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Category: The AMENERGY Energy Blog

AMENERGY Goes to Meow Wolf

2017 is going to be an exciting year for AMENERGY and we’re inviting you along with us!

Next up, AMENERGY Inc joins up with the Santa Fe Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to help sponsor their Business After Hours event at Meow Wolf!

Meow Wolf

You’re all invited to join us, the SFHCC, New Mexico State Representative Carl Trujillo, and more on March 22nd as they go over the issues of the last legislative session and what it means for businesses.

Curious what’s happening in New Mexico politics? Want a reduced price for Meow Wolf? Just want to get out and meet some like-minded people? This is a great opportunity, and we’re all looking forward to it at AMENERGY.

For more information about the event, check out SFHCC’s Facebook page.

Be sure to stay tuned for more news and events in the near future!

End of August Round-Up!

It’s been a little while since we did a round-up so now feels like a perfect time to touch on a few things that have happened that we missed for one reason or another. Please remember we try to be positive with these short round-ups, so while there are some topics we’d like to cover, they’ll have to wait until after court this afternoon.

 

Round-up 02Solar Impulse II Makes History

One of our favorite stories of the year has to be the success of the Solar Impulse II. This solar powered airplane broke records and fueled our imaginations of what a world run on renewable energy can achieve for the future. In the linked article, Popular Science theorizes what comes after this monumental occasion and what it means for solar energy for a source of fuel and life,

“In the roughly 25,000 miles that it flew, Solar Impulse made two record-breaking ocean crossings, and traversed Europe, Asia, and North America.”

 

Roundup 0-3

New Mexico And Facebook

It looks like New Mexico might soon be welcoming Facebook’s Data Center in the near future, as Utah has pulled out, saying they couldn’t compete with tax breaks being offered by the city of Los Lunas. With the PRC having already given approval for the Data Center deal, and Utah out of the running, the path to New Mexico’s first 100% renewable run data center is clear and bright.

 

 

Round-up 01

Getting Better All The Time

2016 just keeps getting better for our industry. Even after we lost the state tax credit, the solar industry is thriving. Lowered solar equipment prices, more and more utilities turning to solar power, and more financing options means that “thousands” of new homeowners are turning to solar energy in the Land of Enchantment alone. “Nevertheless, solar installation companies expect residential and commercial markets to keep growing. For one thing, PNM and El Paso Electric still offer net metering, which solar companies say is far more critical for consumers to offset system costs than the renewable energy payments.”

 

It looks like things are starting to look up for Solar, so let’s hope for great news in the coming months!

Is the RPS Hurting New Mexico? (Part 3)

We’re going to try to be short with this final part, brought to you by the Rio Grande Foundation*. All we really want to know is this: “How do you make and publish a study this flawed?”

*Totally not brought to you by the Rio Grande Foundation. More of a “Based on the real life story of a real fake study by the RGF” Tonight on Lifetime.

With factually incorrect numbers for most everything, like 67% for coal generation when it is actually 72%, this study forces one to wonder, was this peer reviewed or paid for. The report didn’t even get New Mexico’s RPS goal correct, which is surprising. The RGF usually gets it right. That’s probably due to the simplicity of 20-20-20. Yes, the correct goal is 20% by 2020. Dr. T used 15.7% by 2021, which may be a phone number he needed to write down somewhere.

These errors may not seem important and being off by 5% on the coal numbers really wouldn’t be an issue if he wasn’t a Professor, publishing studies based on his dealer’s phone number. That can be very dangerous. Think about it, to match the study data for the RPS goal, the New Mexico state government would have to manually destroy 4.3% of Renewable sources. Doc, please do not give them any ideas!

This just gets worse with time and observation. Neither the study nor the report appear to have been aware of New Mexico’s Rule 572. That Rule clearly states that out of the IOUs used for the RPS “No less than 20% (can be) Solar.” So, when the study states “Slightly over 89 percent of new RPS capacity for New Mexico is supplied by wind power” it’s not only incorrect, it is offensive to people who know how to read. By the way, in a 2014 study by the American Council on Renewable Energy, Wind only makes up 68.97% but that’s beside the point.

Doc, do you even know what the Law of Supply and Demand is? Here, since raw numerical data isn’t your strong suit, let our artist show you in simple terms:

rio grande foundation

Thanks again to Ariel Gray, our resident artist.

Got that? I hope so, since Ariel won’t be available to explain it in simpler terms until after ballet class. I will, however, take a stab at it:

When there is more of something, cost goes down, meaning if the “electrical generation from these new facilities” goes from 1.4 million MWh to 2.7 million MWh, the cost goes, say it with me, DOWN. It doesn’t even matter how many MWh NM uses, if there is more supply of X than people need, the cost of X is going to go down. See, if there were less things but more need, the cost would go up. It’s that simple, my friend.

Dr. T, could you please explain to us the meaning of this chart? From our perspective, either NM fails to produce a single megawatt of electricity between 2016 and 2040 or there is zero impact from the RPS for these years. It has also been suggested, by our staff artist, that you can see the future and this is your warning of the coming of the end, doc. You’d be decent enough to let us know, wouldn’t you? I mean, we’re all friends here, aren’t we?  

Maybe they were counting on the apocalypse happening?

Something seems wrong here…

I think we may be getting a little worked up, so let’s take a moment to just smile. This is an exercise I learned in Pre-K.

Roi Grande Foundation

It’s ok, just remember the Rio Grande Foundation says Global Warming is a myth.

Imagine a field of green grass that lightly flows in a gentle wind. There are bunnies hopping about and birds singing in the sky. You’ve made a picnic to share with your closest friends, who are on time for once. You all sit around and eat gluten-free sandwiches made with organically grown jam. Isn’t that nice? That’s a tranquil and calm image. Now, let’s imagine that you also know that programs like the RPS have yielded benefits as far back as 2013. Isn’t peer-reviewed information nice and easy to find with a simple Google search? If only we lived in a world like that. Just forget that this guy is literally teaching a course that is opposed to the rise of renewable energy. Let all your worries melt away like that non-chemically induced chocolate that Granny made for your birthday that you’re now sharing with your best friends who also helped you write a thought-out, well-researched study.

Speaking of friends, I think it’s time we took a look at the people behind the study and the report. At the head of this study, in the role of Principal Investigator or PI, you have Dr. T. Well, since he is no Thomas Magnum, let’s go ahead and forget about him, too.

The report was authored and published by the Rio Grande Foundation, which, interestingly enough, isn’t listed at all in this study. Instead, there is an implied supporting role for Natural Resource Economics, Inc.rio grande foundation

Before you get your pitchforks sharpened and hunt them down, you should know something. We contacted Natural Resource Economics, Inc to verify that they were involved in the report. They told us simply “Nope.

How do you get away with signing a company’s name to a report they have nothing to do with? If you can do that then I can easily say that the Rio Grande Foundation supported this rebuttal to their study. Oh my gosh, we should totally do that!

rio grande foundation

It’s like he wrote this study just for me!

