This is part of the upcoming 10/10/10 rally 350.org is organizing. Go Nasheed!
This is part of the upcoming 10/10/10 rally 350.org is organizing. Go Nasheed!
I recently blogged about Bill Mckibben’s efforts with 350.org on the 10/10/10 global work party, and putting solar power back on the White House. Now Bill is taking his advocacy to the opinion section of the Washington Post! According to the Atlantic, the White House has agreed to talk about Bill’s proposal. I’m re-posting Bill’s op-ed below, enjoy!
A few of us have spent the past week carefully transporting a relic of American history down the East Coast, trying to return it to the White House, where it belongs.
It’s not a painting spirited from the Lincoln Bedroom or an antique sideboard stolen from the Roosevelt Room by some long-ago servant. No, this relic comes from the somewhat more prosaic Carter roof. It’s a solar panel, one of a large array installed on top of the White House in June 1979.
When he dedicated the panels, President Jimmy Carter made a prophecy that, like many oracles, came true in unexpected fashion — in fact, nothing better illustrates both why the world is heating and why the American economy is falling behind its competitors.
“In the year 2000 this solar water heater behind me will still be here supplying cheap, efficient energy,” he said. “A generation from now this solar heater can either be a curiosity, a museum piece, an example of a road not taken, or it can be just a small part of one of the greatest and most exciting adventures ever undertaken by the American people.”
— By 2000, the panels were long gone from the White House, taken down during the Reagan administration. But they were indeed still producing hot water, on the cafeteria roof of Unity College in central Maine.
— Some have indeed become museum pieces — one is at the Carter Library and another was donated this year by Unity to Huang Ming, the entrepreneur whose Himin Solar has become the world’s preeminent supplier of solar hot water. It is in the gallery at his enormous Sun-Moon Mansion complex, a few hours south of Beijing.
— The technology has indeed become part of a great and exciting adventure. Just not for the American people. Instead, by Huang’s estimate, 250 million Chinese shower with hot water from rooftop panels. There are entire cities where essentially every building heats its water with the sun. Which explains why China leads the world in installed renewable capacity.
Meanwhile, in America, the solar industry essentially vanished after Reagan stopped supporting it with federal dollars. Less than 1 percent of Americans heat their water with the sun, a number not expected to rise very quickly now that the Senate has punted on even the modest climate legislation passed by the House.
To counter this situation, we’re carrying the panel back to the White House and asking President Obama to put it back on the roof, alongside a full array of new photovoltaic and hot-water panels. Obama has drawn much of the blame for the failure of the climate legislation, which he didn’t push aggressively; this is a chance to make at least symbolic amends. Thus far, however, we have not gotten a firm response from the administration, even though other world leaders have pledged to join a Global Work Party on Oct. 10 (10-10-10). Mohamed Nasheed, president of the Maldive Islands, for instance, will be on the roof of his official residence bolting down panels donated by the American company Sungevity.
Clearly, a solar panel on the White House roof won’t solve climate change — and we’d rather have strong presidential leadership on energy transformation. But given the political scene, this may be as good as we’ll get for the moment.
The Bush administration, in fact, created an opening — it brought solar energy back to the White House, with some photovoltaic panels on a maintenance shed and a small water heating system for the “presidential spa and cabana.” But the Bush officials purposely did it without fanfare, and fanfare is exactly what we need. Those panels belong on the roof, where every visitor can see them.
A memo in the Carter Library, written by domestic policy adviser Stuart Eizenstat in May 1978, lays out the case with prescient power: “It would provide a symbol of commitment that is understandable to all Americans, and would enable you to recapture the initiative in the solar energy area. . . . The White House experience will show, to the great number of interested but skeptical Americans, that solar energy is clean, practical, and worth the long-term investment.” He’s still right — when Michelle Obama planted a garden on the White House lawn, it helped boost seed sales 30 percent in the next year.
We wasted three decades when, across America, we could have been using the sun’s power instead of coal to heat our water. We wasted our technological lead in the most important industry of the future and handed it to countries like China. As scientists tell us with increasing fervor, we’re laying waste to the planet’s climate. Now is the moment to go back to the future.
Bill McKibben, founder of the global warming campaign 350.org, is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College in Vermont and the author of “Earth: Making a Life on a Tough New Planet.”
Congratulations to the University Park Solar Co-Op for getting the juice flowing. This is a very inspiring story right nearby my campus of conscious residents taking the clean energy economy into their own hands! Find out more about this project at their website
Check out this video on the Department of Energy website about new solar technology that the department is funding research for
With all of the bad news about the apparent death of a climate bill in Washington, it’s important to focus on some legislation that would move the ball forward, and is still alive for passage. Last week, Bernie Sander’s solar roofs bill passed the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, although sadly not a single Republican voted for a low-cost bill to advance solar power. Hopefully the Democrats can find a little support on the Senate floor. Below is information about the legislation.
