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Norwegian pro-planet propaganda

The argument here is pig and cow farts are much worse for the environment than driving an SUV. So, some Norwegians are proposing an animal tax to deal with the problem. Not a bad idea, though this would never fly here in the states. Here, we subsidize all things meat related and have been for the past 75 years. The cost of a hamburger really should be about $10. Instead, it’s $3. There’s your tax dollars at work.

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NYTimes most emailed for a reason: Read up about passive solar!

German families are reaping the rewards of adopting LEED quality new housing. For only 5-7% more cost, the family pictured above lives in a beautiful new home which consumes 1/20th the amount of energy of older construction. Great article from the New York Times here.

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GM has a lot of work to do.

I just happened across GM’s website this afternoon as I typed the first two letters of “gmail” into my browser’s bar and hit enter by accident. I was immediately greeted by this image of a sleek concept car with some solar cells in the roof. That’s when I got a little more annoyed. “Why? At least they’ve got some energy efficiencies on the horizon, right Dan?”

Come on! Enough of this “concept” BS. Do something already!

I don’t think I’m in the minority as a slightly pissed onlooker while GM flounders to regain market share and stay afloat. I’d much rather see smaller, swifter, and smarter car manufacturers like Tesla Motors get billions of dollars to work with than these dinosaurs. Sure, GM is pledging to be more efficient with its fuel economy. And yes, they issued a touching “we’re on our knees here” letter to congress stating just the extent to which they had screwed the pooch over the past 20 years as Asian competitors swallowed up market share.

It sure would be nice to have a fleet of American car companies creating the most innovative, affordable cars on the market. However, what’s needed within all of those organizations to actually make it all happen is missing: leadership and technological agility.

Our big 3 car companies are not nimble, fast to market, or technology leaders. What’s more, the CEOs of those companies have zero experience as entrepreneurs. Why do I think this is important?

Henry Ford was an entrepreneur with vision about a new way for masses of people to get around without need of horses. Smart business people at the time and even now would argue you need to listen to what people want before rolling out new products. However, if Ford did that, perhaps he would have introduced slightly less squeeky horsebuggies. Of course, while laughed at, he goes and builds completely new products for people, not products people wanted, but products they didn’t know they wanted.

When’s the last purchase you had like that? Mine was my smartphone. I saw a friend with one, a full keyboard takes pictures, can get email on the go and compose messages in a flash. I can even share the internet connection through my phone with my laptop. Amazing.

I encourage you to take a look at Tesla’s website. I am very high on their prospects for success specifically because of what I just mentioned. There’s a leader at the top of that organization who is as serial innovator: Elon Musk. He thinks, he envisions, he networks, he gets access to capital, and he simply crafts innovative businesses that have all been wildly successful. Ever heard of Paypal? Musk. SolarCity? Musk. Space tourism in 10 years? Musk. The only electric car company to have cars now on the roads which can do 0-60 in less than 5 seconds? Musk.

Tesla will succeed because of his vision, his leadership, and passion to create products people don’t know they want yet. They’ve got a new sedan set to begin assembly next year: 100% electric, affordable, stylish. Sure, there are gonna be some bumps along the way. But there are bound to be massive improvements as they suck up more and more smart engineers from our universities.

For these big 3 to ever succeed, they need to oust their CEOs and replace them with people who know how to innovate and create new ways to move from A to B on our roads. These three are trained quite well in sucking each last drop out of old cash cows. However, this Bessie has been out of milk for the past 20 years.

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There are problems with municipal solar financing. You can help.

Yah, OK, so it’s not the best picture. I ran a search for “IRS.”

Anyway, the scoop is that there is this Berkeley First solar program, where the city funds peoples’ solar projects by adding to their property tax over 20 years. Sounds awesome, but here’s the rub. The Federal Tax Credit for solar only works if the financing is “at risk.” Now, I’m no tax attorney and please, God, don’t ever act on any of my advice without consulting a tax-pro… but the Berkeley First program is not “at risk” financing. This would mean any benefit you’d get by using that program would probably be annihilated by the loss of the tax credit.

Entre-vous vote solar:


What does the financial crisis portend for the future of solar? Out of crisis comes opportunity: the new Obama Administration and 111th Congress understand that developing our clean energy sources equates to real economic growth. Leaders are pledging to fast-track renewable energy policies, and we are sharing our ideas about best options. We’ve sent them our holiday wish list–in the immediate term, an initiative to put solar on federal buildings; longer term, a national RPS and renewable transmission infrastructure for starters–and we are getting good reception.

