spurred an intense debate in Olympia among utility companies, solar
leasing companies and smaller installers like Smithson about how to
overhaul the state’s solar industry?
represents less than a quarter of ____ percent of the nation’s electrical
supply, and remains substantially more expensive to generate than power from
conventional coal or natural gas plants.
energy’s global capacity increased by _____ percent in 2013 and will continue to
expand in the decades ahead — the only question is how fast.
New Energy Finance forecast earlier this year that __________________________ will claim a fifth of the world’s investment in new energy
resources through 2020, and that could trigger major changes for once staid
utilities as more customers produce their own power.
solar’s big allure? Drawbacks?
years, how has the solar industry grown/benefited?
Washington, utilities must buy back the power from the first wave of solar
producers at retail prices rather than the wholesale prices they pay other
producers. On top of that, homeowners who install solar also are eligible for
cash rebates from state taxpayers that typically top $_________ a year and can
rise as high as $__________.
at the end of 2013 had less than __________ solar installations. That tally is
dwarfed by California, where there are more than _____________ installations.
advocates argue that even in hydropower-rich Washington, solar can help reduce
the use of fossil fuels.
Energy, the state’s largest power utility, continues to generate 48 percent of
its electricity from _________ and _______.
Class Discussion Questions and Essay Prompts:
·What do you think about using solar power as an
energy source to help reduce reliance on fossil fuels?
·Have you seen solar panels on buildings/roofs in
·Have your parents or other family members or friends
installed them on their homes?Why
or why not?
·Do you think you would install them, if you were a
homeowner?Why or why not?
·Do your parents own low emission/electric cars?Why or why not?
·Why is lowering emissions so important to our world?How does this impact global warming?
Those incentives have helped solar gain a toehold in a state that boasts
some of the lowest power rates in the nation due to abundance of zero-carbon
hydropower, and thus is one of the toughest places in
There is plenty of potential for more solar. The total amount of sunlight
in Washington is roughly on a par with Germany, the world’s leading solar
believe the geography, topography and climate in Washington state would make
Most of the solar rooftop systems installed in recent years in California
are leased, a financing tactic that lets homeowner install panels with little or
no money down. The leases are championed by SolarCity, an industry powerhouse
chaired by Elon Musk, a billionaire investor who founded Tesla Motors, the
“Few people have enough money to purchase a solar system up front.
(Before leasing) it was more or less a boutique item,” said Andy Schwartz, a
director of policy and markets at Solar-City.
But SolarCity has been largely shut out of Washington.
Only utility customers who purchase their power system can claim the
state incentive payments, which are greatest if they use equipment manufactured
in Washington. And these payments are limited to the first wave of installations
within each utility’s customer-service area, so the money would run out if there
was a huge surge in the state’s solar industry.
Schwartz and other leasing advocates have been lobbying Olympia to make
leasing a ready option in the state.
“I don’t think there can be any serious discussion of solar (in
Washington) without leasing, and currently leasing is not viable in Washington”
·Why do you
think SolarCity has been “shut out” of Washington?
·Do you think
leasing panels is a good idea, financially for the consumer?Why or why not?
How far should our state go to promote
higher-cost solar energy, given the very successful conservation efforts of
recent years that has weakened demand for their power?Many utilities have an abundance of low-cost hydro that produces no
carbon emissions. They often have to dump that hydropower on Western power
markets at discounted prices.
What are the problems that we’re trying to solve (with more solar)?
How will solar power help?
Newspaper-related CBA activity:U.S.
How the United States government interacts with the world affects people across
the globe.Analyze and evaluate the
causes and effects of US foreign policy on people in the United States and
across the world.
Using The Seattle Times e-edition, find an article from this week that deals
with world politics or foreign policy.
What are the main points of view from someone living in that particular country?How is that “view” similar and different than your own opinion, regarding
the specific issue the article is discussing?
·Why is it important to
study and learn about foreign policy?How does it help you understand the world we live in, using current
issues and events?
Civic Minds in The Seattle Times is posted to the Web on Friday. Please share
the NIE program with other teachers. To sign-up for the electronic edition of
the newspaper please call 206/652-6290 or toll-free 1-888/775-2655.