Tag Archive: Solar energy

The Landrum Cell

promoted by Rosi

Cross-posted from deciminyan

The year is 2015.  Bob Landrum of Connellsville is one of the wealthiest men in southwestern Pennsylvania.  A high school chemistry teacher by profession, Bob was an amateur inventor and had discovered a breakthrough in solar cell technology back in 2013.  His new solar cell, using a technology that he patented, was nine times more efficient at generating electricity than the best state-of-the art cells were previously.  Despite his wealth, Bob and his wife Carol sent their two children to public schools.  “We want Timmy and Sarah to experience the diversity of America and they need to interact with other children from all walks of life and from all kinds of families” explained Carol.

more below the fold

Christie sued for destroying solar market, costing jobs and closing businesses

The Christie administration has put their heavy hand down to raid the solar market piggy bank virtually collapsing an extremely successful program:

Many small, clean-energy businesses will have to shut their doors within a month because Gov. Christie is raiding the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust Fund of $158 million, which is intended to be used to create incentives for New Jersey consumers, houses of worship and commercial businesses to purchase and install solar energy systems and energy-efficient retrofits. Already, there is far less money for clean energy incentives, a major disruption in a nascent but promising industry, and little funding for the rest of year. The result will set back business plans and pending contracts that rely on these programs.

In place since 1999, the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust Fund has created a new renewable energy economic sector: clean energy jobs. It has created more than 260 new small and mid-size businesses and earned New Jersey the reputation of being a national leader in clean energy — but no longer. This large chunk of clean energy funds will be commingled into general state operations to fill the budget “gap.” It will cost the state clean energy jobs. Yet the 1999 law authorizing the trust fund and the New Jersey Clean Energy Program made it very clear that the money was to be used only to support the growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Closing small businesses that are open, stopping the creation of new businesses, a loss of jobs and a set back in business plans. Is that really what the Christie administration is trying to tell us they want? The thing is, the money Christie is raiding to help balance the general budget isn’t even taxpayer dollars:

The New Jersey Clean Energy Program and its trust fund are completely funded by the state’s electricity and natural-gas ratepayers and do not use one cent of state money. No bond, appropriation, property tax or sales tax money is used. The 1999 law allowed part of the consumer benefit fee (the Societal Benefit Charge on every electric bill) to be used for the development of clean energy. That fee is collected and transferred to the New Jersey Clean Energy Trust Fund by the electricity utility companies.

We’ve already questioned the constitutionality of this money grab by the Christie administration here at Blue Jersey. We’re not alone as New Jersey’s solar trade association, the Mid-Atlantic Solar Energy Industries Association (MSEIA), has sued the Christie administration, saying that taking $158 million in clean energy funds is unconstitutional and that the governor or Legislature cannot appropriate funds into the state budget that are not state money. Hopefully the courts go along because this is yet another penny-wise and pound foolish decision by Christie that will end up hurting our state much more than helping in the long run.

Christie making government (Not) work and throwing the solar market into turmoil in the process

For all the complaining the Governor and Republicans do about failed government programs, you would think when they find one that is really working better than expected, they would keep it going. Instead, by raiding the clean energy fund to balance the budget, he’s created a money problem with a very successful solar energy program:

The state announced this week it will not accept new requests until September, throwing a portion of the solar energy market into turmoil. “We got the program fixed and back on track about two years ago,” Schultz said. Because of the diversion of funds, the state Office of Clean Energy had to scale back New Jersey’s aggressive clean energy and energy efficiency programs.

The administration’s cuts also led to the elimination of 29 energy efficiency and renewable energy programs run by the office, according to a lawsuit challenging the diversion of funds from a trade group representing solar power dealers. The group is contesting the administration’s diversion of $158 million in clean energy funds to help plug a hole in the current state budget.

This isn’t some problem that was building with a failed program, it was Christie made with his cash grab raiding the clean energy fund. It’s a self inflicted wound and his actions created a run on the market. Just how much damage has the Governor done:

Solar energy advocates were pushing for more money for the rebate program at a meeting with Michael Winka, director of the Office of Clean Energy on Tuesday, but Winka told them they could not expect the budget to be increased given the state’s budgetary problems, according to people who participated in the discussion.

It also revived questions about the state’s policies dealing with solar energy, according to Matt Elliott, clean energy advocate for Environment New Jersey. “The Governor has created uncertainty in New Jersey’s successful clean energy market, causing solar companies and efficiencies contractors to question its commitment to clean energy,” he said.

So is this how he plans to get to the less government he’s talking about? After years of building back up the solar market with state policies, Christie has created uncertainty and instability. I’ve already written about how I don’t believe Christie can take the $158 million from the clean energy fund in the first place. Now others are raising the same questions about whether the Governor overreached again. But even if groups win their challenge against the administration in court, the long term ramification to the industry are immeasurable because what business wants to invest when so many questions exist?

