By Diane Mastrull

Pennsylvania will start issuing rebate checks in July to help homeowners offset the cost of installing solar-powered energy systems, but don’t expect an immediate stampede to plug into the sun.

Even with a state rebate of up to 35 percent, on top of maximum federal tax credits of 30 percent, going solar requires a sizable investment. The typical four-kilowatt residential system costs about $35,000.

In all but affluent households, that is an unthinkable expense, says David Blumenfeld – especially now, when “everybody is hurting, everybody is scared about losing their job.”

So he is offering another pathway to the sun.

By offering homeowners the option of leasing solar systems – a deal that would not involve the up-front costs typical of buying such equipment – Blumenfeld’s new company, Urban Eco Electric, hopes to raise a bumper crop of solar panels across Philadelphia’s rowhouse rooftops.

UEE, believed to be one of only a few such companies nationwide, also would guarantee 50 percent decreases in monthly electricity costs for the first two years of a 20-year agreement.

For the subsequent 18 years, customers would pay their current electric rates – as long as their electricity use did not exceed the amount on which that rate was based. The rates would remain frozen even in the likely event of substantial increases, which are expected when utilities start lifting rate caps in 2011.

“At the end of the day, the savings are substantial,” Blumenfeld said of solar leasing.

It is a relatively new green-economy concept, largely confined to California and Connecticut, but expected to “be very prevalent” soon, said Adam Stern, executive vice president of the Gemstone Group Inc., a renewable-energy investment-banking firm in Wayne.

“In fact, my organization is creating a solar-leasing business for Pennsylvania,” Stern said last week. “We are working on a late-summer or early-fall launch.”

After that, Gemstone plans to turn its attention to New Jersey, where grants and loan programs are the financial-assistance options available to homeowners for solar-powered systems.

Gemstone was the architect of Connecticut’s solar-leasing program, which debuted last summer, and is managing its leasing company.

UEE, formed in January, has a staff of three and expects to employ as many as 100 within 18 months as installers, systems monitors, and sales staff are added. The company has been marketing for about a month, canvassing neighborhoods, street fairs, and Earth Day events.

The goal is to get 100 signed contracts within 100 days, said Blumenfeld, 47, a lawyer and real estate broker who lives in Lower Merion. Once that target is reached, installation would begin.

As its name implies, UEE is confining its work to the city. Flat rowhouse roofs and their unobstructed access to the sun make them ideal properties for solar-heating systems, Blumenfeld said.

An added plus is that most city homes use gas for heating and cooking, making it that much more possible to serve 100 percent of a rowhouse’s electricity needs through solar, he said.

Blumenfeld grew up in the city and spent seven years with Grasso Holdings as a partner responsible for acquisitions and new development. With conditions in the development business “dreadful” over the last year, Blumenfeld said, he decided that “it was time to go out and do something new.”

He thought about the solar industry largely because the state legislature had passed in July Gov. Rendell’s $650 million Alternative Energy Funding Act, which allotted $100 million for the solar-rebate program for homes and small businesses.

The more Blumenfeld read about solar initiatives, the more convinced he grew “that everyone was focused on the wrong market – large power-purchase agreements. Going after the residential market seemed a huge opportunity.”

In typical solar-installation deals, customers are told to expect a return on their investments in five to seven years at best. Blumenfeld said that is merely guesswork – and completely irrelevant to those who cannot come up with the money for installation.

How UEE will get a return on its investments is a complex matter of depreciation, tax credits, and use of federal, state, and local incentives. For instance, using the solar electricity generated by its systems, UEE would have the ability to sell renewable-energy certificates to utilities to help them meet renewable-energy-portfolio standards.

Andrew Kleeman, managing partner at Center City-based Eos Energy Solutions, is a solar installer who contends the essentials are not in place to make leasing work “in the foreseeable future.” Still unclear in Pennsylvania, he said, is how solar-leasing companies would access state rebates that are available to homeowners buying solar systems.

Those subsidies are “essential to making the numbers work,” Kleeman said.In the three-story Queen Village rowhouse Peter and Rebecca Lazor live in with their 2-year-old son, $30,000 in green improvements already have been made. They have replaced all the windows, reinsulated the house, and replaced the appliances with energy-efficient models.

