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Warmest Winter And A Solar Boom

In the warmest winter on record, hope again in the explosive growth of solar energy. We follow the sun.

Solar panels and a green roof are among the sustainably-built features of the new Google building on the company's campus Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Kirkland, Wash. The new building is on a site that formerly housed a chemical mixing and packaging plant. After completing an environmental cleanup in 2012, the property manager conducted a second cleanup to voluntarily surpass state standards and remove all detectable remaining contamination at the property. Google said that the Washington Department of Ecology has called the cleanup “cleaner than clean” and plans to remove the area from the state’s contaminated sites list. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Solar panels and a green roof are among the sustainably-built features of the new Google building on the company’s campus Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in Kirkland, Wash. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Gliding out of what we now know was the warmest winter in the recorded meteorological history of the United States, a lot of people are wondering what next for energy policy. How we get off the global warming train. At a time of record low oil and gas prices, there’s no way alternative energy can compete with fossil fuels, right? Well, wrong. The way things are put together right now, solar is booming. On rooftops and by roadways and all over the place. This hou On Point, the warm winter, the solar boom.

— Tom Ashbrook

Guests

David Roberts, energy and environment reporter at Vox. (@drvox)

Dan Reicher, director of the Stanford Center for Energy Policy and Finance. Chair of the American Council on Renewable Energy. Member of the U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Advisory Board. (@dan_reicher)

Noah Buhayar, reporter at Bloomberg Business. (@NBuhayar)

From Tom’s Reading List

Vox: Big solar is heading for boom times in the US — “When people think of solar power, they tend to think of panels on rooftops. That kind of small-scale, distributed solar power is the most visible, gets the most press, and, from the consumer perspective, has the most sex appeal. But the humble workhorse of solar power is the utility-scale solar power plant, usually defined as a solar array larger than 5 megawatts.”

Bloomberg Business: Who Owns the Sun? — “Nevada’s legislature had been gradually changing incentives for solar customers for years and, in 2013, it did away with the lottery for rebates, so anyone could get one. The state also set a new cap on installations—3 percent of the utility’s peak demand. Such provisions usually appease utilities and give regulators a chance to study what it means to have more small solar systems on the grid.”

MIT Technology Review: Suddenly, the Solar Boom Is Starting to Look like a Bubble — “The rosier projections for grid parity usually assume that both net metering fees from utilities and government subsidies will continue. GTM Research this week released a report saying that rooftop solar is now at parity with grid power in 20 states, and will be in 22 more by 2020—if subsidies are included. Without subsidies, the picture looks a lot bleaker.”

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