Yes, They Could. So They Did.

February 24, 2009

Written by Thomas Friedman

Op-Ed Columnist New York Times

So I am attending the Energy and Resources Institute climate conference in New Delhi, and during the afternoon session two young American women — along with one of their mothers — proposition me.

“Hey, Mr. Friedman,” they say, “would you like to take a little spin around New Delhi in our car?”

Oh, I say, I’ve heard that line before. Ah, they say, but you haven’t seen this car before. It’s a plug-in electric car that is also powered by rooftop solar panels — and the two young women, recent Yale grads, had just driven it all over India in a “climate caravan” to highlight the solutions to global warming being developed by Indian companies, communities, campuses and innovators, as well as to inspire others to take action.

They ask me if I want to drive, but I have visions of being stopped by the cops and ending up in a New Delhi jail. Not to worry, they tell me. Indian cops have been stopping them all across India. First, they ask to see driver’s licenses, then they inquire about how the green car’s solar roof manages to provide 10 percent of its mileage — and then they try to buy the car.

We head off down Panchsheel Marg, one of New Delhi’s main streets. The ladies want to show me something. The U.S. Embassy and the Chinese Embassy are both located on Panchsheel, directly across from each other. They asked me to check out the rooftops of each embassy. What do I notice? Let’s see … The U.S. Embassy’s roof is loaded with antennae and listening gear. The Chinese Embassy’s roof is loaded with … new Chinese-made solar hot-water heaters.

You couldn’t make this up.

But trying to do something about it was just one of many reasons my hosts, Caroline Howe, 23, a mechanical engineer on leave from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, and Alexis Ringwald, a Fulbright scholar in India and now a solar entrepreneur, joined with Kartikeya Singh, who was starting the Indian Youth Climate Network, or IYCN, to connect young climate leaders in India, a country coming under increasing global pressure to manage its carbon footprint.

“India is full of climate innovators, so spread out across this huge country that many people don’t get to see that these solutions are working right now,” said Howe. “We wanted to find a way to bring people together around existing solutions to inspire more action and more innovation. There’s no time left to just talk about the problem.”

Howe and Ringwald thought the best way to do that might be a climate solutions road tour, using modified electric cars from India’s Reva Electric Car Company, whose C.E.O. Ringwald knew. They persuaded him to donate three of his cars and to retrofit them with longer-life batteries that could travel 90 miles on a single six-hour charge — and to lay on a solar roof that would extend them farther.

Between Jan. 1 and Feb. 5, they drove the cars on a 2,100-mile trip from Chennai to New Delhi, stopping in 15 cities and dozens of villages, training Indian students to start their own climate action programs and filming 20 videos of India’s top home-grown energy innovations. They also brought along a solar-powered band, plus a luggage truck that ran on plant oil extracted from jatropha and pongamia, plants locally grown on wasteland. A Bollywood dance group joined at different stops and a Czech who learned about their trip on YouTube hopped on with his truck that ran on vegetable-oil waste.

Deepa Gupta, 21, a co-founder of IYCN, told The Hindustan Times that the trip opened her eyes to just how many indigenous energy solutions were budding in India — “like organic farming in Andhra Pradesh, or using neem and garlic as pesticides, or the kind of recycling in slums, such as Dharavi. We saw things already in place, like the Gadhia solar plant in Valsad, Gujarat, where steam is used for cooking and you can feed almost 50,000 people in one go.” (See: www.indiaclimatesolutions.com.)

At Rajpipla, in Gujarat, when they stopped at a local prince’s palace to recharge their cars, they discovered that his business was cultivating worms and selling them as eco-friendly alternatives to chemical fertilizers.

I met Howe and Ringwald after a tiring day, but I have to admit that as soon as they started telling me their story it really made me smile. After a year of watching adults engage in devastating recklessness in the financial markets and depressing fecklessness in the global climate talks, it’s refreshing to know that the world keeps minting idealistic young people who are not waiting for governments to act, but are starting their own projects and driving innovation.

“Why did this tour happen?” asked Ringwald. “Why this mad, insane plan to travel across India in a caravan of solar electric cars and jatropha trucks with solar music, art, dance and a potent message for climate solutions? Well … the world needs crazy ideas to change things, because the conventional way of thinking is not working anymore.”

As reported in Huffington Post Green

H. JOSEF HEBERT | February 24, 2009 04:02 AM EST | 

WASHINGTON — Across the Great Plains the wind blows incessantly, while in the remote Nevada desert the sun bears down without relief. Each holds the potential of a vast new energy resource.

