Posts tagged ENERGY EFFICIENCY

SmartReads: Week of August 24

SmartReads is your weekly guide to all things green. This week, you’ll find a special Huffington Post book review written by SmartPower president Brian Keane, who has his own book, Green Is Good, arriving in October.

GENERAL GREEN

The Huffington Post: Green Is Good: It’s Not an Illusion — I’ve read several reviews of Ozzie Zehner’s book, Green Illusions: The Dirty Secrets of Clean Energy and the Future of Environmentalism, and I must say, they’ve all been too kind. [August 23, 2012]

Columbia Journalism Review: Candidates clam up on climate — Nary a word has been spoken about climate change on the presidential campaign trail, and it’s a silence that some journalists find deafening. [August 21, 2012]

Cheshire Patch: Cheshire’s Temple Beth David Earns $500 in Energy Efficiency Rewards — With the $500 reward money, Temple Beth David replaced 32 incandescent light bulbs with more efficient compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light emitting diodes (LEDs), leading to an overall wattage reduction of nearly 77 percent. [August 22, 2012]

The Washington Post: Bush Administration 2012 climate emissions goal met — In 2002, the Bush Administration unveiled its climate policy centered around the goal of reducing greenhouse gas intensity 18 percent by 2012. Ten years later (long after most have probably forgotten about it), data indicate the goal has been achieved, at least to an approximate degree. [August 21, 2012]

CLEAN ENERGY

The Boston Globe: Mayor Menino to install solar panels on his house — Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino has been pushing real estate developers and property owners to make their buildings more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Now he’s going green at home, too: Menino is installing solar panels on the roof of his home to help promote a state program that makes it cheaper for residents to go solar. [August 23, 2012]

Durham Patch: Solarize Durham - Why not? — Why not solar? Views of mountain top mining, fracking disasters and oil spills make this technology look pretty darn good. [August 16, 2012]

EIA: Natural gas, renewables dominate electric capacity additions in first half of 2012 — During the first half of 2012, 165 new electric power generators were added in 33 states, for a total of 8,098 megawatts (MW) of new capacity. Of the ten states with the highest levels of capacity additions, most of the new capacity uses natural gas or renewable energy sources. [August 20, 2012]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

NPR: Don’t Charge That Electric Car Battery; Just Change It — It looks like a bright new car wash, but it’s a battery swapping station for electric cars in Israel. When a vehicle pulls up, it is slowly pulled through a conveyor. The spent battery is taken out and replaced with one that is fully charged. The entire process takes less than five minutes. [August 21, 2012]

USA Today: Column: Detroit owes us better mileage — When President Obama signs tough new auto mileage and emissions standards in coming days, the United States will take the biggest single step of any nation to combat global warming. It’s a great deal, but automakers must behave responsibly. If they shun their gas-guzzling ways, they can assure its success. [August 21, 2012]

SmartReads: Week of July 13


Sorry we missed you last week, but today we have all of the top clean energy and energy efficiency news from the last two weeks for you! Send us your favorite energy news on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads!

PROGRAM NEWS

SmartPress: Solarize Connecticut: Solar Program Announces Selection of Four Pilot Towns - “We are extremely excited to be chosen as one of the pilot communities,” said First Selectwoman Susan Bransfield of Portland. “This is exactly the kind of program that will help us expand solar in our community and offer an excellent investment opportunity for our residents.” [July 12, 2012]

Also, see specific Westport, Durham and Portland news features on the Solarize Connecticut program launch.

