US Bancorp Invests $250M in Solar Fund

June19, 2012 by Shannalee in Financial News, Solar Living

US BancorpMinneapolis-based US Bancorp announced recently that, along with residential and commercial solar provider Solar City, it will be investing $250 million in a fund to finance the construction of solar panels for homeowners and businesses. As the sixth and largest project the bank and Colorado-based Solar City have partnered on in the last three years, this brings US Bancorp’s support of renewable energy projects to a whopping total of $700 million.

“U.S. Bancorp and SolarCity are providing customers an end-to-end, clean energy service that costs less than a monthly utility bill,” <a href=”″>said Zack Boyers, Chairman and CEO of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation, a community investment subsidiary of U.S. Bank, in a recent press release</a>. “Together, we have already made solar a reality for thousands of homeowners and businesses. With this new fund for SolarCity’s customers, U.S. Bancorp reaffirms its commitment to building sustainable communities by simplifying the adoption of renewable energy sources.”

The fund will provide financial support for solar panels and solar panel installation, allowing customers to pay discounted electricity rates compared to their current utilities. SolarCity will manage everything for the customer, from permits and installation to repairs and maintenance as needed.

“Our partnership with U.S. Bancorp is unique in that it allows families and organizations to pay less for solar power than they pay for electricity from their utility company,” <a href=””>said Benjamin Cook, SolarCity’s vice president of structured finance</a>.

Before this $250 million fund, U.S. Bancorp has done similar previous projects with residential solar companies Sungevity, Vivint and Sunrun, as well as Borrego, a mostly commercial-focused solar provider.

New Solar Projects in Las Vegas

June19, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

City of Las Vegas NevadaSolar power is on the rise in Las Vegas, Nevada! In an effort to create more renewable energy sources as well as to stabilize power costs for individuals dealing with sewer fees, city officials are in the midst of adding a 25-acre solar panel project next to the Water Pollution Control Facility on the east side of town, near Vegas Valley Road and Nellis Boulevard. Once finished it will be able to generate a significant amount of energy for the pollution control facility.

“Solar technology is changing so fast. It’s really pretty incredible,” said John Bettencourt, manager of the photovoltaic project under construction.

Funded by the Las Vegas Sanitary Sewer Enterprise Fund, the $19.7 million project is the largest of its kind for a municipal government, projected to generate about 20 percent of the power required by the neighboring water pollution facility. Since the initial installations have gone so quickly, it’s expected that the project will be online by the end of this year.

This new solar project is just the latest in a series of projects local governments in Nevada have implemented to reduce energy costs, going even beyond solar with new lighting technology or conservation efforts that involve street lights, traffic lights, buildings, ball parks and more.

According to CBS News, this project is also part of the city’s Sustainability Initiative, designed to combine with other energy-saving measures to save the city more than $2.5 million per year.

For more information on the new project, visit the the City of Las Vegas website and its press release about the development.

Home Owners, Beware! Solar Leasing Is Not All It’s Cracked up to Be

June14, 2012 by Shannalee in Financial News, Solar Living, Soluxe News

solar panels on a houseWhen it comes to obtaining residential solar power, leasing does not equal buying. Unlike leasing cars or office equipment, leasing solar panels for your home brings with it serious consequences for the people who do it, particularly if you should ever want to sell your residence.

“I tell people if there’s even the remotest chance they’re going to sell their house in the next 20 years, they’re better off buying,” said Glenn Bland, owner of Bakersfield solar power company Bland Solar and Air Inc. in a recent news article.

That’s because leased solar panels add a big burden to home owners if their terms aren’t up but they want to move. If you need to sell your home before the lease on your solar panels is up, you have to either

(a) talk the home buyer into assuming the lease (not the best sell tactic) or

(b) purchase the panels for potentially thousands of dollars, depending on where you’re at in your contract.

