Tag Archives: solar energy

The largest photovoltaic system in Arizona is located at the APS Cotton Center Solar Station in Gila Bend. Built by McCarthy Building Companies, the $14.3M, 145-acre facility will generate 17MW of power.

McCarthy named to Top 400 Solar Contractors List

McCarthy Building Companies Inc. was recently named to Solar Power World’s Top 400 Solar Contractors list and was ranked No. 33. The list ranks applicants according to influence in the residential, commercial and utility solar installation markets. McCarthy also ranked No. 23 in the Top 25 Utility Solar Contractors list.

“America’s solar industry is currently on pace to achieve another record-shattering year,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “This simply wouldn’t be possible without the effort, hard work and creativity of these Top 400 Solar Contractors.”

Solar Power World magazine is a bi-monthly publication reaching an audience of 15,000 professionals involved in manufacturing, installation, contracting, racking and mounting, policy, inverter technology and solar innovation. The publication is a premier resource for professionals in the solar industry and covers solar news and trends with a focus on technology, development and installation.

McCarthy Southwest, a division of McCarthy Building Companies based in Phoenix, is leading the company’s Renewable Energy team to focus on solar installation projects as well as other renewable energy projects. Currently, McCarthy’s solar and renewable team is in the process of installing six large-scale utility solar projects for a total of more than 151MW throughout the Western United states. Recently completed large-scale solar installations, include:
•    21 MW APS Cotton Center Solar Station in Gila Bend, Ariz.
•    21 MW APS Hyder II Solar Power Plant located in Hyder, Ariz.
•    22 MW APS Chino Valley Solar facility located in Chino Valley, Ariz.
•    6 MW Ameren – Belleau solar substation in O’Fallon, MO

In addition to large-scale PV installations, McCarthy has also worked with a various school districts and universities in Arizona, New Mexico, Nevada and California to install smaller-scale solar projects on school rooftops and parking structures.

“Our Renewable Energy team at McCarthy has been working on solar installations for nearly a decade and we have combined experience of more than 30 years in the industry,” said Scott Canada, director of the Renewable Energy team at McCarthy Building Companies. “We’re pleased to be included in this list once again and to continue our work with the companies developing solar projects across the U.S.”

energy policies

Solar and Other Ways to Save on Electricity Bills

In 2013, Arizona earned a new nickname -“the solar state”- by participating in heated debates regarding net metering and the growing solar electric industry. As expected, the utility companies put up a fight, which resulted in a minor victory allowing them to charge a small fee on new residential solar electric installations.

But the power companies cannot hold out forever, as solar power and other alternative sources of energy continue to gain popularity with consumers. Unfortunately there is still a long road ahead for everyone involved in solar power initiatives. Currently, Arizona Public Service Co. and others offer only a few renewable energy initiatives. To push the state from 2nd to 1st place in solar and renewable energy usage, utility companies should offer users the option to choose which percentage of their electricity is channeled from solar or wind energy, as opposed to other, nonrenewable sources. Many North American companies already do, and if consumers can find them — often through comparison websites — everybody wins.

Arizona has the sun to thank for its “solar state” title, but even if it’s a sunny day there’s still plenty you can do at home to pitch in, too. Take the first step and reevaluate the power usage within your own home. There are many new devices on the market that allow homeowners to track and discover just how much power is drawn from their electrical outlets, and adjust it accordingly. Not only will you discover which devices are “energy hogs”, and save money in the process, but you’ll reduce your home’s overall carbon emissions as well. Monitoring your home’s energy needs allows you to be a smarter, more environmentally friendly, consumer. Read on to learn more about the devices that can help you track your power consumption safely and easily:

TED Energy Detective: TED Energy Detective is one of the most highly comprehensive, and easily installable, energy monitoring systems. The product features a real-time display detailing exactly how many watts your home is using, with information on the hourly cost and continuous feedback on your energy use patterns. There are many versions and models of the TED home system, some of which come with their own wireless display, and others that are tracked using your mobile device or computer.

Google Nest Thermostat (Second Generation): There are smart thermostats, and then there are thermostats like the Nest. The Nest is more than programmable, it’s intuitive, which means that it will learn your schedule and program itself. An ordinary smart thermostat might remember to lower temperature control while residents are at work or school, but the Nest will go one step further and focus temperature control on the most used rooms, automatically adjust for sleeping temperatures. The device can even sense while you’re away on its own, due to the addition of a motion detector.

Eco-Friendly, Smart Appliances: For a while, energy efficient appliances were expensive and few and far between. Now, however, LG is one company that boasts an entire line of smart appliances. Examples include a smart refrigerator (the Smart ThinQ), an ultra-fast, eco-friendly washing machine, and a washing machine with Wi-Fi Smart Diagnosis (the Smart ThinQ Washer, which would reserve energy-intense cycles for off-peak hours, for example). LG isn’t the other company investing in the eco-trend, either. Energy Star certified appliances are available through almost every major preferred company or brand.

Power Adaptors and Smart Power Strips: Perhaps the most well-known and easiest tools to apply are power adapters, like those created by the company Green Plug, which limit the amount of energy over-charging consumer devices. If Green Plug’s adapters are in use, the supply of energy will be cut off after the device has received all the energy it needs to charge and operate. Likewise, smart power strips will limit any “vampire” charges sucked from appliances left plugged in.

iTech SolarCharger 906: Solar panels and solar technology at home is already popular in Arizona – but what about on the go? The iTech SolarCharger is just one option that allows electronics to be charged with the power of the sun. The iTech SolarCharger does take about 22 hours to power up (perhaps leave it on the deck on weekend day, but once it does it can easily charger phones and other electronics. The tool even comes with various adaptors, so homeowners don’t have to give up their solar preferences on the go.

While we wait for solar energy to be a cheaper, more feasible option on a large scale basis, there are many ways to cut down on electricity costs are home. A good energy monitoring system will make you aware of the need to conserve our energy resources. The accurate digital displays of the products listed above (and others) will give you new insight into how much electricity you consume, and where you can cut back each month.

GA_tail lights 2

ASU opens 2 more PowerParasols

In order to line up more with Arizona State University’s goals of being carbon neutral on campus by 2025, the New American University has teamed up with start-up company, Strategic Solar, and has opened up two more PowerParasols on campus.