Anyway, the point is, if you take away NRE, the only credits you’re given for this report are “Timothy J. Considine, PhD.” We’d like to stress, no one else is credited in the study. Not even in the Appendix next to the references used.

Of course, as we mentioned earlier, the Rio Grande Foundation does take full credit on their website for authoring the entire study. We think they mean report, but then again, maybe the entire thing was authored, like a bad romance novel. They do credit Dr T as being an “energy expert”, which means they must have authored a new definition of that label, too.

“Today, the Rio Grande Foundation released a new study authored by its president Paul Gessing based on research provided by energy expert Dr. Timothy Considine of the University of Wyoming.”

We hope the study was authored and published solely by the RGF and that Dr T is no more real than the EIA data used for the study’s models. You know, the data and info the EIA says they never published. If he does exist, we hope that Dr T can correct his study. We also would hope he does research next time, before he puts out something about how dying polar bears provide school for children or something.

Let’s be honest for a second. You know the reason this study is 109 pages yet only says the same thing over and over again? No, it’s not because repetition is used in elementary schools to reinforce ideas so they stick for standardized testing. It’s because they’re confident that at that length, no one will fact check it. I mean, who would devote three weeks of their life to looking over a study that can be disproved before getting to the second page of it? That would just be insane. What’s more insane is that people think they can get away with “publishing” studies,  self-assured that they won’t be fact checked ever.

Instead of ending on a sad note, we’re going to end on a happy note. Despite the fear-mongering this study was supposed to instill in New Mexico, it seems like no one even gave it a second thought, unless they had a bunch of unused genius photoshop ideas of course. So for all their effort and probably money wasted on this report, it has done nothing, except given us an excuse to make bad photoshop pictures and childish jokes while disproving the points of this foundation for a pure piece of misinformation, so thank you for that.

That was our journey, a bunch of repetition and pie baking. So from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for taking the time to go on this journey with us!

Thanks again and we’ll see you next week for a blog that isn’t about this study.

Is the RPS Hurting New Mexico? (Part 2)

Last week we introduced you to the theory that the Renewable Portfolio Standard, or RPS, might not be good for New Mexico, and to this theory’s creator, Dr. T., a guy who doesn’t live in New Mexico and who may very well have been paid to come to this conclusion.  This week, we take a look at what started it all, his study. After that, we might join hands to defeat evil or something. We’re not really sure. We like to keep our options open.

If you’ve already started reading the study, you should fit right in with our Solar Book Club, if not, we’ll try to be as clear as possible.

First off, for a study with the title- “Evaluating the costs and benefits of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards” it doesn’t really do much of that. Nor does it seem to understand what the study is about.

As we pointed out in Part 1, an RPS is a regulatory mandate authorized by state statutes. Adherence to an RPS is both compulsory and enforceable by state law. Currently 29 states have legislated RPS. There are a few states with voluntary compliance programs, but those are not RPS. This study looks at 12 states, ( It is true that accurate statistics can be drawn from a random sampling of a larger group, but in general that is not done when the larger group is less than 30.) which is less than half of those with an RPS in place and this limited sampling is anything but random. You will notice that for a study that claims to evaluate costs and benefits, none of the states reported on lack an RPS altogether. There is no baseline to draw a comparison from. That’s like doing a study on what the best ice cream is and leaving out Vanilla. Said study finds that all non Vanilla flavors cause cancer at higher rate than Vanilla.

Long story short, we found some errors, right off the bat, in this study. To remedy this, we asked our artist in solar residence to correct one of the first charts included in the study:

rps wrong and right

Because if you can’t get your data right, your study probably has some issues.

As you might be able to see, there were some significant issues that needed to be addressed. These included-

  • incorrect dates
  • inclusion of voluntary compliance states with mandated states
  • Oregon’s goal being listed as double what it really was, and with an incorrect completion date
  • and, of course, a complete lack of hand drawn hearts, kittens, or any  kind of positive message to make a reader’s day brighter. (Thank you, Ms. Grey. We love you, too.)

In all they got 17% correct, which is still less than the number of states without an RPS goal, which saw electricity costs rise in the last year (38.46% is our new favorite percent, apparently). Incidentally, if charts and graphs aren’t really your strong suit, you are in luck. You don’t actually need to look at data to contradict this study. It does that quite well by itself.

rps

Here’s one example.

For example, increased economic activity is included as a benefit, according to the study. As they put it: “On the benefit side, there are avoided greenhouse gas emissions and also additional economic activity generated by the construction of renewable energy plants.” Which goes against the obvious negative, “higher electricity rates affect(s) regional economic activity.” Most of these contradicting pairs occur on the same page as their counter part, frequently in the same paragraph.

rps

“How does one surf the internet if you aren’t near a beach?”

Of course, there were also less obvious mistakes made, like how the report states “Given the fact and the limited information available on these alternatives to wind and solar, this study assumes that RPS goals are met by building wind and solar generation capacity.” I mean, it’s a shame that the EIA, you know, the agency whose data this study is based on, has absolutely no information on alternative renewable energy. Man, I’m so glad I didn’t find enough info published on the EIA’s own website, to be tempted to pull some silly stunt like, I don’t know, maybe making each one of those words above, a link to a different page of information, because that would make Dr. T look come across a lazy Luddite who couldn’t figure out how to use the EIA site’s standard website search function.

Moving on.

Since I am no math prodigy (anymore) and, surprisingly, many “formulas” are based on this “math” thing, I did what I assume any right blooded American who doesn’t know the metric system but has a math professor on speed-dial would do in the same situation. I used that contact info forthwith, which I believe means “at 4am”. The professor, who still wished to remain anonymous, since she may or may not be in close proximity to Wyoming, came to this conclusion: “While the formulas could be tighter, they’re functional.” So, that’s at least one nice thing we can say about this study. The formulas were functional. Too bad we can’t say the same about the way they were used.

rps Forget the introduction, get straight to reinforcing the point you've said in every other section.

Forget the introduction, get straight to reinforcing the point you’ve said in every other section.

Section 2.6 is about Economic Impacts, the one place where I think we can all agree, Renewable Energy shines. Well, everyone except Dr. T, who starts the section out by reminding us, yet again, that electricity prices and employment will suffer for our good deeds. Honestly, if I’m starting to seem like a broken record, just read this study. If I’m a broken record, then this study is a Victrola trying to make sense of a Betamax Tape.

Hold on a second… I think I’m having an epiphany!

rps

HOLY FRACKING BATMAN! I FIGURED IT OUT! I am so proud of me!

Go with me for a minute. See, I was looking at this report from the point of view of someone who supports Renewable Energy, but this report isn’t for me. No, this is for the people who will continue using non-renewable energy sources. In an unlikely twist, the Rio Grande Foundation has inadvertently produced a report supporting the switch to Renewables.

Is this one of those cheesy sci-fi (or syfy for the “hip” crowd) plot twists like a dimensional shifts? I don’t think so, but you should be on the look out for goatees, just in case. This, I believe, is just an unintended consequence of creating conclusion based science.

Hear me out.

