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Category: Learning Resource

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Hopefully You’re Celebrating by Not Laboring Today

Labor DayHappy Labor Day! Of course holiday weekends are always something to look forward to when heading into Friday afternoon. If you’re a planner, you might already have a bag packed to hit the road for your anticipated adventure. If you live more spontaneously, you might just be looking forward to the extra opportunity for whatever surprise may come your way, but whatever you decide to do, it’s good to know you’re not alone in wanting to take some time to yourself and relax!

Of course however, that does not imply that we simply brush across the significance of each particular holiday we may, as a country, celebrate. Because today is Labor Day, we’ll focus exclusively on the importance of celebrating the hard work of men and women that came before us, on this day each year.

According to online source, https://www.dol.gov/general/laborday/history, the very first Labor Day began somewhere around 1887 –

“Before it was a federal holiday, Labor Day was recognized by labor activists and individual states. After municipal ordinances were passed in 1885 and 1886, a movement developed to secure state legislation. New York was the first state to introduce a bill, but Oregon was the first to pass a law recognizing Labor Day, on February 21, 1887. During 1887, four more states – Colorado, Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York – passed laws creating a Labor Day holiday. By the end of the decade Connecticut, Nebraska and Pennsylvania had followed suit. By 1894, 23 more states had adopted the holiday, and on June 28, 1894, Congress passed an act making the first Monday in September of each year a legal holiday.”

Continue reading to learn a little more about this federal holiday and it’s foundation, or feel free to check out the following links as well:

What will you be doing to celebrate Labor Day this year? Share your favorite Labor-Day weekend activities in the comments below!

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Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA)

TREIAWhile they’re not exactly part of the same alliance, TREIA is like SEIA for Texans, and works with renewable companies that specialize in advocacy and building a diverse network within the Lone Star State. TREIA is somewhat unique from the other associations named in this week’s blog, in that it does not focus solely on solar but also includes other renewable sources like wind and hydro – which makes this group an excellent resource to learn about what’s going on in the Texas renewable energy market overall. According to their homepage, “TREIA is a network of diverse entities with interests in renewable energy who are working to scale renewable energy, grow the local economy, and create jobs.

Members connect through conferences, in-person events, and business development networking opportunities. TREIA members are involved in solar, wind, biomass, biofuel, energy efficiency, geothermal, hydro, ocean, and energy storage” (http://conservenorthtexas.org/item/texas-renewable-energy-industries-alliance-treia), and having attended one of their seminars previously, I can tell you first-hand that their members have a deep knowledge of the inner-workings of the renewable industry.

If you check out their site, as well as their LinkedIn page, you’ll see that they’ve set a pretty ambitious goal for at least 50% of the Texas energy demand to come from renewable sources by 2030 – less than a decade away! Thanks to our knowledge of the Department of Energy website (and corresponding U.S. Energy Information Administration database), we can see just how close we are to accomplishing that goal, and while this data is a little older (2019 is the latest displayed), we can see there’s still a long way to go – see for yourself here: https://www.eia.gov/state/?sid=TX.

Thanks to associations like TREIA however, and their many members, we’re a lot closer to the goal of having 50% of our energy come from renewable sources by 2030, and hopefully with your help we can get there. Check out their website for more information about TREIA, their members, or give us a call today!

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Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

If you enjoyed learning more about the global solar industry via the International Solar Energy Society webpage, you’re going to like our next featured group: the Solar Energy Industries Association, or SEIA (https://www.seia.org/ ).

What does SEIA do? Well, according to their ‘Advocacy’ page, “SEIA is the voice of the solar industry, advocating for the protection and expansion of the U.S. solar market. We represent the entire industry, from small-business owners to large, publicly traded companies. Along with our members and coalitions of allies, we advocate on behalf of solar and a transition to a clean energy economy at the federal, state, and local levels.” Because of their vast member network, they’re able to cover a wide range of topics relating to renewable energy, and are not limited to simply energy data (though they also produce charts/infographics/webinars to help), but are also able to better explain what financing options may be available to those hoping to diversify their energy production, discuss tax laws and how they apply to each system (residential and commercial), and break down the knowledge barriers to learning about the newest technology in renewable energy and how it will improve the overall effectiveness of each system.

