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Ebbin’s Solar Power Bill Signed into Law

by ARLnow.com | June 15, 2011 at 9:20 am | 1,579 views | 18 Comments

Solar energy legislation sponsored by Del. Adam Ebbin has been signed into law by Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.

The bill will create a “Voluntary Solar Resource Development Fund,” which will distribute affordable loans to help power customers install solar panels and solar water heaters at their homes or businesses. The fund will receive funding from voluntary contributions and grants. Utilities will be required to promote the funds and let customers opt-in for monthly contributions.

“Virginia has some of the highest solar energy potential in the region, but we’re being outpaced by our neighbors like Maryland, which has only two-thirds our population but thirteen times the number of homes powered by solar energy,” Ebbin said. “We all recognize the need to increase the use of renewable energy resources and my legislation will make the environmental choice a more affordable choice for Virginians.”

The bill received support from both utility companies and environmental groups.

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  • BerryBerryCold

    Wealth redistribution.

    • doodly

      Yep – keeping your electric bill low. You’re welcome.

  • Sam

    Unfortunately, my HOA prohibits all solar panels and was grandfathered into the newer law saying that an HOA cannot prohibit solar panels unless grandfathered in.

  • CW

    Curious as to how big the fund will end up being, and who will be doing the voluntary contributing and granting. In a lot of states where they have these funds, the demand far outstrips supply, they blow through the money in like a week and there is a huge waiting list for the next year.

  • Harry

    One word: Voluntary. Another word: Useless.

    • Jezebel

      +1

    • esmith69

      Please explain why you think solar power is useless??

      • Arlwhenever

        In this day and age solar panels remain essentially useless because of cost (very high without subsidy), reliability (low because the sun has got to shine) and short useful lives (heating and cooling cycles inherently destructive to panels). Those are the realities. Creating a loan fund for the feel good class doesn’t change the fundamentals.

        • esmith69

          You seem to have already made up your mind about the economics of solar power (I disagree with your specific claims, but that’s another issue), but still it seems harnessing the free, clean energy provided by the sun would at the very least be beneficial during peak power demand times during those hot summer days…

          • brian

            it doesn’t provide enough energy

        • NOVApologist

          Actually, the price and effectiveness of solar panels has made greater than expected strides. The rising cost of fossil fuels has also helped make solar very cost effective. The IEEE and the IEA predict cost parity (WITHOUT subsidies) may occur by 2015 and may have already occurred in very sunny places like Southern California.

          I like this idea. I may pursue it.

          • http://www.exactcom.com.au/proofs/KombiPics/Wrecks/bayBushOvergrown.jpg Overgrown Bush

            Aren’t most solar panels made in China now? Is that why the price has come down?

          • NOVApologist

            I’m not sure about “most” but definitely a lot are made in China. Japan, Germany, Taiwan, Korea, and the U.S. also. Given China’s access to the necessary rare earth minerals, they probably will be building most panels eventually.

      • CW

        Arlwhenever’s naysaying aside, I don’t think that Harry was deeming solar power to be useless. I think he was saying that, since contribution to the fund was voluntary, the fund is less likely to get a lot of money, and thus more likely to be useless in its purpose, that being distributing funds to customers.

        • Jezebel

          Exactly.

  • doodly

    What about solar water heating? That’s probably cheaper. Wonder if the fund covers it.

    • Arlwhenever

      Solar water heating is a relatively inexpensive and effective use of solar power because no intermediate conversion to electricity is required and conventional water heaters are already set up to store energy (insulated tanks) and variations in the temperature of hot water can be tolerated (at least by some). And yes, the fund does cover solar water heating devices, which in my view, it should give highest priority to. Someday solar water heating will be economical.

      • doodly

        Yeah, I would think water would be cheaper and easier to do. As for variation in temp, if the water goes through the solar coils first and then to a heater tank, I don’t think there would be a variation in temperature. Whatever heat was added by the solar coils would simply go into the tank and the tank would do the rest.

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