Tag Archives: solar

NASA Star Vista

ASU engages with NASA’s Solar Research Institute

Arizona State University Foundation Professor Kip Hodges is co-investigator and ASU principal investigator for a node of the new NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). SSERVI brings nine teams of researchers from NASA laboratories, universities, research institutions, and commercial enterprises together in a collaborative virtual setting to focus on questions concerning planetary science and human space exploration in the inner Solar System.

Through Hodges participation, ASU is affiliated with “Field Investigations to Enable Solar System Science and Exploration” team that is led by Jennifer Heldmann of NASA’s Ames Research Center. Other nodes of the virtual institute are based at Brown University, the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory, the Lunar and Planetary Institute (Houston, Texas), NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center, the Southwest Research Institute (Boulder, Colo.), Stony Brook University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Colorado. All together, the new virtual institute embraces the research of nearly 200 scientists nationwide, providing them with a total of roughly $12 million per year over the next five years.

“I’m very pleased that, through Jen’s leadership, the NASA Ames node was selected to be an inaugural part of SSERVI”, said Hodges. “I think we have assembled a great team of researchers that cross the boundaries between planetary science and the engineering and implementation of new technologies to enhance our ability to do science on other worlds.”

In addition to researchers from the Ames Research Center and ASU, the NASA Ames team includes participants from: the BAER Institute; the Canadian Space Agency; Cornell University; Evergreen Valley College; Honeybee Robotics; Idaho State University; the Korean Institute of Geoscience & Mineral Resources; Los Gatos Research; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Purdue University; the SETI Institute; Studio 98; the University of Toronto; the University of Western Ontario; Wyle Integrated Science and Engineering; and NASA’s Goddard, Johnson, Kennedy, and Marshall Space Flight Centers.

The NASA Ames team will focus on the development of innovative strategies for scientific research on asteroids, the Moon, and the moons of Mars – as well as on samples returned from those bodies – through studies of planetary analog sites on Earth. Hodges notes that it is important to establish best practices for human and robotic exploration of space prior to the launch of real missions so that we can maximize the quality and quantity of science that can be done at our exploration targets.

“By studying geologic features on Earth that are similar to those we will encounter on other bodies, we better prepare ourselves for future explorations.” The NASA Ames node will be conducting such studies on volcanic landscapes in Idaho and at meteorite impact craters in northern Canada.

Hodges was recruited for participation in SSERVI as a consequence of his research group’s work on determining the ages of impact events on Earth and the Moon.

“On coming to ASU in 2006, it was one of my goals to establish a world-class center for noble gas geochronology and geochemistry in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Thanks to investments by ASU, the National Science Foundation, and NASA, the laboratory my research group has worked hard to put together enables some very creative work, including our pioneering use of laser microprobe technologies for dating impact events”, Hodges says.

Recent work of this kind has focused on a variety of terrestrial impact sites and on lunar impact rocks brought back during the Apollo 16 and 17 missions. Many members of Hodges’ research group – research scientists Mathijs van Soest and Jo Anne Wartho, postdoctoral associates Marc Biren, Frances Cooper, and John Weirich, and graduate students Cameron Mercer and Kelsey Young – have contributed to building the laboratory’s reputation as a leading facility for impact dating.

“Our participation in the work of the NASA Ames node of SSERVI permits us to expand our work on terrestrial impact sites in a way that will feed forward into future studies of samples returned from exploration targets like near-Earth asteroids, our Moon and the moons of nearby planets, or Mars. We are excited to be part of such a great effort, and look forward to helping NASA write the next chapter in the history of space exploration,” states Hodges.

solar

ACC issues residential solar recommendations

The Arizona Corporation Commission staff issued its highly anticipated recommendations in response to APS’s proposed rule changes directed at residential solar customers. ACC recommended that the Commission not approve either of APS’s proposed Net Metering cost-shift solutions.

Net Metering is the mechanism that allows residential customers the right to offset energy purchases from the utility with self-generation on a one-to-one basis.

The ACC staff proposals, like those from APS, are only recommendations. Any changes to the existing rules must be voted on by the Arizona Corporation Commissioners. The Commissioners are scheduled to take up the issue at its Oct. 16 and 17 hearing.

ACC staff further recommended that should any changes be granted, existing rooftop solar customers should be grandfathered under the old rules, and that those rules should apply to the rooftop equipment and premises where the equipment is installed. In other words, the net metering rules should “run with the land,” versus being a “right” that resides with a specific customer.

Although ACC staff recommended that no changes be made at this time, it did suggest that this issue be evaluated during APS’s next rate case. They said it was their belief that any cost-shift issue created by Net Metering is fundamentally a matter of rate design and that the appropriate time for designing rates that equitably allocate the costs and benefits of Net Metering is during APS’s next general rate case.

ACC staff further recommended that the Commission hold workshops with all stakeholders to help inform future Commission policy on the value that Distributed Generation (rooftop solar) installations bring to the grid. In addition, Staff recommended that within the workshops, the Commission investigate the currently non-monetized benefits of Distributed Generation with the goal of developing a methodology for assigning a values to the non-energy benefits of rooftop solar.

ACC staff believes this recommended course of action is the most effective and appropriate method of dealing with the Net Metering cost-shift issue APS outlined in its July 12 filing. However, since it is not yet clear whether the Commission will decide to deal with this issue immediately, staff offered two alternative recommendations as bridge solutions in an effort to at least begin gradually addressing the Net Metering cost-shift issue until the matter can be more comprehensively resolved in a future general rate case.

