SolarPermit.org, a website developed by SunShot awardee Clean Power Finance and supported by a Department of Energy grant, "organizes and simplifies the solar permitting process by compiling permitting information in a single location." The newly redesigned website hosts the National Solar Permitting Database, a free, online database of solar permitting requirements for cities and counties across the country. The website now contains "80% of jurisdictions with 200 or more residential installations per year."
The website "is an interactive, crowd-sourced website - similar to Wikipedia - for solar permitting requirements." Solar contractors and others can use the website to collect information from the database that may be helpful to them and to contribute information to the database based upon their experiences that may be helpful to others. Users of the website are able to provide feedback on the information provided by others. The "database contains jurisdictions for over 18,000 United States cities and counties. Each page includes over 100 data fields to give users an easy way to track a wide range of information about permitting requirements and processes." Information made available on the website includes: (1) contact information, (2) turnaround times, (3) fees, (4) specifications for system designs, (5) inspection processes, and (6) common errors.
The website's goal is to "minimize the time and resources required to... support the mass-market adoption of solar."
The U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM), as part of the Solar Energy Program, recently approved the establishment of a new Renewable Energy Evaluation Area (REEA) in California's Imperial Valley. The West Chocolate Mountains REEA creates a new Solar Energy Zone (SEZ), which is part of President Obama's "administration's efforts to facilitate solar energy development by identifying areas in six southwestern states with high solar potential, few resource conflicts, and access to existing or planned transmission." This REEA contemplates "[p]otential development of up to 3,456 megawatts of renewable energy within the REEA (3,306 megawatts of solar power and up to 150 megawatts of geothermal power)."
On Thursday, August 15, the three-member Toll Bridge Program Oversight Committee voted to open the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge September 3, as originally planned. On July 8, it had been announced that the bridge opening would have to be delayed beyond the originally planned Labor Day weekend because they didn't expect the failed bolt retrofit work to be completed until mid-December. Days later, hope was rekindled that a short-fix could be implemented quickly to address the failure of nearly one-third of the 96 bolts that secure earthquake shock absorbers known as shear keys to the deck when they were tightened in March. The August 15 decision followed a ruling by the Federal Highway Transportation Administration that an interim fix to address the bolt failures that occurred in March would allow the new span to open safely while the defective bolts are being retrofitted.
In IAP World Services, Inc.; EMCOR Government Services, B-407917.2 et al. (July 10, 2013), involving a protest challenging an award by the U.S. Department of the Navy (the "Navy") for base operating support services, the Government Accountability Office ("GAO") held that the Navy unreasonably credited the joint venture awardee with the corporate experience and past performance of two affiliates of one of the joint venture partners, where the record did not demonstrate that the affiliates would play a role in contract performance.
A recent decision by the First Circuit Court of Appeals illustrates the importance of clearly articulating the efficient proximate cause of any insurance loss and the narrow interpretation applied by courts to exclusionary clauses. In Fidelity Co-op. Bank v. Nova Cas. Co., Nos. 12-1572, 12-2150, 2013 WL 4016361 (1st Cir. August 7, 2013), the court ruled that damages to the interior of a building caused by the pooling of water on the building's roof, which resulted from excessive rain during Tropical Storm Hanna, did not constitute damage "caused by rain" excluded by the insured's all risk insurance policy. Rather, the court held that the damages were caused by the failure of a drain that resulted in a "flood," which peril was expressly covered under the policy.
Ygrene Energy Fund and Johnson Controls recently announced that they will help Seattle-based Metzler Real Estate cut energy use and utility bills at Sacramento's Metro Center Corporate Park by $140,000 annually, a 27% decrease. The Metro Center facilities are located at 2700-2720 Gateway Oaks Drive and are comprised of 4 buildings, totaling approximately 250,000 square feet.
This article describes and analyzes the policyholder coverage court decisions and opinions arising from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, starting with a summary of the factual background and concluding with comments about their historic significance. By showing that policyholders could recover even under strict policy language, these cases helped to spur settlements by reluctant insurers and determined the pace at which the city's rebirth was completed in the years immediately following the disaster.
But these century-old cases are also important today. They are still relevant to the issue of "ensuing loss"--whether fires or other covered perils, stemming from earthquakes or other excluded perils, are nonetheless insured. This broader question is as current as Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, and as imminent as the next calamity.
In the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon, 20 collegiate teams compete to design, build, and operate solar-powered houses that are affordable, attractive, and easy to live in, maintains comfortable and healthy indoor environmental conditions, supplies energy to household appliances for cooking, cleaning, and entertainment, provides adequate hot water, and produces as much or more energy than it consumes. The winner of the Decathlon will be "the team that best blends affordability, consumer appeal, and design excellence with optimal energy production and maximum efficiency."
The free and open to the public 2013 Decathlon & XPO that will be held October 3-13, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, at Orange County Great Park in Irvine, California, will include "a clean, renewable, and efficient energy exposition, featuring visionary and innovative companies, products, and educational opportunities."
