Green Tech Regional Report 5-10-2011

In our latest Green Tech Regional Report we highlight the creative workings of several local communities for their use and generation of solar power, green job opportunities and electric vehicles throughout the country.

As the importance of clean energy becomes increasingly realized throughout the world, solar power has been a thriving renewable resource for communities on both the national and local level. The Charleston Regional Business Journal addressed the partnership announcement of Boeing South Carolina with South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) to make its final assembly and delivery plant in North Charleston that will be powered entirely by renewable energy. SCE&G will install “wafer thin” solar panels on the plant’s roof, which will cover a span of eight football fields of space, making it the largest solar farm in the southeast, and the sixth largest in the United States.

Residential Solar

image via SunEdison

The New York Times also highlights solar panel installations in New Jersey by addressing a controversy involving local opinions on the placement of the panels throughout the neighborhoods. For over a year now, New Jersey’s largest utility, the Public Service Electric and Gas Company, has been installing solar panels as part of a $515 million investment in solar projects by PSE&G. Although the solar installations are the most extensive of their kind in the country, many residents consider the panels “ugly” and “hideous” and worry about the effect on property values.

The Arizona Daily Star also touches on the differing opinions in regards to solar panel placement in Pima County, when delays were made for the installation of a solar farm until neighbors feel safe and can agree where the panels should be located. The county must approve a use permit for the project, which is supposedly going to be the largest solar power farm in the United States, because current zoning is for low-density housing, farming, and other uses. Pima County Supervisors told the company to try to work out their differences with neighbors, and to return in 60 days.

Green jobs around the country are also taking their presence in the news. In Michigan, the Detroit Free Press highlights the workings of the company Nova, which is part of DTE Energy’s utility-owned SolarCurrents program, after they designed and constructed the state’s largest solar powered system at Monroe County Community College. Nova was one of 35 companies that applied to be DTE Energy’s contractor for SolarCurrents in 2009. Once won, the company has successfully utilized solar power to help reinvent the company, and consequently was able to hire 25 employees, expecting their annual revenue to grow from $7 million in 2010 to $10 million this year.

According to The Del Marva Daily Times, in Salisbury, Maryland, free “green” jobs training is available for students interested in enrolling in environmental energy technology and environmental science certificate programs at Wor-Wic Community College. The grants for these training programs are a response to businesses, which are now frequently requiring their employees to have expertise in environmental issues. Grant funding will also cover fees and books.

In Oregon, Sustainable Business Oregon comments on the construction of the June Key Delta Center, which is pursuing the Living Building Challenge that requires local sourcing of materials, elimination of detrimental chemicals and net-zero energy performance. They are also hiring a diverse range of local contractors, attempting to be the first building in Oregon to achieve the Living Building Challenge.

The buzz surrounding electric vehicles has also been on the forefront of conversations in several local communities throughout the country. To celebrate the opening of the Texas AMOCO Federal Credit Union’s new ATM at Alvin Community College, CU Insight shed light on the special event being held by this non-profit organization at Golf Carts of Texas, which offers customized electric golf carts. The member-owned financial organization chose the event as a way to share different tips on how to save money with their members.

Homer News of Alaska shared the announcement of plans made by Electric Vehicle Rentals of Harbor’s Edge in Seldovia to rent the Polaris LSV in the upcoming tourist season. Owner Tom Keesecker is excited about the low noise of the drive and he hopes using the slow drive vehicle will save him some money. The Polaris LSV can go up to 50 miles a charge, although the vehicle can’t be driven in deep streams and in water higher than the floorboards because the batteries are stored under the seat. Regulations of the city will allow the EV to be driven as an ATV, which gives the EV approval to be driven on the streets within Seldovia.