Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I just had to post this video due to title "Things You Can Do with a Solar Panel in a Zombie Apocalypse"

Very cool, although I am not into zombies it is a great title to show the versatility of solar. I am excited that as solar becomes more of a common knowledgs product that we will see more bright minds making advancements.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Owning VS Leasing Solar - "Congressmen Put Heat on ‘Deceptive’ Rooftop Solar Leases"

By Eugene Wilkie
During my plus 25 years in the solar industry I have never utilized or promoted solar leasing. To me solar leasing companies were not solar companies trying to bring a value add to the customers. They were strictly financial mechanisms utilizing solar at the expense of the customer. Having said that companies like Sun Edison and Solar City really brought the industry to the front page of America due to the fact they were very financially profitable and could grow quickly. I believe that it is a short sited business model as the American consumer when purchasing large items tend to do their homework. It has become common knowledge that anyone can go to and see what incentives are available. It becomes quickly clear how much Government incentives these solar leasing companies have been putting in their pocket that was meant for the consumer. First you get the consumer to get into a 20 year contract that is almost equal to their utility bill and then collect the government incentives that were due to the consumer. The problem has been that it is a large upfront cost and there has not been the availability of loans from traditional banks. I believe that if a incentive should exist it should be a low interest bank guarantee from the government to insure easier access to loans for the consumer. A large portion of our customers at NOW! SOLAR are agricultural based and they have a loan guarantee from the USDA that really helps (about 98% get their loan) when we approach traditional banking institution. The only one that has flat out been rude and said no has been Wells Fargo but the rest have been a joy to work with and have offered our customers great rates and easy options. The 30% tax incentive has been a great misnomer in the industry as most middle class customers have no need for the 30% tax incentive and fact is most sophisticated commercial customers do not really find a need for it either. This has been the solar leasing models sweet spot as they have structured mechanisms to take advantage of the 30% Federal Tax credit and turn it into a profit. There has not been one customer that I have personally spoke to that after I have explained the difference between owning their system and leasing that has said I would rather lease. They have said I could not qualify for a loan but I still really believe in solar so I am going to lease. I think that both Republicans and Democrats could really strengthen their political positions by coming up with a new bill that was structured around guaranteeing financing for customers to own their own systems as it is a true value add that every American would pat them on the back for. If we replaced this for the 30% Federal Tax incentive every homeowner would purchase solar. Think of the jobs this would create. It could truly make a politician a hero. Call me a dreamer but I believe in America and do not think our Government is too broken to not be a world leader in how to implement good policy. Whoever writes a bill for loan guaranty is going to wind up in the history books as it will create an astounding amount of jobs and put us down as the true world leaders in energy. We are proud Americans, we don't need money given to us we just need access to the financing. Please keep this in mind as you read the story below.

Published in The Daily Signal
Josh Siegel /  

Photo: Getty Images

A different sort of green energy issue has sparked bipartisan action on Capitol Hill as lawmakers move to address allegations of deceptive practices in sales of rooftop solar panels.

Earlier this month, 12 Republican members of the House of Representatives wrote to the Federal Trade Commission, warning that leasing solar panels from a third party may be a harmful investment for homeowners.

Four House Democrats sent a letter in November to the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, expressing similar concerns. In making sales pitches, they wrote, leasing companies “may be overstating the economic benefits of signing a long-term solar lease while failing to disclose important information.”

“To a lot of folks, these leases sound really good,” said Jeff Small, legislative director for Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who spearheaded the letter to the FTC. “But when you dive into the details, it proves too good to be true.”

Small, in an interview with The Daily Signal, said Gosar supports efforts to use alternative energy sources such as wind and solar, and that his concern is about “worrisome” sales practices and not the product.

Gosar is co-sponsor of a bill to streamline the permitting process for using wind and solar energy on federal land.

“The congressman is by no means anti-solar,” Small said. “There is a lot of solar potential in Arizona. Because this is an emerging industry, there is not a lot of oversight.”
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., led a group of Republicans who wrote the Federal Trade Commission with concerns about “deceptive” sales of rooftop solar panels. (Photo: Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

The House Democrats who wrote to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau are Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber, along with Gene Green of Texas.

Solar leases are becoming a popular arrangement for those who don’t want to pay an upfront fee for rooftop solar panels, consumer advocates say. Leasing companies have access to federal tax credits for installing solar.

Leases usually have terms of 20 years and require monthly payments.

