Three key points to consider in brownfield redevelopment for solar projects

A typical brownfield. As available greenfield sites suitable for solar are used or developed in other ways, renewable energy companies are looking to brownfields as alternative locations for development. And it’s not a surprising trend, said Jonathan Wells, a partner at Alston & Bird, an international law firm that specializes in environment, land use and natural resources, among other services. “Brownfields are often larger tracks of land with favorable zoning, and in a lot of cases they’re located near interconnect facilities,” Wells said. There are financial incentives, too. “Some states have brownfield-specific programs, so if you spend money cleaning up the site you can take that money

Where America's Poor Pay the Most for Electricity

The lowest segment of earners pays considerably more of their income for electricity than higher earners. (Groundswell) Poor families face persistent obstacles to cutting their power bill. It’s one thing to pay more for electricity because you have a big house and lots of high-tech gadgets. For many of the poorest households in the U.S., though, the bill is disproportionately high precisely because they are poor. There’s a shift underway in how Americans consume energy. That’s largely due to increasing efficiency, decreasing demand per capita, and the rapid expansion of renewable energy sources. Still, the share of income that low-income households spend on electricity rose by one third in t

Farmer wins battle with Central Hudson over solar

Solar panels collect the sun's energy on Milton farmer William Werba's property on Old Indian Road in the Town of Marlborough on Dec. 15, 2015. (Photo: Patrick Oehler/Poughkeepsie Journal) PSC rules utility must allow credits to be claimed at home William Werba will no longer have to worry how much electricity is costing him at his Town of Marlborough home. The state Public Service Commission has ruled in favor of the 74-year-old Ulster County apple farmer in a dispute with Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp. over solar power credits. In a decision issued Wednesday, the PSC said Central Hudson cannot prevent Werba from offsetting his home electric bill with credits generated by an 88-panel s

Carbon Pricing Becomes a Cause for the World Bank and I.M.F.

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund are pressing governments to impose a price tag on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, using economic leverage and technical assistance that institutions like the United Nations cannot muster. The campaign by two of the largest international lenders comes as world leaders have begun to sign the Paris agreement on climate change, the United Nations accord that is supposed to commit nearly every country to take action to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. The document opened for signatures on Friday and will remain open for a year. But the leaders of the World Bank, the I.M.F. and other major global institutions say cutting emissions enough

Why SunEdison’s Bankruptcy Doesn’t Throw Shade on Solar

The headquarters of SunEdison is shown in Belmont, California in this April 6, 2016 file photo. REUTERS/NOAH BERGER/FILES SunEdison filed for bankruptcy yesterday, following a buying spree that sunk the renewable energy company deep into debt. In its Chapter 11 filing, the company said it had assets of $20.7 billion and liabilities of $16.1 billion, making it the biggest US bankruptcy in more than a year, Bloomberg reports. SunEdison CEO Ahmad Chatila called the decision to file for bankruptcy protection a “difficult but important step to address our immediate liquidity issues.” In a statement, Chatila said the reorganization will make the company more “streamlined and efficient … shedding n

San Francisco Mandates Solar on New Buildings

New buildings in San Francisco will soon be required to install solar panels. The solar mandate, adopted unanimously by the city’s Board of Supervisors this week, makes San Francisco the first major US city to require solar on new construction, according to supervisor Scott Wiener, who introduced the ordinance. Beginning Jan. 1, 2017, all new commercial and residential buildings with 10 floors or less must install solar photovoltaic, solar water panels or a combination of the two. Existing buildings are exempt. Two former San Francisco environment commissioners writing in a San Francisco Examiner column say the mandated is expected to add 50,000 solar panels and avert 26.3 million tons of ca


Unprecedented $300M EPF Establishes New $22 million Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Category to Support Community Resilience Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $11 million in Climate Smart Community grants is available for municipalities to become more resilient to the effects of climate change, including sea level rise and extreme weather. The announcement is part of New York’s Earth Week celebration, which Governor Cuomo proclaimed from April 17-23 to highlight the state’s commitment to protecting the environment, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change. “New York has a long history as a national leader in protecting the enviro

Tompkins greenhouse goals fall short?