The Ten Million Solar Roofs Act of 2010 (S. 3460) was introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders, a member of the Senate energy and environment committees and chairman of the green jobs subcommittee. The bill was passed by the Energy and Natural Resources Committee by a vote of 13 to 10 on July 21, 2010.
I’ve gotten a bunch of e-mails about this legislation to accelerate Maryland’s solar portion of the renewable portfolio standard. I’m re-posting the e-mail from the MD Sierra Club below. If you’re a Maryland resident, please take a moment and contact your State Senator about this.
We need your help! This week, your legislators will be voting on expanding the development of solar energy in Maryland. This will make solar energy cheaper and easier to buy. Help increase our access to clean, renewable energy by contacting your legislator today and asking them to vote FOR solar!
Governor O’Malley is sponsoring the bill, entitled:Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard – Solar Energy, (SB 277) which will ramp up the development of solar power in Maryland. Unfortunately, the utility companies are fighting hard to keep us chained to dirty fossil fuels.
This important bill has already passed the Senate. Now it needs to pass the House before Governor O’Malley can sign it into law. But there is less than a week left in this legislative session, so we need to act now.
Thank you for all you do,
Conservation Program Coordinator
I want to bring attention to a great opportunity for local governments and universities in Maryland to install solar power, and pay for it at a cheap rate. Check out the Maryland Energy Administration’s Project Sunburst, a stimulus grant program of $1,000 a KW for solar generation on public buildings. The owner of the building must enter into a Power Purchase Agreement, where the solar company installs the panels for free, and the recipient of the solar power pays a typical electric rate for it for several years, just like they would for any other source of energy. The catch is that because of the $1,000 a KW subsidy, the cost per kilowatt for this solar power will be dirt cheap.
Below is the information from MEA’s website on Project Sunburst
The Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) has received significant funding through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) to promote clean, affordable, and reliable energy. As part of this initiative, MEA has set aside a significant portion of this funding to promote the installation of renewable energy systems on public buildings in Maryland through Project Sunburst. MEA is seeking public partners that have a portfolio of large project sites available. In order to maximize available incentives and limit upfront costs, Project Sunburst Partners will host renewable energy systems and contract for the electricity generated through power purchase agreements (PPA).
This agreement between MEA and Project Sunburst Partner covers:
- Grant Funding
- Technical Support
MEA will provide a rebate of up to $1,000 per kilowatt-DC of photovoltaic (PV) capacity installed. These funds will be transferred from MEA to a Project Sunburst Partner upon successful signing of a financeable PPA contract between the Sunburst Partner and a renewable energy service provider, provided all requirements, terms and conditions have been met. If financing cannot be acquired, or other conditions prohibit the completion of the renewable energy project, Sunburst Partner must return the funds to MEA.
There may be transaction costs associated with contracting for renewable energy. MEA’s goal is to reduce, to the extent possible, transaction costs related to identification of project host sites, request for proposal (RFP) development and evaluation, and power purchase agreement (PPA) development and execution by sharing best practices between Sunburst Partners and potentially retaining technical consultants to provide necessary support. MEA may provide other support as necessary, including assistance with Solar Renewable Energy Credits.
In order to qualify as a Project Sunburst Partner you must:
- be considered a public entity for tax purposes,
- own the project host sites such as building(s), parking structures, etc
- identify viable rooftops or other project locations,
- submit project identification forms to MEA
- sign a grant agreement with MEA indicating intent to:
- conduct an RFP or other appropriate process to contract for renewable electricity,
- sign a financeable long term PPA contract for the energy produced by the host site(s), and
- comply with all MEA, Department of Energy, and ARRA terms and conditions related to use of funds.
Expression of Interest
Interested Potential Sunburst Partners should:
- review the list of criteria for identifying project sites
- perform a rigorous inventory of available locations,
- complete the Project Identification Form
- If a ground mount installation is proposed, complete a SEP Environmental Questionnaire
- Review the most recent ARRA information
MEA will evaluate projects based on quality of proposed locations, size, geographic diversity, and ability to execute deals quickly. Given the significant amount of funding available, MEA anticipates that it will be able to fund the majority of eligible projects that are proposed provided they can meet the milestones and deadlines below.
Initiate Site Identification Suggested start ASAP
Submit Project Identification Forms to MEA Rolling deadline of Mar 26, 2010
Partner signs grant agreement with MEA to reserve funds Rolling deadline of Apr 16, 2010
Partner issues RFP for purchase of solar electricity Suggested by May 14, 2010
Partner identifies winning bidder(s) Suggested by July 9, 2010
Partner signs PPA contracts with developer Deadline of Aug 6, 2010
Developer builds and commissions systems Deadline of Feb 25, 2011
The Diamondback has an article out today about my university getting solar panels on the roof of its dining hall. I’m re-posting it below.