Morgan R. Olsen, executive vice president, treasurer and CFO at ASU, said that these projects are extremely helpful and important to ASU’s goal of being carbon neutral and a leader of universities in cutting the impact that these institutions have on the environment.

ASU’s partnership with Strategic Solar began when they first built one of the PowerParasols, which have photovoltaic solar panels and supplies great shade for the community, at Lot 59, a popular tailgating spot for Sun Devil fans. Now, two more of these structures were built, one PowerParasol was erected outside of ASU’s Memorial Union and the other was built at a major entrance onto campus at Gammage Auditorium.

“The PowerParasols created an area we can enjoy 12 months out of the year,” Olsen said. They also generate sustainable energy for the campus and add to the 25 megawatts of solar energy that ASU hosts across four campuses, Olsen said.

Since 2007, ASU has cut its green house emissions by 36 percent per student, while enrollment has increased by 33 percent, Olsen said. “We’re growing and we’ve achieved these great metrics,” Olsen said.

The PowerParasol at Memorial Union has 1,380 photovoltaic solar panels, which produce 397 kilowatts, and the PowerParasol at Gammage is a little larger with 1,716 panels on two different structures and it produces 494 kilowatts.

These structures aren’t only great at supplying shade during the day, but at night they have luminous lights that create a beautiful friendly environment.

JA Solar supplied all of the panels that were used for these projects. APS community Relations Manager Michelle Gettinger congratulated ASU and PowerParasol with this brand new innovative and green structure.

Bob Boscamp, president of Strategic Solar, said that ASU was the first to partner and share the vision of installing PowerParasols. The PowerParasols are patent pending Boscamp said and he hopes to open up more at ASU and across the nation.

Olsen said that this is one of many of ASU’s projects that are being done to help minimalize the impact that Universities have on the environment. Zero waste initiatives have been enacted, across the campus there are multiple recycling bins for students to utilize and whenever the school receives boxes from shipments ASU sends them back.

Also, at the recent Pat’s Run, ASU had crews making sure what was recyclable at the event was recycled and anything that was organic trash went to proper biomass facilities Olsen said.

SolarPower

Benefits of solar: Will anybody listen?

Arizona is about to begin an important discussion on the cost benefits of solar energy. The discussion is scheduled for May 7 as part of a series of workshops the Arizona Corporation Commission has scheduled to examine the impacts of innovation on the utility business model.

This workshop comes on the heels of last year’s acrimonious debate on net metering. That dispute focused on whether rooftop solar owners place an unfair burden on non-solar customers through a “cost shift” that left “traditional” customers holding the bag for the majority of costs to maintain and operate the utility infrastructure. Absent from those deliberations, however, were any consideration for the value of solar.

Up until now, all the fuss has been about determining the value of the green electron to the utility and comparing it to the cost of the cheapest alternative. Attempts to expand the dialogue have largely failed to include the environmental attributes of solar and other non-energy benefits.

Witness the wisdom of 18 Arizona state senators who earlier this year voted for Senate Resolution 1003, which calls for the nullification of all rules, including clean air and water requirements, imposed by the EPA.

Yet the continued burning of fossil fuels is feeding such societal and climatic disruptions as the bark beetle infestation in old-growth pine forests in northern Arizona, the decreasing water flowing through our rivers, dams, canals and into our cities, a record drought that is devastating farmers’ crops, incomes and livelihoods and resulting in wildfires that destroy property and claim lives.

Recent events clearly illustrate that the impact of climate change isn’t limited to wild animals or the polar ice. The impacts are being felt everywhere — food and water supplies, the economy and our health. It’s a threat to our way of life.

The U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released its latest report (Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability) last week. The report was written by 300 experts from 70 countries and based on 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific papers. The report reveals in no uncertain terms that the continued burning of fossil fuels at present rates will cause more floods, droughts and violent storms as CO2 emissions drive up global temperatures and feed climatic changes.

In the face of the overwhelming evidence, the discussion in the Arizona Legislature actually included the purported positive impacts of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel consumption. That “debate” ignores the evidence that the amount of CO2 produced by fossil fuel consumption exceeds the ability of living organisms and other natural processes to remove it and store it in other forms.

Now, the conversation shifts from the myopic Legislature back to the hearing rooms of the Corporation Commission, where the cost benefits of solar energy is on the agenda.

Minnesota is just concluding a similar process and have come up with a formula to establish a value for solar electrons. The Minnesota formula includes several actors, including avoided costs of fuel purchases, new power plant construction and avoided transmission capacity.

More importantly, though, Minnesota assigns a methodology and cost to environmental impacts. This process for the first time will put a utility on the hook for the environmental harm it causes. In other words, instead of shifting the costs of environmental damage caused by their operations onto society those environmental damages now come with a price tag to the utilities.

The Minnesota formula may end up requiring utilities to pay more for a net-metered solar electron than the current retail cost of electricity. While that may sound like a bad deal for utilities, it could prove to be the incentive utilities need to reduce the carbon intensity of their delivered electricity, which in turn would reduce the value of solar.

It is hard to image Arizona following suit – after all it is pretty clear that science and politics don’t mix well at the Legislature. But any discussion that doesn’t place a value on our environment is promoting a cost-shift of massive portion. And it is society and the planet – not fossil-fueled utilities – that will bear the crushing burden.

Jim Arwood served six Arizona governors in various capacities managing federal energy programs, culminating in his appointment by then Governor Janet Napolitano, as Director of the State Energy Office in 2006. After nearly 25 years serving the state of Arizona, Mr. Arwood retired from government service in 2010 and today consults for a variety of energy related organizations and serves as Director of Communications for the Arizona Solar Center.

Parabolic solar troughs. Courtesy of Abengoa.com

Gila Bend's Solana Facility Begins Commercial Operation

Press release originally published at abengoa.com

Abengoa, an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, has announced that Solana, the world’s largest parabolic trough plant with a total installed capacity of 280 MW (gross) and also the first solar plant in the United States with thermal energy storage, has successfully passed commercial operation tests. This milestone marks a major accomplishment for Abengoa and the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) industry.

