New Poll: 9 out of 10 Americans Support Solar, Across Political Spectrum


Survey by Kelton Research finds continued widespread public support for development of solar energy, federal incentives for solar, across political spectrum.

WASHINGTON – Americans overwhelmingly support the use and development of solar energy as well as federal investments for solar, according to a new national poll. These and other findings were reported recently in the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research.

For the fourth consecutive year, the survey found that about nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) think it is important for the United States to develop and use solar energy. Support for solar is strong across the political spectrum with 80 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Independents and 94 percent of Democrats agreeing that it is important for the United States to develop and use solar.

The survey also found that Americans want federal incentives for solar. More than eight out of 10 Americans (82 percent) support federal tax credits and grants for the solar industry similar to those that traditional sources of energy like oil, natural gas and coal have received for decades. Seventy-one percent of Republicans agree, as well as 82 percent of Independents and 87 percent of Democrats.

Furthermore, when asked to select an energy source they would financially support if they were in charge of U.S. energy policy, 39 percent of Americans chose solar over other sources such as natural gas (21 percent), wind (12 percent), nuclear (9 percent) and coal (3 percent). Among Independents, solar is more than twice as popular as any other energy source (43 percent for solar compared to 20 percent for natural gas).

“In this tough economy, Americans want to see solutions coming from Washington,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “For members of Congress trying to find ways to create jobs, solar is a win-win. Thanks in part to proven policy successes like the 1603 Treasury Program, the solar industry has doubled its workforce in the last two years and now employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,000 businesses spanning every state. And solar enjoys overwhelming support across all political affiliations – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It’s clear that solar has the strong support of the American people. Now it needs the support of U.S. policymakers in extending job-creating policies like the 1603 program to make sure solar continues to work for America.”

Despite weeks of news coverage about the bankruptcy of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, the survey shows that Americans’ support for solar remains strong. In fact, the vast majority of Americans support solar manufacturing in the United States. Eight out of 10 (82 percent) think it is important for the federal government to support U.S. solar manufacturing, and a majority of Independent voters (51 percent) think it is “extremely important.”

The poll also found that Americans prefer to buy solar-made products. A majority of Americans (51 percent) said they would be more likely to purchase a product if they knew it was made using solar energy. Consumers in the key age demographic of 18 to 44 years old are even more likely to buy solar-made products (61 percent).

One challenge that the solar industry faces is educating the public about how they can become consumers of solar power. Despite the cost of solar modules decreasing by 30 percent since the beginning of 2010 and residential solar leasing models that allow consumers to go solar with no upfront cost, 48 percent of Americans cited cost as their biggest concern with choosing solar energy.

“The fourth annual Solar Barometer shows that Americans overwhelmingly understand the benefits of solar energy for our country,” said Tom Hecht, President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development, SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc. “However, this poll also indicates that we as an industry have more work ahead of us to educate Americans about the benefits of solar for them as individuals. Prices for solar continue to decline and those who currently own solar systems are earning a return on their investment after only a few years. Solar energy systems are also extremely reliable, which is why companies like SCHOTT Solar back their modules with warranties of up to 25 years.”

“For the fourth year in a row, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree on the importance of solar power,” said Rachel Bonsignore, Associate Director, Kelton Research. “This year’s survey continues the trend of remarkably consistent support for solar.”

November 4, 2011 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

National Solar Jobs Census 2011


The Solar Foundation, in partnership with GreenLMI and Cornell University, has pre-released its top-line solar jobs numbers from its National Solar Jobs Census 2011. Click here to read the press release.

In part, Census 2011 found:

  • 100,237 jobs as of August 2011
  • 6.8% growth from August 2010 to August 2011
  • 6,735 new solar jobs created between August 2010 and August 2011

Follows is the full Press Release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2011

National Solar Jobs Census 2011 Finds Solar Companies Hiring Faster Than Rest of Economy Preliminary data finds new job creation in solar despite overall down economy

WASHINGTON, DC – The Solar Foundation today announced that 100,237 Americans are now working in the U.S. solar industry, according to preliminary data from the “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce.” Solar businesses added 6,735 new workers in all 50 states since August 2010, which represents a 6.8 percent growth rate. The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 measured solar employment during the period between August 2010 and August 2011.

The U.S. solar industry’s job growth outpaced the overall economy and fossil fuel electric generation when compared to overall economic data from Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI). During the same 12-month period, jobs in the overall economy grew by a mere 0.7 percent, while fossil fuel electric generation lost 2 percent of its workforce.