Installing a solar-power system “was the next logical move,” said Peter Lazor, 38, an architect. But an out-of-pocket expense of $25,000 to $40,000 “was cost-prohibitive” – they would have to stay in the house far longer than anticipated to derive enough energy savings to justify a loan for the system.

Then along came Blumenfeld with his leasing pitch, an idea Lazor found “really attractive.” Come summer, he hopes to have a rowhouse juiced by the sun.

Our Perspective:

PA has just started it’s solar initiative. A small step indeed but a much needed step.

Should you wanrt to know more about financial structures and other financial opportunities that take advantage of federal and stae incentives, contact:

Hutchinson Business Solutions

You may email us george@hbsadvantage.com

Daniel C. Esty

Posted April 20, 2009 | 03:50 PM (EST)  As reported in Huffington Post Green

Talk has begun to turn to the new economy that will emerge from the present collapse. General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt has suggested that the current crisis is not just a recession but a fundamental “reset” of how business gets done. And Time magazine has taken up this theme with a reset cover story. But there has been little discussion of exactly what changes – in principles and practices — should be made so that we rebuild our economy on firmer foundations. As we celebrate Earth Day this week, it is a good time to commit to “sustainability” as a centerpiece of a revitalized regulatory system.

For the past three decades, debate has raged over whether and how to deregulate. But while markets offer the prospect of promoting innovation, growth, and prosperity, few now believe that capitalism is self-correcting or that the private sector needs only minimal supervision. From the demise of Lehman Brothers and AIG to the skullduggery of Bernie Madoff and Allan Stanford, the signs of inadequate regulation and market failure surround us.

Two particular forms of market failure underlie the meltdown of the past year and make sustainability the right touchstone for our regulatory reset efforts:

• Externalized costs and risks
• Incomplete information

Both of these problems require that we rethink our approach to regulation — and re-establish the fundamentals of our economy on a more sustainable basis. And note that this principle should apply broadly, not just in the financial arena.

We need regulations which ensure that companies cannot structure their operations so that any upside gains accrue to their owners (or worse yet their managers), while risks or costs get shifted onto society as a whole. In the banking sector, rules against over-leveraging are urgently required. The recently released Turner Report in the UK outlines the first steps in this direction that should be taken. More generally, financial reporting rules must be designed to expose hidden risks and externalized costs.

We should likewise insist that companies which send emissions up a smokestack or out an effluent pipe cease their pollution or pay for the harm inflicted on the community. In our “reset” world, economic success cannot come at the price of harms imposed on the public in the form of contaminated air and water or risk of climate change. Thus while we lay the foundation for a more sustainable economy, let’s similarly adopt rules that provide for a sustainable environmental future. This will require overhauling the traditional approach to environmental regulation which countenances way too much in the way of externalities by offering “permits” up to a certain level of harm.

President Obama’s call for a price on carbon dioxide emissions represents a good first step in the “no externalities” direction. But let’s broaden the push and make polluters pay for all the harm they cause. If companies — and each one of us in our personal lives — had to pay for our waste and pollution, behavior would change. Putting a price on harm-causing creates incentives for care and conservation — efficiency and resource productivity.

More importantly, these price signals will drive a market response. Companies that are positioned to help others reduce their waste or cut their emissions will find customers eager for their goods and services. And where no easy solutions are available, harm charges will motivate “cleantech” innovation as inventors and entrepreneurs recognize the prospect of making money by solving environmental problems.

In parallel with a commitment to internalizing externalities, we must adopt transparency as a watchword. Market capitalism does not work without adequate information about economic actors. This reality has been understood in theory, but now needs to be advanced in practice. Government has a critical role to play in establishing the terms of disclosure about companies, markets, products, investment vehicles, and more. Public officials must also be empowered to ensure that disclosures are complete and accurate.

Well-designed reporting rules make it easier to spot externalized costs or risks and harder to hide malfeasance. Widely available metrics also facilitate benchmarking across companies, which offers a mechanism for assessing performance, highlighting leaders and laggards, and spurring competitive pressures that drive all toward better results. Studying the leaders offers an important way to identify best practices in everything from corporate strategy to pollution control. Likewise, outliers (such as those who make 10% returns year after year without fail) can be isolated for special review and scrutiny.

Such transparency would make it easier to refine our compensation systems to reward superior performance and real value creation. Carefully constructed disclosure rules could help, on the other hand, to unmask mere financial engineering, which should not be credited with outsized rewards.