Let’s roleplay and say that you, yes you wrote this report. If you aren’t good at lying, don’t worry, neither is this report. So the question we pose to you, the “writer” is this: Who was this written for? Since rising electricity costs will primarily effect those who rely on traditional utility based, fossil fuel generated energy sources, with a far lesser impact on those with distributed generation, roof top solar systems, this report would be most beneficial to those debating investing in solar. If you believe this report, then this is the best argument that can be made for switching to solar. Afraid of the unemployment rate? If more people switch to solar, more jobs will be created; manufacturing, installing, and servicing these systems, thus lowering the unemployment rate in much the same way the industry has been for the last several years.

But what about those pesky “rising electricity costs” that seem to be in every paragraph of this study? If only there was a way to “install” something that would make it so those darn electricity costs wouldn’t be the fifth horsemen of the apocalypse (bankruptcy, we assume).

Is that too much to handle since you’re pretending to be Dr. Mr. T? I’ll make it easier to understand with pretty pictures.

In 2011, Clean Power Research released a report on how much systems cost per state and how much was estimated to save in the following 20 years:

rps

via Clean Power Research

The red dots indicate the states where the investment in a house-based solar system would not pay for itself, if purchased back then. Innovation and inspiration have both done a great job of driving down the costs of renewable energy technologies over the last 5 years, i.e. they have gone down in general. Here’s the same map but with that lower cost accounted for:

rps

Also via Clean Power Research

Besides Wyoming still being a horrible place in general, look at the difference. Now, there are only 5 states where an investment in a solar system, would not pay for itself. That’s 5 out of 50, which is 10% and still less than 38.46%, then again, I didn’t have my math professor friend verify that, so it might be more. Anyway, this is great news for anyone thinking of investing in solar, and ironically, we wouldn’t have known about this, if it weren’t for the Rio Grande Foundation and their report showing the benefits of utilizing Renewable Energy. We should do something nice for them, like an in depth look at other accomplishments of this clearly accomplished foundation.

So, thank you Rio Grande Foundation for one of the most Pro-Renewable reports ever put out! I might even send Dr. Timbo a pie because this is probably the greatest argument anyone could make to get solar for their home.

Even though that was probably the greatest point to stop our research, we still have a few sections to go, this time they’re about individual states. Next week, we wrap up our report with rainbows and kittens and send off pies to people. See you then!

Is the Renewable Portfolio Standard Hurting New Mexico? No. No, it’s not. (Part 1)

considine-timOnce in a blue moon, something magical comes along that gives us here at AMENERGY limitless material. It’s like Christmas and, since YouTube Ads are reminding me the holidays are around the corner, we would like to share this one with all of you.

It all started last week. You see, during our excitement for the possibility of a 100% Renewable Energy Data Center via Facebook, we ran smack into a pixelated, potentially pony-tailed (need citation), opponent of the preferable, practical, and plainly possible, positively picturesque future, who has decided to rain on the renewable energy parade. He also has a tiny picture that seems to be the only picture my colleagues and I could find for him.

Since the picture is rather tiny and we strive for an HD world, we had our office artist remake the image (see below).

New Photo

Artistic rendering by Ariel Gray, age 6

This is Dr. Timothy J. Considine, a professor at the University of Wyoming who teaches “Oil: Business, Culture, and Power; Energy Economics and Public Policy” so, he’s obviously just as biased on Renewable Energy as we are at AMENERGY. He wrote a report called “The Cost of the Renewable Energy Standard in New Mexico” which appeared  KRWG’s website last week. It should also be mentioned that Dr. Timothy J. Considine is NOT the actor Tim Considine, best known as Mike Douglas on My Three Sons from 1960-1965.

His report was published and sponsored by the Rio Grande Foundation. Oh, don’t act like you’ve never read RGF’s blog, Errors of Enchantment, you know the one, with blogs like “Can Art get Worse? Yes. Yes, it Can.” not to mention our favorite, especially if you’ve read our blog post on Solar Puns, “Solar Subsidy Slated to Sunset.”* Despite those fantastic titles, no one can forget their one blog post that is obviously pinned to everyone’s homepage, “Any Idiot with a Blog…” whose title may inadvertently sum up everything I’m about to say. (Foreshadowing.. oooh…)

That being said, this article isn’t about how RGF may or may not have been getting money to pay for fake reports or how for a non-partisan economic think tank, they seem to be quite partisan or even that for a Foundation, they don’t seem to have a physical one. This foundationless foundation (unfoundationception?) does not state it’s physical location anywhere. We looked. (which is a sure sign that your business is totes legit, brah) No, this article is about the content of a study the RGF merely funded. Let’s look at the article that introduced us to Dr. Tim’s very REAL concern that AMENERGY and others who, like us, promote clean renewable energy technology solutions like solar power generation, in one of the sunniest places in the country, are actually hurting the future.

The first thing we noticed while reading this piece was that while it states the results of his study, there are no sources cited, not even a link to the full text of the study. As my own commentary on his commentary (commentaryception?) I would most likely fail his class if I didn’t cite my sources in a paper.

Despite not having a source linked, the article does state “Already, residential electricity prices are 29 percent higher in states with mandatory RPS than in states without them, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.” (Formatting added for emphasis) So I did what any logical person would do and reached out to the EIA about this specific claim, and they responded that this claim was not true.

EIA Response

Full response from EIA.

I know, I know, end of story, right? Well, after doing some digging, I found Considne’s report that the article by Considne (Considneception?) so eloquently self referenced. It had been published in the very official, surely-peer-reviewed source known as researchgate.net. Seems at least one, potentially scandalous propaganda outlet has finally realized that by simply adding the word “gate” to the end of their business name, they effectively render the mainstream media unable to cover any of their future scandals, without helping their search engine rankings and name recognition. (Bullet proof branding, achieved!)

 

Dr. Tim’s study is a gold mine for those of us who like numbers, reports, laughing and have always dreamed of combining those interests into one activity.  Just take the first paragraph, which states “Moreover, to the extent that these policies drive up electricity prices, output and employment could be adversely affected.” If you actually look at the data (obviously we did because we’re in way too deep at this point) you’ll find that only 36.67% of states with Renewable Portfolio Standards had rising costs.

That means, out of the 29 states (and District of Columbia) with an RPS; California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, and Wisconsin ALL have seen AT LEAST residential electricity costs decrease in April 2016 when compared to April 2015 according to the EIA. (Full word capitalization added to illustrate annoyance at intellectual dishonestly in general.) Moreover, out of the 5 states with the highest cost of electricity (Hawaii, Connecticut, Alaska, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island) the only one of them WITHOUT an RPS in place is the only one who saw ALL electricity costs GO UP over the same period of time (Alaska for the record).

Comparison between the 5 states with the most expensive electricity

Speaking of Alaska, can you guess which state currently has the highest level of unemployment out of those 5?

In fact, 38.46% of the states that DON’T have an RPS in place have seen their electricity costs GO UP. In case you’re confused because you hate numbers or something, I even made a handy-dandy chart for you to use in your next study!

Fun Chart

This chart was super hard, it took me nearly 2 minutes to make.

