"One out of three Americans lives within 50 miles of high-level nuclear waste, some of which, like Plutonium, is lethally dangerous and will be around for an incredible longtime," John Oliver explained last night on Last Week Tonight.
According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, there is more than 71,000 tons of nuclear waste stranded at 104 reactors. "It was a problem we should have solved in the 1980s," Oliver said, "much like a Rubik's Cube."
Despite years of using nuclear energy, the country still doesn't have a permanent facility for its storage, the comedian said. Oliver proposed what the U.S. really needs is some kind of "nuclear toilet."
Are you ready to watch the Great American Eclipse of 2017? Will you be in the path of totality? Do you have your safety glasses ready?
Well, however you decide to watch the solar eclipse today, NASA TV will be showing the "Eclipse Across America" with live video of the celestial event. The feed is already live with lots of handy information about today's unprecedented eclipse. So be sure to watch above.
The Great American Solar Eclipse of 2017: What, When, How? https://t.co/Uv2wrmMkFm @TheScienceGuy @ScienceNewsOrg— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1502409307.0
Through net metering programs, homeowners who have installed solar energy systems can get utility credits for any electricity their panels generate during the day that isn't used to power home systems. These credits can be "cashed in" to offset the cost of any grid electricity used at night.
Where net metering is available, solar panels have a shorter payback period and yield a higher return on investment. Without this benefit, you only save on power bills when using solar energy directly, and surplus generation is lost unless you store it in a solar battery. However, net metering gives you the option of selling any excess electricity that is not consumed within your home.
Generally, you will see more home solar systems in places with favorable net metering laws. With this benefit, going solar becomes an attractive investment even for properties with minimal daytime consumption. Homeowners can turn their roofs into miniature power plants during the day, and that generation is subtracted from their nighttime consumption.
What Is Net Metering?
Net metering is a billing arrangement in which surplus energy production from solar panels is tracked by your electricity provider and subtracted from your monthly utility bill. When your solar power system produces more kilowatt-hours of electricity than your home is consuming, the excess generation is fed back into the grid.
For homeowners with solar panels, the benefits of net metering include higher monthly savings and a shorter payback period. Utility companies also benefit, since the excess solar electricity can be supplied to other buildings on the same electric grid.
If a power grid relies on fossil fuels, net metering also increases the environmental benefits of solar power. Even if a building does not have an adequate area for rooftop solar panels, it can reduce its emissions by using the surplus clean energy from other properties.
How Net Metering Works
There are two general ways net metering programs work:
- The surplus energy produced by your solar panels is measured by your utility company, and a credit is posted to your account that can be applied to future power bills.
- The surplus energy produced by your solar panels is measured by your home's electricity meter. Modern power meters can measure electricity flow in both directions, so they tick up when you pull from the grid at night and count down when your solar panels are producing an excess amount of electricity.
In either scenario, at the end of the billing period, you will only pay for your net consumption — the difference between total consumption and generation. This is where the term "net metering" comes from.
How Does Net Metering Affect Your Utility Bill?
Net metering makes solar power systems more valuable for homeowners, as you can "sell" any extra energy production to your utility company. However, it's important to understand how charges and credits are managed:
- You can earn credits for your surplus electricity, but utility companies will not cut you a check for the power you provide. Instead, they will subtract the credits from your power bills.
- If your net metering credit during the billing period is higher than your consumption, the difference is rolled over to the next month.
- Some power companies will roll over your credit indefinitely, but many have a yearly expiration date that resets your credit balance.
With all of this in mind, it is possible to reduce your annual electricity cost to zero. You can accumulate credit with surplus generation during the sunny summer months, and use it during winter when solar generation decreases.
You will achieve the best results when your solar power system has just the right capacity to cover your annual home consumption. Oversizing your solar array is not recommended, as you will simply accumulate a large unused credit each year. In other words, you cannot overproduce and charge your power company each month.
Some power companies will let you pick the expiration date of your annual net metering credits. If you have this option, it's wise to set the date after winter has ended. This way, you can use all the renewable energy credits you accumulated during the summer.
Is Net Metering Available Near You?
Net metering offers a valuable incentive for homeowners to switch to solar power, but these types of programs are not available everywhere. Net metering laws can change depending on where you live.
In the U.S., there are mandatory net metering laws in 38 states and Washington, D.C. Most states without a mandate have power companies that voluntarily offer the benefit in their service areas. South Dakota and Tennessee are the only two states with no version of net metering or similar programs.
