As hurricane season begins, the employees of NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) are preparing to help affected coastal areas by championing a new concept called “Power2Serve” – anchored by a 42-foot disaster relief vehicle and 26-foot trailer combination designed to deliver immediate power, emergency shelter, access to news and information and Wi-Fi internet connectivity to those in need. The vehicle was unveiled today to crisis management officials in the home city of NRG retail subsidiary, Reliant.
NRG purchased the commercial grade vehicle from a stock car racer and, drawing on expertise from across the company, modified it to suit its new mission. At the same time, approximately 400 NRG employees from across the country signed up to staff the vehicle as Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) and “ServeCrew” community volunteers. CERT members receive training in search and rescue operations, medical response, disaster psychology, shelter operations, and basic fire suppression. ServeCrew members are qualified to set up power charging stations, assist residents in filling out necessary forms and applications, and provide IT support.
“The Power2Serve vehicle is a way for NRG to be more involved in our communities as part of future disaster relief efforts – harnessing our collective skills and knowledge in a creative, hands?on way to respond quickly to help affected people,” said Fran Sullivan, senior vice president of plant operations. “It’s an opportunity for us to bring electricity to impacted residents in times of urgent need, to do whatever we can to make their lives a little better.”
The Power2Serve vehicle and trailer, along with three smaller, complementary vehicles providing additional services as needed, will be dispatched in coordination with local, state, and federal disaster relief authorities. The large unit has sleeping accomodations for seven volunteers and is completely self-sufficient, powered by a 10 kilowatt solar array, a 20 kilowatt diesel generator and a 10 kilowatt auxillary diesel generator.
Additional features include:
- An enclosed 50 x 20 foot pavilion to provide cooled or heated temporary shelter for residents
- Numerous flat panel TVs to show news or weather broadcasts
- 100 charging stations for cell phones, cameras, small tools and power equipment
- Wi-Fi and satellite service, and tablet computers to access email and the internet
The Power2Serve initiative is just one example of NRG’s commitment to improving the quality of life in local communities through employee-led volunteerism, donations, and corporate grant matching. Earlier this year, employees across the company raised $428,000 for Superstorm Sandy relief efforts. And last year, NRG contributed $5.4 million and 17,000 volunteer hours to benefit over 700 charitable organizations.
NRG is at the forefront of changing how people think about and use energy. We deliver cleaner and smarter energy choices for our customers, backed by the nation’s largest independent power generation portfolio of fossil fuel, nuclear, solar and wind facilities. A Fortune 500 company, NRG is challenging the U.S. energy industry by becoming one of the largest developers of solar power, building the first privately-funded electric vehicle charging infrastructure, and providing customers with the most advanced smart energy solutions to better manage their energy use. In addition to 47,000 megawatts of generation capacity, enough to supply nearly 40 million homes, our retail electricity providers – Reliant, Green Mountain Energy and Energy Plus – serve more than two million customers. More information is available at www.nrgenergy.com. Connect with NRG Energy on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @nrgenergy.
AMECO Solar announced a free Solar 101 Community Workshop on Wednesday, May 1 from 6:30 to 7:30 pm in Long Beach, CA.
Organized by AMECO, the workshop will teach you how to use the sun’s power to benefit your home or business. Our team of experts will go over the basics of solar energy in addition to other topics including: how much money you can save with solar, how to finance a solar installation and how to choose the best solar system and solar installer. Attendees will be given the chance to ask questions at the end of the workshop.
Patrick Redgate, our President & CEO commented, “After thirty nine years in the solar business, we have accumulated a lot of knowledge about solar. We want to pass this information on to the community and hope that our session will inspire more people to consider solar, making their homes and business more sustainable.”
There are a limited amount of spaces available so register today to lock in your spot at the Solar 101 Community Workshop. Fill out a brief form on our Solar 101 Registration page or call us at (562) 633-4400. We hope to see you there!
AMECO Solar CEO Patrick Redgate discusses his nearly 40 years
in the Solar Energy Industry: Then & Now
How did you get started in the solar industry?
