- Not available on a Universal scale.
- The 24 hour lag time and no access to real time data.
- The Utilities didn’t want it to succeed and buried it into obscurity
- Pressure from Wall Street to stop “wasting money” on unpopular projects
- Lack of access by third party developers
- Lack of commitment by Google
Friday, December 30, 2011
Thursday, December 29, 2011
Only a handful of manufacturers are now profitable in the face of too much capacity, which has contributed to a plunge in prices as government subsidies have been curbed. Prices for solar panels started 2011 near $1.60 per watt, but a buildup of inventory forced manufacturers into a fire sale toward the end of the second quarter that has pushed prices to near $1 per watt now.
'The prices that we're seeing today are likely not covering manufacturing costs in many cases,' says Ralph Romero.With at least seven solar-panel manufacturers filing for bankruptcy or insolvency in the last several months and six of the ten largest publicly traded companies making solar components reporting losses in the third quarter, public-market investors are punishing the solar sector, sending shares down nearly 57% this year.
Winners are expected to emerge eventually, the question is how much more carnage there will be before that happens. 'The fact of the matter is, nobody really knows which solar companies will be pushed out of business or be forced to merge,' writes industry analyst Rodolfo Avalos. ' Nobody knows how long it will take for the solar industry to improve even when the foretasted solar global demand for the next 5-10 years is quite promising.'"German company Solar Millennium on Wednesday filed for insolvency, putting in doubt the future of its 2,250-megawatt pipeline of power plants in the United States. The bankruptcy filing is the just the latest in a series of solar company failures. Besides the controversial collapse of Silicon Valley solar panel maker Solyndra, Stirling Energy Systems went belly up in September along with SpectraWatt and Evergreen. This week, BP pulled the plug on its four-decade-old solar division.
But all is not doom and gloom. Warren Buffett last week bought a $2 billion photovoltaic power plant in California being built by First Solar and on Monday Google and leveraged buyout giant KKR agreed to acquire four solar power plants under construction by Recurrent Energy.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Thursday, December 15, 2011
As the HomeSTAR legislation evolves into standards for software and quality assurance, we need to support the effort to keep scientific and predictive methods at the core of the building-performance work.
25e = a tax credit incentive for performance based energy efficiency improvements from 20%-50% ($2000-$5000) based upon on a software energy modeling of the improvements made, calibrated by past energy bills.
The work-scope is set and the home-owner and the contractor work together to complete the work. The process is monitored via a percentage of the jobs being audited by third party analysis, and photos before and after.
This program is standardized across all 50 states, and therefore needs no local approval from the state, county or municipal level. Both RESNET and BPI standards will qualify for this energy audit tax credit.
They project that 1,000,000 homes can be retrofitted in the USA between 2012-2016, with an average energy savings of 25% and cost of $2500 per home, costing the US Treasury about $2-Billion, while creating about 19,000 net jobs.
The incentives to create market penetration, combined with education, and codes and standards that lock in better practices to guarantee savings, taken together create jobs and new markets.
Whole Home Retrofits - are different than 25c tax credit which applies to single appliance or single item purchases (Windows or HVAC).
This kind of program increases efficiency which benefits the environment, gives the USA energy security, promotes individualist self-reliance.
National Resource Development Center - NRDC
GoldSTAR pathway of HomeSTAR - performance based incentive (tax credit)
Acronym Alert: Quality Control/Quality Assurance = QC/QA
The Alliance to Save Energy - conglomerate of organizations
For More information see Efficiency First - Americas Home Performance Workforce
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades: a conversation with NREL’s Dr. Richard Knaubby Jane Pulaski Workforce Guidelines for Home Energy Upgrades
Known as standard work specifications, or SWS, the simple, written descriptions explain how to perform specific tasks safely, efficiently, and of the highest quality. Standard work specifications, when correctly used by the workforce, help eliminate inefficiencies and waste, nurture continued improvement, and assure the consumer of a quality product or service. And now, thanks to the work of NREL and DOE, guidelines for the energy efficiency workforce using SWS are almost ready for prime time.
Because it’s such a big deal (and voluminous–620 pages), I wanted to know more—how this got started in the first place, and when we might see the final product. Richard was kind enough to answer some questions about SMS for us. Here’s that conversation:
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
About an foreign student and entrepreneur at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston Power founder, Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud, who developed a new form of Lithium Ion Battery for automobiles that actually works, and decided to move her new 'gleaming' factory and jobs to China! She really is focused upon the money she wanted from the U.S. Department of Energy, then in the same breath claims she is saving the Earth. She will not personally move to China, but Christina is very excited to be at the table, and sell out for just $125-Million.