The congressmen suggest it’s difficult for consumers to calculate whether those payments will be less than the amount they save by generating their own electricity with solar power.

To encourage introduction of rooftop solar panels, many states approved a billing system called net metering , where homeowners can sell any excess power generated to their region’s electric company.

Steve Pociask, president of American Consumer Institute , a nonpartisan, nonprofit group, says third-party solar leasing companies “oversell” potential benefits to consumers from selling unused power.

“The question is, at what price am I selling it at?” Pociask said, adding that a state’s public service commission sets the price for excess power sold to a utility:

If I sell it at the retail price, it is a loss for the utility’s ratepayer consumer. That means that consumers that can afford to put solar panels on their roof are being subsidized by consumers who cannot afford to do the same. There is probably a fair price that would encourage a homeowner to want to do this, but right now [third-party solar panel leasers] are misleading consumers and stretching assumptions about the benefits of leasing solar panels.

Pociask recommends that the FTC come up with “common language” for contracts between a homeowner and a solar panel leasing company.

“These things need to be put in plain language,” Pociask said, adding:

If I am going to do a deal with you to sell or buy something, and I understand the contract better than you do, who is coming out on the better side of the deal? There should be a requirement that certain promises are known up front. There needs to be better information so people can make better buying decisions.

In their letter to the FTC, the Republican congressmen suggest there “appears” to be a need for a “resource center” for consumers to weigh the risks of leasing a rooftop solar panel.

The lawmakers note that customers have filed class-action lawsuits in California and Louisiana.

“Diversity in energy is a good thing,” Pociask said. “There is something attractive about solar energy. We all want to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. But in the process, we’ve created a cottage industry that rips off consumers.”

“We’ve created a cottage industry that rips off consumers,” says @consumerpal.

In a story last month in the Arizona Republic, SolarCity Corp. of San Mateo, Calif., which controls most of the solar leasing market in the United States, defended its sales practices.

SolarCity accused the Arizona Public Service Co., the biggest utility in the state, of lobbying Congress to oppose its services.

“SolarCity depends on positive word of mouth to sell our systems, and unlike APS [Arizona Public Service Co.], we have to satisfy our customers in order to make money,” SolarCity spokesman Will Craven told the newspaper, adding:

People go solar because they talk to their neighbors, and they hear positive stories. Unlike APS, our customers know exactly what they’re going to pay for solar electricity for the next 20 years. It is known that [APS parent company] Pinnacle West has been lobbying Congress, and they are the likely source of this misinformation. However, as a market leader that prioritizes consumer protection, SolarCity looks forward to working with CFPB and members of Congress on this important issue.

Monday, December 29, 2014

A VERY IMPORTANT ISSUE "Renewable Energy and Protecting the Grid from Terrorism and Natural Disasters"

I spent a lot of time thinking about these issues and have often wondered why the government has not spent more time and money addressing these very pertinent issues. Take down power and you will see a true disruption in the very fabric of a country. It has bothered me for years that companies and government take such a nonchalant view of back up power. I think I really noticed this back when I was working in the Central and South American markets. The grid was very unreliable and I would witness businesses shut down because of power outages on a pretty consistent bases. A lot of my work was putting in back up power to insure that companies could continue to do business even if the grid went down. If you think about this on a national level the effect are very disturbing. Electronics
Read more great articles at

Tom Lombardo posted on December 28, 2014
A society that relies on technology becomes extremely vulnerable when the technology fails, and since most of our gadgets are electrical, protecting the power grid is a top priority. Failures can be caused by human error, weather, animals, or acts of malevolence, so grid designers must build in safeguards in order to keep faults from taking down major portions of the grid. The National Research Council published two documents that outline the potential problems with the US electrical grid and offer potential solutions based on current or near-future technology. Obviously the reports don’t go into great detail, for security reasons. As Data (the android in Star Trek: The Next Generation) once said, “If you had an off switch, would you want everybody to know about it?” With that said, they did highlight areas that need to be addressed. Here’s a brief overview. I’ve provided links to the original documents if you want to read more.

