Tag Archives: arizona solar center


Benefits of solar: Will anybody listen?

Arizona is about to begin an important discussion on the cost benefits of solar energy. The discussion is scheduled for May 7 as part of a series of workshops the Arizona Corporation Commission has scheduled to examine the impacts of innovation on the utility business model.

This workshop comes on the heels of last year’s acrimonious debate on net metering. That dispute focused on whether rooftop solar owners place an unfair burden on non-solar customers through a “cost shift” that left “traditional” customers holding the bag for the majority of costs to maintain and operate the utility infrastructure. Absent from those deliberations, however, were any consideration for the value of solar.

Up until now, all the fuss has been about determining the value of the green electron to the utility and comparing it to the cost of the cheapest alternative. Attempts to expand the dialogue have largely failed to include the environmental attributes of solar and other non-energy benefits.

Witness the wisdom of 18 Arizona state senators who earlier this year voted for Senate Resolution 1003, which calls for the nullification of all rules, including clean air and water requirements, imposed by the EPA.

Yet the continued burning of fossil fuels is feeding such societal and climatic disruptions as the bark beetle infestation in old-growth pine forests in northern Arizona, the decreasing water flowing through our rivers, dams, canals and into our cities, a record drought that is devastating farmers’ crops, incomes and livelihoods and resulting in wildfires that destroy property and claim lives.

Recent events clearly illustrate that the impact of climate change isn’t limited to wild animals or the polar ice. The impacts are being felt everywhere — food and water supplies, the economy and our health. It’s a threat to our way of life.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report (Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability) last week. The report was written by 300 experts from 70 countries and based on 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers. The report reveals in no uncertain terms that the continued burning of fossil fuels at present rates will cause more floods, droughts and violent storms as CO2 emissions drive up global temperatures and feed climatic changes.

In the face of the overwhelming evidence, the discussion in the Arizona Legislature actually included the purported positive impacts of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel consumption. That “debate” ignores the evidence that the amount of CO2 produced by fossil fuel consumption exceeds the ability of living organisms and other natural processes to remove it and store it in other forms.

Now, the conversation shifts from the myopic Legislature back to the hearing rooms of the Corporation Commission, where the cost benefits of solar energy is on the agenda.

Minnesota is just concluding a similar process and have come up with a formula to establish a value for solar electrons. The Minnesota formula includes several actors, including avoided costs of fuel purchases, new power plant construction and avoided transmission capacity.

More importantly, though, Minnesota assigns a methodology and cost to environmental impacts. This process for the first time will put a utility on the hook for the environmental harm it causes. In other words, instead of shifting the costs of environmental damage caused by their operations onto society those environmental damages now come with a price tag to the utilities.

The Minnesota formula may end up requiring utilities to pay more for a net-metered solar electron than the current retail cost of electricity. While that may sound like a bad deal for utilities, it could prove to be the incentive utilities need to reduce the carbon intensity of their delivered electricity, which in turn would reduce the value of solar.

It is hard to image Arizona following suit – after all it is pretty clear that science and politics don’t mix well at the Legislature. But any discussion that doesn’t place a value on our environment is promoting a cost-shift of massive portion. And it is society and the planet – not fossil-fueled utilities – that will bear the crushing burden.

Jim Arwood served six Arizona governors in various capacities managing federal energy programs, culminating in his appointment by then Governor Janet Napolitano, as Director of the State Energy Office in 2006. After nearly 25 years serving the state of Arizona, Mr. Arwood retired from government service in 2010 and today consults for a variety of energy related organizations and serves as Director of Communications for the Arizona Solar Center.

Arizona Solar Center, Solar Lecture Series and Building Tour

Arizona Solar Center Hosts Solar Lecture Series

Making your home energy efficient and sustainable will help the environment and your pocketbook in the long run. But, knowing how and where to begin can be a daunting task with the different types of green technology. You may ask, what is the difference between passive solar and active solar? Should I build or remodel with earthen plaster or straw bales? How much can I save by using these sustainable adaptations in my home? To help you out, the Arizona Solar Center is hosting a solar lecture series on home improvement that is free and open to the public.

