Sunday, January 15, 2006

Lady Jan the environmentalists!

I'm saying that sarcastically because true environmentalists live off the land and recycle everything, and use very little natural resources. And probably don't bath either.

But I do what I can; I recycle my aluminum cans and plastic, and today I saved the life of a tree! I signed on to SBC's paperless billing.

Also this is something my sister has gotten me into!

But I think it's a wonderful thing too! Especially with the soaring cost of fuel, we need a renewal energy resource that is also easy on the environment. And this is it!

From: "Dan Jacobson, Environment California Legislative Director"
To: Lady Jan
Subject: Environment California : Huge Solar Victory!
Date: Fri, 13 Jan 2006 18:42:03 -0600

Hi Janice,

Hurray! Thursday morning the California Public Utilities Commission
(CPUC) approved the California Solar Initiative by a vote of 3 to 1. The
initiative was based on our Million Solar Roofs bill that failed earlier
this year in the state legislature. This is a truly great and historic
program that will make California a world wide leader in solar power
and break our over dependence on fossil fuels.

Thanks for all of your activism to help make this giant victory happen.
The CPUC received more public comments (50,000!) in support of this
initiative than any other decision they've ever made and noted this
showing of public support was a reason for their bold decision.

Of course, there is still much more work to be done to bring our vision
of a mainstream solar power market to reality so stay tuned!

For more about this solar initiative see the article that ran in
today's San Diego Union Tribune below, or your local paper.

$3 billion approved for solar rebates

Massive program is largest in U.S. history
By Craig D. Rose

STAFF WRITER January 13, 2006

State utility regulators have passed the largest solar initiative in
U.S. history, approving a $3 billion rebate program to subsidize the
installation of 1 million rooftop systems over the next decade.

The effort by the California Public Utilities Commission has the
potential to transform the state from a solar laggard to a leader. Supporters
of the measure promise a burgeoning new manufacturing industry and
cleaner air if California hits its target of enough solar panels to
generate up to 3,000 megawatts of power.

On a sunny day, that would be enough to power nearly 3 million homes,
or the output of six fossil fuel-burning power plants.

Noting that the state has long prided itself on being a leader in
environmental matters, commission President Michael Peevey said the
so-called California Solar Initiative extended that tradition.

"Our plan is to offer a subsidy now to push the deployment of an
important part of our sustainable energy future in the long run," said
Peevey, who noted that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger supported the program as
part of a statewide effort to combat global warming and pollution.

Beyond California, the initiative could single-handedly boost the solar
industry nationally. Where 110 megawatts of solar-power systems were
installed across the nation last year - enough to power about 100,000
homes at peak production - the state plan hopes to prod the installation
of 300 megawatts annually for a decade.

"This is the single most significant initiative that will occur in the
solar field in 2006 globally," said Rhone Resch, president of the
national Solar Energy Industries Association.

He noted that the U.S. solar industry effort has in recent years been
eclipsed by programs in Germany and Japan. In fact, demand in those
countries has created worldwide shortages of solar panels - known
technically as photovoltaic panels because they convert light directly to
electricity - and of silicon, the raw material used to make them.

But Resch said the California program will spur manufacturers to ramp
up production. And he predicted that much of that manufacturing will
take place in California or nearby states because solar panels are too
heavy to ship great distances.

"What we are seeing is regional manufacturing," Resch said.

Environmental groups also applauded the plan.

"Today's vote promises to ultimately eclipse dirty and expensive fossil
fuel with clean and efficient solar power," said Bernadette Del Chiaro
of Environment California, which has long pressed for a solar

Under the program, subsidies would decline each year of the program
based on the assumption that manufacturers will make their equipment more
efficiently and trim costs.

At the start, state subsidies of $2.80 per watt will shave about $8,400
from the cost of a typical 3 kilowatt residential solar system, which
several local installers said would cost about $25,000 without the

Federal tax credits could save an additional $2,000, bringing a
homeowner's net cost down to about $15,000.
Industry advocates say such systems will cut utility bills enough to
allow homeowners to recoup their costs in about a decade. At the same
time, a decade-long program provides stability for the solar equipment
industry, which says it has been hampered by stop-and-start subsidies.

"I could never sign a five-year lease," said Barry Cinnamon, president
of Akeena Solar in Los Gatos and head of a statewide industry trade

"It's not the sudden big pot of money that is important. The goal is to
have a reasonable amount of money spread over a 10-year period so the
industry can invest."

If the program reaches its objective of 3,000 megawatts, however, the
systems themselves will likely satisfy only a small fraction of
statewide demand. Typical winter-day peak electricity demand is now about
32,000 megawatts, with summer-day peaks often reaching 45,000 megawatts.

But experts note that solar-power systems provide their maximum output
on hot sunny days when statewide demand is highest.

While the solar initiative was widely hailed, it was passed by a
divided 3-1 vote. Peevey was joined by commissioners Dian Grueneich and
Rachelle Chong in supporting the measure.
Commission John Bohn recused himself because of past investments in the

Geoffrey Brown voted against the measure because of his concern that
the commission was encroaching into areas best left to the state
Legislature, which failed to pass a similar solar initiative in each of the
last two years.

Those efforts foundered over the issue of whether there would be a
requirement to pay union wages to system installers, a question left
unaddressed by the initiative.
Brown said it was impossible to defend the subsidy program as cost
effective and added that it was a leap of faith to assume it would lead to
lower-cost solar-power systems in the future.

Emphasizing that California utility rates are already among the
nation's highest, he asked, "At what point are our rates too high to add a
multi-billion subsidy program?"

He also said his "no" vote was motivated by a lack of details and
safeguards, many of which have been left to be worked over the next year,
and by the exclusion of payments to the program by customers of municipal
utilities, over which the Public Utilities Commission lacks

As currently structured, the program will be financed by surcharges on
utility bills from investor-owned utilities like San Diego Gas &
Electric that are expected to cost customers about $13 per year. The
commission says the increase won't change bills dramatically because it will be
offset by the planned elimination of surcharges for California's last
great power initiative, electric deregulation.


Dan Jacobson
Environment California Legislative Director

If you'd like to help please e-mail at the above link!

Your Lady Jan, thanks you!

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this
e-mail with your family and friends.


Granny said...

If you ever get into Merced, there's a fairly new place called Cafe Sol. All solar power and a sandwich, salad, beverage and dessert menu.


I signed the paper in your post. Can't remember which group sent it but I think one of my environmental friends forwarded it in an email.

Janice said...

Hi Ann,

Thank you! The Solar roof's need all the help they can get. We were so close the last time.

Sometimes I head your way, I have a recently widowed Uncle who lives in Rosevile just above Sacramento. But we usualy head the other way over to Fresno to do some shopping and etc.

If we get a chance I'd like to stop in that sandwich shop you mentioned.

Later your Lady Jan~