There is a great deal of work to be done to re-establish prosperity across our country and the world. Smart regulation can channel corporate behavior and individual effort toward sustainable economic growth — that is durable because it rests on solid underpinnings not hidden risks or externalized costs.

Daniel C. Esty is the Hillhouse Professor at Yale University with appointments in both the Yale Law School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He is the co-author (with Andrew Winston) of the prize-winning book, Green to Gold: How Smart Companies Use Environmental Strategy to Innovate, Create Value, and Build Competitive Advantage (just released in a revised and updated edition published by John Wiley). A former Deputy Assistant Administrator at the US Environmental Protection Agency, Professor Esty advised the Obama Campaign on energy and environmental issues and served on the Obama Transition Team.

Written by Seth Borenstein  AP

WASHINGTON — A new scientific study finds that the absolute worst of global warming can still be avoided if the entire world cuts emission of greenhouse gases the way President Barack Obama and Europe want.

A computer simulation by the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., looked at what would happen by the end of the century if greenhouse gas levels were cut by 70 percent. The result: The world would still be a warmer world but by about 2 degrees instead of 4 degrees. Arctic sea ice would shrink but not disappear, and sea level would rise less.

About half the temperature increases and changes in droughts and floods can be avoided compared to a scenario without emission cuts, according to the study, which will be published next week in the journal Geophysical Research Letters. Future heat waves would be 55 percent less intense. Thawing of permafrost in the far north would also be reduced.

The study is one of the first to use computer models to quantify how much of the effects global warming can be avoided, compared to a world if nothing is done about the problem.

While the study looked at what would happen with dramatic cuts in future pollution, history has shown that reductions are much easier to talk about than to make. The controversial 1997 Kyoto Protocol called for industrialized countries to cut emissions but since then levels worldwide have gone up 25 percent. In the U.S., where emissions are up 6 percent in the last decade, Congress is fiercely arguing over a plan to reduce pollution.

“If we follow on the path that Obama has outlined of cutting emissions by 70 or 80 percent and the rest of the world does it, then we can make a big difference on the climate by the end of the century,” climate scientist and study chief author Warren Washington told The Associated Press.

But if the United States and Europe cut back on carbon dioxide and China, India and other developing countries do not, then the world is heading toward a harsher hotter future, not the one the study shows, Washington said.

The study mapped areas that would benefit the most by emission cuts, comparing what would happen with less carbon dioxide pollution and what would happen if greenhouse gas continue to grow. The difference between the two scenarios is starkest for temperatures in Alaska and the mountain west, which would see temperatures rise a couple degrees less with emission cuts. Reduced carbon dioxide would also significantly lessen predicted future droughts on the Pacific coast and flooding in the Northeast.

Much of Europe, Russia, China and Australia would see the biggest temperature benefits from reductions in greenhouse gas pollution, while the Mediterranean, Caribbean and North Africa region would benefit the most in predicted changes in rainfall from less global warming.

If the world cuts back on fossil fuels, “it isn’t going to be as bad,” Washington said.

HARRISBURG – Pennsylvania’s long-stalled solar-rebate program for homeowners and small businesses will soon have funding – an infusion of cash that could result in the creation of scores of “green” jobs.

The Commonwealth Financing Authority board voted unanimously yesterday to borrow $30 million to get the Pennsylvania Sunshine Program under way.

Enacted in July as part of Gov. Rendell’s $650 million Alternative Energy Funding Act, Sunshine is expected to provide rebates of 35 percent to help cover the cost of buying solar-power systems.

“Time is of the essence,” said George Cornelius, chairman of the seven-member authority board and the state’s acting secretary of community and economic development.

The DEPartment of Environmental Protection, which will administer the Sunshine Program, expects rebate applications to be available within two weeks.

“We think this is the front edge of a huge development of renewable energy in Pennsylvania,” said Dan Griffiths, deputy secretary at the DEP.

Those are inspiring words to Jeremy Klotz, 44, of South Philadelphia, who traveled to the state capital yesterday along with 30 other solar contractors to urge the authority to approve funding for Sunshine.

Klotz was laid off three weeks ago from a solar company that had hired him months ago in anticipation of Sunshine funds that never came.

