Written by Robert Redford

America is on the verge of a renewable energy gold rush. Hundreds of applications for wind and solar projects have been filed on public lands. I think this is long overdue. We need sustainable energy to help us reduce global warming pollution, and we need it fast. But if we don’t handle this boom carefully, unspoiled wildlands will get trammeled in its wake. Right now, we have an opportunity to start the clean energy era off right.

It begins with agreeing which sensitive areas should remain undeveloped. Wind and solar power are pollution free, but they are not impact free. They leave an industrial footprint on the land, and some pristine places would be forever altered by their presence.

That’s why my friends at NRDC got together with Google Earth and started mapping out public lands where renewable development is not appropriate. Some of the spots colored in on the map are obvious–national parks, wilderness areas, and national monuments where energy development is already prohibited by law or federal policy.

But the map also illustrates places where development should be avoided, even if it isn’t illegal. These include the hundreds of state parks that visitors rely on for hiking and other recreation. They also include proposed wilderness areas being considered by Congress, such as the 9.5 million acres of stunning scenery in Southern Utah that I hope gains protection through America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act.

The remarkable thing is that even when you set these areas aside, there is plenty of land to develop solar and wind projects. The state of California recently did a similar mapping process and found that when it removed all the environmentally sensitive lands, California still has renewable potential of about 500,000 MW–that’s greater than the state’s peak demand.

But we can’t begin the new energy future by only saying where we can’t build renewable projects. We also have to agree on where we can. The lands best suited to wind farms and solar plants are those that have already been disturbed. Up and down the Rockies, there are hundreds of oil and gas fields that are now defunct. In my home state of California, there are thousands of acres of old farms that went bust. And now more than ever, there are private lands that have been carved up for subdivisions that never got built.

These already distressed lands may not satisfy all renewable developers. But hopefully, with so much public land available, they will make reasonable compromises–like not building in a bighorn sheep migration path when they can gain access to other lands instead.

I see two persuasive reasons why the environmental community and the renewable sector can work in unison. The first is credibility. People support renewable projects because they think they are green, and that includes sustainable land use. The second is urgency. Our nation needs to begin the transition away from dirty fossil fuels now in order to stave off the worst impacts of global warming. Controversies and lawsuits over siting will only delay the process.

We spent the last eight years locked in a battle with an administration that sparked rampant oil and gas drilling on our lands. Those days are over. Bush is gone, and Americans recognize the need for clean energy. We have a fresh start, and we have the chance to get the balance between generating sustainable power and caring for our lands right from beginning.

Our Perspective:

This can be a very sentitive topic. If thought out and done properly it will benefit all.

Let us know your thoughts?

 As reported in SEIA: Solar Energy Industries Association

 

Background

The downturn in the economy has eroded the equity markets for tax credits. In 2007, over twenty companies participated in the tax equity markets. Today there are only five companies still conducting these transactions. This, in turn, has made it extremely difficult to secure financing to begin solar project development and construction.

According to Hudson Clean Energy Partners, the tax equity markets provided $5.5 billion in capital in both 2007 and 2008. To meet the Administration’s targets of doubling non

hydro renewable energy generation by 2011, the tax equity market will have to increase to $11 billion in 2009 and $17.6 billion in 2010, while having lost 75% of the companies participating in these markets. The bottom line is that the tax credit structure for encouraging the expansion of solar energy does not work during a recession.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Proposed Solution

We support the DOE Grant Program created in section 1721 of H.R. 1, “The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.” However, one important change must be made to ensure that utility

 

scale solar receives the same treatment as other renewable energy sources under this program. The proposed program should be modified to allow utilityscale projects that are placed in service in 2011 and 2012 to receive the grant payment. In this context, “utility

scale” projects are those that are greater than 25 MW electric or greater than 10 MW thermal.

PART 3—GRANTS FOR SPECIFIED ENERGY PROPERTY IN LIEU OF TAX CREDITS

SEC. 1721. GRANTS FOR SPECIFIED ENERGY PROPERTY IN

LIEU OF TAX CREDITS.

(a)(i) In General.—Upon application, the Secretary of Energy shall, within 60 days of the application and sub

 

ject to the requirements of this section, provide a grant to each person who places in service specified energy prop

erty during 2009 or 2010 to reimburse such person for a portion of the expense of such facility as provided in subsection (b).

(a)(ii) Utility

scale Solar Projects Exception.— The grant period for utilityscale solar projects will be for projects placed in service in 2011 or 2012. For purposes of this section, “utility scale” means any project greater than 25 megawatts electric or greater than 10 megawatts thermal equivalent. (b) Grant Amount.— * * *

Discussion

The House stimulus bill would let owners of certain types of renewable energy projects – including equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity – to forego the energy tax credit in section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code and apply instead for a grant from the Department of Energy. The amount of the grant is 30% of the basis of the project, the same amount as the energy tax credit for solar. As currently drafted in House version, the grant is payable only to projects that are placed in service in 2009 and 2010.