I got into solar because I was working for an engineering firm in Saudi Arabia in the 70’s. When I came back from Saudi Arabia, I said this is not sustainable. That’s probably not the word I used, but that’s a really popular word now and it’s really an important one because when I came back to America I realized this isn’t a business that I wanted to do. I wanted to get in the business of saving the planet. Now however, solar has been a rocky road and in the meantime we have learned that solar is really just a part of the mix. There are many other energy generating technologies that are important for us.
How has the hardware changed? What improvements have you seen?
The kind of hardware we used to install commonly was generating heat and that would be heat for people’s homes and hot water for businesses, swimming pools. In fact that technology has really ripened and is mature now. But what we’ve seen now is that photovoltaics have come down in cost and photovoltaic is the science of generating electricity. Electricity is so expensive to get in any other way because of not only the economic costs, but the environmental costs. Photovoltaics are now something I never thought I would see in my lifetime available for everybody for any application that they want.
What were some of the challenges facing you when you were starting out and what are some of the challenges now?
The biggest challenge when we started out was first of all locating products that made sense. And without any track record or understanding it was our job really to discover what was out there. Sometimes I think we were just lucky. We picked the right products and those products did us well. But we are pretty conservative in how we choose what we represent and what we install. We don’t manufacture, however in the 70’s we actually did manufacture because the offerings were so limited. By the mid 80’s there were over 280 domestic manufacturers of Solar Products available to pick from. So we had a big job, to understand what was good, what was bad, what worked, what didn’t. We had to work our way through all the claims and figure out and understand if this was a good fit for our customer base.
Now in today’s world the market has changed to the point where there are only a few domestic manufacturers of solar in the United States and a lot of the competition in the photovoltaic field and electric field is coming from China simply because they have a government directing their programs. They understand the benefit of solar and they have a vision, but we have a laissez-faire economy. And so the nice thing to see is that solar is doing quite well even in a laissez faire economy, but manufacturing costs are very high and we still have a lot more foreign manufacturers to pick from than we have domestic manufacturers.
Net Metering is the term given to the act of selling energy back to the energy companies. What are your thoughts on their future use?
Well actually, electric generation for home owners and businesses would not really be technically or economically feasible for the great number of our customers without Net Metering. Net Metering was passed by the California legislature I think it was in 1996 and it was done as an incentive to…it was done as a…you can deregulate the utilities, the utilities can deregulate themselves, as long as they provide Net Metering. Net Metering is simply the way that people sell energy back to their utility. They generate power during the day, the utility buys it back from them at the same price they bought it – they bought the energy the last time. So it is not a good business model for the utilities. They can’t generate power and buy it back at the same price they sell it, but it really makes the economics here work.
As far as Net Metering’s future is concerned, I think that it’s already been written that only 5% of the customer base can go Net Metered and if that doesn’t change then the solar/electrical applications will really be left for people that want to power their electric vehicles or they want to sell their electricity at a wholesale price. And if they sell their electricity at a wholesale price, it may be feasible because the price for solar has dropped where that may be a good deal for everybody.
What’s your viewpoint on incentives and rebates? How do they impact the solar industry?
It’s hard to say the word sustainable and then ask for incentives. When we have a sustainable technology it should be able to offer the benefits that people would expect without having an incentive applied. But this is an industry that will not come into its own at this point without some kind of support from the government. And what we have seen for instance, the solar industry go to the point now where over 100,000 people are employed in the state of California where as 10 years ago it wasn’t – this couldn’t have happened without some kind of incentive and support. And also what we have seen happen is because of that support, prices have come down and we are at the point now where we really may not need incentives much longer.
When the current incentives end for solar, we’ll be faced with a market that is very well developed. People accept solar as an alternative. Will the pricing be good enough? We don’t know. But if the incentives are gone, the tax credits are currently in place until the year 2015 – that’s a huge break for the buyer. The California rebates are almost all gone and they were scheduled not to be gone until 2016 also, but it’s been so popular in California that the rebates have disappeared almost. They started out at $4.50 a watt and now they are down to .20 a watt now. So we are really at a small percentage – its almost ridiculous the size of the rebates compared to what it used to be.
