Thursday, March 31, 2011

Maryland Emerging As A National Leader In Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

ANNAPOLIS, MARYLAND - Governor O'Malley's vision of a Maryland fueled by a clean energy, innovation economy is bearing fruit as the Maryland based company, SemaConnect, unveiled the state's first privately developed, publicly accessible electric vehicle (EV) charging station today in Baltimore. The station joins a wave of 65 public EV charging stations being built by the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) and its partners by June 2011 to encourage adoption of this new technology and help Marylanders escape rising gasoline prices, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and enhance our energy security.

Maryland's success in becoming a national leader in EV readiness is made manifest by today's announcement that the first privately developed, publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations in a residential community will open in Baltimore's Midtown community. The charging stations are part of a new, mixed-use development that is affiliated with the University of Baltimore and on-track to become the largest LEED-certified apartment community in the Baltimore area. This substantial private investment in both electric vehicles and energy efficiency is the result of years of Governor O'Malley's efforts at moving Maryland forward into the new innovation conomy by promoting clean, renewable energy and cost-saving investments in energy efficiency.

"Our goal in investing in electric vehicles has always been to ‘prime the pump'," said Malcolm Woolf, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. "With today's announcement, it's clear that we've been successful."

Last June, MEA awarded $500,000 in grants to promote Maryland's Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. These investments were designed to attract and support the emerging electric vehicle market by building 65 electric vehicle charging stations around the state, as well as to support Maryland's goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 25% by 2020. These investments complimented the newly enacted Electric Vehicle Tax Credit and Electric Vehicle HOV bills which were passed by the General Assembly during the 2010 Legislative Session under the leadership of Governor O'Malley.

The Governor has continued to build on these efforts in 2011 by introducing to the General Assembly a package of three EV bills to prepare Maryland for the array of electric vehicles coming on the market in the next few years. The bills, currently moving through the legislature, would provide consumers a $400 tax credit towards installation of electric vehicle charging stations in their homes, require the Public Service Commission to conduct pilot studies of how best to encourage off-peak charging of electric vehicles, and to establish a statewide electric vehicle planning council.

Two public EV charging stations are already operational at the Community College of Baltimore County and by June 2011 construction will have been completed on 65 publicly accessible electric vehicle charging stations funded by grants from the Maryland Energy Administration. These charging stations, which are to be located throughout the Baltimore Metropolitan Area, will equip Maryland with the second largest installed charging station capacity in the nation and cement its position as a national leader in EV readiness.

"By making smart investments in electric vehicle technologies we have attracted private investment, created jobs, and reduced our dependence on costly foreign-oil," said Mr. Woolf. "Since electric vehicles cost about 75 cents per gallon to charge, EVs are good for our household budgets as well as America's energy security. Today's announcement in Baltimore underscores the wisdom of these investments and helps to cement Maryland's reputation as a leader in electric vehicle readiness."

For more information, visit the Maryland Energy Administration.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Offshore wind farm is a good idea that should not be killed

In response to Jay Hancock’s piece in the Baltimore Sun this past Sunday, I say you are totally wrong, Mr. Hancock. I have been critical of Governor O’Malley’s ideas on how to accomplish the important mission of installing offshore wind in Maryland. I do agree with Mr. O’Malley’s staff that being first would be a great achievement for Maryland and everyone that breathes our air. And there is nothing wrong with a little friendly competition between states.
However, I object to the conclusion Mr. Hancock makes in his story. He uses cost overruns in Massachusetts as the reason for not establishing offshore wind farms in Maryland. He says natural gas should be our new and cleaner way of making electricity. If cost overruns were a reason not to do things, we would not have a baseball or football stadium and many other things.
Let’s look at the current cost of natural gas for a moment, and I emphasize current. Back in 1995 when I built my first home, it was touted to me that natural gas was plentiful and that it was cheap. So I installed the best Trane heating system available. But my happiness did not last long. BGE was touting the same thing to everyone and before long the demand for natural gas was so high that its cost had gone through the roof and other ways of heating were cheaper.
Mr. Hancock then makes a comparison between nuclear, of all things, and wind energy. It’s as if he hasn’t been watching television for the past month. He does not prefer nuclear but he says the cost is similar. It isn’t. Nuclear waste is a big problem, as are issues of manmade or natural disasters. What do we do with the waste? We have a disposal issue today, and that’s before we ramp up nuclear to never before seen levels. Nevada and other states have repeatedly refused to have that stuff dumped in their backyards. The true cost of nuclear never ends since waste sites have to be maintained forever and guarded against terrorist threats.
Mr. Hancock also talks about the environmental benefits of natural gas because it emits 40 percent less carbon dioxide than coal, and 80 percent less nitrous oxide and negligible amounts of mercury. If his theory is correct, that leaves 60 percent carbon dioxide, 20 percent nitrous oxide and as far as the mercury goes, I think that the fish in the ocean would rather we keep that to ourselves. So his argument is that it is less bad? Mr. Hancock talks about a growing need for electricity. So it stands to reason that the number of pollutants under a natural gas scenario will surely grow.
I propose that whether we build offshore or not is not the question. We have to build. The question is how to keep the cost down. The demand for clean electricity will likely grow and the competition for those dollars will make it easier and cheaper to attain investment dollars, if we just allow markets to work without hindrance. In Europe and other parts of the world these clean offshore wind farms work. They are great wonders. Why can’t we build them? That, to me, is the question that needs to be answered.
How much longer can we continue to complain about pollution without doing anything about it? Tearing down mountains and drilling wells through our drinking water should no longer be on the table. Just build the wind farms, keep the competition open to all who want to bring this type of energy to us and let the public choose how their energy will be brought to them. I will choose clean energy and I bet enough others will too.
Energy independence will not be easy but it is attainable. Our infrastructure is old so new transmission lines need to be built. Let’s make them capable of bringing clean power to our homes and enough clean power to charge our electric cars too. Let’s disagree on the cost but let’s follow Governor O’Malley lead and make it happen.
by George Lopez
Executive Director
The Solar and Wind Expo