Climate Change photo illustration. (GETTY IMAGES / Stock Photo) Lawmakers are set to adopt a plan that helps guide the way toward an 80 percent reduction in Tompkins County greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, but local experts say that goal is insufficient. Tompkins County's Energy Roadmap is a good start, but it's not ambitious enough, said Bob Howarth, a Cornell University ecology and environmental biology professor. "I think the citizens of the county will probably move faster than (the Energy Roadmap) suggests — I would hope so, because we need to," he said. "I believe it's entirely possible for Tompkins County to be carbon-free by 2035, and I think we should set that as our target." Howar

Report Ranks Top Solar Cities Of 2015

Sixty-four U.S. cities are now home to almost as much solar capacity as the entire country had installed at the end of 2010, according to a new report from Environment America and the Frontier Group. The report, titled “Shining Cities 2016: How Smart Local Policies Are Expanding Solar Power in America,” ranks the U.S.’ major cities for their solar power. It says the U.S. now has more than 27,000 MW of cumulative solar electric capacity, and as of the end of 2015, the 64 cities covered in the report have installed over 1,700 MW of PV. Los Angeles (215 MW), San Diego (189 MW) and Phoenix (147 MW) topped the list for most solar power in the research and policy center study, titled “Shining Citi

DiNapoli & Schneiderman Reach $10.75 Million Oil Spill Settlement With ExxonMobil

A picture shows the logo of US oil and gas giant ExxonMobil during the World Gas Conference exhibition in Paris on June 2, 2015. (ERIC PIERMONT/AFP/Getty Images) State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced a $10.75 million settlement with Exxon Mobil Corporation and ExxonMobil Oil Corporation, individually and as successors-in-interest to Mobil Oil Corporation and Mobil Corporation, to reimburse the New York Environmental Protection and Spill Compensation Fund (Oil Spill Fund) for oil spill cleanup and petroleum contamination removal costs at eight locations across the state. The settlement reimburses the Oil Spill Fund for all of its costs

A Renewable Energy Boom

Credit Marta Monteiro Some world leaders, especially in developing countries like India, have long said it’s hard to reduce the emissions that are warming the planet because they need to use relatively inexpensive — but highly carbon-intensive — fuels like coal to keep energy affordable. That argument is losing its salience as the cost of renewable energy sources like wind and solar continue to fall. Last year, for the first time, renewables accounted for a majority of new electricity-generating capacity added around the world, according to a recent United Nations report. More than half the $286 billion invested in wind, solar and other renewables occurred in emerging markets like China, Ind

Growing power: Spafford’s Fesko Farm offsets energy consumption with solar panel array

Fesko Farm in Spafford features a 303-kilowatt, ground-mounted solar array made of 1,045 290-watt panels that produces virtually all of the electricity consumed by the operation. (Jonathan Monfiletto, The Journal) SPAFFORD — Kim and Eric Brayman haven’t paid an electric bill for their Fesko Farm property in about a year. And that’s huge for a 600-cow dairy farm that can rack up $9,000 worth of power consumption in the summer months when it takes more energy to cool the milk and operate fans that run at full capacity all the time all the way down through most of the barns. But, thanks to a 303-kilowatt, ground-mounted solar array made of 1,045 290-watt panels, the farm generates virtually all

A real windfall: John F. Tucker & Sons farm in Skaneateles feeling benefits of wind turbine

John F. Tucker & Sons farm in Skaneateles uses a 158.8-foot-high, 50-kilowatt wind turbine to supply electricity to the dairy farm and two homes on the property. (Jonathan Monfiletto, The Journal) SKANEATELES — Standing on the property of the John F. Tucker & Sons farm on a sunny, cool, breezy day, one can see why Mark Tucker chose to use a windmill to power his family’s farm. Measuring a total of 158.8 feet with a 120-foot tower and 33-foot blades, the 50-kilowatt wind turbine supplies electricity for the dairy farm that consists of 135 cows and 95 calves and its crop drying system, as well as Tucker’s home and his parents’ home that both sit on the farm property. “We have a lot of wind her

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