M & M’s flip the solar switch

Just under a year ago, we wrote about the M & M’s plant in Hackettstown that was going to add solar to help run their operations. Yesterday, they flipped the switch and turn on the solar array:

The solar garden is capable of generating 2.2 megawatts per hour of clean energy which is equivalent to approximately 20 percent of the plant’s peak energy consumption.

It is an 18 acre solar array that they have installed. The President of Mars said that it absolutely makes sense mentioning how it will help the local economy, the benefits for the environment and the local economic impact on the town as benefits of the solar array.

NJ solar > FL+TX+AZ+NM+NV combined

Congratulating the state on the installation of their 4,000 solar panel, the Solar Energy Industry Association let us know just what it means to be second behind California in terms of other states:

We congratulate New Jersey leaders on the state’s 4,000th solar installation. By enacting policies like the state’s advanced renewable portfolio standard and strong incentives for solar, New Jersey has become the second largest market for solar in the country. In fact, New Jersey has more solar photovoltaic installations than Florida, Texas, Arizona, New Mexico and Nevada combined and is second only to California in total solar capacity.

It’s pretty impressive that we have more than Texas and Florida combined. You can hear more of the Governor touting the efforts of his administration regarding renewable energy and talking about the ciriticism he has received from some groups over his environmental policies on Blue Jersey Radio the other night by clicking here.

Solar Powered Water and Sewer coming soon, along with much more

Over at Cooler Planet, they have an article about New Jersey going even greener:

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has approved the construction of three out of 59 vital sewer system and drinking water infrastructure projects for the tri-county area made possible by the state’s $840 million package of federal and state aid.

The first so far approved is Mount Laurel’s Municipal Utility Authority, which is ready to initiate the bidding process on an estimated $5.3-million project that will put solar panels on the township’s main wastewater pumping station and drinking water well off Ramblewood Parkway.

Because the project will be bonded with federal stimulus money, half the loan doesn’t need to be repaid. The other half, borrowed at a low-market rate of 1.2 percent over 20 years (the most recent quote) through the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, means that the loan will virtually pay for itself in terms of energy savings over the course of the next eight years.

An additional $300,000 a year in RECs (renewable energy credits), sold to electricity supplier Public Service Enterprise Group to meet its state-mandated renewable portfolio standard (RPS) of 22.5 percent by 2021 (2.12 percent of that strictly from solar), will be the icing on the cake.

Here’s how it will work and how much they will save:

Power for the wastewater treatment station, which handles 20 percent of the municipality’s wastewater, and the well – which provides about 15 percent of the drinking water – will be provided via a system of ground mounted solar panels delivering 529 kilowatts whose installation will save the community about $90,000 in electricity costs.

According to Mount Laurel’s Municipal Utility Authority (MUA) Executive Director Pam Carolan, the use of the solar panels to provide electricity means that, over a year, the amount of electricity purchased from Public Service Electric and Gas (PSE&G) will be zero.

And it’s not just one town that is working to move in the direction of using more renewable energy for their services:

The project is only one of many in the works, as other municipalities and towns like Camden, Camden County, Deptford and Bordentown City consider their own sewer system and drinking water projects for solar upgrades’s recent initiative to install solar power units on 200,000 utility poles in PSE&G’s service territory, which includes New Jersey’s six largest cities and roughly 300 rural and suburban communities – a project being billed as the largest pole-attached solar installation in the world – and you have a major case of greening that extends beyond the state’s reputation for truck farms delivering produce to Pennsylvania to the west and New York to the north.

And that’s on top of the nation’s largest rooftop solar project that we talked about earlier this week. And we also wrote about M & M’s going green in Morristown. And then there was this NY Times story from a year ago that explained why New Jersey was a leader:

Most of the efforts so far are in California, New Jersey and Connecticut, states that offer generous incentives. Executives say they would like to convert many more. How quickly they can do so depends on government policy because retailers rely on tax incentives to offset the cost.

I’m sure that Governor Corzine and his policies had nothing to do with any of this development and increase in the use of solar energy. That’s probably why we haven’t seen releases praising these developments, merely statements that criticizing other areas. There’s always more to do, but it’s not like we’re not doing anything in this state as people are being led to believe.

Encouraging Solar Energy

I don’t mean to lecture, but hey – Al Gore won an Oscar for it! So, here goes:

New Jersey used to exempt the installation of solar panels from property taxes. That meant homeowners who took the financial plunge and added solar panels to their home did not have to worry about having their home reassessed, and their property taxes raised (even more).

The solar energy property tax exemption ended in 1988. But, as the NY Times notes, some folks are talking about bringing the exemption back, including Hamilton Mayor Glen Gilmore.

I hope the legislature is listening.

There are certainly compelling arguments out there for taxing improvements to property, and for not taxing improvements at all. But, “going solar” is different from other improvements because it benefits more than just the homeowner – it benefits the entire community state earth. Let’s encourage it.

UPDATE: Someone ought to introduce pass a bill this bill to bring the solar energy property tax exemption back.