Posts Tagged ‘Solar’

Renewable Tax Credits Extended, Finally

Friday, October 3rd, 2008

As the financial bailout measure was passed by Congress today, several tax credits were added to the bill, including an extension of renewable energy tax credits.  These tax credits have been bouncing back and forth in Congress all year.  However one feels about the rest of the bailout bill, these tax credits are good news for renewable energy; there must be a great number of relieved renewable energy workers celebrating tonight.  The measure includes an 8 year extension of the investment tax credit for solar electric systems, extending the 30% tax credit and removing the $2000 cap on the credit for residential systems that has limited the impact in this market.  The measure also includes credits for small wind, fuel cells and geothermal systems. 

The on-again off-again nature of these credits in the past with short term extensions that were allowed to expire has limited their impact.  Now with an 8 year extension in place the industry can plan and invest for long term growth with this piece of their financial picture more secure, encouraging their growth around the country. 

At West Coast Green  (September 25-27) I talked about the tax credits with Gary Gerber, the CEO of Sun Light and Power, a San Francisco Bay Area solar installer.  With this type of longer term policy supporting solar power nationwide, Gerber felt we would see solar grow beyond states like California with strong support for solar such as the Million Solar Roofs Initiative, creating renewable energy businesses and jobs across the country.

Its hard to say that anybody is completely unaffected by the broader economic situation, but Gerber said that he has “not heard or seen anything that says we are negatively affected.” 

“We are in the business of saving people money,” he went on to say, a good business to be in when the economy is down. 

Several other measures in the bill also support renewable energy, including a one year extension of production tax credits for solar and wind, incentives for biofuels, and the creation of energy conservation bonds to fight climate change and encourage energy efficiency measures.  The Cleantech Practice Group of Morrison & Foerster compiled a nice summary of these measures.  In the days that follow after people get a chance to read the bill through more closely we’ll hear more about its impact.

One of the lessons of our current financial situation is that free markets cannot be left unregulated and expected to move in a direction that is beneficial to the long term interests of society and the economy.  The same is true of the environment.  Government plays an important role in regulating industry, driving changes that are beneficial to us all.  These measures to support renewable energy are an important example of this, creating a multitude of jobs and businesses, helping the economy, and helping the planet.

Going Green with Vote Solar and Maroon 5

Wednesday, September 17th, 2008

The rapid growth of the solar industry is creating jobs and businesses that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.  Solar power still provides only a small portion of the electricity in the US, but several factors are driving the continued growth of solar power.  Solar energy is clean, renewable, and its cost is determined by the initial cost of putting systems in place, without a need for increasingly expensive fuel. 

To encourage the growth of the solar industry, the government has put in place policies and incentives that support it.  There are 24 states that have renewable energy portfolio standards requiring utilities to produce a portion of their power using clean energy alternatives like solar and wind to replace more polluting resources.  State governments have created incentives like the Million Solar Roofs initiative in California that is working to install 3000 megawatts worth of solar panels by 2016, saving the state an estimated $6 billion in the process.  Tax credits and rebates reduce the cost of solar energy, helping it to compete with energy from more polluting resources like coal, but putting these policies and laws into places is not always easy.  Providing tax credits to support renewable energy creates green collar jobs and makes economic sense, as well as helping the environment, but an extension of the tax credits for renewable energy past the end of 2008 has remained stuck in Congress.  Even now a last ditch effort is underway to provide an extension for these tax credits.

Vote Solar is working to support consistent, long-term support for solar power.  When key actions in government are coming up, Vote Solar alerts supporters so they can email or phone their representatives in Congress and express their support.  Government seems to respond when people are watching and let their representatives know.  While many are skeptical about government, by getting involved and supporting solar people help to drive its increased use.

Reverb's Eco-Village at a Maroon 5 Concert

Reverb's Eco-Village at a Maroon 5 Concert

One way Vote Solar is getting the message out about solar is by showing up at music events, collaborating with Reverb to connect with fans at concerts like the Maroon 5 and Counting Crows tour this year. Reverb works with a variety of eco-aware musical performers to green events and get the word out with fans about environmental issues and solutions.  The growing list of performers working with Reverb includes the Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, and Jack Johnson, among many others.  At these concerts Reverb creates an Eco-Village of booths promoting the green cause, and works to green the event itself by recycling, reducing waste, encouraging carpooling to the shows with PickupPal, and connecting to fans to carry the changes home after the show.

Last weekend I volunteered at the Maroon 5 show in San Diego, manning the Vote Solar booth in the Eco-Village set up by Reverb there.  Many interested fans dropped by the booth and signed up to get involved, and perhaps change their lives to be greener.  Every person who gets involved is another step in the right direction.  Solar still costs more than coal, but with continued growth and technical progress, its cost will continue decreasing.  Consistent federal action will help to make this happen.  You can help to make it happen too by getting involved.  Next time you see your friendly Vote Solar or Reverb volunteer at a concert, go say Hi and see what they have to say.  Then, enjoy the show.