If net metering is available in your area, you will be credited for your surplus energy in one of two ways:
- Net metering at retail price: You get full credit for each kilowatt-hour sent to the grid. For example, if you're charged 16 cents per kWh consumed, you'll get a credit of 16 cents per kWh exported. This type of net metering is required by law in 29 states.
- Net metering at a reduced feed-in tariff: Surplus electricity sent to the grid is credited at a lower rate. For example, you may be charged 16 cents per kWh for consumption but paid 10 cents per kWh exported. Feed-in tariffs and other alternative programs are used in 17 of the states where retail-rate net metering is not mandatory.
Note: This is just a simplified example — the exact kWh retail price and solar feed-in tariff will depend on your electricity plan.
The Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) is an excellent resource if you want to learn more about net metering and other solar power incentives in your state. You can also look for information about solar incentives by visiting the official websites of your state government and utility company.
Other Financial Incentives for Going Solar
Net metering policies are one of the most effective incentives for solar power. However, there are other financial incentives that can be combined with net metering to improve your ROI:
- The federal solar tax credit lets you claim 26% of your solar installation costs as a tax deduction. For example, if your solar installation had a cost of $10,000, you can claim $2,600 on your next tax declaration. This benefit is available everywhere in the U.S.
- State tax credits may also be available depending on where you live, and they can be claimed in addition to the federal incentive.
- Solar rebates are offered by some state governments and utility companies. These are upfront cash incentives subtracted directly from the cost of your solar PV system.
In addition to seeking out solar incentives available to you, you should compare quotes from multiple installers before signing a solar contract. This will ensure you're getting the best deal available and help you avoid overpriced offers and underpriced, low-quality installations. You can start getting quotes from top solar companies near you by filling out the 30-second form below.
Frequently Asked Questions: Solar Net Metering
Why is net metering bad?
When managed correctly, net metering is beneficial for electricity consumers and power companies. There have been cases in which power grids lack the capacity to handle large amounts of power coming from homes and businesses. However, this is an infrastructure issue, not a negative aspect of net metering itself.
In places with a high percentage of homes and businesses using solar panels, surplus generation on sunny days can saturate the grid. This can be managed by modernizing the grid to handle distributed solar power more effectively with load management and energy storage systems.
How does net metering work?
With net metering, any electricity your solar panels produce that isn't used to power your home is fed into your local power grid. Your utility company will pay you for this power production through credits that can be applied to your monthly energy bills.
Can you make money net metering?
You can reduce your power bills with net metering, using surplus solar generation to compensate for your consumption when you can't generate solar power at night and on cloudy days. However, most power companies will not pay you for surplus production once your power bill has dropped to $0. Normally, that credit will be rolled over, to be used in months where your solar panels are less productive.
On very rare occasions, you may be paid for the accumulated balance over a year. However, this benefit is offered by very few electric companies and is subject to limitations.
Leave it to Stephen Colbert to make sure he mixes in some "lighter news" during his evening monologue on The Late Show. "The world is burning," Colbert begins. "The New York Times just published a report on the drastic impact of climate change on the U.S.," Colbert continued. "'Evidence for a changing climate abounds, from the top of the atmosphere to the depths of the oceans' and 'Americans are feeling the effects of climate change right now,'" Colbert read from Times report.
And, if you don't think that's daunting enough, Colbert makes sure you understand that the Times explains that the 600-page document is "an unreleased, as yet unapproved government report, but it was released and leaked, because the Times said, out of 'fear the Trump administration could change or suppress the report.'"
If all this information is too much to digest, Colbert helps out by showing a 4-second video summary.
Colbert also hits on other alarming news, including the memo that was released Monday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture "instructing staff to avoid using certain teams," including climate change.
If you're looking for some comic relief during these egregious times, watch above.
Do you plan to take a hot date to go see Al Gore's An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power? If so, be sure to watch this Stephen Colbert segment from Friday night's The Late Show offering the best Al Gore approved climate change pick-up lines.
Gore, who appeared on Colbert's show July 17 to promote his sequel to his 2006 climate change documentary An Inconvenient Truth, explained that his film is "an amazingly hot date movie." Colbert responded, "Because if the end of the world is coming, you might as well hook-up with me."
Watch the video above and let us know in the comments below which is your favorite pick-up line.