Sunday, March 27, 2011


Whether you can afford alternative energy in this economy or whether a wind turbine will work in your situation are just two of the many topics to be covered by experts in solar and wind energy at the upcoming Solar and Wind Expo at the State Fairgrounds in Timonium, Md., running May 13-15, 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. daily.

“The Solar and Wind Expo is bringing the public the latest news and information regarding green energy,” said Solar and Wind Expo Executive Director George Lopez. “There will be something for everybody. Your questions will be answered and you’ll learn about affordable new technologies on the market now.”

Additional renewable energy and related topics seminars for consumers:

• The Consumer’s Checklist for Saving Energy and Sustaining our Environment

• Financing Programs Available Right Now

• Electric Vehicles are Here: Learn All About Them

• Benefits of Switching to Renewable Energy

• Solar, Wind and Geothermal Power and Why Now is the Time

• Community-Initiated Solar PV Systems Using a Power Purchase Agreement

• Green Building Design

• Design, Procure, and Construct an Innovative Renewable Energy System

Chelsea Sexton, the electric vehicle’s top advocate and star of the popular “Who Killed the Electric Car” documentary film, will present the keynote address. She will update Expo attendees on the future of electric vehicles. Sexton is a veteran clean transportation and energy advocate. She has served as Director of the Automotive X PRIZE, Senior Advisor to VantagePoint Venture Partners’ Cleantech practice, and co-founder of Plug In America, the largest consumer-oriented electric drive advocacy group. She founded the Lightning Rod Foundation, an advisory and educational organization. Sexton is a Consulting Producer on Chris Paine’s next film, “Revenge of the Electric Car.”

Topics covered in the professional seminars:

• Engage and Educate Employees

• Green Building Design

• Overview of Passive House Energy Performance Standard & Methodology

• Electrifying Your Fleet Charging Stations

• Turbine Basics & Installation Techniques

• Start-Up Workshop: Where to Find Technical Skills & Funding Sources

• Geothermal Basics & Installation Techniques

• The Latest Info. & Incentives That Increase Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy Production

The Solar and Wind Expo received accolades from Expo attendees and exhibitors in May 2010 when it brought top-quality clean energy advocates to consumers in the east coast region. This year’s Expo promises to do so again and to reach out to professionals in the field as well.

Information is available at

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Maryland Home Energy Loan Program Commits First $100,000 for Homeowners' Efficiency Improvements

Two months after its introduction, the Maryland Home Energy Loan Program (MHELP), which enables Marylander homeowners to access unsecured, low-cost, funds for efficiency upgrades, has cleared its first $100,000 in loan commitments.

“These measures not only help save on energy costs but could also make for a more comfortable home during heating and cooling seasons.”

“Ultimately, the goal is to help consumers reduce the cost of their power bills. We understand that most families don’t have extra money to make an investment in home improvements that an energy auditor might recommend, but might be inclined to implement the recommendations if the money was available. This program allows a consumer to borrow money for efficiency improvements at a very attractive rate without racking up high interest credit card debt or tying up the equity in their home,” said I. Katherine Magruder, Executive Director of the Maryland Clean Energy Center, which administers the MHELP program with funds from the Maryland Energy Administration and the federal 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

MHELP is designed to help achieve Governor O'Malley's four-pronged energy strategy that includes reducing per capital peak demand for energy 15% by 2015 (from a 2007 baseline). Efficiency improvements also reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions, help create green jobs by boosting demand for more certified energy auditors and contractors and, where appropriate, identifies where renewable energy systems that can supplant homeowners' need for electricity supplied by the power grid.