GENERAL GREEN

New York Times: Small Farmers Creating a New Business Model as Agriculture Goes Local - The movement toward local food is creating a vibrant new economic laboratory for American agriculture. [July 1, 2012]

MarketWatch: Green Initiatives by Hotel Chains Benefit Local Service Companies - As global travel increases, more and more hotels are becoming sensitive to their guest’s expectations for sustainable tourism and environmentally friendly travel. [July 3, 2012]

GOOD: Glowing Pollution Sensor Equipped Kites Replace Beijing’s Stars - Urban air quality in China has been miserable for years, but the issue really came to the foreground in June when China’s vice minister for environmental protection put foreign embassies on blast for publishing national air pollution data online. [July 6, 2012]

CLEAN ENERGY

Cortlandt Daily Voice:' Energizing' Cortlandt Homes Could Save Big Bucks - An Energize Cortlandt website launched Thursday to encourage homeowners to use direct New York State subsidies to make their homes more energy efficient, and in the process, more comfortable [July 2, 2012]  

Sustainable Cities Collective: Affordable Green Homes Selling Like Hotcakes in Utah - There was a time when green homes were largely aspirational, the province of the lucky few who could afford them. Slowly but surely, though, that’s changing. [July 2, 2012]

Gigaom: Get ready for solar sharing communities - Are people who don’t own homes being left out of the solar energy revolution? A bill that’s making its way through the Legislature in California will expand the public’s access to solar energy by making it easier for renters and others to buy electricity from clean power. [July 3, 2012]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Huffington Post: Mitsubishi i-MiEV Is The Most Affordable All-Electric Car - At just under $30,000 base retail price, the 2012 Mitsubishi i-MiEV is the most affordable all-electric car in the U.S. market. [July 11, 2012]

The New York Times: In Kansas, Stronger Mix of Ethanol - Ethanol makers are trying to persuade gas stations and motorists to buy fuel that is 15 percent ethanol, or E15. And in Kansas, the first service station in the nation has just begun offering the new blend for regular cars. [July 11, 2012]

Forbes: Why Tesla is Beating GM, Ford and Toyota - Electric Cars - The barely known, small and far from mainstream Tesla motors gave one of its new Model S cars to Wall Street Journal reviewer Dan Neil last week, and he gave it a glowing testimonial.  He went so far as to compare this 4-door all-electric sedan’s performance with the Lamborghini and Ford GT supercars; and its design with the Jaguar.  And he spent several paragraphs on the Tesla Model S’s comfort, quiet, seating and storage – much more aligned with a Mercedes S series. [July 11, 2012]

Bringing Communities Together to Help Connecticut Homeowners Afford Energy Efficiency

The following blog is a featured post written by By Benjamin Michaels, Clean Air – Cool Planet Summer Fellow.

Happy Fourth of July! As of today, the Clean Air – Cool Planet’s summer fellows have reached the halfway points of our projects. I am currently operating out of CA-CP’s New Canaan, Connecticut office and my project for this summer is to help research and develop a program in Connecticut that will use aggregation strategies and discounted, tiered pricing to encourage groups of homeowners to install solar thermal and energy efficiency technologies in their homes.

I started by exploring existing community aggregation projects and specifically programs being implemented in Connecticut. This led me to the Groundswell Community Power Project in Washington D.C. where I spoke to Sam Witherbee, a former CA-CP organizer. Then, I explored the Solarize CT program currently in its Pilot stages. The Solarize program started in Portland, Oregon and was so successful that it has been replicated in several places, most recently Massachusetts and now Connecticut.

As The Solarize Guidebook states, the Solarize model was created to, “overcome the financial and logistical hurdles of installing solar power.” Typically, installing solar panels can be a daunting task for a homeowner because of the high cost, the complexity of the technology that requires an individual to make decisions they often do not know much about, and the difficulty of overcoming the inertia of being the first person in a neighborhood to install PV on his or her roof. Solarize tackles these problems by utilizing community organizations and creating a system by which the community takes the steps involved in a solar installation together. “Solar 101” workshops educate the community while Community Volunteers lead a competitive bid process to select a contractor to complete the projects. Participants achieve cost savings through aggregate buying power as well as a tiered pricing system giving incentive to encouraging your neighbors to join the program. Finally, the Solarize program is a limited-time offer creating a sense of urgency.

