Public Property is Put to Good Use in
New York State

Deer Park LIRR Parking Lot, one of seven solar carports in Suffolk County.

Photo by Marush Conner

by Joan Amato   Sept. 28, 2013

The Suffolk County Solar Carport project in Long Island is comprised of seven parking lots.  In addition to Deer Park, the other carport sites are:  the Long Island Railroad stations in Brentwood and Ronkonkoma, the H. Lee Dennison Building and North County Complex in Happauge, the Riverhead County Center, and the Cohalan Court Complex.  Together with a 200 acre solar farm at Brookhaven Laboratory it forms the largest solar project in New York State thus far.

The solar carports are interconnected to Long Island Power Authority's electric distribution grid.  The project generates up to 17 megawatts of electricity, enough to power nearly 1,850 homes, and is expected to offset 14,300 metric tons of carbon dioxide.  It is among the largest installations in the nation.

According to, the Clean Solar Initiative feed-in tariff, combined with company enXco, funded the project which began in 2010.  It is expected to generate  $8.5 million in revenue for Suffolk County over the next twenty years.


GASLAND, Part II Director Josh Fox speaks with fractivist Tammy Weiss at the Walton Theatre in June. 
Photo by Helen McLean


An Interview with Director Josh Fox
by Eugene Marner

The following is an excerpt from the article "An Interview with Director Josh Fox," by Eugene Marner, which appeared in "The New Franklin Register," Vol. VII, No. 2, Slummer 2013 issue.  The entire article can be viewed at
It was almost three years to the day since Josh brought his first film, Gasland, to Walton in 2010. That film told the stories of ordinary people whose lives were suddenly subjected to an invasive and ruinous process called fracking for gas. Gasland went on to win international acclaim and to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary.

“It’s hard,” he told Eugene Marner, “to watch your government literally being taken away from you by the oil and gas industry, and that’s what we saw as we tracked these different EPA investigations, DEP investigations, in Wyoming, Texas, Pennsylvania. We follow the New York situation. We follow the frackers as they expand world-wide. We look at climate change––fracked gas is the worst fuel you can use with respect to climate change because methane together with carbon dioxide is worse than coal."
Josh Fox admires the local signage Photo by Helen McLean




The following appeared in Solar Industry Magazine, January 2014, Volume 7, Number 1, page 23.
SunPower Installing Solar at Oakland Schools
SunPower Corp. is designing and building 3.6 MW of solar power systems for 16 schools in the Oakland Unified School District in California. Once completed this year, the district estimates it will reduce electricity costs at those facilities by 46%.l 
 The systems, which wii incorporate SunPower's photovoltaic modules, include rooftop solar arrays and solar shade structures in school parking lots.
Solar Knows No Political Boundaries
 The New York Times on April 8, 2013. 

With Help From Nature, a Town Aims to Be

A Solar Capital

Solar panels on a stadium parking lot in Lancaster, California 

Photo by Monica Almeida/The NewYork Times  
by Felicity Barringer

LANCASTER, Calif. — There are at least two things to know about this high desert city. One, the sun just keeps on shining. Two, the city’s mayor, a class-action lawyer named R. Rex Parris, just keeps on competing.       


Two years ago, the mayor, a Republican, decided to leverage the incessant Antelope Valley sun so that Lancaster could become the solar capital “of the world,” he said. Then he reconsidered. “Of the universe,” he said, the brio in his tone indicating that it would be parsimonious to confine his ambition to any one planet.    


We want to be the first city that produces more electricity from solar energy than we consume on a daily basis,” he said. This means Lancaster’s rooftops, alfalfa fields and parking lots must be covered with solar panels to generate a total of 126 megawatts of solar power above the 39 megawatts already being generated and the 50 megawatts under construction.  


To that end, Lancaster just did what former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger failed  to do in 2006: require that almost all new homes either come equipped with solar panels or be in subdivisions that produce one kilowatt of solar energy per house. He also was able to recruit the home building giant KB Home to implement his vision, despite the industry’s overall resistance to solar power.


 “Lancaster is breaking new ground,” said Michelle Kinman, a clean energy advocate at Environment California, a research and lobbying group. Ms. Kinman, who tracks the growth of solar energy in the state, calculates that the city tripled the number of residential installations in the past 18 months.