I think the challenge that we face and the challenge that anybody in the solar business faces is to keep costs low enough so people can buy the solar and justify rather than just being green and employing locally and going sustainable. They are not only doing the good thing, but they are doing the right thing economically. And if we can get to the point where the tax credits are on the verge of going away, there will be a huge rush of many people that will want to buy solar before its gone and then the market will collapse. In my opinion, we need to reduce the support slowly and incrementally and predictably as has the state of California with the rebates. When the Federal Government reduces its support on December 31, 2015, this industry will be in for a big, big shake down.
Who are your target markets and how has that changed over the years?
We have done commercial, and industrial and residential applications, but because this is a business that has been ephemeral and there have been booms and busts, we have mostly concentrated on the small business and residential market place.
Do the jobs get bigger the longer you are in business?
We have done large projects. In fact in Long Beach we did the smallest system and the largest system. The largest system up to that point in history was the California community pool and the smallest system was done for my daughter’s science fair project. But we haven’t gone for the big bang; we aren’t a big union shop. This is a family owned company and we believe that we can really provide better service by keeping the operations close at hand.
You have run a successful business for almost 40 years. What advice can you give to young entrepreneurs today who dream of a career in solar energy?
There are so many different levels, it is a business like anything else; there is engineering, there is marketing, there is product development, customer relations. And if anybody would want to get into solar back when I did, I had to spend two weeks in the library to read every book there was and then there was nobody to give me advice. But the advice really is, just as any other business, if you can find a school that has a program that teaches you, you can become an installer. If you want to go to a business school it’s the same business environment we all lived in and so you can get a job with a solar company if you have a business degree. If you want to become a marketing person, there’s nothing more unusual about marketing solar or selling solar than any other product that’s out there. Again, we have the internet is a huge resource and it’s not just a matter of tapping somebody on the shoulder and saying can you help me. You can help yourself. If you know how to Google, you can get there pretty quickly.
What makes your company different from all other solar energy installation companies?
My favorite topic. We have the experience, we have the know-how and we are dedicated. We want to make sure what we do works because we’ve discovered our best resource for future customers are the ones we are working with today.
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About AMECO Solar
Since 1974, AMECO Solar has been dedicated to the concept that solar energy is the solution to our energy future. Solar energy is unlimited, non-polluting and free. AMECO Solar is committed to providing cost-effective and reliable solar systems and strives to offer the best components available. AMECO Solar believes that using solar energy is simply the best investment available to homeowners or businesses today, since the alternative to solar is just a never-ending monthly expense. Extensive Solar information can be found on their website: SolarExpert.com. Call today for a quick quote: 888-846-9411.
Kyocera Solar, Inc., a leading supplier of reliable solar modules and renewable energy, announced that its solar energy systems will power over 2000 homes in the Fiji Islands. The solar projects are in partnership with Fiji’s Department of Energy and the Fifth Pacific Islands Leaders Meeting project (Palm 5) with the goal to bring renewable energy to remote villages of the island nation. To date, 135 kilowatts have been installed and the remaining 270 kilowatts will be completed by the end of the year.
With these solar systems, rural villages are able to thrive without access to a traditional electric grid. Each system will utilize Kyocera’s modules and the sun’s energy to provide basic lighting and other low-power needs on the islands.
Solar energy makes so much sense for island nations that often lack an electricity grid infrastructure but have an abundance of sunshine year-round,” said George Phani, sales manager for Kyocera Solar Australia. “With our Kyocera modules, many Fijians have been given light and other electricity into the night – maybe for the first time. We hope this program can serve as a template for other islands to follow.”
Kyocera has partnered with Powerlite Generators (Fiji) Limited to install 3,000 solar modules throughout Fiji. Each system includes at least one 135-watt Kyocera module, a regulator, maintenance-free batteries, and both indoor and outdoor lighting.
Kyocera Solar, Inc. is headquartered in Scottsdale, Arizona with regional sales affiliates in the Americas and Australia.