We could use your help with one short-term priority. Cities nationwide are looking to adopt innovative new programs that help residents go solar without breaking the bank – and we need a tweak to the federal tax code to make it all work.

The City of Berkeley made history this year with a solar program that uses municipal bonds to allow residents to spread the cost of solar into an affordable payment on their property tax over 20 years rather than footing a hefty upfront bill. It’s an exciting new way for even the most budget-constrained local governments to make solar more affordable for property owners – and cities from coast to coast are moving to follow suit.

The main problem? Federal law, as currently written, is unclear as to whether participants in those municipal programs are prohibited from claiming the critical 30 percent solar tax credit we fought so hard to extend.

Details on the problem and legislative fix can be found here (pdf). It’s a quick and easy way for your elected officials to support solar energy and boost green job creation in one fell swoop.

Please click the button below to ask your Congressional representatives to make the tax code amenable to municipal property tax financing.

Happy holidays, and we wish you the very best in the new year.

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Solar power gets me to work

Guest Post by CelticSolar,


There are several reasons to own solar panels. Self-reliance, protecting the environment, and lower bills come to mind. My personal reason? To ‘fuel’ my transportation.

Two years ago I acquired an electric vehicle. It is a GM factory made electric 1998 Chevy S-10 pickup; one of the few that survived the crusher. It was a truly lucky find. It is purely battery-powered, not a hybrid. It will go 74MPH and works great for my commute and errands. Several auto-manufacturers have announced various forms of plug-in vehicles for 2010 and later. Owning this EV has given me insight into how many other people might be driving in a few years.

With this electric vehicle (EV) I was no longer using gasoline for most of my driving. All of my in-town driving was now grid powered. The grid today has a large chunk of its power sourced by coal (the percent varies by region). In my area, 42% of the grid power comes from coal. Even with a large part of the electricity derived from fossil fuel, EV driving was producing less CO2 than driving a Prius. I decided I could still do better by installing solar panels. I had been considering solar for a long time. Knowing that it would fuel my transportation was the nudge I needed to say ‘the wait is over; now is the time to get solar.’

If you are considering solar panels, the federal incentives for 2009 are significantly better than in years past. You also might consider adding an extra kilowatt or two for that Chevy Volt or Plug-in Prius that could be in your garage in 2011. How many more panels you’ll need to fuel your own plug-in transportation depends on what car you buy and how much you drive it. The Volt for example gets 40 miles from its 16kWh pack. That is 400Wh per miles (actual numbers may vary). If you were to drive 8,000 miles per year, that would be another 3200kWh per year that you would want your PV system to generate. You can work with your solar installer to figure the optimal PV system to fully fund driving on sunshine.

It’s a great feeling to drive a solar powered vehicle. While other cars are spewing out CO2 and pollutants every mile, my driving is powered by sunshine. Also, gas was over $4 per gallon this summer, and it will be again, but it does not matter if it is $4 or $2, sunshine is free.

Some people have asked if plug-in vehicles are going to be a burden on the grid. When combined with PV, plug-ins are a benefit. Our home PV system generates power and feeds the grid during daytime peak energy demand. Then I charge up my vehicle over night when there is surplus capacity. Generating and charging during these hours helps equalizes the demand on the grid. This is referred to as “peak shaving” and “valley filling”. If the vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology aka “smart garage” takes off, the plug-in car and grid relationship will be even more synergistic.

Darell from was an inspiration sending me down this EV+PV path. Thanks Darell.

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Thank goodness for

Finally, a group fed-up with big coal’s spin machine and all their money has launched a very visible ad campaign to challenge our perceptions about what is real and what is complete hogwash. I’ve been upset about this issue since late in this last election cycle, when both candidates were singing the gospel of a rare breed of coal that would wipe you clean dry after a bath and croon you to sleep with a bedtime story. Click the image above and join up to spread the word.

Excerpt from the site:

The Alliance for Climate Protection (, League
of Conservation Voters (, National Wildlife Federation (, Natural Resources Defense Council ( and Sierra Club ( launched the”Reality” Coalition, a national grassroots and advertising effort to tell a simple truth: in reality, there is no such thing as “clean coal.”

Environmental experts agree that coal is the dirtiest fuel America uses to produce electricity. The “Reality” Coalition, then, is challenging the coal industry to come clean ­ in its advertising and in its operations. Coal cannot be considered clean until its carbon dioxide emissions are captured and stored.

“The reality is that there’s not a single home or business in America today powered by clean coal,” said Brian Hardwick of the Alliance for Climate Protection. “If coal really wants to be part of America’s energy future, the industry can start by making a real commitment to eliminating their pollution that is a leading cause of global warming.”

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