While the initial program as well as many successive programs have been highly successful, one of the major shortfalls is that for many of the people who show initial interest, photovoltaic solar panels are not a feasible option possibly due to roof direction or shading. In the Solarize Massachusetts Solarize Overview, it states, “ Volunteers also felt it was important to find a way to engage interested community members with non-feasible sites, such as through energy efficiency or solar hot water…”

This is where my project fits in. With support from the Clean Energy Finance Center (CEFC) and Connecticut’s Green Bank, the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (CEFIA) I have been performing research on the current state of the Solar Thermal and Energy Efficiency markets in Connecticut. In recent weeks, I have been meeting and speaking with industry leaders in these two different markets and discussing the feasibility of working either or both of them into the Solarize model. Furthermore, I had the opportunity to attend a presentation by NGO Sustainability, Peter Yazbak, the Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Jim Himes, and Dan Esty, commissioner of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) in Connecticut.

That’s all for now!

Smart Reads: Week of June 22nd

We know you can’t catch every article during your busy work schedule so we’ve consolidated the week’s top articles for you in one easy list. Share your favorite energy, environmental and efficiency news with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.

GENERAL GREEN

Grist: Some like it hot (or cold): How weather affects carbon emissions — We need more nuanced ways of figuring out which countries are doing well on carbon. A new paper offers emissions rankings that take local climate into account. [June 21, 2012]

Bloomberg: Chinese Silicon Makers Said To Seek Duties On U.S. Rivals — Chinese polysilicon makers are pressing their government to impose duties on U.S. imports, a move to drive up prices for competing supplies of the material used in solar panels, four people familiar with the issue said. [June 21, 2012]

CLEAN ENERGY

The Wall Street Journal: Power To More People — Africa may be about to get a whole lot more power. Some of the world’s biggest energy companies are thinking on a much grander scale. They’re conducting projects to test the viability—and marketability—of solar-powered systems to provide electricity for lighting and other purposes in villages all over Africa. [June 18, 2012]

The Wall Street Journal: First the iPhone. Now renewables. — A Japanese telecommunications magnate has ambitious plans to remake the country’s energy production. [June 18, 2012]

The Wall Street Journal: The Enlightened Classroom — Solar power has long been touted for its environmental impact. But now it has a new role: saving teachers’ jobs. [June 18, 2012]

NREL: PV for All: Low-Income Housing Residents Going Solar — Low-income housing developments have historically avoided going solar due to the obvious difficulties of incorporating high-cost, discretionary photovoltaic (PV) systems into affordable housing. However, a unique mix of local, utility, and federal support combined with a little financial creativity allowed a community in Colorado to demonstrate the application of PV into a low-income housing program. [June 18, 2012]

The New York Times: EBay Plans Data Center That Will Run on Alternative Energy Fuel Cells — EBay plans to build a data center to handle its billions of dollars in retail transactions that will draw its power from alternative energy fuel cells rather than the national power grid, which is heavily dependent on coal plants. [June 20, 2012]

Solar Daily: Sunrise Global Solar Energy reached 19.65 percent cell efficiency — Sunrise Global Solar Energy (Sunrise) has recently achieved a breakthrough for industrial grade p-type Cz solar cells. A peak efficiency of 19.65% was achieved in pilot production by combining Sunrise’s advanced fabrication techniques and a special plating method. [June 21, 2012]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Forbes: An All-Electric Ford Mustang Shelby GT500? — Ford Executive Chairman Bill Ford and other top executives flew into California Monday for the official launch of the automaker’s new Silicon Valley technology research lab. At an event at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View near the Googleplex, Ford rolled out more than a dozen electric, plug-in hybrid and hybrid cars that are hitting the market this year. [June 20, 2012]

SmartReads: Week of June 15

It’s been a big week for clean energy, as the stories below indicate! Share your favorite clean energy and efficiency articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.

