Monday, July 26, 2021

Host a small group science workshop using just a “little book”

Who doesn’t want to be a good steward of our planet and its resources? Who doesn’t want to ensure a safe, livable, and sustainable environment for our children, grandchildren, and future generations?

Not everyone has the time, interest, or inclination to invest lots of time doing a deep dive to study climate science. But most of us can probably invest an hour to hear and learn about the basics. Doing so could help more of us then understand the basics so that we can better trust those who have committed their careers to scientific processes and discovery.

Earlier in July, about 10 volunteers came together for a “Friendly Climate Science Educational Challenge” workshop. The main content of the workshop consisted of each of us taking turns reading out loud one chapter of the 10 chapters of the “Littlest Book on Climate – 10 Facts in 10 Minutes about CO2” (free e-version download available here - tenintenco2.com). Because each chapter only takes about 2-3 minutes to read out loud, this took about 30 minutes. We then discussed questions about the contents. And finally, we discussed ways to refine the process so that it could be repeated by others.

With a special thanks to all the participants from our July workshop, we have developed the following documents to help others hold their own little one-hour workshops to help further constructive adult education and conversations on this important topic. Using these two documents, interested persons should be able to host sessions with about 5-15 people. After each session, we encourage participants to complete a short online survey (the link is included in the handout) so that we can provide additional feedback to the little book authors.

The documents are available here:
  1. Friendly Climate Science Educational Challenge
  2. Friendly Climate Science Educational Challenge-Handout
Please let us know if you have questions or need assistance by using the comment section below. And freely share this information with others! Let’s keep the constructive conversations going!

Shine On!
Plano Solar Advocates

Monday, July 19, 2021

Energy Freedom update for Texas homeowners


Here’s an update on energy freedom for Texas homeowners’ right to install solar energy! This is information compiled from the Texas Solar Energy Society, the North Texas Renewable Energy Group, and Plano Solar Advocates 

(Update 7/28/21 - The Tyler City Council voted unanimously on Wednesday to ease solar panel regulations within the city.)

Topics:

  1. Recent state legislation relevant to updating restrictive municipal local solar ordinances
  2. Resources for municipal solar ordinance updates
  3. Resources and project idea for homeowners wanting to go solar

1. Recent state legislation relevant to updating restrictive municipal local solar ordinances

SB 398, effective Sept 1, 2021, passed in the Texas 87th regular legislative session

SB 398 provides a variety of consumer protections while also underscoring the importance of the competitive market. This legislation makes sure solar customers have information they need to make informed decisions and prohibits municipalities (in addition to homeowner association boards) from unreasonably restricting energy independence. These protections are hugely important for the rooftop solar market and will help to bring even more jobs and solar to Texas.

(from the Solar Energy Industries Association, www.seia.org/news/texas-governor-signs-series-pro-solar-bills-law)

Key clause from the SB 398:

“A municipality may not prohibit or restrict the installation of a solar energy device by a residential or small commercial customer except to the extent .. a property owner's association may prohibit the installation under Sections 202.010(d)(1) through (7), Property Code…”

Key clause from Section 202.010(d) of the property code:

“A property owners' association may include or enforce a provision in a dedicatory instrument that prohibits a solar energy device that .. is located in an area other than an area designated by the property owners' association, unless the alternate location increases the estimated annual energy production of the device, as determined by using a publicly available modeling tool provided by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, by more than 10 percent above the energy production of the device if located in an area designated by the property owners' association.”

In Texas, south facing solar PV panel installations provide maximum annual production. East/west installations provide approximately 80-85% of maximum, and north facing installations provide only about 50% of maximum. Therefore, any solar panel placement requirement that prevents placement for maximum production would not be allowed. 

See PVWatts Calculator at pvwatts.nrel.gov

2. Resources for municipal solar ordinance updates

Resources developed by the North Central Texas Council of Governments for the Texas State Energy Conservation Office are available at www.gosolartexas.org/address-solar-zoning-code-or-adopt-solar-ordinance. See “Model Ordinance Guidelines for Municipalities”

3. Resources and project idea for homeowners wanting to go solar

Group Purchase Idea

Solar United Neighbors (SUN) helps organize neighbors in an area or city into a group to go solar together – referred to as solar co-op. People love the community approach. SUN supports the co-op each stage of the solar process. Co-op members leverage bulk-purchasing power to get discounted pricing and a quality installation, while still signing individual contracts that ensure the right system for their home.

See www.solarunitedneighbors.org/texas/about-solar-united-neighbors-of-texas

Solar 101 – Texas Solar Energy Society, March 7, 2021

Check out this Solar 101 presentation from the Texas Solar Energy Society - youtu.be/JO2DkGXya_Q

We hope you find this information useful. Please share with others across Texas!

Shine On!
Plano Solar Advocates

Related stories from local channels in Tyler, Tx
July 16, 2021 – CBS19 - youtu.be/966v1MhvKqg
July 16, 2021 – KETK NBC - youtu.be/FLMVXZZkaFg
July 16, 2021 – ABC channel 9 - www.ktre.com/video/2021/07/19/tyler-solar-panel-ordinance/

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Plano Solar Co-op

Imagine walking into a solar company’s office with 50 or 100 of your neighbors and saying, “We all want to get solar. What kind of deal can you give us?”

Check it out and share with your friends that live in Plano!