The Problems

Because much of today’s power generation causes pollution, the majority of electrical power is generated by large generators located away from population centers. Even wind farms, although pollution-free, need to be located in big open fields, away from tall obstructions found in cities. Long transmission lines carry electricity from the power plants to the consumers, although the route isn’t direct. A break in one of these transmission lines - accidental or intentional - can cause widespread power outages like the 2003 event that blacked out portions of northeastern US and southern Canada.
Real-time control must constantly balance supply and demand, and if that control breaks down major failures can occur. High-voltage transformers are large, expensive, and built overseas. If one or more of these transformers were attacked, it could take months to get it replaced. Although the grid can reroute power around some failed sections, there isn’t enough extra capacity to handle the additional power from a major branch.
Distributed generation is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it offers the possibility of independent microgrids that generate power for a small area. Hospitals, universities, and military bases are beginning to take this approach to protect themselves against grid failures. Although this helps the entities who use the microgrid, it also presents a challenge to the overall grid. Since microgrids are usually connected to the national grid, power flows both ways. Much of the power coming from a microgrid is generated by renewable sources whose output varies from moment to moment, making it difficult for grid operators to predict exactly how much energy is available at any given instant. Energy storage helps to alleviate the intermittent nature of renewable sources, but it presents the same issues as other distributed generation sources.

The Solutions

The council offered several recommendations to enhance the grid’s reliability, which include upgrading power plant and transmission line infrastructure, incorporating more grid-level storage (batteries, compressed air, pumped hydro, and supercapacitors), adding capacitor banks to handle variations in reactive power, installingadvanced circuit protection and communication equipment, and designing fault-tolerant computer hardware and software for use in grid control centers. In the event of a terrorist attack, it’s likely that multiple systems would be affected. New strategies and protocols are needed to ensure that the automated systems that deal with single-mode failures don’t adversely affect each other.

In any fault-tolerant system, there are critical points that simply must not fail. Substations represent these points in the grid’s infrastructure, as do the aforementioned high-voltage transformers. The report suggests redesigning these components so they can be housed more securely indoors or underground.
Smart grid technology can provide intelligent load-shedding, allowing limited resources to be directed towards critical customers like hospitals, police, firefighters, and military bases. But as the grid becomes “smarter” it’s also more susceptible to cyber attacks. Appropriate levels of software security must evolve along with the control hardware and software to prevent hackers from interfering with grid operations.


The report suggests that renewable energy sources, microgrids, and their associated integration technology take on a greater role in US energy production. Much of the same equipment that’s needed to shift our energy production from fossil fuels to renewable sources is also a part of the strategy to make the grid more reliable and secure. As these tools evolve and grow side-by-side, care must be taken to ensure that the technology addresses all aspects of energy production, including quality, reliability, and security.
The good old transformer - two coils of wire magnetically coupled - is the workhorse of the electric grid. Although simple and reliable, it’s not particularly efficient and not at all programmable. Intelligent transformers made of high-power electronics could handle the stepping up and down of voltages, as current transformers do, and also deal with varying demand, routing of power, and reactive power compensation. Likewise, smart switches and circuit breakers can intelligently route power, isolate faults, and communicate with the grid operators and with other equipment.
Here’s one that might interest students who are looking for career opportunities. According to the National Research Council, "Going forward, the electric power industry will need increasingly more eclectic workers with skills to address digitization and the complexity of electronics, communications, computers, and highly integrated systems; the integration and operation of renewable energy sources. Much of this modernization will be driven by consumers’ increasing demands for near-perfect reliability and quality of supply at a reasonable cost and by ever tighter environmental constraints."

Our century-old power grid runs surprisingly well; as a result, we’ve been lulled into complacency with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” syndrome. Upgrading it will be a significant investment, but one that will pay dividends in advanced technology, high-tech jobs, economic growth, and national security. Are you up for the challenge?

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Great To Hear - "Pope Francis Expected To Instruct One Billion Catholics To Act On Climate Change"

It is very ENCOURAGING to witness world leaders with such influence stepping up with the INITIATIVE to address real issues facing in the world today. the fossil fuel industry has used religion as its own pulpit for too many years now. their influence inside of the religious community has been a bit mind boggling in that they try to distort what every person can see with their own eyes (CLIMATE change) into a RELIGIOUS argument. folks that believe in god are not stupid and are starting to wake up to the fact that they have been manipulated and i really believe it is going to blow up in the face of these fossil fool companies when folks realize how manipulated they have been and get angry at being used for the profits of a few. BY RYAN KORONOWSKI
Pope Francis
Pope Francis                                                                 CREDIT: AP PHOTO/JORGE SAENZ

At the end of 2015, the nations of the world will meet in Paris and attempt to hammer out a global deal to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And Pope Francis hopes that the world’s Catholics, as well as other major religions, will be a big part of serious climate action.
This includes a series of steps next year. Francis is expected to tell the planet’s 1.2 billion Catholics why acting on climate change is essential to the faith using an influential church document called an encyclical. This has been long-rumored, but will reportedly be released to the world’s 5,000 bishops and 400,000 priests following a papal visit to the hurricane-damaged city of Tacloban in the Philippines.