The Huffington Post: Renewable Energy Investment Set Record In 2011Global investment in renewable energy reached a record of $257 billion last year, with solar attracting more than half the total spending, according to a U.N. report released Monday. [June 11, 2012]

Reuters: Renewable energy grows despite financial crisisRenewable energy sources supplied 16.7 percent of global energy consumption in 2011, but the $257 billion of investment in the sector was still 15 percent lower than into fossil power generation, two influential bodies reported on Monday. [June 11, 2012]

Reuters: U.S. solar installations jump in first quarterSolar installations in the United States jumped 85 percent in the first quarter of 2012 from the previous year, according to an industry report that prompted a research firm and a lobbying group to raise their capacity forecasts for the year. [June 13, 2012]

The Washington Post: American homes are getting bigger, but energy use is shrinkingAmerican houses are getting more massive. They’re becoming more plentiful. We’re cramming their outlets with an ever-expanding array of power-hungry electronics — from large flatscreen TVs to multiple smartphones to the occasional iPad. [June 8, 2012]

E & E Publishing: For energy efficiency, Chu’s law is on the way – Stand aside, Moore’s law. Here comes Chu’s law. [June 14, 2012]

The New York Times: Banks Look to Burnish Their Images by Backing Green Technology Firms Call it the greening of Wall Street. In the wake of a $30 billion commitment to new environmental investments by Wells Fargo in April and a $40 billion promise from Goldman Sachs this month, Bank of America will announce a 10-year, $50 billion initiative of its own on Monday. [June 10, 2012]

NRDC: How to Save a Trillion Dollars According to the latest forecast from Weather Channel meteorologists, most of the country is in for a hot summer this year. This is more than a matter of personal discomfort. It also means skyrocketing energy bills, lost work days due to air pollution, and possibly heat-related deaths. [June 11, 2012]

The Huffington Post: Team Energy Star Focuses on a New Audience to Save Energy: Kids – Using energy efficiently starts at home with simple actions like turning off the lights or computer when they’re not being used. The challenge is getting people — especially kids — to flip that switch to “off.” [June 11, 2012]

Aol Energy: Seeking a Bridge to the Renewable Energy Finance Future—T here simply couldn’t be a better time to talk about how renewable energy is financed, and how changes in financing are affecting the entirety of a market that has matured at a rapid pace. [June 11, 2012]

The Wall Street Journal: Navy Sails to Greener FutureNext month, in naval exercises off the coast of Hawaii, five U.S. warships will make history: They will be the first to use biofuels to power their huge turbines, as well as the jet planes screaming off a carrier’s deck and helicopters hovering overhead. [June 14, 2012]

Washington City Paper – Kennedy Center Looking To Build Biggest Solar Array in D.C. The Kennedy Center has a big flat roof. Perfect for solar panels, in fact—and it may soon be put to use. [June 8, 2012]

Boston.com: Capped landfills add new shineSeveral communities south of Boston have joined a growing trend to turn capped landfills from generators of environmental guilt to generators of green power by installing solar panels. A single landfill can generate millions of watts of power each year and save cities and towns hundreds of thousands on their power bills. [June 14, 2012]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Scientific American: A Tale of 2 Transit Systems: Battery-Powered Buses Enter the Mainstream - Better lithium ion batteries have led to an explosion in availability of plug-in passenger cars. And now, thanks to relatively cheap electricity and the simplicity of the electric drivetrain, electric vehicles have even more potential for use in the extremely cost-sensitive public transportation arena—a concept that is only just taking root. [June 11, 2012]


SmartReads: Week of June 8

From the “Most Innovative Campaign” of 2011 to the first intercontinental trip attempted by a solar-powered plane, SmartPower has all of the week’s top energy news for you. Share your favorite energy articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads!

