Solar Energy Battery Backup Under Attack in California?

CHICAGO — California is no stranger to rolling blackouts. When Charles and Elke Hewitt installed a solar electric system with batteries for emergency backup power on their home this April, they were shocked when Southern California Edison rejected their application for grid connection under their net metering program. And the Hewitt family was not alone. Soon all homeowners with solar electric systems with battery backup in California could be affected by Edison’s stance on backup power.

Edison informed the couple their application for grid connection was denied because the batteries they used to store energy for emergency backup power when the grid went down were considered “power generators” and not energy storage devices, said Charles Hewitt. Edison said Hewitt did not qualify for their net metering program because the utility could not distinguish between power produced by the solar panels and power produced by the batteries, which it considers a nonrenewable source of power, he said. Edison explained their policy had not changed. It was the equipment that had changed. Members of the solar industry refute Edison’s position.

Written by Lauren Poole. To read the full article, click here.

City of Palo Alto, California to Switch to 100% Renewable Energy Sources

This week the city council in Palo Alto, California voted in favor of sourcing all the town’s energy needs from clean, renewable sources. Effective immediately, the city will use 100% carbon-free electricity. And best of all, the move towards 100% clean energy won’t cost Palo Alto residents much; The town estimates that the switch will add just $3 per year to the average homeowner’s energy bill.

Palo Alto owns all of its own utilities, which makes it easy for the town to control where its energy is coming from. And it’s one of only a handful of cities across the world that can claim to run on 100% renewable energy. The city currently gets 50% of its power from hydro-electric dams. In addition to hydro energy, the town buys wind and solar energy, and it also uses methane gas that is captured from landfills. If, for some reason, all of the city’s energy needs can’t be filled with renewable sources, the town says that it will use renewable energy certificates to purchase non-renewable power.

“Palo Alto has been a leader in reducing its carbon emissions,“ Mayor Greg Scharff told the Palo Alto Patch, “but when we realized we could achieve a carbon neutral electric supply right now, we were compelled to take action. Climate change is one of the critical challenges of our generation and we hope our actions will inspire others to follow suit.”

Written by Mark Boyer. To read the full article, click here.

Tesla & Solar: A Glimpse of the New Energy Economy

If you want a glimpse of what the nascent new energy economy looks like, pull off Interstate 5 in Southern California just before the steep climb through the Tejon Pass. There amid a cluster of fast-food joints you’ll find three Tesla Motors Superchargers sitting under a canopy of solar panels.

The 480-volt Superchargers, which resemble white mini versions of the monolith in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” add 150 miles of range to the Tesla’s Model S luxury electric sports sedan in 30 minutes. With six Supercharger stations in operation in California, Model S drivers can make a carbon-free dash down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles — or to Lake Tahoe or Las Vegas — without those nervous glances at the car’s battery range indicator. And the cost? Not a penny if you’re a Model S owner.

Written by Todd Woody. To read the full article, click here.

Could Solar Power Ride to the Rescue in Southern California?

For decades, the twin domes of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, perched along the beach in Orange County, have been a landmark for anyone driving from L.A. to San Diego. The domes aren’t going anywhere, but on June 7, SoCal Edison voted to permanently shutter the plant, which has been closed for repairs since January 2012, when engineers discovered that hundreds of little cooling tubes were defective.

Cue the hand-wringing, as everyone in Southern California tries to figure out whether the A/C-hungry region can make it through a hot summer without rolling blackouts now that a plant that used to generate enough power for 1.4 million homes is offline. What’s going to replace the energy from San Onofre’s clean nuclear power plant?

Written by RL Miller. To read the full article, click here