The first interim proposal is a Lost Fixed Cost Recovery (LFCR) Flat Charge provision for all new APS solar rooftop customers, unless the customers choose the ETC-2 rate which relies on a demand-based charge to partially collect fixed costs. The LFCR is designed to recover a portion of costs arising from transmission and distribution, and other miscellaneous fixed costs.

The recommendation would have new solar customers pay into the LFCR account at a flat rate, thereby reducing the impact on non-solar customers. The estimated impact of this flat charge would amount to an estimated monthly increase between $2 and $3 for new solar customers compared to the $50 to $100 a month charge under APS’s proposal.

ACC staff’s recommendation also included a second alternative in the event the Commissioners wanted to implement an immediate rule change before the next rate case, proposing a Distributed Generation (DG) Premium could be implemented on a gradual basis so as to minimize the immediate impact on future solar customers. The proposal said this could be done by initially setting the DG Premium at $2.75/kW. The DG Premium would be the cap for the monthly charge under this alternative. The Commission could lower or increase the DG Premium annually based on the effect it has on new solar installations. The Commission could also adopt an approach wherein the DG Premium is initially set at a lower amount than that recommended by Staff, and phased-in over a period of years.

solar

Arizona Solar Firms form advocacy group

Five Arizona-based solar energy companies are joining forces to establish a nonprofit group to advocate for solar users and educate the community on the importance of continued investment in solar technologies.

Known as the Arizona Solar Deployment Alliance (ASDA), the newly formed organization is dedicated to providing accurate and timely information to the public and working on behalf of Arizona homeowners and businesses on issues related to the advancement of solar energy.

ASDA was formed by American Solar, Arizona Solar Concepts, Harmon Solar, Sun Valley Solar Solutions and Technicians for Sustainability, all Arizona-based companies who committed early-on to work with homeowners and businesses to make rooftop solar energy a reality in the State of Arizona. Incorporated as an Arizona non-profit, ASDA will provide up-to-date, reliable data to inform and educate solar users and solar interests on important issues related to the industry and changes in public policy.

Groups that claim to be pro-consumer are popping up statewide as the issue of solar energy becomes a more popular topic. These efforts, however, are only making it more difficult for the public to decipher fact from fiction when it comes to solar energy.

“The cost of solar energy is at an all-time low. Homeowners and businesses can easily make the choice to go solar and it is especially critical they have facts and solid information – not noise or conjecture – before making such a decision and as they continue to use solar into the future.” said Sean Seitz, president of ASDA. “We believe solar is here to stay. It is a low-cost, long term solution to our state’s growing power needs and is quickly becoming part of Arizona’s diverse energy portfolio, alongside wind, hydro, nuclear, gas and coal. Our mission is to support an educated decision-making process and that means ensuring those making the decision are not swayed by the landslide of misinformation and distraction that is out there.”

Arizona’s solar industry is also critical to the state’s economic development prospects, as it provides jobs in the fields of engineering, manufacturing, construction and a variety of other related skill sets, many of which pay well and provide a good standard of living for families. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Careers in Solar Power, 2011)

For more information and to stay up to date on ASDA’s activities, visit www.arizonasda.org.

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APS proposes changing solar rates

A proposed rate change for Arizona Public Service Co. customers who install rooftop solar panels could affect the future of the state’s solar industry.

The utility is proposing to give customers with new solar panel systems less credit for the electricity their systems supply to the power grid under a proposal pending before the Arizona Corporation Commission.

The proposal would drop the rate of return by as much as 40 percent, but the utility says new customers would also be offered some incentives.

The utility says the change is needed because solar customers are not paying enough for the services they get when their panels are not producing electricity.

Greg Field of Arizona Solar Concepts says if the commission approves the proposed changes to the utility’s net metering program, it will destroy the state’s solar industry.

 

Solar_Power

3 renewable energy projects approved

The Interior Department has approved three renewable energy projects in Nevada and Arizona that officials say will generate enough electricity to power nearly 200,000 homes. The projects are the first renewable energy projects on public lands approved by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell since she took office in April.

The projects will deliver a combined 520 megawatts to the electricity grid through solar plants in Nevada and Arizona and a geothermal plant in Nevada.

The 350-megawatt Midland Solar Energy Project is near Boulder City, Nev., while the 100-megawatt Quartzsite solar project is near Quartzsite. The 70-megawatt New York Canyon Geothermal Project is in Pershing County near Lovelock, Nev.

Interior has approved 45 utility-scale renewable energy projects since 2009, including 25 solar sites, 9 wind farms and 11 geothermal plants.

energy supply - AZ Business Magazine May/June 2012

Solar Energy Powers Aspire Kids Sports Center

As the sounds of kids jumping, tumbling and somersaulting echo through the Aspire Kids Sports Center in Chandler, solar panels silently soak in the sun on the roof of the 32,000-square-foot facility.

With the help of incentives from the SRP EarthWise Solar Program, owners Scott and Dona Barclay have invested in the 100-kilowatt system, which will provide approximately half of the center’s electricity needs.

“We have had it in our plans to put solar on our building since we built Aspire,” said Scott Barclay. “We feel living in Arizona, it makes sense to utilize the God-given resources provided by the sun. We have had solar water heating on our own home since the 1980s. The technology has now advanced to make it more affordable, so we decided now was the time to act.”