Utility

 

scale concentrating solar power, solar thermal or photovoltaic projects are much larger in scale and can run $1 to $1.5 billion or higher in capital cost. Large solar projects (25600 MW) can have construction periods of two years or more, depending on size and technology. The list of southwest projects with signed contracts now in the process of getting final permits has a variety of expected online dates from 2011 to 2014. The projects that could commence construction in 2009 and 2010 and be placed in service by 2014 comprise over 4 GW, or over ten times the large solar projects that exist now. These projects will create and support 25,000 quality jobs and billions of dollars in investment, reinvigorating the hardhit construction and manufacturing industries, and provide other significant, nearterm economic benefits.

Developers of utility

 

scale solar projects finance construction by borrowing from construction lenders. At the start of construction, they must be able to show a commitment from a tax equity investor whose funds will be used at project completion to help take out the construction debt. The weak tax equity market is making it difficult to start construction on projects, and a new project starting construction today would not be completed until 2011 or 2012. Plain and simple, the proposed new grant program would work well for renewable technologies that can complete construction and be placed in service in less than two years, but will not work for utilityscale solar projects. Therefore, to put long lead

time solar projects on equal footing with other renewable energy projects, it is necessary that a clause be added to Section 1721 that shifts the eligibility period for utilityscale solar projects to 2011 and 2012, rather than 2009 and 2010.

Should you want to know more about the necessary financial structures provided to bring about the best return on your investment in alternative eneregy call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com

As reported In Huffington Post Green

Written by Mary Ellen Harte and John Harte

Nobel Laureate and Energy Secretary Steven Chu noted recently that we need “Nobel-level breakthroughs” to address our climate crisis in the areas of solar power, electric batteries, and the development of new crops to turn into fuel. Is it really that difficult? A look at the developments already underway in these three fields indicates that common sense is the real need here.

A good example of a common sense way to produce renewable energy is the second area mentioned above, solar power. Advances in just the past few years show that US research and development is up to the task, whether people win Nobels or not. Ever more efficient solar cells (14-18% is the current range of efficiency) are being developed to harness the sun’s energy, and new ways of utilizing them promise greater efficiency at lower cost. Recent developments include: plastic solar cells that can be used on a wide variety of sunlit surfaces; organic solar concentrators that allow sunlight to be directed towards window edges, where far fewer of the costly solar cells are needed to absorb it; roof systems that include venting ambient heat energy for household use, in addition to the solar electricity created; and most recently, the development of a liquid battery, far cheaper and more durable than other batteries, that could store solar energy overnight. Both wind and solar derived electricity are showing the most practical promise in terms of production efficiency and cost for renewable energy. Once again, common sense dictates that these should receive most of the governmental funding focused on promoting clean renewable energy. A feasible and common sense goal here is to provide the economic incentives that encourage photovoltaic installations on every appropriate US roof.

Electric batteries for automobiles are already developed enough to enable the Chinese BYD (Build Your Dreams) F3DM to travel up to 60 miles on an electric battery, which is enough for most daily trips by US commuters. Yes, much more work needs to be and is being done on developing better batteries. Just the development so far, though, indicates that it’s a feasible, not extraordinary goal. The real goal, of course, is energy efficiency, and Aptera Motors is banking that energy efficiency can be significantly increased via improvements in structural design. Nonetheless, common sense dictates that research and development of even better electric auto batteries should be a funding focus for the Obama administration.

In contrast, common sense also means that less promising technologies should not take up significant resources or time. Carbon sequestration, which only addresses one facet of “clean” in “clean coal technology,” holds some promise, but not on the horizon anytime soon. Given that track record and the practical options we already have for clean energy, we should be devoting any coal industry related funding towards training coal workers in green energy jobs in the production, installation or maintenance of infrastructures that generate, store and distribute solar and wind based electricity. The US does not have the money to chase “clean coal technology” dreams, or the time, as the latest increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases and their re-assessed impacts show.

Biofuels have already been shown to be far less efficient than solar or wind electricity, especially when the true costs are folded in. Under ideal conditions, the conversion efficiency of sunlight into stored plant energy is 1%, as compared to the minimum 10% efficiency of solar farms and even more efficient solar cells. Then there is the energy devoted to harvesting the plant matter and converting it into electricity. Finally, competition for cropland translates into the loss of Amazonian rainforest, one of our best means of storing carbon on earth, when Amazonian farmers clear it to plant newly valuable energy crops, or food crops that North American farmers have forsaken for energy crops. When these true costs are folded in, biofuels often are shown to worsen not help the climate crisis overall, and you don’t need Nobel prize-winning research to figure that out, as our recent book shows. Common sense here dictates that we should be including the true costs of biofuels in our budget, which should result in massively paring back funding for such a relatively inefficient and potentially damaging source of renewable energy.

Solving the climate crisis does not require rocket science, or earth-shaking technological breakthroughs. It does require common sense to recognize what is most effective and can be deployed fastest, and the political courage to cut out what isn’t. Our free online book, “Cool the Earth, Save the Economy” is a primer for understanding and assessing the technologies and policies that already exist, and understanding the climate crisis in general.

Our perspective:

God has placed at our disposal all that we need to be self sufficient.

He gave us the sun (solar),

He gave us the wind,

He gave us the water (Hydro),

He gave us the heat in the earth (geothermal).

But do we ever do anything that would prove to be easy? We are our own biggest enemy!

Instead we look to drill thousands of feet into the earth, looking for a finite (fossil) solutions.