Homeowners interested in exploring a loan from MHELP need to complete a home energy audit by a certified auditor if they haven't done so within the past six months. The resulting assessment is likely to recommend several ways a home can save energy. Thus far, the Maryland Clean Energy Center has committed about $120,000 for loans to homeowners throughout the state.

As expected, most home improvement applications since the MHELP program launched in late December encompass upgrading insulation, plugging air leaks, sealing ducts and replacing furnaces, heat pumps and/or air conditioners that are at least 10 years old. “These measures not only help save on energy costs but could also make for a more comfortable home during heating and cooling seasons,” Magruder said.

With audit recommendations in hand, Marylanders can go to to apply. These loans do not need to be secured by the owner's home or other large asset. The clean energy loan amounts are capped at $20,000. The rate is 6.99%. Most unsecured loans at commercial banks carry interest rates at twice that rate. Some interest rates are rising as the economic recovery picks up momentum.

The approval process typically takes a few days. Improvements need to be performed by contractors with a Maryland Home Improvement Certification. Lists of both qualifying auditors and contractors are available at

Homeowners with proof of a qualifying audit within the past six months can proceed immediately to the application.

To see entire piece go to Businesswire

They Make My Job Promoting Clean Energy So Easy And Necessary

"The U.S. Department of Environmental Protection has ordered Chesapeake Energy to stop work on a natural gas drilling well pad in Pennsylvania for failure to comply with regulations and contaminating a water source". according to a Reuters report. The Galeton Borough Water Authority serves a population of about 1,400 through about 600 metered connections. The authority has been now forced to use another permitted water source to serve its customers.The order to cease comes after Chesapeake did not respond to Pennsylvania's Department of Environmental Protection's notice of violation for several violations of the Clean Streams Law and Oil and Gas Act. DEP met Chesapeake on March 10 after a routine site inspection on March 8. As reported on Reuters

Around the country there is a race for energy. Every where you look someone is working to make energy available to needy customers. The previous report by Reuters emphasizes the need for clean energy sources such as Ohio's first commercial wind farm – a project that will result in numerous jobs and a significant contribution to the local economy, as recently reported by Horizon Wind Energy, the company responsible for the project.

Horizon Wind Energy's
Kittitas Valley Wind Farm
The 99 megawatt Timber Road II Wind Farm currently employs over 200 construction workers and is expected to generate tens of millions of dollars in landowner royalties and property tax payments over the life of the project. This is the first of three phases of this wind farm that Horizon plans to construct in northwestern Ohio.

Horizon has been working with over 100 local landowners since 2007 to develop the wind farm that consists of 55 wind turbines which will produce enough electricity to power more than 27,000 homes. The wind farm will bring cleaner, homegrown electricity to Ohio's power lines. Horizon has also made a $100,000 contribution to the Paulding County Soil & Water Conservation Office and the Agricultural Extension Office and plans on partnering with Vantage Career Center to educate and train employees for careers in the renewable energy industry.

These good and bad scenarios are playing out all around the country and the world. If we continue to keep score, the good vs. bad comparison will no longer be needed because the winner will undoubtedly be Clean Energy.

Make it Happen!

by George Lopez

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

NABCEP-Certified PV Technical Sales Professionals Set a New Standard of Quality Assurance

Bryan Hacker, solar analyst of local business Solar Energy World, is one of the first solar professionals in the country to pass the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic (PV) Technical Sales Exam. This achievement sets Mr. Hacker at the top of his profession. NABCEP's new certification has been developed to ensure quality assurance throughout the entire sales process and, as such, offer consumers a new level of confidence when they seek quotations, proposals, and energy and financial production estimates for potential solar electric projects.

NABCEP is the most respected and well-established national certification organization for renewable energy professionals. Designation as a NABCEP-Certified PV Technical Sales Professional is an important and meaningful certification in the renewable energy industry.

"Passing NABCEP's PV Technical Sales Exam and achieving certification is personally very satisfying," said Hacker. "More important, it means we can offer our customers the added confidence of knowing he or she is being handled by someone who is fully qualified to a full representation of the potential of the proposed PV system."

To earn his NABCEP certification, Hacker was required to demonstrate his knowledge on subjects as diverse as qualifying the customer; site analysis; conceptual design; financial costs, incentives, and savings; financial benefit analysis and financing; non-financial benefit analysis; performance analysis; and proposal preparation.

"One thing you can be assured of with NABCEP-Certified PV Technical Sales Professionals is that your sale won't be their first," said Ezra Auerbach, executive director of NABCEP. "Anyone who makes the considerable effort required to earn NABCEP PV Technical Sales Certification has been required to document his experience and education as part of the eligibility process."

