As reported in BUZZFLASH
by Amy Weiss

 

While the Bush administration put a two-year moratorium on solar energy projects on public land last week, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and colleagues drafted a bill to promote the creation of 10 million new solar rooftops in private homes and businesses over the next ten years.

 

The bill, co-sponsored by Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Arlen Specter (R-PA), John Warner (R-VA), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), provides incentives for solar unit installation, covering about half the average costs.

 

The proposed units are photovoltaic systems that use panels to turn sunlight into energy. The moratorium suspended both photovoltaic and concentrating solar plants–concentrating plants use mirrors to direct light to power steam turbines.

 

Sen. Sanders said in a statement Tuesday that the benefits of the bill, known as the 10 Million Solar Roofs Act of 2008, would be numerous:

 

We can reverse greenhouse gas emissions. We can break our dependence on foreign oil. Transforming our energy system away from fossil fuels can be a tremendous boom for the United States economy and create millions of good-paying jobs. This is a win, win, win situation.

 

Solar energy companies have been critical of the Bureau of Land Management’s decision to halt new solar endeavors, understanding that a review is necessary but claiming that freezing the process altogether doesn’t make sense.

 

“It doesn’t make any sense … This could completely stunt the growth of the industry,” one solar company executive told the New York Times.

 

The director of a renewable energy trade group said in the same article, “I think it’s good to have a plan … but I don’t think we need to stop development in its tracks.”

Michael Briggs, a spokesman for Sen. Sanders, told BuzzFlash that the bill was in the works before the Bureau of Land Management’s moratorium. He also emphasized the importance of solar in solving current energy and environmental issues.

 

“Clearly we’re at a time with oil prices setting records practically everyday and with the prospect of global warming that is going on,” he said. “Solar energy is going to be a key part of responding to both of those forces.”

 

Briggs anticipates the response once the bill is passed will be very positive. He said the experience in state programs that the bill is modeled after, like those in New Jersey and California, has been “that the technology is there, it’s just a matter of making it available and at competitive prices. People want to do this and I think the impact would be dramatic.”

 

Sen. Sanders, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, will participate in a hearing in Albuquerque, NM on Wednesday led by Committee Chair Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) to “consider the value and examine the progress of electricity generation from concentrating solar power.” Briggs expects the Bureau of Land Management’s moratorium will come up at the hearing.

 

Our perspective:

 

Over the next 8 to 10 years electric demand is projected to increase at a rate of 1.5% a year. The dilemma is that we will not be able to provide the needed electric to support the additional demand. The state of NJ has implemented an energy master plan to reduce demand by 20% by the year 2020. They have also established a goal of having 22.5% of the electric provided by alternative sources, solar being one of them. Gov. Corzine recognizes that alternative energy is the future and  have drafted plans to provide incentives that will dramatically defray the cost of participating.

 

NJ has established a SREC ( solar renewable energy certificate ) program that will pay $711 for every 1000kwh of electric you produce. The SCEC are a commodity paid by the local electric provider for producing your own electric and payments are guaranteed for 15 year.  NJ is also looking to provide additional incentives to homeowners to offset the $2000 cap on the federal tax credit.

 

PA is looking to put their foot into the arena and details of their incentive program should be out shortly. Stay tuned for we will be reporting on them as soon as they become available.

 

To learn more about the solar opportunities in NJ and PA email george@hbsadvantage.com

 

Hutchinson Business Solutions

 

Your CFO on The Go

 

Creating Opportunities Today … Defining Savings for Tomorrow

 

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com

On any sunny day at the Pennsauken Landfill, 13,000 solar panels sit quietly atop 15 acres of sealed-up garbage, pumping out the power.

 

When finished in February, it was called the biggest solar project east of the Mississippi.

But not for long. Work began in March on an even bigger spread, a 16.5-acre array of 17,000 panels next to the GROWS Landfill in Lower Bucks.

 

And this week, the Atlantic City Convention Center announced plans for panels atop its roof, in what executives say will be the largest single-building solar-energy project in the United States.

 

With solar energy on the rise, there’s likely no end in sight to the leapfrogging claims of “biggest.”

 

The nation and the region are seeing a burst in solar-power projects, especially in New Jersey, now the nation’s second-largest solar market after California.

 

The newest incarnation are mini-power plants, like those above, that power energy-hungry facilities or just feed the electrical grid.

 

Long built by idealists, these solar systems now can pay for themselves in less than five years, at least in New Jersey, where incentives are high. Energy costs also can be locked in, insulating companies from future price hikes.