Solana is the first solar plant in the U.S. with a thermal energy storage system that is able to generate electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field, which is a turning point for renewable energy in this country, being a tangible demonstration that solar energy can be stored and dispatched upon demand.

Solana, located near Gila Bend and about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, began construction in 2010 and on Monday, October 7, successfully fulfilled production forecasts required to date and testing for commercial operation. These tests included operating at the turbine’s full capacity while charging the thermal storage system, continuing to produce electricity after the sun went down, and starting up the plant and producing 6 hours of electricity using only the thermal storage system. These tests successfully demonstrated the various operation modes of the plant’s operation.

Abengoa’s first utility-scale solar plant in the United States employs parabolic trough technology. This technology consists of parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on structures that track the sun and concentrate the sun’s heat, later transforming water into steam and powering a conventional steam turbine. This mature technology has additional value since the heat can also be stored and used to produce clean electricity after the sun goes down or during a transitory period.

This ability to generate electricity when needed, or dispatchability, is one of the unique characteristics of concentrating solar power versus other types of renewables. Solana’s thermal storage system, without the use of the solar field, can produce clean energy for six hours at maximum power. These six hours will satisfy Arizona’s peak electricity demands during the summer evenings and early night time hours. Dispatchability also eliminates intermittency issues that other renewables, such as wind and photovoltaics, contend with, providing stability to the grid and thus increasing the value of the energy generated by CSP.

Arizona Public Service (APS), the largest utility in Arizona, will purchase all of the electricity produced by the solar plant for 30 years through a power purchase agreement with Abengoa.

Solana will generate the clean energy equivalent to that needed to power 70,000 households and will prevent about half a million tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere per year. The construction of Solana led to the creation of more than 2,000 jobs and a national supply chain that spans 165 companies in 29 states.

The total investment of the plant is approximately two billion dollars and during financing, Solana received a federal loan guarantee for $1.45 billion from the United States Department of Energy Federal Loan Guarantee Program. This support made the construction of Solana possible, creating or maintaining thousands of jobs both in the building of the plant as well as those direct and indirect jobs in the supply chain, as well as providing the Southwest with clean, sustainable energy using innovative technology.

Abengoa currently has 1,223 MW of concentrating solar power in operation and 430 MW under construction. It is the largest CSP company in the world and one of the few that constructs and operates both solar tower and parabolic trough plants.

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.

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 Selects Six Valley Nonprofits as Finalists to Receive Solar

SRP is inviting its customers to decide which nonprofits, from a list of six finalists, will receive a solar energy system. The 10-kilowatt systems will enable the nonprofits to help offset the cost of electricity and save money on their monthly electric bills. The savings they see will help them direct more funds to the communities they serve.

The six nonprofit finalists are:

  • The Boys & Girls Club of the East Valley/Thunderbirds Branch
  • Child Crisis Center
  • Chrysalis Shelter for Victims of Domestic Violence
  • Mercy Housing Southwest
  • The Phoenix Zoo
  • VALLEYLIFE

Between now and December 31, SRP customers can vote online at www.srpnet.com/votesolar or at various events in which SRP participates around the Valley. The top vote-getters will be announced in January.

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 photovoltaic (PV) 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 provide 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 are able to reduce their electric bill and redirect their limited dollars to the needs of their communities.”

Since 2007, the voluntary fees 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.

114338026

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.

SunPower Solar Power

SunPower Solar Power Plant Planned For ASU Polytechnic Campus

SRP and Arizona State University (ASU) have teamed up to build a 1-megawatt, solar power plant on the Polytechnic campus in Mesa. The plant will feature the first commercial deployment of SunPower C7 Tracker technology. This solar photovoltaic tracking system concentrates the sun’s power seven times and is designed to achieve the lowest-leveled cost of electricity for solar power plants available today.

The SunPower solar power plant will utilize the C7 technology, but it won’t be the first solar power plant on the ASU Polytechnic campus. Two plants have already begun construction thanks to the SRP EarthWise Solar Energy Incentive Program.

“There are two other solar systems in construction at this time by Ameresco Southwest, a 298 kWdc and 511 kWdc,” says Jean Humphires, director of design and support services in the ASU Capital Programs Management Group. “Design of these systems began in August 2011; they will be operational by the end of March 2012.”

The ASU solar plant will be the third commercial-scale solar facility in the Valley of the Sun to provide energy for SRP, producing approximately the energy needed to serve about 225 SRP customers’ homes. The Polytechnic solar power plant will require minimal water use and supports ASU’s renewable energy goal to achieve 20-megawatts by 2014.

SunPower is engineering and constructing the plant on the southeast corner of the ASU Polytechnic campus and will operate and maintain it. Under a purchase-power agreement, SRP will buy the entire output of the solar plant from SunPower and, in a separate agreement, ASU will purchase all of the energy attributable to the plant for use at its Polytechnic campus, estimated to be more than two million kilowatts per year.

According to Humphries, 17 percent of the ASU Polytechnic campus peak load will be covered by the solar power plant, and the SunPower solar plant will be operational by the end of 2012.

The C7 Solar Power Technology

The C7 Tracker combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto 22.8 percent efficient SunPower Maxeon solar cells. The technology uses mirrors to reduce the number of solar cells required to generate electricity and will lower the levelized cost of electricity by up to 20 percent compared to other technologies. For example, the 1-megawatt C7 Tracker power plant at ASU will require only 172 kilowatts of SunPower solar cells.

“The SunPower C7 Tracker leverages SunPower’s depth of experience developing reliable tracking systems and delivers bankable technology with guaranteed performance,” says Howard Wenger, SunPower president. “We applaud our partners on this project in selecting this advanced technology platform that will deliver cost-effective renewable energy for the long-term.”

Integrating Solar Power Into Polytechnic Programs

There are four related educational and research programs on the Polytechnic Campus:

  • Undergraduate and master’s programs in alternative energy technologies and environmental technology management
  • An alternative energy focus area in the Technological Entrepreneurship and Management program.
  • The Photovoltaic Reliability Lab, directed by Dr. Govindasamy Tamizhmani, which is focused on real-world and simulated-condition aging and testing of in-field PV components
  • The Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) test bed overseen by Milton Sommerfeld and Qiang Hu

“The learning environment at the College of Technology and Innovation on the ASU Polytechnic campus is distinguished by a hands-on, project- and team-focused curriculum developed and delivered by faculty with extensive real-world experience,” says Mitzi Montoya, Vice Provost and Dean of the College of Technology & Innovation at Arizona State University. “Existing and new facilities on campus, like the Polytechnic solar plant, give our students opportunities to become more deeply engaged in their learning by providing applied context to classroom lessons.”