"Make Green a Reality" visit

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

There’s No Fallout from Clean Energy

The horrific news out of Japan continues to worsen and has put a spotlight on the downside of nuclear energy. For years we’ve been hearing that clean solar and wind energy is “not ready yet” but we know that’s not true. At this time, when there is growing concern about disasters --- natural and man-made -- that can come from oil and gas exploration and now, nuclear, we’re here to tell you, we ARE ready. Now is the time to increase demand for clean energy so that more is invested in research and costs will go down.

Proponents of clean energy need to educate the public about how this reliable power differs from fossil fuel and nuclear in that it poses no hardship to nearby communities. The danger from nuclear power is real. It’s not only Japanese authorities who are worried about the aftermath of the earthquake. Radiation can move with the wind. A US naval warship floating 100 miles from one of the Japanese nuclear power plants had to move because of radiation readings and is now in scrub-down mode.

The fish we eat, the air we breathe, the land we cultivate and our oceans are too important to leave to chance.

There is a wealth of information about the downside of nuclear. If the public truly knew some of the issues surrounding this form of power I think that the conversation would not even start and no more plants would be built. The thing about nuclear energy is that even if the plants are well-built and well-run and no disasters affect their safety, the waste will be a threat forever. No wonder Nevada and other states refuse to have that stuff dumped in their backyards. Even France, a country that claims to have perfected this form of energy, is actually dumping its radioactive waste in Siberia. As Linda Gunter of Beyond Nuclear put it, “You can actually see the Siberian nuclear waste site on Google Earth.”

The subject of capacity is always mentioned when comparing nuclear and fossil fuel energy to clean energy. Renewable energy has solar, wind, geothermal and hydro capabilities. If all of these were brought to their maximum capacity with today’s and tomorrow’s technologies, we would have more than enough to supply every household in America, especially if conservation took hold in the public’s consciousness. How about some out-of-the-box thinking? What if we treat electricity like a valuable commodity that should not be wasted? If we spent our money building efficient homes or retrofitting the existing housing stock with six- and eight-inch, properly insulated walls, better windows, and better insulated roofs, the amount of electricity needed would be much less.

It’s a shame that the public needs constant reminders like the oil spill in the Gulf and the earthquake in Japan to remember that clean energy is the real deal. Those reminders almost always cost pain and agony for someone. It’s up to us to continue to do our part to expand the market for clean energy so cost will not be an issue anymore and to lobby our elected officials to increase research money and provide financial incentives to producers and consumers. If politics runs on money, then clean energy needs to be the highest bidder.

It is unfair to judge renewable energy by today’s standards when we have yet to make the proper investments in the technology. Fossil fuels have had a 100-year run. And we still feel as though we are still living in the past. Efficiency hasn’t increased enough to make the good outweigh the damage it’s done to our environment and our foreign policy. With renewable energy the conversation is about capacity, not about where to get it, or about balancing energy against the environment. In fact, developing nations will benefit by being able to power themselves to same extent as developed nations. Clean energy is a key component to taking us out of the current economic downturn while helping create economic equality and political stability.

To me, clean energy is good energy and the time for it is now. We can make it happen!

by George Lopez

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Solar and Wind Expo helps Tsunami victims

Our hearts go out to the people of Japan who late last week suffered enormous losses at the hands of one of the strongest earthquakes ever recorded and which sparked a massive tsunami wave that deepened the agony. We stand together with our government in committing to help in any way we can. Please go to the American Red Cross special website to make any donation you can to help feed and clothe the survivors. We are working with the Red Cross to provide a special collection area at the Solar and Wind Expo for donations to the victims and will soon have a link on our own website for donations.

The news coming out of Japan is horrific. As if the damages from the earthquake and tsunami aren’t enough, there is now the specter of indeterminate, long term and worldwide damage from radiation seeping from one of the country’s nuclear power plants. This very real threat has naturally put a spotlight on the woes of nuclear energy.

All of us as proponents for clean energy should educate ourselves in all the ways that clean energy can help prevent unnecessary hardship to communities around these power plants. But radiation can damage not just the surrounding areas. A naval warship floating one hundred miles from one of the Japanese nuclear power plants had to move and is now on scrub down mode as a result of high radiation levels.

The fish that we eat, the air that we breathe, the land that we cultivate and the environment that we live in are critical to our survival and well-being and can’t be left to chance. The organization Beyond Nuclear has a wealth of information about the downside to nuclear. I was mesmerized by some of the issues surrounding this form of power. The plants can be as safe as they need to be, but the waste will be a threat forever. No wonder Nevada and other states refuse to have that stuff dumped in their backyard. Even France, who continues to claim that they have perfected this form of energy, is actually dumping it in Siberia. As Linda Gunter of Beyond Nuclear put it, “You can actually see the Siberian nuclear waste site on Google Earth.”

