First Look: Arizona Goes Solar! (The Web Site)

Homepage, Sweet (Solar), Homepage

Arizona’s new solar website, mentioned here yesterday, is now live at www.arizonagoessolar.org.

“The site’s name says it all,” Arizona Corporation Commission chair Kris Mayes told reporters at a formal unveiling this morning. “It isn’t called ‘Arizona went solar.’ It isn’t  ‘Arizona will go solar.’ It’s called ‘Arizona Goes Solar.’

“The Commission is hoping that Arizonagoessolar.org will be the meet-up place for every Arizonan who is interested in solar energy in our state,” explained  Mayes. “This website will increase the transparency of solar rebates and incentives, and provide a real-time look at where solar systems are being deployed and how much energy they can produce.”

Briefly, here are a few screen grabs showing some of the new site’s features.

Arizona Solar Map

For many, the most exciting and useful feature at the site is the mapping program. The site shows nearly every solar installation in the state by zip code. The information is supplied by the relevant utility company, and is updated every two weeks.

Say, for example, you’re considering installing solar panels at your home. Just plug in your zip code and see how many others have already gone solar.

Utility-scale solar projects are also mapped and can be located by zip code or simply by finding the blue utility icon on the map.

“The Arizona Goes Solar website will go a long way toward increasing transparency for solar installations,” said Commissioner Paul Newman. “We’ve heard a lot of complaints about the lack of information on solar reservations. This website will be a useful tool for solar installers, ratepayers, utilities and researchers.”

Details pop up when an icon is double-clicked. I plugged in my zip code and clicked on the icon to get the information seen in the graphic below. It shows a total of 26 residential installations in my area, with a total capacity of 88 kW.

You can also click on the “non-residential” tab to see details on commercial installations in your zip code. (There were none shown for mine, but that’s not too surprising. It’s a small residential neighborhood.)

Solar map detail

There’s useful information about various aspects of solar power in Arizona throughout the site. For a first time user, it’s particularly helpful for understanding some of the more esoteric areas, such as the state’s Renewable Energy Standard:

The Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) established the Renewable Energy Standard (RES) in August, 2007 to identify short– and long–term renewable energy requirements for the state. The long–term requirement is for 15 percent of retail energy sales from ACC–regulated electric utilities to come from renewable energy resources by the year 2025. The current RES requirement is 2.5 percent of total each utility’s retail sales in 2010 and the rules prescribe that 25 percent of that requirement is to come from distributed energy resources Distributed Energy resources are installed on the customer’s premises and are used to offset customer load, such as rooftop solar panels. Half of the distributed energy or customer–owned requirement must be met by systems among residential customers and the other half from business customers.

The site also includes information about various workshops held around the state…

…utilities…

…and links to tax credits, rebates and other incentives for renewable energy installations.

But there’s one thing you shouldn’t expect to find, Mayes told reporters at the unveiling: the names of politicians.

“This is the people’s page.” she said. “It’s designed solely to provide information on solar power. My hope,” concluded Mayes, who is term-limited out of the ACC this November, “is that it will remain just that.”

Arizona Alert | Solar Power Incentives About to Expire


Keep those solar roofs coming


And now a word to solar advocates in Arizona from our friends at the Vote Solar Initiative:

It’s officially scheduled: early this afternoon your legislators will vote on whether to extend one of Arizona’s most important solar policies. Can you take just a few minutes of your lunch hour to help send solar bill HB 2700 across the finish line?

Send them a quick email by clicking here.

Or if your boss isn’t looking (or likes solar too), a telephone call works even better. Just tell them you support HB 2700 and hope they’ll do the same. You can find your Senator’s contact information here.

A quick reminder of what’s at stake: As a part of the effort to build a renewable energy economy in Arizona, the state has seen fit to provide some tax incentives for solar. Unfortunately, these benefits are due to sunset. HB 2700 would extend key solar tax incentives — specifically, sales tax exemptions (TPT), commercial and industrial tax credits, and exemption from increased property tax valuation.

The bill already passed House, so this afternoon’s Senate vote is the only thing standing between Arizonans and continued strong solar energy growth. As you may know, senators have not been very friendly to tax bills this year, so please do what you can to help send HB 2700 across the finish line.

Speak now or forever hold your peace.


For more information about this and other state solar initiatives, visit The Vote Solar Initiative website.


States add incentives for going solar

Renewable energy is blowing in the wind (and in the water, sunlight, earth...

Renewable energy is blowing in the wind (and in the water, sunlight, earth...)

One of the largest incentives to “go solar” is probably the least known.

The Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) isn’t a cash-to-buy program. In fact, it doesn’t even involve consumers — at least not directly. Still, depending on where you live, the RPS program can cut your up-front cost of installing solar panels by thousands of dollars.

Many states have implemented some form of RPS to smooth the economic transition to renewable energy sources and cut GHG emissions. In a nutshell: utilities that generate electricity are given a specific number of years to increase their use of renewable energy sources.

Utilities in Arizona, for example, have until 2025 to get 15% of their electricity from renewable sources. That puts us about in the middle of the pack in terms of how aggressively we’re pursuing a change.

Arizona Corporation Commision Chair, Kris Mayes

Arizona Corporation Commision Chair, Kris Mayes

Kris Mayes, who chairs the Arizona Corporation Commission, has said she would like to see the renewable target raised to 30%, which would position Arizona at the head of the pack.

How utilities reach these mandated numbers is determined largely by geography. Different renewable energy sources are found in different locations. That’s why you find large wind farms being planned in the Midwest and massive solar projects here in the Southwest.

As part of the RPS, many states mandate or encourage small-scale energy production (distributed generation).

A home with solar panels on the roof is one of the best examples of distributed generation. When electricity produced on your roof is allowing you to watch Stephen Colbert face down a Formidable Opponent, no energy is lost traveling long distances over high power lines. It also reduces the need for building and maintaining expensive high power lines (that can create environmental problems of their own).

Here’s how an RPS works directly for you: If your utility company is going to meet its mandate, it needs you to install solar power or some other renewable form of electricity. But the upfront cost of putting a solar array on your roof still challenges most of our budgets. We’re talking in the $20-$30,000 range. To entice you over that range, utilities are willing to pay a cash incentive. In Phoenix at the moment, my provider, APS, is paying $3.00/watt. So the 3.1 kW system I’ve got my eye on (one of several systems I’m considering) would put over $9,000 back in my pocket.

Here’s the latest list of states offering with mandated RPS programs. (For more information go to the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency.)

Renewable Portfolio Standards by State

Renewable Portfolio Standards by State