Full Disclosure, I’m only counting states with RPS, not states with “Voluntary Renewable Energy Standard or Target” since “Renewable Portfolio Standard” means it’s regulated and “Voluntary” means it’s not. Since Dr. T’s report is titled “Evaluating the Costs and Benefits of Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards” and since including “Voluntary” statistics when the report implies the standards are regulated and enforced, would be misleading, I chose not to include the misleading data. If there’s one thing I’m not, it’s Dr. Timothy J. Considine, oh, and misleading too I guess.

As for employment dropping, what’s the best way to lower unemployment? More job availability, (Um, Dr T? Duh!) According to SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association) in 2014, “the (solar) industry continues to exceed growth expectations, adding workers at a rate nearly 20 times faster than the overall economy and accounting for 1.3% of all jobs created in the U.S. over the past year.” In fact, in November of 2014, “the solar industry employs 173,807 solar workers, representing a growth rate of 21.8% since November 2013.”

And I can already hear someone crying ‘But that was 2014!’ I do realize that. I just wanted a lead in for following year.  In 2015, the industry saw a growth of 20.2% and over 208,859 solar workers added, according to The Solar Foundation. Solar Energy’s economic impact and job growth far exceed fossil fuel industry big shots,  Coal, Electric, as well as Oil and Gas. As we can clearly illustrate, using one of Dr. T’s favorite techniques, (Oh yeah, the self referencing validation!) It is estimated that for every $1 put in to solar tax credits, New Mexico gets $30 back in economic benefit.  Why would anyone want to end an incentive program that benefits the economy like that? Maybe because he teaches a class called “Oil: Business, Culture, and Power.”

In Wyoming, where Considine resides, the unemployment rate went up to 5.6% in May 2016 from 4.2% in May 2015 and can you guess if that state has an RPS? That’s right, it doesn’t. Oh, and also, Wyoming’s electricity costs rose across the board in the past year.

Just Wyoming

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Dr Tim, arguing that the RPS would be bad, from a state that doesn’t have one enacted yet is experiencing the worst case scenario he claims would be the effect of his state adopting one, while states with an RPS are experiencing the exact opposite of his predictions, would seem delusional, wrong and somewhat hypocritical, right? You don’t criticize my grass for not being green enough when your back yard is dirt, do you? Apparently Dr. Tim does.

And that was just us correcting one sentence from the first paragraph. The study relies on projection based on “models of electricity supply and demand for each state. These models are projected using forecasts for coal and natural gas prices out to 2040 from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.” Notice how it’s basing Solar on the forecasts of “coal and natural gas prices” instead of, you know, Renewable Energy. Honestly, sometimes you gotta do that, I mean, unless the EIA has a report that covers forecasts for clean energy between 2016 through 2040 or something…

Annual Energy Output

Second Issue in Focus was sadly not “We have an illiteracy problem”

Unfortunately, the first Issue in Focus in the report we found dated 6/20/2016 is devoted to Clean Energy projections. That report also states that even if there wasn’t a Clean Power Plan in place (or CPP), “renewable electricity generation increases from 2015 to 2030 in all regions, with the largest increases in the Southeast, California, and the Northern Plains regions.”

That’s followed by Strong renewable electricity generation growth occurs as a result of the combination of extended tax credits, renewable portfolio standards in many regions, and declining construction costs.

This isn’t the Twilight Zone, right? When the FIRST ISSUE DISCUSSED in a report from the agency you’re basing your findings on contradicts the findings of your study, how is that acceptable? Did he just go straight to the oil and natural gas section like a kid throwing the black and white sections of the Sunday newspaper away, in a child like obsession to get to the colorful funnies? I would seriously like to know because if this is Dr. T’s level of attention to detail, he should probably not be teaching any subject outside of proper safety hat usage in the peace corp.

I could go on and on about the article, but I’ll end this introduction by pointing out that it’s very important to actually check into something before posting it. Failure to validate or vet data presented by supposed experts, is how news sites get tricked into posting false news quoting men in dolphin suits.

We’re already over 1400 words, so we’re going to have to cut it off here for this post, but next week we’ll start looking at the actual 109-page study, so consider it like our weird “Solar Book Club” or something. Oh, and don’t worry, we’ll be sending our findings to KRWG along with a homemade pecan pie, just because it feels like they got stuck in the crossfire (and no, I never joke about pecan pie).

*the person presently proofreading this paper panicked and penned a point upon the RGF’s previously posted pathetic pun and the persons who planned/pirated it. The precise and primary points and problem? At this abomination of ad hoc alliteration, all of us at AMENERGY are absolutely aghast and angry, as we are always against the asinine annexation of alliteration as an academic author’s absentminded attachment to artistic accentuation. Additionally the proximity to poorly planned puns is an approximation of pretty much all the problems and pains that we have painstakingly plotted to pass the buck on.

Could Solar Powered Facebook Save NM?

Last Friday, the Santa Fe New Mexican reported that Facebook is deciding between Utah and New Mexico for the location of it’s new data-center, but one teensy-weensy caveat: the center has to be 100% solar powered. Now, I know the solar tax credits for New Mexico have been forgotten about like Octomom or Milli Vanilli, but since “budgetary concerns” were the reason stated for not renewing our Solar Tax Credit, maybe the answer is Facebook. Plus, this may be the only time in any of our lives when “Facebook” is the correct answer to any non sarcastic question about fixing anything.

It should be mentioned that Utah has one thing over New Mexico at the moment and it’s not Tom Cruiz. Utah still has a Solar Tax Credit (“worth 25% of eligible system cost or $2,000, whichever is less, for residential installations, and 10% of eligible system cost or $50,000, whichever is less, for commercial installations”) which potentially gives them the edge when it comes to installation of the data-center.

“Nothing would really change if Facebook opened their data center here” be-cries cynics and skeptics, myself included. But, instead of being Debby Downers, let’s instead look at 3 things that Facebook’s data center could bring to New Mexico

1. Jobs

New Mexico currently has a 6.2% unemployment rate, which isn’t bad, but it’s still above the 4.0% that was in 2008. The only way to get that number down is by creating new sources of employment and data-centers need maintenance. If that center is also 100% renewable energy, then the micro inverters will need maintenance and monitoring as well. I don’t need to go over how the incentives for the film industry brought more jobs or go over AGAIN how the solar tax credits created jobs either, so that data center would potentially create work for New Mexicans and help reduce unemployment.

It’s not just us saying that, PNM also agrees with us saying “This is a responsible and creative strategy to support the effort to bring new business and jobs to New Mexico.

2. Usability

Pokemon Go launched last week. And then it went down. And then up. And then down. And then-ok, you get it. Even if you aren’t a fan of it, it’s important to note that there were massive server issues for a highly-publicized application. Data Centers hold stored information, all of your photos of your children, and as more users access Facebook, more storage is needed. It’s like when your hard drive on your computer gets full, you can’t save that funny cat video, so creating specific servers and data storage for the southwest benefits all users by making other servers less dependent on regional data.