It’s a shame that the public needs a constant reminder that clean energy is the real deal, here and immediately available. Those reminders almost always cost pain and agony for someone. But I know that we are all up to the challenge and will continue to do our part to point these shortcomings out, to continue to expand the clean energy market so cost becomes a non-issue, and to lobby to grease the wheels of congress. To me there is no lack of reasons to feel good about clean energy.

Make it happen!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Solar and Wind Expo's Bob Dixson's Greenburg, Kansas Windfarm named "Wind Project of the Year"

The Greensburg Wind Farm in Greensburg, KS, has been named "Wind Project of the Year" by, a leading renewable energy publication. This award recognizes the project's community benefits and unique financing model. Jeff Bernicke, president of NativeEnergy, accepted the award at the Renewable Energy World Conference and Expo in Tampa, Florida. said: "To recognize the perseverance of the people of Greensburg, Kansas, and the leadership of companies involved in developing and marketing the project, the 12.5 MW Greensburg Wind Farm is the 2011 'Wind Project of the Year.'"

In May 2007, a massive tornado leveled Greensburg, destroying 95% of the town. In the face of this tragedy, the citizens of Greensburg decided to rebuild as "the greenest town in America." This plan—spearheaded by non-profit Greensburg GreenTown—included construction of the Greensburg Wind Farm.

The wind farm was financed in part through NativeEnergy's innovative Help Build™ carbon offsets. By purchasing Help Build™ offsets, companies and individuals across the U.S. provided critical upfront funding for project construction. In return, they received a share of the project's long-term verified greenhouse gas reductions. Major project supporters included: Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Ben & Jerry's, Brighter Planet, Stonyfield, CLIF Bar, Aveda, Clean Air-Cool Planet, and Reverb.

"When NativeEnergy first brought the Greensburg Wind Farm to us, we were excited to be early supporters," said Paul Comey, vice president of Environmental Affairs at GMCR, Inc. "Upon visiting the site and meeting the community, we realized we could make a difference. By purchasing carbon offsets from the project, we are mitigating our carbon footprint while helping Greensburg along its journey to become the greenest community in America."

"I've seen first-hand the tremendous progress that the people of Greensburg have made in their commitment to becoming a truly green community, so being awarded 'Wind Project of the Year' is a fitting recognition," said Chuck Bennett, vice president of Earth & Community Care at Aveda. "This tremendous honor reinforces my belief that Aveda's support for the community and the wind project has been very well founded."

Jeff Bernicke, president of NativeEnergy, noted, "We are honored that the Greensburg Wind Farm has been named 'Wind Project of the Year.' This project demonstrates that well-planned environmental initiatives can have local economic and social advantages too. This was truly a community project—from the way it was financed to the benefits it offers."

The project, which began operating in March 2010, consists of 10 new wind turbines, 1.25 MW each. The project developer, owner, and operator is Exelon Wind, LLC (formerly John Deere Renewables, LLC). The wind farm's exceptional community benefits include job creation, lease revenues for local farmers, and greenhouse gas reductions. It is expected to reduce nearly one half million metric tonnes of carbon dioxide over its 20 year life.

"make green a reality" visit

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Please do not change your position, Mr. Chu, and fight for what you believe in.

Steven Chu

This morning I feel compelled to take up for US Energy Secretary Steven Chu. Republicans are attacking Chu for his comments to The Wall Street Journal in September of 2008, when he said, “Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.”

Not that I want to see gas prices to rise, but is it not the Republicans who say that the war on drugs and the high cost of drugs is a deterrent to using drugs. If this rationale is true than it seems to me that the high cost of gas will be a deterrent to our addiction to oil.

If I were Chu, this is what I would use as my argument. But instead, he is pedaling back from this position.

“Secretary Chu has stated repeatedly that higher gas prices are a threat to the economy and take a harmful toll on America's families,” said Energy Department spokeswoman Stephanie Mueller in a statement Tuesday. “Chu recognizes that the best way to protect Americans from high gas prices is to lower our dependence on oil – which is why we are investing in more fuel efficient cars, American biofuels, and electric vehicles that can go 300 miles,” she added.

Bottom line is that oil is bad and we are addicted. As horrible as another downturn in our economy would be because of fuel prices, it would only be temporary. The electric vehicle industry is ready for an explosive growth cycle and at the end of the process we will end up with a much sounder economy. Please do not change your position, Mr. Chu, and fight for what you believe in.

Make it happen!
by George Lopez

"make green a reality" visit

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Don't get rid off your small turbines!

Offshore wind farm
 Here we go again! How many times can our leaders take a good and noble idea and totally mess it up. The latest and some may say the most important subject to come around (offshore wind farm) is finally a stone’s throw away from becoming a reality. But already, as it happened with slots, the subject of conversation in Annapolis’s State Circle is how can we give it to a few and how do we control the money rather than focusing on the greater good.

