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.

The Associated Press NEWARK, N.J., – New Jersey’s largest utility will install 200,000 solar panels throughout its service area in an ambitious $773 million program, the company said Tuesday.

 Solar panels would be installed everywhere from public schools to brownfields, Public Service Electric & Gas Co. said in a filing with the state’s Board of Public Utilities.

 “The program strongly supports New Jersey’s aggressive renewable energy and environmental goals and helps to strengthen the competitive solar industry in the state,” said Ralph LaRossa, president and COO of PSE&G. “By partnering with solar developers, we will bring solar projects online more quickly and cost effectively. We will also make solar energy available to every neighborhood in our service area.

” PSE&G’s supplies power to residents over an area of about 2,600 square miles, serving nearly three-quarters of the state’s population. The company said the project would be the largest pole-attached solar installation in the country.

The program would cost consumers about 10 cents a month on utility bills in the first year, and as much as 35 cents a month in five years. It would meet about 7 percent of the state’s renewable portfolio standards requirements through 2020, according to PSE&G.

 State’s are being required to generate an increasing amount of power through renewable energy, such as solar, wind, or biomass.

The 120 megawatts of solar capacity will eliminate 1.7 million tons of CO2 emissions, which is the equivalent of removing nearly 310,000 cars from the road for one year, PSE&G said in its filing.

The company said the solar initiative will mean hundreds of green jobs and will provide a boost to the solar industry, which has been hit hard by the economic downturn.

 The program must still be approved by state regulators.

Our perspective:

It is great to see that PSE&G is taking a positive stance on developing alternative energy, specifically solar. This sends a great message that they support alternative energy and may help open the awareness of this growing field to the general public.

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

Posted on Tue, Dec. 2, 2008

By Suzette Parmley

Hoping to profit from the growing demand for renewable, large-scale solar energy, Lockheed Martin Corp. will start constructing a solar test center today at its Moorestown facility.

The company said the Solar System Test and Engineering System (SolSTES) Array test bed in South Jersey will provide Lockheed Martin engineers with the opportunity to research a variety of solar technologies and materials.

“This will allow us to test and model different ways to produce solar arrays and allow us to do risk reduction,” Ken Ross, a spokesman for Lockheed Martin, said yesterday. “So when we do get our first contract to construct one of these utility-scale solar-generation facilities, we will have the best-of-breed technology ready to go.”

Ross said Lockheed, which employs 5,600 in South Jersey, including 5,000 in Moorestown, agreed in November 2007 to create a joint venture with Starwood Energy Group Global L.L.C., of Greenwich, Conn., to enter the potentially lucrative solar-energy market.

Starwood Energy focuses on energy-infrastructure investment, primarily power generation and transmission projects that are mostly in North America.

The Lockheed Martin-Starwood team will initially focus on solar-energy projects in California and the Southwest, based on initial market assessments, Ross said.

“Given our nation’s need to engender energy independence, reduce greenhouse gases, and create new careers, the utility-scale solar-generation projects we are working on with Lockheed Martin are of critical importance,” Madison Grose, vice chairman of Starwood Energy, said yesterday.

Lockheed Martin and Starwood estimate that up to 10,000 megawatts of solar power could come on line in the next 10 years. At an expected cost of $3 per watt of generating capacity, that would put the market size at $30 billion.

Last month, several states approved measures requiring a certain percentage of the power they use to come from renewable energy. The largest was California, where Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an executive order raising the state’s renewable-energy requirement to 33 percent by 2020.

“It’s definitely a growing movement,” Ross said. Even with recent declines in oil prices, he said, “the cost of solar power versus fossil fuel is starting to converge.

“Solar has historically been more expensive, but now, it’s much more cost neutral with fossil fuel.”

Our Perspecttive:

The alternative energy market is poised to take off. With the demand for energy continuing to grow, Federal and State incentives have been provided to make the ROI more palpable.

We have set up a new company, Blue Sky Power. We found there is great interest to enter the alternative energy market but the question always looms, ” How do we pay for this”.

Blue Sky Power  draws upon our many years of expertise, financially structuring the deal to take advantage of all the Fereral, State and provider incentives. Our goal is to make the investment revenue neutral while maximizing the return.

For more information email george@hbsadvantage.com Your comments are welcome.

Transition off oil

November 16, 2008

As reported on Huffington Post Green

Greg Pahl, author of Natural Home Heating: The Complete Guide to Renewable Energy Options, knows a thing or two about weening your house off oil and the associated evils (expensive, dirty, foreign sources, etc.). He’s been working with renewable energy systems for over 20 years, and recently completed the transition of a 1950s tract home off of oil completely by installing a pellet boiler, a fireplace insert, and the solar domestic hot water system he explains in the video below.

If you’re looking to begin the journey to an oil-free existence, a solar hot water system is a great place to start…even if you live in colder climates, as Pahl explains in this video: see link below

http://www.brightcove.tv/title.jsp?title=1890047887