Mary and John are right!

Let’s use our common sense. (Although that never seems to be our strong point).!

The answer has always been right in front of us. Let us have the wisdom to use these resources wisely

Would you like to know more about how to incorporate a solar solution? We specialize in laying out the financial structures needed to take advantage of all the Federal and State incentives and produce the most optimum return on your investment.

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com or call us 856-857-1230

As reported in Huffington Green

Written by Chris Kahn  AP

After 30 years of trying to squeeze electricity from sunlight, the solar energy industry is finally gaining some traction in its effort to compete with fossil fuels.

Does that mean most of the power in our homes will soon be coming from the sun?

Here are some questions and answers about solar energy as a source of electricity.

Q: Is solar energy getting close to being able to compete with fossil fuels?

A: It’s definitely moving in that direction.

Rooftop solar panels already are producing cheaper electricity than traditional power plants during the day in California and Hawaii. And industry analysts say that as early as next year utilities could build solar power plants able to compete with traditional coal-fired or natural gas power plants.

Q: Has something changed recently to give solar a leg up?

A: There have been vast improvements in technology as equipment and installation costs have plummeted, thanks in part to manufacturing innovations and a huge plunge in polysilicon prices.

Q: Polysilicon?

A: That’s a form of silicon that’s used to make some of the solar cells that gather sunlight to turn it into electricity.

Polysilicon prices have dropped about 30 percent in the past two months as makers of semiconductors _ which also use the material _ curbed production during the recession, said Jesse Pichel, an analyst with Piper Jaffray in New York.

Q: President Barack Obama has talked a lot about encouraging the production of alternative energy. Does anything in the stimulus plan he signed this week encourage the use of solar power?

A: Yes, the stimulus was packed with incentives for solar, including U.S. Treasury grants that will allow consumers to recoup 30 percent of the cost of installing solar equipment.

Robert Margolis, a senior analyst with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, said the new federal incentives will allow people in many U.S. cities to immediately lower the cost of home electricity by installing solar panels on their rooftops.

Q: Are there other reasons for the accelerating shift to solar power?

A: States and power companies have begun offering incentives to get people to use renewable forms of energy.

Yet consumers are not only being pulled toward solar power, they’re also being pushed away from fossil fuels. Americans’ electric bills rose for the sixth straight year in 2008, making the increasingly affordable option of solar power more attractive.

The cost to outfit a home with solar panels varies widely, but prices continue to plunge. Ilan Caplan, 34, of Denver, paid $22,000 last year for a rooftop system, but with incentives, it cost him $7,000. Caplan figures he produces about 90 percent of the energy he uses at home.

Q: Rooftop panels are one thing, but are there prospects for large-scale solar power plants?

A: Southern California Edison is building a massive 250 megawatt solar plant, big enough to power more than 160,000 homes. This month, New Jersey’s largest utility said it would install 200,000 solar panels throughout its service area in an ambitious $773 million program. Public Service Electric & Gas Co. supplies power to residents over an area of about 2,600 square miles.

Q: So, are we getting close to the day when solar power becomes the country’s predominant source of electricity?

A: That day’s still a long, long way off. Being able to compete in cost is one thing; becoming a significant player on the American electrical grid is quite another.

For starters, the coal and natural gas plants that fulfill much of the country’s energy needs aren’t going to close down simply because solar energy is getting cheaper. Also, it will take years for manufacturers to build enough solar panels to make a sizable contribution to the electricity supply.

“The industry could grow 30 to 40 percent a year for the next 20 years and it still won’t amount to a hill of beans in terms of energy production,” said Pichel. “If solar is going to be anything other than a cottage industry, the world needs 100 more polysilicon plants and multi-gigawatts more of production.”

The ability of solar energy to compete also depends on the price of natural gas, the fuel used in many power plants. At current natural gas prices, it’s impossible to produce solar electricity at a competitive cost; if gas prices triple, as they did last summer, solar would be close.

Experts say solar panels will eventually be able to compete even with cheap natural gas as they continue to get more efficient.

Q: Let’s say utilities start incorporating solar power _ what’s the first change I’ll see as an electricity consumer?

A: It’s more a case of what you won’t see: those crazy price swings on utility bills.

Some utilities already shift between natural gas and coal to meet demand for electricity, using whichever is cheaper. As commercial-scale solar plants come on line, utilities will have yet another option.

If utilities were using solar power widely last summer, you can bet many would have made the shift as natural gas futures soared over $14 per 1,000 cubic feet in July. (By comparison, natural gas costs $5 per 1,000 cubic feet now.)

Q: Where is solar power going to grow the fastest?

A: Of course, a lot of sun _ and high prices for power from other sources _ play a role. Hawaii and California already have the capacity to provide competitive prices for solar power and Texas could be next, according to Tom Werner, CEO of SunPower Corp. in San Jose, Calif.

But where solar will catch on also depends on investment levels by state and local governments. After California, can you guess which state relies on solar power the most? That’s right, sunny New Jersey, a state that has bought into solar big-time.

Q: Other than the issue of getting solar power stations built _ and the challenge of competing with traditional power plants _ what other obstacles stand in the way of solar?