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Amptran is developing an electric engine with capacity to travel 400 miles between charges using lithium air technology. The break-through could revolutionize the car industry --and eliminate U.S. dependence on OPEC Mideast oilIn an exclusive interview with ECM, Heartland Coalition executive director Mark Hanson unveiled plans to bring Amptran Motor Corporation to San Diego and to open a new Greensmart Technical College facility in Otay Mesa, where certified electric vehicle technicians will be trained for good-paying local jobs through Heartland’s Project Greensmart, starting in spring 2012.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
The Appraisal Institute recently released a three-page form called the Residential Green and Energy Efficient Addendum to collect information about energy efficient and green features, such as insulation values, efficiencies of heating and air equipment, high peformance windows, geothermal heat pumps, ENERGY STAR qualification or a HERS Rating, etc. The form is meant to be used by appraisers, lenders, home energy raters and builders. The Appraisal Institute is encouraging Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to use the form and even request it from appraisers. This form should be extremely helpful by somewhat formalizing the process, and also by educating all of the stakeholders.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I always blame the Carbon-Energy Corporations and the Investor Owned Utilities for the failure of the American Energy Efficiency Industry, but apparently they are not the only ones to blame. There are a number of dirty government contractors who are so incompetent that they helped destroy their own business.
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
What would happen if we could generate power from our windowpanes? In this moving talk, entrepreneur Justin Hall-Tipping shows the materials that could make that possible, and how questioning our notion of 'normal' can lead to extraordinary breakthroughs.
If we can turn infrared wave-length photons into electrons, then we can reverse entropy locally. Carbon nano-tubes and a battery. Then clean water for free.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Sunday, October 2, 2011
Public urged to testify at hearings in San Diego area Oct. 10-13
September 27, 2011 (San Diego)-- UCAN, the Utility Consumers' Action Network, announced on September 22 the results of a one-year probe into SDG&E's rate-setting activities. “UCAN's intensive audit shows that in the last three years, SDG&E’s rates have skyrocketed, its profits have soared, and its executives have reaped enormous bonuses even as its customers have suffered through the worst recession since 1929,” a UCAN press release states.
- Deceptive Budgeting Gambits: Two of UCAN's analysis teams found that SDG&E management slashed spending at the company during 2009 and 2010. However, the increased net profits caused by the under spending was paid out in executive bonuses and inflating shareholder returns. Not a dime of it went to lower rates. And now, SDG&E is asking for double-digit increases above the rate of inflation, including the same operations/expenses that its management cut in 2010. SDG&E is demanding those increases across the organization, rather than in specific identified accounts to distract and confuse regulators from focusing on any one aspect of its operation.
- Highest Electric Rates in the Nation: Since 2008, SDG&E’s system average rates have leapfrogged to the highest in the continental United States and the highest in California, b -- 15% -- higher than any other utility. Just five years ago SDG&E's rates were about the same as the other California utilities, but now, rates have increases by double-digits in the midst of a full-blown recession. As of 2011, SDG&E's residential average rates are 18.4 cents per kWhr.
- SDG&E's customers are currently paying 13% more than SCE customers and almost 15% more than PG&E customers. Notably, at the last rate case in 2008, the residential rates for all three utilities were just about the same (15.6 for SDG&E, 15.0 for both SCE and PG&E).
- Bonus Happy Managers: In almost every single operational department, SDG&E's bonus-happy managers have found reasons to increase their annual budgets. The only department with a substantial decrease: meter reading. That's only because there are no more meter readers due to the $578 million spent on installing smart meters. SDG&E then inflated costs in almost every operating account, after reducing costs the previous year, through use of a five-year average.
- Failure to Answer Questions SDG&E only offered cursory justifications for most increases, thus requiring an extensive and time-consuming discovery process for every account. UCAN had to pose 72 sets of data requests containing over 5000 questions and, in many cases, never secured complete answers. One glaring example was its failure to detail its over $6 million in public affairs expenses, despite the CPUC requiring SDG&E to provide “a more detailed justification for all public affairs and outreach expense to demonstrate genuine customer benefit that outweighs any incidental corporate image enhancement."
