Tag: "fox news"

10/13/14

  08:00:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 172 words  
Categories: Climate Change

2014 - Warmest Year Ever?

The folks over at NASA are reporting something that folks out here in the West will not find at all surprising: 2014 is on track to contend for the title of warmest year ever.  (No doubt this will come as a shock to folks who regularly watch Fox News.)  (H/T Climate Crocks.)

Warmest year ever?

The chart shows the temperature anomaly for 134 years with the zoom in on the five warmest. 2014 is the heavy grey line; 2010 (the hottest year on record) is in red.  (Oh, and contrary to the Fox canard about a global cooling trend, in fact of the five warmest years ever, two were in the past five - 2010 and 2013.)

Of course, 2014 isn’t over yet so the dotted lines provide a number of possible scenarios.  To give you a sense of how far “ahead” we are so far this year, if the remaining months simply hit their 21st century averages, 2014 will tie 2005 for the second warmest year ever.

Hang on to this link, you may need to refer to it next month over Thanksgiving dinner!

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12/05/13

  09:22:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 488 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Ranting, Net Metering

ALEC Losing Support, Pivots to Attacking Solar

The right-wing policy/lobbying group, ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council), bleeding supporters since its advocacy for “stand your ground laws” exploded in its face after the Trayvon Martin shooting in Florida, has decided to tackle a new demon - solar power. We’re “freeloaders", didn’t you know?

Of course, being attacked from the Right is nothing new, as this fascinating and depressing video montage demonstrates:

But now our friends over at the Guardian are reporting that “ALEC calls for penalties on ‘freerider’ homeowners in assault on clean energy,” during the group’s three-day meeting this week in Washington, D.C. As we have described in the past, ALEC mostly acts behind the scenes to generate legislative proposals for state legislators across the country. While ALEC membership in the California legislature is very low - only 11 of 120 members belong - in some states - particularly Iowa and South Dakota - the percentage of ALEC membership is as high as 100%.

Not content with its “Electricity Freedom Act” (which would repeal a state’s renewable energy portfolio standard), ALEC is now setting its sites on individual homeowners. From the Guardian story:

Further details of Alec’s strategy were provided by John Eick, the legislative analyst for Alec’s energy, environment and agriculture program.

Eick told the Guardian the group would be looking closely in the coming year at how individual homeowners with solar panels are compensated for feeding surplus electricity back into the grid.

“This is an issue we are going to be exploring,” Eick said. He said Alec wanted to lower the rate electricity companies pay homeowners for direct power generation – and maybe even charge homeowners for feeding power into the grid.

“As it stands now, those direct generation customers are essentially freeriders on the system. They are not paying for the infrastructure they are using. In effect, all the other non direct generation customers are being penalised,” he said.

Eick dismissed the suggestion that individuals who buy and install home-based solar panels had made such investments. “How are they going to get that electricity from their solar panel to somebody else’s house?” he said. “They should be paying to distribute the surplus electricity.”

This is the same battle against net metering that we have been writing about since PG&E declared war on solar nearly a year ago. No doubt ALEC is hoping that it can reverse its funding woes by bringing in utilities from around the country with this new, and utterly cynical, campaign.

Rachel Maddow picked up the story last night with a long piece providing decades of context and concluded with an interview of one of the Guardian reporters who broke the story.

While California is largely immune from the nonsense being peddled by ALEC, other states aren’t so lucky.  In Arizona, where a bruising battle over net metering was just fought, 49% of the legislature are members of ALEC, according to ALEC internal documents made public by the Guardian (see p. 39).  Looks like that fight is just beginning.

11/20/13

  09:06:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 768 words  
Categories: Solar Economics, Solar News, Ranting

Aw Geez, Fox News is at it Again!

Years ago, Archie Bunker - of All in the Family fame - would look over at his daughter and son-in-law locked in an amorous embrace and bemoan, “Aw geez, they’re at it again!” Well, a recent Fox News story attacking solar has us feeling Archie’s pain.

SolarCity is NOT Solyndra

It seems that every story ever aired by those who support the fossil fuel industry will inevitably tie any solar company to Solyndra - regardless of how unrelated the two may be.  Case in point is this Fox story about questions being raised about SolarCity and its financial dealings, bearing the circuitous title: Solar firm linked to Obama donors could be ‘next Solyndra,’ top GOP Sen. warns. Wow - how about that for connecting some dots - SolarCity, linked to Obama, linked to Solyndra - a trifecta of irrelevance!  (In an interesting tell, it turns out the story is filed under “Politics” which probably tells you all you need to know.)

What is this really about?  It turns out that Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), ranking Republican on the Senate Banking committee, sent a letter on Monday to Treasury Secretary Lew, asking some pointed questions about how SolarCity determines the value of its systems for the purpose of claiming the 30% federal investment tax credit.  Fair enough, as far as that goes, since many in the industry have raised questions about SolarCity’s practices in that regard. (Anyone who follows this blog knows that we have expressed our own concerns going back several years including this piece from 2011 and this one from 2012.)  But it is the spurious - and frankly quite tortured - connections to Obama and Solyndra that are most annoying.