For more information about SunPower, visit sunpowercorp.com.

Solar tariff

Debate Over Renewable Energy Tariff For Rebate Customers

Solar rebate customers may be faced with a higher renewable energy tariff that will supplement the solar rebate fund to help other customers install solar equipment.

Previous articles in the Green Scene section focused on the many available rebates for purchasing solar equipment for a home or business. These articles also focus on the savings that can be accrued after switching to a greener energy source. This post is a summation of the Dec. 20 Arizona Republic article and a personal commentary on the decisions to be made concerning a renewable energy tariff for rebate using customers.

The Renewable Energy Tariff

Before you switched to solar (or if you haven’t yet), you are charged with a renewable energy tariff. The tariff price is based on how much energy you use, so if you have installed solar energy equipment, you buy less energy from your utility company. Therefore, you reduce your monthly tariff. The APS renewable energy tariff is capped at $4 a month for residential customers that have not transitioned to solar energy. If you have a solar system on your home, you pay approximately half that, or less.

Arizona Corporation Commissioner, Brenda Burns, thinks it’s fair to charge those who used solar energy rebates a few extra dollars each month so that those who haven’t taken advantage of the solar rebates can have that same opportunity.

The reasoning behind this idea is that more people are going solar and fewer people are left paying the renewable energy tariff. So the Arizona Corporation Commission wants to ensure that there will be money in a fund to continue allocating rebates to customers that want to go solar.

It becomes an issue of fairness when people who are renting or those of lower income are paying the renewable energy tariff to its extent and supporting higher-income homeowners, living in affluent neighborhoods who want to use rebates to install solar in their homes, Burns says in the article. Burns also says that the implementation of the tariff will not be retroactive to those who have used rebates to install solar equipment in their homes, only those who utilize the rebates in the future.

I’m sure this has a lot of people asking, “Why should this come out of my pocket?”

Renewable Energy Tariff’s Effect On Solar Policy

Critics of this idea include solar companies and say that this is an attack on the industry. Arizona Corporation Commissioner, Paul Newman, wonders from where this idea stemmed in the first place and feels that it is a punishment for customers who were the first to make that transition to solar energy.

Different levels of rebates are available, but let’s say a customer utilizes a $4,000 rebate to install a solar system in their home. That person is already spending thousands of dollars to put this system on their roof; the rebate was a welcome relief and an incentive.

The political alignment with the move to go solar was constructed to make it easier to make the change, and by monetarily inviting homeowners to do so persuaded them. Now the policy with solar is still there, but it isn’t as motivating to homeowners.

I’m all for a greener future, and I love the idea of getting our power from the sun, but to entice homeowners with rebates and then make them pack back the rebates is comparable to false advertising.

In my mind, a rebate is a discount on a product that you don’t have to pay back. So, calling these solar rebates isn’t necessarily true. It’s like a loan that you borrow, but you pay it back interest free. And the next question is, how long? How long do clean-energy users continue paying the full rate of the renewable energy tax? Until they have paid back the amount of the rebate they used? Double the amount of the rebate they used?

Should solar rebate customers pay the renewable energy tariff so more customers can take advantage of solar energy? Should the idea of the rebate be eradicated completely and allow individuals to purchase their own solar equipment? Should the money just run out, with the utility companies instituted an early bird gets the worm policy when it concerns the solar rebates?

We’d like to know what you think, let us know in the comments.

 

Entirely Pure

Entirely Pure Offers Energy Efficient Mortgage

Entirely Pure is a local, Tempe based company that is dedicated to helping homeowners make their homes sustainable and energy efficient through an array of products and services, while minimizing the work and the worry that comes with securing financing for home improvements and with selecting the right upgrade products for the home.

Entirely Pure will conduct a home energy audit and then offer its clients the specific energy efficient upgrades that are catered to their home. Some of these products are a solar hot water heater, radiant barrier, window tinting, attic insulation, bottle-less water coolers, etc. The majority of Entirely Pure products come with rebates up to 30%, which are available to homeowners until the end of the year.

“We have a ton of different products and services and most of the products we offer have a rebate on them, the federal state and utility rebate,” Mileka Bakhshai, director of marketing at Entirely Pure, says. “The rebates run out this year and we want homeowners to take advantage of them before they are not available anymore.”

These services aren’t just for older home owners. New houses are built quickly here in Arizona and with the haste of the build can come issues of secure sealing and energy efficiency.

“We try to educate our customers and we really want them to know that there are so many different items and not just one item will fix your house and make it energy efficient,” Celeste Padilla, director of operations at Entirely Pure, says. “We’ll go in and do a really thorough analysis and give them suggestions on simple things they can do themselves in addition to what we can provide for them.”

The rebates available for sustainable home upgrades are expiring at the end of the year, so Entirely Pure wants current and future customers to be able to take advantage of these deals before time runs out.

Aside from the sustainable products and services offered to home owners, a new program of Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEM) is being offered through Entirely Pure to assist homeowners in acquiring these sustainable upgrades. The Energy Efficient Mortgages will help homeowners realize their dreams of having a sustainable home and save money on their utility bills.

The Entirely Pure Energy Efficient Mortgage

“This is an amazing opportunity for homeowners and home buyers who are looking to either qualify for a higher loan amount, lower their interest rate, reduce their monthly utility bills, increase the value of their home, all the while reducing their carbon footprint,” Bakhshai says.

Padilla says the EEM program allows for flexibility for homeowners that cannot refinance or that don’t qualify for modification because they don’t want to damage their credit; while giving them the opportunity to take advantage of the historically low interest rate. The application processed is streamlined and with a credit requirement of 620 and no docs for the applicant.