While wind turbine and solar projects are ready to capture this new, eco-friendly energy source, where are the transmission lines to get the power to where it is needed?

Democratic congressional leaders, a former president and his one-time vice president, several Obama Cabinet members, energy executives and business leaders thrashed out that very predicament at a high-profile clean energy conference on Monday.

After two hours, a consensus seemed to emerge: The outdated electricity grid must be modernized and expanded if President Barack Obama’s vision of dramatically increasing the country’s renewable energy resources is to be accomplished. And the federal government will have to play a bigger role in locating high-voltage power lines to overcome local and regional resistance.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a leading participant in the gathering, said he will soon introduce legislation to give federal regulators authority to override states when it comes to locating long-distance power lines.

“We cannot let 231 state regulators hold up progress,” Reid said, referring to the members of state public utility commissions that decide on transmission locations.

While states should be given every opportunity to participate, “there may come a time when the federal government will have to step in,” said Reid, whose state is a prime target for entrepreneurs building solar energy projects.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., also called for expansion and modernization of the nation’s power transmission system, saying these improvements are “essential to all that we do” to promote renewable energy.

The clean energy conference _ which included former Vice President Al Gore, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on global warming, and former President Bill Clinton _ focused at length on the need for a national “smart” grid to transport electricity, and the need for grid expansion.

Gore said modernizing the transmission grid will allow for new ways to generate and distribute electricity.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he’s ready to open federal land to renewable energy projects, including wind farms in the waters off the U.S. coast, and map out energy corridors. But, he warned, the power grid of today won’t get the new energy to the markets that need it.

“In the end, unless we are able to solve this juggernaut and deal with the transmission issue we’re simply going to be standing in place,” Salazar told the conference, which was organized by the Center for American Progress.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., who chairs the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that will craft energy legislation, said that while he has not seen Reid’s proposal, he agreed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission should have more authority for planning and locating high-voltage power lines.

Bingaman said he hopes to have a bill in four to six weeks that will address the grid issue and establish a requirement for utilities nationwide to generate a certain percentage of electricity _ as much as 20 percent by 2020 _ from renewable sources such as wind, solar and biomass.

States have fought to maintain jurisdiction over locating the power grid.

Fred Butler, a New Jersey regulator who is chairman of National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, said state officials are willing to work with the federal government on placement issues but oppose a federal takeover of the authority.

Former New York Gov. George Pataki, one of the few Republicans at the conference, said the federal government must get more involved in establishing power transmission lines.

“If you try to run a wire through someone’s community, that becomes about as contentious as you get,” said Pataki. If that power is going through a state, he said, “you don’t have to take a poll _ no one is going to be for it.”

By VICTOR EPSTEIN Associated Press • February 23, 2009

As reported in the Courier Post

SECAUCUS – With a flip of the switch, one of New Jersey’s largest and newest solar panel projects began soaking up the sun Monday.

The 65,000-square-foot roof of the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus became a solar generator, capable of producing 412 kilowatts of electricity without the environmental concerns posed by oil tankers, nuclear waste, coal mine runoff and natural gas pipelines.

 

That’s enough juice to power about 50 single-family homes, according to Alfredo Matos, PSE&G’s vice president for renewables and energy solutions, or about 40 percent of the Exposition Center’s needs.

 

New Jersey’s largest utility is helping finance the $3 million project with a $1.6 million loan. It’s the first solar array to become operational under a PSE&G program to loan $105 million for solar projects over the next two years.

 

“This isn’t PR,” Matos said. “Solar systems are still out of the market – meaning they still cost more than traditional systems that rely on fossil fuel generation – but with the incentives available today, including our loan program, you can have a system that pays for itself in three or four years.”

 

Recipients of PSE&G solar loans will repay the utility in energy credits, not dollars. The utility will sell those credits to fossil fuel power plants seeking to offset their carbon emissions, Matos said.

 

The federal government covers another 30 percent of the cost of building a solar system through an investment tax credit, he said. That leaves pioneers like Hartz Mountain Industries Inc., the Secaucus commercial real estate firm that owns the Exposition Center, with only 20 percent of the cost.

 

Emanuel Stern, president of Hartz, said the decision to install the Exposition Center’s rooftop array was a solid financial move for the privately held company.

 

“I’d rather invest in my roofs than in the stock market right now,” Stern said. “It just seems like a no-brainer to me.”