New solar panels on Diner’s roof should save $1.7M annually
by Dana Cetrone
The Diner is going solar.
Twenty new solar panels that will be used to generate heat were installed on the roof of The Diner in North Campus last week — the latest step in a university plan to overhaul utilities in nine buildings to be more energy efficient.
The 20 solar panels are meant to generate one-third of The Diner’s hot water, which is used for cooking and washing dishes and hands, university officials said.
Although the projects included in the Energy Performance Contract will cost $20 million, Dining Services officials said in the end, the university will break even in costs because the money saved will be used to pay back the 10-year loan it received from a state program used to foot the construction bill.
“The solar panels are just a piece of the amazing energy saving puzzle we are so proud of,” Assistant Director of Facilities for Dining Services Greg Thompson said.
In line with the university’s long-term goal of reducing the carbon footprint of the campus to zero by 2050, the solar panel instillation comes on the heels of a slew of other green alterations being made to campus facilities.
According to the report issued on the project in October, the expected annual carbon reduction these alterations will provide is equal to the university planting about 20,700 trees every year.
This year, the university equipped high-rise dorms and other newly constructed buildings with water-conserving toilets, exchanged all lights on the campus with energy-efficient fixtures, replaced all air conditioning compressors and added five new exhaust hoods —used to moderate the amount of steam allowed to escape — onto building pipes .
“When completed, it is projected to save about $1.7 million annually in avoided energy costs — nearly 5 million kilowatt-hours and 2.5 million gallons of water,” Facilities’ Conservation Manager Susan Corry said.
The exhaust hoods alone have already saved 26,000 kilowatts per hour each since being installed in the last year, said Joe Mullineaux, senior associate director of Dining Services.
“The Energy-Saving Opportunity began about one year ago, and all upgrades to North Campus Diner will be completed by the end of the semester,” Mullineaux said.
Johnson Controls, the company responsible for installing all the new, green utilities, will be paid with money borrowed from the state through a program that offers up to $70 million in loans to government agencies to purchase construction equipment.
Solar panels are also expected to be installed on the roof of Cole Field House. They will be primarily used to power the Driskell Center — a center dedicated to studying and showcasing African Diaspora art and culture.
Project construction in other campus locations is expected to continue through April 2011. Looking to the future, facilities officials have said the university may expand the project to encompass six more buildings, including the Art-Sociology Building, the Plant Sciences Building and Easton Hall. But the South Campus Dining Hall will not see any new solar panels or other green equipment installed anytime soon.
February 4, 2010
WASHINGTON, February 4 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), chairman of the Senate’s green jobs subcommittee, today introduced legislation with nine cosponsors to encourage the installation of 10 million solar systems on the rooftops of homes and businesses over the next decade.
“At a time when we spend $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other countries every year, the United States must move away from foreign oil to energy independence,” Sanders said. “A dramatic expansion of solar power is a clean and economical way to help break our dependence on foreign oil, reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, improve our geopolitical position, and create good-paying green jobs.”
At a Senate committee hearing today, Sanders questioned Energy Secretary Steven Chu about President Obama’s budget for next year. The White House requested $2.4 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The requested 5 percent boost overall included a 22 percent increase for solar power.
The potential for solar power also was the subject of testimony last week before Sanders’ green jobs subcommittee by Jeff Wolfe, chief executive officer of groSolar in White River Junction, Vt. Wolfe said Sanders’ bill “would help homeowners and small businesses stabilize their energy costs.”
Sanders’ bill would authorize rebates which, along with other incentives, would cover up to half the cost of the 10 million solar power systems and 200,000 water heating systems. Non-profit groups and state and local governments also would be eligible. The legislation would ensure that participating homeowners and businesses also receive information on incentives to improve energy efficiency.
Sanders said a recent report shows that solar power could help make every state more energy independent if solar units were installed on available rooftop space, because every state can meet 10 percent or more of its electricity needs just through rooftop solar. Moreover, because solar energy creates more jobs per megawatt than other energy sources. Sanders’ bill could create hundreds of thousands of jobs over the next ten years in the solar industry.
The legislation’s cosponsors include Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Sens. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.).
Sanders’ measure is patterned after successful state programs promoting solar energy in New Jersey and California, where prices have fallen as the number of solar units increased.
To read a copy of the bill, click here.
According to a new analysis by New Energy Finance, the price of solar power will be 50% less by the end of 2009 than it was in 2008. This is in comparison to a 10% drop in costs of other renewable energy sources. The report also notes the cost of wind turbines have dropped by 18-20% since 2008. For more detailed information on why this is, check out the report, or a post I made back in August.