“The Energy Efficient Mortgage is a newer program, this is something we started a few months back, we’ve been really implementing and creating a solid relationship with a few different lenders and making sure it’s a good fit for not only us, but the customers,” Padilla says. “We connect them with a mortgage lender and we are not exclusive, we work with several lenders … We will walk through the process with them, we provide the energy audit, and we provide energy efficient upgrades; we hold their hand through the entire process.”

Taking advantage of the rebates available and the EEM program will not only allow home owners to upgrade their homes to a sustainable status and benefit the environment, but will also allow them to save money on monthly utility bills. This program isn’t just for existing homeowners, but also new home buyers who are looking to stretch their debt to income qualifying ratio on the loan as well.

“This isn’t the only program that we offer, for any reason, if a homeowner wasn’t qualified for an energy efficient mortgage, financing, payments cash, there are many different options we can offer to someone who wants to do these upgrades and also want to take advantage of the lower interest rates,” Padilla says.

With these loans a homeowner can:
1. Make an older, less efficient home more comfortable and affordable.
2. Qualify for a higher loan amount.
3. Stretch debt-to-income qualifying ratios on loans.
4. Save money every month on utility bills.
5. Increase the potential resale value of their home.
6. Sell their home more quickly by making it more affordable to people and attracting attention in a competitive market.

Entirely Pure Specials for AZnow.biz Readers

Entirely Pure is offering an end of the year special on Solar Hot Water Heaters, $999 after rebates and a 10% discount to azbigmedia.com readers up to $500 on products and services if you mention this article.

Products & Services Offered:

  • Energy Audits
  • A/C Upgrades, Repairs, & Tuneups
  • Solar Hot Water Heaters
  • Radiant Barrier
  • Energy Efficient Window Tinting
  • Blown & Fiberglass Insulation
  • Attic/Duct Sealing & other forms of weatherization
  • Reverse Osmosis & Water Softeners
  • LED & CFL Lighting Upgrades
  • Same as Cash Program Available
Solar Energy Arizona Western College,

Solar Energy Builds on Arizona Western College Campus

The current economic situation has spurred a lot of talk, advertisements and encouragement to buy local and use local to sustain our economy. The Guinness Book of World Records named Yuma, AZ the sunniest city on earth, so where better to utilize innovative solar energy technology on Yuma’s Arizona Western College campus?

The Project

The Arizona Western College in Yuma is in the process of installing solar panels to cover close to 100 percent of its daytime electricity needs and cut its costs, all of which are planned to happen by October 2011. However, this project is doing more than just generating solar energy; it is utilizing five new types of photovoltaic technology from six different companies.

Arizona Western College plans to use the solar panels to teach classes on solar technology, installation and environmental engineering. This three-year solar project, from vision to completion, was partially funded by APS and will be managed by Main Street Power for 30 years and after the contract expires, the equipment will become part of the college and continue producing energy, says Lori Stofft, the director of public relations and marketing at Arizona Western College.

It is unique to apply five different technologies to a single institution, but that is one of the projects innovative angles.

The five photovoltaic technologies and the companies behind them include:

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

1. CPV (concentrator photovoltaic) from SolFocus, including their dual-axis trackers and GreenVolts fully integrated system including two-axis trackers and inverter
2. Thin Film panels from Sharp Solar
3. Monocrystalline panels from Solar World
4. Poly Crystalline panels from Suntech
5. Single-axis trackers from O Solar

Another unique aspect of this project is that the building process is streamed live over the internet to allow the community and the solar technology companies to check in on the progress.

“A lot of our partners are in Northern California, Germany, Spain… we wanted those people to feel like they were connected to our campus and that they could check in seven days a week and find out what was going on,” Stofft says. “It’s a way to include our partners in the building process.

The ground breaking was in May 2011 and the “Flip the Switch” completion ceremony is slated for October 2011. Only six months were allotted to cover 23 acres of land with solar arrays. The tight deadline was set in order to meet APS’s guidelines for the funding.

The Educational Advantage

It would make more sense to use one solar technology instead of five if it was just about energy generation, but it’s not, Stofft says. It’s about allowing the companies to measure their technologies against one another in one of the harshest climates on earth. Another educational aspect of the project will be the incubation area and the demonstration garden.

“The demonstration garden will have nine different technologies that students and the public will have access to,” Stofft  says. “They can see how [the technologies] measure against each other and what measures against the five major arrays.”

The incubation area is based on rental, and for a fee, technology companies can rent a private and secure area for a small array where they can test their equipment against the solar arrays already in place. The estimated savings for Arizona Western College with the solar array in place will be $3.5 million in the first 10 years, $15.4 million in 20 years and a projected $40 million over 30 years, including incubation rental fees.

“It’s more than just saving our tax payers money; it can be a road map for other colleges around the country who want to educate their own students,” Stofft  says. “There are all sorts of certificate and training programs and we could be educating people who work in solar industry at all levels.”

Arizona Western College graduated their first solar installer class of 19 in spring 2011 and are in the process of embedding solar technology into new and existing programs, developing 2-year degrees that can be transferred to four-year institutions.

(c)2011 Arizona Western College by Ernest Yates

It seems as though everyone wins.

Arizona Western College saves money; the solar companies get to test and monitor their technology in a large scale setting; the students reap the benefits, and the community creates jobs. The only thing left is getting a White House representative, or the president himself to the “Flip the Switch” ceremony.

A Presidential Approval

“The goal is to attract national attention to the array,” Stofft  says. “I really feel this is about energy independence for our country.”

Arizona Western College sent a formal invitation to the White house, but there has been no response yet. They are keeping their fingers crossed, and if the White House plans to respond, it still has time.

“The students, faculty and community are so proud that this solar array is being installed,” Stofft  says. “And if we can get the White House to visit, that will just be the cherry on top.”

For more information about Arizona Western College’s solar panels and its progress, visit www.azwestern.edu.

[stextbox id=”grey”]

Videos

Watch: AWC Solar Array Presidential Invite

Watch: AWC Solar Array Groundbreaking May 2011

[/stextbox]

Solar Companies - AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

The Fight To Lure Solar Companies To The Valley Is Fierce

The fight to lure solar energy companies to Arizona will be fierce in 2011, as states become more competitive in their efforts to land solar companies that are themselves battling for funding in a stagnant capital market.

