Sanders And Clinton Offer Different Solutions For Nevada’s Sabotaged Solar Industry

At a small event in Reno, Nevada on Saturday, Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders wondered aloud why the 25 former solar workers in front of him had lost their jobs. “This should be a leading industry here,” the Vermont senator said. “You should be leading America — you should be leading the world in encouraging people to move toward solar panels.”

But Nevada is not leading anything when it comes to solar power, despite its abundant and mostly unobstructed sunlight. Though the state’s solar industry was once thriving, a December decision by the Nevada Public Utility Commission (PUC) changed everything. With the stroke of a pen, the three-person, Republican-appointed commission hiked up fees for rooftop solar customers and slashed rebates, making it significantly more expensive for people to buy, install, and maintain panels on their homes and businesses.


The oil industry is using solar power in an ironic new way

There’s a huge project taking shape in the deserts of Oman. It will extract crude oil from the ground by pumping vast quantities of steam into it. To produce the steam, water will be brought to a boil using as much as a gigawatt of energy. The source of that energy: the sun. Using solar power to get fossil fuels out of the ground will strike some as ironic—especially since, if that method weren’t available, the high cost of extracting the oil might lead to more pressure to use cleaner energy sources, such as solar, instead.

But GlassPoint, the American company behind the new technology, says that the project and others like it will help fossil-fuel drillers limit carbon emissions. The process of “enhanced oil recovery,” where steam is used to loosen thick oil and make it easier to pump, usually involves burning natural gas to heat water. GlassPoint says its technology can cut that gas consumption, and the consequent carbon emissions, by up to 80%.


Graham Thomson: Alberta’s version of “sunny ways” – solar power

The news release arrived Friday morning with a breathless headline: “Alberta is leading on climate change and creating jobs with solar power.” And there below, attesting to the job-creating import of Alberta’s leadership on solar power, were no fewer than eight quotes from various political bright lights including Environment Minister Shannon Phillips, Agriculture Minister Oneil Carlier, Agri-Food Canada Minister Lawrence MacAulay, Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson and president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, Lisa Holmes.

That is an impressive amount of political wattage, so to speak, crammed into one news release announcing Alberta’s plans to “build the green energy sector” by installing solar panels on farms and municipal buildings, such as fire halls and community centres

Ok, so how much money are we talking?


Solar energy prices still too high: Richmond

The City of Richmond is examining whether it’s time to adopt solar energy on a larger scale, but it looks as if current costs remain too prohibitive. Staff were asked to examine what it might cost to use solar power in the city and look at solar panels which have “experienced the greatest cost reductions in recent years,” said a report to council.

“In a number of North American jurisdictions with higher electricity prices, sunny climates and/or favourable incentive policy regimes, rooftop (panels) is now cost competitive with the retail price of electricity, and is said to have reached ‘grid parity,’” wrote Brenda McEwen, sustainability manager with Richmond. “However, due to Lower Mainland’s relatively low electricity prices and low annual levels of sunshine, residential solar would need to cost approximately $2.00/W to be competitive with the retail price of electricity.”

Derick Lila
Derick is a Clark University graduate—and Fulbright alumni with a Master's Degree in Environmental Science, and Policy. He has over a decade of solar industry research, marketing, and content strategy experience.

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