Going Green – The Government’s Green Scammers

Kermit the Frog may know better than most that it’s cool to be Green.  Maybe we should look to him for advice on how to avoid being scammed by those who want to make a buck or three off of calling something Green or Alternative.  The problem isn’t just one of unscrupulous or self-serving entrepreneurs selling snake oil either.   Presumably well-intending government officials are getting in on the act now, too. 

It seems no one is above trying to push a product by calling it Green.In Illinois’  Winnebago County, the Soil and Water Conservation District is pitching a 55 gallon rain barrel for $75, and even claiming that the barrels will pay for themselves.  Jessica Vandeboom, representing the county, brags that the barrels ”are made out of recycled food grade plastic, so they were once used to ship food products.”   One small problem: Barrels like this are found all over the country, used once (as law prohibits their being reused, for some reason,)  for $10-20 retail.  To a hydrogen perioxide company, they’re a waste byproduct.  Dialysis fluids are also shipped in the barrels.  A rinse or two, and they’re perfectly safe to drink out of, and certainly just fine for catching run-off.   But if you ship them to a Recycling company, cut and melt them down and reform them into the same 55 gallon capacity barrel, then ship them back out, you can buy these $10 barrels for $75.  What a deal!

Then there’s the snake oil and pseudo snake oil.  Things are just too easy to scam with.  The little gadgets that you put in your car, a resistor, this or that, to supposedly give your car an extra 30 mpg.Most of the time, such scams are pretty obvious, and yet we feel the need to warn people not to trust every person — or government agency — who wants to sell you something they’re calling Green.  Going Green doesn’t really cost any more.  Don’t be deceived. 

You can do plenty to Green up your home or life without spending a dime.  In fact, going Green usually SAVES you money.  Turn off lights when you’re not using them.  Switch to florescent bulbs — they last longer since there is no filament to break.  Same with heat and air.  This winter, consider wearing a sweatshirt or sweater or even warm pajamas and you’ll be able to turn your house down another 5-10 degrees!

When all’s said and done, it’s still keen to be Green!

The Argument For Investing In Green Energy Sources

Fifteen years ago, no savvy investor would have touched alternative or renewable energy resources — and rightly so.  The technology wasn’t able to pass muster.  It was clunky, unreliable and unnecessarily expensive.  Worse yet, it had virtually no support in the mainstream.  That was 1994, and the world was a very different place.

Today’s savvy investors are looking for something reliable, secure, safe and promising, the same as any other day. But what a difference a decade makes in today’s world! Today’s investors who are looking at the long haul, are looking at alternative energy. Huge investments come from what may seem to be some of the most unlikely places.

The Middle-east, for example, seems to be betting against themselves. They’ve sunk tens and scores of billions of dollars into investments in alternative energy technologies, and not to buy and bury them either. Hundreds of millions each in endowments and grants to the likes of M.I.T. (and just about every other prestigious university on the planet, it turns out,) were just the beginning. Masdar, a zero-carbon-footprint city sleeping 50,000 residents and a total of 90,000 people during the day, shows every indication of becoming a functional reality within a decade. Those wiz kids and profs they’ve invested in will be providing some of the technological advances needed to pull it off, and the Arabs don’t even have proprietary rights to the technologies. They just know a good idea when they see it, and are resolved to have a big place at the table as times change.

It’s not just guys in thobes with long beards and lots of money though. It’s also Wall Street, and Pickens, and Bill Gates, and just about anybody with more than a few nickels to rub together and the vision to see what ought to be the obvious truths:

  • We ARE going to run out of oil, so alternative energy solutions aren’t optional.

  • The list of people in favor of green is long and distinguished, and profitable.

  • The alternative-source energy market is climbing steadily, undiminished by even radical market fluctuations on the petroleum front.

  • Projections suggest a need for $26 trillion (in 2007 dollars) to be invested from 2007 to 2030, in energy infrastructure alone.

Whoever funds the need is going to make out like a bandit. Funding Green isn’t just some cute little philanthropy anymore. You don’t need to be any kind of tree-hugger to see that Green is good business.

