Quote of the day:
When asked if I am pessimistic or optimistic about the future, my answer is always the same: If you look at the science about what is happening on earth and aren’t pessimistic, you don’t understand data. But if you meet the people who are working to restore this earth and the lives of the poor, and you aren’t optimistic, you haven’t got a pulse. What I see everywhere in the world are ordinary people willing to confront despair, power, and incalculable odds in order to restore some semblance of grace, justice, and beauty to this world. – Paul Hawken
Where: Portland offices of Revision Energy, 142 Presumpscot Street, Portland, ME 04103
When: Thursday, April 24th 5:00-7:30pm – Light dinner and refreshments provided
Cost: Free and open to the public
- Welcome and Introductions
- History of Using Solar in Disasters
- Energy Needs in a Disaster
- Advancing Solar Shelters in Maine
- Basic Science of Solar Energy
- Questions and Answers – Comments
Desired outcomes for the workshop are that participants 1) acquire an understanding of the operation of photovoltaic (solar) emergency backup power systems on schools used as shelters and 2) ascertain the feasibility of funding and implementing a solar shelter program in Maine.
Solar industry, school administrators, facilities personnel, electricians, architects, code officials, building inspectors, government representatives, decision makers, emergency managers and American Red Cross
Eric Hopkins Chairman, York Energy Efficiency Committee,
Bill Young Retired Senior Research Engineer, Florida Solar Energy Center
About the presenters:
William Young is a national expert in solar electric emergency power systems. He worked for 22 years for the Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC), University of Central Florida, until retiring in 2013. He served as a senior research engineer on photovoltaics applications for transportation, disaster relief, stand-alone and grid-tied utility power systems, building energy and standards. His efforts involved technology research, application development, system design, testing and technology transfer.
Mr. Young authored a $10M grant from the Department of Energy to create the Sunsmart E-shelter Program – which installed over 100 solar-powered emergency power systems on school-based emergency shelters. Revision Energy and the York Energy Efficiency Committee are proud to sponsor this workshop in the hopes of replicating the Sunsmart E-shelter program in Maine.
Eric Hopkins is Founder and Chairman of the York Energy Efficiency Committee (YEEC), a non-profit citizen’s energy group based in York, Maine. Established in 2006, YEEC has successfully led a series of initiatives to improve the energy performance of town buildings and operations – establishing the Town of York as a model for other communities in the state. In 2013, Mr. Hopkins authored a Community Demonstration of Renewable Energy grant from Efficiency Maine to install a 10KW PV array on the roof of the York Middle School – to offset the electricity used by the entire fleet of 300+ MLTI student laptops.
Spring is a good time for homeowners to consider reassessing their lawn maintenance practices. The local group Lawns to Lobsters has called attention to the damage that can be done to ocean life and other vital species in the ecosystem by careless lawn care activities. For example:
If not applied correctly, lawn fertilizers can do more harm than good. If fertilizer is applied during wet weather, it is not absorbed into the lawn’s root system and is washed away. Once in the water, it can cause algae blooms. These blooms use oxygen and then die, leaving the water uninhabitable for other creatures.
Fall is when fertilizer is best absorbed by the lawn’s root system. Spring fertilizing encourages weed seeds to germinate and promotes top growth of the grass. A lawn with an extensive root system holds more water and is healthier. Healthy lawns better withstand pests and drought.
Lawns to Lobsters has a free brochure linked on the site that lists ten steps for How to Have a Beautiful Lawn without Harming the Ocean. There is also a link to an excellent 2012 York Weekly article by Ron McAllister.
For more information, go to http://lawns2lobsters.org/.
Energy Meeting is Tuesday night – 7pm at the library.
Couple quick updates:
1. We are very pleased to announce that we are hosting Bill Young from the Florida Solar Energy Center April 23-25. Bill is a national expert in solar power and emergency management. He will be joining Chief Bracy (York’s Emergency Manager), myself and others for a walk-through of the York Middle School on Thursday, April 24th at 9:30am. We will be working on evaluating the site for a pilot project that would expand the solar array and provide battery-back-ups for powering critical loads at the shelter.
2. Later that evening from 5:00-7:30pm, Bill will be leading a workshop at the Portland offices of Revision Energy which is open to the public. During the workshop, Bill will explain the massive project they completed in Florida (100 schools) – and how we could possibly replicate the program in Maine.
YEEC has offered to provide food for the workshop. I could use some help with a crock-pot or two of pasta or soup – or some fruit, or a salad, or dessert. Please RSVP to if you’d like to come to the workshop – and if you can help with a bit of food.