ATLANTA, GA—June 19, 2012—Renusol America, headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia, has announced that its American-engineered and manufactured mounting system—the Renusol CS60—has been installed at the Aquafil Headquarters in Cartersville as part of one of the state of Georgia’s largest solar PV energy systems. The 400 kWh system will generate 525-thousand KWh of power annually.
The project includes 1,572 Renusol CS60 mounting units and 1,572 of Suniva’s Optimus 250 W panels. Suniva is headquartered in Norcross, Georgia. Radiance Solar, a Georgia owned and operated solar contracting company, installed the system, which is interconnected to the Cartersville Electric System.
Aquafil, a chemical and textile firm and leader in carpet fiber technology, is known for producing fibers made from 100-percent recycled materials. The company takes its commitment to sustainability one step further with the installation of this solar system on top of its 234,000-square-foot manufacturing facility in Cartersville.
The Renusol CS60 represents the latest in American technology and is the first-ever ‘one unit per one PV panel’ mounting system, which is changing how solar arrays are deployed on flat rooftops in America by eliminating the layout restrictions inherent to traditional, rigid aluminum racking rails. Manufactured in the Midwest, the Renusol CS60 offers several solutions developed specifically for the US solar market.
The Renusol CS60 innovation also incorporates the latest groundbreaking American-based wind tunnel study results showing how wind forces vary across a roof, making the flexible rooftop panel placement solution of the Renusol CS60 even more valuable.
“The Aquafil USA solar rooftop installation is emblematic of how the deployment of solar energy creating and keeping jobs right here in Georgia and across America , said Renusol America CEO Bart Leusink.
About Renusol America
Renusol America is a leading innovator in flat-roof and pitch-roofed mounting systems for Solar PV modules in the US solar industry. A U.S. company with systems installed in 18 states, Renusol America provides sales, service, and customer support from its headquarters in Atlanta , Georgia and operates full-scale warehouse and distribution facilities across the country. Building upon its heritage of excellence in German engineering with American innovation, in 2011 Renusol America introduced the groundbreaking, American-made Renusol CS60—the first one piece mounting system for PV panels. The company is part of the Centrosolar Group, a publicly traded company on the German stock exchange, and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Renusol GmbH, a market leader in Europe with more than 500MW of solar power mounted on Renusol systems. More information at www.renusolamerica.com
In recent years there has been a significant rise in the numbers of solar panel installations across homes in the UK and the focus on environmental well-being means that there has never been a better time to install solar panels. Whether you have a large, country manor or a small townhouse, solar panels can be installed in many areas which consequently help to reduce your electricity bills as well as helping the environment. The relative ease of installing solar panels means that it is definitely something that is worth considering.
Solar panels can be quite expensive to install, so it is worth examining the environmental efficiency of your house before taking the step towards installing solar panels. If your house has characteristics such as double glazing, loft insulation and cavity wall insulation, then solar panels will be more effective at reducing bills because less energy will be wasted; they will be used at their optimum capacity.
Once you have checked these things, you can start to find good deals for solar panel installers. As noted, they can be expensive so shop around for them. There are many price comparison sites that can offer you a quote, so it is recommended that you compare the prices before you buy.
Furthermore, using these sites means that you can compare the service that you will get. You can choose different factors, such as your roof size, which will calculate the potential solar energy that can be gained from the roof and different solar panel operating systems that are available. The solar power installers will then be able to fit your solar panels quickly and efficiently.
If you do not want to pay for the solar panels yourself, there are certain schemes, which allow you to rent out your roof so companies can place their solar panels on it. This is a great idea if you plan on living in your home for a long time, and the solar panels are also usually free in these schemes. However, the solar panels will be on your roof for many years and the buyout fees – if you decide to relocate or if you no longer want them – are expensive.
In the UK, the Government has a scheme where they will buy back any extra energy that you produce through your solar panels. This is an excellent way of making revenue as well as paying back the money that you may have spent purchasing the solar panels. Although there are several steps to take in preparation of purchasing solar panels, they are definitely worth it to make sure you can get the best deal, as well as helping you to earn revenue through your solar panel venture.
This article was written by the team at Ecosphere Renewables. For more info please visit: TheEcosphere.co.uk.