- Pork barrel Spending: SDG&E wants $83 million to “help” customers who buy electric cars and for burdens caused by customers who use solar to generate their own power. UCAN's experts have found that electric car customers do not need SDG&E's help and that solar panels help SDG&E's system, they don't cause additional costs to the system.
- Unnecessary Undergrounding: SDG&E seeks $13 million to place power lines underground so as to make them less susceptible to fires. A number of the proposed undergrounding projects however are not located in fire-prone areas.
- Unneeded Construction: SDG&E proposes to spending $14 million to "fire proof" a transmission line to Mount Laguna. Mount Laguna has 32 households suggesting SDG&E wants to “fire proof” that transmission line at a cost of $437,500 per house.
- Bad Solar Investments: SDG&E wants $6.9 million to place solar panel installations on its SDG&E properties. But SDG&E's version of solar PV is so expensive that it will take 53 years to pay it back.
• San Diego: October 10, 2011 (Al Bahr Shriners Center, 5440 Kearny Mesa Road, San Diego 92111)
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
... (more info)
Instant Aquaculture: Quick and Dirty (but where do the fish come from?)
Monday, September 26, 2011
Rampant unemployment, rising food prices, a collapsed housing market, ballooning debt -- to Jeremy Rifkin, the American economist and president of the Foundation on Economic Trends, these are not simply symptoms of a temporary economic malaise. Rather, they are signs that the current world order -- long infused with and defined by fossil fuels -- is collapsing around us.
In its place, decentralized systems of advanced, clean-energy production and digital power distribution are already starting to rise, Rifkin suggests, and they will reorder not just the way we turn on our lights, but how whole economies -- indeed, whole societies -- operate. Why? In a nutshell, Rifkin argues that as the ability to tap, generate and distribute power shifts from the exclusive province of governments and lease-holding corporations toward individual actors and communities armed increasingly with solar panels and wind turbines and smart grids, so too will bedrock relationships between producer and consumer, the government and the governed, be forever changed.
In such a world of democratized energy, cooperation trumps control, and the drive toward productivity is replaced by a quest for sustainability.
Rifkin's new book, the The Third Industrial Revolution: How Lateral Power Is Transforming Energy, the Economy, and the World.
What Obama is lacking is a narrative. We are left with a collection of pilot projects and siloed programs, none of which connects with the others to tell a compelling story of a new economic vision for the world. We’re strapped with a lot of dead-end initiatives, wasting billions of dollars of taxpayer money with nothing to show for it. If President Obama clearly understood the underlying dynamics of the five-pillar infrastructure of the next great industrial revolution and how the parts connect, he might have been able to sell the American public on a comprehensive economic plan for the country’s future.
Monday, September 19, 2011
Sunday 18 September 2011
Where Are the Jobs?
1. Local Economies, Local Ecosystems
2. Redefining Middle-Class
Learning new DIY skills and building relationships with friends and neighbors builds greater self-reliance and offers opportunities to develop multiple facets of ourselves.
3. A Movement to Rebuild the Dream
The Do-It-Ourselves Economy
Her 12-year-old tells Corbyn she loves her life. Who wouldn’t want chickens in the backyard, long bike rides with the family, and picking apples to take to the homeless shelter?
Monday, September 12, 2011
From Truthout: On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, it is tempting to want to linger on the part about ''being right,'' but it's more important to focus on why ''it didn't matter'' because we are still right, and it still doesn't matter. And It is going to get worse.
Others spoke out and organized, but offered no framework for understanding the invasions - liberal Democrats who prefer less brutal methods of empire maintenance or simply reject wars started by Republican presidents; isolationists, including some Republicans, who think that reducing military adventures will preserve US affluence; and folks who identify as pacifist and reject any war.
So, we are right, and we are a failed movement. As someone who has participated in these organizing and education efforts, I have been part of the failure. I know that I could have done more, taken more risks, pressed harder - but I don't know if that would have made a significant difference. I don't know whether there was a winning strategy leftists could have employed, or whether historical forces doomed our efforts from the start. Whatever the case, we failed, and it's sensible to try to learn from that failure.
Some of that ignorance is the result of the conscious efforts to divert and deceive people. The sophisticated techniques to shape public attitudes developed by the public relations and advertising industries are used effectively by corporations and politicians, with the independent news media - consciously or unconsciously - often serving an important transmission function. Much of this is designed to make sure people don't know things, to create or deepen ignorance.
This ignorance matters.
With each misperception, support for the war increases, and in a society where basic facts can be so slickly and easily repackaged by power - where black is white and up is down - then there is no possibility of meaningful debate in the mainstream political culture.
