Tag Archives: solar

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.”

 

Solar_Power

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.

duke energy renewables - solar panel

Duke Energy Renewables Acquires Arizona Solar Farm From SOLON

Duke Energy Renewables has acquired a 10-megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar project near Kingman, Ariz., from SOLON Corp.

The Black Mountain Solar Project under construction in Mohave County is expected to achieve commercial operation in October of this year. UniSource Energy Services (UES) will purchase the power generated at the Black Mountain site through a 20-year power purchase agreement.

“This acquisition expands our footprint in the western United States and helps a premier Arizona energy service provider deliver affordable, zero-emission renewable power to its customers,” said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. “Comprised of more than 40,000 solar panels, the Black Mountain project is expected to produce enough electricity to power about 2,000 homes.”

Duke Energy Renewables, part of Duke Energy’s Commercial Businesses, purchased the photovoltaic project from SOLON Corp., one of the largest solar power plant developers in the U.S. Financial terms were not disclosed.

SOLON designed the solar array, powered by SOLON’s single-axis tracking technology, and will construct and continue to handle operations, monitoring and maintenance of the system after it is commissioned.

“We’re excited to be partnering with Duke Energy on this project to provide a cost effective way for Unisource Energy Services to bring solar to Arizona,” said Dan Alcombright, president and CEO of SOLON Corporation. “With more than 60 MW of utility-scale photovoltaic systems installed in Arizona, SOLON is committed to delivering proven solutions to utilities and creating renewable energy jobs for the economy. We are proud that this 10-MW project will create more than 250 local jobs during construction.”

Duke Energy Renewables already owns two other solar facilities in the state: the 4-MW Ajo Solar Farm in Pima County and the 15-MW Bagdad Solar Farm in Yavapai County.

Black Mountain is Duke Energy Renewables’ 12th wholly owned commercial solar farm. Since 2007, Duke Energy has invested more than $2.5 billion to grow its commercial wind and solar business lines.

For more information on Duke Energy Renewables, visit Duke Energy Renewables’ website at duke-energy.com/commercial-renewables.

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APS Ranked As One Of Nation’s Top Solar Companies

Arizona Public Service Company’s efforts to increase the adoption of renewable energy like solar continue to earn national recognition. APS was ranked third in the Annual Megawatts category and fourth in the Annual Watts Per Customer Category – both rankings the highest ever for the company – in the 2011 Utility Solar Rankings announced on April 17 by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

With approximately 145 megawatts of solar energy added to its system in 2011, APS beat out more than 240 other utilities for the third place ranking.

“Last year was a banner year for renewable energy development at APS, we saw more customers install solar than in any prior year, and we brought 45 megawatts of APS-owned solar online through our AZ Sun Program,” said Pat Dinkel, APS Vice President of Power Marketing, Resource Planning and Acquisition. “Renewable energy is good for our customers because it allows APS to invest in building a long-term diverse portfolio that takes into account affordability, dependability and sustainability.”

APS’s current renewable portfolio contains more than 900 megawatts of renewable energy, including projects online or under development. When these resources are placed into service, they will provide enough clean, renewable electricity to power 225,000 Arizona homes.

“We congratulate APS for being a solar power leader in the electric utility sector,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA President and Chief Executive Officer. “APS successfully adapted its business models and operations to allow for a significant amount of solar energy to be integrated into the grid last year, delivering the many benefits of clean solar energy to its customers. The impressive gains solar energy made in the U.S. in 2011 can be largely attributed to APS’s leadership.”

The Top 10 solar utilities in the category of Annual Megawatts are:

1. Pacific Gas and Electric (CA)

2. Public Service Electric & Gas Co. (NJ)

3. Arizona Public Service (AZ)

4. Southern California Edison (CA)

5. Atlantic City Electric (NJ)

6. Jersey Central Power & Light (NJ)

7. Sacramento Municipal Utility District (CA)

8. Xcel Energy – CO (CO)

9. Long Island Power Authority (NY)

10. Xcel Energy – NM (NM)

Altogether, the Top 10 utilities reported adding more than 1,000 megawatts of solar electricity capacity in 2011. Overall, more than 240 utilities surveyed reported nearly 1,500 megawatts of new solar, equivalent to about six natural gas power plants.