These questions will be answered during the Arizona Solar Center’s Solar Lecture Series: Solar and Sustainability on October 20 and the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tours October 22 & 23.

Arizona Solar Center Solar Lecture Series and Building Tour

President of the Arizona Solar Center, Dan Aiello, is excited to have Mick Dalrymple, from the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, host the Solar and Sustainability lecture on October 20. Dalrymple will discuss sustainable modifications and renovations that he implemented on his own home, such as the incorporating green building materials, equipment and lighting. Dalrymple’s goal is to attain zero energy dependency, Aiello says.

“[Dalrymple] has a bunch of examples that people can relate to because we all live in something,” Aiello says. “His presentation will be, ‘this is what I did, this is why I did this, and this worked and this didn’t work.’ [The lecture] is something people can come to and take information away on what’s appropriate for the desert, energy efficient and environmentally appropriate.”

The lecture will lead into the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tours that weekend. The tour’s downloadable guide will be available on the Arizona Solar Center website. The sites on the tour will include:

  • An artist’s studio/residence in Mesa created from recycled materials,
  • The upper part of the loft is constructed from an old Volkswagen bus,
  • Scottsdale homes that include passive/active solar technologies,
  • Water catchment,
  • Straw bale constructions, and
  • Green architecture, as well as homes in Mesa, Chandler and Tempe.

“If we plan our buildings right we get enough sun [in Arizona], even in the winter, to warm our houses,” Aiello says. “We can use the sun to heat water; generate electricity or any number of things.”

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Solar Lecture Series: Solar and Sustainability – My Way – with Mick Dalrymple

Thursday, October 20, 2011
7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

2011 Valley of the Sun – Tour of Solar and Sustainable Buildings

Saturday & Sunday, October 22 & 23, 2011
8 a.m.

City of Scottsdale Granite Reef Facility
Granite Reef Rd., just north of the intersection of Granite Reef and McDowell roads

Free and open to the public.


Check out the Arizona Solar Center events calendar for more information on the upcoming solar lecture series and solar tour as well as other events.


Solar panels on a house roof

Solar And Sustainable Building Tour Hits Valley

Many homeowners are hesitant to install solar in their homes for various reasons, whether it’s cost or simply not knowing enough information about how it actually works. It’s one thing to read about solar but a whole other story to actually see it as a real application on a home or building.

This weekend, the Scottsdale Green Building Program, Arizona Solar Center and the Arizona Solar Energy Association are sponsoring the Solar and Sustainable Building Tour. Nine Northeast Valley homes and buildings and eight other solar buildings from across the Valley will be on display during this free tour. This event sounds like a great hands-on way to show attendees what they can potentially do at their own homes.

The tour is now in its 14th year with several other tours that took place in the month of October, in conjunction with National Energy Awareness Month.

Next weekend Oct. 31 to Nov.1 the Tucson tour will take place.

These homes are on the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tour and will be open for viewing this weekend. In addition, several buildings will be on the tour as well. Free tours start hourly from 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.

Open Saturday and Sunday

  • Augspurger solar greenhouse, 11458 E. Christmas Cholla Drive.
  • Bauder-Strauss residence, 10875 E. Bahia Drive.
  • Edwards residence, 8151 E. Smokehouse Trail.
  • Mushorn residence, 25227 N. Roping Road.

Open Saturday only

  • Garrett residence, 8502 E. Cactus Wren.
  • Green remodel, “Bungalow,” 6613 E. Aster Drive.
  • Dalrymple residence, 4622 E. Palo Verde Drive.
  • Fuller Paper Palace One, 1 Continental Drive.

Open Sunday only

  • Green remodel, “Edible Landscape,” 8243 E. Monte Vista Road.

Find the complete list of homes and buildings here.