The Week in Solar: February 26-March 4, 2017

Each week, Bay Area Solar Solutions LLC takes a look at the world of solar and how it affects Floridians. Below is the week of February 26-March 4, 2017; click on the red links for the highlighted article exclusive.

Amazon looks to go big on solar, clean energy’s Anmar Frangoul reports Amazon is taking the solar plunge.  The online retail behemoth plans to install arrays for 15 buildings this year, and a total of 50 by 200, writes Frangoul.  Amazon also plans on unveiling a wind system later this year and desires to be a leader in sustainable energy.

“By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers. It’s a win-win.”

–Dave Clark, senior vice president of Worldwide Operations

The Florida Takeaway:  Another big business going solar, joining Apple, Google, and others who aim for sustainable, environmental, and bankable energy to drive down costs for customers while enjoying solar’s other benefits.  Amazon has not released the buildings affected by solar, although Florida boasts two huge Amazon fulfillment centers (Lakeland, Ruskin); hopefully, they’ll be among the 50.

solar-panels-1726540_640Now that he’s confirmed, Rick Perry has a big decision to make about the Energy Department

Brad Plumer of Vox writes of Rick Perry’s monumental task of persuading President Trump and his administration to drop proposed budget cuts for the Department of Energy (DoE).  Perry, recently selected as the DoE’s secretary, stated he would defend the DoE’s energy programs, but admitted he may not be successful.
The Florida Takeaway:  I’ve written before that Perry being selected as DoE secretary is something of a headscratcher.  During his tenure as Texas governor, solar and wind shined and soared under Perry.  Although Perry vows to advocate energy programs for our nation, time will tell if he acts as such.  He may be in for a large fight as many groups call for budget cuts, and his renewable energy advocacy can help more than he realizes.  Florida is behind his represented state of Texas, but that is changing quickly–and Floridians for solar are watching.

Video Offers a Compelling Look at Nevada’s Largest Solar Plant

The Tonopah, Nevada, solar array is large.  Very large.  And Alec Ernest’s video proves such, writes Chris Clarke of VCET.  Dubbed ” Crescent Dunes Solar Project,” the array sports over 10,000 panels (heliostat panels) and is “world’s largest solar power tower plant with thermal storage,” cites Clarke.  The 9+ minute documentary by Ernest showcases the best of what solar-thermal may accomplish.
The Florida Takeaway:  Although Florida may not have desert space as Nevada, there are plenty of open spaces in which large solar systems may occupy.  Such projects take precise metrics and engineering in order to be effective (short and long term), but are extremely doable with many benefits.  Benefits such as a larger impact on the environment, economy, and thereby community.  And the Nevada project will impact all three in spades.  It’s our turn to get excited, Floridians, let’s make it happen!tonopah_stills_1.1.9_0

A worker among the heliostats at the Crescent Dunes Solar Project | Photo: Alec Ernest, by cclarke

APS settles rate-case dispute with solar industry

Frank Andorka of PV Magazanie is at it again, covering Arizona’s net metering struggle.  This time (as opposed to early this year), Andorka writes of solar’s win in Arizona.  The Arizona Public Service (APS) has reached a net metering settlement that has been in battle for three years.  Andorka cites, “The compromise between the state’s largest utility and the solar industry guarantees Arizona’s current solar customers will be grandfathered at full retail net metering rates for 20 years from the date of interconnection.”  The main battle centered around grandfathering new solar customers into net metering programs, and ultimately, the APS settled with solar advocates.

“The joint agreement between the solar industry, APS, and other stakeholders is more proof that rooftop solar is inevitable…While Arizona does not serve as a model to encourage innovation in distributed energy, we are pleased that, together, we have ended years of debate on the future of rooftop solar policy in Arizona.”

–Anne Hoskins, Sunrun’s chief policy officer

The Florida Takeaway:  Net metering battles are happening all across the country.  From recent battles in Ohio and Nevada, Arizona’s battle is nothing new.  Such is the struggle between solar companies/advocates and big utilities.  Many utilities buy at retail and sell at wholesale rates, even here in Florida.  As a solar advocate, this infuriates me, because utilities are using excess power from solar arrays to power other sources, and paying back the owner of array only part of what they have contributed.  Yes, we in solar do need utilities for the time being.  Interconnection agreements and net metering policies need to be examined, however, as each entity is different.  We thank the utilities for such, but do not like it when we are taken advantage of.  But we have to be careful in our battles, as evidenced by policy restructures in various states such as Nevada.  We are in this together, Floridians, let’s shine ahead for pro-solar policies!

US Military Marches Forward with Green Energy

Timothy Gardner of Reuters features the US Military marching ahead in giant leaps with solar, per Business Insider exclusive.  Although the Trump administration has been reluctant and indifferent regarding renewables, Gardner chronicles solar’s growth under past leadership (George W. Bush and Barack Obama, respectively) as well as the sustained growth under the Trump team.  Furthermore, Gardner writes of solar’s effectiveness in combat, the stakes of solar bidding in such contracts, and the military’s commitment to solar.
The Florida Takeaway:  Although the military certainly has its share of detractors, it is encouraging news to hear them and their green energy initiatives.  Solar growth in the military occurred under Bush and Obama presidencies, and hopefully that trend continues under Trump.  Several Florida military establishments feature solar.  Whether stateside or abroad, solar is helping the military in combat–serving many benefits at once.  May the Flrida military shine brighter than ever with solar!


US Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Alexander Quiles/Handout/File Photo via REUTERS

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