The full Top 10 report containing additional details about the total solar capacity of U.S. utilities, rankings by regions, geographical diversity and other utility solar trends will be available in late May at SEPATop10.org.

SEPA is an educational non-profit dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios. With more than 1,000 utility and solar industry members, SEPA provides unbiased utility solar market intelligence, up-to-date information about technologies and business models, and peer-to-peer interaction. From hosting national events to one-on-one counseling, SEPA helps utilities make smart solar decisions.

APS, Arizona’s largest and longest-serving electricity utility, serves more than 1.1 million customers in 11 of the state’s 15 counties. With headquarters in Phoenix, APS is the principal subsidiary of Pinnacle West Capital Corp.

For more information on APS, visit APS’ website at aps.com.

First Solar 2 vacancies for board members

First Solar Expands Board Of Directors

First Solar, Inc. announced that it nominated two new candidates for election to the Company’s Board of Directors and that it has expanded the size of the Board to eleven from nine, creating two vacancies as it continues to seek additional independent directors. As detailed in its Proxy Statement, which was filed today with the Securities and Exchange Commission, First Solar nominated George “Chip” Hambro and Richard “Rick” Chapman to stand for election to the Board at the Company’s Annual Meeting of Stockholders, which will be held on May 23, 2012. Chapman will serve as an independent director.

To fill the two new vacancies, First Solar has retained an executive search firm to help identify candidates with experience that will support the company’s strategy to compete as a vertically integrated provider of photovoltaic power plants in energy markets that are sustainable without subsidies.

The company also announced that José Villarreal, a director since 2007, will retire from the Board due to personal commitments and will not seek reelection at the Annual Meeting.

“We are pleased to be adding two distinguished candidates to the First Solar Board of Directors. Chip and Rick are both knowledgeable about First Solar’s strategy and operations and have diverse experience and expertise that will make them valuable additions to our board. We are also committed to further expanding our board by adding two additional independent directors to support our long-term strategic plan,” said Mike Ahearn, First Solar’s Chairman and Interim CEO. “On behalf of the First Solar Board of Directors, I extend my gratitude to José, who has been an engaged and dedicated Director for the past five years.”

Chapman, 58, is CFO of Walton Enterprises, Inc., where he has worked since 1983. In his current capacity, Chapman oversees all aspects of the Walton Family Office in Arkansas. Chapman currently serves as a director on the boards of the Arvest Bank Group; the University of Arkansas Foundation, where he serves on the Executive and Finance Committees; and the Razorback Foundation, where he is a member of the Investment Committee. Chapman was previously a member of the Board of Managers of First Solar Holdings, LLC prior to the Company’s initial public offering and JWMA (formerly True North Partners, L.L.C.), an equity investment firm. Chapman earned a B.S.B.A. in Accounting from the University of Arkansas and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Hambro, 48, previously held various positions at First Solar from June 2001 through June 2009, including serving as Chief Operating Officer from February 2005 through May 2007. Prior to joining First Solar, he held the positions of Vice President of Engineering & Business Development for Goodrich Aerospace from May 1999 to June 2001 and Vice President of Operations for ITT Industries from February 1997 to May 1999. For the last five years, Hambro has been a director of both the Toledo Zoo and Imagination Station, Toledo’s children’s science museum. Hambro currently serves on the board of directors of Soladigm, Inc., a developer of next-generation green building solutions. Hambro graduated from the University of California at Berkeley with a B.A. in Physical Science (Applied Physics).

For more information on First Solar, visit First Solars’ website at firstsolar.com.

BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Speaker: Lori Singleton ~ BIG Green Expo & Conference 2011

Lori Singleton, Salt River Project (SRP)

Lori Singleton, SRP

Lori Singleton is the manager of sustainability initiatives and technologies at Salt River Project. She is a 29-year employee of SRP and 40-year resident of Arizona. She is responsible for design and implementation of SRP’s environmental outreach programs with special focus on renewable energy.

Lori’s responsibilities at SRP include development and implementation of renewable energy projects to meet SRP’s sustainable resource goals. Singleton oversees research and development projects to support company-wide initiatives for SRP including gasoline lawn mower recycling, tree planting, clean school bus initiative, travel reduction and other internal environmental programs.

She works on development and implementation of the “green” energy pricing program, solar incentive program for residential and commercial customers and renewable energy education programs for implementation in middle school and high school curricula.

