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Arcadia Power Launches First Nationwide Community Solar Program

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The new program makes clean and renewable solar power an option for electricity customers across the United States, no matter where they live.

Arcadia Power, an online renewable energy company, announced today the first nationwide community solar platform that gives people around the country the opportunity to support solar energy and get savings on their bills – no matter where they live.

This is a huge step forward for the residential solar industry which only caters to a small segment of homeowners in select states. Arcadia Power’s technology platform can connect solar panel production from a remote site directly to a customer’s power bill, and does not require any additional equipment or installation on a customer’s home.

Home Owners, Realtors and Prospective Buyers Can Now Instantly Find Out a Home’s Solar Energy Potential with Sun Number Scores on Zillow

Sun Number’s Rooftop Solar Power Potential Technology Now Featured on Zillow

Sun Number and Zillow® are putting instant analyses of properties’ solar energy potential at the fingertips of home owners, home buyers and real estate agents with a new feature on Zillow that makes the Sun Number rating of a residence just a click away.

Sun Number provides a simple-to-understand analysis of how solar-friendly a building is based on factors such as regional climate, daily sun exposure, foliage coverage from nearby trees and more. The 0-100 score and accompanying details help users understand how much they can benefit from solar power, reducing their utility bills and reliance on fossil fuels in the process.

Top 12 Ways to Keep Your Home Cooler in Long Beach

AMECO Solar - Top 12 Ways to Stay Cool

By Alex Deeter, SolarExpert.com

How to Save on Your Electricity Bill NOW

This August was a very warm month for California. Did you know that it was the hottest August Earth has ever recorded? These hot months unfortunately contribute to much higher electricity bills. Luckily, having gone solar, hot days don’t have as drastic an effect. With the hottest days on record however, everyone’s electricity bills went up. Unfortunately, utilities limited the size of your solar system to your previous annual use. When you use more, the utility will charge you accordingly.

Southern California Edison redesigned rates to eliminate the top tier. Edison announced this summer that rates were increasing 8% for homes. That’s the average increase however, and the energy conscious are getting a worse deal. Customers who stay within the tier one and two will see those rates increase 12% and 17%, respectively.

Feds Hope To Have 13 New Solar Power Plants On Public Lands By 2010

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By Timothy B. Hurst, redgreenandblue.org

Interior Sec. Salazar and Sen. Reid announce plans to fast-track commercial-scale solar power development on public lands.

In a plan announced on Tuesday, federal agencies will work with western leaders to designate tracts of U.S. public lands in the West as prime zones for utility-scale solar energy development; fund environmental studies; open new solar energy permitting offices, and; speed reviews of industry proposals.

Under the zoning portion of the initiative, 24 tracts of Bureau of Land Management land located in six western states, known as Solar Energy Study Areas, would be evaluated for their environmental and resource suitability for commercial-scale solar energy production. Those areas selected would be available for projects capable of producing 10 or more megawatts of electricity. The Solar Energy Study Areas (maps) located in Nevada, Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah encompass about 670,000 acres.

Speaking alongside Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Secretary Salazar vowed to have 13 “commercial-scale” solar projects under construction by the end of 2010. He set a goal of producing a total of 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.

Essentially, the plan would streamline the entire development process; coordinate zoning and environmental studies, and; prioritize the processing of the projects. The new plan will tap resources made available in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed into law by President Obama.

“This environmentally-sensitive plan will identify appropriate Interior-managed lands that have excellent solar energy potential and limited conflicts with wildlife, other natural resources or land users,” said Secretary Salazar. “The two dozen areas we are evaluating could generate nearly 100,000 megawatts of solar electricity.”

“It’s about time to make the permitting process more efficient and provide greater guidance to solar developers,” Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association trade group, said in a statement.

But the plan will likely face opposition from some environmental groups and political leaders. In particular, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced legislation opposing solar development on BLM land in the Mojave Desert back in March, calling the proposals “unacceptable.”

The federal Bureau of Land Management has received applications for 158 solar projects on 1.8 million acres capable of generating 97,000 megawatts, enough to power an estimated 29 million homes.

Tax Credits and Nanotech to Make Solar Energy More Affordable

Light, flexible solar panels made with nanotechnology will soon bring down the cost of installing household solar energy systems, and new federal and state tax credits are providing additional incentive.

EnerWorks Solar Water Heater is First to Get ENERGY STAR Approval

By Ariel Schwartz, CleanTechnica.com

I’ve always wanted a solar water heater in my imaginary house that I own, and now I think I know what brand I want, too. EnerWorks solar water heaters are the first to qualify for the new ENERGY STAR residential water heater program. The heaters were judged based on numerous factors, including solar fraction (portion of hot water delivered by solar energy), solar energy factor (energy delivered by the system divided by electrical or gas energy put into the system), and warranty.

According to ENERGY STAR, solar water heaters can save a typical household $220 each year.

EnerWorks solar water heaters are available in 1, 2, 3, and 4 panel systems, and all models come with a 5 year warranty. In colder climates, a solar water heater can provide up to 50% in energy savings. Warmer climates can yield up to 80%.

So in the long run, investing in a solar water heater might be a wise choice— especially when you consider the 40% to 50% greenhouse gas reduction compared to traditional heaters.

New options emerge for tapping into solar energy

By LESLIE BERKMAN, The Press-Enterprise

Although sunshine is free, a rooftop a solar system can cost $30,000 to $50,000 — enough to discourage even ardent environmentalists when financing is hard to find and households are holding tight to their cash to weather a recession.

But more affordable options are being touted by the solar industry. In recent months new financing programs have been introduced for homeowners who prefer to lease a solar system or to buy the power produced by a solar system on their home that is owned and maintained by someone else.

Mike Corral, 39, said in an effort to hedge against rising electricity rates, he considered buying a solar system for his family’s 4,300-square-foot home in Eastvale. But he said he wanted to avoid the $50,000 cost of such a system, which would cut a chunk out of his family’s rainy day savings and take many years to recoup in lower utility bills.

So late last month, Corral paid nothing to have a 5.6 kilowatt solar system with 28 photovoltaic panels installed on the roof of his two-story house.

The system is owned and maintained by SolarCity, a Foster City firm that began leasing solar systems in April and so far has signed leases to place systems on nearly 1,600 houses in California and Arizona.

“I have been saving money from day one,” said Corral, who on a bright Monday morning was enjoying watching his meter run backward, as it fed power into the utility grid and earned him credits to lower his utility bill.

He also said he liked the worry free aspect of letting SolarCity take responsibility for repairs.

“We knew the biggest barrier to adopting solar power was the upfront costs,” said SolarCity chief executive Lyndon Rive. So Rive said Solar City designed the financing program, then recruited Morgan Stanley to fund it.

Corral pays $151 a month to lease the system on his roof that is designed to meet about 79 percent of his family’s needs, based on their history of electricity consumption.

In the first year of his solar lease, Corral is expected to pocket a monthly average savings of $12, which will grow over time, said SolarCity salesman Mike Schmel. He estimated that over the 15-year term of the lease Coral could save between $11,000 and $14,000.

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