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Wind, Solar Industries Celebrate Legislative Victory in SB 232
June 4, 2010 
In the early morning hours of June 4, 2010, the Ohio General Assembly enacted Senate Bill 232 to reform the tax code for renewable and advanced energy generators utilizing technologies such as wind, solar, co-generation and clean coal. The bill now heads to Governor Strickland's desk for signature. As the Governor had enthusiastically called for these reforms in his State of the State address in January 2010, his signature is virtually certain. The bill expands the availability of municipal special improvement district financing (SID), currently only available for solar projects, to include other renewable and advanced energy projects. Under SID financing, also known as Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing, a municipality or township may levy a special assessment on the real estate tax bill on any consenting, participating property owner that may last for up to 30 years. Assessment revenue may be used to cover the costs of renewable and advanced energy projects. This financing mechanism generally allows for borrowing at significantly reduced interest rates. SB 232 expands eligible technologies to now include solar photovoltaic, solar thermal energy, wind energy, geothermal energy, gasification, biomass, and energy efficiency technologies.  For more information see the recent article in Green Strategies by Bricker & Eckler.

Energy Self-Reliance for States Gets Boost From New Federal Study
John Farrell, New Rules Project
June 3, 2010, Minneapolis, MN
A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reinforces the findings of a 2009 report by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).  The ILSR report, Energy Self-Reliant States, concluded that all 50 states could generate at least 25 percent of their electricity needs from in-state renewable energy while 31 could generate over 100 percent. 

State Budget Opens Door to Solar Heat in Homes: Special-Improvement District Law Stretched to Fit 'Green' Projects
Spencer Hunt, The Columbus Dispatch
July 19, 2009  Columbus, Ohio
Homeowners who want to put solar panels on their roofs but can't afford to might soon be able to pay for them through their property-tax bills. A change in Ohio law tucked into the state budget bill would let city and township residents create special-improvement tax districts to help pay for the pricey solar power systems. The initiative expands Ohio's special-improvement district law, which allows neighbors and businesses to band together to pay for such things as sidewalks, speed bumps and fancy streetlights through annual property-tax payments. The idea originally came from Athens city officials, who say it can help homeowners cut electricity costs and reduce global-warming pollution from coal-fired power plants. "We think it's really going to open the gates and allow for a lot more residential use of solar systems," said Gary Houser, an Athens City Council aide who helped draft the plan. The tax incentive also covers solar water-heating systems, which ease reliance on natural-gas-powered water heaters. Houser said he thinks more people would install solar panels if it weren't for the cost. He said the plan is needed even though there are federal tax credits and grants that can cover up to 60 percent of panels' costs.
For more information, see the DSIRE website:http://www.dsireusa.org/solar/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=OH41F¤tpageid=3&EE=1&RE=1

Federal regulators investigating Thursday's Davis-Besse explosion 
The Blade
June 26, 2009 - Toledo, Ohio
Federal regulators are looking into an explosion that occurred early Thursday morning in the transmission switchyard of FirstEnergy Corp.'s Davis Besse nuclear plant. No injuries occurred and no radiation was released. The transmission switchyard is in a non-nuclear part of the complex, which sits along the Lake Erie shoreline in northern Ohio's Ottawa County, 30 miles east of Toledo. The event occurred at 12:50 a.m. as workers were attempting to repair a piece of electrical equipment. It was described as an explosion in a synopsis of a report the Nuclear Regulatory Commission posted online Friday. The report stated that FirstEnergy did not initially recognize that an explosion occurred because of darkness. After daylight arrived, the utility determined it should have been classified as one. "Consequently, the licensee made the after-the-fact declaration," the NRC said. A utility spokesman said the circuit fault knocked out one of the plant's two offsite power sources.  NRC specifications give the utility 72 hours to fix such a problem or shut down the plant.  The reactor is still at full power, according to the NRC's Web site. "This event did not impact any plant safety systems or result in any release of radioactive material," the NRC said. The agency said FirstEnergy believes the explosion "is likely a result of equipment failure and not the result of any equipment tampering."