In addition, she does promotion and public relations for all new renewable energy projects and purchases (solar, wind, geothermal, landfill gas, low head hydro, fuel cells) while serving as the environmental issues media spokesperson for SRP and being a constant representative of SRP on numerous environmental committees, boards and commissions.

She was appointed by Governor Janet Napolitano to serve on the Solar Energy Advisory Council and also has several other current affiliations including: Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors; Audubon Society, chair, Board of Directors; Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, chair; Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President & National Board Director; Southwest Center for Education; and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of Directors.

Current Affiliations

Solar Energy Advisory Council, appointment by Governor Janet Napolitano
Valley Forward Association, Board of Directors
Audubon Society, Chair, Board of Directors
Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force, Chair
Association for Commuter Transportation, Valley of the Sun, President &
National Board Director
Southwest Center for Education and the Natural Environment (ASU), Board of
Directors

Affiliations (Past)

Valley Forward Association, Chair, Board of Directors
Maricopa County Regional Travel Reduction Task Force
City of Phoenix, Environmental Quality Commission
Valley Metro, Clean Air Advisory Committee
Tempe Chamber of Commerce, Environmental Committee
Valley of the Sun United Way Loaned Executive


Topic: How people & organizations can get involved in the green movement from an energy perspective.

Conference Speaker
Friday, April 15, 2011
1:45 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.
Room 157

BIG Green Conference 2011


 

BIG Green Expo
Friday & Saturday
April 15th & 16th 2011
9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

 



 

Empire Power Systems

Largest Commercial Solar Rooftop System in Arizona Unveiled

Empire Power Systems this week completed the installation of an $11.5 million, 2.4 megawatt SunPower solar rooftop system on the Cowley Industrial Park building in South Phoenix. The project is the largest commercial solar rooftop system in Arizona and the second largest in U.S.

Cowley Companies, a Phoenix-based real estate investment firm, decided to install the solar system on this 850,000-square-foot warehouse because it houses food-service tenants that require large refrigerator and freezer units, which translate into high electricity bills. This was the company’s second solar undertaking; last year, Cowley added a 40kW, 188-module fixed mount system to the parking structure at its headquarters on Jackson Street in downtown Phoenix.

“We wanted to provide our tenants with a source of renewable energy that would reduce the property’s electric bills by approximately 40 percent annually,” said Mike Cowley, president of Cowley Companies. “When you consider that last year’s total electric bills for this property exceeded $1 million, you begin to understand how over time this solar system will realize significant cost savings that we can eventually pass on to our tenants.”

Since the system was commissioned Aug. 18, it has produced more than 600,000-kilowatt hours of electric power. It is expected to produce more than 4 million kilowatt hours per year, enough to completely power 340 homes. Additionally, it will offset 3,900 tons of carbon dioxide each year – the equivalent of taking nearly 700 cars off the road.

“This solar system will provide Cowley Companies with a competitive edge in today’s challenging commercial real estate market,” said Brett Burns, Empire Power Systems general manager. “Now the company has a performing asset on its rooftop that is making a positive impact on our environment. The company has a real opportunity to attract new tenants to the space who may not have previously considered it.”

The solar rooftop system features 7,872 ballasted SunPower T-5 panels, the industry’s first non-penetrating rooftop product, which are connected to an above-grade electrical conduit that runs into the inverter room, where four 500kW SatCon inverters convert the direct current energy into usable commercial electricity. Tilted at a five-degree angle, the T5 solar roof tile system approximately doubles the energy generated per square meter compared to systems that are mounted flat to commercial rooftops.

Empire Power Systems, a division of Mesa-based Empire Southwest LLC, served as the solar integrator for this project. Subcontractors (all of which are Arizona-based) include Buehler Brothers Electric, Cannon-Wendt Electrical, Progressive Roofing, Phasor Energy and Fifer Design. The installation was facilitated, in part, by the APS Renewable Energy Incentive Program.

Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Newly Formed Arizona Commerce Authority Convenes Its Inaugural Board Meeting

Vowing that “today the rubber hits the road,” Gov. Jan Brewer and Jerry Colangelo assembled and introduced 35 state leaders representing diverse backgrounds for the inaugural board meeting of the Arizona Commerce Authority.

The private-sector board will work to align diverse assets and opportunities within the state to compete economically in both domestic and international markets to create high-quality jobs for the Arizona residents.

