Archive for March, 2010

New York state OKs new funding for renewable energy projects

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

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March 25, 2010, 5:36PM

SYRACUSE, NY — State utility regulators Thursday approved $279 million in new funding to help homeowners and businesses install solar panels, fuel cells, wind turbines and other renewable energy devices.

The money will be collected from utility ratepayers and used over the next five years, according to the state Public Service Commission.

A little more than half — $144 million — will be used to subsidize solar photovoltaic power. Other allocations include $70.5 million for anaerobic digesters; $24.7 million for solar hot water heaters; $21.6 million for fuel cells and $18.1 million for small wind turbines.

The new funding level represents an increase of about 35 percent compared with previous years, said James Denn, speaking for the PSC. To pay for it, a surcharge on customer bills for the Renewable Portfolio Standard will increase. On average, the higher RPS charge will increase customers’ total utility bills by 0.25 percent, Denn said.

The money will go to the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, which provides the subsidies to customers. NYSERDA has had trouble keeping up with demand for solar photovoltaic incentives. It reduced the subsidy three times in 2009, and still it ran out of money.

PSC Chairman Garry Brown Thursday acknowledged the changing subsidy level made it harder for installers to do business.

The reduced size of the subsidy — from $4 a watt a couple of years ago to $1.75 a watt today — also has hurt the residential side of the business, said Robert Halstead, president of Eastern Mountain Solar, in Syracuse. “It was a tough sell even at the old level. At the new level, it’s exceedingly difficult,” Halstead said Thursday at the Syracuse Chamber Business Show.

Separately, the PSC authorized $150 million to subsidize large-scale projects in the Downstate area that use solar power, anaerobic digesters or fuel cells.

By Tim Knauss / The Post-Standard

Urban Green Energy UGE-4K Wind Turbine

Friday, March 19th, 2010

March 5, 2010 — The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind. The question: Is there a way to reduce our co-op or condo’s energy bill in a green, Earth-friendly way?

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Sure, you can install solar panels, and some intrepid co-ops and condos are experimenting with geothermal cooling and heating. As we wean ourselves away from coal and oil — and we’ve kind of got to; neither one of those will last forever — our electrical future will probably be a combination of those new technologies and others, including wind energy. And while you’re doubtlessly envisioning those giant turbines generally placed out in bays or isolated fields, you’ve got realize those are just the first generation. Just as TV satellite dishes went from six-feet across to pizza-sized, so, too, are rooftop wind turbines. See for yourself — we’re not just tilting at windmills.

The UGE-4K vertical-axis wind turbine, pictured here, is the largest of three models — with 4 kiloWatt, 1kW and 600W output, respectively — from the New York City start-up Urban Green Energy. Vertical-axis turbines are different from traditional wind turbines in that their main axis is perpendicular to the ground. This configuration means they’re not affected by the direction of the wind, which is useful in areas where the wind changes direction frequently or quickly, and so there’s no mechanism needed to turn the turbine toward the wind. The consumer models are simple to install and maintain, says the company, and operation is quiet, with a decibel rating of < 27dB at a three-meter distance.

Of course, one benefit of generating your own electricity is that no only does your co-op or condo save money by using less commercial electricity, but you can even get refunds from your power company by feeding your excess into the grid. Check out the chart below to see how it works. As for purchasing wind turbines, a variety of states offer incentives see the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency.As well, financing is available through the GEOSmart program sponsored by the Electric and Gas Industries Association (EGIA) and funded by GE Money. It’s also worth LEED Certification points.

So don’t get caught being a funny-duddy building. Embrace the new. Who’s reachin’ out to capture a moment? Everyone knows it’s windy.

UGE + Stark Foundations = Happiness

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

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