Offshore wind has every group looking to profit from it. Maryland’s governor has proposed a rate hike to the consumer, or a tax as I like to call it, to make wind energy happen. Even his fellow democrats are apprehensive to this approach. When energy prices are through the roof, this rate hike looks eerily like more of the same. The explanation is that the investment will spur development. I think that the turbines will happen either way and the open market will do its thing. Better yet, why doesn’t Maryland build them and lease out the maintenance and power delivery in short ten year contracts.

Maryland Governor Martin O'Malley
 Increasing your energy bills should be the last thing any governor in Maryland talks about, especially after the promises and accusations that went on in past elections. Maryland has a history of using prevailing wages in State contracts and I suspect that this is one of the reasons the cost to build offshore wind will be so high causing outside investors to ask the Governor for this kind of contribution from the public.

We need these projects to come to Maryland because of the jobs they will generate, the energy competition they will bring which should lead to more competitive pricing for the consumer and the environmental benefits that cannot be overlooked. So with all due respect Mr. Governor, no rate hikes just true competition and diversity. You worked hard for renewable energy to come to Maryland. Was it to benefit the masses of people, or was it for the few investors? Please allow the citizens who have tolerated rate hike upon rate hike to have their day, a choice in energy supply, and a cleaner world.

Small wind turbine by Windtamer

  One final point to homeowners: don’t give up on individual solar panels and small wind turbines. This kind of business as usual posturing by the powers that be is a sign that true competition will only happen if you have your own horse in the race.

Make it happen!
by George Lopez

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Congratulations to Maryland's Greenspring Energy for receiving Schuco's 2010 East U.S. Residential Dealer of the Year Award

Schuco Solar USA's dealer base has continued to grow quickly and with that growth Schuco has continued its commitment to focus support of our dealers in their growth and success. In working closely with our dealers, Schuco has identified two that have demonstrated a level of excellence and performance worthy of Schuco's prestigious annual recognition award, "Residential Dealer of the Year". The award is not based solely on sales, but includes customer service, ethics, leadership and regional territory marketing differentiation in the solar industry. The two dealers awarded are Greenspring Energy for the Eastern U.S. Region and Nova West Solar for the Western U.S. Region.

Greenspring Energy and Nova West Solar continue to set the standard and raise the bar for residential service and sales of renewable energy products and services, and both provide comprehensive renewable energy packages and services that helps with consumer acceptance and expansion of green renewable energy. This is the second consecutive year that Greenspring Energy has been recognized and awarded with this prestigious award.

Greenspring Energy is headquartered in Maryland since 2007, and with additional offices in Reading, PA and Charlotte, NC, Greenspring Energy LLC is focused on helping homeowners and small business owners permanently reduce their utility costs. The company offers a full line of solar energy systems and innovative energy saving products and services that provide the best value and return on investment. These products include solar electric and solar hot water systems, tankless water heaters, energy-efficient lighting, daylighting systems, solar attic fans and other energy saving products. Greenspring Energy has installed over 1,000 solar energy systems in the Mid-Atlantic region.

Schuco is headquartered in Germany since 1951 and with more than 5,000 employees worldwide, Schuco is a world leader in aluminum, steel, PVC-U and energy-efficient solar technology. Schuco's portfolio includes integrated solar electric, solar heating and racking for both residential and commercial applications. Providing the full spectrum of products needed for solar solutions, Schuco obtains planning support and know-how from engineering teams in both the photovoltaic and thermal transfer sectors. Schuco USA has been successfully operating in the U.S. for over 14 years with locations in Newington, CT and Union City, CA.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Electric Vehicle Manufacturer Searches for University Partners

GGT Electric is looking to partner with two U.S. universities to engage in collaborative efforts for research and development of electric trucks, electric cars and electric delivery vans.

“GGT’s future partners will search for improvements in the electric vehicle drive train space in the areas of low voltage motors, controllers, batteries and battery management systems,” said Ray Leduc, chief operating officer and head technology engineer of GGT. “It is essential that business, academia and the government collaborate in order to accelerate the advancement of electric vehicle technologies.”

The announcement yesterday from the Milford, Michigan-based business said GGT company officials are actively seeking qualified academic partners to receive a complimentary electric vehicle to aid in the R & D process.

Interested universities applying for the program will be known for their work in EV research, or be prepared to develop expertise in the field, according to GGT officials.

GGT also retrofits a variety of vehicles
 “University capabilities for industrial collaboration will be greatly strengthened over the next few years through the funding of electric vehicle innovation and commercialization,” said Leduc.

GGT was established in 2008 for the purpose of researching, developing and manufacturing neighborhood electric vehicles.

GGT officials hope the proposed collaboration with the select universities will “help advance the performance and reduce the cost of electric vehicles to make it a viable and economically competitive option globally.”

