Community and sustainability goals often fall under the same umbrella. As communities strengthen, unobtainable individual objectives become attainable as a whole. Communities around the United States are investing in “community solar gardens” to ease individual financial burden and extend access to residences unsuitable for rooftop solar.
The vast majority of community solar projects were developed post-2010, when the Solar Uniting Neighborhoods Act extended existing tax credits to community solar projects in response to large numbers of residents whose homes do not support solar panels. Trees, roof size, and building codes are common impediments to homeowners who would like to install solar panels. In Arizona particularly, trees present a tradeoff between providing energy savings via shade and evapotranspiration while limiting rooftop area for solar panels.
Residents are increasingly provided solutions for these impediments, and total community solar energy production is expected to more than double in 2016. Ten states including our neighbors California, Colorado, and Utah promote community solar through policy and programs.
The SolarShares program in California allows utility customers (renters and homeowners) to buy shares of utility-owned solar panels in return for reduced energy bills.
Colorado Springs Utilities has one of the largest community solar projects in the country and provides credits for households, businesses, and municipalities.
In Utah, Artspace Solar Gardens is a net zero apartment complex and commercial space powered by rooftop and parking lot solar panels.
Community solar incentives have stimulated utilities and developers to expand solar production, but the idea can be used for any group of people.
Massachusetts passed The Green Communities Act in 2008, allowing residents in a neighborhood to pool resources to cover the cost of renewable energy installation. The residents of Brewster County formed a cooperatively funded solar garden by leasing city land for panels and forming a nonprofit corporation to pay its members. Members include individuals, small businesses, and nonprofit organizations.
In Arizona, Bright Tucson Community Solar also allows Tucson Electric Power customers to buy solar power from their local panels. Such programs are only the beginning of a new paradigm ushering in different scales of power systems based on the community’s needs.
We hope to see continued progress in this field and increased excitement in Arizona to help bring us up to par with our neighboring states.
“Solar power, wind power, the way forward is to collaborate with nature - it's the only way we are going to get to the other end of the 21st century.” - Bjork
The consensus from the Paris Climate Summit is here. The United Nations gathering, which included leaders and representatives from 150+ countries, agreed on the goal of keeping global temperature rise below the original, what seemed like unreachable, 2 degrees Celsius. The compromise was to keep temperatures below 1.5 degrees Celsius globally. While this news is better than anticipated, we need to see action before we celebrate. The one degree rise that we have witnessed since the industrial revolution has already caused massive destruction. It is crucial that all participants uphold this agreement.
Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, illustrates the speed at which we need to work to maintain a healthy planet. He states, “You’ve got to stop fracking right away (in fact, that may be the greatest imperative of all, since methane gas does its climate damage so fast). You have to start installing solar panels and windmills at a breakneck pace – and all over the world. The huge subsidies doled out to fossil fuel have to end yesterday, and the huge subsidies to renewable energy had better begin tomorrow. You have to raise the price of carbon steeply and quickly, so everyone gets a clear signal to get off of it.”
Though this is one large step in the right direction, no binding contracts were made the day the conclusion was reached. What will hold countries accountable now, is that each country will need to resubmit their plans every five years. It forces everyone to have a peer review and seriously evaluate the issues at hand and what we need to do to change it. The monitoring of emissions is expected to be more transparent and comprehensive than ever before.
It is vital that we keep fighting for change, as this is not even close to being over or a real fix. We must implement immediate emission controls and embrace clean, renewable energy in a huge way.
Let’s hope everyone will heed the wise words of US President Barack Obama:
"If we let the world keep warming as fast as it is, and sea levels rising as fast as they are, and weather patterns keep shifting in more unexpected ways, then before long we are going to have to devote more and more and more of our economic and military resources not to growing opportunity for our people but to adapting to the various consequences of a changing planet."
After years of failed compromises, the United Nations (UN) conference on climate change is presumed to generate a monumental agreement within the next two weeks. The concern is whether or not we will reach the “target of limiting rising global temperatures to no more than 2 degrees Celsius (35.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels this century.” 150 heads of state are coming together near Paris to discuss the arrangement.
India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, said, “Our hope for a sustainable planet rests on a bold global initiative. It will create unlimited economic opportunities that will be the foundation of the new economy of this century.” India is currently pushing for solar energy, but has plans to open a new coal plant every month until the year 2020. Other leaders such as Chinese President, Xi Jinping recognize the need for developed countries to advocate and foster in help for developing countries. “The richest 10% of the world’s population produces half of the earth’s climate harming fossil fuels emission. The poorest [percentage], which consists of about 3.5 billion people, is only responsible for around 10% of the earth’s carbon emissions,” said Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. The most vulnerable among us are the least responsible for what is happening with climate change, but disproportionately suffer the most.