As we recently demonstrated at, leasing solar power means more risks and fewer benefits as compared to buying. Consider these facts:

1. Leasing solar power means no federal tax credit, which can be around $6,000, depending on where you live. With leasing, you pay for the power, but the solar company gets the credit, not you.

2. Leasing solar power likewise means no rebates, which in many cases is $5,000 to $10,000, depending on your region. The company you lease from gets that, too.

3. Leasing carries huge risks if you move before your contract is over.

4. Leasing solar panels does not increase your property value the way that buying panels will; in fact, leasing can actually harm your property value, especially if you need to sell and there’s residual payment left on the terms.

According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Energy last year, homes with solar power systems sell for more money than those without—around $17,000 more.

With these kinds of facts and data, it just doesn’t make any sense to lease. To learn more about buying solar panels and the benefits they offer, visit!

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Solar Power Hot in Massachusetts

June11, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

solarize massachusettsSolar energy pushes in Massachusetts, along with Governor Patrick’s publicly announced goal of 250 megawatts of solar power by 2017, seem to be working, at least if solar panel installations have anything to say about it. The state’s photovoltaic panels continue to increase both on Cape Cod and throughout the rest of the Bay State—currently with a capacity of 115 megawatts or enough to power 115,000 homes.

“In general, we have certainly seen a boom in the field of solar energy,” said Massachusetts Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Richard K. Sullivan Jr. recently.

As panels continue to grow in popularity, the state’s Solarize Massachusetts program, an initiative aimed at encouraging more small-scale solar panels to be added within communities, is pushing the trend even further. In its committment to continuing this trend, Solarize Massachusetts has recently increased its group-purchasing plan to help 17 communities add solar installations.

“We weren’t the first state to deploy the solarize model,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center. “But I do think we’re the first to scale it up to work with 17 communities at once.”

Whether or not these developments mean the state will reach the governor’s 2017 goal or not is hard to say, but officials are optimistic.

“By combining education and grassroots marketing with tiered pricing of solar PV Solarize Mass was able to help 162 residents go solar in 2011,” said MassCEC Chief Executive Officer Patrick Cloney. “By extending this program to 17 communities, we are confident that we can help more people in the Commonwealth use solar energy to help manage their energy costs and create a cleaner energy future.”

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Nanosolar Raises $70M

June7, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

nanosolar logoRecently in the world of alternative energy, California-based solar company Nanosolar made headlines by raising $70 million in equity from investors. This is in addition to previous rounds of $20 million (in 2007) and $300 million (in 2008).

“We are pleased to see the continued trust that our investors place in our company. The Family Offices that joined the round have a long-term view of the solar market and will help Nanosolar scale its business faster,” said Guido Polko, executive chairman of Nanosolar’s board of directors. “With this latest round of funding, Nanosolar will be able to continue ramping up its production capabilities and achieve a faster time-to-market with its products. The money also will allow us to deepen our R&D efforts aimed at achieving even greater efficiency, and significantly expand our employee base in both Europe and the United States.”

Known for resisting the idea that solar panels have to be thick and heavy, Nanosolar prints solar cells that are as thin as paper onto sheets of aluminum foil. Through copper, indium, gallium, selenium and nanoparticle inks, the company creates what it claims to be the thinnest and least expensive photovoltaic panels in the world.

“Nanosolar has proven that it continues to effectively execute on its product roadmap and has established itself as a provider of world-class solar solutions,” said Eugenia Corrales, CEO of Nanosolar.

The new investment comes from both new and existing investors in Nanosolar, including OnPoint Technologies, Mohr Davidow Ventures and Ohana Holdings. Founded in 2007, Nansolar is based out of San Jose, California and keeps offices in Germany.

For more information on Nansolar, visit

3 Ways to Recycle Electronics

June6, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

recycling electronicsIn today’s world of rapidly changing technologies, where new versions of smartphones and laptops and PDAs seem to come out faster than you can even notice them, it’s more important than ever to know how to recycle electronics.

Rather than clogging up landfills and contributing more waste to the planet, here are three ways to recycle electronics while reaping other benefits!

