Category Archives: Renewables and Energy

Proposed Tax Plan would kill the $7500 electrical vehicle credit

The tax plan proposed by House Republicans has hiding in it the repeal of a $7,500 tax credit that has arguably been one of the main drivers of electric vehicle purchases. Removing the credit would almost certainly adversely affect sales of electric cars just as they are beginning to get affordable to the general public.

Quite clear, isn’t it! Section 30D is the part of the Internal Revenue Code that offers a credit to purchasers of qualifying electric cars. Assuming the credit has been used in the case of purchase of most electric cars, it has saved taxpayers around a billion dollars since it took effect in 2010.

One could argue that $7,500 isn’t going to make much difference when a fully loaded Model S pushes a hundred grand, but it has certainly helped those cars become competitive at the same prices as other luxury vehicles. And cheaper options like the Leaf would likely never have taken off if they sold for their full price of around $40K rather than being closer to $30K.

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Online calculator helps to determine the costs and benefits of rooftop solar

Homeowners in San Diego County have a new tool when considering the costs and benefits of installing rooftop solar panels.

The local nonprofit Center for Sustainable Energy launched a web page this week that allows residents to see how much they could save on their electrical bills based on a number of factors.

The web-based “Solar Savings Calculator” is intended to inform consumers who are considering whether to contract with a particular installation company, said Christina Machak, senior research analyst for the center.

“The value proposition for solar depends on lowering a homeowner’s monthly electricity bills,” she said. “The calculator gives a household-specific look at what homeowners can shave off their monthly utility bills in actual energy and dollar savings.”

The calculator uses location data to determine how much sunlight a particular home gets exposed to, as well as energy consumption patterns for residential customers of San Diego Gas & Electric. Users can download a detailed history of their electricity use from the utility and then upload it the center’s website.

The tool also uses updated information on the state’s net-energy-metering program, which determines how customers are compensated for the solar power they generate. In general, if ratepayers produce more electricity than they consume in a given year, they are paid a wholesale market price, which is less than the retail price, for that excess energy.

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What do you get when you sign up for a 100% green electricity plan?

For the first time, residents and businesses up and down the state can buy electricity plans touted as “100 percent green” in their quest to fight climate change or simply be more environmentally friendly.

They can enroll in these programs through California’s three major investor-owned utilities — San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric — or through the growing number of cities and counties that offer alternative power programs called community choice aggregation, or CCA.

Does this mean all the electricity flowing into those customers’ homes and offices is created with renewable energy? No.

When residents pay a roughly $5 to $10 premium on top of the average monthly bill to get a 100 percent green plan, the provider buys a corresponding amount of renewable energy on their behalf. Almost all of that green power comes from existing inventory, which is mixed with electricity generated from fossil fuels, and the situation isn’t expected to undergo a transformation until far more people enroll in 100 percent plans. Whether that explosion in demand takes years or decades to realize remains to be seen.

“It doesn’t mean that when a customer signs up for 100 percent green, there’s a crew overnight wailing away and putting together another 6 kilowatts of solar somewhere. It’s an administrative process,” said Bill Powers of San Diego, an electrical engineering consultant and a consumer advocate.

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