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Going solar with SunPower, Google

April 23, 2014 in Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar, Wind

By Rob Parker, Renewable energy team (Google)

Just because Earth Day is over doesn’t mean we’re done doing good things for the planet. Yesterday we announced our biggest renewable energy purchase yet: an agreement with our Iowa utility partners to supply our data center facilities there with up to 407 megawatts of wind energy.

Today, we’re taking another step towards a clean energy future with a major new investment. Together with SunPower Corporation we’re creating a new $250 million fund to help finance the purchase of residential rooftop solar systems—making it easier for thousands of households across the U.S. to go solar. Essentially, this is how it works: Using the fund ($100 million from Google and $150 million from SunPower), we buy the solar panel systems. Then we lease them to homeowners at a cost that’s typically lower than their normal electricity bill. So by participating in this program, you don’t just help the environment—you can also save money.

A home sporting SunPower solar panels Photo courtesy of SunPower / Google

A home sporting SunPower solar panels
Photo courtesy of SunPower / Google

SunPower delivers solar to residential, utility and commercial customers and also manufacturers its own solar cells and panels.They’re known for having high-quality, high reliability panels which can generate up to 50 percent more power per unit area, with guaranteed performance and lower degradation over time. That means that you can install fewer solar panels to get the same amount of energy. And SunPower both makes the panels and manages the installation, so the process is seamless.

This is our 16th renewable energy investment and our third residential rooftop solar investment (the others being with Solar City and Clean Power Finance). Overall we’ve invested more than $1 billion in 16 renewable energy projects around the world, and we’re always on the hunt for new opportunities to make more renewable energy available to more people—Earth Day and every day.

This article is a repost, credit: Google.

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A Big One for L.A., By Michael Brune Sierra Club Executive Director

March 21, 2013 in Environment, EV News

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director Photo credit: Martin Sundberg

Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director
Photo credit: Martin Sundberg

We are going to get the United States off dirty fuels and onto clean energy. Of course, it won’t happen overnight nor everywhere at once. Our success will come from winning hundreds, if not thousands, of victories — big and small.

This is about one of the big ones.

Tomorrow, I’ll be standing on the sunny, solar-paneled roof of the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles to watch as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa officially announces that, within 12 years, the City of Angels will be entirely coal-free. Currently, L.A. gets almost 40 percent of its power from two old and notoriously dirty out-of-state coal plants — the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona and the Intermountain Power Project in Utah.

It’s impossible to overstate the significance of this announcement from the second-largest city in the U.S. But getting rid of coal is only part of the story. Los Angeles is also leading on clean energy.

Two years ago, L.A. was the first city in California to hit 20 percent clean energy. The city’s new CLEAN LA Solar program (which allows local businesses, residents, and organizations to install renewable energy projects and sell the power they generate back to the utility) is the largest program of its kind in the nation. It’s also expected to create 4,500 jobs and nearly $500 million in economic development for the city.

More jobs will be created as the city ramps up its already impressive energy-efficiency efforts. When the EPA released its annual ranking of cities with the most Energy Star certified buildings last week, Los Angeles topped the list — as it has for the past five years.

Certainly, much of the credit goes to Mayor Villaraigosa. When he took office eight years ago, Los Angeles was getting almost half of its power from coal and only three percent from clean energy. When you fly into LAX and see hundreds of square miles of rooftops soaking up the Southern California sun, it seems obvious that rooftop solar is a huge opportunity for L.A. But it took a mayor with vision and determination to make it happen.

I’m proud to stand by Mayor Villaraigosa as he announces a coal-free Los Angeles on Friday. You can join us — the event will be live-streamed. In the meantime, let the sun shine!

This article is a repost, credit: Michael Brune, Sierra Club Executive Director

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Secretary Salazar Approves Three Renewable Energy Projects in California and Nevada, Source: BLM

March 17, 2013 in Environment, EV News, Solar, Wind

Solar, wind facilities would generate 1,100 megawatts, enough to power more than 340,000 American homes

Secretary Salazar and Governor Brown with solar power project maps Photo courtesy of US Department of the Interior

Secretary Salazar and Governor Brown with solar power project maps
Photo courtesy of US Department of the Interior

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. – As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar today (3-13-13) announced the approval of three major renewable energy projects that, when built, are expected to deliver 1,100 megawatts to the grid – enough to power more than 340,000 homes – and help support more than 1,000 jobs through construction and operations.

The 750-megawatt McCoy Solar Energy Project and 150-megawatt Desert Harvest Solar Farm are both located in California’s Riverside East Solar Energy Zone, an area established through the Western Solar Energy Plan as most suitable for solar development. The 200-megawatt Searchlight Wind Energy Project will be constructed on public lands in Clark County, Nevada.