3. A More Green New Mexico

Whether or not we want to talk about the pros of cons of Facebook and their policies, they are a leader. Twitter is basically a condensed version of your Facebook feed. Instagram is a secluded portion for your selfies and baby photos you posted on Facebook. While you could argue that Facebook copied Myspace which copied Friendster which copied AIM, etc, it’s just like what Boy George said, “It’s not who wore it first, it’s who wore it better” and Facebook has innovated. From online games to alternatives to Flash (RIP my old friend) to a sustainable business model for social media. If they want to build a 100% renewable energy data center, whether you like them or loathe them, it would be a big deal for Solar in general. As more commercial enterprises hop aboard the Green Train, it gives more visibility to people who may not know that much about solar.

But could Facebook’s solar powered data center bring more interest in a “new” tax credit? Potentially. If the decision comes in part because of the tax credit in Utah, then New Mexico would be foolish to not consider a “new” tax credit for renewable energy, especially if it helps grow interest from large businesses to help bring more into our economy and lower unemployment.

In the end, who knows what will happen. We’ll have our fingers crossed and keeping an eye out to see what happens on the proposed August 31st decision.

For more information about what’s going on with the Facebook Data Center, here’s the New Mexican’s Article.

Goodbye Solar Tax Credit

Yesterday, the New Mexico Solar Tax Credit (NMSTC) expired for solar electric systems. Solar thermal tax incentives are set to expire at the end of this year.

The NMSTC came online in 2007, including both solar thermal and solar photovoltaic. It was intended for the residential solar market. This tax credit specified for 10% of a system’s cost, with a $9000 gap, by allocating specific amounts to each type of system. Annually, it allocated $3m for solar electric and $2m for solar thermal. The state of New Mexico would then send a voucher, after an application was submitted for an installed solar system, which would be applied to their state tax return dollar for dollar.

Back in 2009, solar installations all across the world increased significantly, especially solar electric systems, and in 2016, the annual solar electric allocation neared it’s maximum. In NM, solar electricity has taken off in popularity, with massive numbers of applicants, but the New Mexico Solar Tax Credit expired June 15, 2016. In the past, those who applied after their taxes were due would have their credit rolled forward into the next year, but since the credit followed “first come, first serve” those homeowners who did not file for the tax credit are now, regrettably, out of luck.

Most times, we see tax credits expire because the incentives didn’t work, but with the NMSTC in place, residential solar electric systems became more affordable and increased the number of systems being installed while it was active. Simply put, it worked. So, why are the NM solar tax credits ending? That’s a complicated question. Back in 2013, both the New Mexico House and Senate passed an extension for the bill, but instead of being signed, it was pocket vetoed by the Governor. In 2015, another extension was killed by committee. The most common reason given for failing to extend the solar tax credit has been (paraphrasing) “budgetary reasons.

We need to remember the state of New Mexico gets a lot of its operating budget from a single source, oil and gas revenues, and while normal consumers have been enjoying lower gas prices at the pump, the state of New Mexico has not. Lower prices also means lower income from that source, and someone or something has to take the blame for dropped income.

Solar has done much more than just give green electricity to homeowners. Back in the housing crash of 2008, the solar industry picked up the slack to keep hundreds of state and municipal workers employed through solar system permit fees, inspections and system applications. Today in New Mexico, nearly two thousand people are employed by the solar industry. It is estimated that every $1 from the solar tax credit translates into $30 for the New Mexico economy, but now that the NMSTC is gone, there are still plenty of reasons for the solar industry to keep going. For one, the Federal ITC (Investment Tax Credit) was extended earlier this year, pricing for solar systems keeps falling, and, of course, anything could happen in politics so we may, indeed see an NMSTC-like bill in the future.

But, there is one question that needs to be answered through this entire ordeal: “Why does the state of New Mexico not support one of its primary industries?” Keep in mind that since 2008, the solar industry in New Mexico, alone, has demonstrated annual double digit job growth and, combined, has a greater revenue than PNM.

Even if that question is never explicitly answered, the sad fact is the solar tax credit for New Mexico is now resting in the great solar vortex in the sky.

solar tax credit

DIY rooftop renewables now at Ikea

rooftop renewablesHi, I’m the Ikea Guy from those instructions that come with your Ikea purchase, to help get you set up. It was recently announced that Ikea were going to be opening “Solar Shops” and selling rooftop renewables directly to the consumer, which is a great move forward into creating a more renewable world, even our friends at AMENERGY think easier access to solar energy is the next step in allowing green energy to grow, though they do have some concerns which we’ll cover, but, since I’m me, we’ll do it with vague instructions!*

*Editor’s Note: since this is appearing on the AMENERGY Blog, the vague instructional images will be followed by overly detailed explanations of the instructions.

 

Step 1: Go to Ikea

rooftop renewables

Instructions: While this is obviously a new avenue, there are only 3 actual “Solar Shops” available and only in the UK. So, for us in the USA, grab your passport and plan to visit one of them before they’re as massive as Starbucks.

 

Alternative Step 1: Go to Ikea Website for a Free Quote!*

rooftop renewables

Instructions: You can get a free quote to see what size of system you need from Ikea, unfortunately, the disclaimer does state: *“(This calculator is) only an estimate and is based on the information provided by you. As a result, we are unable to guarantee the calculations are correct. A more accurate assessment can be provided to you by Solarcentury should you choose by completing the information at the end of the calculator.” Which basically means, you should probably just go to the store instead.

 

Step 2: Buy Solar Panels

rooftop renewables

Instructions: Impulsivity is rampant in any store, so make sure you only go to the Solar Shop with your estimated budget because that new couch will force you to take out a second mortgage on your house.

 

Step 3: Install Panels onto Roof

rooftop renewables

Instructions: Please keep in mind, first and foremost, your safety when installing on a roof. Depending on your location, gravity should be a constant with sufficient force to introduce you to the ground and the hospital in rapid succession.  Other details to consider are-

  • building codes,
  • racking,
  • panel positioning for maximum energy collection,
  • connection to a monitoring system,
  • the proper wiring to ensure your system is functioning properly,
  • the proper microinverters to ensure your system is functioning optimally,
  • acquiring permits from the city to authorize and switch from traditional electric to rooftop renewables,
  • the waiting period, if any, in your city before they will authorize said switch,
  • and finally turning on your meter so you can actually use your new clean energy system

Again, please be safe when you’re up on a roof. We don’t mean to seem like an overprotective parent, but seriously, please be careful. If you are unsure why you should be careful, please try this experiment. While at ground level, please feel the ground with your hands. Now feel your face. Your face will not win that collision.

 

Step 4: Sit back and enjoy your utility bill savings.

rooftop renewables

Instructions:If you have successfully completed this entire process, congratulations are in order. You are now sufficiently versed in engineering to not only step up to the next level, Ikea book case assembly, but also to write your electrical and mechanical engineering dissertations and receive your well deserved doctorate in both.   So, Dr. please relax, site back and enjoy the lack of an electrical bill once your solar is turned on by your state’s electric company Please remember to maintain an eye on your system through monitoring, so that if something were to happen, you can dust off your engineering degrees, diagnose the problem with the panel, system, sun, etc. go back to Ikea, buy a new panel or racking or miscellaneous, go back up and repair it and if it’s a true Ikea brand, there will be options, with the cheaper options probably not looking or functioning as they should and sometimes just flat out falling apart.