The time to expand upon clean energy is now, and it appears that the people who can act as catalysts for the movement are listening. Providing clean energy assistance to developing countries will increase the chances of them not being completely reliant on coal or oil to live – a much healthier and more sustainable option. After this event, it’s important to realize that the fight for clean energy isn’t over and that it’s up to those who aren’t in power to try to extend their voices to those who do. Some leaders in Paris are cynical about the climate portion of the agreement, but the switch to clean and renewable energy is clear. What is transpiring at this conference over these next two weeks will hopefully spark a conversation that needs to be had around the world. For the future, what will we try to do individually to promote the well-being of the earth? More importantly, what can we accomplish if we work together?
With the rise in awareness of climate change and how it is impacting our communities, making the switch to reusable bags is one of the easiest ways you can adopt a greener lifestyle. In the state of Arizona, legislators and the Governor recently made it illegal for cities to impose plastic bag bans, which leaves it up to us, the residents, to make the change. Only >1% of all plastic bags are properly recycled, and the city of Phoenix alone spends $1 million dollars per year pulling plastic bags out of the recycling stream.
Plastic bags never belong in your blue bin, they must be brought to drop off locations such as Bag Central Station which can be found in many grocery stores. The 99% of plastic bags which aren’t recycled make our soil toxic and kill wildlife and ocean creatures that accidentally consume them or get tangled in them. If left in a landfill, one plastic bag can take anywhere from 20 - 1,000 years to degrade. Not only does this affect our dry land habitat, it is also extremely hazardous for our oceans. Scientists estimate that 245,000 tons of floating trash currently litter our oceans.
Places like Hawaii and California have already banned non-biodegradable plastic bags. As a customer, when and if you choose to purchase reusable bags, you can endorse a company or brand that you support, make a social and fiscally green statement, and save money that would’ve been put toward plastic bags. Reusable bags are more durable, comfortable, and can be used for various things, not limited to your trip to the grocery store. Using one reusable bag for a single year can replace 300 to 700 disposable bags. And the benefits to our planet are tremendous.
But the benefits don’t end there! Look at what it does for the economy: the U.S. goes through roughly 100 billion single-use shopping bags annually and this costs retailers roughly $4 billion. The state of California spends $428 million a year clearing trash from its beaches. It costs $4,000 to process and recycle 1 ton of disposable plastic bags. The recycled product can then be sold for a mere $32. Promoting the use of reusable bags cuts our dependence on foreign oil, which is incredibly important since it’s a finite source and endangers the planet.
The benefits are endless, especially here in Arizona where it’s easy to spot a bag that is blowing across the road or one that is caught on a beautiful saguaro. Let’s be good stewards of our planet and make the switch to reusable bags!
SunHarvest Solar is made up of people who come from a variation of cities, states, and have unique life stories. As a diverse team, we find that it adds to the success of our company. We might be a little biased, but we have reason to believe that we have some of the most selfless and hardworking team members in the state of Arizona. Today, we’d like to give thanks to the few of us who not only presently serve our company, but also previously served our nation and endured a lot of sacrifice to be the men they are today.
Our thanks go out to Gary Held and Mike Makley.
Gary is our Sales and Marketing Manager. Gary served in the United States Air Force from 1972-1980 and was a medic for four years as well as an Air Force Recruiter for four years.
Mike is our Production Superintendent. Mike served 6 years in the US Army at Ft. Hood, Texas with a tour in Bosnia from Oct 28, 1997 - Oct 28, 2003. He was a young private during his tour there and he worked with satellite communications between 5 different posts. Mike also served as the Commander’s driver, which allowed him to travel to many places throughout Bosnia and Yugoslavia.
Mike says, “This was a great experience as it gave me the opportunity to work with soldiers from many different countries. When I returned home to Ft. Hood, I was able to work myself into a position of leadership where I had 3 amazing soldiers working with me operating our very own Tactical Satellite Communications Terminal. Being a soldier is one of the many things that shaped me into the man I am today. A great experience I wouldn't change for the world.”
We are so grateful to have you both on board with us at SunHarvest Solar! Be sure to thank your veterans today!
SunHarvest Solar is proud to be taking part in this upcoming event. We hope you will join us!
On Saturday, November 7, from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. more than thirty groups will be coming together alongside concerned community members in Civic Space Park in downtown Phoenix to send a message to political leaders that the time to act on climate is NOW. This event is taking place as a prelude to the Paris climate talks, which begin in late November.
The event, Act on Climate Arizona – Our Moral Obligation, will feature speakers, as well as interactive opportunities such as posing with the Pope (cardboard cut-out, not the man himself) and ‘hope for our planet’ prayer flag making. Attendees will also be able to sign on to the support statement supported by individuals and groups across the state.