1. SELL FOR REUSE (+recycle +financial benefits)
Selling your unwanted electronic devices is more than a way to recycle—it’s a way to recoup some of your original costs! Listing your item on sites like Amazon or eBay is as easy as writing a description, uploading photos and letting buyers bid.

2. TRADE IT IN (+recycle +financial benefits)
It’s true that buy-back or trade-in programs won’t offer the same level of financial benefit that resale can, but what they lack in big bucks they make up for in time. Trading in a device is fast and easy, with no need to track sales or respond to buyer inquiries. Options for trade-ins include eBay instant, Gazelle, Nextworth, BuyBackWorld and BuyMyTronics, as well as programs from Best Buy or RadioShack—giving you a way to turn in your used laptops, cameras and other products for upfront cash.

3. DONATE IT (+recycle +charitable benefits)
As the saying goes, ’tis better to give than to receive, and by giving your used electronics away, you put the adage into practice by providing something for someone who needs it. Places that accept electronics donations include Goodwill (through a partnership with Dell), Komputers for Kids and eBay Giving Works.

When it comes time to upgrade your iPhone or your computer or your other electronic device, consider giving back to the planet and recycling!

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Solar Features in Louisiana Renovations

May31, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

Mage SolarFrom where we sit today, almost halfway through 2012, the devastation of Hurricane Katrina seems a long time ago—yet renovations in Louisiana are still ongoing, including one particular renovation involving six housing projects and extensive solar installations!

MAGE SOLAR, part of the globally operating MAGE GROUP, announced last month that over 3,300 of its solar modules are part of an ambitious historic redevelopment project in Louisiana. These modules supply 1.4 GWh of clean energy to six of the housing projects part of the area’s revitalization plan—among the converted buildings are the American Can and Blue Plate buildings in New Orleans, River Garden Apartments and the Bonne Terre Apartments.

The project’s developer is HRI Properties, a company known for coming up with innovative building methods. HRI integrated MAGE SOLAR’s modules into the project to enhance the sustainability and long-term energy cost projection.

“We congratulate both HRI Properties and Pontchartrain Mechanical to this remarkable accomplishment,” said Joe Thomas, CEO and President of MAGE SOLAR USA. “To see the vision of both partners to create sustainable, vibrant metro communities executed so perfectly and with such craftsmanship will attract not only many happy residents but also inspire others to follow their pioneering example. Additionally, the system owner and tenants can enjoy on the financial benefits of low operating and utility costs our highly efficient modules are producing for the next three decades.”

Thomas also said, in a statement, “To see the vision of both partners to create sustainable, vibrant metro communities executed so perfectly and with such craftsmanship will attract not only many happy residents but also inspire others to follow their pioneering example.”

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Eco-Friendly Summer Camping Tips

May30, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

CampingSummer is the season of camping, and now that June is approaching, there will be more and more opportunities to get out and enjoy the great outdoors! Are you ready?

When you go camping this season, here are a few eco-friendly tips for making the experience more sustainable!

1. Practice Safe Fires
What’s a camping trip without a fire? When you’re making your fire, don’t burn materials that will harm the environment such as plastic, metals or woods treated with chemicals. And if you’re using an outdoor grill, be sure to dump the ashes into your fire pit or discard of them in the campsite’s designated areas.

2. Bring Solar-Powered Accessories with You.
Did you know they make solar-powered camp stoves and solar-powered radio flashlights? Why bring the typical camping tools when you can use eco-friendly ones?

3. Pack BPA-Free Water Bottles
It’s always important to stay hydrated, but especially when you’re out camping in the great outdoors. Bring a BPA-free water bottle for each person. If there’s a nearby reliable water source, you can refill there; but if not, you could bring a portable water purification system along.

4. Borrow Supplies
Rather than wasting your money and other resources on camping supplies, see what you can borrow from friends. From sleeping bags to tents, you might be surprised what items your friends let you use.