GGT is known for its work in electric vehicle technology and manufacturing. For more info visit

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Wednesday, March 2, 2011

2011 Energy Legislation Explained

New compact van concept has pure electric drive - Original model of the Volkswagen Bulli was first van in the world

The Volkswagen bus, like no other car, stands for the spirit of freedom. It debuted over 60 years ago in 1950 with a contagiously simple design. Its internal Volkswagen code name was T1 for Transporter 1. The Germans called it the Bulli, and to Americans it was the Microbus. It was driven on all continents. And the world’s first van is still appreciated by a fan base which spans the globe. Now Volkswagen is reinterpreting the compact original form of this automotive legend and sending it into the future – in the form of a concept vehicle for a new generation Bulli! It is spacious like it was in 1950, it is as inspirational as ever, and it has clean styling like never before.

In this vehicle, Volkswagen is finishing what it started in 2001: ten years ago, the vision of a new Bulli led to an unforgettable concept vehicle known as the Microbus. But some visions need to mature before they yield something new. Now, the time is right for this vision. That is because the concept was sharpened, and the necessary, sustainable technologies are now at hand. More compact and affordable than the earlier concept vehicle, it is now being shown in Geneva. The new Bulli – powered by an electric motor and fitted with six seats and infotainment control via iPad.

This concept has the potential to establish a new, fifth brand of people carrier next to the Caddy, Touran, Sharan and its large counterpart – the Caravelle. The Bulli could even become an icon like the T1 Samba that still trades at extremely high prices today – one of those few vehicles that simply do not fade with time.

Zero emissions – up to 186.4 miles on a single battery charge

Thanks to highly advanced drive technologies, the Bulli being shown in Geneva is what is referred to as a ‘zero emissions vehicle,’ because the concept is electrically powered. Zero emissions at the tailpipe. The Bulli’s electric motor outputs 85 kW of power and an impressive 199 lb.-ft of torque. As is usual with this type of drive, its maximum forces are generated from standstill. The silent motor is supplied with energy from a lithium-ion battery with a maximum storage capacity of 40 kWh. This electrifying combination enables driving ranges of up to 186.4 miles – a high value for an electric car. When the Bulli’s battery is charged at an “electric refuelling station” specially designed for electric vehicles, the charging process takes less than one hour.

The new Bulli accelerates from 0 to 62 mph in 11.5 seconds, and its top speed is 87 mph (electronically limited). Its range and driving performance not only make the compact vehicle ideal for short distances; but also ideal for most commuters and recreational activities with zero tailpipe emissions.

Naturally, the concept can also incorporate Volkswagen’s extremely efficient gas and diesel direct injection engines as alternative drives. Engines with 1.0 or 1.4 liter displacement that are fuel efficient yet strong; this is downsizing by the book. Ideal for anyone who wants to cover maximum distances with minimal fuel consumption.

Bulli – the idea goes back 64 years

Without the Dutch Volkswagen importer Ben Pon, the T1 might not have existed, and of course neither would the Bulli concept vehicle at Geneva. That is because Pon was the person who on April 23, 1947, sketched a picture of a compact bus in his notebook. Actually, the Dutchman’s drawing was a simple side view of a radically shortened public omnibus placed over the wheelbase of a Beetle with an “m” for “motor” written on it. That was it. The world’s first van was born. Great ideas usually just take a few strokes of the pen, but then they require a dedicated effort to implement them. Volkswagen designers took this sketch and created the bus that became an automotive icon with the characteristic “V” in front.

The Bulli concept vehicle now follows in the footsteps of the original bus and demonstrates the concept of maximum space utilisation with the characteristic “V” with VW logo at the front end and the cleanest of proportions. In the process, the concept vehicle’s design follows the maxims of the new Volkswagen “design DNA.” Retro? Hardly. It is a Volkswagen! The team led by Walter de Silva, Head of Volkswagen Group Design, and Klaus Bischoff, Head of Design of the Volkswagen brand, developed the “design DNA” for the modern era based on styling principles of the bestselling Beetle, Golf I and T1.

Design – visual world of a masterpiece

The new edition of the Bulli is 156 inches long, 68.4 inches wide and 66 inches tall. The T1 was somewhat longer and taller, but narrower. With a wheelbase of 102 inches, the Bulli utilizes the overall length very well. Also striking here are the Bulli’s relatively large track widths (54 inches front and rear) in relation to body width.

Front end: Like the Samba bus before it, the Bulli being presented in Geneva also has two-tone paint – in this case white and red. The “V” on the bonnet, is kept white. The bonnet does house the engine: instead of rear-wheel drive with a boxer engine, as on the Samba, the Bulli has an electric motor located forward of the front axle and front-wheel drive. Here, it is a compact integral drive whose primary components are an E-motor, high-voltage pulse inverter and DC/DC converter for the 12-Volt electrical system.