The city’s pursuit of solar self-sufficiency may exceed that of other municipalities, but California has long outpaced the country in its embrace of that technology. Cities like San Diego, near the Mexican border, and counties like Sonoma, in Northern California’s wine country, have been aggressive in converting sunshine into electricity.

The lifetime costs of a large solar facility are expected to be about 15 percent more than electricity bought from the state’s grid. Those projected costs are now roughly half of what they were five years ago, state figures show.

Around the country, photovoltaic energy is increasingly being embraced as panel prices fall. Nationally, photovoltaic generating capacity rose 76 percent in 2012, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association; more than 40 percent of the country’s solar capacity of 7,700 megawatts came on line last year.

While the desert sunshine in California and Arizona helped put those states atop the national solar energy rankings, towns in cloudier regions are also adopting it. Napoleon, Ohio, for instance, benefits from 14 megawatts of local solar power.

But energy politics in Ohio and other Republican-run states are not solar friendly. Earlier this year Ohio’s Republican-dominated public utilities board blocked construction of a 50-megawatt solar facility on strip-mined land. In Republican-controlled Florida, state law prohibits third parties from installing the rooftop solar panels and then selling power to the homeowner, relieving the homeowner of large upfront costs.

Of course, it makes sense to see a city leader championing solar energy in a place like Lancaster, with some of the best solar resources in the world. But the city’s long-term population has many former military families, who are largely conservative. Many newer residents are migrants from the black and Hispanic precincts of Los Angeles.

But embracing solar power is not just a matter of energy costs or reliability. It’s also about jobs. Like many exurban areas in California, Lancaster was hit hard by the housing bust and the recession. The unemployment rate here is 15.5 percent. Municipal revenues declined, as did school budgets. As Mayor Parris saw it, solar power could mean lower public expenditures and more private jobs.


So solar self-sufficiency became his quest. It does not hurt that Mr. Parris is a showman. He brought a makeup artist to a photo session; he notes the legal awards he has won (slightly under $1 billion) in ads on city buses.


And while his competitive streak is seldom masked — he said his home has the biggest residential solar array in town and his new law office received LEED gold certification, a seal of approval for green buildings — the mayor couches his vision in terms of the science of complexity. “You need to be at the center” to take advantage of the forces spinning around you, he said.

“We want to make Lancaster the center” of renewable technology, he added. Entrepreneurs should know “that if they come and have an idea to create energy without a carbon footprint,” the local government “will move mountains for them.” Getting a permit for a solar installation, he said, takes 15 minutes.


Mr. Parris is aggressively pro-business. He has been hatching plans to create and store more energy locally with SolarCity, a major installer and financier of home systems, and BYD, the Chinese panel, battery and electric vehicle maker.


His solar push began about three years ago; City Hall, the performing arts center and the stadium together now generate 1.5 megawatts. Solar arrays on churches, a big medical office, a developer’s office and a Toyota dealership provide 4 more.

The biggest power payoff came with the school system. After the Lancaster school board rejected an offer from SolarCity, saying it was unaffordable, the city created a municipal utility. It bought 32,094 panels, had them installed on 25 schools, generated 7.5 megawatts of power and sold the enterprise to the school district for 35 percent less than it was paying for electricity at the time. Another 8 megawatts now come from systems operating at the local high school and Antelope Valley College.

Not surprisingly, the private companies in Lancaster’s collection of public-private partnerships praise him. “It’s so business friendly here, it’s not even funny,” said Jim Cahill, a regional vice president at SolarCity.

“A lot of what we’re doing appears to be public relations,” the mayor conceded. “It has that taint to it. But what we’re doing is scalable and portable.” Lancaster is already marketing its power to other municipalities.

Global warming, the mayor said, will eventually persuade others to realize that locally generated renewable energy may provide a safety net as the cost of cooling desert homes goes up.

Is global warming indeed a threat? Absolutely, he said. “I may be a Republican. I’m not an idiot.”