The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art gymnastics equipment, a heated indoor swimming pool, dance and martial arts room and a preschool gym. It is also the home and training center of the ASU men’s gymnastics team.

“Aspire is another example of business owners who are making investments in the future of environmentally, emission-free, renewable energy,” said Lori Singleton, director of SRP Program Operations.

For more information about the SRP EarthWise Energy Solar Program, visit www.srpnet.com/solar.

Solar Plane

Solar-powered airplane stopping in Phoenix

A solar-powered plane set to embark on a multi-city trip across the United States is scheduled to depart Moffett Field in Mountain View, Calif., on May 1, weather permitting. These are the cities, in order, of where the plane would stop for about 10 days and the distances between their airports:

1. From Mountain View, Calif. (early May)

2. To Phoenix (mid-May, 625 miles)

3. To Dallas-Fort Worth (early June, 873 miles)

4. By mid-June: 558 miles to St. Louis or 630 miles to Nashville, Tenn., or 735 miles to Atlanta

5. To Washington, D.C. (early July, 542 miles from Atlanta)

6. To New York (July, 204 miles)

solar

Arizona ranked No. 2 in solar for 2012

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released U.S. Solar Market Insight: Year-in-Review 2012, an analysis of solar power markets in the United States.

With another record-breaking year, solar is the fastest growing energy source in the country, powering homes, businesses and utility grids across the nation. The Solar Market Insight annual edition shows the United States installed 3,313 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) in 2012, a record for the industry. Perhaps most importantly, clean, reliable, affordable solar is continuing a major growth pattern that has made it a leading source of new electricity for America that’s increasingly competitive with conventional electricity across dozens of states today.

Even with the cost of solar falling for consumers, the market size of the U.S. solar industry grew 34% from $8.6 billion in 2011 to $11.5 billion in 2012 — not counting billions of dollars in other economic benefits across states and communities.  As of the end of 2012, there were 7,221 MW of PV and 546 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) online in the United States, enough to power 1.2 million homes.

At the state level, 2012 was another year for breaking records. California became the first state to install over 1,000 MW in one year, with growth across all market segments. Arizona came in as the second largest market, led by large-scale utility installations, while New Jersey experienced growth in the state’s non-residential market. The Top 10 largest state solar markets based on megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed in 2012 were:

1. California, 1,033
2. Arizona, 710
3. New Jersey, 415
4. Nevada, 198
5. North Carolina, 132
6. Massachusetts, 129
7. Hawaii, 109
8. Maryland, 74
9. Texas, 64
10. New York, 60

In addition to record annual installations, the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2012 shattered all-time quarterly records as well, with 1,300 MW of installed PV, besting the previous high by 64%. The residential and utility segments had their best quarters ever, installing 144 MW and 874 MW respectively.

The residential market saw meaningful growth in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New York, as average residential system prices dropped nearly 20 percent in one year — from $6.16 per watt in Q4 2011 to $5.04 per watt in Q4 2012. SEIA and GTM Research expect residential solar to surge in 2013 and beyond, as third-party solar financing options spread across the country.

The non-residential segment, which includes commercial, governmental, and non-profit systems, installed more than 1,000 MW in 2012. Leading non-residential markets included California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and Hawaii.

Meanwhile, the utility market continues to be dominated by installations in the desert southwest. There were 152 utility solar installations in 2012, and eight of the ten largest projects currently in operation were completed in 2012. These installations represented 54% of total installed capacity, or 1,782 MW.

SEIA and GTM Research expect the growth to continue into 2013 and beyond. For this year, the report forecasts 4,300 MW of new PV installations, up 29 percent over 2012, and 946 MW of concentrating solar power. Over the next four years, the residential and non-residential markets are expected to gain market share as system prices decline, the industry becomes even more efficient, and new financing channels arise.

Solar Power

Suntech closing Goodyear factory

Chinese solar panel maker Suntech Power Holdings Co. is closing its factory in Goodyear in part because of higher production costs.

The broader solar industry has struggled in recent years due to a steep price drop for solar panels. Global demand for panels has languished in Europe and elsewhere, even as manufacturing capacity soared.

Suntech’s solar panel manufacturing plant, which opened in October 2010, had 43 employees. The facility’s peak production was 50 megawatts per year in 2011. This was scaled back to 15 megawatts per year in November.

Suntech said Tuesday that the increased production costs were made worse by import tariffs on solar cells and aluminum frames imposed by the U.S. government and global solar module oversupply.

In November the U.S. International Trade Commission voted to impose unilateral tariffs of 35.97 percent on Suntech solar cells made in China. Suntech said these solar cells are a key component used at its Goodyear factory.

The company also said that the factory’s closing is in line with its restructuring efforts to rationalize production capacity and cut operating expenses by 20 percent this year.

U.S.-traded shares of Suntech fell 7 cents, or 6.1 percent, to $1.08 in midday trading. The stock has traded in a 52-week range of 71 cents to $3.68.

Patterson_Michael_MFPAT_300 - 4x5

Polsinelli Shughart attorney Appointed to Solar Task Force

Michael Patterson, an international business attorney with Polsinelli Shughart has been appointed to the Arizona Governor’s Solar Energy Advisory Task Force. Patterson brings to the committee a dedication to the growth of business in Arizona and an in depth knowledge of business and securities transactions, corporate law, mergers and acquisitions, and finance and compliance.