If the Exposition Center array performs as expected over the next six months, Hartz intends to begin retrofitting four or five buildings a year with solar panels, Stern said.

 

Hartz has a portfolio of 39 million square feet of space in 200 buildings, many of which are warehouses with large roofs that are ideal for solar arrays. As the roofs reach the end of their useful lives, Hartz will look to install solar arrays while they’re being replaced.

 

Stern estimates that it will take about 10 years for the solar array on the Exposition Center to pay for itself. After that, Hartz will be getting 40 percent of the Exposition Center’s power from the roof, virtually for free.

 

New Jersey ranks second behind California among states generating electricity from solar panels, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

 

As manufacturers of solar systems make more equipment, they’ll become more efficient and prices will come down, said Thomas Leyden, a managing director of Sunpower Corp., the San Jose, Calif.-based company that installed the Exposition Center array. Right now, the cost of retrofitting a typical single-family home is nearly $40,000, he said.

 

The PSE&G loan program and the federal incentives help bridge the gap between how much solar systems cost and how much people can afford, said Leyden. He estimates that the solar industry is probably only six or seven years away from grid parity with fossil fuel generation because of such programs.

 

“Solar is not only good for the environment and the country, it’s good business,” Leyden said

Our Perspective:

It is good to see New Jersey and the community make a commitment to alternative energy development. In the coming year, we hope to see more projects of this magnitude. As the demand for energy continues to grow, we need these types of projects to help us reduce the demand off the grid.

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

As reported in Huffington Green

By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNNMoney.com senior writer

Thanks to President Obama’s stimulus package, Americans can now get big tax breaks on more types of electric vehicles.

The credits originally would have stopped after they had been claimed on 250,000 vehicles across the whole industry. Now the credits will apply on up to 200,000 vehicles from any single manufacturer.

The old rules, passed in the fall of 2008, applied only to cars in the traditional sense, i.e., four-wheeled vehicles. Now three-wheeled and even two-wheeled electric vehicles are also eligible. Tax credits for these vehicles are calculated differently.

The changes also removed really big vehicles from eligibility. Given the environmental impact of heavy-duty trucks, some electric vehicle advocates call that a really big mistake.

The Internal Revenue Service still has to pass its own rules clarifying exactly how this new law will be implemented and what the tax credits will be. The ones shown here are our estimates, based on the legislation. The IRS declined to comment for this story.

So, if you plan to buy a plug-in vehicle, check with a tax accountant before you do anything, and carefully check out any vehicle manufacturer or seller before committing your money.

AUSTIN – Electricity rates in Texas have soared well above the national average under a 10-year-old deregulation law, according to a study by a coalition of cities.

“As this report illustrates, consumers have paid too much for too long under deregulation,” said Jay Doegey, chairman of the Cities Aggregation Power Project, a non-profit coalition of 103 municipalities.

An industry group immediately challenged the findings, saying the report was based on “flawed reasoning” that resulted in erroneous conclusions.

“The simple fact is that in most parts of the state, there are lower competitive prices today than when prices were regulated,” said the Association of Electric Companies of Texas. “The Texas competitive market is working, even if CAPP thinks otherwise.”

The conflicting viewpoints point to a contentious battle in the 2009 Legislature over electricity rates. Several lawmakers say they plan to pursue legislation to protect consumers from rising costs on a number of fronts, including insurance and utility rates.

The CAPP report examined the impact of Senate Bill 7, which was passed by the Legislature in 1999 in what its sponsors said was an attempt to rein in rising electricity rates.

Our Perspective:

The deregulated utility market was set up to make utility costs more competitive. So far, it seems not to have worked. Prices have increased instead of becoming more competitive. Supply prices have tripled in the last 8 years.

As electric supply cost continue to increase, so does the demand for electricity and this is going to create another problem. It is projected that the demand for electricity is growing about 11/2% a year. In the next 8 – 10 years, we will not be able to support this growth in demand with the existing facilities we have.

What are our options?

Some are saying rolling brownouts! That doesn’t sound like a solution.

What are we going to do about this problem?

The real answer, reduce the demand off the grid and rebuild the existing electric infrastructure and start investing in alternative energy.

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

New Advances are being found in the solar field. Solar is presenting a viable energy alternative.

The company’s plan for what it calls the world’s ‘highest-performing, lowest-cost’ sun-energy system is being tested in Israel.
By Richard Boudreaux, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
June 13, 2008
DIMONA, ISRAEL — On the scorched floor of Israel’s Negev Desert blooms a field of 1,640 robotic mirrors that behave like sunflowers.