5. Clean Up When You’re Done
When you’re done camping, clean up all your stuff, honor the land you were staying on, and leave no trace behind you. Unused kitchen items can be composted, and other objects can be disposed of in designated areas.

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Transportation Going Solar

May29, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

solar carSolar power continues to expand—especially in the realm of transportation. Here are a couple of the latest headlines and developments in the field!

*SOLAR BY AIR: First Solar-Powered Plane Takes Flight

In Switzerland recently, an experimental solar-powered airplane took its first transcontinental flight. Before the plane could launch on its journey’s first leg to Spain, it was delayed by fog—an illustration of how solar power is more susceptible to the effects of weather changes.

“We can’t fly into clouds because it was not designed for that,” Pilot Andre Borschberg said as he piloted the lumbering plane.

The flight is part of a project that began in 2003 and will cost about $100 million total over ten years of time. In 2010, the Swiss flew an aircraft affixed with 12,000 solar cells nonstop for 26 hours, proving that sunlight could keep the craft in the air through the night. Now, this transcontinental flight is like a dress rehearsal for a round-the-world flight planned for 2014.

*SOLAR BY BOAT: Solar Boat Travels Erie Canal

The Solar Star 23 has traveled over 300 miles using only solar power. With a top covered in photovoltaic panels and a crew of three, the boat began in Buffalo, New York, one week before arriving at the Schenectady Yacht Club, cruising down the Erie Canal.

The boat’s owner Bob Meacham says this watercraft is especially unique because it’s the first of kind designed from the hull up rather than with solar panels added onto an already fuel-powered boat.

Meacham’s boat travels a maximum 10 miles per hour and has eight batteries that store all the energy it’s able to derive from the sun. The test drives are being done to show the vessel’s ability to make longer voyages via solar power—and in six weeks, it goes up for sale at $45,000.

*SOLAR BY CAR: Student to Tour World in Solar Car

A team of ten students is traveling the world by car—solar car. They’ve already reached Australia, the United States and Europe.

“We want to show that it’s possible to drive round the world on solar power,” student and team member Yago Elbrecht said.

Along the trip has seen some success, the car, which relies fully on solar energy, has run into a few snags. Due to cloud conditions that have kept it from properly charging, the batteries are empty. This has led the team to unscrew the panels and set them directly in the sun to store up power—it should take four hours to fully charge.

This solar car is the creation of Bochum University, with the support of the automaker Solarworld. The students’ world tour will last a full year traveling around Australia, the U.S., Europe and Asia.

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Samsung to Launch Solar Laptops in Bangladesh

May22, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

samsung There’s big news in the world of solar happening in Bangladesh, where South Korean electronics giant Samsung is set to launch new, solar-powered laptops this summer. Targeted to young, 20-something professionals with long commutes, these affordably priced ($415) 3G devices could be the beginning of a whole new generation of technology for the country. The devices are designed to provide long-term Internet access even in remote areas that have traditionally been without utility power.

“We will launch solar notebooks in June for young professionals,” said Choon Soo Moon, managing director of Samsung Electronics (Bangladesh operations), in an interview with Dhaka’s Daily Star. “In the beginning, we are not targeting big, rather focusing on creating demand for the products through promotional campaigns.”

While globally, Samsung is better known for high-end models of TVs, refrigerators and smartphones, in Bangladesh, it focuses most on basic products like cathode ray tube (CRT) monitors, direct-cooling refrigerators and affordable handsets, the latter of which it holds 10 percent of the market share. Still though, in Bangladesh, it is ranked #1 for smartphones as well. Samsung hopes to find that this country, which is known not just for its nagging power crisis but also its long sunlight hours, will respond positively to the new laptops.

“It is a unique product and we will be the first company to launch it in Bangladesh,” said Moon.

Nonetheless, Samsung plans to focus most on product awareness, at least in the beginning, and hopes to see just around 500 of the solar laptops purchased each month.

For more information on Samsung, visit

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