Get your solar panels now! While stockpiled supplies of Chinese panels last!

It may never be a better time to get solar panels for your home or business. Net metering has not gone away, and prescient solar installers still have reserves of low-cost Chinese solar panels.

As Trump was signing his tariffs on Chinese solar panels into law, solar installers like ICON, located outside Cincinnati, were deliberately stockpiling the cheaper, foreign panels.

ICON System Designer Jaye Meier says he wouldn’t call it “stockpiling.”

“I’d call it smart business,” Meier says.

ICON estimates that the installed cost of solar panels will rise ten percent, once tariffs affect local distributors and installers.

Despite those tariffs, the immediate future for solar is so bright, we’re hearing a term we never thought we would hear: “solar investors.” Depending on your state and the amount of sun exposure on your roof, solar panels will actually make a modest return on investment for some purchasers.

Businesses, in particular, can benefit. A tax policy called MACRS (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System) allows businesses to depreciate the cost of solar panels directly off their income over five years. Or, if it’s beneficial, a business can take one hundred percent of the costs off its one-year income, according to John Vann, a volunteer with Solarize Indiana.

Vann, himself, is getting his first installation of thirty solar panels. According to his calculations, they will pay for themselves over the next ten years. After that, “it’s free energy,” he says.

With incentives and a discount afforded by Solarize Indiana, his array will cost only $15,000.

You might not think of Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky as sunshine states, but ICON started up in 2011, serving just those three states, and business has doubled every year.

“We get more sun than Germany where half the energy is from renewable, says Meier, suggesting that going solar in the U.S. is, maybe, more about will than sunshine.

ICON’s clientele is diverse. They get their expected share of college professors wanting to do the right thing.

But, “It’s not one type of person that I’ve seen,” Meier says. “We’ve got farmers who hate the utilities, got screwed over by them once or twice.”

The Indiana legislature has not incentivized solar power. Instead the state legislature has ruled that it will phase out net metering over the next ten years. Net metering is a system which reimburses solar investors for the excess energy they create at a retail rate.

In Indiana and other states, net metering will be replaced or has already been replaced with “net billing” which reimburses the same investors at wholesale rate. Home owners who take the solar challenge count on net metering to defray the initial outlay for solar power which typically costs something like $20,000 for a full array on an average-size house.

So eliminating net metering hurts the growth of the solar industry. And Trump solar panel tariffs could hurt it some more when stockpiles of Chinese panels run dry.

So why did the use of solar power in Indiana increase twenty percent last year despite politicians at every level legislating against it?

It helps that the cost of solar panels, across the board has fallen eighty percent since 2009, Vann says. And groups like Solarize Indiana are stepping into the breach, securing deep discounts that make solar installations attractive despite disincentives.

“Long term it might be detrimental. But now it might push people into going solar before that [tariffs and loss of net metering] goes into effect,” says Meier.

 

 

Trump undermines solar power, but that hasn’t saved coal

Trump undermines solar power at the peril of us all.

By Lynn Hamilton

United States President Donald Trump has devastated the solar industry in America without bringing back coal jobs.

You may remember that Trump allied himself with coal during his run up to the presidency. And coal families gave him their unthinking votes.

This is personal for me because I live in Kentucky, and I taught for two years in eastern Kentucky. During that time, I received numerous papers from students about job loss in their families due to the failure of coal. The tone of these papers was always a mixture of victim mentality, nostalgia, and blame.

Trouble was: they didn’t always know who to blame. Former President Barack Obama figured as a convenient scapegoat because of his modest federal incentives for renewable energy. And his insistence that the coal industry moderate its damage to the environment. He gave sustainability a fighting chance, in other words.

Trump undermines solar power while coal miners die of black lung

black lung

But the real reason the coal industry is dying is the same reason whale oil went down as an industry: We’re running out of coal, just as we ran out of whales. Secondarily, both industries are far too dangerous to the front line workers, and

healthy lung

coal cannot be harvested without the same measure of cruelty as was exercised in the mass murder of whales. Just ask anyone whose community was devastated by mountain top removal. Ultimately, coal is an unsustainable

resource for energy.

We need to unmuddle some thinking here: Bashing solar has not brought back coal jobs and will not bring back coal jobs. Coal jobs have steadily declined since 2005. Trump undermines solar power at the peril of us all, because we are running out of coal without a plan B for keeping the lights on.

The national media has not come right out and said that the loss of ten thousand jobs in solar last year is the fault of Donald Trump, but to use a trope from John Oliver:

It is.

It totally is.

Solar companies, large and small, were already nervous when Trump was elected. The threat of tariffs shook the confidence of the industry until the reality of tariffs replaced it. The loss of federal incentives for energy improvements also played its part.

Let’s recap why this matters to animals, particularly wildlife. Coal burning causes carbon dioxide emissions which cause climate change. Climate change is the main reason for mass extinctions of wildlife. Climate change is the main reason that monarch butterflies are declining in numbers. Climate change, among other things, messes with migration. Birds and monarch butterflies can’t figure out when to migrate because weather patterns are so disrupted. Cool autumns whisper “Time to fly” to the hummingbird. When the fall comes with eighty degree temperatures in the Midwest, the birds get confused.

Solar energy disrupts climate change. It does not emit carbon dioxide, therefore it does not make climate change worse. When solar replaces coal, it has the potential to reverse the damaging effects of climate change which include wildlife loss.

Even if you don’t care about wildlife, you should care about solar energy and the solar industry. At least if you care about having your television and laptop turned on. We’re running out of coal without having smoothed the way for a replacement source of energy. This is what happens when you mythologize a fuel like coal instead of viewing it as something that was useful in its day.

 

 

Trump tariffs will further endanger endangered animals

Trump tariffs will further endanger species on the climate change hit list

Americans need to just accept the fact that the Chinese have gotten ahead of us on solar panel manufacture. China saw an opportunity and ran with it. Americans sat around with their thumbs up their butts, claiming that solar power would never work.

Fast forward about twenty years. Now U.S. solar manufacturers want to be protected from competition from China, where manufacturers have figured out how to deliver efficient products for cheap. China’s motives may have been entirely rooted in profit, but somehow they have become the world’s savior in the fight against climate change.

Instead of crying into our diapers, the U.S. needs to find the next cool, earth-saving technology.

That’s the message U.S. President Donald Trump should have sent to American manufacturers. Instead, he has announced that he is going to impose tariffs on Chinese panels. Tariffs have never worked, and tariffs on China are going to backfire in some huge way that we just didn’t have the imagination to anticipate.

Around this time, you might be wondering what Trump’s tariffs have to do with animals. This is how it works: Trump imposes these tariffs. Fewer people can afford solar panels. Climate change continues apace, destroying many species who simply can’t adapt fast enough to weather extremes and, in particular, changes that affect food supply.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has compiled a list of the top species that are declining rapidly because of climate change. On this list are coral reefs that are the seas’ nurseries. When the coral reefs go, the collapse of the fish industry will only be the beginning. Also on the list are Beluga whales, leatherback sea turtles, koalas, and arctic foxes.

Please sign this petition asking Trump to rescind tariffs on solar energy: https://www.thepetitionsite.com/258/650/626/stop-trumps-war-on-clean-energy-reject-solar-tariffs/