“I am honored to serve with my colleagues on the Governor’s Solar Energy Advisory Task Force as we work to identify ways to further strengthen Arizona’s solar industry and propose solutions to impediments in solar-energy development,” said Patterson.

Patterson also has considerable experience related to international business transactions and disputes. He previously lived and worked in Mexico City and Costa Rica working both in nonprofit initiatives and as a U.S. lawyer assisting U.S. companies.

“Arizona is uniquely positioned to expand its solar presence both nationally and internationally. I am excited to be able to contribute to the development of our State’s solar energy incentives, policies and best practices,” said Patterson.

The Governor’s Solar Energy Advisory Task Force was created by an executive order signed by Governor Jan Brewer in 2011.

solar

SRP helps 4 Valley Nonprofits get Solar Systems

Thanks to the generosity of SRP EarthWise Energy customers, four Valley nonprofits will receive solar electric systems.

The Boys & Girls Clubs of the East Valley/Thunderbirds Branch in Guadalupe, Child Crisis Center in Mesa, Chrysalis Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence in Phoenix and The Phoenix Zoo will each receive a solar system up to 20 kilowatts in size, depending on site conditions.

These nonprofits were chosen by SRP customers who voted to determine the winners. The systems will generate electricity and help the nonprofits save money on their monthly electric bills.

SRP EarthWise Energy is a voluntary program in which more than 5,000 SRP customers participate for as little as $3 per month, with 100 percent of the funds used to provide solar electric systems to Valley nonprofit organizations.  In addition to helping nonprofits save money, the program contributes to the growth of solar energy in the Valley and educates customers on the importance of renewable energy.

“We are grateful to our EarthWise customers who have provided the funds to assist these important and vital non-profit organizations,” said Lori Singleton, SRP director of Emerging Customer Programs for Solar, Sustainability and Telecom. “Thanks to their generosity, these organizations will be able to reduce their electric bill and redirect their limited dollars to the needs of their communities.”

Since 2007, the voluntary contributions paid by EarthWise Energy customers have funded projects for community-based programs including Boys & Girls Club of Metropolitan Phoenix, Hospice of the Valley, the Nina Mason Pulliam Rio Salado Audubon Center, Desert Botanical Garden and Habitat for Humanity Central Arizona.

For more information, call (602) 236-2922 or email earthwise@srpnet.com. To sign up for the EarthWise Energy program, go to www.srpnet.com/earthwise.

solar

Arizona regulators cut TEP's solar incentives

The Arizona Corporation Commission is reducing incentives provided by Tucson Electric Power Cop. for residential rooftop solar installations to generate electricity or heat water.

The commission also is eliminating Tucson Electric’s incentives for commercial customers’ renewable energy generation, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Commissioner Gary Pierce says the cuts approved Wednesday are justified because the costs of systems are dropping and because ratepayers need to be protected from rising costs of the state’s renewable energy program.

The commission increased by $5 million Tucson Electric’s spending for renewable energy under a state mandate for utilities to gradually increase their use of solar and other renewable sources.

solar

Arizona regulators cut TEP’s solar incentives

The Arizona Corporation Commission is reducing incentives provided by Tucson Electric Power Cop. for residential rooftop solar installations to generate electricity or heat water.

The commission also is eliminating Tucson Electric’s incentives for commercial customers’ renewable energy generation, according to the Arizona Daily Star.

Commissioner Gary Pierce says the cuts approved Wednesday are justified because the costs of systems are dropping and because ratepayers need to be protected from rising costs of the state’s renewable energy program.

The commission increased by $5 million Tucson Electric’s spending for renewable energy under a state mandate for utilities to gradually increase their use of solar and other renewable sources.

Funding Startup Companies Jumpstart Economy

GPEC boosts state’s economy by attracting more foreign direct investment

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council’s California 50 program — which aimed to fly 50 Golden State CEOs to Phoenix for an opportunity to tour and explore the region’s business-friendly environment — proved to be so popular that they expanded it to 100 a week after its launch.

But it may be GPEC’s pitch to CEOs even farther away that makes the biggest impact on Arizona’s economy.

“GPEC is focused on a specific region in China, defined by Shanghai and 10 other cities connected by high-speed rail,” says Ron Butler, managing partner at Ernst & Young in Phoenix and co-chair of GPEC’s International Leadership Council. “This region (known as the ‘Z Corridor’) features China’s largest concentration of industries, including solar, medical device, IT, pharmaceuticals, high-tech manufacturing and chemicals. GPEC has made tremendous strides over the past several years in China, particularly with solar and renewable energy companies. Now, the organization is looking to leverage those relationships and expand into other, capital-intensive industries.”

GPEC’s effort is significant, Butler says, because export industries and foreign direct investment (FDI) drive economic growth, create wealth within the region, and tend to be capital-intensive operations that pay higher-than-average wages. Currently, FDI accounts for 73,000 jobs in Arizona and the state saw a 235 percent increase in FDI from 2005-2010, from just over $270 million to more than $904 million.

“By focusing on the Z corridor, a zone known for its solar, high-tech, bio-medical, and chemical industries, GPEC has identified a region that can appreciate what Arizona and — more importantly Arizona workers — can do well,” says Ilya A. Iussa, assistant professor of law at Phoenix School of Law.

