Thursday, January 30, 2014

Will The Solar Rise Again in NY State?

Try, try again - only a few years back, a big push for developing solar industry in New York's Hudson Valley and elsewhere melted down, between China underpricing the world for solar panels and the failure of a deeply politically conflicted U.S. government to resolutely fund the growth of sustainable energy.  But Governor Andrew Cuomo sure seems serious about it, and he just seriously upped the ante again.

"The already-impressive NY-Sun Initiative is about to become one of the most ambitious solar programs in the nation, with the governor committing, through a filing with the state’s Public Service Commission, $1 billion to the program—that’s right, $1 billion—over the next 10 years."
 – Natural Resources Defense Council, Pierre Bull’s Blog, 1/8/14

SUNY Buffalo's 750 kilowatt Solar Strand,
the switch just flipped on in December, 2013
From the Spring of 2012, Cuomo's NY-Sun Initiative brought together and pumped up existing programs of the NY State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), and the New York Power Authority (NYPA), to create one, well coordinated and funded solar energy effort.  The launch came paired with the Public Service Commission's approval of NYSERDA’s request to double funding for customer-sited solar electric systems to $432 million over the next four years.

Last month the Governor added another $108 million in funding over the next two years for residential and commercial solar energy projects, bringing the total budget for the next two years of NYSERDA alone to $216 million.

The NY-Sun Initiative had the stated intention of "doubling the amount of customers' installed solar power in a year, and quadrupling it by 2013."  As of December, according to the Governor's office, a total of 299 megawatts of solar photovoltaic capacity has been installed or is under development, more than was installed in the entire prior decade, said to be greenhouse-gas equivalent of taking 29,000 cars off the road.

Due largely to the initiative, the state rapidly moved up the national charts of installed solar power ranking, as of the third quarter of 2013:
 “With enough solar to power more than 30,900 homes, New York currently ranks 12th in the country for installed solar capacity," According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (via "There are more than 411 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in New York, employing more than 3,300 people."
But the goal is even more ambitious: to install 3,000 (MW) of solar across New York, enough solar, they say, to:
• power 465,000 homes,
• cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2.3 million tons annually —subtracting the exhaust of almost 435,000 cars — and
• create more than 13,000 new solar jobs.

A win-win-win?  Sounds great, like it always has...

SUNY Buffalo's 750 kilowatt Solar Strand 
"'SolarStrand' Opens as New Gateway to UB Campus"
3,200-Panel Photovoltaic Array at the State University of NY at Buffalo.  Built in partnership with, and $7 million from, NYPA's Renewable Energy Program, which is now under the umbrella (solar-panelled, we're sure,) of NY-Sun.
More links:
"Governor Cuomo Announces Additional $108 Million Commitment to Solar Industry Through NY-Sun Initiative" - Gov.'s Press Office _

Filing with the state’s PSC
Related, in this blog:
"Green" Lights in Europe, Asia, But Not U.S. (2011)

Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Steve Jobs' Parents' Garage Now A Landmark

The Los Altos, California, Historical Commission recently voted to designate 2066 Crist Drive -- the house where Steve Jobs grew up, with the legendary garage where Apple Computer was born -- as an "historic resource."
It's not the only famous garage of its kind in Silicon Valley, but between Jobs' astonishingly long line of successful breakthroughs and the fact that Apple has been bobbing in and out of the top spot of most valuable company in the world (jostling past Exxon Mobil and the stragglers, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and IBM), it'll do for the symbol of them all.

That garage, built in 1952, would 24 years later become the lab where he and co-founder Steve Wozniak assembled the first 100 Apple I computers. "Woz," of course, was the engineer who imagined and created the working computer that put the stars in Jobs' eyes, and made them both stars in the process.

The garage's other historic function was as the office -- the space where Jobs met with their first investors.

The first 50 computers created by Jobs and Wozniak were sold to an electronics store in nearby Mountain View for $500 each. The rest were assembled for their friends in the Homebrew Computer Club, part of the tech ecosystem the two Steves were nurtured by. Today, original Apple I's sell for tens of thousands. One was auctioned off a few years ago for more than $200,000.

That little garage simply reminds us that the power of a great idea -- put into effect with a committed team, solid planning, and persistent followthrough -- can create the largest effect out of very humble beginnings.
(This post first appeared in Mitch Ditkoff's "The Heart of Innovation," one of Guy Kawasaki's top blogs on innovation on  Mr. Ditkoff also writes for Huffington Post.)

(Photo by gflinch, on Flickr, under Creative Commons license)