A: Solar researchers say they’ve found many ways to get more electricity out of the sun. The challenge is figuring out how to mass-produce that technology.

“The problems you get at that scale are totally different than what you see in the lab,” 1366 Technologies co-founder Ely Sachs said.

Other solar power growing pains may show up in consumers’ wallets. In some communities, electricity bills could rise as power companies invest in solar projects.

In New Jersey, for example, Public Service Electric & Gas plans to charge an extra 10 cents a month for a year, and up to 35 cents a month within five years, for its ambitious solar plans.

Our Perspective:

Investment in Alternative Energy, specifically solar, is more beneficial then it ever has been. Recent incentives approved by the Federal Goverment ( extending 30% Tax Credit to 2017, offering 30% grant for commercial entities along with 5 year accelerated depreciation) plus the state initiative ( grants, rebates, RECs ) have made the payback very desirable.

Should you like to know more about how to structure your investment in alternative energy, contact us.: george@hbsadvantage.com  or call 856-857-1230.

We will be glad to provide an overview and present an outline providing the best opportunities to save and jointhe evolution.

New Jersey is commited to alternative energy development. Below is an outline of the updated rebate program.

Should you want to know more about structuring your investment in alternative energy, contact Hutchinson Business Solutions

You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Last DSIRE Review: 02/02/2009  

Incentive Type: State Rebate Program
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Anaerobic Digestion, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Nonprofit, Schools, Local Government, State Government, Tribal Government, Fed. Government, Institutional
Incentive Amount: $0.15 – $5/W DC (varies by technology, capacity and applicant type); bonus rebate of $0.25/W is available for New Jersey sourced systems and equipment.
Maximum Incentive: Determined by capacity and rebate amounts for PV;
60% of eligible costs for sustainable biomass and fuel cell systems up to 10 kW;
30% for sustainable biomass and fuel cell systems greater than 10 kW;
For wind energy systems, 120% of estimated system performance at a reference wind speed of 11.4 mph
Eligible System Size: Residential PV: 10 kW DC maximum
Non-residential PV: 50 kW DC maximum
Fuel Cells and Sustainable Biomass: 1 MW AC maximum
Wind: 750,000 kWh annual energy production maximum
Output should not exceed 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) consumption.
Equipment Requirements: Systems must be new, UL-listed (PV), in compliance with all applicable performance and safety standards, and must carry a minimum 5-year warranty on all equipment.
Installation Requirements: Installation must comply with all federal, state and local codes; must meet detailed siting criteria specified in program guidelines
Program Budget: $47,297,167 (new 2009 funding for all technologies)
Ownership of Renewable Energy Credits: Remains with project owner
Funding Source: New Jersey Societal Benefits Charge
Expiration Date 2009 Program Opening Date: 02/03/2009
Closing Date, First Cycle: 04/30/2009 (funding cycles only apply to PV)
Project Review/Certification OCE has a right to inspect all systems prior to issuing rebate
Website: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/
renewable-energy/programs/renewable-energy-incentive-program
Authority 1: N.J. Stat. § 48:3-60 (2008)
Date Enacted: 1999
Effective Date: March 2001 (for rebate program)

 


Summary:

  Note: The incentive amounts listed below are available for 2009 program year applications. Systems that are not eligible to receive rebates remain eligible to generate Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and may be eligible for specialized programs based in the SREC market.  
 
New Jersey’s 1999 electric restructuring legislation provides for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy through a “Societal Benefits Charge” (SBC) collected from all customers of electric public utilities. In March 2001, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved funding for renewable-energy programs, including a customer-sited renewables rebate program for homes, businesses, institutions and non-profits.  
 
Eligible technologies include fuel cells, photovoltaic (PV) systems, small wind-energy systems and/or sustainable biomass-energy technologies. Systems must have at least a five-year, all-inclusive warranty. Eligible systems should be sized to produce no more than 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) amount of electricity consumed at a system’s site. It is important to note that system capacity limits and rebate amounts (including those for system additions) are calculated on a “per site” basis. In other words, for program purposes multiple systems on the same parcel or located on adjacent or contiguous properties under common ownership are aggregated together as a single system.  
 
In addition, effective January 28, 2008, all agricultural, commercial, industrial, non-profit and SUNLIT customers must apply for a receive a Tax Clearance Certificate from the New Jersey Division of Taxation in order to be eligible for financial assistance under this program. The objective of this new requirement is to ensure that all recipients of taxpayer funded support are in full compliance with their state tax obligations. This mandate does not affect residential customers.  
 
PV Systems  
PV systems (also known as solar-electric systems) are eligible for incentives based on the rated DC capacity of the system installed and the applicable sector. Under the 2009 program residential systems up to 10 kW and non-residential systems up to 50 kW are are eligible for incentives. In the past rebates have been reduced by 15% for owner-installed systems, although this distinction does not appear on the 2009 applications. Residential customers that participate in the OCE Home Performance with Energy Star or the Residential New Home Construction programs are eligible for slightly higher incentives.  
 