As if this weren’t an extensive enough list, SEIA has partnered with the Smart Electric Power Alliance and other partner orgs to put on one of the largest solar conferences in the U.S. – Solar Power Intnernational (SPI), https://www.solarpowerinternational.com/. Every year thousands of energy industry experts gather to share the latest knowledge, gain insights into the energy industry, and to build their network of energy professionals at SPI – including small and big businesses, researchers and manufacturers alike. For more details about the incredible work SEIA is doing, check them out here: https://www.seia.org/initiatives-advocacy.

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International Solar Energy Society (ISES)

A couple of years ago I went to an energy conference where I met someone from the International Solar Energy Society, or ISES (https://www.ises.org/ ), who gave a talk on the global reach of solar power, and our collective role in promoting it and helping others do so. After his talk I approached him to thank him for the work they were doing, but also to ask him about the origin of their acronym which, I hate to admit, had been bugging me ever since I heard him say it. He laughed, as this was not the first time someone had asked him this question, and then assured me that the International Solar Energy Society had been around for a long time (60+ years in fact), and was in no way related to the group that seemed to share, at least phonetically, a similar acronym. 

I was interested to learn more about how they were building their network of renewable energy providers, and what work they were doing to promote solar energy solutions at the international level. Upon doing just a little research online, I found that their vision for solar is pretty similar to ours: “For over 60 years the members of The International Solar Energy Society (ISES)have undertaken the product research that has helped the renewable energy industry to grow. ISES, through its knowledge sharing and community building programs, helps its global membership provide the technical answers to accelerate the transformation to 100% renewable energy and thereby achieve the following vision: The International Solar Energy Society (ISES) envisions a world with 100% renewable energy for everyone used wisely and efficiently” (https://www.ises.org/who-we-are/about-ises). So, their vision for solar answers the “what” question, but if you look further down on this same page you’ll find information about “how” they are currently working to accomplish this through advocacy: “ISES has members in more than 110 countries, and Global contacts and partners in over 50 countries with thousands of associate members, and almost 100 company and institutional members throughout the world.” In addition to making global connections, they provide information and presentations at seminars, and publish source material, webinars, and info-graphics dispelling myths about solar power (check out a few here: https://www.ises.org/what-we-do/dispelling-myths). Curious to learn more about solar? Feel free to check out other links within their website for some helpful tidbits!

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Would you rather be a rule maker or a rule breaker? When mom made you clean your room as a kid, did you remember to thank her for instilling responsibility in you then? No way!

Of course, government agencies with a regulatory & compliance emphasis seem to evoke the same dare-devil reactions that we felt as kids. “Rules are meant to be broken” as the saying goes – but what about the rules of nature?

The Environmental Protection Agency has caught a bad reputation in recent years, and to be fair there are some critics who suggest the agency could do more to protect the environment and Earth’s natural resources. According to https://www.facilitiesnet.com/green/article/The-Roles-of-EPA-and-DOE-in-Environmental-Legislation—11549, “Most experts agree that EPA regulation will not have the same effect on overall emissions reduction as Congressional action could. One reason is that EPA regulation would not come with the financial incentives for emissions reduction” and because the EPA does not fill a traditional cabinet role (with exception to the Director), there is some merit to this argument. The power of the EPA is subject to whichever political party holds office, which can mean different levels of enforcement. 

With climate change already impacting our California forests, Gulf coast beaches, and causing sweltering heat in the Mid-West and Pacific Northwest, there needs to be some consistency or else we may face an even larger uphill climb in combating climate change and it’s impact to our way of life.

So what does the EPA actually do then? See for yourself, here – https://www.epa.gov/laws-regulations – I recommend checking out this section at the bottom of the landing page to start:

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Department of Energy (DOE)

At the intersection of local and global climate information – from smaller-scale projects to foreign policy decisions – is the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Because they’re in charge of writing the micro and macro energy policies for the entire country – in coordination with the Environmental Protection Agency, EPA (https://www.energystar.gov/ia/partners/downloads/mou/Summary_of_EPA-DOE_Partnership.pdf) – it would stand to reason that their online repository is a vast resource of information, and a great place to conduct your own research on what may be coming down the pipeline in the near future, or down the utility cable in this case (check it out here: https://www.energy.gov/). The most important information this site provides however, is insight into the U.S. energy budget, which more than words demonstrate just where environmental protection falls on the priority list. For example, if you check out the Energy Economy page, and scroll to the Funding & Financing tab, you’ll find a ton of potential resources for small business loans, large-scale utility grants, research grants for scientists and universities, and everything in between. Curious about our current national energy production? Check out the following link, which breaks down the data by energy source and/or global location: https://www.energy.gov/energy-economy/prices-trends. It’s safe to say there is a lot of good information on this site for contractors, scientists, and anyone with a curious eye towards the future. What’s something you’d like to see on this site in the future? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