NREL Energy Analysts Dig into Feed-In Tariffs
June 12, 2009 
Feed-in tariffs (FiTs) are the world's most widely used policy to drive renewable energy development. They have helped transform cloudy Germany into the world leader of installed solar power and photovoltaic manufacturing.  Now FiTs are stimulating green energy investment in North America, too. Locations as disparate as the city of Gainesville, Fla., the province of Ontario, Canada, and the state of Washington recently have adopted measures establishing guaranteed long-term prices for clean electricity. A dozen more states and many more communities are considering similar energy policy proposals. NREL energy analysts are digging into these complex policies in a series of technical reports designed to inform government policy makers, clean energy investors, utilities and other stakeholders.
For a slide show on this:  http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&ct=res&cd=2&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.nrel.gov%2Fanalysis%2Fseminar%2Fdocs%2F2009%2Fscepa_bonus_couture_feb_12.ppt&ei=kitMSpCiC4iuNqHy8MIB&usg=AFQjCNFlju3oVTQJ5kPXzmqVa-Z91VqBvw&sig2=2usQJ_T5CT4v9cRvz9rnJA

How NJ Rose To #2 in US Solar Power 
Bob Haavind, Editor-at-large, Photovoltaics World
June 22, 2009 - Philadelphia, PA
While it's not surprising that sun-drenched California leads the US with 67% of the country's grid-connected solar power, how did a little East Coast state like New Jersey gain the No. 2 spot with nearly 9% (and double the power of No. 3 state Colorado)? Making this achievement more remarkable is that in 2001 New Jersey had only six PV installations, and now there are nearly 4000 generating >85 MW.  Instead of building all their own renewable energy power generators, the utilities can also meet these requirements by buying SRECs in an open auction from installers and operators of distributed solar facilities. One SREC is earned for every 1000 kWh of generated energy, and its price is capped at $711, although the trade value is usually less than that.  The story behind this progress was told at a session at PV America, a new exhibition/conference that took place in Philadelphia, June 8-10. The recipe for the "secret sauce" that made it all possible was revealed early on by Dr. Jeanne Fox, president of the NJ Board of Public Utilities.
"I believe that New Jersey is the best place to do solar in the country, policy-wise," Fox explained. Her background includes stints both within the electric utility industry and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); she confessed she is not technical, having been a philosophy major who went on to get a PhD in law at Rutgers. As an EPA administrator, she said she went to a briefing in Washington DC on the coming impact of climate change — it was so scary, she said, that she realized the electric utility where she had worked would have to make dramatic changes in the future.  So she campaigned for a job where she could help do something about it, and came on as the head of the public utilities board in NJ in 2002. At that time, the state offered rebates for solar installations, but she found out how difficult it was to get one when she tried to help a solar facility get hooked to the grid in Kearney, NJ, in 2004-2005. Out of that experience came new standards for two-way net metering and for interconnection to the grid. In addition, it was later decided to get away from a rebate system to a free-market mechanism. While this would take the onus off of taxpayers and ratepayers, even more importantly it would enable long-term contracts.  A system of solar renewable energy credits (SREC) was developed, and $3M was spent on the first SREC tracking and trading system in the U.S., according to Fox. New Jersey now gets fees from other states for the use of this pioneering system.

