Solar garden
   Solar gardens allow groups of remote owners or lessors to
share panels in an more optimally located array.
Here are three small items of good news that may cheer you up on this summer solstice. And thanks to kovie for suggesting the perfect soundtrack for solar solstice reading today. Please select play while you read the rest of this post about sunshine.  

Good Day Sunshine

Diane Cardwell of The New York Times writes Buying Into Solar Power, No Roof Access Needed, which describes the emerging concept of a "community solar garden," that allows "customers buy into a solar array constructed elsewhere and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power their panels produce." This opens up solar energy as a possibility for the 85% of residential customers who cannot mount solar panels on a roof.

For developers, such shared or community solar arrays create a new market from the estimated 85 percent of residential customers who can neither own nor lease systems because their roofs are physically unsuitable for solar or because they do not control them — like renters and people living in large apartment buildings. And for those customers, it offers a way into the solar boom, whether they seek to contribute to the spread of clean energy or to reap the potential cost savings.

Massachusetts passed its law enabling community renewable energy projects in 2008 and saw at least one town solar garden begin operating in Brewster in 2012. Now, Clean Energy Collective, a leading developer, is building systems that are due to start producing power in Massachusetts by the end of this month. The company has teamed with Next Step Living of Boston, a home energy-efficiency company, which is selling the product to consumers across Massachusetts.

The shared approach has its roots in rural electric cooperatives, said Elaine Ulrich of the Department of Energy’s SunShot program, but has only begun to take off in recent years, and still accounts for a tiny fraction of solar production. There are at least 52 projects in at least 17 states, and at least 10 states are encouraging their development through policy and programs, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the main trade group.

Cardwell tells us that California, Minnesota and Washington, D.C., have such laws, and New York has a bill in progress. In Colorado, Xcel customers can offset up to 120% of the energy portions of their bills, and please don't ask, because I do not know how this works out mathematically. Perhaps, the extra 20% becomes a rolling credit that can be applied to a future month? Anyone from Aurora?

Another advantage of such cooperate solar gardens is that people can take their solar benefits with them if they move.

The community solar garden of Aurora, Colorado operated in conjunction with Xcel energy may be one of the most successful and they've just announced plans to double its size.


Megan Mithcell of the Denver Post writes Aurora weighs expanding solar garden for consumers with Xcel program. The current garden is a 500-kilowatt array on 3.5 acres which enables about 150 customers to receive rebates on their energy bills.

Of the available energy from the existing Aurora/Arapahoe Community Solar Array, 280 kilowatts have been purchased by a mix of businesses and homeowners in Aurora and Arapahoe County, said Jim Hartman, vice president of strategic development of the Clean Energy Collective. On average, a subscriber will use about 5 kilowatts, which are roughly 15 to 20 panels.

The Clean Energy Collective operates about 20 solar gardens in Colorado now and about 40 nationwide. Gardens open on land that is virtually unusable already, like next to landfills or airport runways. In the case of Aurora, the garden is on land with contaminated groundwater from the Buckley Air Force Base.

There are two ways to participate in the Solar Rewards Community program. Xcel customers can purchase panels for as little as $1,000 through the Clean Energy Collective, or a city can become subscriber organization and sell or lease shares of the garden to customers.

I used to fly into Aurora, Colorado, Casper Wyoming, and many other remote places, from Boston on weekends to teach extension courses in computer simulation for High School teachers getting Master Degrees Lesley College many decades ago. I've never seen so many "game sausage" shops anywhere else I've been.  

Kansas wind farm
     Kansas cows munch on grass under wind
     generator on combo wind-cow farm.
Speaking about the proposed new regulations ong carbon dioxide emission on power plants by the Environmental Protection Agency, Dorothy Barnett, of the Climate and Energy Project in Hutchinson, Kansas writes a letter to the editor to CJ online proudly announcing that because of their prior investments in wind energy the people of Kansas are well prepared, in Letter: Wind power puts Kansas on the right track.

She speaks in favor of staying committed to the state's smart renewable portfolio standard (RPS)

Kansas wind power avoided more than 4.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions in 2013, more than 10 percent of the whole power sector’s carbon output. In doing so, Kansas wind offset the CO2 equivalent of taking 700,000 cars off the road. We already obtain nearly 20 percent of our electricity from wind, third best in the nation. ...

Thousands of Kansans work in wind power, driving an engine of economic development that has attracted more than $7 billion in capital investment. The result is a robust industry that provides farmers with supplemental income, revitalizes rural communities and gives Kansans a homegrown energy source to be proud of.

Wind power is an affordable, reliable way to keep the lights on for more than 870,000 average homes and counting. Continuing to grow this valuable resource ensures access to clean, affordable power for years to come, all while cutting carbon and preserving our environment.

These kinds of locally initiated community projects give me a hopeful feeling about our energy future. I'm more convinced than ever that clean renewable energy such as wind, solar, tidal, and geothermal represent our best way forward towards a sustainable energy - economy that eliminates the terrible carbon dioxide emissions that are causing global warming.  

5:40 PM PT: Thanks to kovie for suggesting this sound track for our sunny post of the day on or solar solstice day.

Good Day Sunshine

6:08 PM PT: Thanks to Dood Abides for suggesting my other favorite Beatles song.

The Beatles- Here Comes The Sun

Originally posted to SciTech on Sat Jun 21, 2014 at 05:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kosowatt, PostHuffPost: Connection-Conversation-Community , Good News, And Now for Something Completely Different , Los Angeles Kossacks, Southern California Inland Empire Kossacks, Central Valley Kossacks, San Diego Kossacks, Sustainable Senior Living, and Butte County kossacks of CA-01.

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