Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago. As commodity prices threaten to reach decade lows and farmers struggle to meet debt payments, wind has become the newest cash crop, saving family farms across a wide swath of the heartland
This November we will be voting on a series of amendments. One of them involves solar power and whether utility companies can charge solar users special fees. On the surface the amendment appears to be pro-solar but as CBS4’s David Sutta discovered, that may not be the case.
Utilities continue filing requests to increase fixed charges, but reports show regulators have denied the majority of these requests. Compromise solar valuation regulatory decisions occurred in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. Meanwhile, policymakers in New York, Oregon, and Rhode Island have taken progressive solar action, and voters overwhelmingly supported expanding solar access in Florida.
With solar panel prices down 20%-25% in the last few months, and the cost of financing rising for some developers, we’ll likely see more solar companies go out of business in the next two years. Whether or not that leads to a more sustainable industry or not — only time will tell. If it does, the upside will be tremendous for the winners.
Data has been transmitted across a national electricity grid for the first time, in what could be a significant step towards the creation of virtual power stations, where many thousands of homes and businesses combine to manage electricity use more smartly. The new technology could lead to lower energy bills for consumers who allow small variations in the energy consumption of their appliances, such as water heaters or freezers.
Some wind producers, encouraged by turbine makers, are deciding to “repower” existing wind farms to tap the tax credits, including NextEra Energy Inc., which has 110 wind farms in 19 states and Canada. NextEra reaped $73 million in Production Tax Credit subsidies in the first six months of the year. Armando Pimentel, chief executive of NextEra Energy Resources, the company arm that develops renewable power, recently told investors that while retrofitting “certainly wasn’t something we were thinking about six months ago,” he believes it may now make sense for nearly a third of the company’s 13,000-megawatt wind portfolio.
The Solar Energy Industries Association awarded five members of Congress with solar awards, including Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The Nevada Democrat, who’s retiring from Congress at the end of this session, was awarded the association’s first “lifetime solar pugilist award,” partly for spearheading the solar investment tax credit in 2005 and pushing to extend it in 2008 and 20
But the Florida amendment is a bit different from what happened in Nevada. This is a compromise measure: Allow people to lease, but give utilities an option to recoup some of their operating money. If you are a Floridian interested in solar energy, this leaves you in a position of deciding who to trust. (Spoiler: Nobody.)
State and local leaders celebrated one of New Mexico’s largest solar energy projects Thursday. The Roswell and Chaves County Solar Energy Centers feature approximately 600,000 solar panels. The panels are equipped with trackers that will follow the sun from east to west each day to maximize energy production. That’s enough solar energy to power 40,000 homes.
Kismat Ali is a 33-year-old mason living in Kakhin Bimile, a village a few hours drive from Dhaka, Bangladesh’s crowded capital. He lives in a large brick home on a dirt road with his wife, son, parents and five brothers. This semirural area is off the main electrical grid, so residents rely on kerosene lamps and electricity from wires strung across the village to a noisy privately owned diesel generator. It runs about five hours each night