The Decathlon's purpose is to educate students and the public about the money-saving opportunities and environmental benefits presented by clean-energy products and design solutions, to demonstrate to the public the comfort and affordability of homes that combine energy-efficient construction and appliances with renewable energy systems available today, and to provide participating students with unique training that prepares them to enter our nation's clean-energy workforce. Through fun, interactive exhibits and activities, the Decathlon & XPO will also help "educate visitors about the broad spectrum of energy efficiency in home design, transportation, consumer products, food production and education." Exhibitors will showcase their company and energy-efficient products, resources, and ideas to consumers, homebuilders, municipalities, government agencies, businesses, and more, and speakers will showcase their work, research, and expertise in clean, efficient, and renewable enterprises.
Georgia is the latest state to have its highest court hand down a decision falling into line with the majority rule that defective construction can be an "occurrence" in a CGL policy. In Taylor Morrison Services, Inc. v HDI-Gerling Am. Ins. Co., Case No. S13Q0462, --- S.E.2d ---, 2013 Ga. LEXIS 618 (Ga. July 12, 2013), the Supreme Court of Georgia recently addressed two certified questions from the 11th Circuit involving the meaning of "occurrence" in a standard form CGL policy:
1.) Whether, for an "occurrence" to exist under a standard CGL policy, Georgia law requires there to be damage to "other property," that is property other than the insured's completed work itself.
2.) If the answer to Question One (1) is in the negative, whether, for any "occurrence" to exist under a standard CGL policy, Georgia law requires that the claims being defended not be for breach of contract, fraud, or breach of warranty from the failure to disclose material information.
The Milwaukee Public Museum's 8-story tower's marble façade facing West Wells Street is being replaced with 234 solar panels. It was reported that, over the past 50 years, the Museum's heavy marble façade on the south wall facing West Wells Street has weathered and become less stable. Milwaukee County, which owns the building, reportedly elected to use solar panels as the replacement option because of the energy-generating potential of solar. The Museum's solar wall is expected to generate 77,533 KW hours of electricity per year, the equivalent of having 442, 60-W light bulbs on for 8 hours every day for an entire year. For now, the Museum will be the only building in Milwaukee with a full solar wall that is generating electricity.
It was reported that Milwaukee-based manufacturer Helios USA has been contracted to produce the Museum's solar panels. Construction is expected to last approximately 5 months, commencing Monday, July 29. The initial phase, which will involve removal of the existing marble façade, is expected to take 4 weeks.
Since the California Mechanic's Lien Law was established more than 100 years ago, it has been black-letter law that a contractor or materials supplier has no right to assert a mechanic's lien against public property. Thus, contractors and material suppliers (and even legal practitioners) have resigned themselves to the notion that the only available remedies on "public projects" are claims against payment bonds and the enforcement of stop notices. Within the last few years, however, the inflexible rule that "you cannot lien public property" has begun to change. In connection with the rise of construction projects arising from public-private collaboration, courts have begun to allow claimants to assert liens against private interests in publicly-owned property.
In the 2010 South Bay Expressway case, a bankruptcy court considered whether a general contractor that built a publicly-owned toll road could pursue a mechanic's lien against a private developer's leasehold interest in that public road. The California Department of Transportation had entered into a long-term lease with the developer, whereby the developer would construct the toll road and thereafter collect tolls and operate the public road. The court held that, as long as the lien claimant sought only to encumber and foreclose upon the developer's leasehold interest, the lien was valid.
This recent legal development offers new hope to contractors that are not paid on "public projects." In the wake of the South Bay Expressway decision, claimants are successfully recording and foreclosing upon mechanic's liens on a variety of projects built on public land. For example, we've seen liens successfully asserted against, among other interests, a concessionaire's leasehold interest in concession space at a public airport and a solar company's long-term rights to operate a solar facility and sell electrical power to a municipality. In many such cases, absent the ability to enforce their lien rights, the contractors would have had no ability to enforce their rights to payment.
The bottom-line is this: a contractor should no longer assume that it has no lien rights simply because its work was completed on public property.
On July 30, it was announced that the Sacramento Kings ownership group has hired Turner Construction Company to build the planned arena at Downtown Plaza. Turner Construction Company has a number of stadium projects on its resume.
The Sacramento Kings ownership group are also reportedly in the process of interviewing architectural firms to help design the new arena.
On July 17, 2013, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that the State University of New York's (SUNY) College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) will revitalize a vacant Kodak cleanroom building in Rochester, "transforming it into a first-of-its-kind CNSE Photovoltaic Manufacturing and Technology Development Facility (CNSE MDF) for crystalline silicon photovoltaics, part of a $100 million initiative that will attract solar energy jobs and companies to the Greater Rochester Area." This effort will also include the acquisition and relocation to the CNSE MDF of "the assets of Silicon Valley solar company SVTC as part of a $100M initiative that will create over 100 high-tech jobs and positions New York as the national leader in accelerating innovative solar technologies."