Tax Issues — Alternative Energy’s Albatross

Finally the people and the governments agree that alternative energy is essential, and are willing to put a bit of money where their mouths are. So why are investments in alternative energy sources diminishing, both from corporations and the government? The problems are legion, and one way or the other, it’s all about taxes.

For the established corporations, the government’s facile use of tax deductions has lost a lot of its value of late. In an economic time such as this, with huge layoffs, losses, and folding giants, there just isn’t much profit to shelter, and developments can’t be bankrolled unless the money is coming from SOMEwhere.

Tax break incentives work on the idea that the government will give the money up in arrears, after the funds have been invested, in lieu of taxes that the company would otherwise have been obligated to pay. But those tax obligations are only levied upon profits, so… no profit, no taxes owed, so no incentive after the investment is made. That part is relatively easy to remedy. The government can use grants instead, since it’s out the same amount of money either way. (This is a bit of an oversimplification, in that the government’s income is also down during times of little or no profit, but the initial concept remains valid.)

Using grants adds an advantage: It allows the little guys, start-up companies with great ideas, abilities and know-how, to become involved in alternative energy solutions. Such companies would otherwise pretty much be out of the running under other circumstances, unless they had huge backing from some invest who expected… well… to get the money back from tax incentives…. you see the problem?

The other way that taxes are an issue is a bit less comfortable to ponder. The government gets a LOT of money from taxes on gasoline. With alternative energy aimed at reducing (or ending) the use of fossil fuels, where will that tax money come from? When people generate their own electricity, that tax also goes away. How can the government continue to run and provide services without that income? Obviously, it will need to levy taxes in some other fashion in the long run. Meanwhile, though, taxing alternative energy producers is counterproductive, even if it could be accomplished, the balance between fossil fuel and alternative energy generation is in nearly constant flux (so a fair new system can’t yet be put into place,) and the governments are bleeding tax losses all over the place.

That we’re all finally getting friendly with Going Green is good news. Unfortunately, a river runs through it, as well – a river of tax dollars. Nobody said the transition was going to be entirely trouble-free. Eventually we will shed the albatross around our necks. The savings found in using alternative energy will help ease the change. Meanwhile, we can take good, sound comfort in knowing that we’re not going through these growing pains for no good reason. Petroleum and Europe’s recent gas crisis both prove that, though transitions may not always be easy, there’s still far more sense in Going Green.

Going Green Tax Incentives for Alternative Energy Create Jobs

Tax Incentives for Alternative Energy Technologies Create Jobs! 

True story.  The bailout bill of 2008 included some $150 billion in alternative energy incentives.  Not only do those keep solar and wind farms viable, but they also stimulate growth in many other sectors as well.  Take a look at Tesla Motors, the California-based company producing electric cars.  Building electric vehicles may seem like space technology or something for the uber-rich, but it’s not.  In fact, even though there have been a few rough starts, Tesla’s plant in Northern California means thousands of new jobs being created to manufacture those vehicles… and not just the sports car either!  Tesla and others are building cars that will retail for about $16,000 and take you to and from work and the store on pennies a day! 

Wind and Solar farms will also create new jobs, and even more technologies to utilize them and convert our existing devices and technologies over to electric use.  Many of the cars we already have can be repowered to work as full-time electric cars.  There’s even a company making cars that run on compressed air!  Those awesome innovations and far more are ahead, spurred into existence by these Federal tax incentives and state and local government investments into alternative energy sources.  It really is amazing how much we can do, and how quickly we’re doing it, now that we’ve begun to put our heads to it!

Solar energy Spain-solar power use in Spain-Going Green

Spain is literally leading the way to solar supremacy over their dead bodies. The country’s habitable regions have limited free space for solar installations, so they’re getting very practical about it all, using up every bit of open space that they can find. ANY space. While Spin has put solar farms in cemeteries before, Santa Coloma de Gramenet, a working man’s town outside of Barcelona, has mounted 462 solar panels atop the graves themselves, and is now piping that solar energy back into their local grid that supplies electricity for the 124,000 people who live within a mere 1.5 square miles.