 

“This is just the beginning of a huge potential,” said Steve Gabrielle, who helps develop renewable energy projects for PPL Corp., the utility that owns the Pennsauken installation.

 

Solar companies are scouting the region’s rooftops and vacant land, intent on moving quickly if Congress decides to extend a tax credit, enabling firms to recoup 30 percent of a commercial system’s cost.

 

New Jersey’s rebates for homeowners and businesses this year are oversubscribed. Applicants are being put in a queue for next year’s funds.

 

Growth has lagged so far in Pennsylvania, but that could change quickly. Incentives are being debated in the Pennsylvania legislature that could reenergize the state’s lapsed rebates.

 

One financial benefit of solar is its predictability. The system has a set cost up front; after that, the fuel – sunlight – is free.

 

That allows solar generators to offer long-term contracts for energy prices to large customers. For instance, much of the power from the Pennsauken array goes to a nearby customer, the Aluminum Shapes foundry.

 

The Atlantic City project will be built and owned by Pepco Energy Services of Virginia, which has a 20-year contract to sell the power back to the Convention Center, saving it about $4.4 million in energy costs.

 

These “power purchase agreements” are the financial backbone of many new deals. They allow firms to do what they do best under their roofs, while solar companies reap the potential from atop their roofs.

 

Those who have watched the growth – such as Philadelphia’s Andrew Kleeman, who left the real estate consulting and investment world last year to begin a solar-power company, EOS Energy Solutions – have noted how even the key players’ clothing has changed. “It’s gone from sandals to suits,” he said.

 

Kleeman, one of many, says he is “prospecting” and has a pipeline of projects where the building owners have pledged to go solar “as soon as the numbers line up.”

 

The cost of solar is decreasing due to new technologies and larger systems. At the same time, the cost of traditional nonrenewable sources is escalating wildly.

 

“Those lines are going to cross in the next couple years,” Kleeman said.

 

Besides its environmental benefits, solar energy bolsters the regional power grid by making the most energy when the need is greatest – those sunny summer afternoons when air conditioners are sucking maximum juice.

 

Nationwide, solar remains tiny. It is one-fifth the size of wind power, accounting for a fraction of 1 percent of the nation’s energy supply.

 

But solar installations grew by 45 percent in 2007. Much of the growth was due to what the Solar Energy Industries Association dubbed a “big-box boom” among companies that included Safeway, Whole Foods, Staples, Target, Home Depot, Macy’s, Wal-Mart and Best Buy.

 

The boom is further fueled – or perhaps forced – by 27 states that have annually raised requirements for the percentage of energy coming from renewable sources, such as wind or solar.

 

Utilities can either generate the power or buy credits issued to others who generate the power. The price of these credits is expected only to grow, making the deals more attractive to solar developers.

 

What makes the Mid-Atlantic region so attractive to solar developers is that several states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, have made specific requirements for solar.

 

Solar proponents think there is so much potential here that the organizers of a national conference on solar power opted to bring the event to Philadelphia next year.

 

“We specifically chose that location because we see Mid-Atlantic as an emerging market for solar,” said spokeswoman Monique Hanis of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Others credit steeply rising energy prices in this region for propelling solar here beyond other parts of the country.

 

That said, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are worlds apart in solar energy production.

 

New Jersey has already had robust solar development because of financial incentives. As of March, more than $220 million in state rebates had helped build nearly 3,000 systems, capable of delivering 54 megawatts of power. New construction in 2007 was 114 percent greater than in 2006.

 

When the conglomerate Cox Enterprises decided to look into solar power, it wound up putting 705 panels – enough to power 12 homes – atop the roof of an auto-reconditioning shop in Bordentown owned by a division, Manheim, a car auction dealer.

 

“New Jersey had the most attractive incentives of all the states in the union,” said Cox vice president Mike Mannheimer. “It had, by far, the best return for us financially.”

Although he refused to give a financial breakdown of the incentives, Mannheimer said he expects the $1 million system to pay for itself in 41/2 years.

 

“These systems don’t cost much to maintain. They just crank away.”

 

Until now, Pennsylvania hasn’t even been counting systems. Production estimates range up to about two megawatts, enough to power 300 homes.

 

That could all change with legislation being hammered out in Harrisburg. Plenty of rooftop projects await the outcome.

 

One is Stable Flats, a 70-unit residential development in Northern Liberties where plans call for a $2 million, 260-kilowatt system to make the power.

