The Week in Solar: March 12-18, 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 March 12-18, 2017; click on the red links for the highlighted article exclusive.

Google’s Project Sunroof now shows solar potential in all 50 states

Jordan Novet of Venturebeat.com showcases Google’s Project Sunroof, a new web app shining on solar panels.  The app is an expansion, this time now having solar specs for all 50 states.  The app focuses on solar savings when installing them at home with features such as data explorer, solar 101, and savings estimator.
The Florida Takeaway:  This is an interesting app that should reinforce the idea of solar panels and their savings.  Although there are several similar apps, Google has taken it a step further with a few more bells and whistles.  As more programs such as this become more popular, more Floridians will be switching to solar.  Google has already announced going solar at its facilities, and is a major solar advocate that is helping the solar industry.  Although the numbers they display are approximate, the savings Floridians can save by switching to solar on Google’s app certainly shines bright!
Google-Project-Sunroof-screenshot-930x577
Screenshot courtesy Jordan Jovet, Venturebeat.com

Solar has become America’s fastest-growing, nonpartisan energy source

Thehill.com’s Tom Werner (as opinion contributor) writes how solar has become “America’s fastest-growing, nonpartisan energy source” over the past five years. Werner also writes of solar’s dropping price, making it easier for many to purchase solar.  The article feature’s Werner’s opinion on the future of solar as well, specifically making sure policies are implemented that promote growth and innovation.

Above all, it’s important that we have a policy mindset that lets the free market do what it does best — drive down prices, create jobs and give people plenty of options from which to choose.

–Tom Werner, President and CEO, SunPower

The Florida Takeaway:  It is no news that solar is growing.  Even here in the state of Florida, solar is growing–and faster than the rate of coal, wind, and natural gas.  As it becomes more popular and affects the economy more substantially, we must be proactive in policies that indeed promote growth and innovation.  This may mean a cutting of subsidies in a free market system that helps solar in the long run.  As of now, however, Floridians are encouraged to take advantage of the federal investment tax credit (ITC) in which they can be credited up to 30% when installing solar!

Green energy in a coal state: the struggle to bring solar jobs to West Virginia

“Local entrepreneurs want to replace disappearing coal jobs with employment in solar – but that’s a tough move in a state that lacks the solar-friendly regulations of places like California,” starts Carol J. Clouse in a recent Guardian.com article.  The article spotlights Dan Conant, founder of Solar Holler, and his struggles in promoting his solar business in West Virginia’s coal country.  Conant, with several others, is trying to revive the energy market in West Virginia, oftentimes utilizing the skills of laid off coal workers.  West Virginia’s coal industry has taken a hit of late, and Conant’s solar solution presents an option that has taken time to get rolling, chiefly because of West Virginia’s currently cheap energy prices.

“Renewables are going to be the main source of energy long term – it’s just a question of when…I believe there’s a role for West Virginia to play, and we don’t necessarily need Californian companies or Massachusetts companies to come in and build up the industry for us. We can do it ourselves.”

–Dan Conant, founder Solar Holler

The Florida Takeaway:  Although West Virginia is a good deal away from Florida, both states have solar issues.  West Virginia is a longstanding coal country state, and there is natural friction with solar coming in.  Florida, with no coal plants in the state, struggles with solar as well–mainly because of big power and utility lobbying in the way.  As West Virginia inches closer to more solar, the same can be said of Florida.  It is always good to see other states and how they treat solar, and there is something to learn from solar companies and legislature.  With a nickname such as the “Sunshine State,” Florida has an amazing opportunity to help influence West Virginia go solar.  With the coal industry struggling and coal workers making transitions elsewhere, there is no better time than NOW to see the value of solar.

As Solar Booms, Utilities Look to Build New Business Models

Solar energy is coming to your utility.  Herman K. Trabish writes for Utility Dive that utilities are positioning themselves for solar investing so they can be the “utility of the future.”  Trabish also mentions that utilities see solar’s long term value and are doing their best to capture solar’s value.
The Florida Takeaway:  It is fitting that utilities will eventually become huge proponents of solar.  The increased interest in solar by utilities poses interesting scenarios, both for the utilities and solar.  Utility companies will be forced to change business models as solar expands, and hopefully that means better prices for ratepayers.  As solar becomes more popular in Florida, we must look fondly to utility companies and policy makers, as together the relationship will be all the more important.  As for the here and now, Floridians have the power NOW to exercise their power and switch to solar for immediate and long term savings!
14grid3-master675
Courtesy Kevin Hagen, The New York Times

A Startup in Brooklyn Will Let People Collect and Trade Solar Power, Bypassing Utility Companies

Fortune’s Ryan Kilpatrick  details a new concept for New York Solar.  In a recent piece, Kilpatrick mentions the project “Brooklyn Microgrid,” a peer-to-peer solar trading system using blockchain.  The project is a new startup and includes 50 traders who desire to take utilities out of the energy mix.  Kilpatrick closes, “Regulatory changes are underfoot in New York to get the microgrid’s market up and running, which is anticipated to happen by June.”
The Florida Takeaway:  Something to keep an eye on for sure.  Although utility companies may not be solar’s strongest ally, it is interesting to see groups trying to bypass them completely.  It is my knowledge that Floridians must be tied to the grid, and microgrids may be the next big wave in the energy sector.  Microgrids will pose new issues and solutions that may be viable options for many.  Either way, more are jumping on the solar bandwagon, and Floridians are taking notice.  Floridians are tired of constant rate hikes, Floridians are ready for solar!

 

 

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