“The U.S. solar industry is creating jobs at a far greater pace than the economy as a whole,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation. “The National Solar Jobs Census series provides a definitive measure of the U.S. solar workforce and its growth over time. It proves where smart solar energy policies are having the most impact both in terms of states and across the vast solar supply chain.”
“Solar is a job-creating phenomenon in an economy that is flat-lining, with near 7 percent year-on-year increase in the number of Americans working in the industry,” said Danny Kennedy, president of residential solar installer Sungevity and member of The Solar Foundation’s board of directors. “This is a sign of a thriving industry – due to the demand for lower cost, clean electricity that creates value in America.”

The full National Solar Jobs Census 2011 report will be made available at Solar Power International ‘11 in Dallas on October 17. The Census examines employment along the solar value chain, including installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities and all other fields and includes growth rates and job numbers for 31 separate occupations. It also examines solar employment at the state level.

The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and Green LMI (a division of BW Research Partnership) with technical assistance from Cornell University.
“By using high-quality research methodology, we can ensure that these numbers are as accurate as possible,” said John Bunge, Associate Professor in the Department of Statistical Science at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations. “Using both primary and secondary data sources, along with careful statistical analysis, gives us high confidence in the results.”

###

Background Materials:
Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.: http://www.economicmodeling.com/
National Solar Jobs Census 2010: http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census

About The Solar Foundation: The Solar Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit that, through research and education, promotes the use of solar energy to meet the world’s energy needs. Read more at www.TheSolarFoundation.org.

Media Contacts:
Mark Sokolove, Tigercomm, 424.208.3558, mark@tigercomm.us
Brian Mahar, Tigercomm, 202.437.6595, bmahar@tigercomm.us

September 23, 2011 at 10:14 am 1 comment

Solar Energy Facts, Not Spin


You have undoubtedly seen the news that Solyndra, a domestic solar panel manufacturer that received a Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee, recently filed for bankruptcy.

This is not indicative of what’s happening with solar, and it is disturbing that some politicians and pundits are using this unfortunate situation as an excuse to heap unwarranted criticism on solar.

In the past few days, you have probably heard wild inaccuracies and blatant misstatements about solar energy’s promise and the state of the solar industry.

Solar is the cleanest, safest way to power our homes, businesses and communities, and we have a great story to tell. But we have to get this news out.

Here are the facts about solar:

  • The solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans, more than twice as many as in 2009. They work at more than 5,000 companies, the vast majority being small businesses, in all 50 states.
  • The U.S. solar industry grew by 69% in the past year, making it one of the fastest growing sectors in the U.S. economy.
  • Since the beginning of 2010, the price of solar panels has dropped by 30%, and costs continue to fall making solar an even more viable choice for residential and business customers.
  • The U.S. was a net exporter of solar products in 2010 by $2 billion. We were even a net exporter to China.
  • Solar power in the U.S. now exceeds 3,100 megawatts (MW), enough to power more than 630,000 homes.
  • Continued industry growth enhances our energy security and diversifies our domestic energy portfolio.

Please help us make sure that your friends and allies are armed with the facts. Take a moment to share this message with your colleagues and friends and help us tell the real story of solar energy in America.

Empower Energy Technology

September 20, 2011 at 7:57 am 1 comment

Solar Energy Works in Georgia


Solar energy already works in Georgia, but it can do so much more for our state’s economy

Guest Column written by Doug Beebe (chairman of the Georgia Solar Energy Association) for the Saporta Report

September 11th, 2011

On Saturday, Oct. 1, Georgians all over the state will have an opportunity to experience and learn more about how solar energy, America’s fastest-growing industry, is bringing jobs, investment and advanced technology to our state.

During the annual Georgia Solar Tour, commercial, agricultural and residential solar installations in every part of the state will open to the public for display with docents on site to explain the technology and describe its benefits. This event is part of the National Solar Tour, which this year will open some 5,500 installations in 3,200 communities nationwide.

2011 has been a landmark year for solar energy in Georgia, as policy makers, business executives and homeowners have begun to understand and embrace solar energy as the vital technology that it is.

In May, Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation expanding to $5 million annual state tax credits for solar installations in Fiscal 2012, 2013 and 2014. These credits, coordinated through the Georgia Environmental Finance Authority, have been so popular that the entire 2011 pool of the previous limit of $2.5 million was quickly exhausted and the remaining portion of the 2012 allocation is currently about $300,000.

