Tag Archives: Energy Policy / Independence

LMI community solar

Low to moderate income community solar: what you need to know

Reading Time: 5 minutes

For many electricity users across the country, rooftop solar panels don’t make sense – there are physical reasons (i.e. roof availability, home size), personal reasons (i.e. aesthetics), and financial reasons. Specifically for individuals who classify as “low to moderate income” (LMI), there are several reasons why community solar can be a great way to benefit from solar energy while not needing the traditional financial resources to install your own solar panels.

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Community solar growth states

Which community solar markets are heating up?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Historically, community solar has been the most popular–and most accessible–in four key states: Minnesota, Colorado, Massachusetts, and New York. But excitingly, more and more states are jumping on the community solar bandwagon, and new projects continue to pop up each year.

So, what markets are heating up for community solar? And which states can we expect to take the plunge next? 

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renewable portfolio standards by state map

Renewable portfolio standards explained

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Following the 2018 elections, there was a flurry of state-level action on climate change and clean energy to begin the new year. Outside of proposals at the federal level for a Green New Deal, many states proposed and passed a suite of climate-related legislation, from emission reduction goals to clean energy procurement targets. Perhaps the most common policy instrument for growing clean energy at the state level is the renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

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Lithium mining

Lithium mining in the United States: why is it so controversial?

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Lithium, the lightest element of all the metals, is a crucial resource for the United States’ clean energy future: it’s key in the production of lithium ion rechargeable batteries, which are used to power electric vehicles and serve as home storage systems. While the U.S. is the largest consumer of lithium and will only increase its future consumption as it strives to meet the Biden Administration’s ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets, America’ domestic mining of lithium is limited to just one percent of annual global production.

Currently, only one lithium mine operates in the United States, the Silver Peak mine in Clayton Valley, Nevada; most of the global lithium supply is extracted in Chile and Australia. While some politicians are calling for increased domestic mining of the metal, at the end of May 2021, Reuters reported that the Biden Administration would supply the majority of lithium from ally countries, including Canada, Australia, and Brazil. Though this strategy may seem antithetical to the Administration’s clean energy jobs goals, it comes on the heels of many environmentalists’ concerns over two potential lithium mines in Nevada that could become operational in a few years. In this article, we’ll break down lithium mining and why these two mines are so controversial.   

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Ethical Solar Sourcing

Ethical sourcing of solar components

Reading Time: 4 minutes

The solar industry is very much a part of the global economy: its supply chain traverses countries, oceans and continents, sourcing raw materials from certain regions, manufacturing products in others, and, ultimately, sending solar products to home and business owners everywhere. With how interconnected the solar industry is, it’s important to be cognizant of where and how solar equipment is sourced. In lieu of recent credible reports of human rights abuses and forced labor in parts of China that feed into the solar supply chain, it’s worth looking at how to ensure that the solar equipment you purchase is ethically and sustainably sourced. 

Before digging into this, a quick note: allegations of human rights abuses and other unethical practices are an atypical topic area for us. After all, we write about clean energy, not issues of geopolitical intrigue. But we don’t take these reports of human rights violations and forced labor lightly, and we want to make sure you’re aware of this ongoing investigation and have options to ensure your solar equipment is ethically produced.

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NEM 3.0

Net metering 3.0: what does it mean for you, and how can you help?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you look at the best solar markets in the US, they all have one thing in common: a strong net metering policy. Net metering–or NEM–allows you to earn credits for any excess solar electricity you send to the grid when your solar panel system generates more than you need. 

Over the next year, California will be releasing the third iteration of net metering, or NEM 3.0. And as of summer 2021, there’s still a lot for the state to decide on – we don’t know exactly how credit values will change, or what they’ll change to, but we do know that whatever happens will have large implications for the country’s leading solar market. We’ll continue to keep this article updated with the most recent news on NEM 3.0, and in the meantime, discuss some of the proposed changes to the state’s current net metering policy, along with timelines.

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