Event organizer Patti Sills-Trausch, Director of Faith in Action Ministry at Franciscan Renewal Center says, “We wish to send a strong statement to our leaders at the local, state, national, and international levels that we must act on climate now.” she adds, “We understand it is our moral obligation to act, and if we can align ourselves behind this common goal, we expect our political leaders to do the same by forgoing their differences for the betterment of our planet and its inhabitants.”
Climate change is a big issue for Arizona and Arizonans. According to the 2014 National Climate Assessment issued last year, some of the climate change impacts in the Southwest include: increase in temperature, which, coupled with the heat-island effect in our cities, will mean higher cooling costs and increased threats (and the associated costs) to public health, and high levels of ozone in our air due to increased temperatures which exacerbate ozone levels in our communities and lead to asthma attacks, reduced lung function, and risk of premature death.
Low-income and underserved populations are most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which is why the Act on Climate Arizona participants are urging Arizona’s elected leaders, the U.S. Congress and the 21st Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11), to sponsor and/or support measures that:
● Accept leadership responsibility for addressing the serious threats posed by climate change
● Reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a clear, transparent and effective way
● Develop strategies to reduce negative impacts of past and future greenhouse gas emissions
● Develop protections and adaptation support particularly for our most vulnerable populations
The event is free and open to the public. More info on the event can be found at:http://www.eventbrite.com/e/act-on-climate-arizona-our-moral-obligation-tickets-18673928222
Participants include: Franciscan Renewal Center, Citizens' Climate Lobby, Sierra Club, Arizona Interfaith Power and Light, SunHarvest Solar, Climate Smart Southwest, VUU Green Sanctuary, Arizona Faith Network, Sonoran Collaborative, People Power Now, City of Phoenix, St Francis in the Foothills UMC, Honor Society for Sustainability, Local First AZ, Desert Southwest Conference United Methodist Church, Saint Mary's Basilica, Environment Arizona, Arizona Asthma Coalition, Physicians for Social Responsibility -- Arizona Chapter, People Demanding Action -- Tucson Chapter, Climate Smart Southwest, US Green Building Council ASU Student Chapter, Rogue Green, Physicians for Social Responsibility -- Arizona Chapter, Green Party of Pima County, Chispa AZ, Creative Living Fellowship, Bootstraps to Share of Tucson Inc.
This Monday, it was announced that Arizona is one of the 24 states officially suing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over the Clean Power Plan. The Arizona Corporation Commission says that “the Clean Power Plan exceeds the federal government’s bounds to infringe on individual state legislation.” Those on the Commission believe that investing in renewable energy and limiting CO2 emissions will cause a spike in utility costs for Arizona residents. It is completely logical to be concerned about the affordability, accessibility, and reliability of how power is being supplied to those who need it. However, this concern is fiscally incorrect, as well as irresponsible with regard to our planet and people’s future. The Clean Power Plan will be costly, but it seems no one is considering the cost of being reactive rather than proactive about climate change and the health issues that ensue because of it.
By year 2030, with the enactment of the CPP, up to 3,600 premature deaths, 1,700 non-fatal heart attacks, 90,000 asthma attacks in kids, and 300,000 missed work/school days will be prevented. The country in totality will have saved between $26-$45 billion by then. Costs for renewable energy, such as solar panels, has actually decreased and will continue to decrease as the need for it increases. The price of utilities will go up exponentially without the interference of renewable energy. If we choose to invest now, the savings will be evident, and effective immediately.
Our climate is observably changing, the science is clear, and we humans are a major contributor to it. Science tells us that roughly 80% of all the fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground for us to maintain a habitable planet for human beings. Whether or not one agrees with climate change, there is no downside to healthy and clean air, water, soil, forests, rivers, lakes, and wildlife. Winston Churchill said “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” The truth is, there are more than enough free clean energy resources in renewables that we can meet our energy needs several times over without poisoning the air and water around us.
The Clean Power Plan is the catalyst to shift us towards substantial deployment of renewables. We will get the power we need and a better world in the process. We will also free ourselves from relying on energy sources from outside of the U.S. We possess the technology to do the right thing now, and that is the reason the EPA, the Clean Power Plan, and a future that considered intergenerational justice on a finite planet should be supported by our state. We all place ourselves in danger to one degree or another every time we stand up, but we place our children and grandchildren in even greater danger when we don’t.
Arizona Officially Sues EPA Over Clean Power Plan
Climate Change and President Obama's Action Plan
Climate Justice was the theme on Wednesday, October 14 as the global People’s Climate Movement Day arrived in Phoenix. We at SunHarvest Solar feel it’s our responsibility as business and community leaders to be active participants in our collective future, and our children’s future.