Being that this is not, in fact, an Ikea product instruction page, we will now be adding closing thoughts. Although we at AMENERGY agree that clean energy systems should be easily obtainable, in order to help lessen the impact of climate change, as well our dependence on oil, consumers should be aware that obtainable and operational are two drastically different things.  Please realize that you can’t just go Velcro a solar panel to your roof and expect it to save the world. There are a few steps between here and there. It’s a positive step forward having big-named retail stores partner with solar companies (previously, Ikea was partnered with Hanergy and their new deal comes after a partnership with Solarcentury). We’d like to suggest that these retail stores  partner with not just one, but multiple rooftop renewables system manufacturers and local installers for their given city, to really show the variety and love that we all have for the future.

Then again, what do I know? I’m just some dude who sits around and gets paid to draw adequate parodies of Ikea instruction manuals for a solar construction company who also offers free quotes, but doesn’t offer brands with umlauts on them, so maybe I’m doing something wrong with my life? Maybe I should add umlauts to all of our stuff, myself. I should wait until everyone else has left the building, then I can add them everywhere.. dot dot

Students, Legos and Global Warming: Earth Day 2016

Earth Day 2016 has come and gone and, much like Christmas, there were some wonderful surprises in store for the planet and quite a few people complaining about everything. Let’s talk about a few… of the surprises, not the people complaining.

 

Legoland goes Green

One of the most horrifying experiences for a barefoot person, is stepping on those little multi colored bricks known as Legos (though, the correct terminology is “Lego Brick” for the pieces, fyi … *Of course, the only people who would call them that are either on the company payroll or just overly obsessed with proper brand terminology to the point of missing out on life itself) and it doesn’t get any less painful when you’re an adult, trust me. Luckily, the good people at Lego announced earlier this year that they will be investing $150 over the next 15 years to make their toys out of a more green-friendly material instead of plastic, so we can at least take solace in knowing that the pain of stepping on them will help the planet in the near future, but that news has been around a while.

The new News announced in celebration of Earth Day is that Legoland Florida will be adding solar panels to its parking lot to both help with the park’s energy needs and to add convenient shade for its visitors. While we’re still waiting for the LEGO Solar Construction set to be made, this signals there’s only a matter of time before we can go out and find it in stores. (as it turns out, there’s already an option for that, thanks Lego!)

*Yes, we have writers and editors.

 

Fueling Your Education

In a great article that appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican on Friday, “Students at Acequia Madre Elementary School gathered on Earth Day beneath the shade of a newly erected solar array between a basketball court and a jungle gym to celebrate the launch of renewable energy on their campus” which joins a growing number of schools in our home state that are turning towards solar to make their students future as bright as possible.

 

They put the “UN” in “Universal”

Arguably the biggest news this earth day was the news that over 170 of the nations on earth would sign the Paris Climate Change Agreement on Earth Day in New York City. This agreement is a promise from the countries that sign to create a five-year strategy for reducing emissions and create a more renewable future rather than just depending on coal, oil and natural gas.

Of course, while every small push towards offsetting your global footprint is important, this agreement (signed by 86.73% of the nations in the world) makes us optimistic, but we must remember that actions speak louder than words. We’ll keep an eye out for what this means for solar in the coming years. This event, along with the ITC and other incentives, means that no matter what you may have read, renewable energy is far from being dead and much like the Sun (until long after it consumes this planet), it just keeps growing stronger.

 

Those are the stories we thought were cool, but there were many other events going on. Why not tell us what you did to celebrate Earth Day on our Facebook page?

Energy System Jokes

I would like to go out on a limb and talk about something that I believe we’ve all been guilty of doing. Overusing jokes. Let’s face it, much like renewable is the best energy system, puns are some of the best jokes and just like your solar energy system, they stick around and work for years and years.

Unfortunately, like that one memory your uncle has of you growing up that he brings up every family reunion, the overuse of puns or suspiciously similar jokes can get old fast. For example:

energy system Jokes

As you might have guessed, when articles use the same joke over and over and over AND OVER again the joke gets stale fast. So, we’ve already talked about the ITC and how tax credits in the state of New Mexico did not get renewed, even though if we scrapped the pizza party budget we’d probably have enough to renew them, but let’s instead focus on the issue at hand.

There are so many more eloquent and, yes, funny ways to phrase an article’s title about Solar Energy, both good and bad. So, if you’re an aspiring blogger or newspaper writer, let’s have a little intervention with AMENERGY’s quick guide to Solar Jokes:

1. Why do people think sun setting funny?

In many forms of thinking, sun setting signals the end of something. Most people will connect it with the trope of “riding off into the sunset” which cowboys do at the end of some westerns, but the thing about it is, it’s not the end, it’s the start of renewal. When cowboys ride into the sunset, they essentially ride off to have more adventures. When the sun goes down, it’s the time the body can re-energize itself for the next day and so on.

2. But why do people use it for solar?

Well, solar has to do with the sun and most people don’t actually do research to meet deadlines so the brain goes *click* ‘oh, sunset, that’s a witty observation. I shalt winneth a Pulitzer for this witty observation.’ But no, if you really wanted to capture the end of solar energy, the title should read “Sun violently implodes leading to massive blackout of the human race and everyone freezes to death in minutes…at least for New Mexico tax incentives.”

3. Why not use another joke?

I went and looked up to see if I could find more solar puns or jokes to help compile a list originally for this article. Besides the many versions of the “Two solar panels walk into a bar” joke, there’s not a lot… Although, if you really wanted to be a dick, I guess you could’ve said “Solar Energy becomes Fossil in New Mexico” or “It’s true! You can never go Ohm” or “Watt is happening in New Mexico?” or maybe even “Charge dies in fight for Tax Incentives in New Mexico” see? I just did about 4 people’s jobs for them.

The ultimate point is, the loss of this harms people who work in the Solar Industry as well as those who are considering solar and communities that are trying to move to a more healthy energy system. So, if you’re going to make a pun, please at least try to think outside the box and if you, the reader, see horrible puns being used over and over in articles addressing solar, feel free to make sure they know that “that’s not very punny.”

Solar Politics: Candidates’ thoughts on the Sun

*Due to overwhelmingly negative reaction and the sheer volume of angry responses on social media to our endorsement of candidates that we did not endorse, the Solar Politics series of  candidate analysis and detailed explanation of their current policies as well as their history regarding renewable energy, has been replaced by the Cliff Notes version-

Independents-

vermin supreme

  • Vermin Supreme–  Running on a platform  which is neutral to renewable energy (though, if you think about it, his plan to create giant hamster wheels for zombies to run on and create energy is kinda renewable energy), Vermin Supreme may look into photovoltaic technology if and when the ponies have been equally distributed and the general dentistry of the population has significantly improved. White teeth do look good in the sun.

