Tag Archives: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

“Solar for All”: How Utilities Can Increase Access to Solar Energy

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists


A new report looks at what utilities can do to “bring solar within reach” for a broader swath of U.S. households, particularly in lower-income areas and communities of color. The answer: a lot.

Solar for All is a product of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the Partnerships for Southern Equity, and the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, and is supported by more than a dozen other state and regional organizations. Click to continue reading.

Powering Up Solar Energy For All

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

Union of Concerned ScientistsSolar energy for low-income residents is becoming a staple of local news. Last week, the New York City Housing Authority announced a new sustainability campaign that includes 25 megawatts (MW) of rooftop and parking-canopy solar power by 2025. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the 2.5 million square feet of panels could power 6,600 apartments and would cover the equivalent of eight Washington Square parks . . . Piece by piece, this is what top solar advocates are hoping to see even more of very soon—whether on individual homes, public housing, or community shared projects or funded by local, state, federal, foundation, or private sources.

Click here to learn about other low-income solar developments Jackson features in his blog and two reports about policies that make these possible.

New Analysis Shows Minnesota Can Save Millions AND Cut Carbon Pollution

Written by Sam Gomberg, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

A new UCS analysis released today shows that strengthening Minnesota’s commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency will drive billions in capital investments, reduce carbon emissions, and lead to significant cost savings on consumer electricity bills through 2030. Further, by setting a cap on carbon emissions and auctioning off carbon allowances, the state could generate more than $200 million in annual revenues that could be used to further reduce electricity bills or be reinvested for the benefit of Minnesotans. Read more here.

Sam Gomberg is an energy analyst and an expert on responsible energy policies that support the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.

Report suggests Minnesota aim beyond Clean Power Plan target, by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News 

Clean Power Plan: After the stay: Where all 50 states stand, by Elizabeth Harball and Emily Holden, E&E Publishing  

States of Progress Updates: Existing Clean Energy Commitments Put Most States in Strong Position to Meet the EPA’s Final Clean Power Plan

By Jeremy Richardson, Jeff Deyette, Rachel Cleetus, Steve Klemmer, and Tori Greenen, Union of Concerned Scientists – Updated August 13, 2015UCS

Key Takeaways

  • The EPA’s Final Clean Power Plan (CPP) and its timeline and trajectory for emission cuts are achievable
  • At least 31 states are on track to be more than halfway toward meeting their 2022 targets thanks to existing commitments to clean energy
  • At least 21 states are on track to surpass their 2022 emissions reduction targets, including 3 states expected to sue the EPA
  • At least 16 states are on track to achieve their 2030 targets based on existing clean energy commitments
  • By prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency, and collaborating with their neighbors, states can reliably and cost-effectively meet their emissions reduction goal

Read the entire report here: www.ucsusa.org/statesofprogress

Fact Sheet: EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program 

49 States Making Plans for EPA Carbon Rule—Even the Ones That Hate It

By Naveena Sadasivam, InsideClimate News

Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

The Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to finalize the rules on carbon emissions from power plants are still several months away. But most states, even those challenging the agency in court, are already investigating ways to comply.

The EPA expects 49 states to submit plans once the rules are finalized. The non-partisan group Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, which has been organizing talks in the Midwest on the Clean Power Plan, says 41 states have joined regional groups exploring options to comply with the rule.

Continue reading.

Additional Recommended Reading
States Sue the EPA Over Clean Power Plan, Disprove Their Own Argument with Existing Efforts to Reduce Carbon Emissions, By Jeff Deyette, Assistant Director of Research & Analysis, Clean Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists

The Costs of Rooftop Solar in Nebraska Just Keep Declining – And Lincoln is Leading the Way!

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) infographic, below, “By 2017, more than half the states could have rooftop solar that’s as cheap as local electricity prices.”

The following factors are helping to bring about this transformation: The prices for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have dropped precipitously over the last several years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal tax credit reduces its price by another 30%, in effect until December 31, 2016.

Lincoln Electric System (LES) provides additional incentives, as described in the PDF, “Customer-owned Renewable Generation.” (PDF link, below). The total payment customers can receive is determined as follows:

• Southern-facing, fixed-photovoltaic panels – $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. For a 4-kW system (sixteen 250-watt panels), for example, the customer receives a capacity payment of $1,500.

• Western-facing or single or dual-axis tracking photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475, or $1,900 for a 4 kW system.

Price of a 4-kW PV system (sixteen 250-watt panels) in Lincoln with incentives:

Solar system and labor @ $3.50/watt* (4000 watts) = $14,000
Federal Tax Credit – 30% ($4,200)
LES Capacity Payment $375 x 4 kW ($1,500)

Total price after incentives are subtracted = $8,300

Western-facing solar modules would provide customers a capacity payment of $1900, reducing the price to $7,900.

Based on an average household use of 1000 kilowatt hours (KWH) per month, this 4kW system will provide about 52% of the house’s energy. Check your electricity bills to find out how many kilowatt hours your household uses each month.

The price for a 2-kW PV system (eight 250-watt panels) in Lincoln, with incentives is $4150, which will provide 25% of an average household’s energy needs. For a western-facing system the cost = $3950. In Omaha, while the 30% federal tax credit lasts, a homeowner can have a 4-kW PV system installed for $9800 and a 2-kW system for $4900.

* A typical cost for a photovoltaic (PV) system in Nebraska is currently $3.50 per installed watt. According to the most recent data in the September 2014 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Tracking the Sun VII, the median installed price of PV installations in the United States is $4.40 per watt.

Solar development in our state would very likely accelerate, benefitting our local economies, if OPPD and NPPD would provide their customer-owners the same incentives as Lincoln Electric System currently offers.

The biggest incentive of all, the 30% federal tax credit, is available to everyone until the end of 2016. Even without capacity payments, when the upfront costs of solar PV systems currently being installed in Omaha and other Nebraska communities are averaged out over the 25 to 30+ year lifespan of the modules, rooftop PV looks like a cost-effective investment, especially after figuring in the 30% federal tax incentive.

Customer-owned Renewable Generation
Nebraska Incentives/Policies for Solar


How Many Homes Have Rooftop Solar? The Number Keeps Growing . . .

by Laura Wisland, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Remember when the most likely place to glimpse solar in action was the little strip attached to a pocket calculator? Well, fortunately solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies have come a long way, and now it’s common to see PV panels on residential and commercial rooftops around the country. This dramatic rise in residential solar PV installations is depicted below in UCS’s new solar infographic. From 2006 to 2013, the number of homes with solar grew by more than 1,000 percent.

Solar growth predicted to continue
As explained by the infographic and in our new report, Solar Power on the Rise, solar installations are likely to continue increasing at an impressive rate. Projections from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) suggest we’re headed to almost 1 million homes by 2020 (DOE Annual Energy Outlook 2014). If solar costs significantly decline from today’s levels, DOE’s SunShot study predicts that solar installations could grow to nearly 4 million homes by 2020.

To continue reading, click on this link: http://blog.ucsusa.org/how-many-homes-have-rooftop-solar-644

Solar Power on the Rise: The Technologies and Policies Behind a Booming Energy Sector (2014) http://www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/clean_energy/Solar-Power-on-the-Rise.pdf