In keeping with the Volkswagen design DNA, there is a horizontal layout of the narrow dual headlights with L-shaped LED daytime running lights and turn indicators implemented as LEDs arranged in an inverted L shape at each outer corner. Incidentally, LEDs not only exhibit tremendous luminous power and long life; due to their low energy consumption, they are ideal for the electrically powered Bulli of 2011. Located between the headlights in the bonnet is, as always, the VW logo. On the level beneath, one finds – once again arranged in a horizontal line – the air intakes for the passenger compartment and for battery cooling or for cooling the alternative conventional drives.

Finally, the bumper that is seamlessly integrated in the front end completes the design. Laterally, it exhibits a large round fog light on each side, another air intake in the middle, and a front spoiler in black below. This line matches the lines of the side sills.

Side profile: The Bulli’s two-tone paint also distinguishes the sides. Treated in white is the entire area above what is known as the character line. Originating in the wings is a white stripe that runs to the distinctive D-pillars; above them, the entire roof section is painted in this color. The continuous line of windows creates an especially striking contrast between the white sections. Here, the visually slender black pillars executed in the style of the 2001 Microbus concept are visually striking. Painted in red are the door mirror housings protruding from the line of windows.

Beneath the character line is the red body area. Design elements such as the distinctive wheel housings, the additional shape modulation in the door surfaces above the side sills and the headlights that wrap around to the sides with minimal seams are details that would not have been possible to manufacture in this form and precision on a T1. Concealed in the sandwiched floor behind the sills is the 1,450 kg Bulli’s lithium-ion battery. The white door handles are practical, opening in the direction of pull. The 18-inch alloy wheels are especially attractive. At their centers are stylized chrome hubcaps – another tribute to the bus of years past. Shorter than ever are the overhangs at the front and rear.

Rear section: The Volkswagen design DNA with its horizontal lines also dominates the rear of the new Bulli. Viewed from the bottom upwards, above the body-colored bumper (including black, stylized diffuser), there is the tailgate that extends across the entire width of the vehicle. In the tailgate, the narrow LED rear lights continue a theme from the Microbus concept of 2001. At the center, but smaller than at the front end: the VW symbol. When all six seating locations are fully occupied, there is a 370-liter bootspace behind the tailgate.

Interior space – melding of car and iPad

Like the body design, the interior is also marked by a level of clarity whose consistent application can only be found at Volkswagen. The passenger compartment – immersed in light during the day thanks to its panoramic sunroof – also harbors some surprises.

A practical highlight: like the T1 in times past, thanks to its level floor, the new Bulli is also equipped with a single bench seat in front. The van offers space for three in the rear as well.

An infotainment highlight: a removable iPad in the center console serves as a multifunctional touchscreen. Along with Internet-based iPad applications and the media center, it also handles control of such functions as Bluetooth hands-free telephone and a navigation system. Integrated right on the iPad mount are controls for the climate control system and the centrally-located hazard warning switch.

Typical Volkswagen: all cockpit details are clearly organized and designed to be intuitive. Running laterally across the entire width is a line with air vents. In front of the driver, there is a speedometer in the shape of a semicircle. A color multifunction display, also semi-circular in shape, can be used to view and control (via multifunctional keys in the steering wheel and on it) the navigation system, telephone, trip computer and media center – the entire unit of speedometer and multifunction display also communicates with the iPad. The key word here is sound: a system produced by legendary guitar and amplifier manufacturer Fender (USA) ensures that the music sounds as though it were being performed live. At Woodstock in 1969, Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” on a Fender Stratocaster guitar.

What is not found in the Bulli is a tachometer (unnecessary with an electric motor) or a conventional gear shift or gear selection lever (also unnecessary with an electric motor). The latter is replaced by a rotary switch to the right of the driver, which is used to activate forward and reverse gears. A push button in the same switch is used to start and stop the motor. Another rotary switch to the left of the driver is used to control the lighting functions.

Seats become reclining surface in an instant

The outer and middle seat positions of the front bench seat can be folded down (2/3 split); the rear beach seat, meanwhile, can be completely stowed. When the rear bench seat is stowed, cargo capacity increases to 1,600 liters. In addition – and here the new Bulli is reminiscent of its legendary ancestor – the seat system can be transformed into a large reclining surface with just a few manual movements. This turns the compact MPV into a compact camper – the ultimate companion for a weekend trip.

At least as important for many users, however, is that the seating system should not only be versatile but also offer maximum comfort. The seat position is comfortably high and is equally relaxing. As an added benefit, it offers an optimized view forward as well. And that is how it was in the T1 too. Contributing to peace of mind aboard today’s vehicle is the fact that the new era Bulli is equipped with all conceivable safety features. And that is the crucial difference: the car has essentially been reinvented since the days of the first T1 aka the Bulli aka the Microbus.

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