Solar-contracting companies throughout the state had hundreds of thousands of dollars in installation jobs and planned hires on hold because homeowners and small businesses were reluctant to commit to solar projects without assurance that state help to offset the cost was, indeed, on the way. An average 5-kilowatt residential system costs $35,000 to $40,000.

“If this [funding] had passed, I might be working right now,” Klotz told the authority board prior to yesterday’s vote.

A quick polling of his colleagues in the audience revealed at least 350 installation projects on hold because of uncertainty over when – if ever – Sunshine funds would become available, Ron Celentano, a principal with Celentano Energy Services in Wyndmoor, told the authority board.

 

‘Dire need’

“We are in dire need of this money,” said Celentano, who is also vice president of the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association.

Rising from the back row, a soft-spoken Wes Checkeye, a 24-year-old part-time solar installer at Heat Shed Inc. near Quakertown, told the board he was “looking forward to a solar future – if that’s possible.”

In all, the legislature allotted $100 million for Sunshine. The Commonwealth Financing Authority, an independent agency established to administer Pennsylvania’s stimulus packages, anticipates issuing a number of bonds over the next few years to fund the Sunshine program entirely, as well as other alternative-energy programs the state intends to launch.

The authority intends to go to market to finance Sunshine’s first funding infusion the first week of May, said executive director Scott Dunkelberger.

 

‘All those green jobs’

That was a good-enough assurance for Kira Costanza of Collegeville-based Sunpower Builders, which has about 40 contracts with potential customers sitting in a drawer and about a half-dozen planned hires that have been in limbo.

“We’re thrilled,” Costanza said of yesterday’s funding vote. “This is going to create all of those green jobs everybody’s been talking about.”

Within a month, that will mean the rehiring of an administrative assistant, an electrician, and a plumber at Open Sky Energy Systems in Swarthmore, said Michael Matotek, chief operating officer.

The company was formed a month or two after the legislature approved the Sunshine program. With rebates still unavailable by January, Matotek said, “we had to let everybody go.”

After the vote, he told Klotz he’d like him to consider working at Open Sky.

Said an elated Klotz: “I’m going to go celebrate my daughter’s 13th birthday.”

Our perspective:

The long awaited door has been opened. Governor Rendell approved this measure in July 2008, from there it had to be defined.

This is a small but necessary steps. The bill is designed for residential and small businesses. It will not prove to be the be all…end all.

PA has to take significant steps if it wishes to jump start a program needed to address the growing demand for energy. We are faced with a dilemna. Demand is growing   1 1/2% a year. We are unable to meet this growing demand in the next 8 to 10 years with our existing facilities.

I do not believe that people will accept rolling brown outs as a possible solution to meeting this growing demand. Incentives are needed to open the gates to larger facilities / businesses. Providing a ROI that will not only make sense but also allow us to meet this demand.

Let us know your thoughts?

Should you be interested in knowing more of how to set up the proper financial structure needed to take advantage of Federal and State Incentives…email george@hbsadvantage.com 

Last DSIRE Review: 02/19/2009  

Incentive Type: Federal Grant Program
Eligible Renewable/Other Technologies: Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Photovoltaics, Landfill Gas, Wind, Biomass, Hydroelectric, Geothermal Electric, Fuel Cells, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Municipal Solid Waste, CHP/Cogeneration, Solar Hybrid Lighting, Hydrokinetic, Tidal Energy, Wave Energy, Ocean Thermal, Microturbines
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Industrial, Agricultural
Amount: 30% of property that is part of a qualified facility, qualified fuel cell property, solar property, or qualified small wind property
10% of all other property
Max. Limit: $1,500 per 0.5 kW for qualified fuel cell property
$200 per kW for qualified microturbine property
50 MW for CHP property, with limitations for large systems
Terms: Grant applications must be submitted by 10/1/2011. Payment of grant will be made within 60 days of the grant application date or the date property is placed in service, whichever is later.
Website: http://www.treas.gov/recovery/
Authority 1: H.R. 1: Div. B, Sec. 1104 & 1603 (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009)
Date Enacted: 2/17/2009
Effective Date: 1/1/2009

 


Summary:

  Note: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1) allows taxpayers eligible for the federal business energy investment tax credit (ITC) to take this credit or to receive a grant from the U.S. Treasury Department instead of taking the business ITC for new installations. The new law also allows taxpayers eligible for the renewable electricity production tax credit (PTC) to receive a grant from the U.S. Treasury Department instead of taking the PTC for new installations. (It does not allow taxpayers eligible for the residential renewable energy tax credit to receive a grant instead of taking this credit.) Taxpayers may not use more than one of these incentives. If an entity receives a grant and has previously received the business ITC or the PTC, the credit will be recaptured through an increase in taxes during the year in which the grant is awarded by the amount of the credit taken in previous years. Receiving a credit in the past does not reduce the amount of the grant. The grant is not included in the gross income of the taxpayer.  
 