But it’s not just investment from China that is giving Arizona an economic boost within the solar and renewable energy industries. In addition to China’s Suntech, the region has seen investments from Spain’s Rioglass and Abengoa, England’s Faist, Germany’s Solon, France’s Saint-Gobain, and Canada’s Cosma International.

“GPEC smartly targets the regions and countries that represent significant growth opportunities, like Canada, China and Western Europe, and works these markets with effective marketing and business development strategies,” Butler says. “Now, with a more concentrated effort underway in China and successful positioning as both a leader in the U.S. solar market and an on-the-record supporter of expanded free trade with China, the Greater Phoenix region is poised for amplified growth in FDI, particularly from China.”

Despite its success, experts says Arizona still has some work to do.

“Our neighboring states and biggest competitors far outrank us in national FDI and export-trade rankings,” Butler says. “California is first for FDI and second for exports, while Texas is second for FDI and first for exports. As such, we must continue evaluating our market for additional FDI and export industry opportunities, and look for ways to increase our competitiveness in these areas.”

Lawmakers have identified one area that needs to be addressed to gain a competitive edge on other states.

“One of the first things we should do is focus on developing a highly educated workforce that will attract companies and businesses looking to move their headquarters,” says Rep. Matt Salmon, R-5. “In addition, it is equally important for us to create a pro-business environment and that comes by reducing harmful regulations that hamper economic growth. Both would increase Arizona’s role in the global economy.”

In order to be increase its global presence and become more competitive with neighboring states like California and Texas, Butler says Arizona must increase the number of export industries operating in the state.

“We can increase our competitiveness for these types of investments,” he says, “with a targeted economic development program for export industries, similar to the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program (SB1403), which has brought significant investments to the region and the Qualified Facilities Tax Credit (HB2815), which expanded the successful renewable energy program to include qualified, export-based investments.”

First Solar

First Solar buys Chilean solar company

Solar panel maker First Solar has purchased Chilean solar development company Solar Chile as energy demand continues to rise in the region.

The companies provided no financial terms in announcing the deal on Wednesday.

First Solar Inc., which is based in Tempe, bought Fundacion Chile’s stake in the company. First Solar and Fundacion Chile created a strategic working alliance with each other in October 2011. Fundacion Chile will continue to provide consultation services.

Solar Chile has photovoltaic power projects totaling approximately 1.5 gigawatts in northern Chile. Its five employees will join First Solar.

First Solar shares finished at $31.02 on Tuesday. They have almost tripled from a 52-week low of $11.42 in June. They peaked for the past year at $50.20 last February.

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Arizona ranked second in solar installation capacity

A report released this week shows that Arizona is ranked second nationwide when it comes to the capacity of solar installations.

The report issued by the Solar Energy Industries Association covers the third quarter of 2012.

According to the report, Arizona came had 192 megawatts of energy installed during that time behind California. Rounding out the top five were New Jersey, Massachusetts and Nevada.

Arizona Corporation Commission Chairman Gary Pierce says policies adopted by the commission over the past two years have positioned Arizona to get more solar power at lower costs. He says the commission has been reducing incentives as demand for solar rises.

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Wilson Electric Solar Energy Projects to Save Phoenix School More Than $1.5M

Washington Elementary School District completed a 961 kW solar energy project for Sunnyslope Elementary School and Mountain View Elementary School (above photo) in North Phoenix.

In the first year of operation, the school district will save more than $28,000 in operational expenses, which is expected to grow to $1.5M over the next 20 years.

Wilson Electric Services Corporation designed and installed the systems with special consideration for the needs of the facility, ensuring the roof-mounted systems were ballasted and non-penetrating.

Solar support structures were built across the playgrounds and parking lots, which provided invaluable shading for the students’ most frequently used areas. Mountain View Elementary’s system includes 1,897 modules. The 550-kW system is meeting 61% of the school’s electricity needs. Sunnyslope Elementary’s 1,425 modules generate 82% of the school’s electricity needs from a 411-kW system.

The largest elementary school district in Arizona has a strong reputation for its Energy Conservation program; however, the upfront cost of solar has been prohibitive. Tioga Energy provided the solution: through its SurePath Solar power purchase agreement, Tioga owns and maintains the systems, selling the solar-generated electricity back to the school at rates below the utility.

Using the PPA from Tioga, the schools also benefit from the solar tax incentives which public entities are not eligible for alone. As the system owner, Tioga passes the incentives onto the schools.

Additionally, Wilson Electric and Tioga sponsored the district’s enrollment in the National Energy Education Development program. Teachers were trained in solar education curriculum development to incorporate into their classrooms.

“Overall, Tioga and Wilson Electric earned an A+ from our team,” said Sue Pierce, Director of Facility Planning and Energy for the Washington Elementary School District.

Each school has a touch-screen, web-based kiosk that displays real-time and historic system production data, as well as “fun fact” figures about the various carbon offset equivalents created through the use of solar energy. The district’s annual carbon dioxide reduction through these solar systems is estimated at 838 tons per year, or the equivalent of 154 passenger vehicles taken off the road.

“Our work with WESD demonstrates that the cost of solar power is not an insurmountable barrier; even the most budget-conscious organizations can achieve their sustainability objectives and realize major financial savings,” said Paul Detering, CEO of Tioga Energy.

Tioga Energy enables commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations to reduce electricity costs and enhance environmental sustainability without capital outlay. Tioga Energy owns and operates more than 100 renewable energy systems across the U.S.

