A coalition composed of the Institute For Local Self-Reliance, Solar United Neighbors Action, the Initiative For Energy Justice, and Solar United Neighbors has created a white paper urging the federal government to create policy and funding initiatives that would support the addition of rooftop solar to 30 million US homes.
The proposal claims the 30 Million Solar plan would create 1.77 million new jobs and save $69 billion in energy costs in the first 6 years. Thereafter, it would reduce the nation’s energy bills by $30 billion a year. In addition, the amount of carbon dioxide kept out of American skies would be equivalent to shuttering 48 coal-fired generating plants for an entire year or taking 42 million conventional gasoline and diesel powered vehicles off the road.
That last part gets a Wow! from us here at CleanTechnica. Imagine how long it is going to take to get 42 million cars off the road at the current rate of EV adoption.
Policy Help & Financial Assistance
A big part of the 30 Million Solar initiative is convincing Congress to expand and extend the federal investment tax credits available for solar projects, many of which are scheduled to shrink in the near future before expiring altogether. The plan calls for bumping those credits back up to 30% and extending them for an additional 10 years. The critical elements include:
- Restoration, extension, and democratization of the Investment Tax Credit to provide a direct pay option for distributed solar projects and a 30% credit.
- Substantially increased investment in energy assistance and weatherization programs to permanently reduce energy burdens, especially with rooftop and community solar.
- New financing programs, including a national green bank and Clean Energy Victory Bonds.
- Substantial expansion of federal matching grants and loan guarantees for schools, rural homes and businesses, tribal communities, and equitable community solar projects.
- Loan loss reserves, especially to support clean energy portfolios within community development financial institutions.
- Virtual permitting, a national solar marketplace, rules supporting net metering and community solar requirements, and other market-boosting policies.
- Support for solar workers and small business owners from underrepresented groups.
- Measures to make sure federal programs and agencies are accountable to communities.
The Executive Summary of the plan reads as follows:
“The 30 Million Solar Homes policies leverage federal power to spark investment that can serve more than 30 million households with rooftop or community solar over the next five years. This decentralized approach to reaching one in four households with solar maximizes and disperses the economic benefits of expanding clean energy in the fight against climate change, directly benefiting as many Americans as possible.
“More than three quarters of total federal investment benefits marginalized communities, including low and moderate income communities, environmental justice communities, and solar deserts. Over 300 advocacy organizations, solar businesses, and faith communities have signed on in support of 30 Million Solar Homes.”
Two Thirds Of Benefits Will Flow To Underserved Communities
As of the end of the first quarter of this year, the U.S. solar industry had installed 102.8 GW of capacity, enough to power roughly 18.6 million homes. Adding rooftop solar to 30 million homes would equate to 151 GW in new solar capacity — 50% more than all the solar capacity currently in place.
Along with job creation, installing solar on 30 million homes would lead to 100 GW of the 151 GW of proposed capacity being installed in marginalized communities, helping to improve access equity to solar and easing the historic economic imbalance of the resource. The benefits of local solar are particularly important for these communities as many have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic and face a slow economic recovery. Specific proposals that would benefit underserved communities include:
- A bonus 10% tax credit for commercial projects that provide Davis-Bacon prevailing wages and benefits.
- A 10% bonus credits to commercial projects primarily serving marginalized communities, or that provide resilience by combining solar and energy storage.
- A 10% bonus credits to residential projects also serving marginalized communities or providing resilience.
- Modifications to prioritize projects that provide a direct financial benefit to residents through electricity bill credits and other benefits.
The proposal also calls for:
- DOE loan guarantees for equitable community solar projects.
- Reauthorizing clean energy block grants for state, tribal, territorial, and local governments.
- Establishing solar plus storage grants for resiliency in marginalized communities.
- Instituting solar grants for schools to reinvest energy savings into operations.
- Establishing grants for developing residential and community solar in marginalized communities.
Speeding Up Solar Permitting
The so-called soft costs associated with rooftop solar can add a third to the cost of a system. The Solar Automated Permit Processing platform from the US Department of Energy hopes to speed up the permitting process and lower costs. It provides a standard portal for local governments to process permit applications that automatically checks codes to ensure safety while generating a standardized inspection checklist installers and inspectors can use to verify compliance in the field.
The DOE piloted the SolarAPP+ program in Tucson and Pima County in Arizona, and Menifee and Pleasant Valley in the California. “In Tucson, for example, SolarAPP+ reduced permitting reviews from approximately 20 business days to zero,” according to DOE.
“We have 3 million households today that have solar on their roofs, but the potential is so much greater,” DOE’s solar energy director told Reuters. “Having streamlined processes and an automated permitting platform that can make it faster, easier and cheaper for homeowners to go solar promises to really help expand the residential solar sector.”
Local governments and installers can now sign up to get started with the app or attend webinars listed on the DOE’s blog. It’s all part of the its Summer of Solar campaign aimed at lowering soft costs — design, siting, permitting, installation, and so forth — associated with rooftop solar power.
The distinguishing feature of rooftop solar is it typically is not something done by traditional utility companies. They love solar because the cost of fuel is effectively zero. But they hate to see electricity democratized. There are a few progressive utility companies out there, but most of them take the position that, “It’s our electricity, dammit, and we alone will decide who gets it and how much you pay for it.” It’s a natural consequence of the monopoly model that has been the standard of the industry for over a century.