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1), enacted in February 2009, created a renewable energy grant program that will be administered by the U.S. Department of Treasury. This cash grant may be taken in lieu of the federal business energy investment tax credit (ITC).  
 
Grants are available to eligible property* placed in service in 2009 or 2010, or placed in service by the specified credit termination date,** if construction began in 2009 or 2010:

  • Solar. The grant is equal to 30% of the basis of the property for solar energy. Eligible solar-energy property includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity, to heat or cool (or provide hot water for use in) a structure, or to provide solar process heat. Passive solar systems and solar pool-heating systems are not eligible. Hybrid solar-lighting systems, which use solar energy to illuminate the inside of a structure using fiber-optic distributed sunlight, are eligible.  
     
  • Fuel Cells. The grant is equal to 30% of the basis of the property for fuel cells. The grant for fuel cells is capped at $1,500 per 0.5 kilowatt (kW) in capacity. Eligible property includes fuel cells with a minimum capacity of 0.5 kW that have an electricity-only generation efficiency of 30% or higher.  
     
  • Small Wind Turbines. The grant is equal to 30% of the basis of the property for small wind turbines. Eligible small wind property includes wind turbines up to 100 kW in capacity.  
     
  • Qualified Facilities. The grant is equal to 30% of the basis of the property for qualified facilities. Qualified facilities include wind energy facilities, closed-loop biomass facilities, open-loop biomass facilities, geothermal energy facilities, landfill gas facilities, trash facilities, qualified hydropower facilities, and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy facilities.  
     
  • Geothermal Heat Pumps. The grant is equal to 10% of the basis of the property for geothermal heat pumps.  
     
  • Microturbines. The grant is equal to 10% of the basis of the property for microturbines. The grant for microturbines is capped at $200 per kW of capacity. Eligible property includes microturbines up to two megawatts (MW) in capacity that have an electricity-only generation efficiency of 26% or higher.  
     
  • Combined Heat and Power (CHP). The grant is equal to 10% of the basis of the property for CHP. Eligible CHP property generally includes systems up to 50 MW in capacity that exceed 60% energy efficiency, subject to certain limitations and reductions for large systems. The efficiency requirement does not apply to CHP systems that use biomass for at least 90% of the system’s energy source, but the grant may be reduced for less-efficient systems.

It is important to note that only tax-paying entities are eligible for this grant. Federal, state and local government bodies, non-profits, qualified energy tax credit bond lenders, and cooperative electric companies are not eligible to receive this grant. Partners or pass-thru entities for the organizations described above are also not eligible to receive this grant. Grant applications must be submitted by October 1, 2011. The U.S. Treasury Department will make payment of the grant within 60 days of the grant application date or the date the property is placed in service, whichever is later.  
 
The U.S. Department of Treasury has not yet released guidelines and is not accepting applications currently for this grant. It is expected that guidelines will be released in late Spring 2009.  
 
 
*Definitions of eligible property types and renewable technologies can be found in the U.S. Code, Title 26, § 45 and § 48.  
 
**Credit termination date of January 1, 2013 for wind; January 1, 2014 for closed-loop biomass, open-loop biomass, landfill gas, trash, qualified hydropower, marine and hydrokinetic; January 1, 2017 for fuel cells, small wind, solar, geothermal, microturbines, CHP and geothermal heat pumps.

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.

TRUST IN THE WIND

April 8, 2009

ATLANTIC CITY – Windmills off the East Coast could generate enough electricity to replace most, if not all, the coal-fired power plants in the United States, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said yesterday.

His view was challenged as “overly optimistic” by a coal-industry group, which noted that half the nation’s electricity currently comes from coal-fired power plants.