Combined with the increasing efficiency and falling cost of solar equipment – which has come down more than 30 percent in the past year – the tax credits are helping to unleash the Georgia market’s enthusiasm for clean, safe, renewable energy. Media reports of major installations and Georgia’s positioning for utility-scale solar developments have cropped up regularly in recent months.

In July, Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald led the energy community in a discussion of how to increase the solar energy portfolio of Georgia utilities. That dialogue prompted a commitment from Georgia Power to buy up to 50 MW of solar energy by 2015.

More than 200 people joined Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols for his Solar Express ride through South Georgia on July 29.

And just last month, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed drove a Chevy Volt up to the ribbon-cutting for the first solar-powered electric vehicle recharging station in the city at Atlantic Station. He declared his intention to make that only the first of many such stations in Atlanta as it evolves into one of America’s most sustainable cities.

This has been a great year for the Georgia Solar Energy Association, too. Our membership has swelled to almost 300 corporate and individual members. This number includes manufacturers, installers, integrators, consultants and advocates who want to see Georgia benefit from an industry that contributed more than $5 billion in economic activity to the U.S. gross domestic product since 2008 and now employs more than 93,000 workers nationwide.

Our annual Southern Solar Summit in Atlanta this summer sold out, filling the auditorium at the Georgia Tech Research Institute Conference Center with Georgians eager to learn what innovations are making solar power more accessible in Georgia and beyond. Another annual Solar Summit in Savannah last month doubled its attendance this year, proving that interest in solar has spread beyond metro Atlanta.

The 2011 Georgia Solar Tour will feature sites statewide. We hope that some of the participants in this year’s tour will become hosts in next year’s.

But, sadly, Georgia’s portion of the fast-growing solar market is tiny – less than 1 percent – because Georgia’s leadership has not yet embraced many of the policy initiatives that spurred solar investment to flourish in places like New Jersey and North Carolina. Yet, a University of Arizona study shows that Georgia ranks third in the nation for solar energy potential.

Georgia remains one of only three states with specific legal barriers to private, third-party Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Almost half the states, 21, have legal PPA frameworks, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. In many other states, PPAs have helped make solar energy more affordable and have paved the way to creative strategies that make solar energy more widely available at every level of the economic spectrum.

And our state also has no official goal for renewable energy as a proportion of its total consumption. The U.S. Department of Energy reports that 29 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico have established renewable portfolio goals.

Finally, some homeowners’ associations, unaware of the value-enhancing contribution of solar installations to neighborhood property, resist residents’ efforts to deploy solar within reasonable aesthetic guidelines.

GSEA is working with state government and business leaders to overcome these barriers and establish productive policies that will encourage Georgians to join this important economic trend. In the months ahead, we plan to demonstrate the substantive contribution that Georgia’s solar industry is making to the state’s economic vitality by creating skilled jobs, producing energy savings for homeowners and businesses, and expanding our domestic energy portfolio.

This effort begins on Saturday, Oct. 1, with our solar tour. Visit www.gasolar.org for more details.

September 13, 2011 at 1:48 pm Leave a comment

Sun And Beer: A Power Combo In Atlanta


Sweetwater Brewing Co and Empower Energy Team Up to make “Green” beer

By Pete Dank, IBTimes-UK http://uk.ibtimes.com/Green beer isn’t only for St. Patrick’s Day anymore. In Atlanta, SweetWater Brewing Company is remaking its brewery to meet growing demand, and a hefty photovoltaic system is part of the project. Sweetwater said its expansion from 26,000 to 114,000 square feet of space should be wrapped up by November and “fully functioning” in January 2012. Beer production, which was at 77,000 barrels in 2010 and is expected to grow to 90,000 this year, will be able to rise to as high as 400,000 barrels with all that extra space. And to a large extent, it’ll be beer brewed by the power of the sun.

Photo courtesy Solyndra

The company said the PV system planned for the revamped brewery will be “the largest private commercial solar installation in Atlanta.” Empower Energy Technology is the lead on the project, and the company spec’d out the system at 157 kilowatts, with first-year electrical generation pegged at 234,684 kilowatt-hours based on Atlanta’s climate. (According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average American home uses 10,896 kWh of electricity annually, so you could call SweetWater’s solar setup a 22-home system.)