3. This May, York voters will have the opportunity to approve another $100,000 for improving the energy performance of York’s town buildings and operations (Question #43). The good news is that the Selectmen voted 5-0 in favor, however the bad news is that the Budge Committee voted “no” (4-3). This means for the first time, we may have some trouble getting enough voter approval for the next round of funding. Please see my letter in the York Weekly here for some background:
Basically, it will be very important for folks who are supportive of improving energy efficiency in town to vote “Yes” on question #43.
4. Are you on Facebook? If so please, follow us there by “clicking Like” on the York Goes Green Facebook page.
That’s all for now, folks. Hope to see you Tuesday night!
The following is an extensive excerpt from the April 5, 2014 ReVision Energy Newsletter:
Hundreds of solar supporters packed Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) hearings on April 2 and 3, 2014, as the PUC took public comment about a controversial rate case that would substantially hurt solar’s ROI in Maine.
ReVision Energy lead pre-hearing rallies on both nights, joined by existing solar customers, homeowners who hope to go solar, other solar professionals, and a broad coalition of environmental groups including the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Council of Maine, Environment Maine, 350 Maine, and the Alliance for Solar Choice.
CMP’s proposed discriminatory rate structure served to galvanize supporters of clean energy, who represent a broad cross-section of Maine’s demographics. We heard from fixed-income Mainers who invested retirement savings into solar in order to protect peace of mind in retirement, from fathers and mothers whose solar project represented a major investment to save money and model good stewardship to their children, from lobster fisherman and paper mill employees, dairy farmers, ski mountain operators and off-gridders. We heard from Vietnam Veterans, from scientists who sounded the clarion call about global warming, from Bowdoin students who voiced their concerns about inheriting a poisoned planet, and from the elderly who are sick and tired of having their limited incomes squeezed out of them by corporate greed… And from dozens more still.
Both PUC hearings lasted more than 3 hours, which is rare if not unprecedented in this kind of rate case. The PUC has until July to rule in the case.
You may continue to submit public comment at: https://mpuc-cms.maine.gov/CQM.Public.WebUI/Comments/PublicComments.aspx?CaseNumber=2013-00168.
A Packed Room in Hallowell
The Solar Rally in Portland
The National Attack on Clean Energy
CMP’s proposal comes as no surprise to those who have been watching the utility industry nationwide wage a war on clean energy.
Solar is experiencing a meteoric rise: in 2013 solar was the #2 fastest growing source of new electricity, and in the last 18 months alone, as much solar was installed in the USA as in the previous 30 years. Estimates are that the amount of installed solar in the USA will again double by the end of 2015. Solar now employs more people than the coal and oil industry combined.
Dramatically lower costs for solar panels, combined with ever-increasing costs of traditional generation, is helping solar approach ‘grid parity’ in many parts of the country. Some parts of the country are embracing this – Minnesota conducted a ‘value of solar’ study and was the first state to set a fair market-based tariff, while Vermont conducted a similar value of solar study and found that a + $.03 premium for solar above retail rate was in fact undervaluing solar. Vermont just lifted its cap on net metering, opening the door for much more solar to be installed. Vermont’s largest utility, Green Mountain Power, was recognized by Vote Solar as the 2014 Utility Solar Champion.
The future of U.S. energy is in electricity – a grid where most homes produce some or all of their own power, where heating and cooling is done with clean electricity rather than fossil fuels, and where electric cars discharge and recharge the grid as transportation and grid needs require. However, many utilities are stuck in the 1950s vision of the grid – big power lines, transmission stations and centralized power plants – and feel threatened by the vision of a decentralized grid, where the homeowner is in more control of their energy use and thus, reliable profits are threatened.
It is this context that we heard that ALEC called for penalties on solar customers, accusing them of being ‘freeriders’ on the grid. The Alliance for Solar Choice, a group dedicated to preserving the right to access net metering, told us that solar has come under some form of attack in 26 states. This flies in the face of sensible net metering policy – which is currently the law in 46 states and Washington D.C. (map of net metering states).
The argument that solar customers are ‘free riders’ (people who require the grid to be available at night yet get credit for their production during the day) flies in the face of all the conclusions reached by ‘value of solar’ studies. These studies continue to demonstrate that solar, in fact, provides a value above the retail rate of electricity, because it provides highly valuable ‘peak’ power load, electricity produced locally in populated areas during the hottest days of summer when cooling loads are at their max, and the grid is stressed out.