As distressing as this manipulated ignorance can be, it is the willed ignorance of so much of the population that is most troubling. This ignorance is willed, the product of people making a choice to not know so they don't have to face the moral and political implications of knowing.
There seem to be two routine ways to ensure this not knowing.
One is to avoid exposure to any in-depth information and analysis, even though one has the resources and time to find and evaluate the material - keep your head down and don't look at what's happening. We can call this a deliberate diversion from a disturbing world.
The other strategy, employed by those who are too curious simply to ignore the world around them, is to bemoan the lack of trustworthy news sources, or express confusion over the mutually exclusive accounts of the world that circulate, or note the maddening level of complexity in a globalized world - whatever the reason, there are so many impediments that to actually know anything is impossible. We can call this a feigned frustration with a complex world.
My experience tells me there are conservatives and liberals in each of these ignorance camps, manipulated and willed.
So, we were right, but in this political culture it doesn't matter. The anti-empire movement hasn't been defeated by a superior argument that does a better job of explaining the world, nor has it been suppressed through the large-scale violence and coercion that has destroyed movements in other times and places (though in the contemporary United States such violence is used selectively and is always available should things get out of hand). Instead, this critique has been rendered irrelevant by power interests that work to create ignorance, and a citizenry that hides in ignorance.
To be clear: I am not arguing that the problem is that ''people are stupid.'' Yes, people often are stupid. I am often stupid. I say and do stupid things on a regular basis, and so does everyone else - that's part of being human. But also part of being human in a democratic political system is accepting the benefits and burdens of participation, and participation requires that we strive to not be stupid about politics. Democracy works only if we care enough to know about the world.
The Living World
In addition to the crimes committed by the powerful against the powerless, we face even greater threats in the human assault on the living world.
We face multiple, cascading ecological crises - groundwater depletion, topsoil loss, chemical contamination, increased toxicity in our own bodies, the number and size of ''dead zones'' in the oceans, accelerating extinction of species and reduction of biodiversity. And don't forget global warming/climate change/climate disruption/global weirding.
What can save us? My honest answer is, ''probably nothing.'' But that answer doesn't keep me from working in projects to promote social justice and ecological sustainability. I pursue that work without a guarantee of success, without illusions about my own ability to devise a winning strategy, without certainty that I know it all. But I'm pretty sure I'm right in my basic framework.
In Austin, Texas, people with varied interests in social justice and ecological sustainability have joined forces to create one such space in a community center with offices, meeting space, and gardens. The core organizers of ''5604 Manor'' (www.5604manor.org/) share a radical politics, but a radical badge isn't required for entry. The work going on there is focused not only on immediate political objectives, but also on creating resilient communities that can face the challenges ahead. The project may fail, but even in failure we will advance radical politics in this one place.
Our task is to create as many of those places as we can. In those places, we are right and it will matter.
This work by Truthout is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 3.0 United States License.
Friday, September 9, 2011
If every building, starting with the oldest, were retrofitted for energy efficiency and then adapted with renewable energy generation to make it energy neutral, we could employ all the out of work construction contractors, and create a new, educated energy workforce.
We can change this economy, we can change the way we live, and the way we burn our resources to pay for it. When I travel the wealthy communities of San Diego I look to the roof-tops and see solar arrays, the wealthy know what is coming. Look at UCSD and the Private Universities around San Diego, they have used government incentives and private money to build out tons of renewable energy infrastructure, they know what is coming. Look at the homes of the Executive Board of SDG&E and SEMPRA Energy, their mansions all have Photovoltaic Solar Panels, they know what is coming.
The San Diego Blackout is a warning, telling us just how fragile our economy, nay our lives, actually are. Imagine if it had lasted 48 hours ... all your food would have spoiled. Imagine 72 hours, you wouldn't be able to charge your cell phone, or answer emails. Imagine 100 hours, you dog would have died due to heat exhaustion without air conditioning. Do you have kids? Imagine.
The wealthy among us are secure, they already have renewable energy, and batteries. Many of the rich have multiple homes, with back-up water supplies, and home gardens to provide food. I can't stress how the potential for unrest scares them. If last night's black-out had lasted a day or two, their would have been looting, riots, fires, and we don't have the police, the communications, the power to stop such social reactions. There are too many people living day-to-day, without jobs, without hope or a future. And this is the USA. What happens when the 3-Million People in Tia Juana realize that we have no power?