 

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Shea Homes partners with Sunrun

Shea Homes is proud to announce a partnership with Sunrun, the nation’s largest home solar company, to help homeowners go solar without the high cost and hassle of owning and maintaining a solar system.

Through this partnership, homeowners can opt to have affordable solar preinstalled on their new homes.  The solar is lower in cost than typical solar installations because Sunrun owns, maintains and insures the systems.  Homeowners pay a low amount upfront for the solar power, taking control of their electric bills for 20 years.  Sunrun works with top local installation company American Solar to design and install the systems.

“Offering solar is in alignment with our overall goal to continually build homes that are highly energy efficient for our customers,” said Ken Peterson, VP of Sales and Marketing for Shea Homes. “Having this partnership with Sunrun is an added benefit to provide solar solutions to our customers which will ultimately reduce the monthly investment of operating their homes.”

“Sunrun invented solar service so that homeowners don’t have to choose between the planet and their wallets, and now it’s becoming a standard option for new homes,” said Sunrun Co-CEO Lynn Jurich.  “As solar adoption continues to grow, solar will be as common a consideration as countertop finish or flooring material.”

The Sunrun solar power service program will be available at Vista Montaña, Ridgeview and Hideaway at Johnson Ranch, Lantana at Power Ranch and SPACES at Evans Ranch. Homeowners can choose between three different system sizes, and systems will be custom-designed according to the square footage and orientation of the home. Check out a video about the new partnership here.

For specific pricing details, contact Shea Homes at 1-866-696-7432 or visit http://www.sheahomes.com/arizona.

home.energy

Family Moves Into First SRP Energy Star Home

When Tamee and George Simbles moved into their 3,100-square-foot home last week, they became the first family to reside in a new SRP Energy Star Home. For Tamee, there were certain must-haves when house hunting. She wanted to downsize to a single-story home “with less space to clean” but still needed a bonus room so her three boys had their own space, and energy efficiency topped her list.

“We moved from Austin, Texas, and our last two electric bills were $425 and our water bill was $425,” Simbles lamented. “We’ve lived here before and know bills can be expensive in the summer. We were looking to lower our bills and knew that we could.”

The Simbles have purchased five new homes in 18 years. Tamee said they knew precisely what they wanted and found it at Maracay Homes’ Whispering Heights community at Lindsay and Chandler Heights roads in Chandler.

“When we saw what our average monthly bill would be for electricity, we were shocked. We are going to have so much savings,” Simbles added. “The average monthly bill should be $197 a month. That’s almost half of what our old bill used to be.”

“SRP partners with Maracay Homes and other local builders to help ensure the homes are built and certified to the Energy Star level of energy efficiency,” said Debbie Kimberly, SRP’s Director of Customer Programs & Marketing. “While SRP has a long tradition of fostering higher efficiency in new homes, we recently partnered with the nationally recognized Energy Star program to continue growing this initiative.”

SRP’s program follows Energy Star Version 3 guidelines and includes additional HVAC and water-efficiency improvements important to living in a desert climate.
“Building a sustainable, affordable and greener way of living is a core value at Maracay Homes,” said Andy Warren, President of Maracay Homes. “We are proud to build homes that stand up to SRP’s Energy Star Homes standards. Welcome home, Simbles family.”
There are many benefits to purchasing an SRP Energy Star Home. The homes:

  • Are 30 percent or more energy efficient than homes built to standard code
  • Are 50 to 60 percent more energy efficient than most existing homes
  • Save $1,400 or more a year compared with typical existing homes
  • Use up to 20 percent less water compared with existing and even new homes

“There are so many features that are on this home that have not been in our previous homes, like the radiant barrier in our attic, improved windows, plus energy-efficient light bulbs, a programmable thermostat and motion sensors so the kids can’t leave lights on anymore,” Tamee said.

Health and comfort are two of the most important benefits. The homes are built tight to keep conditioned air in, which also keeps dirt, pollen and pollutants out. Every home is required to have a fresh-air ventilation system that brings in clean, fresh air. Like the building envelope, the ductwork is also tested to minimize leakage. The air-conditioning system is designed to be the right size for the home, and it is tested to ensure each room has the proper flow and pressure balance.

“When insulation, ductwork and air-conditioning systems are designed, installed and tested properly, the home functions much, much better — resulting in increased energy efficiency and a more comfortable and healthy place to live,” said Rebecca Smout, SRP Key Account Manager.

To be certified as an SRP Energy Star Home, a home must undergo third-party testing and inspection of everything from the quality of the insulation installed to the refrigerant charge of each air-conditioning unit. The home’s performance level is represented by the HERS Index, a nationally recognized system for measuring home performance.

“It’s a lot like the miles-per-gallon sticker on a car. It gives homebuyers a point of reference for how much energy the home will use,” Smout added.
Homes in the SRP Energy Star program will typically have a HERS Index of 70 or below, which means they are expected to perform at least 30 percent better than a new home built to the code minimums. For the Simbles, it all adds up to peace of mind, because they know they’ve made the right decision.

“When we found out our house was going to be the first one to be completed, we were so excited,”  Tamee said. “Maracay Homes is everything we wanted. It’s neat being a pioneer and coming back to Arizona. It’s a nice welcome home.”

Video courtesy SRP

To learn more about the SRP Energy Star Homes program, visit srpnet.com/energystarhomes.