The project is expected to set "a precedent for further investment in this green industry in New York State" and to "attract additional investments from companies around the world and accelerate our development and use of solar energy," growing New York's clean energy economy. It is reportedly the "first initiative as part of the project will relocate a critical component of the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) SunShot initiative from California's Silicon Valley to Upstate New York, positioning New York as the recognized national leader in accelerating the development and use of solar energy nationwide."
Renovation of the former Kodak's MEMS inkjet facility is underway to transform the 57,000-square-foot building at 115 Canal Landing Boulevard in the Canal Ponds Business Park. The initiative will include the fitting up of a state-of-the-art, 20,000-square-foot cleanroom. The press release confirms that a late fall opening is anticipated.
As part of the CNSE MDF project, it was reported that "over $19 million in cutting-edge tools and equipment formerly utilized by SVTC, a Silicon Valley-based solar energy company, are being relocated to the CNSE MDF and will constitute the foundation of the manufacturing development line, a result of the acquisition of SVTC's assets by CNSE." It further confirmed that the U.S. Department of Energy "is providing nearly $11 million in cash funding to support procurement and installation of high-tech tools and equipment, with investment from private industry partners expected to exceed $65 million to support the development and operation of the CNSE MDF." In addition, it was reported that, "[t]o support the project, New York State will invest $4.8 million through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA)." New York's investment is to be directed entirely to CNSE with no private company to receive any state funds as part of the initiative.
This is to be the solar industry's first full-service collaborative facility dedicated to advancing crystalline silicon, or c-Si technologies. The CNSE MDF will provide a range of services and equipment, including complete manufacturing lines, access to individual tools, secure fab space for users' proprietary tools, and pilot production services in an intellectual property secure environment. It is expected that the CNSE MDF will attract solar industry companies to New York to access a state-of-the-art resource that will dramatically reduce the cost, time, and risk associated with transitioning innovative solar technologies from research to commercial manufacturing of crystalline silicon photovoltaics. It is also expected to play a critical role in the national effort to develop a strong photovoltaic (PV) manufacturing industry, and serve to accelerate the introduction and use of solar energy in homes and businesses across the country. Among other things, it is expected to enable education and training to support the expansion of the highly skilled workforce required by the U.S. PV manufacturing industry.
The establishment of the CNSE MDF for c-Si PV technology is also expected to complement and expand the capabilities and expertise of the national U.S. Photovoltaic Manufacturing Consortium (PVMC), headquartered at CNSE as part of the DOE's SunShot Initiative. The PVMC is reportedly leading the national effort to reduce the cost of installed solar energy systems from $5 per watt to less than $1 per watt over the next 10 years.
Governor Cuomo's announcement comes on the heels of his July 9, 2013 announcement that $54 Million will be awarded to fund 79 large-scale solar power projects across the State of New York, adding 64 MWs to the state's solar capacity.
On July 10, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued its California Solar Initiative Annual Program Assessment on the progress of the California Solar Initiative (CSI). The Assessment reflects that the program has installed 66% of its total goal with another 19% reserved in pending projects. This is an estimated 1,629 MW of installed solar capacity at 167,878 customer sites in the investor-owned utility territories through the end of the first quarter of 2013. The CPUC estimates that this is enough to power approximately 150,000 homes and avoid building three power plants. To read the Assessment, click California Solar Initiative Annual Program Assessment.
In January 2007, California began an $3.3 billion ratepayer-funded effort to install 3,000 MW of new solar over the next decade and transform the market for solar energy by reducing the cost of solar generating equipment. The CPUC's portion of the solar effort is known as the CSI. The CPUC boasts that is the country's largest solar program and has a $2.2 billion budget and a goal of 1,940 MW of solar capacity by the end of 2016.
CPUC's Assessment includes the following highlights:
A record 391 MW were installed statewide in 2012, a growth of 26% from 2011.
Pacific Gas and Electric Company achieved the most installations in the non-residential sector of any investor-owned utility, having met 70% of their non-residential installation goal.
Applicants to the low income portion of CSI, known as the "Single-Family Affordable Solar Homes" program, have received $64 million in support for their residential solar systems while the "Multifamily Affordable Solar Housing" (MASH) program has completed 287 projects representing a total capacity of 18.4 MW. There are an additional 83 MASH projects in process, for a total capacity of 11.3 MW. "Virtual Net Metering" has facilitated thousands of tenants receiving the direct benefits of solar as reductions in their monthly electric bills.
In just over 3 years of operation, the CSI-Thermal program has received 1,215 applications for $56.3 million in incentives.
All but 92 MW, or 6%, of solar capacity in the state is signed up for Net Energy Metering (NEM) tariffs. Pursuant to California Assembly Bill 2514 and CPUC Decision 12-05-036, the CPUC has initiated a study on the costs and benefits of NEM to ratepayers. The study is expected to be released later this year.