“For the first time in our state’s history, we convene the Governor, the Speaker of the House and the Senate President, and more than 35 of our nation’s most acknowledged leaders within both the private sector and academia – all with one express purpose: to advance the global competitiveness of our state the economic prosperity we seek for each person, each family and, perhaps more importantly, each child – it’s about a vision for a strong, vibrant economic future for this great state,” Gov. Brewer said.

“When I became Governor, I promised to get Arizona back on track by creating quality jobs, attracting high-growth industries, and advancing our competitive position in the global economy. We are doing just that. With this board, I have now delivered a model to advance Arizona.”

Presentations to the board outlined the impacts of the global economic crisis on the state, the forecasts if Arizona does not address diversification and growth in base industries, the state’s overall global competitiveness, and a focused approach to four core areas on which the ACA will focus and develop a planned approach to advance the state.

The authority will focus on improving the state’s infrastructure and climate to retain, attract and grow high-tech and innovative companies. That focus will be on aerospace and defense, science and technology, solar and renewable energy, small business and entrepreneurship.

“During one of the most challenging economic conditions in our nation’s history, Arizona is competing for something that is even greater than Olympic Gold; we are fighting for the health and future of our families and this state,” said Colangelo, co-chair of the board. “Today, with the expertise and leadership of each board member, we begin to compete aggressively for what really matters.”

Don Cardon, current director of the Department of Commerce, will serve on a selection committee to recruit a president and CEO of the ACA. Other committee members are Gov. Brewer’s chief of staff Eileen Klein; Mo Stein, senior vice president of HKS; Jerry Fuentes, president, AT&T Arizona/New Mexico; and Michael Kennedy, co-founder and partner, Gallagher & Kennedy.

Other notable board members include Kirk Adams, speaker, Arizona House of Representatives; Benito Almanza, state president, Bank of America; Michael Bidwill, president, Arizona Cardinals; Dr. Michael Crow, president, Arizona State University; Linda Hunt, president, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center; Anne Mariucci, chairman, Arizona Board of Regents; Doug Pruitt, chairman and CEO, Sundt Construction; and Roy Vallee, chairman of the board and CEO, Avnet.

Grand Canyon

Solar-Power, Eco-Friendly Grand Canyon & More

With so much happening locally, this week we’ve gathered stories about Arizona’s green endeavors, including a solar-powered plane and the Grand Canyon’s eco-friendly practices, and why a massive lawn is part of the Postal Service’s goal to reduce its energy needs.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing Shelby Hill.

Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.


Green Roof Gives Postal Service Energy Savings
In Midtown Manhattan one building is lucky enough to have a lawn, on its roof.  This 2.5-acre lawn isn’t for sunbathing; it is part of the United States Postal Service’s goal of reducing its energy 30 percent by 2015.  With the help of this immense lawn, the USPS is more than two-thirds of the way to meeting its goal.

Unmanned Solar Plane Flies for more than a Week
A solar-powered unmanned plane flew a total of 336 in Arizona and landed last Friday.  The previous record for longest flight of an unmanned solar-powered plane was 30 hours, which the 110-pound plane beat by more than 10 times.

The Grand Canyon Goes Green
As previously mentioned ecotourism is a new way to be green while on vacation.  Well, now one of the most famous and most visited vacation spots in Arizona, the Grand Canyon, is a little bit greener.  With solar panels powering a building and recycling bins scattered along trails, your family’s visit to the Grand Canyon just got more eco-friendly.

The Greenest Wedding So Far
We’ve written about green weddings before ,but all of the others pale in comparison to this greenest of the green weddings.  A couple from Maine is growing and raising (yes they’re raising their own chickens) all of the food to be served at their wedding.  Aren’t weddings stressful enough?

Feds Capture and Recycle CO2
The federal government, via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is putting $106 million into six projects that turn carbon dioxide (CO2) into beneficial products.  The products range from biofuel to cement

Energy Saving Air Conditioning

Green News Roundup – Green Renovation, Energy Saving Air Conditioning & More

Welcome to our weekly green news roundup. This week we’ve gathered stories about video conferencing, green renovation, energy saving air conditioning and local sustainability-related events taking place throughout the Valley.

Please feel free to send along any interesting stories you’d like to see featured in the roundup by e-mailing me at kasia@azbigmedia.com. Also visit AZ Green Scene for informative articles on sustainability endeavors in the Valley and state. Read the latest article here.