Beginning in 2009, incentive levels will be decreased as certain installed capacity benchmarks (6 MW per block) are reached. The standard incentive decline is expected to be $0.20/W at the end of each capacity block, although this may be adjusted based on how rapidly the capacity benchmarks are reached. In order to avoid the creation of lengthy application queues, the program will operate using 4-month funding cycles. Applicants that do not make it into a funding cycle must reapply once the next cycle opens. Below are the initial rebate levels for new 2009 applications:

  • Standard Residential (10 kW maximum): $1.55 per watt  
  • Residential w/energy audit (10 kW maximum): $1.75 per watt  
  • Non-residential (50 kW maximum): $1.00 per watt  
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

Sustainable Biomass and Fuel Cell Systems  
These systems are currently eligible for incentive levels beginning at $5 per watt (up to 60% of a system’s cost) for systems up to 10 kW in capacity. Larger systems receive incrementally lower rebate amounts, with a 30% maximum. (Single-family rebate applications are limited to the first 10 kW of project capacity.) The rebate schedule is as follows:

  • $3.00 per watt for the first 10 kW for systems greater than 10 kW  
  • $2.00 per watt for the next 90 kW of system size  
  • $1.50 per watt for the next 400 kW of system size  
  • $0.15 per watt for system capacity in excess of 500 kW, up to 1 MW  
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

Wind Energy Systems  
Effective beginning with the 2008 calendar year, wind energy systems will receive rebates based on expected performance rather than nameplate capacity. The Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB) rebate will be calculated according to the estimated first-year annual energy output, which itself is based on the estimated 50 meter wind speed at the site, the proposed tower height, and the performance curve of the proposed turbine. The per kilowatt-hour ($ per kWh) value of the rebate is determined by the estimated output as follows:

  • $3.20 per annual kWh for the first 16,000 kWh of estimated energy production.  
  • $0.50 per annual kWh for estimated energy production between 16,000 kWh and 750,000 kWh.
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

The incentive is capped at 120% of the of the estimated system specific performance at a reference speed of 11.4 mph. A performance calculator tool and a list of eligible wind energy systems will be available shortly on the program website.  
 
The New Jersey Clean Energy Program web site provides all application materials, complete funding schedule and information about current incentive levels. Click here for the latest statistics on the number and types of projects supported through this incentive program.


 

Contact:

  Public Information – Renewable Energy Program
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Office of Clean Energy
c/o Conservation Services Group
75 Lincoln Highway
Iselin, NJ 08830
Phone: (866) 657-6278
Web site: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/home/home

Written by Jeff Schweitzer As reported in Huffington Post Green

A sad fact of modern life is that our ability to plan for long-term energy independence is stymied by fluctuating oil prices. At $150 per barrel and $4.00 per gallon, gas-guzzling SUVs were being dropped faster than quarters at a slot convention in Las Vegas. Panic selling of large cars was fueled by punditry calling for permanently high fuel prices, with some talking heads ruminating about $200 per barrel. Politicians were falling over each other to demand a switch to renewable energies. We wondered with pious regret why the country had not invested more heavily in solar and wind power.

How quickly we forget. At $40 per barrel, we have developed an intense case of amnesia and have quickly mortgaged our future for more immediate gratification. We learned exactly nothing from the oil crisis of the 1970s or from any subsequent spike in oil prices. With every peak we express regret at our shortsightedness and promise to reform, never to drink again, and then with every valley we forget our commitment to a better future, and pick up the bottle once more.

We are behaving like alcoholics oscillating between bouts of sobriety and weakness because that is precisely what we are: oil addicts. Exhibit A is the precipitous decline in hybrid values, which are down almost 24% from the peak last summer simply because fuel is now cheaper. That rational market response is a rather pathetic reflection of our collective obsession with the short-term at the expense of a healthy future.

We need an intervention. We need to change our ways. We need help. Like all addicts, we will not get sober alone. Market forces alone will not come to our rescue. Ronald Reagan famously said that government is the problem, not the solution. He could not have been more wrong.

The immediate demands of the market cannot properly anticipate our longer-term future needs. The current price of oil, for example, does not incorporate the value of energy independence, and with that the commensurate benefits to national security. The cost of gasoline fails to include the future costs of climate change. Refineries do not consider the costs of protecting sources of oil in the Middle East in their price structure. The temporal gap between market forces and societal goals cannot be bridged by appealing to the magic of free enterprise. Government must play a catalytic role.

The time has come for society to pay the true environmental and national security price tag of burning fossil fuels. Even during these times of economic crises, gasoline must be taxed so that the actual costs to society are recovered and properly reflected in the price of fuel. The revenue generated from such a carbon tax must then be used to fund renewable energy infrastructure development and research.

Reliance on foreign oil from the world’s most unstable regions is one of our greatest national security threats. Dumping six billion tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year is one of our greatest environmental threats. We can solve both problems with an aggressive move to renewable energies. To do so, we must not fall prey to the bad habits of our addiction every time a bottle of our poison comes down in price.

We have a moral obligation to bequeath to our children a world that is at least as good as the one we inherited from our parents. We will not meet that obligation if we cannot see past the next fiscal quarter. Our government policies and personal actions must look toward a more distant horizon. We have to move beyond our ridiculous propensity to abandon our quest for energy independence with every dip in the price of oil. We can do better than this.

Our Perspective:

Alternative Energy is the new Buzzword. We are poised to enter a new energy era. Are we willing to take that step? We can’t afford not to!