The first event of the day was the most rewarding, as many volunteers (including 3 kids on fall recess) arrived at Central Arizona Shelter Services (CASS) at 11am to assist homeless population. SunHarvest Solar purchased and donated 300 umbrellas for our event, For the Love of Shade and Shelter. We had previously given 100 of the umbrellas to CASS in September as they had an immediate need, which you can read about here. It was great to team up with The I Have A Name Project to pass out more than 200 umbrellas, bottled water, toiletries, food, and other items donated by many people. Climate change disproportionately affects the poorest among our communities, and as it was over 100 degrees on this day in downtown Phoenix, the umbrellas and water were a big blessing for many folks. Be sure to check out the video of 8 year olds Zoe and Keegan reflecting on their experience of helping others!
The second event of the day was a climate demonstration organized byChispa AZ which took place in the rose garden at the Phoenix State Capital. The event drew a great crowd of mostly younger activists, and included speeches from Chispa, the Sierra Club and indigenous tribal leaders who want climate action now. Everyone called on Governor Ducey and our state legislators to “do their duty and act on climate.” Adopting a strong energy policy in the valley of the sun would be a good start to addressing climate change locally.
The third and final event of the day was incredibly moving, uplifting, and inspiring. Approximately 70 people met at Cesar Chavez Plaza for a candlelight vigil, to draw attention to what we are scared of losing due to climate change. The event was initiated with a sacred drum circle, followed by the lighting of candles, and then the children spoke. From the mouths of babes ranging from toddlers to pre-teens, we were all reminded of the serious implications of inaction on this issue. They spoke of losing chocolate, bees, plants, and animals, yet the most heart pulling…is witnessing the loss of innocence. The vigil ended with another sacred drum circle rhythmically beating drums, echoing through the concrete corridors of downtown, as one people, one heart, one planet united for one cause…humanity.
SunHarvest Solar will be taking part in another climate event on November 7 in downtown Phoenix. Act On Climate Arizona – Our Moral Obligation. You can find those event details here, and we hope you will join us. You can also sign this Act On Climate Arizona petition that will be sent to our Congressional leaders.
“Climate change is not just a problem for the future. It is impacting us every day, everywhere.”
― Vandana Shiva
(*From MN solar values study)
APS recently released a cost of service study that completely omits the benefits of solar energy. Where is the demand for a truly holistic, big-picture study which examines the value and benefits of solar, in addition to the costs? A study such as this stands a much better chance of assuring economic fairness for the rate-payers, as well as addressing our need to get serious about clean energy immediately – especially solar here in Arizona.
Numerous studies have shown solar energy producers provide a value to the utility, often in excess of their compensation. Even if a solar producer pays zero for their electricity bill, APS has received something of value. It’s just not cash. The utility’s rationale behind this study only has to do with fixed costs. Yes, APS has fixed costs to provide service to their customers, but so does ANY business that stays open, lit, and operational.
It’s about the bottom line, really. Imagine a public utility that considered the bottom line of a low income household. The cost of electricity for these families can exceed 1/3 of their income. Solar power can provide economic justice and security for these families. We cannot therefore omit the benefits solar can provide across all economic spectrums. When power is supplied at the retail level, it should be compensated at retail prices. This is supply and demand -- basic economics.
Arizonan’s overwhelmingly love solar energy. It represents self-reliance, clean energy, and local power. The future of solar energy will require a different approach than the past. The public must demand a true cost/benefit study, looking at the big picture, including healthcare costs associated with dirty energy which also disproportionately affects low-income families. Without this comprehensive study, we face a harsh reality of what our Arizona future looks like.
Any business who arbitrarily raises prices will lose customers. The public likes to have choices, and more of them are seeing the “value” of solar and making that choice. APS should not be able to take that choice away by making rooftop solar unattainable.
To new customers, installing solar might seem like a lengthy process, but SunHarvest proves that it doesn’t have to be. Last week, we installed a system within nine days of the customer’s contract date on a home in the historical district of Phoenix. Normally, it takes 45-60 days from contract to install along with receiving city clearance. There are many factors that affect the time it takes to install, such as a lease or cash sale, product use, permitting, and historical review. Bringing this home’s infrastructure into the 21st century was exciting to say the least.
Getting the cogs turning can be a long process, but luckily with this install, things went better than according to plan. It was amazing for our team to execute a job in such a timely manner for a customer, especially on a home that is close to 100 years old. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes the waiting period for the installation of solar can be frustrating and difficult to understand for a buyer. SunHarvest Solar does everything in their power as a company to ensure that the process is as painless and as quick as possible. We work to keep our customers well informed and updated along the way.
These projects require a lot of patience and cooperation from both parties. When it is all said and done, we are so thrilled to hear how satisfied our clients are. Of this install in particular, "Thank you so much!!! Very impressed [with] how quickly this got done and can't wait to see it." –Alisha. Thank you for choosing SunHarvest Solar! We are so happy to serve you!