GENERAL GREEN

Living Green Magazine: “America’s Next Eco-Star” Contest Judged “Most Innovative Campaign” – A national youth energy contest called America’s Next Eco-Star by the nonprofit SmartPower has been awarded “Most Innovative Campaign” by IHS The Energy DailyThe winning campaign involved a nationwide search for the standout among the next generation of energy leaders. [June 7, 2012]

Bloomberg: UN study foresees job gains with greener policiesSome 15 million to 60 million jobs could be created worldwide over the next two decades if nations took better care of the planet, according to a U.N. study released Thursday ahead of an international summit on sustainable development. [June 5, 2012]

CLEAN ENERGY

USA Today: Technology saves energy with ‘intelligent efficiency’ – The United States is using technology to develop “intelligent efficiency” that could save as much energy as produced by natural gas, coal or nuclear power, a new report says. [June 5, 2012]

New York Times: How to Make Renewable Energy CompetitiveRenewable energy needs help. Technological innovation has significantly reduced the cost of solar panels, wind turbines and other equipment, but renewable energy still needs serious subsidies to compete with conventional energy. [June 1, 2012]

National Journal: Insiders Support Military’s Renewable-Energy Push – Nearly two-thirds of National Journal’s National Security Insiders agree with the military’s push for renewable energy, siding with the Obama administration over some Republicans in Congress who have charged that the Defense Department should not spend money on expensive alternative fuels at a time when the nation needs to cut its trillion-dollar deficit. [June 4, 2012]

New York Times: Solar Panel Payments Set Off a Fairness DebateIn California’s sun-scorched Central Valley, the monthly electric bill can easily top $200. But that’s just about what George Burman spent on electricity for all of last year. [June 4, 2012]

AOL Energy: Can DOE’s Sunshot Challenge Fast-Track Grid-Parity Solar?In about a week, some of the brightest minds in government, industry, and academia will gather in Denver, Colorado, to talk about what the U.S. can do to play catch-up in the global clean energy race. [June 7, 2012]

The Hill: Senators say tweak to tax code would boost renewable energy – Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) say a small change to the U.S. tax code would provide a big boost to renewable energy projects. [June 7, 2012]

Time: Solar-Powered Plane Attempts Intercontinental TripPilot Bertrand Piccard says his solar-powered plane isn’t as much for carrying passengers as it is for carrying a message about the future of clean energy. [June 5, 2012]

National Geographic: Solar Power Is Generating Social ChangeU.S. Navy veteran Elmer Rankin, 71, has a failing heart, prostate cancer and arthritis that keeps him in a wheelchair. Last year, Rankin, who survives on his Social Security checks, could no longer afford the mounting costs to heat his home and power the oxygen tank he uses every night. He turned down the heat and got so cold that he wound up in the hospital. Fortunately, while Rankin’s health remains precarious, today he’s no longer scrambling to pay for power. [June 5, 2012]

Bloomberg: Ascent Jumps 48 Percent On Solar Charger For Apple’s iPhoneAscent Solar Technologies Inc. (ASTI), a thin-film solar panels, rose the most in nine months after it announced a solar-powered charger case for Apple Inc. (AAPL)’s iPhone. [June 6, 2012]

New York Times: The People’s Choice: An All-in-One, Mobile Utility MeterThe people have spoken, choosing VELObill as their favorite app among the 50-plus entries in the Energy Department’s Apps for Energy contest. [June 6, 2012]

EarthTechling: HelioWatcher Allows Solar Panels to Track the Sun: They’re called solar panels for a reason: they need the sun in order to generate electricity. Whether we’re talking about pocket-sized, portable solar chargers or massive rooftop arrays, direct sunlight is the must-have ingredient on which all other elements of solar-energy production depends. [June 6, 2012] 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

USA Today: Honda Fit electric gets record 118 mpg-e ratingThe electric version of Honda’s new 2013 Honda Fit has received the highest fuel-efficiency rating ever given by the Environmental Protection Agency: 188 mpg-e in mixed city-highway driving. [June 6, 2012]

Clean Technica: Midwest Cities Planning for EVs – Independence, Missouri, is the kind of place where when someone buys an electric car it’s unusual enough that the local newspaper writes a story about it. [June 7, 2012]

SmartPower Wins “Most Innovative Campaign” Award

National Youth Energy Contest, America’s Next Eco-Star, Earns The Energy Daily’s 2011 Leadership Award.