 

It’s scheduled to be completed in 2009. But that hinges in part on a state rebate that will bolster a $700,000 economic-development grant, said developer Tim McDonald of the group Onion Flats.

The solar firm will still own the panels. It will get the federal tax credit, sell the solar credits to utilities, and provide residents with low-cost power.

 

“Building sustainably,” McDonald said, “doesn’t have to cost more money.”

Would you like to know more about solar opportunities in New Jersey and Pennsylvania? You may email george@hbsadvantage.com

Solar ….The New Sexy

Come join us and be part of the solution!

New Jersey takes the lead in offering incentives to go Solar!

State Tax Rebates are planned for residential installations that will cover a significant portion of your cost.

Srecs are also being paid to all commercial and residential installtions, A SREC is gaureenteed to be paid for 15 years and will be paid for every 1000kwh of electric you produce. SRECs are designed to cover over 50% of your installation cost.

Federal tax credits make solar even more appealing.  The US government currently offers residential solar system owners a one time federal tax credit, capped at $2,000.  Commercial solar system owners are offered a 30% tax credit, making solar an even smarter financial investment.
State:        NEW JERSEY
Program Name:       New Jersey Clean Energy Program (NJCEP)
Incentive Type: Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC)
Applicable Sectors: Commercial, Nonprofit, Schools, Institutional 
Incentive Amount: SREC trade at market value;
1 SREC =1,000 kWh
Maximum Incentive: $711.00/SREC
Eligible System Size: No maximum size specified, but output should not exceed 100% of the historical or expected (if new construction) consumption. 
Ownership of Renewable Energy Credits: Remains with project owner
Funding Source:    Utilities via RPS compliance
Website:  http://www.njcleanenergy.com/  
Authority 1:    Electric Discount and Energy Competition Act
Date Enacted:    TBA
Effective Date:    March 2001 (for rebate program)

To learn more about solar opportunities for your business or home, you may email george@hbsadvantage.com

Ask about our free site evaluation and proforma.

Solar ….. The New Sexy

(Source: http://www.dsireusa.org/)

Local Program Administrator:

New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Renewable Energy Program Administrator, Office of Clean Energy
44 South Clinton Avenue
P.O. Box 350
Trenton, NJ 08625-0350
Phone: (609) 777-3300
Fax: (609) 777-3330
Web site: http://www.bpu.state.nj.us

As reported in Huffington Post

The chief executive of the world’s largest energy company has issued the most dire warning yet about the soaring the price of oil, predicting that it will hit $250 per barrel “in the foreseeable future”.

 

The forecast from Alexey Miller, the head of the Kremlin-owned gas giant Gazprom, would herald the arrival of £2-per-litre petrol and send shockwaves through the economy. His comments were the most stark to be expressed by an industry executive and come just days after the oil price registered its largest-ever single-day spike, hitting $139.12 per barrel last week amid fears that the world’s faltering supply will be unable to keep up with demand.

Our Perspective:

Back in March, I made reference that we might be seeing $4.00 a gallon gas by this summer.  With the volatility in the current market we will likely see $5.00 gas by the end of the summer.

What’s driving this rise?

Is it corporate greed?

It is wall street speculation?

Is it the expanding world economy ( India & China ) that has increased demand?

You can probably look at all these factors playing a part. The problem still remains, we left ourselves vulnerable by not being proactive in the first place. We grew complaisant while the other team held the ball.

We must take a hard look and develope an energy plan that will provide a real solution going forward. There are many forms of alternate energy sources that exist. We must invest in those that seem most viable to serving our needs in the long run.

No more bandages, we are bleeding to death!

Incentives must be provided to those willing to invest in these alternative energy sources to help stimulate the interest. Prudent investors always look to the ROI.

New Jersey has provided a stimulus to go solar by providing SRECs to those companies and individuals who will produce electric. As of June 2008, the value of a SREC was increased to $711. Payment of the SREC is gaurenteed for 15 years with the value decreasing 3% per year.

A Performa will show that the payment of these SRECs will generally cover the cost for installing solar. Now add to this a 30% Federal Tax Credit and the fact that you are now producing your own electric. Suddenly heads are turning and Solar is Sexy again.

NJ has address the ROI and is now taking the lead to move solar and wind into the mainstream.

To learn more about solar opportunities for your company or home email george@hbsadvantage.com

Hutchinson Business Solutions

Creating Opportunities Today….Providing Savings for Tomorrow

Visit us on the web www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com