I'm a huge Trevor Hall fan so when I saw he was playing in my hometown of Cleveland, I was stoked. I knew seeing the show would be fantastic, but I was also thinking an interview with Trevor would be something really cool to give EcoWatch readers. So, lucky enough, I was offered an interview and was able to hop on my paddleboard from Whiskey Island on the shore of Lake Erie, head up the Cuyahoga River and get to the Music Box Supper Club just in time to chat with Trevor before the show.
"My dad was a drummer, so most my musical influence comes from my dad," Trevor said during our nearly hour interview. "Growing up, my dad had this CD collection in the hallway and I was always fascinated by all the CDs. My hobby was pulling out a CD that looked cool and I'd put it on the stereo and pretend I was rocking out. My dad was really into The Doobie Brothers, Allman Brothers, Earth Wind & Fire, Simply Red, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young."
Trevor grew up near Hilton Head, South Carolina, and spent a lot of time surfing. He said he had "a natural affinity for music at a very young age." He tried multiple instruments, including drums, bass, trombone and harmonica, until he finally decided, at age 13, to focus on the guitar since he also wanted to be a songwriter. He explained how his mom would drive him to the nearest music shop in Savannah, Georgia, about 40 miles away, to rent him the many instruments he wanted to try.
"I taught myself," Trevor said. "I had a few lessons in town, but I would just learn over the internet. Then I went to a boarding arts school for high school and majored in classical guitar and that was my real formal training. I learned how to read music and music theory."
When I listen to Trevor's music, I definitely feel the reggae vibe, so I wasn't shocked when he told me that Bob Marley was a huge influence in his music. He said, "One of the biggest things for me was when I heard Bob Marley for the first time. It wasn't just music, there was this thing behind it. I then got interested in his life and began reading books on his journey and Rastafari. I realized this isn't just a music thing, it's a life thing."
Trevor and I chatted a bit more about the power and message of reggae music. He mentioned the time he first met Ziggy Marley and when he opened for him in Cleveland at the House of Blues. "Being inspired by Bob and then getting to open for Ziggy, I was just like OMG," he said.
So now that I had the scoop on where his cool vibe and irie beat comes from, I wanted to better understand the spiritual aspects of his music.
"When I was in high school I became best friends with this kid," Trevor told me. "One night I went to his dorm room and he had this picture on the wall of this Indian saint named Neem Karoli Baba, and when I saw the picture I felt like I knew this person. I asked him if that was like his grandpa, or who is that, and he said, no, it's this saint named Neem Karoli Baba and my older brothers and my dad were with him in India in the 1970s."
Trevor wanted to learn more, so his friend told him about this book, Miracle of Love, that has stories about the saint. "That was a huge turning point for me," Trevor said. "I got really into reading about him and since he was from India, I wanted to learn more about India, so it really stemmed from there."
"His message and his life and his overall ora and vibration is probably the other biggest influence, if not the biggest influence, in my music," Trevor told me. "My music took a turn at that point, it took a turn into this navigating tool of my spiritual world, because before that it was about the girl I had a crush on or something."
Trevor's music embodies a deep appreciation for the natural world. You can hear it in so many of his tunes, including Green Mountain State from his album Chapter of The Forest and Mother from his album Kala, which he performs with Xavier Rudd and Tubby Love. I wondered what drove his environmental consciousness.
"For me it was getting on this spiritual path and being inspired by all these saints and people that had such a connection to the earth and who spoke about the earth as a living being, as the mother of all of us," Trevor said. "And, seeing their relationship to the land as a real living relationship and not just that this is a tree, but that the trees are our ancestors and the river is a goddess and this mountain is a king. Seeing the landscape as all our relations. It was a gradual process. The deeper I got on my spiritual path the more I started looking upon the earth as my mother. And, you don't want anybody to mess with your mama, so ..."
Trevor went on to explain that "I'm really lucky to be in a group of friends and a community of musicians who are also very passionate about the earth, like Xavier Rudd, Nahko Bear, Xiuhtezcatl from Earth Guardians ... Each one of us, in our own unique way, are doing what we can ... We're all working toward the same thing, respect for the land, preservation of the land."
"For me, I look at my activism towards the land in the way I was brought to caring for the land, which was working on my soul and my heart, and seeing the spirit in everything and trying to subdue or get rid of our bad seeds, like selfishness and greed," Trevor explained.