Germany hopes for green job miracle
Berlin (UPI) Jun 22, 2009
Germany's Social Democrats want to rely on renewable energy sources, climate protection and sustainable technology to help revive the economy.Backed by the right policies, companies in the green sector could help create 1 million new jobs by 2020, according to a strategy paper authored by German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel. "This is the right answer to the crisis," Steinmeier said Monday in Berlin. Called "A growth strategy for Germany -- new jobs through investments in energy and environment," the paper calls for a transformed economy that relies on sustainable growth without harming the environment or threatening social equality. "The environment industry has proved to be a stabilizing factor in the economic crisis," the Social Democrats write in their dossier, the Berliner Zeitung newspaper reports. "It's about the renewal of the entire economy and the sustainable transformation of traditional industry sectors." Gabriel is Germany's top environment and green energy official; Steinmeier is running for chancellor against current officeholder Angela Merkel. With the strategy paper, the Social Democrats are trying to raise their profile in the green sector ahead of the Sept. 27 federal elections, observers say. Unlike Merkel, Steinmeier is in support of phasing out nuclear energy. The controversial energy source has many opponents in Germany, and an agreement foresees shutting down all nuclear power plants in Germany by 2021. Merkel's conservatives have said they want to extend the running times of Germany's most modern plants. The paper lists several key green industries, including renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, resource efficiency and conservation, as well as sustainable drinking water production and sustainable mobility. Both leaders argue Germany is well-prepared to dominate competition on the global markets in all these sectors. The German renewable energy sector, for example, employs roughly 280,000 people. To fuel further green growth, the Social Democrat politicians call for government subsides for sustainable products and green technology financing schemes. The paper proposes a fund, supplied by government and private money, to support clean tech startups and increase efficiency in industrial production. The strategy paper explicitly lauds the plan of some 20 German companies to build several concentrated solar power plants in north Africa to produce clean electricity for Europe. Called Desertec, the project will require $200 billion in investment and is aimed at eventually satisfying 15 percent of Europe's electricity.

Security Measures Make Vacuum Tube Collector Systems More Expensive
Baerbel Epp
June 8, 2009
Vacuum tube collectors are gaining importance on the solar thermal market in Poland. The company Watt was one of the first Polish system suppliers to integrate vacuum tubes into their portfolio, actually as early as 2003. Watt purchases double-glass Sydney tubes from China and combines them with a U-pipe absorber at the factory in Silesia, Poland. Marek Szymanski, technical department manager of Watt, made the following statement concerning his experiences with vacuum tube technology. “We encountered several problems with the vacuum tube collectors in the beginning – mostly because installers did not handle them properly. In one case, the plumber left the delivered collector modules for two weeks in bright sunshine. The stagnation temperature reached 800 °C and the copper pipes melted and became useless. Other installers burned out themselves while working on the roof, because they were not aware of the fact that collectors in stagnation can reach extremely high temperatures. We therefore had to consider security measures. So, today we deliver all our collectors under a polystyrene form that covers the entire tube area. “Do not unwrap until joined to the heating system!” is the important rule. We furthermore implemented some additional measures to guarantee a secure and correct operation of the vacuum tube collectors. Unfortunately, these measures drive up the price as well: To prevent steam at high temperatures from reaching the solar station, the pumps and the valves in the cellar, we recommend an expansion vessel that is six times bigger than with a flat collector. An additional check after filling ensures that the solar circuit is free of air bubbles, because U-pipe collectors are much more difficult to vent. Furthermore, air bubbles can stop the flow in the U-pipe and decrease efficiency. An automatic pump increases the pressure in the circuit to 5 bar, so that leakages will be spotted and air bubbles removed. Sydney tube collectors are much more difficult to vent due to the construction of the collector. Additionally, air bubbles can have a negative effect on the u-tube, which will not work when being left in that condition. Nothing will be able to flow through and, hence, there will be no heat exchange: the result will be an overheating of the tube itself. Another emerging difficulty besides the aforementioned can be “hot spots” that will occur if vacuum collector have not been correctly vented. The temperature sensor may show error readings in some particular cases of operation. We use a glycol that is specifically adapted to vacuum tube collectors. If one adheres to these security measures, vacuum tube systems will perform well. Today, more than half of our collector area is sold with this kind of technology.”

Global Wind Day
Staff Writers, Wind Daily
June 19, 2009 - Minneapolis, MN
On June's Global Wind Day, sponsored by the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), National Wind underscores the myriad benefits not only of wind energy but specifically of community-based development.  Community wind projects have 5 times the local economic impact and 3.4 times the impact on local job creation of traditional, corporate wind farm developments.