Because a single worker in Arizona tripped a switch, San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station (SONGS) shut down 2200-MegaWatts of capacity. We didn't even have traffic signals. What happens when we have the earthquake, the tidal wave, the fires, and the floods? Did you note that all the stores were closed yesterday? Did you have enough gas, food, water? When you have no power, you have no stores, no jobs, no communications. What happens when they call out the national guard and military to 'control' our population because we have no electricity?
We stand on the edge of a precipice, our leaders have failed to educate us to the dangers, and are afraid of the back-lash and panic if they do. The public is unwilling to make the difficult decisions, to pay the tax, to re-establish our economy, because they are used to cushy, wasteful practices and fear the hard work necessary to pay for our mistakes. The solutions we need are available, the technology exists to solve all our problems, if we are unified, if we work together and invest in our communities. Will that ever happen? Or, will we choose to continue to compete, to fight over the ruins of our former lives?
Did you listen to the radio yesterday, could you? Only one local station adapted to the power outage. AT&T and most of the Telecoms and Wireless communications stayed up, but they too need power. Did you have enough ice to keep your perishable food? Did you have batteries and flash-lights? How fun was it without air conditioning or TV? It was only 12 hours.
I want a Sustainable Future, now you know the danger, and you know what it is possible. Your choice, pay now or pay later.
Friday, September 2, 2011
"Solyndra, a Silicon Valley solar energy firm, subsidized to the tune of $500 million and held as a 'gleaming example of green technology,' announced bankruptcy yesterday. 1,100 employees fired."In May, 2010, President Obama visited Solyndra and told an audience of employees that the "incredible, cutting-edge solar panels" being manufactured there were "testament to American ingenuity and dynamism and the fact that we continue to have the best universities in the world, the best technology in the world, and most importantly the best workers in the world."
Solyndra Inc., a maker of solar modules that received a $535 million loan guarantee from the U.S. Energy Department, suspended operations and plans to file for bankruptcy, saying it couldn’t compete with larger rivals.
Solyndra produces cylindrical panels that convert sunlight into electricity using copper-indium-gallium-diselenide thin- film technology. Standard solar panels are flat. “Manufacturing and assembly costs associated with a Solyndra module aren’t particularly scalable,” Krop said.
Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat, reiterated that. Recent bankruptcies of U.S. solar companies are a warning and “we should be doing everything possible to ensure the United States does not cede the renewable energy market to China and other countries,” he said in an e-mailed statement.
SpectraWatt Inc., a solar company backed by units of Intel Corp. and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 19, and Evergreen Solar Inc. did so Aug. 15.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
Andrew from CCSE testifies upon the current state of public incentives and problems with the industry.
Watch minute 38-60 http://www.calchannel.com/channel/viewvideo/2883
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Why are our kids dying from diabetes? Why are vegetables more expensive than hamburgers? Why do windmills require more research oversight than deep-water oil-rigs? How have the U.S. Banks privatized profit and socialized risk? How are these issues related, and what is the root of our problem?
Fair Elections Now and Fix Congress First have tired to change the system from the inside.
We all have individual issues, and we all have different individual goals, but despite our differences, it is our common enemy, the broken government system, that must unite us. Look back 100 years, and you see what progressives did to save us from the 'Fat-Cats' money. The 'people' have been replaced by those who fund our elections.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth. - Abe Lincoln, Gettysburg AddressThe people must wage a civil-war to save democracy. If you believe in democracy, you must pick a side, and join in battle. What we have now is unsustainable.
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
As a certified Building Performance Institute Home Energy and Safety Auditor, Michael Russell is available to inspect your home and consult with homeowners about the Energy Upgrade programs.
If you would like to know more about what options you have for retrofits and upgrades, see the interactive online home tour. You can find San Diego Contractors who are certified to apply for Energy Upgrade funds on the website. Below is a video provided by Energy Upgrade California.
5-minute Program Video (English) from Energy Upgrade California on Vimeo.
This program is intended as a state wide marketing push to put construction contractors back to work. The average building upgrade costs about $12,000-$14,000, and you can expect a $1,000-$5,000 in rebates, incentives, and/or tax credits. These upgrades do not include plug-load appliances or renewable energy solutions such as solar-panels and solar-thermal water-heating, but these can be added to any project, and there are similar tax incentives, rebates, and credits available.
For a whole home energy audit, safety inspection, and efficiency plan, please consult with a BPI Certified home energy & safety analyst, like MICHAEL RUSSELL.