Solar

How Rooftop Solar Got Its Groove Back

The solar industry took several steps forward in 2013. (Photo by Official U.S. Navy Imagery, via Flickr)

By all accounts, 2013 was a banner year for the solar industry in the halls of government and the court of public opinion. Across the country, big utilities launched attacks on policies like net metering to stifle innovation and maintain the profit margins that clean solar energy threatens to undermine. And in the face of multimillion-dollar lobbyist brigades, the solar industry grew up and learned to fight back.

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Council to Review Annual Budget Performance, Semi-Annual Audit

City Manager Debra Figone will go over the annual budget performance review at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. (Photo via League of Women Voters)

City Manager Debra Figone’s annual budget performance review, which will go before the City Council on Tuesday, shows that 2012-13 revenue totaled $2.29 billion, about 1.2 percent ($28.6 million) below the budgeted estimate. Other items on Tuesday’s agenda include Xavier Campos hosting a gun buyback at a District 5 church, Kansen Chu pushing a solar panel incentive program and a semi-annual review of city audits.

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Rentseekers and The Free Market: Part II

In a recent example of “rentseekers” trying to eliminate competition, established taxi companies are targeting innovative companies like Uber. (Photo by Luke Roberts, via Flickr)

I watched a piece on CNN the other day that really tied the room together, in terms of the battle over America’s energy future. Recently in this space, I’ve ranted about rentseekers—established industries backed by favorable regulations that stifle innovation and thrive by maintaining the status quo. This story rides a thru-line from social innovators, like Uber and Airbnb, to the heart of the solar energy revolution, and it exposes a dilemma at the core of our economy: The free market doesn’t really exist.

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Rent-Seekers of California

Steve Blank recently penned an article in the Wall Street Journal that pays out a plan for solar energy proponents to take on the investor-owned utilities that stifle innovation. (Photo courtesy of The DEMO Conference, via Flickr)

With an A-Team of lobbyists and legislators on the offensive against net metering and the startup solar industry, it would seem to be a case of David vs. Goliath. The good news for those of us on the side of sustainability is that David, or Steve Blank, has a game plan for how solar companies can fight back, claim their share of the market, and secure our energy future.

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Key Voting Bloc Trending Toward Solar

A new report has found that a majority of Latinos support politicians who are dedicated to solar and green energy projects.

A new survey recently commissioned by the William C. Velasquez Institute (WCVI) and supported by Californians Against Utilities Stopping Solar Energy (CAUSE) reveals some striking trends in key voting demographics in California and nationwide.

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Investor Owned Utilities Bad for Your Health

Investor owned utilities often receive criticism for putting profits above public safety and sustainability.

In my last column I noted that prominent Southern California physicians and solar energy companies have teamed up to fight Assemblyman Steve Bradford and powerful utility interests seeking to kill net metering—and cripple the solar market. This is a major step for the renewable energy movement, as an upstart industry challenges entrenched interests by saying what many have been afraid to say in the past: Investor owned utilities are bad for your health.

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The Battle Over Sustainable Energy

California utility companies are fighting the increase of solar installations rather than jumping on board.

Unlike a lot of activists, I’m not what you’d call a single-issue voter. Education, health care, immigration, land use, transportation—I’m passionate about all of them. But if there’s one overarching issue for me, it’s our environment and how we as a civilization deal with the now undeniable impacts of climate change. Whether or not you believe human industry is responsible for melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, superstorms, draught, and famine, you have to admit that the future looks bleak for our species if we don’t do something to stop the regression.

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