NEWS WRAP-UP: States Fight Back & Solar Boom on the Way

Posted by Lexie Briggs on May 23, 2013 4:01:00 PM

Solar panelsAs noted in this week’s State Update, states nationwide have seen a coordinated effort to roll back existing renewable energy requirements, but those have gone nowhere as AEE’s state partners have proved, time and again, that advanced energy is good policy for states.

In Ohio, a study released by Ohio Advanced Energy Economy and Ohio State University found that the state’s 2008 renewable energy and energy efficiency requirements have saved consumers $170 million and provided for $660 million in economic growth for the state. Savings from energy efficiency measures have negated any potential higher cost from renewable energy, the report found.

Illinois’s renewable energy program has hit a speed bump as a trend toward municipal aggregation has pulled customers out of the state RPS and left a renewable energy fund sitting stagnant. AEE and its Illinois partner, Clean Energy Trust, conducted a poll finding that 86.5 percent of Illinois voters believe the state should bring more renewable energy home, and 77 percent of respondents are in favor of the legislative fix needed to make it happen.

But there was a strange turn of events in California, the nation’s advanced energy leader, when Governor Brown unveiled a new budget plan that involved borrowing the proceeds from emission credits under AB 32 and applying them toward the general fund. On Advanced Energy Perspectives, AEE’s senior vice president of communications and director of California initiatives Steve Chadima called out this and a Brown plan to spread the funds from Prop 39 in a way that wasted an opportunity to get big savings from school building energy retrofits as a wrong turn on advanced energy

This week also saw major developments in solar energy. The Week asked, “Are we on the cusp of a solar energy boom?” citing improved storage options for solar energy and falling prices as signs that the solar industry is ready to compete with oil and coal. Other headlines this week certainly support that notion.

SolarCity has begun a major project to install rooftop solar on 6,500 homes in the Ohana Military Communities (OMC). OMC houses sailors and marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and Navy Region Hawaii, and the news represents another piece of the military’s major investment in advanced energy. SolarStrong, SolarCity’s five-year-plan to provide solar energy on military homes, is a $1 billion investment by the military in solar energy.

The military is not the only market for rooftop solar. SunPower’s CEO this week announced that the company expects solar will become come standard on all new home constructions soon. SunPower works with seven of the top-ten home manufacturers in the United States, and has installed solar panels on 10,000 homes. SunPower points out that incorporating solar systems into the design of the homes themselves would reduce costs overall.

This week the Tesla Motors paid back its federal Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Program loan in full, nine years ahead of schedule. “I would like to thank the Department of Energy and the members of Congress and their staffs that worked hard to create the ATVM program, and particularly the American taxpayer from whom these funds originate,” said Elon Musk. “I hope we did you proud.”

Yet Musk’s twitter feed suggested that Tesla might make more news this month, promising an update on its Supercharger network next week. Tesla and SolarCity partnered last year to build the Superchargers, which are solar-powered battery-charging stations able to deliver a full charge in a relatively short period of time. Expanding this network would speak to big changes in both the advanced vehicles market and the solar market. Will Musk announce a major expansion of the network? Check back next week!

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Topics: News Update