ASU's Solar Program Almost Paying for Itself Already, ASU Mag Says

Categories: Solar Energy

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Image: Ray Stern
The massive roll-out of solar panels and structural supports at Arizona State University in the last couple of years is already nearly paying for itself, ASU Magazine reports this month.

In the magazine's December edition, an article on "carbon neutrality" by Texas freelance writer Eric Butterman, (they can't find a J-school student to write this stuff?), makes the amazing claim, which Butterman attributes to the university's sustainability operations officer, John Riley.

"The solar program is rapidly reaching the break-even point financially," Butterman paraphrases Riley.

Just one problem with that statement. No way can it be true.


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Solar Carports at Phoenix VA Medical Center Go Online -- For Real, This Time

Categories: Solar Energy

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What was billed as the nation's largest solar-powered carport system is finally online at the Phoenix VA Health Care Center in Phoenix after a year-and-a-half delay.

As New Times learned in August, news articles and press releases in 2011 announcing the $20 million project's near-completion had been premature.

The panel-covered carports may look neat, but until this week most of them were essentially idle, absorbing sunlight but not transmitting electricity.

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Home Solar in Arizona Takes Hit After Vote by Corporation Commission to Add Surcharge

Categories: Solar Energy

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Images: Ray Stern
Susan Bitter Smith, Arizona Corporation Commissioner
Arizona home solar users will save less money on electric bills in the future following a move by the Corporation Commission that's also likely to impact rooftop-solar sales.

In a 3-2 vote on Thursday, the five-member, all-Republican panel decided to allow Arizona Public Service to impose a fee on their roughly 18,000 home solar users. Those users currently reap lucrative payments from APS for the excess power they generate through a process known as net metering.

Small for now, the fee will likely grow in the next few years if commissioners continue to accept the idea pushed by APS and public utility advocates that solar users aren't paying enough for their use of the electrical grid.


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Joseph Hui of Monarch Predicts APS Will Be Used Only as "Backup" Power in 10 Years

Categories: Solar Energy

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Joseph Hui , an Arizona State University engineering researcher, is more educated than we are about energy issues, as he reminded us in a recent email exchange.

But we can't help but stick to our "uneducated" opinions when it comes to some of his claims.

Like his prediction that in 10 years, power utilities like Arizona Public Service will serve as nothing more than "backup."


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APS Didn't Mean to Lie to New Times on Funding of Anti-Solar Ads, Spokesman Says

Categories: Solar Energy

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Back in July, Arizona Public Service denied funding an ad campaign that attacked a coalition of rooftop-solar installers battling the utility for ratepayers' money.

But now the company's confessing that it is, in fact, funding the campaign.

Jim McDonald, APS spokesman, tells us he "had no intention of telling a lie to anybody" when he told the lie.

Intentions aside, just compare the two passages from our July article and one that appeared yesterday in the Arizona Republic:

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Solana: 10 Facts You Didn't Know About the Concentrated Solar Power Plant Near Gila Bend

Categories: Solar Energy

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Image: Ray Stern
A row of Solana's parabolic mirrors.
Solana, the giant concentrated-solar plant near Gila Bend, began commercial operations on Monday that will deliver power to Arizona residents for the next 30 years.

You've certainly seen the rows and rows of mirrors in the last year or so if you've driven the Gila Bend route on the way to San Diego. And you've heard Solana, built by Spain's Abengoa company, is unlike other solar plants because it can generate electricity even when the sun's not overhead.

Much has been written about the $2 billion project. But here are 10 facts about it you probably haven't heard:

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Don't Change Net Metering Policy for Solar Customers -- Yet, ACC Staff Recommends

Categories: Solar Energy

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Staff members at the Arizona Corporation Commission have recommended against paying rooftop solar customers less for their electricity.

In a filing last night, staff members acknowledged the position by Arizona Public Service that adding more rooftop-solar customers to the grid eventually raises electric bills for the non-solar customers.

But the ACC shouldn't try a "patchwork" approach at fixing the problem, and instead should way for until 2016 for a formal rate hearing, staff members said.


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Arizona Republican Solar Advocates Punked With Pro-Obama Logo Used in News Release

Categories: Solar Energy

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The fake TUSK/Obama logo.
A news release published for a pro-solar-energy Republican group features a fake, pro-Obama logo for the group that was created by its critics.

Tuesday's post about the news release on Rose Law Group's website would appear to erase any doubt that TUSK, fronted by Jason Rose and Barry Goldwater Jr., has been grafted to President Obama's non-profit Organizing for Action.

More likely, the fake logo was picked up inadvertently as a convenient illustration for the news release.

In other words, TUSK and Rose Law Group got punked.


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Barack Obama's Non-Profit Group Takes Sides in Arizona's Solar-Energy Battle; W/UPDATE

Categories: Solar Energy

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Guess who's coming to the Arizona solar-energy debate?

That's right, it's none other than President Barack Obama, through his non-profit advocacy group Organizing For Action. The OFA recently sent out an email blast and created a web page that encourages people to send a message to the Arizona Corporation Commission demanding "full credit" for solar users.

But is the president squashing efforts by solar-installation companies to portray the ongoing battle over rooftop solar-energy credits in Arizona as non-partisan?


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Lyndon Rive, SolarCity CEO, Apologizes After Employee Lies to Customers About Arizona Corporation Commission

Categories: Solar Energy

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Lyndon Rive, CEO of SolarCity, apologized to the Arizona Corporation Commission this week after one of his employees spread misinformation to customers.

The flap began about 11 p.m. on July 31, records show, when SolarCity sales consultant Doyle Dreesen sent a breathless email to an unknown number of customers that blasted Arizona Public Service and the corporation commission.


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