SmartPower has been awarded “Most Innovative Campaign” by IHS The Energy Daily for its America’s Next Eco-Star contest, a nationwide search for the standout among the next generation of energy leaders.

The Energy Daily’s awards reflect nominations from industry and the views of our editors and other industry experts on the most influential executives and companies each year,” according to The Energy Daily’s website. Categories include everything from “Most Innovative Technology,” awarded to GlassPoint Solar, to “Most Dynamic Energy Practice,” awarded to SNR Denton.

“We are extremely proud to receive the ‘Most Innovative Campaign’ award from The Energy Daily,” said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower. “It’s truly an honor to have our campaigns recognized for the innovation, energy and excitement that we think our industry needs and deserves.”

SmartPower, a nonprofit marketing firm based in Washington, D.C., launched America’s Next Eco-Star in the summer of 2011 to achieve the U.S. Department of Energy’s goal of increasing awareness among college students about clean energy and energy efficiency.

Inspired by popular televisions shows such as “American Idol” and “America’s Next Top Model,” the online campaign stood apart from other nominations for recognizing everyday champions who are selected to compete head-to-head, resulting in the ultimate all-star. For America’s Next Eco-Star, this individual was the student who showed outstanding leadership on clean energy and energy efficiency efforts at his or her school and beyond.

The campaign leveraged the power of social media to engage hundreds of students via Facebook and YouTube. This strategy attracted thousands of people to vote in favor of students nominated by peers, professors, friends and family.

More than 130 college and university students received nominations and Middlebury College’s Katelyn Romanov was awarded the ultimate title, supported by thousands of online votes and a panel of Energy Department representatives. Romanov’s leadership on solar and green building initiatives on campus earned her several prizes — among them, a $1,000 grant for use by Middlebury’s sustainability office to put towards energy efficiency programs.

SmartPower plans to launch another youth energy campaign in 2012, implementing a number of the elements that made America’s Next Eco-Star worthy of national recognition.

SmartReads: Week of June 1

Catch the latest in this week’s clean energy and energy efficiency news, and share your favorite energy articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.

CLEAN ENERGY

Grist: The truth about renewable energy - Inexpensive, reliable, and inexhaustible – We’ve all heard the common myths about renewable energy: It’s expensive; it can’t be relied upon; there just isn’t enough of it to meet our energy needs. But as technological advances and plummeting costs drive explosive growth — U.S. installed wind capacity has grown sevenfold to nearly 47 gigawatts in the last seven years — real-world experience is shattering long-held assumptions every day. [May 29, 2012]

San Jose Mercury: California poised to require ‘solar ready roofs’ on new homes and buildings – State regulators with the California Energy Commission are expected to approve stringent energy efficiency standards for new residential and commercial buildings Thursday. [May 30, 2012]  

Reuters: Germany sets new solar power record, institute says – German solar power plants produced a world record 22 gigawatts of electricity - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity - through the midday hours on Friday and Saturday, the head of a renewable energy think tank said. [May 28, 2012]

Boston.com: Solar energy industry is flourishing in Massachusetts – Massachusetts is no California when it comes to sun. But that isn’t stopping the solar energy industry from flourishing here. [May 27, 2012]  

TreeHugger: Last Weekend, Half of Germany Was Running on Solar Power – Here’s how they did it, and how we can too [May 28, 2012]  

Technology Review: In Pictures: The World’s Largest Solar Thermal Power Plant – The outlines of a massive solar thermal power plant—the largest ever—are starting to appear in the wilderness outside of Las Vegas. The $2.2 billion project, which is being built by Oakland, California-based BrightSource, stretches over 3,600 acres near Ivanpah, California. When it’s finished, it will generate 370 megawatts of electricity on sunny days. [May 28, 2012]  

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The Hill: Senate charges up electric cars, clears energy nominees – The Senate approved a plan late Thursday that would make it easier for lawmakers and staff to drive plug-in electric vehicles to work. [May 25, 2012]  