As far as an environmental issue Trevor feels most connected to, he explained that: "I find it really important to focus on one thing, or else you're just going to be digging small holes everywhere and you're not going to be going deep ... One of the most important issues for me is water. The fact that there are human beings on this planet that don't have clean water, I think is so outlandish. I think water hits home the most because it's the biggest necessity of our life. I'm passionate about water because it's so universal."
Trevor has worked with Surfrider Foundation where he has played benefit concerts in support of the group's work.
"I feel there are different ways of being an activist," he said. "The root of all of us desecrating the earth is just greed and power. I think one of the ways of being an activist is inspiring positive qualities and learning to see the one in the all and the all in the one, and developing compassion and selflessness."
For all those fans wondering about Trevor's next album, which will be released Sept. 15 (see tour dates), I was able to get the lowdown.
"The title of my new album is The Fruitful Darkness," he told me.
"The Fruitful Darkness is actually a book by Joan Halifax Roshi. This is a perfect example of what I'm taking about with being an activist through working on your own consciousness. She is a total badass warrior zen nun who has done so many things in her life, but she's worked with a lot of tribal communities and shamanism in particular with different indigenous culture throughout the world and through her travels and through her journeys and being an apprentice to these carriers of such an ancient knowledge who have such a strong connection with the earth, it's really amazing," he explained.
"Each chapter goes through the way of the mountain, the way of story, the way of non-duality ... She tells the stories of all these different shamans and how they relate to the earth and why it's so important for these connections to be sustained and when it's broken, when you break your spiritual umbilical cord, when you break your way of tradition, these traditions have a meaning, these traditions are very powerful to transform our consciousness to see the earth as it really is, which is a living, life-giving mother."
He told me that he's "very, very excited" about the new album. "It's very different, more of a creative journey, kinda stepping out of my comfort zone sonically, which is scary but fun," he explained. "I'm very eager to let people hear it."
I know I'm looking forward to its release and was super appreciative of the time Trevor was able to give me for our chat. It was now time to hop back on my paddleboard and go get ready for his show. Trevor and his band played an incredible set, which had people dancing all night and connecting on many spiritual levels.
Here's to the power of music!
Last night on The Late Show, former Vice President Al Gore joined Stephen Colbert to discuss his new documentary, Trump's withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement, the massive iceberg that just broke off the Larsen C ice shelf in Antarctica and the benefits of renewable energy.
"I went to Trump Tower after the election," Gore told Colbert. "I thought there was a chance he would come to his senses. But I was wrong." However, as Gore explained, "Immediately after that, all the other countries in the world doubled down and said, 'we're going to do even more. And here in the U.S., a lot of our most important governors and majors and business leaders said, 'we're still in the Paris agreement, and we're going to meet the commitments of the country regardless of what Donald Trump tweets.'"
"The climate crisis is by far the most serious challenge we face" https://t.co/Vd1HO1lHfx @American_Bridge @The_Anti_Fox— Stefanie Spear (@Stefanie Spear)1500338106.0
Gore made sure to explain how renewable energy can help combat climate change. He said, "The other really exciting thing is, the cost of electricity from solar panels and windmills has come down incredibly fast, and in many areas it's now cheaper than electricity from burning fossil fuels."
Colbert asked Gore what he would say to young people who are losing hope in resolving the issue of climate change. Gore responded by suggesting that young people go see his movie, claiming that "it's a hot date movie."
He also strongly encouraged everyone to "use your vote, use your voice, win the conversations on climate change."
California lawmakers extended the state's climate legislation Monday night, in what is being considered a victory for Gov. Jerry Brown's plan to lower greenhouse emissions.
The legislation, a package of bills that extends California's plan to address climate change, passed with a supermajority in both the Assembly and the Senate, insulating it from any legal challenges. The bill passed the Senate 28-12 and was approved 55-21 in the Assembly. Eight Republican lawmakers in the Assembly voted in favor of the bill, and three democrats voted against it. In the Senate, one Republican joined the Democrats voting for the legislation.
Brown's signature on the bill will extend the world's second-largest carbon market to 2030.
"Tonight, California stood tall and once again, boldly confronted the existential threat of our time," Gov. Brown said in a statement. "Republicans and Democrats set aside their difference, came together and took courageous action. That's what good government looks like."
However, as Inside Climate News reported, not everyone is celebrating:
When Brown last week announced the legislation to extend the program, three vocal factions emerged: Republicans pleaded with the governor to back away from the proposal, saying it would hurt California's economy. Progressive environmental groups—including may representing polluted minority communities—bashed the proposals as a giveaway to polluters, particularly the oil industry. Other influential environmental groups applauded the legislation, saying it represented a reasonable balance that represented the best change for moving the program forward.
