Learn about solar installations

Here’s some great information about the affordability of installing solar panels. This video focuses on San Diego, but the same principles apply around the country. Learn more at SolarAllianceofAmerica.com.

GM making commitment to solar energy to save money

Many companies are going green because it makes sense financially. GM is a great example, as they are installing fields of solar panels at various location.

General Motors broke ground Wednesday on a six-acre field of solar panels in front of its Detroit-Hamtramck plant as part of an effort to green the production of its Chevrolet Volt extended-range electric car.

DTE Energy will own and operate the 516-kilowatt system as part of its Solar Currents program, which is installing photovoltaic systems at sites such as Monroe County Community College and a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan parking structure in downtown Detroit.

DTE will lower GM’s energy bill because of the solar panels, which were first reported by the Free Press. That savings, about $15,000 a year, will combine with more efficient lighting and equipment updates to lower Detroit-Hamtramck’s energy costs by nearly $3 million annually.

With the large investment GM is making in US auto plants, hopefully we’ll see this kind of progress from them on green energy around the country.

This is just one of many examples of corporate American being ahead of the curve compared to those who view alternative energy in a skeptical light. This is our future . . .

$3.4 billion in grants to be announced for smart grid

We waste a significant amount of electricity due to an outdated and inefficient electric grid in the United States. Thus, this investment is significant.

President Barack Obama on Tuesday will announce $3.4 billion in government grants to help build a “smart” electric grid that will save consumers money on their utility bills, reduce blackouts and carry power supplies generated by solar and wind energy, the White House said.

It marks the largest award made in a single day from the $787 billion stimulus package approved by Congress, and will create tens of thousands of jobs while upgrading the U.S. electric grid, according to administration officials.

The grants, which range from $400,000 to $200 million, will go to 100 companies, utilities, manufacturers, cities and other partners in 49 states.

This investment is only the first step, and part of the criteria here was the speed with which companies could implement the changes, as this money comes from the stimulus package. For example, the grants will not be used to build new power lines, but improve the capabilities of the electrical system. The funds will be used for a variety of projects, including approximately “18 million smart meters that will help consumers manage energy use in their homes, 700 automated substations to make it faster for utilities to restore power knocked out by storms and 200,000 smart transformers that allow power companies to replace units before they fail, thus avoiding outages.” Companies had to bid and compete for the funds, and the winning companies secured an additional $4.7 billion in private money to match their government grants, resulting in a total of $8.1 billion in total investment in the smart grid.

The smart meters are critical, as they encourage consumers to use electricity more efficiently. If you can see on your meter that running the dishwasher costs you more during the day, you will consider running it at night instead when rates are cheaper. If you’re costs are spiking during the day, you might realize that you can open the windows instead of running the air conditioner.

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