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Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

In all honesty, unless you’re an industry professional, or are currently working on a related project, the Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency, or DSIRE as it is also known, might be a little robust for what you need – but that’s exactly the appeal as well. This platform houses the country’s entire online database for renewable incentives in the U.S., broken down by state, and further filtered down to the city/county level. Just take a look at the table at the bottom of this page: https://programs.dsireusa.org/system/program/tx for more information about energy rebates and efficiency incentives in Texas.

If you’re in the Dallas area, you’re probably aware that ONCOR has a solar rebate program, however if you click on the ONCOR rebate link within the DSIRE portal, and read through the page, you’ll see information about program eligibility as well as the key changes to the program year after year. If you’re in Austin, you can learn more about the Value of Solar rate and how it differs from a traditional net metering program. If you’re in San Antonio you can learn more about how CPS is implementing their renewable rebate program – which has helped thousands of home owners in the San Antonio area save money going solar.

No matter where you are in the United States, chances are there is help available for you – check out this link, and the others on this list and you’re sure to find at least one or two options – and feel free to give us a call if you have any questions!

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American Council of Renewable Energy (ACORE)

There are a ton of really great resources for you if you’re looking to learn more about renewable energy, that cover a wide array of topics from articles and research papers to virtual events and webinars – you just have to know where to look. It’s easy to say “check out our website or give us a call with any questions” because I know SUNTEX employees are happy to help, but what if you want to do a little research on your own ahead of time? That’s where experts and non-profit organizations can help, and the best place to start is on the American Council on Renwable Energy, or ACORE, website. They have curated information from local and federal governments to help you understand the total cost of renewable, and how they’re being implemented into our nation’s energy grid. Because part of their mission is to make the information more digestible for the every-day American (in other words, people outside of the energy industry not reading articles about it daily), their site includes a ton of great info that is easily digestible and based on the latest intelligence coming directly from the White House, so you don’t have to be an expert to understand it.

According to their website, ACORE was “Founded in 2001, the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) is a 501(c)(3) national nonprofit organization that unites finance, policy and technology to accelerate the transition to a renewable energy economy” (https://acore.org/). It was created in effort to connect real-working people with Washington and Capitol Hill policy decision-makers, and has been an enormous asset for our team as we navigate the changes in this industry.

SUNTEX is a proud member of the ACORE community, and we’re happy to share what we learn with communities in Texas that may not have access or resources to tackle these questions themselves. As a member of ACORE, we’re able to leverage their database of information, attend events to learn more about what’s coming down the pipeline in renewables in the U.S., and expand our network to incorporate other ideas and solutions into our market offering. We’re happy to help you go solar, but more importantly we want to make sure we’re helping you make the best energy decisions for you and your family – which is why we believe it’s important to have access to the right information so you’re able to do just that! Please do check out their website to learn more, and feel free to respond in the comments section if you still have questions about ACORE or how they can help you to learn more about the renewable industry and how it impacts you.

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Resources to learn more about the Energy Industry: ACORE, DSIRE, DOE, EPA, ISES, SEIA, and TREIA

If you’re doing your own research on the solar industry, and would like a few resources to point you in the right direction, feel free to check out this week’s blogs! We’ll be analyzing different national and international organizations that specialize in the modernization of the energy industry – with a high emphasis on solar and solar energy storage (batteries). While this is not an extensive list, the groups we’ll review this week include some of the best and brightest in the industry, and each has a ton of resources for you to learn more about each different facet of the green energy market, see the short list along with links to each, below:

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Winter Weatherizing for Your Home

It seems that while Texans have been able to avoid many of these tasks in the past, with record low temperatures and several days of snow on the ground, it’s definitely time to do some cold-weather proofing in our homes! I’ve also been reading a lot about how to keep warm in your home – particularly since so many people in Texas lost power yesterday – so I’d like to share a few good links that I’ve come across here:

Please comment/reach out if you have any other tips to stay warm in these freezing temperatures! Many of our northern neighbors have dealt with these types of conditions before, so know that there is always help and plenty of good advice to go around.

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