State Sen. Andy Vidak, speaking in opposition to the bill, said the laws represented a "regressive" tax that would not make any impact on climate change. "We could shut down the entire state of California and it would have no effect on the global climate," Vidak said.
Sen. Vidak is not alone in speaking out against the bill. The extension of AB 398, the state's cap-and-trade program, is being criticized by more than 50 California leading environmental organizations for making concessions to industry and consulting with the oil and gas lobby. The extension on the cap-and-trade program has very few changes. It still allows big polluters to continue buying permits to emit more greenhouse gases and bars some separate regulations on refineries.
"This bill makes a bad cap-and-trade system even worse," Adam Scow, California director for Food & Water Watch. "It was written with oil and gas lobbyists and keeps us dependent of fossil fuels. The climate crisis demands that the state regulate and reduce pollution, but this bill gives polluters massive loopholes.
"Governor Brown's success in passing this polluter friendly bill is consistent with his record of supporting fracking and firing regulators who attempted to hold Big Oil accountable."
Masada Disenhouse, 350.org's U.S. organizing coordinator and co-founder of SanDiego350, agrees. "This plan has Big Oil's fingerprints all over it and doesn't do enough to protect vulnerable communities or to achieve California's ambitious targets for reducing carbon pollution," Disenhouse said. "We need to extend California's climate law, but we also need to protect the ability of local air districts to regulate pollution in their backyards—not give refineries and other fossil fuel infrastructure a free pass to pollute."
Other environmental organizations showed their support for the bill.
Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp strongly supported AB-398 and AB-617. "This vote ensures that another generation of Californians will enjoy a world-leading cap-and-trade program that places a firm and declining limit on carbon pollution and holds polluters accountable," Krupp said. "At the same time, it provides the flexibility and cost-effectiveness necessary to achieve one of the most ambitious climate targets in the world."
Natural Resources Defense Council's Director of California advocacy, Annie Notthoff, said, "Cap-and-trade is a backstop for California's groundbreaking, comprehensive plan to reduce dangerous climate pollution. The legislature set aggressive new carbon-cutting targets last year, and extending cap-and-trade through 2030 helps ensure that the state will meet those new goals—a 40 percent statewide reduction below 1990 levels by 2030, the toughest in North America."
"We made a record we wanted to share with you," Canadian rocker Neil Young said in a Facebook post. "We played with a bunch of people ... total strangers in the same room on a full moon, 65 of us. It was very great. We had a great time. Enjoy."
Young is referring to his new Neil Young + Promise of the Real music video, "Children of Destiny," which urges listeners to "stand up for what you believe, resist the powers that be."
Young opens the song singing:
Stand up for what you believe,
resist the powers that be
Preserve the land and save the seas for the children of destiny
The children of you and me.
The song goes on to say:
Should goodness ever lose
And evil steal the day
Should happy sing the blues
And peaceful fade away
What would you do?
What would you say?
How would you act on that new day?
After releasing the video, Young posted this video on Facebook:
Watch as Dr. Jane Goodall shares her hopes and vision for a healthier, greener world.
"You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make," is one of EcoWatch's favorite Dr. Jane Goodall quotes. Read more of her incredible quotes here.
Adrian Grenier: 'We Must Usher in a New Era of Compassion Through Forward Thinking Environmental Programs'
Adrian Grenier was named UN Goodwill Ambassador earlier this month. The Hollywood actor, best known for his iconic role of A-list movie star Vincent Chase in the HBO smash hit and film Entourage, will advocate for drastically reducing single-use plastic and protection of marine species, and encourage his followers to make conscious consumer choices to reduce their environmental footprint, according to the UN Environment announcement.
"Together we must usher in a new era of compassion and carefulness through forward thinking environmental programs to drive measurable change," Grenier said. "I am personally committed to creating ways in which the global community can come together to help solve our most critical climate crises through routine, collective action.
"The more we connect to nature in our daily lives, the more dedicated we will become to our individual commitments. Together, I believe we can go further, faster in our race to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030."
Watch the video above to learn more.
"There's no such thing as clean coal," according to this ATTN: video.
Watch above as ATTN: explains the many hazards of coal beyond carbon emissions, that no matter what there's no reviving the coal industry and how investment in renewable energy is the best way forward.
Share this video if you think America needs real energy solutions.