Newsday: Nissan electric vehicles tested in New York – Nissan is supplying New York City with fuel-efficient cabs, including six electric cars for testing, but acknowledged uncertainties Tuesday about an ongoing “debate” over charging standards for electric vehicles. [May 29, 2012]  

Nine MSN: Tesla to launch electric sedan in US – Tesla Motors says it will begin deliveries of “the world’s first premium electric sedan” on June 22, slightly ahead of schedule. [May 27, 2012]  

Earth Techling: Nissan’s Next Electric Vehicle Frontier The e-NV200 – Nissan, looking to push further into the electric vehicle market it currently inhabits with its Leaf passenger vehicle, is next aiming for the light commercial vehicles space via its new e-NV200. It is being built in Barcelona, Spain, and will begin production there in the 2013 financial year. [May 25, 2012

GENERAL GREEN

Mansfield-Storrs Patch: Mansfield Schools Take on Energy Challenge – Southeast Elementary and the Green Thumbs Club helped the Neighbor to Neighbor Energy Challenge celebrate Earth Month in April by hosting joint-assemblies with Vinton Elementary and Goodwin Elementary Schools. [May 30, 2012]

SmartReads: Week of May 11

This was a big week in general news, but it was just as big of a week in green news! This is our longest SmartReads to date, so we hope you’ll find plenty of great reads, from improvements in solar financing to the top green gifts for Mother’s Day. Share your favorite green articles with us on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.

CLEAN ENERGY

New York Times: Solar Installers Offer Deals, Gaining Converts – Jay Nuzzi, a New Jersey state trooper, had put off installing solar panels on his home here for years, deterred by the $70,000 it could cost. Then on a trip to Home Depot, he stumbled across a booth for Roof Diagnostics, which offered him a solar system at a price he couldn’t refuse: free. [May 9, 2012]

AOL Energy: Shining a Light on the Cost of Solar Installations – As the number of US solar installations soars, installers and developers are seeking opportunities to provide the clean power to institutional clients at rates that will attract financing, supply electricity at below retail rates, and still make a profit. [May 10, 2012]

New York Times: Few Seize on a U.S. Bond Program Backing Green Energy – With the country reeling in 2008 from the financial crisis, Congress created a special program to help struggling local governments finance clean energy projects. Under the initiative, cities and counties could sell bonds to pay for a new wind farm or energy efficient windows at City Hall, and the federal government would help pick up the tab. [May 7, 2012

Washington Post: U.S., India glimpse a bright future together in solar power – There are few places in the world where the opportunity for solar power is more blindingly obvious than India. There are also few industries where the possibility of collaboration between India and the United States is more tantalizing. [May 10, 2012]

Department of the Interior: Salazar ‘Flips the Switch’ on First Large-Scale Solar Energy Project on Public Lands to Provide Power to the Grid – As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy, today Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar “flipped the switch” on the Enbridge Silver State North solar project, the first large-scale solar energy facility on U.S. public lands to deliver power to American consumers. [May 7, 2012]

Baltimore Business Journal: Johns Hopkins University adds solar panels on seven buildings – Johns Hopkins University has launched its first solar energy initiative, adding about 2,900 solar panels on seven buildings across its Baltimore campuses. [May 7, 2012]

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

The Hill: Republican to revive lightbulb war – A House Republican is planning in the coming weeks to revive the GOP offensive against federal lightbulb efficiency standards. [May 7, 2012]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

USA Today: U.S., German makers agree on electric-car charging – Major U.S. and German automakers have agreed on a common electric-car charging standard that will speed the recharging of batteries in as little as 20 minutes. [May 7, 2012]

The Detroit News: Tesla to deliver first Model S electric by June – Tesla Motors Inc. said Wednesday it is on schedule to deliver its first Model S electric vehicle by next month — and disclosed it will exhaust its $465 million Energy Department loan within six months. [May 9, 2012]