Georgia Power forced to adopt 525 MW more solar

by Cheryl Kaften   July 15, 2013

The state's Public Service Commission has accepted a motion to force utility Georgia Power to include an additional 525 MW of solar generation in its forward planning strategy. The agency has sought to ensure PPA payments will not drive up electricity rates.

The Atlanta-based Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved by a vote of 3-2 a motion by commissioner Lauren McDonald Jr., to compel utility Georgia Power to include an additional 525 MW of solar generation in its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the road map for providing electricity to its customers.

Read more:




Soltage and NewWorld add to Solar Portfolio


The following appeared in Solar Industry Magazine, Volume 7, Number 1, January 2014, page 22.


Developer Soltage LLC and NewWorld Environmental Infrastructure LP have added a 3.5MW solar photovoltaic power plant to be constructed in Oxford, Mass., to their portfolio.

The Oxford solar power station is expected to generate more than 4 GWh of electricity annually for a consortium of four municipalities located in central Massachusetts.  Power will be purchased under an agreement for at least 20 years.

The project is the seventh solar power system the partnership has committed to develop and operate.  Their portfolio now totals more than 15 MW of solar power assets.  







The following was posted on the Solar Industry Magazine website, News & Departments, January 23, 2014.


New Nevada Transmission Line Delivering Renewable Energy


The One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line) is now operational and transmitting up to 600 MW of electricity, including energy from renewable resources throughout Nevada.

The 231-mile line integrates Nevada's grids and is viewed as the transmission backbone that brings renewable energy from northern Nevada to the major-load areas, including Las Vegas. ON Line is carrying renewable energy from seven geothermal projects, two solar projects, one large wind farm and a small landfill gas-to-energy project.

ON Line was developed by LS Power Associates. NV Energy provided construction services and serves as operator and purchaser of the line’s transmission capacity. In 2011, the U.S. Department of Energy's Loan Programs Office (LPO) provided a $343 million loan guarantee for the project.

"Through a successful public-private partnership, the One Nevada Transmission Line is an important step in our efforts to modernize the nation’s transmission infrastructure and increase the safety, reliability and security of our electricity grid as we move toward a clean, low-carbon future,” says Peter Davidson, executive director of the LPO.  

The LPO supports a diverse energy portfolio of more than $30 billion, representing more than 30 closed and committed projects. The LPO portfolio includes several of the world’s largest solar generation and thermal energy storage systems.







New Jersey is first to put 30,000 solar panels on utility poles





Virtual Power Plant Concept Introduced by sonnen and Partners in New York

by Joan Amato  July 26, 2021

sonnen, partnering with Sustainable Westchester, will be offering clean energy at a discounted rate to 200 homes in Westchester County, New York.  sonnen will be providing solar and batteries to the project. The goal is to build a dynamic grid asset that gives enough backup power and generates revenue.

The following excerpts appeared in Solar Industry Magazine, January 2014,  Volume 7, Number 1, pages 21 and 22.
Russ Solar Completes Rooftop Array in NYC
The Ross Solar Group has completed a 1.56 MW rooftop solar installation for food service provider Jetro Cash and Carry at the company's Hunt's Point Restaurant Depot facility in the Bronx, N.Y.
Jetro's rooftop system incorporates 4,760 SunPower solar panels and is expected to generate over 1.8 GWh of electricity per year. ... The solar power installation was funded in part through awards Ross Solar received from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, under Gov. Andrew Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative.
SunEdison to Develop Solar Project in NYC
SunEdison has entered into an agreement with New York City to build a 10 MW solar photovoltaic project on the site of the former Freshkills landfill, now a park.
The project, which is scheduled to break ground in the second half of 2015, will consist of two PV arrays that will incorporate up to 35,000 solar panels installed across 47 acres leased to SunEdison.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the Freshkills project will increase the city's solar energy capacity by 50%.




The following excerpt appeared in Solar Industry Magazine, January 2014, page 20.
Duke Energy Building Three Projects in N.C.
Duke Energy Renewables has begun construction of three utility-scale solar power projects totaling 30 MW in North Carolina.  The largest of the batch is the 20 MW Dogwood Solar project, located in Halifax County.  The company is also building two 5 MW projects - the Windsor Cooper Hill Solar in Bertie County and Bethel Price Solar in Pitt County.
SunEnergy1, a solar design, engineering and construction company based in Mooresville, N.C., is building the photovoltaic projects.