Slightly larger than pingpong tables and guided by a computer, they turn imperceptibly to follow the sun and focus its rays on the pinnacle of a 200-foot tower, where a water boiler will soon start producing high-pressure steam.

This futuristic assembly is Arnold Goldman’s scale model and testing ground for five larger solar fields his company plans to build in the Mojave Desert to supply up to 900 megawatts of clean energy to California in the next decade.

Goldman is a UCLA- and USC-schooled Israeli entrepreneur who built the world’s leading solar thermal power company, Luz International, in the 1980s, then watched it go bankrupt in 1991 as oil prices dropped and California decided not to renew property tax credits for solar producers.

Now he’s a player again, and his comeback illustrates the extent to which solar thermal power is regaining favor with policymakers and investors.

His new company, Oakland-based BrightSource Energy Inc., signed a power-buying agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric in April; it is believed to be the largest in the history of solar power and would produce enough electricity to power 540,000 homes each year.

In May, the company raised $115 million from a high-profile group of investors including Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google Inc., and BP Alternative Energy.

Like other clean-energy entrepreneurs, Goldman has benefited from rising oil prices and an array of government policies aimed at reducing fossil fuel consumption and staving off global warming.

But the 65-year-old engineer and his Israel-based design team have a unique selling point: a technology radically different from what he developed in the 1980s and other solar power producers imitated.

“This is the highest-performing, lowest-cost solar thermal energy system in the world today,” Goldman told 550 guests, including investors and potential suppliers, at Thursday’s inauguration of his pilot solar field in Dimona, Israel.

The 1980s system used long troughs of curved mirrors, guided by computers, to heat synthetic oil passing through vacuum-sealed tubes to 735 degrees. The oil heated water to produce steam and run an electric turbine. Goldman’s company built nine solar power stations using that system in the Mojave Desert from 1984 to 1990. They still operate, producing 350 megawatts of power.

The new technology will employ several “power towers” at each commercial plant, starting with a 100-megawatt plant the company expects to start building next year on the Ivanpah dry-lake bed. An array of hundreds of mirrors known as heliostats will reflect sunlight onto a boiler atop each tower, and the resulting steam will power a turbine.

BrightSource executives say the power-tower technology is more efficient in several ways: The heliostats are cheaper to build and operate. They heat water directly, with no need for oil. And they achieve a higher concentration of sunlight, higher temperatures (up to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit) and higher steam pressure.

That should make solar electricity competitive in price with that produced by gas-powered turbines as long as Congress prolongs the tax breaks for solar producers, said John Woolard, president of BrightSource.

The new technology, however, has yet to be tested on a large scale. The pilot field here is expected to start producing steam next month, serving as a proving ground for BrightSource as it tries to lure investors in the California plants.

Justin Adams, venture business unit leader at BP Alternative Energy, says BrightSource faces several hurdles in making its technology work.

“They have to show they can manage steam at such high pressure 60 meters above the ground,” Adams said. “They have to make sure everything is minutely controlled in terms of focusing all those mirrors, and they have to do this over a period of years without major outages.”

Thursday’s ceremony was sweet vindication for Goldman, a slight, bearded man who said he was personally shattered by the failure of his first solar venture. He had started Luz as an Israeli firm after moving to Jerusalem from Los Angeles in 1977 and saw solar power as a way of saving the world.

The bankruptcy of Luz International, the L.A.-based company he set up to build the early California plants, destroyed the Israeli subsidiary. Goldman drifted into other ventures. In an interview this week, he said the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change let him dream again that solar power could produce most of America’s electricity.

The protocol, which requires a drop in greenhouse gas emissions, took effect in 2005. Although the United States has not ratified it, Goldman said the push for clean energy elsewhere, especially in Europe, had an influence in California; the state now requires that publicly owned utilities get 20% of their power from renewable sources by 2013.

Goldman began reassembling his best Israeli engineers in 2004. Like a Hollywood sequel, he named the new venture Luz II and founded BrightSource as its parent company to seek California contracts.

The company secured its first major infusion of venture capital in 2006 from VantagePoint Venture Partners, which remains BrightSource’s largest equity holder.

“The idea of coming back together to finish what we started was electrifying,” Goldman said.

To learn more about solar opportunties email george@hbsadvantage.com

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

Does the Senate get it?

June 10, 2008

Reported excerpts from Huffington Post

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans blocked a proposal Tuesday to tax the windfall profits of the largest oil companies, despite pleas by Democratic leaders to use the measure to address America’s anger over $4 a gallon gasoline.