 

Libertarians-

Gary

 

  • Gary Johnson– The former Governor of New Mexico firmly believes the government should stay out of the sun. This view is not shared by the vast majority of Americans who enthusiastically support the relocation of parts of the government to the flaming yellow thing in the sky. The latest polls show that Congress, at least, should be sent into the heart of it.

 

Greens-

Jill

 

  • Not sure who is running. Didn’t even bother looking it up. Not a chance in Hell they will get anywhere due to the system, but they are undoubtedly for solar subsidies. I think Jill Stein ran last time, so I’ll just put a picture of her for the sake of aesthetic design of this blog.

 

Republicans-

Trump

 

  • Donald Trump– We are just going to put this here-  “It’s our sun. We have the best sun. We are going to build a wall around it so that it will only shine on us. Make America Bright Again!”

 

Zodiak Killer

  • Ted Cruz– Has an unclear platform on renewable energy due to not knowing or caring that the sun exists. Seems he is against subsidies or investment credits for the industry, but balances that with a call to ban all forms of Sunscreen above SPF1, which he claims,  “…is good enough for Canada… I mean America.”

 

Kasich

 

  • John Kasich– Has spoken at length about his views on the solar industry and the economy in general. Unfortunately, he has never had the opportunity speak while on camera or with a live microphone. It would seem his platform is to be lost in the mists of history.

 

Democrats-

Bernie

 

  • Bernie Sanders– And we quote- “The sun is not just a rich person’s sun. The sun belongs to all of us.  We are taking it back from the millionaires and billionaires of this country. To the top 1% I say, ‘I hope you like the shade!'”

 

hillary rodham clinton

  • Hillary Clinton– Has a lengthy and well documented history as an avid renewable energy proponent, having voted for or initiated many bills and policies which have fostered the industry.

 

 

HRC

  • Hillary Clinton– Has a lengthy and well documented history of opposing government welfare like the tax credits which support the renewable industry. Check her record, she has always been against the sun.

 

 

Hillary

  • Hillary Clinton– err, this is getting awkward… and we quote- “The sun is not just a rich person’s sun. The sun belongs to all of us.  We are taking it back from the millionaires and billionaires of this country. To the top 1% I say, I hope you like the shade!”

 

 

No matter who you support, the important thing is to make your voice heard. So please, get out into the sunshine and involved in the process.

Edit- It has come to our attention that making your voice heard is not good advice for those who support Blathgarh, the chicken-wing underlord of Aδης since, as we all know, by physically saying his name, you banish him to the 5th realm and the only effective way to support him is by mentally acknowledging him instead of verbally.

iPhones, BatPaC and the lowering costs of kWh

As technology ages and goes through update after update, the benefits aren’t just in a sleeker new design, it’s also a drop in the cost of technology. With solar technology, this entails, amongst other things, lowering costs of kWh. In order to understand the lowering costs of kWh, let’s look at an example of technology we can all understand.

lowering costs of kWh

Maybe if my iPhone 5 had a solar battery, it would last longer than an hour without dying and making me restart level 79 of Candy Crush…

The original 4GB iPhone was roughly $142 per GB of storage space whereas the latest model locks in at $46.82 per GB on the lowest-price models. (iPhone Gen 1 with 4GB vs the iPhone 6s Plus with 16GB). So not only is the new phone cheaper, even with inflation ($570.40 vs $549.99) but to match the amount of storage, you’d have to buy 4 of the original iPhones (which would be $2281.60). Advancements in technology make everything not only more affordable, but more efficient in design, execution and accessibility. Luckily, that trend isn’t exclusive to smartphones.

According to a new article over at GreenTechMedia, the dream idea of a $100/kWh could be closer than anyone could’ve predicted. They’re quoting Battery Performance and Cost, or BatPaC, which isn’t a Batman-themed Super Pac as one might assume. According to the article and report, “BatPaC version 2 was released in December 2012 and showed Tesla-type batteries costing $163/kWh” verses the third version, released last year, which had the same batteries valued at “$109/kWh.”

lowering costs of kWh

Hipster Astronaut Quote: “I went to space before it was cool” – Original Photo via NASA.

We did the math, that’s an $18 drop per year!

 

So, why should you care about cost per kilowatt-hour?

 

Like with Gigabytes (GB), the more efficient and cheaper it is to produce one GB of storage, the easier it is to put much more storage into a phone.

Similarly, the cheaper it is to produce 1 kWh, the more storage a car can contain, which means it’s cheaper to own and the increased efficiency means the longer your Lithium Ion Battery will last.

For many consumers, the price of a battery storage system is a deal-breaker when it comes to their system, both in the cost of the unit and the cost for installation, but it’s important to remember that it’s becoming easier to install a battery storage system with already-installed solar systems.

Sonnen, for example, has started manufacturing batteries that will interact with any inverter. While not universal, other companies have either been dabbling with or have already developed their own battery systems, with new versions coming out nearly every year, all getting cheaper and cheaper per kWh.

If you’d like to read a more in-depth article about the lowering costs of kWh, check out GTM’s article here.

Like the iPhone, as Solar becomes more and more advanced in technology, it becomes more efficient and affordable. The future looks bright, so it’d be foolish not to turn all that brightness into energy, right?

 

 

Special Thanks to NASA for awesome photos like the original photo used for the astronaut image.

The successful history of democratized energy

We’ve had democratized energy for billions of years, already. Non stop. Me, you, plants and puppies, no down time and without a single service call. The sun shines on all of us and that is the basis of distributed generation.  Centralized, proprietary generation is simply out of style, so last century.  One would think that in a republic, or any form of democracy really, people would work with their government to democratize energy.  Unfortunately, as we’ve learned in Nevada, the economic viability of self-generated solar energy can be voided completely, in a single day, by regulatory bodies acting against the will of the majority and government mandate.

In U.S., the price for solar components and equipment continues to come down, which increases the opportunity for more people to generate energy from the sun.  It’s time to stay informed my friends.  State policies, whether legislated by state representatives or simply approved by regulators (elected by YOU) can either build or burn the growth of solar adoption around the country.

Currently, some utilities insist that distributed solar costs non-solar rate payers more money and have convinced policy makers to slow solar adoption.  Other states see the benefits, and find ways to grow the industry and create jobs. It’s working for the most part.  According to Advanced Energy Economy,  clean, alternative energy has become a $200 billion industry in the U.S., which is twice the size of the BEER industry!

HOWEVER, states can enact policies that protect the status quo, (one company) i.e. incumbent power monopolies like NV Energy company, or encourage the development of distributed solar, (many companies) like California and New York.  As we can see in Nevada, the problem isn’t solar, it’s allowing private citizens to have control over the generation of solar energy. Check out this video for the backstory on this utility regulation drama, (check out the color of burning coal in the sky) and then read the next section of this article to better understand the benefits of distributed solar.

Minnesota adopted a policy that gets around the net metering issue.  In their proposed Value of Solar program, customers will be paid for solar in a separate transaction, utility will pay for all the solar generated, and allow the customer to retain their solar renewable energy credit (SREC).  The study shows the value of solar to utilities to be around $0.15/ kWh while many other studies conclude that distributed solar creates a net benefit for utilities when calculating costs.

