Solar Energy News | Clean Energy News Thu, 31 Jul 2014 23:31:37 -0400 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb APS aims to compete with Aizona solar installers

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.

That seems to be the latest strategy of utility company Arizona Public Services in managing the threat rooftop solar poses to its business model.

The battle between the solar industry and utility companies has made more headlines and stirred more drama and controversy over the last year in Arizona than in almost any other state.

Solar advocates have denounced Arizona Public Utilities use of ratepayer money to fund sneaky “dark money” anti-solar campaigns. And it seemed like the utility was grasping at straws to find ways to eliminate the threat of distributed rooftop solar – first targeting net metering benefits and then property tax exemptions for rooftop solar panels.

The utility’s latest strategy is by far it’s best. Instead of awkwardly professing public support for rooftop solar while simultaneously encouraging legislation that would diminish it, APS wants to put solar on the roofs of 3,000 Phoenix-area homes.  

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 30 Jul 2014 20:38:59 -0400
Solar car race driving innovation

There’s been surprisingly little press about the eight solar-powered cars driving from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis. But the cars and their collegiate creators are making history.

Twenty teams of college students from around the world spent two years building advanced solar-powered vehicles and then tested them on courses in Texas earlier this month.

The best among them set out on a long north-south journey July 21 in the 21st American Solar Challenge, which pushes solar vehicles created by teams of college students to race across country and prove the road-worthiness of a car powered by nothing but the sun. The competition takes place every two years.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:16:21 -0400
Solar outshines utilities in Iowa court decision

Utilities lost a little more ground in their ongoing battle with the solar industry last week when the Iowa Supreme Court ruled that solar installers are allowed to sell power through power purchase agreements.

When solar advocates talk about “monopoly utilities,” they’re not being disparaging. Utility companies in most states are granted monopolies and are allowed to protect their rein over a region. No other utility companies can operate in their territories. State regulators are in place to protect the public and keep the monopoly from exploiting its customers.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 18 Jul 2014 16:56:37 -0400
Solar + Storage Has Arrived

Battery storage paired with residential rooftop solar arrays are not a thing of the distant future. It’s happening now and companies like SunPower and SolarCity are already selling package systems.

SolarCity partnered with Tesla to manufacture a lithium-ion battery storage system. In a pilot program, SolarCity is offering the battery setup to California customers for $1,500 down and $15 a month on a 10-year lease agreement.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 11 Jul 2014 16:02:56 -0400
NRG demonstrates utility evolution toward solar power

As most major US utility companies, in their concern over self-preservation, try in vane to squash net metering programs and slow the growth of the solar industry, NRG is innovating and evolving.

NRG is not a cute little clean energy startup out to save the world. It’s the largest power generator in the country. In addition to directly serving electricity customers coast to coast, NRG is a major electricity wholesaler, providing power to other utility companies for a price.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 07 Jul 2014 18:02:13 -0400
Solar leasing to lose market share

The solar leasing model, which is widely believed to have made rooftop solar installations more mainstream and which is frequently credited for the meteoric rise in residential solar installations, could be losing market share.

GTM Research released a report earlier this week announcing that the leasing model is peaking this year.

Currently, about 68 percent of Americans who install rooftop solar panels on their homes or businesses lease them or sign a power purchase agreement with a third-party owner.

Sunrun, a solar leasing company, has issued numerous reports over the years indicating that the model, which doesn’t require much and sometimes any money at all upfront, has opened solar up to the middle class. The middle class, as a result of third-party-owned solar, now dominates the demographics of households that install solar systems.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:25:52 -0400
Is Elon Musk the Henry Ford of distributed generation technology?

There has been a lot of discussion lately about when solar will be more affordable than grid power. What if someone with deep pockets, big ambitions and the appropriate supply line just committed to making it happen? What would happen then?

We’re about to find out.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 18 Jun 2014 23:44:55 -0400
US solar industry opposes import tariffs on Chinese panels

US solar industry leaders are campaigning against a likely policy change that will increase import tariffs on Chinese solar panels, saying it could slow the solar industry’s rapid growth domestically.

The US Department of Commerce imposed tariffs on Chinese solar panels made in China in 2012. SolarWorld Industries America filed a petition earlier this year asking the department to close a loophole that excludes panels manufactured outside of China from the tariff.

The department issued a preliminary ruling in SolarWorld’s favor last week. The US Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission will have to issue final rulings in July before he policy goes into effect.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Wed, 11 Jun 2014 18:36:39 -0400
This week's solar headlines illustrate major shift

The writing is on the wall for electricity generation as we know it.

This week, three major news items could have shared a single headline – solar energy is taking over. This week, these news items hit the Web:  

Solar will reach parity with coal-fired generation in China by 2016

• Barclays downgraded the entire electric sector because of the threat solar poses to its monopoly business model

• A whopping 74 percent of new electricity generation installed in the US during the first quarter of 2014 was solar.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Fri, 30 May 2014 23:41:04 -0400
California homebuyers paying a premium for rooftop solar

Rooftop solar panels are proving profitable when homeowners sell, according to a recent study from the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory.

Researchers evaluated 1,894 sales of California homes that featured rooftop solar arrays between 2000 and 2009 and compared them with 70,425 sales of homes without solar arrays.

On average, homebuyers paid an extra $24,705 for homes with rooftop solar arrays, according to the study titled “Exploring California PV Home Premiums.”

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Sat, 24 May 2014 18:18:56 -0400
Puerto Rico solar car team seeking Kickstart

A group of 29 students at the University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez are trying to raise money on Kickstarter to cover the cost of racing their solar-powered car cross country from Austin, Texas to Minneapolis, Minn.

The Puerto Rico team is one of 24 university teams registered to participate in the American Solar Challenge, which starts July 21.

Students will spend eight days driving cars they have spent two years designing and building themselves 1,700 miles with nothing but sunshine fueling their journeys.

“The purpose of the race is not to get there first,” said Kevin Corpetti, a member of the Puerto Rico team. “The first to arrive is the winner, but it’s about more than that.”

The Solar Challenge started in 1990 and has pushed university engineers and designers to build cars that can make a cross country journey powered by nothing but the sun. The event has evolved over the years as technology has improved.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Tue, 20 May 2014 17:33:32 -0400
Solar carports could be the ultimate solar accessory

BMW made headlines this week when it unveiled its new solar carport designed to recharge the auto manufacturer’s i8 plug-in hybrid. But solar carports are a growing business in both residential and commercial applications.

Major solar installers have been building large commercial carports in business parks and at airports for years now. But the more intimate one-car solar charging station is gaining momentum.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 12 May 2014 18:22:16 -0400
Inside the White House: Solar Panels

The most famous house in the country goes solar!..finally.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 12 May 2014 17:35:05 -0400
Arizona rooftop solar customers could face new tax

Homeowners who are leasing rooftop solar arrays in Arizona could be hit with an average $152 a year property tax bill they weren’t counting on when they decide to go solar.

The state department of revenue recently reinterpreted a tax policy that exempts rooftop solar equipment from property tax, determining that the exemption only applies to those who own their solar arrays, not people who lease solar panels.

The state Department of Revenue said the leased panels are merchant power plants and the leasing companies should pay tax on them.

Those taxes would flow through to customers.

Solar leasing accounts for the majority of the distributed solar generation in Arizona and is widely adopted by middle class residents who can’t afford to buy complete systems outright.

Most who lease rooftop solar systems save $60 to $120 a year over buying all of their power from Arizona Public Service. The new property tax would erase the cost benefit of going solar, solar advocates say.

]]> (Amanda H. Miller) Solar Energy News Mon, 12 May 2014 17:30:05 -0400