The Democratic energy package would have imposed a tax on any “unreasonable” profits of the five largest U.S. oil companies and given the federal government more power to address oil market speculation that the bill’s supporters argue has added to the crude oil price surge.

“Americans are furious about what’s going on,” declared Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., and want Congress to do something about oil company profits and “an orgy of speculation” on oil markets.

But Republicans argued the Democratic proposal focusing on new oil industry taxes is not the answer to the country’s energy problems.

“The American people are clamoring for relief at the pump,” said Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., but if taxes are increased on the oil companies “they will get exactly what they don’t want. The bill will raise taxes, increase imports.”

The Democrats failed, 51-43, to get the 60 votes needed to overcome a GOP filibuster and bring the energy package up for consideration.

Separately, Democrats also failed to get Republican support for a proposal to extend tax breaks for wind, solar and other alternative energy development, and for the promotion of energy efficiency and conservation. The tax breaks have either expired or are scheduled to end this year.

Our Perspective:

The republican guard held firm and would not levy a tax on the excessive profits the oil companies have recently made. Greed rules.

The senate is making a big mistake not extending the frederal tax credit for alternate energy developement. It proves that they just don’t get it.

Electric demand continues to rise at a rate of 1.5% a year. The existing facilities are already straining to meet the increase demand. In fact, rolling brown outs are in our near distant future. That’s not the answer.

New Jersey has taken great strides to incentize business and homeowner to look at alternative energy development. PSEG are paying SRECs for every 1000kwh of elecrtric you produce. These SRECs are gaurenteed for 15 years.

The Federal Government now has a 30% federal tax credit that is due to expire 12/31/08. This must be extended. The Senate and IRS must also determine the effects of this credit as it pertains to the Alternative Minimum Tax.  The Federal Tax Credit must stand alone and not be effected by the AMT; otherwise, the Federal Tax Credit is all bark and no bite. The incentive is lost and it makes the investment less desirable.

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

Contact us to learn more about solar opportunities for your company.

The state of New Jersey has found they are in a dilemma.:

Demand for electricity is projected to grow at 1.5% a year for the next 8 to 10 years.

Electric prices are treanding at a 10% increase.

NJ current facilities are not designed to handle the increased demand. As a result, NJ may be faced with rolling brown outs in the next 8 – 10 years.

To address this issue the state has drafted an Enegy Master Plan.

It is designed to incentize the public to invest in clean or green energy alternatives that will help reduce energy demand 22.5% by 2020.

Click on the link provided below to read the draft and feel free to contact george@hbsadvantage.com to learn more about solar incentives available for your business.

http://www.state.nj.us/emp/home/docs/pdf/summary.pdf

Visit www.hutchinsonbusinesssolutions.com to learn more about opportunities available to create savings and increase profitability.

New exciting energy saving opportunity for New Jersey!

As electric cost continueto rise, you will find that New jersey has taken a very aggressive step in promoting clean solutions to reduce electric demand.

Federal aand State credits and incentives provide a perfect opportunity and takes a significant step in controlling future electric costs as well as providing a ROI that finally makes sense.

Currently New jersey recieves 1.6% of their energy from clean energy sources. With the demand for electric increasing at a rate of 1.5% a year, New Jersey has committed to increasing renewable energy sources to 22.5% by the year 2020.

Why, you may ask?

With the growing demand for electric, New Jersey faces the issue of brown outs in their future.

How do you think the public would react to that?

The Solution……

Harness the Sun’s Energy….

Going Solar!

. Below is an outline of the steps recently taken that makes this investment desirable.

  • Federal Government provides 30% tax credit.
  • PSEG will be paying SREC’s (Solar Renewable Energy Certificate) each time a solar electric system generates 1000kwh of electricity. 
  • Your electric bill will be decreased by the value of the electric you are generating.
  • Full 7% State Sales Tax Exemption
  • Federal Guidelines allow for 5 year accelerated Depreciation of basis.
  • Low interest loans available thru PSEG

Hutchinson Business Solutions has formed a strategic partnership with BP Solar, a world leader in providing solar solutions. They are the only company that has been making solar panels longer than their warranty (30 years).

 

They offer a full 25-year warranty on the equipment and a full 10-year warranty on the installation.

 

Solar …..The New Sexy

 

To learn more about the new solar incentives in New Jersey contact george@hbsadvantage.com

 

The Future of Energy is Now!