“(This year) will be more competitive than 2010 because the states are feeling more pressure and the idea that we’ll emerge out of this recession soon is just falling out of people’s heads,” says Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a major player in the efforts to bring solar and renewable energy companies to the Valley.

At least 10 renewable energy companies have located or announced plans to locate in Arizona since the state Legislature passed a tax-incentive program in 2009, Broome says. The most notable players are Chinese giant Suntech Power Holdings Co., the leading solar manufacturer in the world, and Power-One, which makes solar and wind inverter products.

Their arrival not only burnishes Arizona’s reputation as a potential leader in the effort to harness renewable energy, but also creates a burgeoning supply chain for solar energy manufacturers.

For example, United Kingdom-based FAIST GreenTek plans to open its first U.S. plant, a 56,000 SF facility in Phoenix, to provide metal steel containers for Power-One’s inverter boxes. Additionally, Spanish glass manufacturer Rioglass located to Arizona to provide materials for Abengoa’s Solana plant near Gila Bend, which is expected to be the largest concentrating solar energy power plant in the world.

“The tentacles that are caused by these companies will grow long over time,” says Eran Mahrer, director of renewable energy for Arizona Public Service, which will purchase the electricity generated at the Gila Bend site.

GPEC currently is working to lure two solar companies to the Valley, Broome says, adding, “I’m not saying we won’t see 10 companies again, but it’s much tougher. The industry is maturing and the capital markets haven’t recovered.”

He believes the market will see a roll up, or a decline in smaller, newer companies and will settle on fewer, major players.

The impact of solar companies on the commercial real estate market is significant. Solar-related companies gave a shot in the arm to Arizona’s persistently high industrial vacancy rates, says Pete Wentis, an industrial broker with CB Richard Ellis.

The second quarter of 2010 saw positive absorption in the industrial sector for the first time in a year and a half, Wentis says. By 4Q 2010, the market saw 4.4 MSF of positive absorption, which lowered the industrial vacancy rate in Maricopa County from 16.1% to 14.7%. Wentis estimates that solar companies contributed between 15% to 20% to that absorption.

The 14.7% vacancy rate means there is 40 MSF of industrial space available.

It is difficult to say whether there is enough available inventory for solar-related companies, as they don’t all require the same type of industrial space, Wentis says, adding that industrial is the most diversified of all the tenant types of space.

Solar proponents agree that Arizona is just starting to establish itself as a leader in the solar industry, but more needs to be done.

“Are we doing a good job? Yes,” Broome says. “Are we doing a great job? No. Could we be doing better? Yes.”

Factors that helped draw solar companies here and drive the production of solar generation include state tax incentives, utility incentives to customers for rooftop photovoltaic systems, a federal grant program that has been extended for one more year, and state renewable energy standards that require utilities to generate 15% of their kilowatt-hours sold from renewable sources by 2025.

Finally, the total installed cost of photovoltaics has dropped 40% in three years due to several factors, including better production, innovation, and the emergence of China into the market, says Nancy LaPlaca, a policy advisor and spokesperson for Arizona Corporation Commission commissioner Paul Newman.

Stable and well-thought-out energy policies would help the industry, Broome says, adding that the state has taken a “herky jerky” approach to renewable energy. A federal energy standard also would bring stability to the market, he adds.

The state also should discuss ways to export green energy, LaPlaca says. Currently, Arizona exports 30% of its electricity to California, but that is “brown” energy derived from coal, natural gas and nuclear.

For more information about GPEC and its efforts to bring solar companies to the Valley, visit gpec.org.

AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

SkySong is a mixed-use development in Scottsdale with a focus on global industries. - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

GPEC’s Revamped International Leadership Council Looks To Bring Foreign Direct Investment To Arizona

The Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC) is sharpening its international approach with an aim toward bringing more foreign direct investment to the state. To that end, GPEC has restructured its International Leadership Committee (ILC).

“My vision is to put Arizona on the radar,” says Rudy Vetter, senior vice president of international business development at GPEC.

Sharon Harper, president and CEO of The Plaza Companies, is one of the ILC’s co-chairmen. The Plaza Companies is the co-developer of SkySong, a mixed-use development in Scottsdale with a focus on global industries.

“Repositioning the (ILC) board and a more strategic focus on foreign direct investment on Europe, Asia and Canada has resulted in a greater number of international prospects and successes,” she says.

Harper notes that the top-tier markets for the committee are those that best align with Arizona, such as China, Germany, Italy, Spain, France, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, along with Japan, Korea and Canada.

The specific industries being targeted are solar energy, other renewable energy products, clean tech and environmental technology, biotech, medical and life sciences, as well as high-tech manufacturing.

“There is a great opportunity for Arizona and Greater Phoenix to benefit significantly from foreign direct investments. By focusing on Arizona’s core strengths, and specifically the vision at SkySong and other projects that are focused on the global economy, Arizona will be attracting and creating good jobs for our region,” Harper says.

Reducing the committee’s size, along with adding leading investors and major academic leaders in the Valley to its roster, has resulted in a concerted effort to make a more powerful impact in the international arena. Intel, Arizona State University, Thunderbird School of Global Management and the University of Phoenix all have a presence on the committee, as well as representatives from the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands, among others.

“The key element for the ILC is that they invest their expertise, their skills and knowledge about international affairs, and they combine that with investing into their network, connections and international activity,” Vetter says.

With a diverse and experienced pool of senior executives on the committee, the main goal is to get the word out about Arizona and the many perks it offers.

“It’s about creating awareness,” Vetter says. “Arizona is not necessarily the first state that comes to mind to an international investor. (It’s up to us) to make them aware of the great qualities this place has.

“Very often, we create first contact by meeting companies during trade shows and conferences; we find out if there is a company interested in an operation in the U.S., and we make the case for Arizona and Greater Phoenix,” Vetter adds.

He points out that although Arizona can’t compete with companies looking for an East Coast presence, when it comes to the West, the committee’s job is to ensure the state is on the shortlist of candidates.

Since the passage of the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, Arizona has become a power player in the solar industry, attracting several high-level, international companies to the Valley. To keep the momentum going, Vetter and the rest of the committee work closely with international companies, providing them with step-by-step plans to make their entrance into Arizona a smooth one. The process of foreign companies setting up a presence domestically comes with many challenges, and GPEC strives to ensure the companies’ success.