Solar Electricity Goes Mainstream
Staff Writers, Solar Daily
June 19, 2009 - Ontario, Canada
David Egles, one of Canada's leading authorities on the solar industry, applauds the Green Energy Act passed in Ontario."This could be the beginning of solar electricity going mainstream," says Egles, founder and President of Canada's foremost provider of home solar systems, Home Energy Solutions.  "Solar electricity has the potential to provide significant amounts of clean energy to power Ontario homes, simply by using existing roofs," says Egles.  "The Green Energy Act will promote the growth of the solar industry, resulting in lower costs and cheaper energy in the long run."  Through the Green Energy Act's solar feed-in tariffs, homeowners installing up to 10-kilowatt solar systems are eligible to receive $0.80 for each kilowatt of excess energy their systems deliver for the next 20 years. A complete 10-kilowatt system costs approximately $100,000; on a south-facing roof, it would generate approximately $9,600 each year in income.

Duke Energy Tests Solar Panels and New Smart Grid Technology in Charlotte
June 16, 2009 - Charlotte, NC
An array of 213 solar panels will soon provide electricity to homes served by Duke Energy's McAlpine Creek substation in south Charlotte - all part of an effort to implement new smart grid technology. The substation's new solar panels will provide approximately 50 kilowatts of electricity, enough to power five homes when the panels are operating. Electricity from these panels can be sent directly into the distribution lines serving the McAlpine Creek test area or used to charge a 500-kilowatt storage battery planned for installation at the substation in the weeks ahead.

AEP Adds Solar to Renewable Portfolio
PRNewswire - The Columbus Dispatch
June 15, 2009 - Columbus, Ohio
American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), through its AEP Ohio unit, has signed a long-term power purchase agreement to purchase all the output of a 10.08-megawatt (MW) solar energy facility to be built in Ohio. 
Through the 20-year agreement signed with Wyandot Solar LLC, a subsidiary of juwi solar Inc., AEP Ohio will purchase all of the output and renewable energy credits from the Wyandot Solar facility to be built in Salem Township, Wyandot County, Ohio. Construction of the solar facility is expected to begin in November, and commercial operation is expected by mid-summer 2010. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

Pew Finds Clean Energy Economy Generates Significant Job Growth
Pew Press Release;  Contact: Brandon MacGillis
June 10, 2009 - Washington, D.C. 
The number of jobs in America’s emerging clean energy economy grew nearly two and a half times faster than overall jobs between 1998 and 2007, according to a report released today by The Pew Charitable Trusts.  Pew developed a clear, data-driven definition of the clean energy economy and conducted the first-ever hard count across all 50 states of the actual jobs, companies and venture capital investments that supply the growing market demand for environmentally friendly products and services. 
Pew found that jobs in the clean energy economy grew at a national rate of 9.1 percent, while traditional jobs grew by only 3.7 percent between 1998 and 2007.  There was a similar pattern at the state level, where job growth in the clean energy economy outperformed overall job growth in 38 states and the District of Columbia during the same period.  The report also found that this promising sector is poised to expand significantly, driven by increasing consumer demand, venture capital infusions, and federal and state policy reforms.  The following site has the full report and a state-by-state breakout.

To earn green, be 'green,' Ohio told
Jonathan Riskind, The Columbus Dispatch
March 20, 2009 - Columbus, Ohio  
Attacking global warming by limiting greenhouse-gas emissions from coal-fired power plants and other businesses can be an economic boon for Ohio, an environmental advocacy group says.
In an attempt to prove its point, the Environmental Defense Fund, based in Washington, has created an interactive Web site showing the companies involved in the manufacturing, selling or servicing of renewable and energy-efficient technology. The site, www. lesscarbonmorejobs.org, is searchable by city, congressional district and media market.

Less Carbon, More Jobs
The Environmental Defense Fund has created an interactive map showing which companies are poised to hire more people in the Green Economy.

Analysis: Nuclear vs. renewable in Germany
by Stefan Nicola
Berlin (UPI)
Mar 6, 2009 - Renewable and traditional energy companies have launched a war of words over Germany's future energy mix, a divisive issue increasing in prominence roughly half a year before Germans head to the polls to vote for a new government.The dispute centers around one question: Will Germany stick to its decision to phase out nuclear energy or not?