It is time for utilities to stop looking at solar energy as a threat, and instead look at it as a partner.
A Watershed Moment for Solar
CMP’s attack on solar will play out a little differently than similar fights in other states, since it is a rate case and not a legislative process. Ultimately, the three PUC commissioners will come to a ruling based on all of the testimony they have received, and we hope that they will look at the stunning body of evidence, as well as the personal stories presented during the lively hearings, when making a decision about what is good public policy.
The stakes are high, as time is running out to change our behavior such that we can prevent the worst effects of climate change. But we can do it. It is economically sound and technologically feasible to convert our grid to be smarter, less centralized, and cleaner. We will create jobs and save Mainers money by doing so. The moment to change is now, and what we do will have effects for decades, perhaps centuries, to come.
We hope we can look back at this as a watershed moment in Maine’s history, when the Dirigo state stopped falling behind its neighbors in the adoption of renewable energy and instead decided to lead.
Much more about the rate case at: iratepayer.org
Learn more about what’s happening in the state around solar energy and sign up for ReVision Energy’s informative monthly newsletter at http://www.revisionenergy.com/blog/.
Accelerating changes in technology are making the combination of solar photovoltaics and battery storage potentially more cost-effective than either one alone.
In October 2012, as Superstorm Sandy rocked the East Coast, 75 residents gathered in the Midtown Community School in Bayonne, New Jersey.
The elementary school was operating as an emergency shelter, giving people who were stuck in the severely flooded town a place to stay dry. But the school was much more than a shelter — it was an experiment in hybrid solar photovoltaics that may herald a coming structural change in the power sector.
Four years earlier, the local school district approached the New Jersey-based installer Advanced Solar Products, which had already developed a 272-kilowatt system for the Midtown school. The school district wanted to figure out how to allow the solar PV to operate during power outages when other systems were required to shut off. The company worked with SMA to modify a commercial inverter and tie it into the emergency diesel generator, allowing the generator to idle at low levels when the sun was shining.
The result was a steep drop in fuel consumption at a time when it was nearly impossible to make diesel deliveries to flood-stricken areas.
“The solar did what it was supposed to do. It worked exactly as planned,” said Lyle Rawlings, president of Advanced Solar Products, in an interview.
The combination of solar and storage is a “real, near, and present” threat to the way utilities do business.
On their own, the economics of the two technologies are improving steadily. According to the Department of Energy, lithium-ion battery costs have dropped by 50 percent since 2008. And prices could drop as low as $125 per kilowatt-hour in the coming decades. Tesla founder Elon Musk thinks they could drop to as low as $200 per kilowatt-hour in the next few years.
There’s been an equivalent drop in residential and commercial solar. According to GTM Research, the average price of an installed solar system (weighted across all sectors) has fallen by 61 percent since the first quarter of 2010.
Read the rest of the article from Greentechmedia.com
To view Eric Hopkins’ proposed plan to double Maine’s Solar Energy output and provide emergency power to storm shelters, click on the following link: 100 Panels on 100 Schools.
This document is a graphically-rich copy of his 16-page presentation in PDF format.
Energy Meeting is tomorrow night – 7pm at the library.
I’ve been working hard on my “100 panels on a 100 schools” project.
In recent months I’ve been making a lot of progress – including recent meetings with Congressman Michaud and Democratic Senatorial candidate, Shenna Bellows to present the idea in more detail. . . . → Read More: Monthly YEEC meeting Feb. 11
Sometimes during the frigid days of winter it becomes harder to appreciate that weather does not equal climate. From Gizmodo:
Climate change is a very real thing, but how is it affecting the area that you live in? Fortunately—or, perhaps, unfortunately—you can find out using this interactive map.
Recently updated by New Scientist to . . . → Read More: Our warming world
Maine Interfaith Power and Light is a volunteer led non-profit organization which partners with faith groups of all religions to counter climate change and work for a sustainable future. MEIPL recently sent out the following call-to-action to their members:
Dear MEIPL Supporter, On Tuesday January 21st, the Legislature’s Energy Committee has a public hearing on . . . → Read More: Public hearing on LD 1652, An Act to Support Solar Energy Development in Maine
Our next meeting is this Tuesday at the York Public Library at 7pm.
We are still hard at work on bringing more solar to schools in Maine – and combining them with battery back-ups to provide emergency power during a disaster event.
I have a lot of updates to share – and want . . . → Read More: Dec. 10 YEEC meeting
A summary of the principles, advantages, and drivers for environmentally friendly building construction. (Source: aec-business.com)