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

As reported in Huffington Post Green

Austin, Texas, is getting closer to its self-imposed goal of using more renewable energy, and creating jobs in the bargain. The Texas-sized solar plant being planned would be the largest in the Unite States, according to Austin Energy.

The Council approved an agreement under which the City’s municipally-owned electric utility, Austin Energy, will purchase all of the electricity produced over a 25-year term by a 30 megawatt (MW) solar project to be built on city-owned property located about 20 miles from downtown Austin.
Gemini Solar Development Company, LLC, one of 15 companies competing for the massive project, will construct, own and manage the solar facility. The project of photovoltaic solar panels will span approximately 320 acres, producing energy each year sufficient to power about 5,000 homes. Austin Energy will pay about $10 million per year for the power.

The solar project represents a major step towards fulfilling a Council goal to develop 100 MW of solar capacity for Austin by 2020. The Council also has set a goal that 30 percent of the power delivered to customers by Austin Energy by 2020 will come from renewable resources. Construction on the project is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2010 and completed by the end of that year. The project will result in at least 600 local construction jobs.

 

The Austin American-Statesman said that critics remain — they’re worried about the financial
aspects of the plan, like how much the power will cost.

By unanimous vote, the council approved a partnership with Gemini Solar Development Co. to build and operate the facility and sell all its power to Austin at $10 million a year for 25 years. City officials say it would help them get closer to the city’s goal of using more renewable energy.
Other questions remain that critics said they would raise at the meeting. The city won’t say how much the power from the plant would cost, although most estimates are around 16.5 cents a kilowatt hour — more than most other types of power. Even that calculation is foggy, though, because federal tax credits could reduce the construction cost, thus making the electricity cheaper. But the city isn’t sure how much cheaper. The credits weren’t factored into Gemini Solar Development’s pitch.

Last DSIRE Review: 02/02/2009  

Incentive Type: State Rebate Program
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Anaerobic Digestion, Fuel Cells using Renewable Fuels
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial, Residential, Nonprofit, Schools, Local Government, State Government, Tribal Government, Fed. Government, Institutional
Incentive Amount: $0.15 – $5/W DC (varies by technology, capacity and applicant type); bonus rebate of $0.25/W is available for New Jersey sourced systems and equipment.
Maximum Incentive: Determined by capacity and rebate amounts for PV;
60% of eligible costs for sustainable biomass and fuel cell systems up to 10 kW;
30% for sustainable biomass and fuel cell systems greater than 10 kW;
For wind energy systems, 120% of estimated system performance at a reference wind speed of 11.4 mph
Eligible System Size: Residential PV: 10 kW DC maximum
Non-residential PV: 50 kW DC maximum
Fuel Cells and Sustainable Biomass: 1 MW AC maximum
Wind: 750,000 kWh annual energy production maximum
Output should not exceed 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) consumption.
Equipment Requirements: Systems must be new, UL-listed (PV), in compliance with all applicable performance and safety standards, and must carry a minimum 5-year warranty on all equipment.
Installation Requirements: Installation must comply with all federal, state and local codes; must meet detailed siting criteria specified in program guidelines
Program Budget: $47,297,167 (new 2009 funding for all technologies)
Ownership of Renewable Energy Credits: Remains with project owner
Funding Source: New Jersey Societal Benefits Charge
Expiration Date 2009 Program Opening Date: 02/03/2009
Closing Date, First Cycle: 04/30/2009 (funding cycles only apply to PV)
Project Review/Certification OCE has a right to inspect all systems prior to issuing rebate
Website: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/
renewable-energy/programs/renewable-energy-incentive-program
Authority 1: N.J. Stat. § 48:3-60 (2008)
Date Enacted: 1999
Effective Date: March 2001 (for rebate program)

 


Summary:

  Note: The incentive amounts listed below are available for 2009 program year applications. Systems that are not eligible to receive rebates remain eligible to generate Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) and may be eligible for specialized programs based in the SREC market.  
 
New Jersey’s 1999 electric restructuring legislation provides for investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy through a “Societal Benefits Charge” (SBC) collected from all customers of electric public utilities. In March 2001, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) approved funding for renewable-energy programs, including a customer-sited renewables rebate program for homes, businesses, institutions and non-profits.  
 
Eligible technologies include fuel cells, photovoltaic (PV) systems, small wind-energy systems and/or sustainable biomass-energy technologies. Systems must have at least a five-year, all-inclusive warranty. Eligible systems should be sized to produce no more than 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) amount of electricity consumed at a system’s site. It is important to note that system capacity limits and rebate amounts (including those for system additions) are calculated on a “per site” basis. In other words, for program purposes multiple systems on the same parcel or located on adjacent or contiguous properties under common ownership are aggregated together as a single system.  
 
In addition, effective January 28, 2008, all agricultural, commercial, industrial, non-profit and SUNLIT customers must apply for a receive a Tax Clearance Certificate from the New Jersey Division of Taxation in order to be eligible for financial assistance under this program. The objective of this new requirement is to ensure that all recipients of taxpayer funded support are in full compliance with their state tax obligations. This mandate does not affect residential customers.  
 