Here are some of the main benefits that distributed solar has over large-scale solar:

  1.  LOWERS ENERGY LOSSES:  Electricity loses energy when it travels over long distances in something called line loss that costs utilities money.
  2. REDUCES POWER VARIABILITY:  Clouds can reduce solar generation, but when it’s spread out all over the place, it doesn’t have as large an effect on the grid as it does when it’s packed into a single location.
  3. THE SUN SHINES EVERYWHERE:  Why dedicate acres of open land for solar arrays, making it unavailable to people or wildlife, when rooftops everywhere can collect sunshine.
  4.  CUSTOMER EMPOWERMENT:  Yes, as my friends over at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance like to point out, “Solar enables a transition from energy monopoly to energy democracy.  When customers become producers, they also become decision makers in the grid system.”
  5. ENERGY STORAGE MIGHT CHANGE EVERYTHING:  Solar + Storage can create a future that both customers and utilities will love.  In this future, customers will hold the key to our energy future.  It will also solve demand management issues that utilities hate.

Many cities, including Santa Fe, would like to go 100% renewable and break away from the utilities.  In Nevada, a single utility scale solar array can create all the energy Las Vegas can use.  If the city approves the move, the city will partner with the utility to provide 100% renewable energy.  See Nevada PUC greenlights Las Vegas.

However, “… three of the city’s major casinos exited from Nevada Power’s service as they look to procure energy on an open market, saying the utility’s rates were too high. But such a move earned them some $125 million in exit fees, which they are trying to fight, reports Vegas Inc. ”

Hey, we don’t want to dog on the utilities.  According to Utility Dive’s 2016 State of the Electric Utility Survey, many utilities are changing their view.  Instead of seeing renewable energy as a threat to their existence, some now view advances in technology as opportunity to develop new revenue streams.  For example,  66% report pursuing services like offering energy management and efficiency services to customers.

The one constant in the PUC’s decisions this year, has been an effort to maintain the bottom line for NV Energy.  But as you saw in the video, that could be easier said than done.  People in a democracy have power.  Don’t forget that, please.

Should you invest in a lithium ion battery system?

AMENERGY, as the leading battery backup installation company in northern New Mexico, gets a lot of questions about lithium ion batteries ever since Elon Musk got everyone excited about the Tesla Powerwall last year.  The truth is, the technology will be here soon enough. The market has gone crazy in Australia because of the lack of net metering, giving us a good idea about how the battery functions in grid tied situations.  It also helps us keep our eyes on the key manufacturers.  The lithium ion batteries perform the same backup job the typical lead acid batteries do, except they can have a depth of discharge (DOD) of 100% and recharge without problem.  This technology may turn out to be idiot proof, but it is definitely not a solution for the bargain hunter.  Here are the types of customers we talk to and the advice we provide.

sonnen batteries for green early adoptersGreen early adopters:  It may not make the best economic sense … yet, but you don’t care, because it makes so much environmental sense!  If you want to use more of the solar you generate and say “no way!” to dirty coal, then lithium ion batteries will be for you.  With attention to design, these lightweight packs look so good, you might find them on the pages of Dwell magazine.  Your in home battery has smart software and optimizes your self generated energy.  It also provides limited backup for sudden power outages.  During the power outage, you can manage appliance loads through your cell phone. Yes, there’s an app for that. The system automatically recharges batteries with solar until power returns.  These batteries recharge quickly from the grid, and know when to buy from the utility … You know, when the prices are low.

 

sonnen batteries for rural liviingRural Beings:  Ah, the fresh air, roosters crowing at dawn. Your nearest neighbor can barely be seen through binoculars.  You have a dependable truck, a dirt road, and a special love for peace and quiet.  You don’t mind the commute, but the intermittent power outages can be as annoying and the rumble from your generator.  You could really use lithium ion batteries.  They can reduce your utility costs when the power is on and create the quiet energy independence that you crave.  Power outages won’t turn off your solar, and you know how to manage your consumption.  Now your investment can run your house every sunny day of the year. These batteries can be scalable, meaning you can start small and stack the batteries over time, until you have a full house backup system.

 

sonnen batteries for preppersPreppers:  We’re not going to recommend lithium ion batteries for you … yet.  You know how much you can grow on 1/2 an acre, how to get meat from the goats, chickens and rabbits you raise.  You’re fine with your underground root cellar.  Now you just need reliable power to provide water for your animals and a freezer to keep the meat.  Lithium batteries may be able to recharge 10,000 times, but it’s built for the grid, not the end times.  We know you’re looking to backup your whole house and want power during a full 3 days of nuclear winter.   AMENERGY can set you up with a renewable energy system that will provide heat and electricity, and back it all up with the most reliable workhorses in the industry … and then promptly forget where you’re located. No worries, you’ll be fine without us, our systems will keep running for 20 + years.

Warren Buffett’s Distributed vs. Centralized Energy Battle

Who cares whether or not the emerging new energy economy is dominated by centralized renewable energy or distributed renewable energy?

 

distributed vs. centralized

YOU. You care, because you would like to take control of your long term energy costs and see a better tomorrow. Not to sound like a broken record, but renewable energy is coming. The question is whether or not it will change your world.

 

Let’s travel back in time to 1880, when Thomas Edison’s power station began generating electricity to power street lights in lower Manhattan for 59 customers. Soon, New York City was buried under copper wires. For the first time, electricity could be delivered to your home. It was revolutionary, mom and pop shops popped up everywhere. It didn’t take long before the industry became overladen with corruption and consolidation.

 

Facing a government takeover, the largest power companies agreed to become an exclusive franchise (legal monopoly). They agreed to provide lower priced electricity in return for a guaranteed, “reasonable” profit.

 

Today, we’re quickly moving towards a day when we no longer require centralized power generation. If everyone can cover their own energy needs, we can reform the way we think about ourselves as consumers. Technology can empower us all to move past the simple supply-demand paradigm. Dynamic demand combines smart software with energy use. It means you decide where and when to use power. What do we really need from the power company, if we can generate our own?

 

If the utilities continue along the same road of centralized power generation, then it won’t matter whether or not they use coal or solar panels–or burn piles of puppies. If they succeed in crushing the economics of your solar generation, then they control the resources. They decide what to use, and you’ll be stuck paying whatever fees they pass through the regulators.

 

Folks, there’s a war raging out there. Look at Nevada, look at California and Hawaii. What’s happening there will happen here. It’s time for you to get involved, unless you’re happy with the same-ol-same-ol.

 

distributed vs. centralized

 

Come on. You feel it, too. We’re moving from “top-down” to “bottom-up” world. Something is breaking loose; call it the quickening, call it spring fever, call it the Age of Aquarius. Once we all stand up and do what we can do, then this solar energy thing won’t just be a battle between billionaires. It will usher in a new democratic energy economy, complete with new job opportunities, business services, independence, and the kind of energy security we have never imagined before.