“It’s a seed that we have to nurture, and sooner or later we can grow a plant,” Vetter says. “They’re coming with an investment, but they have to create the business from scratch. GPEC connects them with local business to get them started faster and to create mutual benefit for the whole community. We hear all the time from companies that locate here; they love this one-stop shopping (GPEC offers).”

As the ILC continues on its mission to attract foreign investors to the area, it also will continue to focus on building a strong sustainability industry in the state.

“The idea of seeing the Valley plastered with solar panels, people driving cars they can plug in and knowing they don’t have to pay their utility bills is a nice vision — but we are not that far from it anymore,” Vetter says.

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

A Rioglass solar facility - AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program Helps GPEC Bring In The Shining Stars Of Solar

It makes sense that a city with an average of more than 321 days of sunshine a year is taking the lead in solar, thanks in large part to the tireless efforts of the energy source’s biggest crusader in Arizona: the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC).

“I think if you look at comprehensively the way that we approach the utilization of solar, this is top-down the best market to do solar manufacturing,” says Chris Camacho, executive vice president of business development at GPEC.

GPEC aggressively pushed for passage of Senate Bill 1403, the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive Program, that was signed into law in 2009. The incentives include a refundable tax credit and a property tax reduction.

Since January 2010, eight companies have made the commitment to come to the Phoenix Metro area, with many more anticipated for the future.

GPEC’s hard work has led to making connections around the globe and attracting a number of high-level renewable energy companies to the Valley. One of these companies is Suntech Power Holdings, the world’s largest manufacturer of photovoltaic modules.

“Arizona can be very proud that it has GPEC as an ambassador for the region to reach out to global companies,” says Wei Tai Kwok, vice president of marketing at China-based Suntech Power Holdings. “They’re pounding the pavement to get the message out there that they want to be the solar capital.”

It was thanks to this commitment that Suntech decided to make Goodyear the location for the company’s first U.S. manufacturing plant.

“(GPEC) helped us with the financial modeling, business plan and follow-up,” Kwok says. “They were very attentive and committed to our success … and they’re still at our side and supportive of our needs.”

He also listed other important attributes that factored into the decision, including the state’s skilled work force and Arizona’s serious commitment to solar energy.

GPEC’s Camacho says that type of confidence and emphasis helps the organization differentiate itself from similar groups.

“GPEC’s brand as a group can provide the highest level of services to companies in analyzing the Western U.S. for business locations,” he adds.

The companies that have worked with GPEC can attest to its capability in assisting with relocation efforts. Rioglass Solar, a company that produces reflector components for solar thermal power plants and is a subsidiary of Rioglass Solar Holdings in Spain, worked with GPEC to establish a manufacturing facility and U.S. headquarters in Surprise.

“It was very helpful for us to have an organization that could get us the support we needed,” says Greg Armstrong, chief operating officer of Rioglass Solar. “You need a site that is constructible, has infrastructure and has a quality work force.”

Armstrong adds that the company is highly confident that due to the support of the local community, the infrastructure and GPEC, coming to Arizona will meet Rioglass Solar’s objectives.

Of course, one of the biggest benefits the expansion of the solar industry in Arizona will have will be on job creation. The more activity there is in the region, the more high-quality jobs will be available. The Suntech plant already has created 80 jobs and is expecting to increase to about 150 people within three or four years. Rioglass Solar also anticipates more than 100 positions at its Surprise facility.

While there has been plenty to celebrate since the passing of the incentive program, there are still hurdles to overcome. The catalysts for future growth of the solar industry in Arizona certainly are in place, but the economic difficulties have had an effect.

“We have seen corporations be very conservative in how quickly they move on investment decisions,” Camacho says. “We still have another 150 renewable energy companies in our pipeline. As the economy continues to recover, credit becomes more available, we will welcome more and more companies.”

It’s safe to say that Arizona is moving ahead in the sustainability industry — most notably in the solar field — and thanks to GPEC’s support, there are no signs of this industry slowing down.

“I look at sustainability alongside health care as one of the two industries that is going to drive our economic future,” Camacho says. “Without groups like GPEC, a lot of this would not exist, and I’ll attribute that to having our team be at the forefront of understanding these technology applications, understanding what drives the location decisions of CEOs, and creating an environment that’s very supportive of the (solar) industry.”

AZ Business Magazine Jan/Feb 2011

Solar panels on a house roof

Solar And Sustainable Building Tour Hits Valley

Many homeowners are hesitant to install solar in their homes for various reasons, whether it’s cost or simply not knowing enough information about how it actually works. It’s one thing to read about solar but a whole other story to actually see it as a real application on a home or building.

This weekend, the Scottsdale Green Building Program, Arizona Solar Center and the Arizona Solar Energy Association are sponsoring the Solar and Sustainable Building Tour. Nine Northeast Valley homes and buildings and eight other solar buildings from across the Valley will be on display during this free tour. This event sounds like a great hands-on way to show attendees what they can potentially do at their own homes.

The tour is now in its 14th year with several other tours that took place in the month of October, in conjunction with National Energy Awareness Month.

Next weekend Oct. 31 to Nov.1 the Tucson tour will take place.

These homes are on the Solar and Sustainable Buildings Tour and will be open for viewing this weekend. In addition, several buildings will be on the tour as well. Free tours start hourly from 9-11 a.m. and 1-4 p.m.

Open Saturday and Sunday

  • Augspurger solar greenhouse, 11458 E. Christmas Cholla Drive.
  • Bauder-Strauss residence, 10875 E. Bahia Drive.
  • Edwards residence, 8151 E. Smokehouse Trail.
  • Mushorn residence, 25227 N. Roping Road.

Open Saturday only

  • Garrett residence, 8502 E. Cactus Wren.
  • Green remodel, “Bungalow,” 6613 E. Aster Drive.
  • Dalrymple residence, 4622 E. Palo Verde Drive.
  • Fuller Paper Palace One, 1 Continental Drive.

Open Sunday only

  • Green remodel, “Edible Landscape,” 8243 E. Monte Vista Road.

Find the complete list of homes and buildings here.

www.azsolarcenter.com
www.azcentral.com

Are Green Jobs Recession Proof

Are Green Jobs Recession-Proof?

