Would you spend $11.65 on a cup of coffee?

Let’s be honest: no. You’d take matters into your own hands and finally start brewing your coffee at home, like you’d always intended to.

pge-blog-coffeeThe good news is that coffee doesn’t cost $11.65 today, nor will it 20 years from now. But it might if coffee prices were increasing at the same rate as your electricity bill.

Say that the average price of coffee from national coffee chains is $4.00 today. If prices continue to go up at the same rate they have over the previous 20 years  (2.09% per year, approximately the same rate as inflation), that same cup of coffee will cost about $6.05 in 2035.

Imagine now that the price of your coffee increased at the same rate as your electricity bill. Take Maryland, for example, where the price of electricity has increased at an average rate of 5.49% per year over the previous 10 years.* At that rate, a $4 cup of coffee would cost $11.65 in 2035.pge-blog-chart

What does that add up to? For a daily coffee drinker, that amounts to spending $17,103.45 more in the next 20 years, an increase of nearly $1,000 per year.

So when PG&E recently announced a rate increase that added $5.23 to the average homeowner’s monthly bill, or when National Grid issued winter utility bills that were 37% higher than last year’s, why didn’t their customers switch to another electricity provider?

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That’s because many Americans don’t have a choice – their utility is the only electricity provider in their region.

Or, we should say, didn’t have a choice – until now. Home solar energy now offers many homeowners a predictable and sometimes cheaper way to generate electricity. It’s like being able to lock in the price of coffee at $4 for the next twenty years and using the thousands you save for a few vacations to Hawaii.

Don’t take our word for it. Research your options. The beauty of solar is that you now have the freedom to choose.pge-blog-sun

Click here to see the states Sungevity currently serves. Visit the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) website to learn more about electricity rates in your state. Have other questions? Let us know in the comments below.

* Data taken from the EIA’s Electric Power Monthly, “Average Retail Price of Electricity to Ultimate Customers”, in December 2004 and September 2014. The rate of electricity varies by state and utility. Visit the EIA website for more information.

5 Solar-Powered Gifts Under $100 Your Family Will Love

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Are you looking for the perfect sustainable gifts this holiday season? Look no further.

1. Frightened Grasshopper ($11.95) robotikitsdirect.com

You may recognize this fun stocking stuffer from one of our Solarbration events. Put this wide-eyed little grasshopper in the sun and watch the kids go wild. Some assembly required.

2. WakaWaka Light + Charger ($79.99) us.wakawaka.com

Designed from 100% recycled materials, this portable solar charger can power up your small devices within hours or provide up to 150 hours of bright light. And you can trust that this rugged device will last – WakaWaka also donates one per purchase to families in disaster zones to provide electricity and light where they are needed most.

3. Rydon Pixio Bicycle Lights ($43.47) rydon.eu

These theft-proof, waterproof bicycle lights are durable enough for whatever life has to throw at them. Their efficient solar panels keep your lights shining bright all winter long, so you don’t have to worry about replacing batteries in any season.

4. Goal Zero Rock Out Rechargeable Speaker + Nomad Solar Panel ($89.99) goalzero.com

Music for families on the go. These colorful speakers provide music for 20+ hours on 2 hours of charge. Great for summer picnics and hard-to-reach areas of your backyard.

5. GoSun Mini Solar Stove ($55.00) gosunstove.com

Bye bye, barbeque. Hello, sunshine. The parabolic design focuses the sun’s rays on the cooker inside, and can heat your food up to 400˚ F in 5-10 minutes. The perfect size for hot dogs, cashews, garlic, and whatever else you can cook up.

The USA-China agreement is great news for renewable energy

Last week the United States and China announced a historic agreement to combat climate change. Under the agreement, China pledged to generate 20% of its electricity from zero-emission sources by 2030. China will need to install nearly 1000 gigawatts (GW) of renewable and nuclear energy to reach that target. How big is 1000 GW? Huge.

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Meeting the target should be easy for China: 9.8% of its energy already comes from zero-emission sources, and that share is growing fast. China installed 11.3 GW of solar PV in 2013 alone, more than a 200% increase over the previous year. At that rate, China could exceed its 1000 GW target by 2020 using just solar. Now that’s a Rooftop Revolution.

It’s more proof that renewable energy is a viable, scalable alternative to fossil fuels. And for China, where air pollution is the fourth biggest health risk and leads to between 350,000 and 500,000 premature deaths every year, it also means that millions will breathe easier.

One Year Later: See what ICAPO did after winning Sungevity Gives Back

PHOTO: Thanks ICAPO for all you do to Generate Positive.

Last December, after a hard-fought campaign against 29 other non-profit organizations, ICAPO (Eastern Pacific Hawksbill Initiative) won Sungevity Gives Back and walked away from the contest with an extra $20,000 and a mission to Generate Positive. Here’s what happened next.