New York Times: The Battery-Driven Car Just Got a Lot More Normal – CRITICS of electric vehicles say they are too expensive and lack sufficient driving range. But I wonder if those gripes would disappear if the E.V.’s on sale weren’t so — let’s not mince words — homely. I adore my all-electric Nissan Leaf, but its wide rear end, bulging headlights and odd proportions evoke a Japanese gizmo aesthetic that doesn’t necessarily appeal to mainstream American car buyers. [May 6, 2012]

New York Times: Thoughts From a Week in the Ford Focus Electric – Driving the 2012 Ford Focus Electric for a week gave me an opportunity to mull some questions about how a purely electric vehicle ought to behave and look. [May 4, 2012]

GENERAL GREEN

SmartPress: Green Green Gifts For Mother’s Day – Since we did Green Gadgets For Dad on Father’s Day, we thought it only fair to provide some green gift ideas for Mom this Mother’s Day. Share your own green gift ideas with us on Facebook! [May 8, 2012]

SmartReads: Earth Day Edition

SmartReads is a weekly summary of all the latest clean energy and energy efficiency news. Be sure to stay on top of what’s green and clean this Earth Day by reading this week’s Earth Day edition!

As always, send us your tips on Twitter using the hashtag #SmartReads.

CLEAN ENERGY

New York Times: Lead By Example, Clinton Tells Sustainability Forum – “Chill out – sometimes this stuff takes years.” That was Bill Clinton’s wry observation on Thursday as he addressed a sustainability conference in New York City, expressing frustration over how long it is taking for the country to move forward on clean energy and energy efficiency. [April 19, 2012]

New York Times: U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions Headed Up Again – After dropping for two years during the recession, emissions of the gases blamed for global warming rose in 2010 as the economy heated up, the Environmental Protection Agency reports. [April 16, 2012]

USA Today: New energy-efficient light bulb goes on sale SundayHow much would you pay for an amazing, state-of-the-art light bulb? Shoppers will be asking themselves that very question at Home Depot and other outlets starting Sunday – Earth Day – when the bulb that won a $10 million government contest goes on sale. [April 16, 2012]

The Bay Citizen: Berkeley Couple Create Lifesaving ‘Solar Suitcase’ for Hospitals – The week before last, the city of Berkeley took time to honor two of its citizens. Laura Stachel and her husband Hal Aronson were issued with a proclamation and words of praise from Mayor Tom Bates…because they are literally helping to save people’s lives on a regular basis, and are doing so through a combination of smarts and sheer determination. [April 16, 2012]

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Bloomberg: Electric Cars Cost $1,200 a Year Less to Run, Study Says – Drivers of electric vehicles such as General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Motor Co.’s Leaf may save as much as $1,200 a year compared with operating a new gasoline-powered compact car, scientists studying improved fuel economy found. [April 16, 2012]

Arizona Daily Sun: Hybrid, electric cars see record sales in March – Americans are buying record numbers of hybrid and electric cars as gas prices climb and new models arrive in showrooms, giving the vehicles their greatest share yet of the U.S. auto market. [April 15, 2012]

POLITICO: Opinion: Stop bashing electric carsIt’s not often that you hear national elected officials and media pundits rooting against a growing American industry — especially when it’s reducing U.S. dependence on imported oil. It’s also unusual for them to argue against job creation, global competitiveness, even against innovation. [April 19, 2012]

GAS PRICES

Washington Post: $4 gas reinforces trend toward lower U.S. fuel consumption – Are American motorists finally changing their gas-guzzling ways? As prices have neared and in some cases topped $4 a gallon, drivers have cut their consumption of gasoline to its lowest levels in a decade, driving less and buying cars that are more fuel-efficient. [April 17, 2012]

GENERAL GREEN

POLITICO: Political races run hot on energy – Soaring gasoline prices have members of Congress and their opponents running scared all across the country — and trying to seize the advantage. [April 15, 2012]

Forbes: Hive Lighting: Energy-Efficiency For Hollywood – Lights set mood. Moviemakers know this. Hence the painstaking efforts that are made to ensure that the right tonality is chosen for each picture. That said, movie and TV sets can use thousands of kilowatts per production. [April 16, 2012]