The recession has been grim. Every time you read more depressing statistics relating to the world’s economic woes it’s almost impossible to see anything positive. However, there is some news that points to a brighter future. In a previous post I wrote about green jobs leading to a good future and it seems that may in fact be the case.

Newsweek put out a list of ten recession-proof jobs (as recession-proof as you can get these days I guess) and sustainability-related jobs took four spots!

One of them was solar energy, here’s what Newsweek wrote:
“With 80 percent of oil industry employees facing retirement in the next decade, now’s the time for America to invest in renewable energy… And, aside from replenishing the oil and gas industry with younger workers, green energy (including nuclear) will see strong growth and increased employment rates, especially under an administration focused on clean energy initiatives.”

Wind energy was next on the list. According to a 2006 study released by the Renewable Energy Policy Project cited in the Newsweek article, researchers found that 2,000 businesses in Michigan could use wind turbine technology as an employment alternative for ailing auto workers. It went on to state that “as that industry declines, nearly 34,000 new jobs could be created by simply reorienting workers from their current manufacturing jobs to those focused on creating renewable energy for the state.”

Overall green business was also on the list with a continuing demand for eco-oriented project managers, attorneys, engineers, etc.

Energy efficiency was also listed as a recession-proof job, citing the need to fill green jobs that technology has created. As developments of these new technologies continue to flourish, more and more employees will be needed to see these projects through.

I guess it’s safe to say that jobs in the sustainability field are ones that will help us in riding out this recession and moving forward. To me, it’s just another example of why ‘green’ is indeed the way to go.

www.newsweek.com

solar_prop

$467 Million For Geothermal And Solar Energy Projects

Sustainability is an ongoing movement that requires commitment from all — from politicians to regular citizens and everyone in between. In my ongoing quest of educating myself about news and events going on in the world of “green” I came across this release from the U.S. Department of Energy.

During the 2008 presidential campaign President Obama spoke of an amibitious energy plan and the first steps have been made to make the plan a reality.

President Obama announced that “…over $467 million from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act to expand and accelerate the development, deployment, and use of geothermal and solar energy throughout the United States.”

The fact that this much money has been set aside in the name of creating a sustainable future for the United States is a huge step forward. President Obama went on to say that “We have a choice. We can remain the world’s leading importer of oil, or we can become the world’s leading exporter of clean energy.”

Recognizing that the path we’ve been on must be altered is just the beginning. By investing money to discover alternative energy sources, technology, etc., we have made the first step on this long journey.

The funds are going toward several types of green technology: $350 million is being set aside for geothermal energy, a source of renewable energy that uses heat from the Earth for electricity generation and heating applications.

An additional $117.6 million will go toward solar energy technologies. The goal of the various partnerships and developments is to continue to lead our country to a greener future.

It’s encouraging to know that although we are all facing difficult economic times right now, the government recognizes that making this investment is for the greater good of not only the U.S. but the world.

Source:
U.S. Department of Energy

Dependable Solar Products - One Arizona Small Business Going Green

Dependable Solar Products: One Arizona Small Business Going Green

The year was 1976. Before “going green” was the worldwide movement that it is today, Lane Garrett left his job to become an entrepreneur in energy management and conservation. By 1992, he had formed ETA Engineering, a distribution and engineering business specializing in various solar products. After distributors suggested that forming a separate company for installation would be a wise strategic marketing move, Garrett founded Dependable Solar Products in 2005.

Although ETA had been in business for more than a decade by the time Dependable Solar Products was founded, like any new business it ran into some difficulties.

“The challenges were capitalization to build the company, which was provided by stockholders,” Garrett says, adding that “getting the word out and getting some name recognition” was another issue.

Luckily, since ETA had been operating for several years, “we had all the technical expertise, engineering and experience, so that wasn’t a problem,” Garrett says.

Together, ETA Engineering and Dependable Solar Products have helped to put Arizona on the map for solar energy. ETA Engineering offers a full line of renewable energy products and services, and also designs systems such as photovoltaic power plants. They currently have projects in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, with more on the way including three in South Africa. Dependable Solar primarily installs solar modules (panels), as well as conducting some wind work.

“We do installations for power companies, industrial applications, as well as homeowners,” Garrett says.

The sizes of the systems vary, ranging from smaller systems that are just over a kilowatt in size, all the way up to large megawatt-plus size.

“If we look at the range of systems depending on size of homes and how much energy people use, it would go from usually 3 kilowatts (as a small system) to 10 kilowatts or more for some of the local people located in the mountains. Typically three to four range in size,” Garrett says.

In addition to the solar services it provides, Dependable Solar Products offers a multitude of green products.

“We provide a range of conservation — green — and energy-generating products such as wind turbines, lighting of all types, swimming pool circulation pumps, remote systems (off the utility grid and running 100 percent on solar), photovoltaic modules, high efficiency air conditioning, insulation (and more),” Garrett says.

The company also installs high-efficiency appliances, solar-powered golf cars, and even self-composting toilets. Essentially, the company has the ability to work in any area where electricity is used.

Currently, Dependable Solar Products has two locations, one in Scottsdale and one in Mesa. However, Garrett hopes to expand significantly in the coming year.

“We are planning this year to set up locations in Tucson, Denver, Albuquerque (N.M.) and Northern Mexico,” he says. “We hope to continue to grow at a rapid rate.”

While Arizona has sunshine to spare, incentives in other states make them more appealing solar energy destinations. However, in recent years this has changed significantly. Tax credits and the return on investment for solar energy are increasing, giving consumers more reasons to switch to solar.

“With the corporation commission and a lot of push through the Legislature, that situation is changing and now Arizona is much more competitive with other states.

“GPEC (Greater Phoenix Economic Council) and other organizations in the state have been working to change (incentives). The Arizona Solar Energy Industries Association has been active in changing incentives. I think chances of additional improvements are looking much better,” Garrett says.

With the rising cost of energy, solar is becoming the leading alternative for many and Garrett is thrilled to see that his long-time passion is finally becoming a reality.

“It’s one of the best investments you can make,” Garrett says. “I’ve been wishing for the coming growth, and to see it now is my favorite aspect.”