First of all, as SolarCity itself was quick to point out, Solyndra failed because it bet that high silicon prices would make solar panels that were dependent on large amounts of silicon ever more expensive.  Their design required less silicon to produce comparable power output - a clever idea if the premise were to hold true.  But it didn’t - silicon prices plunged and panel prices followed.  Suddenly Solyndra’s products found themselves priced out of the market and the company failed.  As we have noted before, smart investors with political leanings on both sides of the aisle backed Solyndra.  Yet it is that very drop in prices for solar panels that has fueled the growth of the installation industry - and SolarCity with it.  Say what you will about Solyndra, but what pushed them out the door has propelled SolarCity to dramatic growth in its stock price since the start of the year, nearly quadrupling from $12 in January to $47 as this is being written.

Second, the assertion that SolarCity has lost millions despite receiving tax credits represents two accurate statements that have nothing to do with each other. They are placed together simply to suggest some sinister linkage in the reader’s mind.  SolarCity has lost money, like many other start-ups do, while it expands its business model.  Part of that model is installing solar systems and then receiving the investment tax credit - just like everyone else who installs a solar power system does.  There’s just nothing sinister there. It is the equivalent to saying that they have lost a lot of money, despite their customers having paid them millions. This is nothing more than the difference between revenue and profit.

Will SolarCity ever turn a profit?  Not at all clear, but then, lots of savvy investors think that is a bet worth making.

Finally, the reference to “Obama donors” is just plain silly.  For example, the Fox article asserts that Elon Musk - Chairman of the Board at SolarCity - donated $750 to Obama’s first presidential campaign.  Really? Seems like awfully small potatoes for a man with Musk’s money.  And of course, it isn’t accurate at all. According to the brilliant Open Secrets website operated by the Center for Responsive Politics, Mr. Musk has donated freely to both political parties, with donations of $212,750 to Democrats and $211,500 to Republicans going back to 2003.  From what we can see, he actually donated $7,300 to President Obama, but he also gave $2,000 to President George W. Bush and $5,200 to Senator Lindsey Graham. (Perhaps he should have donated something to Senator Sessions!)  Far and away his largest contribution total is to the National Republican Congressional Committee - $150,900 since 2003 with $32,400 just this year.  Seems unlikely that he made those contributions at President Obama’s behest, but Fox can’t be bothered to tell people that.

No, this is nothing more than Fox News trying to push as many buttons as it can with its base and using Sessions’ letter to attack, yet again, the value of solar energy to this country and the world.  The public deserves better.

03/22/13

  07:57:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 237 words  
Categories: Solar News, Commercial Solar, Ranting

News Flash: Fox Falsely Attacks Solar - Oh, wait...

Just as surely as the Sun rises in the East, the notion that the folks at Fox News would attack solar energy is, well, predictable.  Here’s their latest (although another installment could arrive at any moment!):

First of all, SoloPower has not tapped a penny of the federal loan guarantee.  That was slated for expansion of their Oregon factory, after the existing production line was fully operational.  So while it may be true that SoloPower is in trouble, it certainly isn’t “tanking the economy.”

And the flip side of today’s difficulties for solar panel makers - whether of conventional silicon modules like those from Suntech, or thin-film CIGS panels like SoloPower hopes to sell - is that those falling prices have made solar more affordable than ever before.  Even as rebates have declined - and the CSI rebate is now about a break-even proposition with the cost of doing the paperwork - the final cost for installed solar has never been lower.

So yes, we are going to see a continuing shakeout in the industry as panel manufacturers adjust to a shifting climate or go out of business.  That is pretty much to be expected as an expanding solar industry matures.  But for consumers there has never been a better time to go solar.  If you are the owner of a commercial building, give us a call and let us prove it.

Just don’t count on hearing that from Fox News.

02/08/13

  03:57:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 422 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, Solar News, Ranting

Open Letter to Fox & Friends - UPDATED

UPDATE: After apparently getting beaten about the head and shoulders for the stupid comments linked to below, Fox News published the following, grudging, correction:

But I incorrectly stated that the chief difference between the U.S. and Germany’s success with solar installations had to do with climate differences on a “Fox and Friends” appearance on Feb. 7. In fact, the difference come down more to subsidies and political priorities and has nothing to with sunshine.

Wow - even in conceding error the Fox reporter makes it sound snarky - to say nothing of her garbled syntax.  But at least it is a start - too bad it wasn’t done on air.


Those silly kids over at Fox & Friends really went on a rant against solar the other day and capped it off by asserting that the German solar industry does so much better than ours here in the U.S. because, after all, Germany gets so much more sun that we do in the States.  Here’s the clip (courtesy SEIA):

Not surprisingly, there are lots of problems with this report and the folks at SEIA asked us to respond.  We decided to take a somewhat light-hearted approach - here’s our email to Fox & Friends:

Hi Folks -

By now I assume everyone with access to an atlas has fact-checked you on the relative amounts of solar insolation between Germany (very, very low) and the US (awesome!) so I will skip over that.

And I will let my tens of thousands of colleagues in solar companies east of the Mississippi fact-check you about the booming solar market in New Jersey and other “dark” (not really, not so much) states.

Instead, let me share with you two videos from installs that we did last year.  The first is at a school that has been here in Pasadena for 100 years – I think their enthusiasm for the value that solar adds to their educational mission, as well as their bottom line, is quite informative:

The second video involves, literally, “a little old lady from Pasadena.”  From what I could tell, Rachel is probably one of your viewers.  I suspect she would have been surprised to hear your report:

Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,

Jim Jenal

If you would like to join in the fun and help educate Fox & Friends about the true value of solar and its not so “dim” future, here’s an email address for you.

You can visit SEIA’s response page here.  Or check out this nice bit of fact-checking over at the Maddow blog.

Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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