilling to move forward. This is a story of hope, vision and success.
Are you interested in joining the solar evolution? Let us know your thoughts? Post a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com . Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

The Solar Mandate

August 19, 2008

 Marburg Journal

As reported in NY Times

 By NICHOLAS KULISH

 German City Wonders How Geen is Too Green

Published: August 6, 2008
MARBURG, Germany — This fairy-tale town is stuck in the middle of a utopian struggle over renewable energy. The town council’s decision to require solar-heating panels has thrown Marburg into a vehement debate over the boundaries of ecological good citizenship and led opponents to charge that their genteel town has turned into a “green dictatorship.”

Rolf Oeser for The New York Times

Old and new coexist in Marburg, where a hilltop castle overlooks a solar-powered building. The city seeks to expand solar use.

Rolf Oeser for The New York Times

Some Marburg residents are concerned about how pending solar rules will affect historic buildings like these in the city center.

The New York Times

Officials in Marburg face opposition over a solar initiative.

The town council took the significant step in June of moving from merely encouraging citizens to install solar panels to making them an obligation. The ordinance, the first of its kind in Germany, will require solar panels not only on new buildings, which fewer people oppose, but also on existing homes that undergo renovations or get new heating systems or roof repairs.

To give the regulation teeth, a fine of 1,000 euros, about $1,500, awaits those who do not comply.

Critics howled that the rule, which is to go into effect on Oct. 1, constituted an attack on the rights of property owners. The regional government in Giessen stepped in and warned that it would overturn the rule.

City officials in Marburg said, in turn, that they would take their case either to administrative court or all the way to the Hessian state capital, where they would try to get the state building code changed to protect their ordinance from officials in Giessen.

In the middle of this political chess match sit homeowners like Götz Schönherr.

From his deck, Mr. Schönherr can see the town’s famous hilltop Gothic castle as well as two of its three power-generating windmills. On his roof, a solar panel glints in the sunlight. He already uses the solar energy to heat his water, which has allowed him to turn off his boiler for roughly six months a year, a boon for his pocketbook but a decision he said he made for the sake of the environment.

And yet Mr. Schönherr opposes the new ordinance.

Mr. Schönherr had hoped to reinsulate his home, but to do so, and to satisfy the solar regulation, he would have to install a larger solar panel. It would cost him close to $8,000.

“That leads, in my case, and I would think in other cases as well, that people say, ‘Well, let’s just not reinsulate the roof,’ ” Mr. Schönherr said. “So it’s absolutely counterproductive.”

Officials in Giessen agree. “We have no problem with the use of solar energy,” said Manfred Kersten, press spokesman for the regional government in Giessen, “but this was a poorly constructed ordinance.”

Germany is one of the world’s top champions of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and promoting renewable energy. Thanks to hefty federal subsidies, the country is by far the largest market for photovoltaic systems, which convert sunlight into electricity.

Marburg, a historic university town where the Brothers Grimm once studied, is a model of enlightened energy production and consumption. In addition to the windmills and solar installations, the town’s utility company buys hydroelectric power from Austria, is transitioning its fleet of buses and other vehicles to natural gas and even lights footpaths with solar-powered lamps.

As a result, the Marburg dispute sometimes feels like an argument between the enlightened environmentalists and the really enlightened environmentalists.

“Marburg is already a leader when it comes to the use of solar energy, but up until now they’ve always tried to convince people rather than forcing them,” said Hermann Uchtmann, the opposition politician behind the “green dictatorship” charge who leads a local citizens political group, the Marburger Bürgerliste.

Like Mr. Schönherr, who is a member of the group, Mr. Uchtmann hardly fits the predictable mold of the Luddite opponent of renewable energy. He is a chemist at the local university who once built a solar-powered desalinization station for the town’s sister city, Sfax, Tunisia.

“It’s unfortunate that they decided to compel people, because I think you breed opponents that way rather than friends of solar energy,” Mr. Uchtmann said. He said he found the demands too invasive for existing homes, especially in the case of older citizens who might not live long enough to justify the upfront costs of installing the solar systems.

“I’m right up against the border myself,” said Mr. Uchtmann, who is 64. But he said he could support a solar-heating requirement for new buildings.

Because the town of 80,000 has a level population and relatively few new homes are built here, restricting the measure to new construction would not go far enough for the politicians behind it.

“We have a serious energy problem with the older homes,” Marburg’s deputy mayor, Franz Kahle, said in an interview at the historic town hall on the city’s colorful market square. To make a real leap forward, he said, a dramatic step was necessary.

“Before, solar installations were the exception and their absence was the rule,” Mr. Kahle said. “We want to get to the point where the opposite is the case.”

He pointed out that building codes constantly dictated what property owners could and could not do with their homes and said that the solar regulation already offered exceptions for cases of hardship or alternatives for those living in the shadiest spots.

Marburg’s law has attracted attention nationwide as a model for environmentally active politicians.

“What they are doing in Marburg is good and progressive, and we, and other cities, need to move forward with similar initiatives as well,” said Birgit Simon, deputy mayor of Offenbach am Main and a member of the Green Party. She said she hoped a coalition of left-of-center parties in the state Parliament could change the building codes to make the Marburg ordinance sustainable and imitable.

Among Marburgers interviewed one sunny afternoon this week, there was near universal support for the ordinance’s goals but an almost equal level of confusion about its exact nature.

“In principle, it’s a really good idea,” said Cornelia Janus, 35, who works at the university. But she questioned whether the costs might be too high and whether historic buildings and monuments would be protected.

“For a city like Marburg,” she said, gazing toward the churches and the castle arrayed along the hillside, which draw tourists from around the world, “that’s pretty important too.”

Our Perspective:

To help encourange people to participate in these programs not only do you have to tout the benefits but many times incentives must be added to provide the initial boost and make it more affordable for those who wish to participate.

If electricity is currently costing 14 cents /kwh and you are willing to make an investment in alternative energy, you are hoping that the investment will help to lower the overall cost. If electricity cost you 18 cent / kwh after making the initial investment the incentive is lost.

Mandating compliance can present a big problem. Without the incentives, many people may not be able to afford to the investment. 

Let us know you thoughts? You may leave a comment or email george@hbsadvantage.com