US Solar Rooftop Competition Offers $10M

June21, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

sunshot logoHere’s a solar incentive worth hearing about: the USDE is giving $10 million to the companies who can install 5,000 new rooftop solar panel systems by 2014 at an average price of $2 per watt or less. They’re calling the contest the “SunShot Prize: America’s Most Affordable Rooftop Solar.”

First place gets $7 million; second, $2 million; and third, $1 million–and if no one wins, the money will be returned to the U.S. Treasury.

“Through the SunShot Initiative, we’re tackling the technological, scientific and market barriers facing America’s solar industry to make sure solar power continues to play an important role in our diverse energy mix. The investments in American startups and the new competition announced [on June 13] further our efforts to seize on the tremendous global market for clean energy technologies, representing hundreds of billions of dollars worldwide,” said Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy.

Offered by the United States Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, the collaborative national effort to make solar power more cost-competitive with other energy by the end of the decade, this large incentive is only available to the companies who make installations between August 1, 2012, and December 31, 2014.

To qualify, all of a company’s 5,000 required installations must have a power range that’s between 1 and 15 kilowatts, and the buildings they’re installed upon must be inhabited by humans (in other words, no to solar farms or doghouses, but yes to an attached garage).

Draft requirements for the contest are due by July 13, 2012.

For more information about the competition, visit the U.S. Department of Energy website!

US Solar Installations Jump in 2012 First Quarter

June20, 2012 by Shannalee in Financial News, Solar Living

SEIA logo
Reports show that solar installations are on the rise in America—jumping 85% higher in the first quarter of 2012. In this year’s first three months, there were a total of 506 megawatts of solar power capacity added throughout the country, making early 2012 the second highest quarterly total on record, according to a report from GTM Research for Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

“This really shows the beginning of what we think is going to be a breakout year for the U.S. solar industry,” said Rhone Resch, president of the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The growth, which was announced shortly after the U.S. Commerce Department imposed new tariffs on imports of solar equipment from China, comes, at least in part, from the finishing of several projects from solar developers that qualified under a national grant program ending in 2011. These projects could keep new installations coming strong through the middle of this year. As for the effect of the new tariffs, some analysts think the they may cause U.S. prices to rise but that at least for now, there are no signs of slowing.

“The U.S. market is robust, and none of the global dynamics that are playing out are going to be a market killer for the U.S.,” said Shayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM Research in Boston.

According to the findings from SEIA, “Solar electric capacity reached 4,943 MW in the U.S.” already, which is “enough to power 775,000 households.”

To learn more about the 2012′s solar developments and to view details of the report from GTM and Solar Energy Industries Association, go to

Solar-Powered Music Festival in Texas

June20, 2012 by Shannalee in Solar Living

solar powered music festival

Summer is the season of sunlight and the season of outdoor festivals, and for an event held in Texas recently, it was the combination of the two. Fittingly dubbed The Solar-Powered Music Festival, Fort Worth’s free outdoor music concert held on Saturday, June 16, promised big-name performers like the Romantics and the English Beat. But more than that, it showcased the amazing power of the sun—as giant solar panels amped up absolutely everything at this 100% totally solar-powered festival.

Solar Fest was designed to “showcase Fort Worth’s commitment to being a forward-thinking, green city,” according to the festival’s website.

Held on the Trinity River Project Property, minutes from downtown Fort Worth along the banks of the Trinity River, the 10-act Solar Fest featured performances from Tyler and the Northern Lights of Dallas, who began the day, as well as music from Ishi, Whiskey Folk Ramblers, Chris Johnson of Telegraph Canyon and others. Other highlights included local beer, local vendors and food trucks, which were the one part of the festival not powered by solar energy.

Featuring a total of 10 acts, the festival was sponsored by RAHR & Sons Brewing Company and presented by Sustainable Waves, which also provides a solar stage for The Warp Tour, provided the solar stage and power for the event. All proceeds went to benefit Pug Rescue in honor of Rahr’s popular Ugly Pug craft beer, and attendees were invited to bring a donation of leashes, harnesses and heartworm or flea and tick medication, if not a cash donation, to help with pug rescue.

To learn more about Fort Worth’s Solar-Powered Music Festival, visit.

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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