This solar power use in Spain is being heralded as both sensible and noble. That solar array will produce energy to power 60 homes, while eliminating 62 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere.

Esteve Serret, the director of Conste-Live Energy, said “The best tribute we can pay to our ancestors, whatever your religion may be, is to generate clean energy for new generations.” Would that the rest of the world would adopt such wisdom. In this sense, using the graveyard for solar power is noble as well.

Spain offers generous subsidies to solar manufacturers. The country has abundant sun, and along with that comes a high demand for air conditioning. To facilitate the jump-starting of solar power, Spain has initiated feed-in tariffs which guarantee up to triple the market price for solar energy — guaranteed — for the next 25 years. New legislation would require all new buildings to include solar technology. Spain really is pushing for solar supremacy, even if that means generating it over their dead bodies.

solar battery chargers-solar chargers-portable solar laptop chargers


Video: Macworld portable solar laptop chargers

In a market that’s becoming increasingly Green, and a world that’s quickly realizing they’ll need to keep up the good work to stay on top, Solio’s innovative designs continue to capture the leading edge of their market.  For the price of a OEM laptop charger, you can get one of Solio’s USB-based hybrid chargers that will capture electricity form the sun’s rays, or from a wall outlet, and keep it for you in a battery that lasts up to a full year!  Some of these clever compact designs have fold-away solar panels, making a small football when they’re stored away.  Solio even offers color options — how cool is that?!

10% off all Solio Products. Use coupon code GoGreen2008

You do have other choices besides their Classic solar battery charger.  The H1000 is fitted into a neat concise case that’s just under 2″ wide by 8″ long, and integrated into into a caribiner and cable assembly that can be recharged with the sun or a USB port attached to your computer.  Every Solio hybrid charger comes with a variety of interchangeable tips and interfaces, with other optional connectors  as well, making them some of the top rated portable solar laptop chargers.

Solio® Hybrid 1000™ – Never be caught without a chClever as that is, innovative though it may be, that doesn’t give you the term “leading edge” in our book.  But their new Magnesium Edition offers increased power, more efficient solar cells, and packs it all into a magnesium case that’s a mere 1.5″ wide by 4″ long!  Traditional wall-mount battery chargers are at LEAST that big!

With these compact solar choices available to you, there’s no need to worry about bringing extra batteries, running the car and an inverter, or any of the other ecologically compromised second choices.  Solio solar battery chargers continues to be on the leading edge of the Going Green revolution!

Solar power packs-gadgets and products

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Our country is essentially quite obsessed with a whole host of different topics ranging from art and science to history and freedom.  But the one thing that it appears us Americans love more than anything else is gadgets.  Sure, we may also be quite addicted to oil, but our biggest weakness over all as a nation is gadgets.  Every time some new, interesting and overpriced gadget comes out on the market, if we can think of a single helpful use for it, we absolutely must have it.  If it peels an onion, slices a tomato, cores an apple, plays a tone, solves a problem or looks shiny and exciting, you probably have brought one home in the past.  In fact, it may be gadgets that is making solar power such a hot topic as of late.  Why?  Because solar energy is becoming a real alternative as a source of energy for our favorite past time: Gadgets.

For example, one of the latest and greatest things that you can obtain when it comes to gadgets is a solar power pack.  These packs are available in a wide variety of different forms, but most are thin and light and look like little black CD folders.  All you have to do is open it up outside, lay it flat in the sun, and plug your gadget right in.  These packs will harness the power of the sun in order to feed your gadget with plenty of power.  Because solar power packs run on completely renewable energy, you can save a lot of money simply by never plugging another gadget charger into your wall at home or work again.  Solar power packs are the perfect little gadget, allowing us to use the incredible power of the sun on a much more personal level.