Photo courtesy Sweetwater Brewing Co.

The system consists of 750 Solyndra panels, each rated at 210 watts. According to SweetWater, the system is so light – just 2.8 lbs. per square foot – that it won’t require boosting structural support. The self-ballasted Solyndra panels also don’t need to be attached to the roof, so no nasty holes and bolts. The system will be a nice banner for solar power, too; SweetWater noted that it “will be visible from passing Marta trains and the Buford Spring Connector that takes commuters to and from I-85 and I-75 and the adjacent Beltline.” To learn how Empower Energy can help you harness the energy power of the sun, call 404.681.3270 or email mark Bell at mbell@empoweret.com.

August 24, 2011 at 2:08 pm Leave a comment

A Tax Fix Everyone Can Get Behind


We ran across this good news from following our friends at the USGBC – U.S. Green Business Council. Lane Burt, their Technical Policy Director, wrote an excellent blog post on this subject.

At Empower Energy Teechnology, we preach energy efficiency all the time. People hire us to help their businesses become more energy efficient and implement cost saving energy management programs. The subject of Mr. Burt’s blog post addresses the issue from the point of making our laws more equitable for existing buildings.

Here’s the problem.

If you invest in your own building energy efficiency, you will have to pay federal taxes on the value of the investment. If you were to keep wasting energy, all that wasted money would be completely deductible from your taxes.

That’s right; in effect our tax code unintentionally subsidizes wasted energy. Despite the economic benefits (not to mention the domestic job creation and the environmental benefits), investments to create energy efficient, better buildings do not receive the same treatment under the tax code as wasted energy.

That’s why the USGBC is working with a diverse coalition of industry and environmental organizations, like the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Real Estate Roundtable, to change this. It’s their highest priority to convince Congress that energy efficiency is at least as valuable to the nation’s prosperity as wasted energy.

They have proposed changes to fix Section 179D of the tax code, and existing policy designed to encourage energy efficient new construction to make it usable for existing buildings.

Read Mr. Burt’s blog post – click here.

Read about the proposed changes – click here.

Get Involved
Contact your members of Congress and ask them to support changes to the Section 179D to make it work for existing buildings.

For more informat ion please contact :

Lane Burt, lbur t@usgbc.org, Technical Policy Director
Bryan Howard, bhoward@usgbc.org, Legis lat ive Director

August 16, 2011 at 4:22 pm Leave a comment

Georgia is Ideal for Solar


In an opinion poll conducted by One Block Off the Grid (http://1bog.org/), 19 out of 23 solar company CEOs said they “strongly agreed” that strengthening state solar policies would lead to more hiring at their companies.

“As soon as Wisconsin lawmakers create stronger solar policies like SRECs here, I can start hiring and putting solar panels on all the homes, farms, and businesses that want them,” said Todd Timmerman of Timmerman’s Talents LLC in Platteville, Wisconsin. “Our state does have some incentives, but not enough to allow me to expand my business the way I’d like.”

“Georgia is ideal for solar, but utilities here have far too much sway over our state energy policy,” said Steve Barker, CEO of Walker Solar Power in Mansfield, Georgia. “Before I can start hiring, lawmakers have to stand up to them and create real solar policies in our state. It’s time.”

What Can You Do?

Call (don’t email) your state government representative

Your state rep has the most power to create the kind of programs that spur job growth quickly, so if you’re only going to make one call, make it at the state government level, not federal. Get contact info at www.votesmart.org/mystate_summary.php

Make sure your call counts

A staffer will most likely take your call. Tell then, “I’m a voter calling in support of creating stronger renewable energy incentives and programs in our state. I’ve heard that New Jersey and other states have created a lot of new jobs through clean energy incentives. I’s like similar programs in our state.”

If you’re really fired up

You can also call your senators and state representatives in Washington, D.C., repeating all of the above steps. To get their phone numbers, go to Congress.org or call the main switchboard at 202-225-3121 and ask for your state representative or senator.

Magnify your impact

Encourage your friends and family to make the call. Here’s a sample Facebook status you can use: “I want more jobs created in the U.S., so I called my state representatives in support of stronger clean energy incentives in my state. You should do this, too. Visit: www.votesmart.org/mystate_summary.php or Congress.org for contact info.”

Be sure to check out this U.S. Solar Market Map.

August 10, 2011 at 5:30 pm Leave a comment

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