The secretary spoke at a public hearing in Atlantic City on how the nation’s offshore areas can be tapped to meet its energy needs.

“The idea that wind energy has the potential to replace most of our coal-burning power today is a very real possibility,” he said. “It is not technology that is pie-in-the sky; it is here-and-now.”

A spokesman for Salazar said yesterday evening that the secretary does not expect wind power to be fully developed, but was speaking of its total potential if it were.

Offshore energy production might not be limited to wind power, Salazar said. A moratorium on offshore oil drilling has expired, and President Obama and Congress must decide whether to allow drilling off the East Coast.

“We know there are some people who want us to close the door on that,” he said. “We need to look at all forms of energy as we move forward into a new energy frontier.”

Salazar said ocean winds along the East Coast can generate one million megawatts of power, roughly equal to 3,000 medium-sized coal-fired plants, or nearly five times the number of coal plants now operating in the United States, according to the Energy Department.

Salazar could not estimate how many windmills might be needed to generate one million megawatts, saying it would depend on their size and how far from the coast they were located.

Jason Hayes, a spokesman for the American Coal Council, said he was puzzled by Salazar’s projections. He said wind-power plants face roadblocks including local opposition, concerns about the impact on wildlife, and problems in efficiently transmitting power from far offshore.

“It really is a stretch,” he said of Salazar’s estimate. “How you put that many new [wind] plants up, especially in deep water, is confusing. Even if you could do what he said, you still need to deal with the fact that the best wind plants generate power about 30 percent of the time. There’s got to be something to back that up.”

Yesterday’s hearing was hosted by Salazar and was the first of four nationwide to discuss how energy resources including oil, gas, wind and waves should be used as the Obama administration formulates its energy policy. It was held at the Atlantic City Convention Center, whose roof-mounted solar-energy panels are the largest in the nation.

Salazar said it is essential that the nation fully exploit renewable energy resources to reduce its reliance on imported oil.

By buying oil from countries hostile to the United States, “we have, in my opinion, been funding both sides in the war on terrorism,” he said.

Environmentalists are urging the Obama administration to bar oil and gas drilling off the East Coast, and invest heavily in wind, solar and other energy technology.

Our Perspective:

I have found there is no silver bullet. There are multiple forms of alternative energy solutions, each playing a unique part in the overall solution.

To install wind mills out in the ocean and rid ourselves of the mining of coal would amount to a homerun! Safety is always a concern. Not only the safety of our workers mining the coal but also the safety of the environment. All the pollutants discharged into the air from its’ use.

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

Have a question about financing your investment in alternative energy? Contact us. We specialize in creating the financial structure that make sense. 

As reported in NJ Biz Written by Shankar P

Vineland and Ocean City are implementing ambitious programs to attract investments in renewable energy, particularly solar power, and their city administrations are leading by example. Investors from across the world are showing interest in their projects, according to municipal officials in both cities.

New Jersey has the second-biggest solar energy program in the country, according to Mark Sinclair, executive director of the Montpelier, Vt.-based Clean Energy States Alliance, an organization of 20 states with renewable energy programs.

Vineland is the state’s only city with its own electricity-generating plant, but the 100-megawatt facility uses coal and oil as fuels, and needs replacement, said James Lelli, the city’s director of economic development. The city plans to replace the plant with one operating on solar power, and also build a 60-megawatt natural gas generator, financed by a $60 million bond issue, by 2012.

Five companies have shown interest in building a solar panel farm to supply the city’s needs, including one from China, Lelli said. The city is negotiating with some of the interested parties, and expects to make an announcement soon. Power generated at the plant would be sold to the regional grid, he said.

One of the proposals is to build a 50-megawatt solar panel farm at a cost of some $150 million, Lelli said. About 300 acres would be needed to generate that much power; the city already has earmarked 100 acres for the farm and a 100,000-square-foot plant building, he said. All that land would cost the prospective investor $4.5 million at the prevailing market rate of $45,000 an acre, he added.

Vineland has kept the site shovel ready, with utility infrastructure and an industrial zoning status, Lelli said. He expects to have a deal by the year’s end, and the solar farm up and running nine months afterward.

Vineland also last week signed a deal with utility company Conectiv to build a 4-megawatt solar farm in the city, Lelli said.