Energy Saving A/C Conquers All Climates
As Phoenix rolls into its hottest time of the year, residents are all dreading the energy bill. Keeping cool requires non-stop air conditioning, and that doesn’t come cheap! Or does it? The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has invented a new air conditioning process that has the potential of using 50 to 90 (yes 90!) percent less energy than today’s best units. The process uses membranes, evaporative cooling and liquid desiccants in a way that has never been done before. But alas Phoenix, we’ll still have to wait for our cheaper A/C as the system is best for dry climates that don’t get too hot or humid for example Denver. It doesn’t work well for climates such as ours or very humid climates like Miami. Still, it’s encouraging to know that alternatives are in the works and hopefully ours will come out in the near future!

Sealing Deals in Virtual Space
Video conferencing is a term we’ve all heard before. However, as technology has progressed so has this innovative conferencing method. Cisco-AT&T Telepresence is one of the latest incarnations of this exciting new technology. The New York Times Green blog covered this topic, noting the significant benefits limiting airline travel for conferences can have on the environment. Not only does this help the environment, it also helps businesses save money. London-based Carbon Disclosure Project examined “how greater reliance on teleconferencing might affect business costs and emissions,” also encouraging companies to collect data about greenhouse gas emissions hoping they will take steps to reduce them.

Valley Partnership Presents “Green Renovation for Progress & Profit”
Learn how to apply the green renovation and operation strategies of Arizona landmark, El Chorro Lodge, to your business.  The tagline of this breakfast, which will be held on Friday, June 25, at 7 a.m., is “A case study on solar strategies fueled in part by sticky buns!”  Come educate yourself on how to efficiently use green power in your business while chowing down on El Chorro’s famous sticky buns.  To register for this event visit www.valleypartnership.org.

New Meritage Green Home Concept Gets Kid-Friendly
Turn your kids into junior sheriffs working for fictional Sheriff M. Green who takes wasted energy from Wally Wasteful and gives it back to the community.  On Saturday, June 26 at 10 a.m., Meritage Homes will literally unveil its green home concept in Meritage Home’s Lyon’s Gate in Gilbert.  The work on this green home concept has been kept under a secretive green drape and will finally be revealed.  Contact Mary Garrett at (602) 432-2010 or mary@mgpublicrelations.com for more information on how to take part in this green unveiling.

Clean Up After Your Pet the Green Way
Ever wanted to clean up after your dog in a more environmentally-friendly way?  Well PoopBags, Inc. is here to help.  PoopBags, a pet waste disposal product, is made with renewable resources like corn.  This American-made product is 100 percent biodegradable, shelf-stable and will decompose at the rate of an apple after usage.  PoopBags, Inc. is trying to make the world a better place for generations to come.  If you’d like to order PoopBags, visit www.poopbags.com.

EarthFest Night is Back!
Valley Forward’s Annual EarthFest Educators Night is back for the sixth time.  Arizona kindergarten through 12th grade teachers have the chance to win $5,000 to put toward environmental programs in their classroom, school or community.  Free resources on environmental education and how to create a greener school will also be available to attendees.  EarthFest Educators Night combines education and entertainment in innovative programming that uses Arizona’s unique desert character.  To learn more about this free event, held Thursday, Sept. 16 from 4 to 7 p.m. at the Phoenix Zoo, visit www.valleyforward.org.

China Skyscrapers

China Leading The Way In Green Technology

Though the country is the world’s top polluter, that isn’t stopping China from leading the way on new green technology. China has begun an effort to figure out how to burn coal without releasing carbon into the atmosphere.That’s quite an ambitious goal — especially for a country that is the biggest source of carbon emissions — but one that could completely alter the future of the green industry.

And that’s not all. China is making strides in several sectors and is on the road to revolutionizing the green industry.

In an article for the Wall Street Journal, Shai Oster writes:

“China’s vast market and economies of scale are bringing down the cost of solar and wind energy, as well as other environmentally friendly technologies such as electric car batteries. That could help address a major impediment to wide adoption of such technologies: They need heavy subsidies to be economical.
The so-called China price — the combination of cheap labor and capital that rewrote the rulebook on manufacturing — is spreading to green technology. “The China price will move into the renewable-energy space, specifically for energy that relies on capital-intensive projects,” says Jonathan Woetzel, a director in McKinsey & Co.’s China office.”

