One reason more people don’t install solar or other renewable-energy projects on their homes is that they might move before realizing all the energy savings. If you borrowed money (even from yourself) for the installation, that loan moves with you and the solar cells stay behind. It just doesn’t pay.
One way to fix this problem is to fund the home renewable projects with loans secured by the property. The loan is paid back through a surcharge on property taxes. If you move, the project stays behind and so does the loan. It’s called Property Assessed Clean Energy and is taking off around the nation.
Maryland localities have expressed interest; Montgomery County has enacted legislation establishing a loan program. Governor O’Malley signed legislation on May 19, 2009, authorizing localities to issue bonds to support Clean Energy Loan Programs.
New legislation is pending in Annapolis — SB 720/HB 1014 — that would clarify state guidelines and encourage other localities to get on board. MEA and MCEC would provide training and other support statewide. Delegate Sue Hecht of Frederick City is leading the charge.
The impact of the Clean Energy Loan Program would be multiplied if another proposed bill also wins passage: SB 50/HB 801. It expands net metering by requiring the electric utility to pay money when a customer generates more power than they use (currently, homeowners only get a credit against the amount of power they use). Small businesses and local governments could also benefit. Here is an analysis of the proposal.
Home solar seems poised for lift-off in Maryland!
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson addressed the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Winter Meeting.
See a video of her remarks here.
Senator Rockefeller and several other Senators from toxic-coal-producing states sent a letter to Administrator Jackson regarding pending EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Ms. Jackson responded promptly. Regulation of large, stationary sources will begin in 2011.
The L-Prize will be awarded to LED lamps that replace the standard 60W lightbulb — if they can pass the U.S. Department of Energy’s rigorous tests.
What’s at stake?
The solid-state lighting LED bulb will use only 10 watts. If all 971 million 60W bulbs currently use were replaced, the DOE estimates that:
the country would save approximately 34.0 Terawatt-hours of electricity in one year, and avoid 5.6 million metric tons of carbon emissions. That’s enough electricity to power the lights of 17.4 million U.S. households, or nearly twice the annual electricity consumption of the city of Las Vegas.
What’s happening now?
The DOE received one entry from Philips last year — it’s being tested now. More entrants are expected.
When can I get one?
DOE hopes to announce at least one winner by the end of this year.
Why is DOE doing this?
The idea is to avoid the mass confusion of consumers that happened with compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs). Sure CFLs save energy but light quality and longevity have been mixed (and what about that mercury?) The L-Prize winner will meet tough standards for light quality, durability and energy usage so that consumers can pay the premium price with confidence. This should result in faster take up and bigger energy savings.
How can I learn more?
The DOE has a website devoted to the L Prize. DOE has a host of programs related to solid-state lighting which has many applications beyond the standard light bulb: outdoor lighting, for example. DOE has launched the Municipal Solid-State Street Lighting Consortium to help localities find the right products to meet their needs. One challenge is finding financing mechanisms that will use the lower power and maintenance costs to offset the higher initial cost.
By developing standards and sharing information, the DOE hopes to reduce risk for businesses, governments and households in order to speed up deployment of this important new energy-saving technology.
The massive offshore wind resource on the East Coast holds great potential for tackling Maryland’s energy challenges.
Governor O’Malley is leading a steady march towards realizing this opportunity. Last year, he joined other governors in a letter urging Congressional leaders to speed up offshore wind development, instead of promoting on-shore transmission only.
In November, O’Malley signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the governors of Virginia and Delware to promote offshore wind. The Maryland Energy Administration has taken aggressive steps to clear the way, including mapping the offshore resource. Maryland will purchase power from NRG Bluewater’s offshore wind project.
In November, Governor O’Malley joined with the governors of Virginia, New Jersey and Delaware to ask the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to order private transmission operator PJM Interconnection to consider transmission solutions that would facilitate the development of offshore wind resources. (See FERC Docket No. AD09-8-00).
It’s great news that the Governor’s legislative agenda includes additional steps to move wind forward. SB 282 “Off-Shore Wind Generation – Qualified Submerged Renewable Energy Line” will facilitate the construction of transmission connectors needed to bring offshore power to the onshore grid.
Meanwhile, Europe’s offshore wind industry powers ahead.