There are other solar powered gadgets on the market now, including solar chargers for cell phones and iPods or other mp3 or audio players, solar powered tents, house numbers that utilize solar-powered LED lights, and even a solar powered scooter.  There are plenty of other solar gadgets available, including solar-powered bike lights, solar powered torches and even a solar powered radio.  Captured solar heat can be used for many different things, including to cook food, charge electronics and even to light up your house.  With so many incredible uses for solar powered energy, why on earth would you use anything else?

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Solar Power International 08 Event

The Solar Power International 08 convention and expo will be held in San Diego, California in October. There will be thousands in industry people from around the world attending the Solar Power International event, the largest solar energy industry event held in the USA this year. The event is organized by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). This is the fifth year for the event. Solar Power International will take place October 13 – 16, 2008, at the San Diego Convention Center. This year the conference and expo coincides with Solar Energy Week in San Diego, organized by the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE), drawing curious citizens from across the region to learn about solar power. With a total attendance expected to approach 20,000 people, Solar Power International ‘08 is the largest solar energy event in history. For more information on attending or participating, visit the Solar Power International website.

Solar Power Goes Mainstream – Going Green

In Hollywood, you know you’ve arrived when They start advertising you, your book, album or movie. Aside from a few generalized Alternative Energy commercials during this past election year in the United States, solar and wind power developments have pretty much been on the Q-T. This is especially strange when there have been large solar energy farms in desert regions for quite some time now… but Alternative Energy has definitely gone mainstream. How can you tell? It isn’t just that the Governor of New Jersey ordered a billion dollars of wind turbines installed 20 miles offshore, or that a city in Florida made solar buy-back mandatory, or even the Green communities and the governments’ solar investments. It’s the ads.

In the past few days, the Internet, and Google in particular, has started firing off commercial solar power ads. We’re not talking about the old Popular Mechanics ads that amount to a school science project, or the little solar lawn lights that kinda snuck in at Warmart, Lowe’s and Home Depot when nobody was looking. These are major, full-blown websites offering analysis of your solar needs, and quotes for a full-house installation. CoolerPlanet.com and BellaEnergy.com sites are amongst those which have paid Google ads, and very professional websites for their very professional services. There’s even a site advertising Solar as a gift to impoverished nations! Astute businessmen, pay heed: Solar Power has arrived!

Going Green – Booming Solar: Hope for the New Year!

Our last article for the year is good news. Amidst an economy that has been said to be in a depression, there’s one industry that’s doing quite well, in a place where it’s least expected — up on the roofs.  Solar panel sales are booming. Leading sales and installation companies are reporting a 45% increase in sales, and anticipating creating over 100,000 new jobs each, within the next few years. That doesn’t begin to address the other jobs created in manufacturing and distribution of the panels. Great news, but there is a catch.

Many of these installations are made feasible by government rebates. One job was sold at $66,000, but the homeowner recouped over $40,000 of that, making his net cost about $22,000. Who wouldn’t want a solar electric system for 1/3 of the regular price? But the money to pay those rebates has to be coming from somewhere, and that somewhere seems to be the taxpayers themselves. While we’re glad that people are getting with the program, at least one state has declared that they’re out of funds, cannot afford to issue any more rebates, which could bring the momentum to a grinding halt if more incentive funds and lower consumer costs aren’t sorted out soon.

President-Elect Obama has talked about the government getting involved in rebooting the economy. Most of his talk has involved shoring up bridges and roads, and that may be long overdue, but it would be wise to put a large chunk of that revitalization into things which will increase our independence from foreign fuel while reducing the carbon footprint. If his administration focuses on Green industries, millions of new jobs could be created in producing the technology domestically alone. Pivotal to it all is Alternative Energy proving affordable to install and cost-effective in the long run. Luckily, improvements in solar technology are coming in fast and furious, and cost reductions can be expected right behind them.

As we say goodbye to 2008 and make our New Year resolutions, let’s keep Going Green in mind, make the idea central to our plans. As we welcome the Obama administration into the Oval Office, let’s make sure that he knows he has our full support for economic stimulus and incentives that propel our nation towards a more Green and prosperous tomorrow.

Wishing you all a very happy new year,

JT
Going Green News