PV Systems  
PV systems (also known as solar-electric systems) are eligible for incentives based on the rated DC capacity of the system installed and the applicable sector. Under the 2009 program residential systems up to 10 kW and non-residential systems up to 50 kW are are eligible for incentives. In the past rebates have been reduced by 15% for owner-installed systems, although this distinction does not appear on the 2009 applications. Residential customers that participate in the OCE Home Performance with Energy Star or the Residential New Home Construction programs are eligible for slightly higher incentives.  
 
Beginning in 2009, incentive levels will be decreased as certain installed capacity benchmarks (6 MW per block) are reached. The standard incentive decline is expected to be $0.20/W at the end of each capacity block, although this may be adjusted based on how rapidly the capacity benchmarks are reached. In order to avoid the creation of lengthy application queues, the program will operate using 4-month funding cycles. Applicants that do not make it into a funding cycle must reapply once the next cycle opens. Below are the initial rebate levels for new 2009 applications:

  • Standard Residential (10 kW maximum): $1.55 per watt  
  • Residential w/energy audit (10 kW maximum): $1.75 per watt  
  • Non-residential (50 kW maximum): $1.00 per watt  
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

Sustainable Biomass and Fuel Cell Systems  
These systems are currently eligible for incentive levels beginning at $5 per watt (up to 60% of a system’s cost) for systems up to 10 kW in capacity. Larger systems receive incrementally lower rebate amounts, with a 30% maximum. (Single-family rebate applications are limited to the first 10 kW of project capacity.) The rebate schedule is as follows:

  • $3.00 per watt for the first 10 kW for systems greater than 10 kW  
  • $2.00 per watt for the next 90 kW of system size  
  • $1.50 per watt for the next 400 kW of system size  
  • $0.15 per watt for system capacity in excess of 500 kW, up to 1 MW  
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

Wind Energy Systems  
Effective beginning with the 2008 calendar year, wind energy systems will receive rebates based on expected performance rather than nameplate capacity. The Expected Performance Based Buydown (EPBB) rebate will be calculated according to the estimated first-year annual energy output, which itself is based on the estimated 50 meter wind speed at the site, the proposed tower height, and the performance curve of the proposed turbine. The per kilowatt-hour ($ per kWh) value of the rebate is determined by the estimated output as follows:

  • $3.20 per annual kWh for the first 16,000 kWh of estimated energy production.  
  • $0.50 per annual kWh for estimated energy production between 16,000 kWh and 750,000 kWh.
  • NJ-Sourced Bonus: $0.25 per watt for projects that use systems or components manufactured or assembled in New Jersey

The incentive is capped at 120% of the of the estimated system specific performance at a reference speed of 11.4 mph. A performance calculator tool and a list of eligible wind energy systems will be available shortly on the program website.  
 
The New Jersey Clean Energy Program web site provides all application materials, complete funding schedule and information about current incentive levels. Click here for the latest statistics on the number and types of projects supported through this incentive program.


 

Contact:

  Public Information – Renewable Energy Program
New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Office of Clean Energy
c/o Conservation Services Group
75 Lincoln Highway
Iselin, NJ 08830
Phone: (866) 657-6278
Web site: http://www.njcleanenergy.com/renewable-energy/home/home

Should you want to know more about how to incorporate Federal and State incentives into a viable alternative energy solution for your organization or business; contact Hutchinson Business Solutions.  You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

Written by Sharon Begley

Political will and a price on CO2 won’t be enough to bring about low-carbon energy sources.

By all means, swap out your regular light bulbs for compact fluorescents, take the bus, weatherize your home and install solar panels on your roof. Oh, heck, go crazy: tell your senators to give the nuclear industry everything it wants so it starts building reactors again. But while you’re doing all that to reduce the world’s energy use and cut emissions of greenhouse gases, keep this in mind: even if we scale up existing technologies to mind-bending levels, such as finishing one nuclear plant every other day for the next 40 years, we’ll still fall short of how much low-carbon energy will be needed to keep atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide below what scientists now recognize as the point of no return.

As the world gets closer to a consensus that we need to slash CO2 emissions, a debate is raging over whether we can achieve the required cuts by scaling up existing technologies or whether we need “transformational” scientific breakthroughs. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which assesses the causes, magnitude and impacts of global warming, said in 2007 that “currently available” technologies and those on the cusp of commercialization can bring enough zero-carbon energy online to avoid catastrophic climate change. And I regularly get reports from renewable-energy and environmental groups arguing that off-the-shelf technologies, fully deployed, can get us there. In the opposite corner is the Department of Energy, which in December concluded that we need breakthroughs in physics and chemistry that are “beyond our present reach” to, for instance, triple the efficiency of solar panels; DOE secretary Steven Chu has said we need Nobel caliber breakthroughs.

That is also the view of energy chemist Nate Lewis of the California Institute of Technology. “It’s not true that all the technologies are available and we just need the political will to deploy them,” he says. “My concern, and that of most scientists working on energy, is that we are not anywhere close to where we need to be. We are too focused on cutting emissions 20 percent by 2020—but you can always shave 20 percent off” through, say, efficiency and conservation. By focusing on easy, near-term cuts, we may miss the boat on what’s needed by 2050, when CO2 emissions will have to be 80 percent below today’s to keep atmospheric levels no higher than 450 parts per million. (We’re now at 386 ppm, compared with 280 before the Industrial Revolution.) That’s 80 percent less emissions from much greater use of energy.