The 30 Million Solar plan would explode that status quo. Utility industry lobbyist are salivating over the prospect of driving a stake through the heart of this proposal.
Ford Mustang Mach-E to lose EV tax credit
If you are thinking about buying Ford’s electric Mustang Mach-E, you may want to do so before the end of the year. Ford expects the Mach-E will no longer qualify for the federal EV tax credit.
Ford Mach-E will no longer qualify for the EV tax credit
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is due for drastric changes at the end of the year that will affect which EVs will qualify for the tax credit.
Starting on January 1, more restrictions will be put into place. EVs with battery components from a “foreign entity of concern,” including China will lose a portion of the tax credit.
In 2025, the rules will get even tighter. The changes are designed to promote manufacturing in the US while building up a reliable EV supply chain network.
Ford expects to be among several automakers with EVs losing access. Tesla has already said its Model 3 RWD and Long Range will lose $3,750, starting January 1. Meanwhile, it will still qualify for the other $3,750.
In a bulletin sent to dealers (via CarsDirect), Ford said it expects the changes to impact the Mustang Mach-E. Although Ford is “awaiting finalized requirements,” given what we know, “it is unlikely that any Mustang Mach-Es will qualify” beginning the first of the year.
The company didn’t explain why the Mach-E will no longer qualify for the EV tax credit, but it’s likely due to the CATL-supplied LFP batteries.
Qualified customers are still eligible for a $3,750 credit, “making this an excellent motivator to purchase before the end of the year,” Ford added.
Shoppers can still take advantage of the full $7,500 tax credit through leasing. Meanwhile, Ford didn’t indicate the Lightning would be impacted by the changes.
Ford’s electric truck had its best sales month ever in November. All F-150 Lightning trims, except the Platinum version, qualify for up to $7,500 in savings. The Platinum model is excluded as it exceeds the IRA’s $80K cutoff.
Ready to make a move and save on Ford’s electric vehicles while you still can? You can use our links below to find great deals at a dealership near you today.
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The US’s first utility-scale offshore wind farm delivers its first power
New York’s South Fork Wind has become the first utility-scale offshore wind farm to generate power in the US.
The first operational wind turbine at South Fork Wind sent clean power to Long Island today. The project has completed the installation of two turbines around 35 miles off Montauk, with all 12 SG 11-200 DD Siemens Gamesa turbines expected to be installed by early 2024.
The energy produced is being sold to the Long Island Power Authority under the terms of a 20-year agreement.
Stephanie McClellan, executive director at offshore wind nonprofit Turn Forward, said:
The generation of power from South Fork Wind is an incredible moment in the American clean energy story and for the Long Island communities that will benefit from this project for decades to come.
The 130-megawatt (MW) South Fork Wind will be the US’s first completed utility-scale wind farm in federal waters.
Danish renewables giant Ørsted is jointly developing the offshore wind farm with Boston-based energy provider Eversource. South Fork Wind’s first offshore wind turbine foundation was installed at the end of June, and its first US-built offshore substation was completed at the end of July.
South Fork Wind will produce enough clean energy to power 70,000 homes in New York. It will deliver clean energy directly to the electric grid in East Hampton via a single transmission line installed in March.
It will eliminate up to 6 million tons of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road annually over a 25-year period.
Photo: South Fork Wind
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U.S. crude drops below $70 per barrel, gas prices fall to 11-month low
Gas prices at a Shell gas station in Washington, DC, US, on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023.
Al Drago | Bloomberg | Getty Images
U.S. crude declined nearly 4% on Wednesday with retail gasoline prices hitting the lowest point since January ahead of the holiday shopping and travel season.
U.S. crude and the global benchmark have hit their lowest levels since June, despite efforts by OPEC+ to boost prices by promising to slash supply in the first quarter of 2024.
Prices at the pump in the U.S., meanwhile, have followed oil prices lower to hit $3.22 a gallon on average as of Wednesday, the lowest price since Jan. 3, according to AAA.
Oil prices have been on a steep downward trajectory from September highs as nations outside OPEC+, particularly the U.S., pump crude at breakneck clip and worries grow about the Chinese economy.
Moody’s on Tuesday downgraded its outlook for China’s government credit raging to negative from stable.
U.S. crude inventories fell by 4.6 million barrels for the week ending Dec. 1 and gasoline supplied to the market increased by 260,000 barrels per day, according to the Energy Information Agency.
Falling inventories and rising gasoline deliveries implies higher demand, which would typically boost oil prices. Pessimism about the economic outlook in China, however, appeared to be weighing heavier on crude prices.
Oil traders have also been skeptical OPEC+, which includes OPEC members and its allies like Russia, will deliver on supply cuts of 2.2 million bpd in the first quarter next year.
Several OPEC+ members announced the voluntary cuts last week after the group failed to reach a unanimous agreement on production targets.
Saudi Energy Minister Price Abdulaziz bin Salman and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak sough to assure the market this week that they could extend or even deepen the promised cuts.
Tamas Varga, an analyst with PVM Oil Associates, said those reassurances have “fallen to deaf ears.”
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