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SB 722 Hearing Tomorrow, and Your Support is Needed

Monday, January 31, 2011

Please be aware: SB 722 is up for Committee hearing tomorrow (Tuesday, 2/1, 2:55 pm, Conf. Room 225, State Capitol). SB 722 amends the “Barrel Tax” to, among other things, provide additional funding to DBEDT to continue efforts towards reducing Hawaii’s dependency on oil. It is a very important bill for the future of the Hawaii State Energy Office, and your support is vital to its passage.

Sunetric Opposes the Passage of HB566, and Would Love Your Support

Over the last couple of years, a number of bills have made their way to the Hawaiian legislature that would serve to reduce the solar tax credit, thereby stifling clean energy innovations and disincentivizing businessowners and homeowners that would otherwise invest in solar.

One such bill is HB566, which limits the total amount of the credit per year for all technologies over the next five years to $7 million, placing unreasonable burden on alternative energy investors and businesses — a move that would appear to save money in the short term but spell death for innovation and forward-thinking energy policy in the long term.

HB566 is being heard Tuesday morning in the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee.

Sunetric has already joined solar, thermal, and wind energy companies statewide in opposing this bill. Your help makes a difference. You can submit testimony to the bill; doing so indicates our concern with the bill and will be vital to its defeat.

To submit your testimony: visit the Hawaii State Legislature website, indicate ‘HB566′ in question 1 to get the requisite hearing information, fill in the rest of the form, and finally upload a letter on your company letterhead saying that you oppose the bill. Your letter should be succinct and keep an objective, matter-of-fact tone, indicating how long you have been in business and how alternative energy opportunities serve the efficiency of your internal affairs as well as your customers, in turn energizing the economy, and how this bill could potentially hobble an extremely promising industry just as it is taking off.

We at Sunetric thank you in helping us to oppose this bill and look forward to a bright future for solar in which we can all enjoy cleaner, less expensive power.

Looking Ahead: Clean Energy Initiatives

Friday, January 28, 2011

This week we heard both Governor Abercrombie’s State of the State address as well as President Obama’s State of the Union address. It’s clear that on both a state and national level, clean energy initiatives are going to be important issues for the upcoming year and well into the future.<br/><br/>State of the State<br/><br/> Neil Abercrombie has a section of his website dedicated to his energy policy, and seems intent on working with the legislature to create an independent Hawaii Energy Authority or to make some major changes to the Public Utilities Commision. The idea is that this will streamline some of the red tape that causes the hurdles to implementing clean energy technologies here in the islands, giving the industry a chance to grow, new technologies to be developed, and more jobs for island workers.<br/><br/> In his own words:<br/><br/>

“We will also move to ensure energy and food security for Hawaii. I have spoken of and sustained my interest in an independent Hawaii Energy Authority to move the clean energy agenda. However, I am encouraged by the ideas put forward by legislators and the energy community that propose a significant restructuring of the Public Utilities Commission to move energy projects and better connect our islands with the information and transportation infrastructure that is needed to make us more self-sufficient. I look forward to working with the legislature to come up with a solution so we can move on these matters with dispatch.

This is an exciting time for Hawaii as we move towards the goals set out in the Hawaii Clean Energy Initiative of 70% clean energy from renewable sources by 2030.<br/><br/>State of the Union<br/><br/> President Obama also addressed the nation regarding clean energy and, like Governor Abercrombie, tied the move towards energy independence to the economy and the creation of new jobs and industry:<br/><br/> “Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they’re selling.  So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal:  By 2035, 80 percent of America’s electricity will come from clean energy sources.  <br/><br/> “Some folks want wind and solar.  Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas.  To meet this goal, we will need them all — and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.”<br/><br/> It is encouraging to see the leaders of our government making it a priority to invest in clean energy technologies, but the rest is up to the legislature and also the public. Every household can help by making the commitment to using clean energy technologies, like going solar. Sunetric is committed to helping you to find the best energy solution for your home or business.<br/><br/>See the full text of Governor Abercrombie’s State of the State address here, and President Obama’s State of the Union address here.

Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation Symposium – Jan. 26

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunetric CEO Alex Tiller will be part of a panel discussion on financing renewable energy systems tomorrow, January 26th at the Ala Moana Hotel. Please see below for more information and click here to view the symposium brochure. <br/><br/>

Hawaii Community Reinvestment Corporation Symposium
“Innovative Resources & Strategies for Business, Non-Profits, Developers and Community Builders”

<br/> Featured speakers: Roque Barros (Jacobs Family Foundation), Matt Bayles (Bank of Hawaii), David Bylund (Architects Hawaii), Donna Gambrell (CDFI Fund), Gordon Furutani (HUD), Jerry Hirata (SBA), Robin Hyerstay (Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.), Marc Click (DBEDT), Michelle Morlan (National Development Countil), Jody Mukaigawa (FHB), Alex Tiller (Sunetric), Terrance Ware (City & County of Honolulu)<br/><br/> Time: 8:00am to 4:00pm<br/> Place: Ala Moana Hotel<br/> Sponsored by: Bank of Hawaii, First Hawaiian Bank, Pacific Business News, American Savings Bank, Chun Yoshimoto LLP, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, Finance Factors, Ltd. <br/><br/> General: $100.00 per person<br/> Non-Profit/Government: $75 per person<br/> (includes continental breakfast and lunch)<br/><br/> For more information on the HCRC website, click here.

New SunRun Report: Better Solar Permitting Would Save Consumers Money

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sunetric no longer offers SunRun products.
We encourage you to check our wide array of solar financing options.

Today SunRun released a very thorough permitting report entitled Impact of Permitting on the Cost of Solar.

The report is available for download here.

Feel free to take a look; though it is national report, the issues and the recommendations made are very important locally.

Sunetric was intimately involved in providing valuable research data for this report — many of our team members were interviewed and we provided pricing and operations background to help contribute to what is being regarded as an extremely accurate and telling account of the opportunities, and hurdles, solar faces in the face of our state- and country-led sustainability goals.

The report concludes that permitting and inspection add an average of $2,500 in overhead and fees per residential installation, which is equivalent to a $1 billion tax on solar over the next five years. As Hawaii does not deal with a multitude of municipalities (one county per island), and we have no permitting fees, the overhead here is slightly lower than this number according to our collective research, but the added cost is still a very substantial percentage of every solar project installed in Hawaii.

Countries like Germany and Japan have eliminated permitting for residential solar, handicapping the US solar industry despite our superior solar resources. SunRun is recommending that the Department of Energy launch an initiative to standardize and streamline permitting across the primary solar states — a description which Hawaii certainly fits.

This recommendation is sure to fall on receptive ears both here and in Washington, as both our new governor Neil Abercrombie and President Obama have pledged to create a green economy — and to remove regulatory roadblocks and promote growth.

On Wednesday morning, the Department of Energy was quoted by the New York Times suggesting plans to launch a permitting initiative: “Administration officials said that they were seriously studying the issue, and that they planned to reveal initiatives and funding opportunities to address it.” This is great news for solar both here and on the mainland, as PV will safely remain a very smart investment if such forward-thinking government action continues.

Federal Cash Grants for Commercial Solar Extended to 2011

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Last month, President Obama signed into effect the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010. While billed as a stimulus package of economic and tax relief measures, there is one section in particular which will spur growth in the solar industry in 2011. <br/><br/> Section 1603 of the act extended a 30% cash grant for commercial renewable energy projects started in 2011. So rather than wait for the the federal Investment Tax Credit, this is an up-front incentive for grant recipients to go solar now. To date, the Treasury Department reports over $5.7 billion in cash grants under Section 1603, a majority of them solar electricity projects.<br/><br/> In addition, an accelerated depreciation provision for new business equipment means that businesses may expense 100% of their investments in solar and other technologies, rather than relying on depreciation over time. Combined with generous state and federal tax credits, there has never been a better time to invest in solar power. <br/><br/> Besides the up-front savings for businesses, another benefit of the extension is the thousands of new jobs that will be created as consumers and businesses continue to move towards renewable energy sources and more efficient use of our natural resources. <br/><br/> While it was hoped that the extension would be for a two-year period, this initial one year extension is a step in the right direction. In the year ahead, we’ll be keeping an eye on bipartisan efforts to extend these measures even further. <br/>