The article goes on to state that China is facing some tough challenges. Their low-cost manufacturing base can slow down their innovation, or worse yet, could restrain technology advancement in other countries as well.

Read the full article here to find out more.

What do you think? What kind of an impact will China’s surge in the sustainability sector have?

www.wsj.com

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

Road Made Out of Glass

Driving on Glass — Solar Roads of the Future

When I browse around the internet searching for the latest green news to write about on my blog I’ve come across some pretty cool stuff. But this takes the cake (so far) for providing me with a jaw-dropping moment of admiration.

A co-worker sent me an article from Scientific American titled: Driving on Glass? Inventor Hopes to Lay Down Solar Roads.

This sure got my attention.  Scott Brusaw, of Sagle, Idaho-based Solar Roadways hopes to make this headline a reality. He is working on building a prototype of his so-called “Solar Road Panel” —basically a road that will generate power every time you drive on it. Sounds crazy? That’s what I thought at first but then I read a little further.

The solar road panel prototype is 1,024 modules, with each containing a solar cell, a light-emitting diode and, someday, an ultracapacitor for storage—placed between a layer of some yet-to-be developed glass as well as a layer of conducting material.

Glass is certainly not what comes to mind when one thinks of building material for roads, but this won’t be your average glass. It will be textured to allow for water run-off and tire-grip for vehicles. Heating elements — similar to those you find in your car’s rear windshield — will help melt snow or ice and the road will be self-cleaning. And of course, it will be super strong and able to handle the extreme stress of having mass amounts of weight on it.

Yes, I know what you’re thinking. This type of glass doesn’t exist — not yet anyway.

Brusaw is hoping to partner with researchers at Pennsylvania State University’s Materials Research Institute to develop it.

With $40,000 from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Brusaw is currently building a prototype from chemically hardened glass panels and experimenting with various types of solar cells. The ultimate goal is to create a cross-country highway system that doubles as a national electricity generator and power grid.

The prototype is due to be tested in February of 2010. I’m curious to see how this turns out and what lies on the road ahead — literally.

Read more about solar roads here

Star Island, Green Island Resort

Star Island — A Green Island Resort Dream

While channel surfing on a recent Saturday, I stumbled across a show counting down the best exclusive island resorts. I decided to indulge in a little daydreaming and watched the special. Much to my surprise, near the top of the list was a resort unlike any other.

S.T.A.R. Island is a 35-acre island located near the Bahamian island of Eleuthera. The acronym stands for Sustainable Terrain and Resources, which, according to its Web site means that S.T.A.R. Island is “slated to be the world’s first sustainable, carbon neutral exotic island resort.”

The description alone is enticing. “An exclusive private island resort community and shining example of sustainable development, seamlessly combining the latest earth-friendly construction and design with the ulimate in luxury and comfort. A pure paradise where every detail has been artfully designed to balance with our environment at every level.”

How does S.T.A.R. Island plan on achieving such an amazing feat? Well, with a few things. A mixture of solar, wind, hydro and biofuels will help the resort provide typical amenities you would find at any luxury resort, but without any reliance on fossil fuels. The resort’s carbon footprint will be virtually nonexistent, washed away with the clear blue waters of the ocean.

Photovoltaic cells will convert natural light into electricity. The cells, which will be placed on the roof of every building, are designed to produce enough electricity to power all the resort facilities. The buildings will be constructed from Insulated Concrete Forms, eco-friendly, non-toxic recyclable polystyrene that provides not only a strong structure, but also a thermal barrier. Because of this unique material, the size of the resort’s heating/cooling units will be smaller than those normally found on such buildings. In addition, each building will also have a mini-wind turbine with excess energy being stored for later use.

But the green technology doesn’t end there. The resort will house geothermal heat pumps, solar water heaters, rainwater harvesting, and more. The developers of S.T.A.R. Island aren’t the first to embark on this idea, but they do appear to be among the first to actually achieve it. I must say I’m quite impressed with the resort and am curious to see how it turns out.

Led by president and lead designer of Star Island Development David H. Sklar, the developers have put together a top-notch team of designers and consultants to make the resort a reality. Now, if only I can figure out a way to come up with the green to experience this green resort … stay tuned.

www.starislandbahamas.com

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.”