Ocean City, another old hand at implementing green projects, is also exploring a plan to band together business owners who might want to install solar panels on their premises. Together, they would be able to justify the investment in solar panels that might otherwise not be feasible, said Jim Rutala, Ocean City’s business administrator.

Rutala said over the past month, the city has been in talks with several businesses about solar energy plans, and that Nicholas Asselta, commissioner of the state Board of Public Utilities, is helping in the process.

Ocean City, in fact, has one of the state’s largest municipal solar energy projects, Rutala said. In February, it completed an ambitious project to install 1,800 panels on five city-owned buildings, providing 550,000 kilowatt-hours. It plans to extend panel installation to another half-dozen buildings, he added.

The city chose Entech Solar Inc., of Fort Worth, Texas, through a competitive bidding process to install the required infrastructure, he added. The solar project deal allowed Ocean City to lower its energy costs as Entech earns a return on its investment, Rutala said; the city sells leftover power to the regional grid.

The deal also allows the city to purchase its power at a concessional price of 4 cents per kilowatt-hour, said Jim Bryan, commercial and municipal markets manager at Entech in its Ewing offices. That price could go down to as low as 2.5 cents after factoring in the value of tradable renewable energy certificates the city gets, he said. The prevailing price of such electricity would be between 12 and 18 cents a kilowatt-hour, he said.

Entech makes its money in the turnkey construction of the solar energy project, and was helped by a $1.5 million BPU rebate, Bryan said. But New Jersey now is moving away from rebates, to a more market-based mechanism to power such projects.

Our Perspective:

This is a big step. We have clients in Vineland and I have read the story about this proposed conversion.

This makes perfect sense. Solar is a true Clean Energy Alternative that can help support Vineland’s Municipal Utility sustainability.

Should you like to know more about the proper financial structure needed for these initiatives, you may call 856-857-1230 or email george@hbsadvantage.com.

We will show you how to properly structure the deal and take advantage of all the Federal and State initives that will lower your ROI.

HBS….Tomorrow’s Clean Energy…Today!

THE Pentagon may seem an unlikely promoter of alternative energy, but the biggest consumer of oil in the United States is looking at ways to become just that by partnering with private firms.

From correspondents in Washington, USA

March 29, 2009 12:33pm

 

“When you don’t use as much fuel, not only does it not cost you as much, but it also saves lives and injuries of those people who would have to deliver fuel through hostile territory,” Assistant Army Secretary for Installations and the Environment Keith Eastin said.

Despite reducing its overall energy consumption by five per cent between 2005 and 2007, the US military spent $US13 billion ($18.46 billion) on energy in 2007 and requested an additional $US5 billion ($7.1 billion) due to a spike in oil prices.

The stakes are high, with the army estimating that reducing fuel consumption by just one per cent translates to about 6400 fewer soldiers in fuel convoys, a favourite target of insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

All of this has added up to renewed urgency for the Pentagon to reduce its energy consumption. It is already federally mandated to obtain 25 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2025.

Hundreds of small companies are expected to benefit from the military’s green energy push, developing everything from alternative fuels to electric vehicles and efficient power generators.

One low tech initiative that has yielded surprisingly big results is spraying tents with a layer of hard foam. The insulation helps maintain steady temperatures inside the tents, reducing fuel consumption for heating or cooling by 50 per cent and saving an estimated 100,000 gallons of fuel or $US2 million ($2.84 million) per day.

“Each gallon you save is a ton of money that can be used elsewhere, either at the installation or fighting the war,” Mr Eastin said. He estimated that a three-dollar gallon of fuel can end up costing up to $US28 ($40) on the battlefield after factoring in transportation and security costs.

With a staggering $US7.7 billion ($10.93 billion) spent last year on aircraft fuel alone, the US Air Force is the military’s biggest energy consumer.

It is purchasing renewable energy, reducing aircraft loads and certifying its entire fleet to fly on a 50/50 synthetic fuel blend by 2011.

“Our efforts to drive a domestic source of synthetic fuels is a piece of the puzzle to be more secure as a nation and as the air force,” said Kevin Billings, acting air force secretary for installations, environment and logistics.

Our Perspective:

It is good the government is willing to take the lead with this issue. Too much has been spent on business as usual. By setting a good example the public wll soon follow. Thet will also be looking for alternative solutions to help reign in cost.

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

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?