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GPEC makes case against solar tariffs

In support of the prospering solar industry in the Greater Phoenix metro area, City of Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord testified against proposed tariffs on Chinese-manufactured photovoltaic cells and modules at a hearing of the International Trade Commission in Washington. The City of Goodyear is a member of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) and home to the only U.S. manufacturing hub for China-based Suntech, the world’s largest solar manufacturer. Mayor Lord is the only elected official testifying at the hearing.

“Greater Phoenix was one of the hardest hit regions in the nation during the economic downturn, but thanks to the hard work of leaders in our community, we’ve created an industry cluster for renewable companies to create a more diverse and sustainable employer base,” said Barry Broome, president and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, the region’s premier economic development organization. “Now, we’re home to more than 260 companies within the solar supply chain, 27 manufacturing facilities and more than 9,000 jobs associated with renewable energy companies and utility-scale projects – a significant number when considering that parts of our state are at more than 20 percent unemployment.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that if implemented, these tariffs would have a detrimental effect not only on our existing solar and renewable energy industry but also in our ability to attract further investments in this sector from around the world,” Broome added. “It would send a signal that the U.S. is closed for business when it comes to this flourishing global industry.”

GPEC works closely with companies on their expansion and relocation plans, including a concentrated approach to those making a foreign-direct investment in the United States. In recent years, it championed a renewable energy-specific incentive that has drawn numerous solar companies to Arizona, including Suntech. Additionally, there are another dozen Chinese companies with investments totaling $400 million that have identified the Greater Phoenix region as a potential location for their projects.

GPEC recently filed a formal letter of protest to the U.S. Department of Commerce and the International Trade Commission against the tariffs. To view the letters, please visit www.gpec.org/tariff .

“Many of Goodyear’s economic development efforts center on solar or foreign-direct investment. As a small city located in a Foreign Trade Zone, we want more Suntechs – not less,” Mayor Lord said in her testimony. “In Goodyear, a town of just 70,000, Suntech employs more than 100 well-trained professionals and, if market demand continues, has plans to more than double that number.

“I’m worried that the imposition of punitive duties will put both current and future jobs at risk, in addition to those at related companies within the supply chain and the residual effects they could have on the people, schools and welfare of my community,” she added.

The Brattle Group recently reported that a 100 percent tariff would result in estimated job losses between 17,000 and 50,000 in 2014. Clearly, if implemented these tariffs would be detrimental not only to Arizona’s solar industry but also the entire industry nationwide and the U.S. economy as a whole, in addition to substantial job losses.

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Campaign issue: Energy

Americans depend on energy for everything from driving their cars to powering factories, homes and offices — and of course our smartphones, laptops and tablets. How that energy is produced and where it comes from affect jobs, the economy and the environment.

Where they stand:

President Barack Obama proposes an “all of the above” strategy that embraces traditional energy sources such as oil and coal, along with natural gas, nuclear power and renewable sources such as wind, solar and hydropower. Obama has spent billions to promote “green energy” and backs a tax credit for the wind industry that his Republican rival Mitt Romney opposes. While production of renewable energy has soared, critics point to several high-profile failures, including Solyndra, a California solar company that went bankrupt, costing taxpayers more than $500 million.

Romney pledges to make the U.S. independent of energy sources outside of North America by 2020, through more aggressive exploitation of domestic oil, gas, coal and other resources and quick approval of the Keystone XL pipeline from Canada to Texas. Obama blocked the pipeline because of environmental concerns but supports approval of a segment of it.

Why it matters:

Every president since Richard Nixon has promised energy independence — a goal that remains elusive. In 2011, the U.S. relied on net imports for about 45 percent of the petroleum it used, much from Canada, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. Still, U.S. dependence on imported oil has declined in recent years, in part because of the economic downturn, improved efficiency and changes in consumer behavior. At the same time, domestic production of all types of energy has increased, spurred by improved drilling techniques and discoveries of vast oil supplies in North Dakota and natural gas in states such as Pennsylvania, Ohio, New York and West Virginia. Production also is booming in traditional energy states such as Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.

The natural gas boom has led to increased production, jobs and profits — and a drop in natural gas prices for consumers. Natural gas, a cleaner alternative to coal, has generally been embraced by politicians from both parties.

Still, there are concerns. Critics worry that popular drilling techniques, such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, which allow drillers to reach previously inaccessible wells, could harm air, water and health. Hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking, involves blasting mixtures of water, sand and chemicals deep underground to stimulate the release of gas. Environmental groups and some public health advocates say the chemicals have polluted drinking water supplies, but the industry says there is no proof.

Similarly, the Keystone XL pipeline could help make the nation more energy secure — or pollute the environment in the event of a spill. Developer TransCanada says the 1,700-mile pipeline from western Canada to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast would pipe more than 1 million barrels of oil per day, more than 5 percent of the nation’s current oil consumption.

Opponents say the pipeline would bring “dirty oil” that would be hard to clean up after a spill.

Wind and solar power have grown, thanks in part to support from Obama, but their success is tenuous. Besides Solyndra, several solar companies have declared bankruptcy in part because of Chinese competition. Wind companies are laying off workers while Congress dithers on a tax credit crucial to the industry.

The changes aren’t likely to have an immediate effect on the cost of the energy source Americans are most familiar with: gasoline. Gas prices are dependent on crude oil prices, which are set on the global market.