First, some background. ICAPO is a grassroots organization comprised of 50+ individuals and organizations that work together toward a single purpose: to protect the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle from going extinct in the eastern Pacific Ocean.

What makes the hawksbill interesting? At first glance, they seem like your typical sea turtle: large maritime reptiles with big flippers that help them glide through the water. Compared to other sea turtles, hawksbill are medium-sized and have a hook-like beak. They live in warm tropical waters across the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

However, what makes hawksbills particularly unusual is that they are stunningly beautiful. Their uniquely patterned shell contains splashes of ambers and yellows, with radiating streaks of light and dark brown. Their shell is so iconic that they are depicted on Venezuelan and Brazilian banknotes. The town of Worcester, Massachusetts even has a statue depicting a boy riding a hawksbill that’s lovingly called “Turtle Boy.”

But being beautiful has come at a cost for the hawksbill. Historically they have been exhaustively hunted for their shells, which is then traded on the black market. The demand for products made from their shells was so high that the global population of hawksbills has decreased by over 80% over the past three generations. By some estimates, there are fewer than 20,000 nesting females remaining in the wild.

That’s where ICAPO comes in. ICAPO launched in 2008 to protect the subpopulation of hawksbill turtles that lives in the eastern Pacific Ocean. ICAPO works with local communities from Mexico to Peru to find sustainable solutions that help both the turtles and the local fishermen thrive.

So how did ICAPO Generate Positive with $20,000?

They set out to address one of the biggest threats facing the eastern Pacific hawksbill population: lobster gillnets. When local fishermen set nets to capture lobster, hawksbill can get caught in the gillnets and drown. Over the past year, ICAPO has been able to expand their educational programs to raise awareness in local communities about the danger gillnets pose to hawksbill turtles. They worked hand-in-hand with lobster fishermen to collect data on how and where hawksbill are most likely to get caught in gillnets, and are now using that data to develop a marine protected area in one of the primary hawksbill hotspots. They also began testing alternatives to gillnets such as lobster traps. One year later, they are close to finding an alternative fishing method that prevents hawksbill bycatch, while also allowing local lobster fishermen to make a living.

Now that’s what a brighter world looks like.

Learn more about this and ICAPO’s other inspiring work by visiting their website at http://www.hawksbill.org. Sungevity Gives Back is an annual contest that invites non-profits to compete to win $20,000 to support their important work. To apply to the contest, organizations can submit a statement explaining how they will Generate Positive with $20,000. Enrollment ends November 10th. Apply today: http://us.sungevity.org/gives-back-enroll

Meet Mauricio, a clean energy crusader

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This is Mauricio. He became a solar advocate to grow the clean energy economy and reduce society’s reliance on fossil fuels. We chatted with him to hear what keeps his passion for solar alive.

How did you learn about solar?

I first became interested in solar after learning about it in an environmental science class in high school. In 2012 I got some hands on experience working with Blue Energy, a sustainable development NGO that does solar and clean water projects for rural areas on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. I see solar as a way to help people help themselves – installing solar on a school, for example, allows classes to be taught at night and it’s a great way for people to empower themselves.

How did you learn about Sungevity?

I was filming a video for Earthjustice at the Greek Theater in Berkeley and I ran into my friend Danny, who works at Sungevity. When he mentioned to me that in the last 10 months he had helped offset somewhere around a million pounds of carbon, I said, “Sign me up!”

What makes you excited about solar?

The momentum solar is generating is very exciting. The research shows that we can power the state, the country, and the world with 100% renewable energy – and save money by doing so. We are at the forefront of an economic transformation: as a growing number of business, institutions and individuals transition their investments into renewables like solar, we foster innovation in technology, finance and community development. That paves the way for a just transition to a new economy.

When you’re talking about solar, what messages resonate with people?

I think it just makes sense to people to power their lives with the sun, rather than with energy sources that degrade our environment and public health. We now have the ability to create an economy that is based in regeneration, not extraction and scarcity. The more renewable energy scales, the cheaper it becomes – whereas the more we scale fossil fuels, the more expensive it becomes. It took 30 years for solar to become 1% of this country’s energy mix, and with that 1% solar is already employing more Americans than coal – that’s a really exciting concept for people to learn.

What sparks your solar conversations?

I’m lucky that a lot of my friends and peers are dedicated to the same goals I am. After writing my college thesis on carbon feedback loops, I realized that the actions or inactions of the following decade or two will determine the fate of humanity. Solar is a solution that enables us to democratize our energy infrastructure, create jobs across all sectors of the economy, and create a more livable world for present and future generations.

How do you show your Sungevity pride?

I think the Generate Positive tagline encompasses what Sungevity is doing as a company and what people are doing in their own lives – spreading solar, helping people and mitigating climate change are all examples of generating positive.

Mauricio has been a solar advocate since the summer of 2014. Click here to learn more about Sungevity’s Advocates program.