Vermont Governor Signs Energy Bill Expanding Solar Registration Program"  - Originally posted on Solar Industry Magazine Website, SI Staff, Policy Watch, May 22, 2012 

Governor Peter Shumlin, D-Vt., has signed into law Act 125, which doubles the size of PV projects - from 5 kW to 10 kW - that are allowed under the state's solar project registration program.

The statewide registration program was expanded by lawmakers after a successful inital implementation and to better cover the capacity required of larger residential and small commercial installations, according to Vermont-based renewable energy firm AllEarth Renewables. 


With the expanded law, solar installations have a simple pre-determined process that reduces paperwork and uncertainty, and the law prescribes that they can be installed after 10 days.  The new process replaces all permitting for ground- or roof-mounted solar systems 10 kW and smaller with a single basic registration form outlining the system components, configuration and compliance with interconnection requirements.


The local utility has 10 days to raise any interconnection issues; otherwise, a permit known as a Certificate of Public Good is granted and the project may be installed. 


"We need to continue advancing policies that cut unnecessary red tape and costs for small-scale renewables," says David Blittersdorf, president and CEO of AllEarth Renewables.  "Doing so will drive down the barriers to solar, making it more competitive and leading to widespread adoption."



Additionally, Act 125 expands Vermont's statewide CLEAN Program, known locally as the Standard Offer program, from 50 MW to 127.5 MW.  The capacity of any distributed generation facility that provides "sufficient benefits to the operation and management of the electric grid" as a result of its location or other characteristics will not count toward the overall program cap of 127.5 MW, notes advocacy group Clean Coalition.


"This bill shows a viable pathway for states across the country to procure clean local energy and illuminates the significant locational benefits associated with generating wholesale energy close to where energy is used," says Craig Lewis, executive director of the Clean Coalition.


"Wisconsin Utility gets Green Light for 675 MW of Solar," posted on, by Michael Bates, July 9, 2021.

"Alliant Energy says it has begun construction on a portfolio of projects in Richland, Wood and Rock counties in Wisconsin following the state Public Service Commission's approval of its plans for developing 675 MW of solar. ....In total, Alliant Energy has proposed 12 solar projects spanning dozens of communities across nine Wisconsin counties.  Collectively, they will add nearly 1.1 GW of solar energy generation to the state's energy grid....  Once all 12 projects are approved and operational, Alliant Energy will become the largest owner and operator of solar in Wisconsin."


"Orsted, Microsoft sign PPA for 430 MW Texas Project," posted on, by Arianna Fine, August 10, 2021.

"Microsoft Corp. is purchasing energy from Orsted's Old 300 Solar Center in Fort Bend County, Texas.  The 430 MW solar energy center is expected to come online in Q2 2022....Old 300 Solar Center is located on approximately 2,800 acres of privately owned land located near Needville, Texas.  The project represents an investment of more than $400 million in the local community that will benefit landowners, schools and other community services in the coming years via lease payments and property taxes."


"Portland, Maine, to bulk-purchase clean energy equipment in electrification push,” posted on, by Jason Plautz, September 23, 2021.



“The city of Portland, Maine, will use a bulk purchasing program to offer lower-cost solar panels, heat pumps, and electric vehicle chargers for homeowners and businesses as part of an initiative to lessen fossil fuel use.  The recently announced “Electrify Everything” campaign is part of the city’s goal to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas emissions 80% by 2050….Portland’s “Electrify Everything,”…focuses more on voluntary measures by encouraging residents and businesses to purchase and install the technology, especially on existing buildings.”

“The bulk purchasing concept being adopted in Portland is an attempt to use the economies of scale to lower the unit price of electric vehicles and other equipment. It’s similar to the community-based “solarize” programs, which see neighborhoods or groups of homes bulk purchase solar equipment to bring clean energy to new homes. The bulk purchases are especially helpful for low-income households and small businesses, who may lack the up-front capital to buy or install new equipment, said Jenna Tatum, director of the Building Electrification Institute.”

Photo:  Marush Conner
Pennyslvania artist adds solar panels to her garage