2011 New Year Solar Resolution

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Happy Happy New Year Sunetric community!!!  The team here at Sunetric hope your 2011 is off to a fantastic start.<br/><br/> Each year millions of people across the world make new year resolutions to get in shape, eat healthy, spend more time with the family, etc. yet more often than not this last only a few weeks.<br/><br/> It’s no secret that we, Hawaii, are the most fossil fuel dependent state in the nation which causes a very dangerous scenario for our future because of the finite nature of fossil fuel and the fact that our state is more and more vulnerable to fluctuations in oil prices and availability.<br/><br/> 2030 is the year in which we hope to achieve 70% clean energy with 30% from efficiency measures, and 40% coming from locally generated renewable sources.<br/><br/> These goals are the most aggressive in the nation – and if we succeed, we will become a world leader in clean energy.<br/><br/> Like most new year resolutions, we get off to a great start but somewhere along those lines we lose sight and we lose focus.<br/><br/> The Blue Planet Foundation posted a blog that talked about how Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers passed out copies of a page from a 1977 Hawaii legislative report (below).  On this report was a graphic that showed exactly how Hawaii could become energy self-sufficient by 2010, excluding airline fuel.<br/><br/> The post when on to say, “The last generation, it seems, wanted to do the same for us as we want to do for the next.  The question remains not whether we can, but how do we get there.”  <br/><br/> We created a new year resolution back in 1977 to become energy self-sufficient by 2010 and somewhere along the way we lost sight and lost focus.  Now that that year has passed, we have yet another opportunity to get it right.<br/><br/> Fossil fuels are not infinite.  We will run out one day.  No one can predict when but we can’t afford to wait another 30 years and find out the hard way.<br/><br/> Each of us are going to play a crucial role in making this happen and you can do your part today, by going solar.<br/><br/> Going solar has never been more affordable and easier. <br/>  <br/> Let’s not look back in 2031, in an oil crisis, wishing we had done something sooner.<br/><br/> Let’s make 2011′s new year resolution the year Hawaii went solar!<br/><br/>

President Obama Extends Section 1603 Cash-Grant Program

Thursday, January 6, 2011

If you asked the average person what the U.S. Treasury Department’s Section 1603 Program is, it’s doubtful that they would have any idea. But this program, with its unassuming and technical name, is actually one of the best government programs for developing solar technology and supporting the growth of the industry that’s available today.

Simply put, the Section 1603 program allows businesses to receive a cash grant instead of the 30% federal Investment Tax Credit for the installation of renewable energy systems, including solar. The program was to expire on December 31, 2010, but President Obama signed a one-year extension as part of the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.

For Hawaii, this is an incredible opportunity to take advantage of a unique program. To date, Section 1603 has distributed nearly $6 billion in grants for a variety of renewable installations, including solar electric and solar thermal projects. In fact, 1,200 of the 1,656 projects which have been funded by the program have been solar electric installations. This program gives the solar industry in Hawaii the opportunity to bring federal funds to the state to support a larger program of energy independence. The largest of the Section 1603 solar project awards—$19.5 million—went to eSolar Inc. of California.

For businesses, Section 1603 includes some provisions that make solar installation even more attractive. An “accelerated depreciation provision” is included for any new equipment purchased for a business under the program. Under previous tax laws, businesses were allowed to recoup the cost of their investments over time, according to a depreciation schedule, but this new provision allows that to occur in a single year. The President asked for the accelerated depreciation measure in the belief that it would encourage businesses to invest in alternative energy, creating a flurry of new “green collar” jobs.

While those provisions are great for business and corporate investment, there are also parts of Section 1603 that are targeted at residential installations. As part of the program, solar contractors can receive a cash grant for a residential installation if the contractor continues to own the solar property.

Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association called the extension of the program, “a great day for America’s solar industry…the solar industry can continue its record growth, creating new career opportunities for Americans in all 50 states in 2011.”

It’s true that it’s great for the solar industry in general, but what’s good for solar power is good for Hawaii as we push for lower energy costs and energy independence. It’s an opportunity to bring federal funds to Hawaii and help to develop the solar generating infrastructure which is already growing rapidly.

While everyone in the solar industry would like to have seen a two-year extension of the program, the one-year extension provides an unexpected and welcome opportunity. It gives businesses and residents the chance to take advantage of government incentives and install solar generation capacity in homes and businesses throughout the state. As of the first of January, the clock is ticking. It would be a shame to miss an extraordinary chance to invest in solar through the provisions of Section 1603.