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Federal plan to streamline solar development in Arizona OK’d

Federal officials on Friday approved a plan that sets aside 285,000 acres of public land for the development of large-scale solar power plants, cementing a new government approach to renewable energy development in the West after years of delays and false starts.

The government is establishing 17 new “solar energy zones” on 285,000 acres in six states: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico. Most of the land — 153,627 acres — is in Southern California.

At a news conference in Las Vegas, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar called the new plan a “roadmap … that will lead to faster, smarter utility-scale solar development on public lands.”

The plan replaces the department’s previous first-come, first-served system of approving solar projects, which let developers choose where they wanted to build utility-scale solar sites and allowed for land speculation.

The department no longer will decide projects on case-by-case basis as it had since 2005, when solar developers began filing applications. Instead, the department will direct development to land it has identified as having fewer wildlife and natural-resource obstacles.

The Obama administration has authorized 10,000 megawatts of solar, wind and geothermal projects that, when built, would provide enough energy to power more than 3.5 million homes, Salazar said.

Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said the effort will help the U.S. stay competitive.

“There is a global race to develop renewable energy technologies — and this effort will help us win this race by expanding solar energy production while reducing permitting costs,” Chu said in a statement.

The new solar energy zones were chosen because they are near existing power lines, allowing for quick delivery to energy-hungry cities. Also, the chosen sites have fewer of the environmental concerns — such as endangered desert tortoise habitat — that have plagued other projects.

Environmental groups like the Nature Conservancy who had been critical of the federal government’s previous approach to solar development in the desert applauded the new plan.

“We can develop the clean, renewable energy that is essential to our future while protecting our iconic desert landscapes by directing development to areas that are more degraded,” said Michael Powelson, the conservancy’s North American director of energy programs.

Some solar developers who already are building projects were complimentary of the new approach, saying it will help diversify the country’s energy portfolio more quickly.

Still, some cautioned that the new plan could still get mired in the same pattern of delay and inefficiency that hampered previous efforts, and urged the government to continue pushing solar projects forward.

“The Bureau of Land Management must ensure pending projects do not get bogged down in more bureaucratic processes,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Salazar said the country four years ago was importing 60 percent of its oil, and that today that number has dropped to 45 percent.

“We can see the energy independence of the United States within our grasp,” he said.

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Walmart Expands Solar Initiative in Arizona

Walmart today launched an expansion of its solar initiative in Arizona at its Buckeye distribution center near Phoenix.

The distribution center will feature Walmart’s largest solar installation to date with more than 14,000 solar panels on a 1 MSF building and parking canopies that will produce up to 30% of the center’s energy needs.

The solar panels at the distribution center alone will generate up to 5.3 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy per year, which is the equivalent of powering more than 400 homes and taking equivalent of approximately 600 cars off the road.

Making use of one of the region’s most obvious resources, Walmart is expanding its sustainability efforts in Arizona at its Buckeye distribution center, one of Walmart’s largest structures.

This is the company’s second distribution center solar project in Arizona, coming just over a year after 2 MW project in Casa Grande, Arizona, that used a combination of ground mounted and solar shaded parking canopy structures. According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, Arizona ranks third in the U.S. for solar installations.

“Environmental sustainability is an essential ingredient to us for doing business responsibly and successfully,” said David Ozment, Senior Director of Walmart Energy. “As the world’s largest retailer, our actions have the potential to save our customers money and help substantially reduce our carbon footprint for generations to come.”

Given the size of the Buckeye solar installation, the combination of ground mounted, roof mounted, and shaded canopy structures at Arizona distribution centers Walmart will be better positioned to transfer learnings to other Walmart facilities across the country.

“Arizona has established itself as a national and global leader in the solar industry,”  Gov. Jan Brewer said. “The fact that Walmart has the vision to recognize the benefits of renewable energy shows great promise for the future of solar in our state.”

Since launching its solar pilot program in May 2007, Walmart strengthened its commitment to renewable energy across the country. Currently, Walmart has more than 180 renewable energy projects in operation and development around the world, generating enough energy to power 78,000 American homes annually.

These renewable energy projects include solar rooftops, micro-wind on parking lots, biodiesel generators and fuel cells. In fact, the company recently unveiled the addition of a 1MW wind turbine at its Red Bluff distribution center in California, as well as the 100th solar installation in the state.

The combined focus on renewable energy in Arizona and across the country contributes to the company’s aspirational goal to be supplied 100 percent by renewable energy.

“In person, the solar installation at Walmart’s Buckeye distribution center is even more inspiring than it was when Walmart and SolarCity first envisioned it,” said Albert Laird, SolarCity Arizona Regional Vice President. “It represents our largest installation on a single building and clearly reflects Walmart’s ongoing commitment to renewable energy.”

 

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Wind, solar projects in Arizona on fast track

The Obama administration has put two renewable energy projects in Arizona on the fast track.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said Tuesday that the projects in Mohave County and Quartzsite are among seven in the West that will be expedited. Together, the projects are expected to produce nearly 5,000 megawatts of energy, or enough to power for 1.5 million homes.

The proposed Mohave County Wind Farm will be located on 38,000 acres of U.S. Bureau of Land Management land and nearly 9,000 acres managed by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. The target date for completing a federal permit and review decisions is January.

A proposed solar plant in Quartzsite has a slight earlier target date of December.

The plant would be located on 1,675 acres of BLM land.