Lewis’s numbers show the enormous challenge we face. The world used 14 trillion watts (14 terawatts) of power in 2006. Assuming minimal population growth (to 9 billion people), slow economic growth (1.6 percent a year, practically recession level) and—this is key—unprecedented energy efficiency (improvements of 500 percent relative to current U.S. levels, worldwide), it will use 28 terawatts in 2050. (In a business-as-usual scenario, we would need 45 terawatts.) Simple physics shows that in order to keep CO2 to 450 ppm, 26.5 of those terawatts must be zero-carbon. That’s a lot of solar, wind, hydro, biofuels and nuclear, especially since renewables kicked in a measly 0.2 terawatts in 2006 and nuclear provided 0.9 terawatts. Are you a fan of nuclear? To get 10 terawatts, less than half of what we’ll need in 2050, Lewis calculates, we’d have to build 10,000 reactors, or one every other day starting now. Do you like wind? If you use every single breeze that blows on land, you’ll get 10 or 15 terawatts. Since it’s impossible to capture all the wind, a more realistic number is 3 terawatts, or 1 million state-of-the art turbines, and even that requires storing the energy—something we don’t know how to do—for when the wind doesn’t blow. Solar? To get 10 terawatts by 2050, Lewis calculates, we’d need to cover 1 million roofs with panels every day from now until then. “It would take an army,” he says. Obama promised green jobs, but still.

Hence the need for Nobel-caliber discoveries. Lewis’s research is on artificial photosynthesis, in which a material (to be determined, thus the research) absorbs sunlight and water and produces hydrogen for fuel but zero CO2. “If we could figure out how to make and deploy such a system, the capacity would be essentially infinite,” he says. Another need is for transmission lines that don’t leak 80 percent of what they carry, says physicist David Pines of the University of California, Davis. “The technology is not remotely there,” he says. “We’re going to have to discover yet another family of superconductors [which do not lose current] that are easily made into wires” and that work at the temperature of liquid nitrogen, a coolant.

Prospects stink for discovering what we need to discover, especially when you consider that to get the right energy mix in 2050, given how long it takes to capitalize and deploy new technologies, we need breakthroughs soon, not in 2049. Yet despite the pressing need, DOE spent a pitiful $2 billion to $3 billion on nondefense, basic energy R&D last year, less than one fifth what we spent in the 1970s and 1980s. A new report from the Brookings Institution calls for $20 billion to $30 billion a year and—to improve the odds of success—revamping the nation’s energy labs, which today are “too far removed from the marketplace to produce the kind of transformational research we need for new energy technologies,” says Brookings’s Mark Muro. The clock is ticking.

Our Perspective:

For too long we have rested on our laurels. We have continued to improve on products which have a finite life. These improvements have brought better efficiency and lowered emissions but they were based on fossil fuels.

Today more than ever the buzzword is alternative energy. These products are still in their infancy but they do represent a true alternative. More dollars should be targeted to enhancing their capabilities and increasing their efficiencies.

The answer to our energy crisis will not be found with any one solution. Solar, Wind, Geothermal, Fuel Cells and perhaps something soon to be introduced will all play a pertinent part.

Americans have always risen to the challenge. Should we be able to accept this challenge we can lead the energy evolution and provide real change. We must realize that we are all one and there is a delicate balance in the universe that must be maintained. Over the last 200 years we have effected this balance with the thought of progress. Responsible progress is needed.

We must now accept this responsibility!

Interested in learning more about incorporating alternative energy solutions for your organization or business? We specialize in setting up financial structures that incorporate the Federal and State incentives available which provide a ROI that finally makes sense.

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

Have a question? you may call 856-857-1230

© 2009

Many companies and government entities are choosing to go solar through a recent financing mechanism known as a power purchase agreement or a PPA.

A PPA is a long-term agreement to buy power from a separate company that finances and owns the solar system and then sells the end-user the electricity generated by the system.

Hutchinson Business Solutions (HBS) PPA partners use their own funds to finance the installation of a solar power system for your facility. The same PPA partner maintains and operates the solar power system, typically for 15 years or more.

In purchasing, operating and maintaining the solar system, the PPA partner assumes all the risks and responsibilities of ownership. At the end of the PPA term you can either purchase the solar system at fair market value or extend the PPA.
With a PPA you reap all the advantages of going solar, from lower electricity costs to public relations benefits, while conserving precious capital for other needs and opportunities.
We feel that a Power Purchase Agreements provide the best funding vehicle for Municipal and Non Profit Organizations. The Federal and State Governments have provided many financial incentives.
A Power Purchase Agreement allows these organizations to take advantage of these incentives with no upfront investments and save on electric cost.
 
PPAs at a glance:
  • Third-party financing company purchases a solar electric system for your facility, then charges you for the electricity generated.
  • No up-front capital required.
  • No maintenance work or risk.
  • You secure a long-term contract for power, often below current utility rates.
  • Stabilize an operating cost that was once highly variable.
  • Fixed electricity rates are a hedge against rising energy costs or spikes.
 
To learn more about how a Power Purchase Agreement may benefit you call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com