R.J. Harrington and Timothy Schoechle, BOULDER DAILY CAMERA
In his March 16 Camera column, "Renewables? Yes!" Bob Greenlee praised the recently announced plan by Xcel Energy to construct a large utility-scale solar PV project in Pueblo County which he claims will be "two to three times more cost-effective than smaller rooftop projects." Although a dubious claim, such a project might still seem like a good idea — to those unaware of the incredibly rapid changes taking place in the energy world. But the ground is moving under Greenlee’s (and Xcel’s) feet. Over the last year, and particularly in the last few months, the main debate has shifted from fossil vs. renewables to centralized renewables vs. distributed renewables — specifically rooftop solar PV.
Just over one year ago, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the investor-owned utility policy and lobbying organization, issued a brief, but prescient report titled "Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business." The report offered its members a "heads-up" that their basic 100-year old business model was threatened by rooftop solar, and it recommended that they rethink their whole business. The costs of rooftop solar panels (called Distributed Generation or DG) have dropped so dramatically that in some places they are already cost competitive with utility-supplied electricity. The conventional economies of scale of centralized generation is simply gone — solar modules are just as efficient at small scale as large. Public pressure has been mounting for PUCs to adopt new tariffs that recognize the "Value of Solar" to society and to encourage its use by moving beyond the ancient "cost-of-service" regulatory model that does not recognize the externalized costs of traditional generation (e.g., to air, water, health, jobs, environment, etc.) or the benefits of DG.
via The "value of solar"— utility-scale or rooftop? – Boulder Daily Camera.
Katherine Tweed, GREENTECH MEDIA
West-facing rooftop solar panels produced 49 percent more electricity during peak demand compared to south-facing panels, according to a new study from Pecan Street Research Institute.
The research is the first of its kind to evaluate the energy production of solar panels oriented in different directions. Pecan Street analyzed 50 homes in the Austin, Texas area. Some had only south-facing panels, others had west-facing panels, and some had both.
South-facing panels produced a 54 percent peak reduction overall, while west-facing solar PV panels produced a 65 percent peak reduction.
via Are Solar Panels Facing the Wrong Direction? : Greentech Media.
It’s official: Solar Sonoma County is now the Solar Action Alliance (SolarActionAlliance.org), a new name reflecting the organization’s expansion to Marin and Napa counties and broadening impact in advancing solar energy at the local level. Solar Sonoma County has become a “chapter” of Solar Action Alliance, which now also includes Solar Marin County and Solar Napa County.
Continue reading “Solar Sonoma County becomes Solar Action Alliance”
Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Hearing on Sonoma County renewable energy zoning rules
WHEN: 2:10 p.m. Tuesday
WHERE: Board of Supervisors chambers, 575 Administration Dr., Room 100 A, Santa Rosa
With renewable energy development now a central issue in Sonoma County, disputed rules that would govern the size and location of green energy projects are returning to the Board of Supervisors Tuesday for approval.
The zoning changes, which focus largely on solar systems, would open up more land in unincorporated areas to commercial-scale projects, including agricultural, industrial and business parcels.
The first test case could be a 23-acre solar panel installation proposed for a hayfield outside Petaluma, a project prohibited under current zoning but allowed under the revised rules up for approval.
via Sonoma County takes closer look at green energy projects | The Press Democrat.
Robert Digitale, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Nearly two years after it launched amid national media attention, Santa Rosa’s Ygrene Energy Fund has financed its first projects for making older buildings green.
The company, which fashioned its business after a program pioneered by the County of Sonoma, is providing financing and administration to retrofit homes and commercial buildings in Sacramento and Miami. The public/private programs allow property owners to install solar electric systems and other energy- and water-saving improvements, with borrowers repaying the debt on their property tax bills.
via Ygrene seeks green in energy retrofits | The Press Democrat.
Richard Halstead, MARIN INDEPENDENT JOURNAL
The Marin Energy Authority decided this week to begin setting aside money to develop its own renewable energy generation projects within its jurisdictional boundaries, which include all of Marin County and the city of Richmond.
The authority’s board Thursday gave its unanimous approval to the creation of a "local renewable development fund." The fund will be fed by half of the revenue generated each year from the authority’s "Deep Green" program. The authority has set a goal of creating 14 megawatts of new solar capacity within its jurisdiction by 2019.
via Marin Energy Authority moving ahead with plan to build its own solar projects – Marin Independent Journal.
Guy Kovner, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Sebastopol, the small town of 7,400 tucked next to the green hills of west Sonoma County, would seem to have little in common with Lancaster, a high desert city of 146,000 located 400 miles away in northeast Los Angeles County.
via Sebastopol poised to add solar requirement to new construction | PressDemocrat.com.
Brett Wilkison, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
A legal fight to protect a program that allows Sonoma County residents to pay for energy-saving retrofits to their homes through property taxes was dealt a significant and possibly final setback last week.
via Court deals blow to county energy retrofit program | PressDemocrat.com.
Bob Norberg, THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
What would be the largest solar energy project in Sonoma County, generating enough electricity for 10,000 homes, is being planned for vacant land at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport.
“The goal is to get renewable energy projects started here in Sonoma County and get local jobs in this arena,” said Cordel Stillman, the capital projects manager for the Sonoma County Water Agency.
In addition, the airport is planning its own solar installations to provide electricity to the administration building, terminal and runway and security lighting.
via 50-acre solar array planned at Sonoma County airport | PressDemocrat.com.
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
You might not realize it on a foggy winter morning, but Sonoma County cities are really soaking in the sun.
A new study
shows the county has one of the highest concentrations of solar energy users in the state.