“These renewable energy projects reflect the Obama Administration’s commitment to expand domestic energy production on our public lands and diversify our nation’s energy portfolio,” Secretary Salazar said. “In just over four years, we have advanced 37 wind, solar and geothermal projects on our public lands – or enough to power more than 3.8 million American homes. These projects are bolstering rural economies by generating good jobs and reliable power and strengthening our national energy security.”

Secretary Salazar made the announcement today (3-13-13) in San Francisco with California Governor Edmund G. Brown, Jr. Working together, the State of California and the Department of the Interior have established a unique partnership in support of the state and federal government’s clean energy goals. Since 2009, the aligned federal and state permitting and environmental review processes have advanced 5 gigawatts of wind, solar, geothermal and transmission projects on public lands in California – and more than 15 gigawatts statewide.

Interior and California agencies are also engaged in the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, a mutual landscape-level planning effort to streamline renewable energy development in appropriate areas in the California desert, while at the same time conserving important natural resources and natural communities for species protection and recovery. A draft of the plan is expected this summer.

Since 2009 – and with today’s projects – Interior has approved 37 renewable energy projects, including 20 utility-scale solar facilities, 8 wind farms and 9 geothermal plants, with associated transmission corridors and infrastructure to connect to established power grids. When built, these projects will provide more than 11,500 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to power more than 3.8 million homes, and support an estimated 13,500 construction and operations jobs.

Additionally, the Bureau of Land Management has identified 23 active renewable energy proposals slated for review this year and next, including 14 solar facilities, 6 wind farms and 3 geothermal plants. The BLM identified these projects through a process that emphasizes early consultation and collaboration with its sister agencies at Interior – the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the National Park Service.

“The President has called for America to continue taking bold steps on clean energy,” said BLM Principal Deputy Director Neil Kornze. “Our Smart-from-the-Start analysis has helped us do just that, paving the way for responsible development of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the right way and in the right places.”

The approved projects underwent extensive environmental review and public comment. The companies agreed to undertake significant mitigation efforts to minimize impacts to wildlife, water, historical, cultural and other resources. State and federal agencies have set up a joint compensation fund operated by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to help mitigate impacts. The projects will displace an estimated 800,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases each year (equivalent to more than 150,000 cars), while generating tens of millions of dollars in construction payroll, local housing demand, increased tax revenue and purchases of local goods and services during construction and operation.

The McCoy Solar Energy Project, located about 13 miles northwest of Blythe, CA, was proposed by McCoy Solar, LLC (a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC). The 750-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility would be one of the largest solar projects in the world, and encompass about 7,700 acres of BLM-managed lands and 477 acres of private land. Because the BLM worked closely with the developer to reduce the footprint, the project will occupy only 4,394 acres. McCoy Solar has agreed to purchase more than 4,500 acres of habitat to protect the Desert Tortoise, Burrowing Owl, and Mojave Fringe-toed Lizard species. The project is expected to employ approximately 500 workers during peak construction, and 34 permanent jobs. When operational, the facility would generate enough clean power for an estimated 225,000 homes in southern California. A 12.5-mile generation transmission line would connect the project to Southern California Edison’s Colorado River Substation. Click here for a fact sheet on the McCoy Solar Energy Project and here for a map.

The Desert Harvest Solar Farm, proposed by EDF Renewable Energy (formerly enXco) on a site six miles north of Desert Center, CA, would encompass about 1,208 acres of BLM-managed lands for the 150-megawatt photovoltaic facility. The project would have a peak construction workforce of about 250 employees and create 8 permanent jobs. The facility will use an efficient single-axis tracking technology that allows the solar panel arrays to follow the sun to produce more electricity for the same amount of ground disturbance. The project’s infrastructure will be concentrated with that of a nearby solar project, minimizing new ground disturbance. The BLM added requirements to ensure that the plant will not contribute to overdraft of the local groundwater basin. When operational, the facility would generate enough electricity to power an estimated 45,000 homes in southern California. The project also includes an on-site substation and 230-kilovolt line to the Red Bluff Substation, which will connect the project to the Southern California Edison regional transmission grid. Click here for a fact sheet on the Desert Harvest Solar project and here for a map.

The Searchlight Wind Energy Project will be built on 18,949 acres of BLM-managed land near Searchlight, Nevada, 60 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The permanent footprint of the 200-megawatt project will be approximately 160 acres. The Western Area Power Administration is proposing to construct, operate and maintain a new switching station to connect the project to the existing power grid. When built, the project would provide enough electricity to power about 70,000 homes. The facility would create an estimated 275 peak jobs, 15 full- and part-time operational jobs and generate about $18.6 million in property and sales tax revenue for local government. Click here for a fact sheet on the Searchlight Wind project and here for a map.

Contact: Jessica Kershaw (DOI), 202-208-6416
David Quick (BLM), 202-912-7413

For more information on BLM’s approved and pending renewable energy projects, please visit

This article is a repost (press release date 3-13-13), credit: Bureau of Land Management, US Department of the Interior