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  • Solar Investments: Stimulating the Economy or Reshaping It?

    So much for shovel-ready. In February of 2009 President Obama signed the $862 billion stimulus bill into law and of that; $36.7 billion was allocated to the Department of Energy. More specifically, $16.7 billion is geared towards increasing the production of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency in buildings and appliances. In what was supposed to provide timely, targeted funding to stimulate the economy, many projects are having trouble getting off the ground. For instance, solar companies are in jeopardy of missing the deadline for federal funding:

    NextEra Energy Resources thought it had a golden project. The company proposed a 2,000-acre solar farm, named Beacon, on fallow agricultural land on the edge of California’s Mojave Desert. The site has the great desert sun but is on degraded land near a freeway, an auto test track and old buildings. The site “is exactly where solar should be,” says David Myers, head of conservation group Wildlands Conservancy.

    But two years later, NextEra still awaits permission to begin construction from the California Energy Commission, which grants permits on such projects after environmental reviews. Time is running short, not only for NextEra but for several dozen green-energy projects in California. Ground must be broken on them before year’s end to get federal stimulus funds worth 30% of the projects’ cost.”

    We predicted this would happen before the stimulus bill even passed. While it is important to consider the environmental impacts of new project construction, California’s state regulators are making NextEra jump though several nonsensical hoops:

    “At a January hearing before the California Energy Commission, NextEra unfurled a string of complaints about the process. The Beacon site had to have a plan to relocate desert tortoises, although the site “has no desert tortoises,” NextEra’s Scott Busa said. The company had to redo a plan five times to monitor ravens that prey on baby tortoises, although the solar fields would draw fewer ravens than the sheep that currently graze and sometimes die on the land, providing a “raven buffet,” Busa said. He also said state regulators gave NextEra a 382-day plan to offset any effect on Native American cultural resources on the site, when the company didn’t have 382 days before it had to break ground to get stimulus funding. Given that the site was considered almost “perfect” for solar, Busa said, ‘I wonder why we’re here two years later?’”

    Instead of allowing the NextEra to finance the project without taxpayer assistance, Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is offering legislation to extend the deadline. The environmental hurdles were known well in advance of passing the stimulus bill. It’s clear this was less about an economic recovery and more an excuse to pour more subsidies into renewable energy projects. Unsurprisingly, the government is failing at both.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    6 Responses to Solar Investments: Stimulating the Economy or Reshaping It?

    1. TonyfromOz Coomera Q says:


      This is truly wonderful news.

      Imagine all that Government money flowing into the solar power generation industry.

      This will really help a lot.

      During December the total, and read that slowly … the total … amount of electrical power consumed in the whole U.S. that was produced from the Solar power sector was 0.004% of all power consumed.

      Not fair you say, as this was at the start of Winter. Okay then, I'll concede that. After all, who needs electrical power in the Winter.

      For the whole 12 month period then, the total power from the Solar sector amounted to 0.02% of all power consumed.

      A number of new solar plants were constructed and came on line in that last 12 month period, and that amount of power from the solar sector actually decreased by 8% from the previous 12 months, but then I suppose when that overall total is so minute, then that 8% reduction is totally, and utterly meaningless.

      Perhaps, just maybe, those huge subsidies provided by the taxpayer, sorry, the Government, might be better off given to electrical generation methods that actually can provide the power that is needed, not useless boutique plants that work on average 3 to 5 hours a day, when the Sun actually shines, and for the immense cost supply next to no power whatsoever.

      Incidentally, that total amount of power consumed from every Solar plant in the Country was supplied to the grid by ONE nuclear power plant in, and wait for it … 18 days.

      Source of data: US Government Energy Information Administration.

    2. TonyfromOz Coomera Q says:

      Now that the last sentence is starting to sink in, that total power from all Solar plants was the yearly figure.

      For the Month of December the total supplied from all the U.S. Solar plants was supplied by that same one single nuclear power plant in the first 9 hours and 8 minutes of the first day of the same month.

      This extra money will really work!

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    4. Pingback: Solar Investments: Stimulating the Economy or Reshaping It? | My Wasted Tax Dollars

    5. Puravida19 says:

      Solterra Renewable Technologies Inc is designing and manufacturing solar cells using a proprietary thin film semiconductor technology that will allow a reduction in the average solar cell manufacturing costs and be extremely competitive. Solterra will be one of the first companies to integrate non-silicon quantum dot thin film technology into high volume low cost production using proprietary technologies. The objective is to become one of the first solar module manufacturers to offer a solar electricity solution that competes on a non-subsidized basis with the price of retail electricity in key markets in North America, Europe and Asia.

    6. Sun Guy, USA says:

      Lets not forget any costs in any analysis.

      Solar panels do not last forever (about 20 years) and must be constantly kept clean (depends on local conditions).

      Solar systems manufacturing pollutes and costs more than the system can ever save at todays prices.

      All forms of energy have seemingly hidden costs, that must be considered.

      The Wests buildings consume about half of the energy… that can be knocked down by at least 1/2 if ALL buildings were required to be Passive Solar Heated and Cooled and Daylit.

      A simple energy budget based upon size/volume/location would force this very reasonable solution on a construction industry reluctant to change.

      In over 30 years of experience as an energy aware architect, I have personally created hundreds of buildings of all exterior designs but sharing dramatic natural lighting and very livable environments.

      The cost of construction does not have to be excessive at
      (+ 1-3%) but the economic returns are dramatically greater.

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