In September, the Pope will take his message to the U.N. General Assembly in a New York address next year, according to John Vidal of the Guardian, who cited Vatican insiders. He will reportedly personally lobby political and faith leaders there, with the goal of pushing them to commit to real action ahead of the Paris meetings in December of next year.
While it isn’t certain what exactly he will tell these leaders, it will likely be similar to what he has been telling Catholics everywhere since the beginning of his papacy. Earlier this year, Francis told a massive crowd in Rome, “if we destroy Creation, Creation will destroy us!” He has called the destruction of the rainforest a “sin,” and under his leadership, the Church held a five-day summit with scientists, economists, philosophers, astronomers, and other experts to explore ways the Catholic church could address climate and sustainability.
Earlier this month during the climate talks in Lima, Catholic bishops from every continentcalled for “an end to the fossil fuel era.” This follows, they said, the need to prioritize “the immediate needs of the most vulnerable communities.” Addressing the causes and effects of climate change is a moral and social justice issue for them, as the impacts of a changing climate will disproportionately affect those who can least-ably adapt (and who did not emit most of the pollution in the first place).
Francis’ close friend, Argentinian Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo is the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and Social Sciences. He said in an annual lecture to the British Catholic group Cafod last month: “today solid scientific evidence exists that global climate is changing and that human activity based on the use of fossil materials contributes decisively to this trend.”

Soronado cited Francis’ “unique role as a religious leader,” and the need for moral guidance to ensure the natural world is developed in a sustainable and socially inclusive way. “The problem of climate change has become a major social and moral problem, and mentalities can only be changed on moral and religious grounds,” he said.
Therefore, our Academics supported the Pope’s initiative to publish an Encyclical or another such important document on climate and social inclusion to influence next year’s crucial decisions. In fact, the idea is to convene a meeting with the religious leaders of the main religions to make all people aware of the state of our climate and the tragedy of social exclusion starting from the biblical message that man is the steward of nature and of its environmental and human development according to its potential and not against it, as Paul IV intended.
The details surrounding this climate meeting with the world’s religious leaders are currently unclear, but Francis will likely find some parts of his audience willing and amenable to strong climate action. Earlier this year, a group of evangelical Christiansurged President Obama to discuss climate change with the Pope at the Vatican, while another told Florida Governor Rick Scott that climate change was a “pro-life” issue. Leaders from several different religions encouraged the EPA to regulate carbon dioxide from power plants at the agency’s public hearings in July, with some saying carbon pollution is “an affront to God.”
On the other hand, a strong majority of white evangelicals in the U.S. believe that worsening natural disasters are a sign of the apocalypse, not climate change, and other conservative evangelical sects will likely oppose Francis’ efforts.
“The pope should back off,” said Calvin Beisner, spokesman for the conservative evangelical Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. “The Catholic church is correct on the ethical principles but has been misled on the science. It follows that the policies the Vatican is promoting are incorrect. Our position reflects the views of millions of evangelical Christians in the US.”

Leonardo DiCaprio's films GREEN WORLD RISING and CARBON -- WATCH BOTH HERE We have the power to change!

By Eugene Wilkie

I am often perplexed that society as a whole is OK with the fact that fossil fuel companies have been able to profit while destroying the very air they breath. Thier propaganda machine and spread of money to political parties is criminal yet they operate with impunity. My dream is that one day society will wake up and refuse to be the servants of the few who hold this power. Is it ok that our children and grandchildren suffer for our greed? We can change this. I have been in renewable energy for over 25 years and if you would have asked me 20 years ago if we could accomplished what we have I would have said no. I am amazed at the progres we have made and do believe the world is waking up. We need world leaders to take a stand. We need our Government representatives to stop taking DIRTY money to get elected and speak the truth. We the people have the voice and the power. Our children deserve the very best earth we can leave them so as you watch ask yourself how you can join the growing cry for change! Native American tradition states that everything we do affects seven generations so when we utilize earths assets we need to not just think about ourselves but our childrens children seven generations beyond.

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