Time Lapse Video of Solar Installation

Watch the solar installation of Supervisor Jeff Stone’s photovoltaic system on his home in Temecula, CA, by HelioPower, California’s value leader in home solar.  The time lapse video captures the installation of his 14 kilowatt (kW) system on a clay roof using 56 Canadian Solar 250 solar panels and two SMA inverters.  The installation was financed by the WRCOG HERO program.

Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone converted his Temecula home to solar under the nation’s largest renewable energy campaign taking place in western Riverside County.

The Western Riverside County of Governments (WRCOG) has established the HERO (Home Energy Renovation Opportunity) program to help homeowners pay for a solar power system (and other home improvement products) with low-interest financing, no money down, and payments tied to the home’s property tax, which means they don’t have to continue paying if they end up selling their home. The program is available to homeowners in 17 cities and the unincorporated areas of western Riverside County.

“I’ve been working very closely with WRCOG since the program was beginning to come to fruition,” said Supervisor Stone at a February 2012 event on the program.  “We talked about the idea of financing solar projects and water efficiency projects through property taxes.  I thought what a great program to offer our constituents in the area.’

He explained, “People can, in fact, pay for this infrastructure through their property taxes.  And there are really significant advantages for our private property owner or a business to enroll in a program like this.”

“I have found that through the WRCOG program, that the process is really simple.  We have, locally here, a company called HelioPower.  I am very pleased to say that I’ve had friends that have utilized them and been very happy with their service.  They came out, gave me a bid, there was no pressure.  I had the opportunity to go out and get other bids.  It was probably a very wise thing to do for people.  But what I liked about HelioPower was that they were very conscious of the type of roof that we have.  We have a tile roof.  And many companies would just go out, throw the panels on top of the roof, and you have to deal with tiles cracking and leaks in your homes.  Well what they do, they come out, HelioPower, and they strip your tiles off your roof.  They treat your roof then, as if it were your existing roof.  Then they put the panels on, and then they around the perimeter put the tiles back up so it looks like a solar skylight.  So it doesn’t look like it is an afterthought on your house.  They did it in an area where most people won’t even see the power.

And our goal was, in our household, to zero out our energy consumption that can sometimes vary between $700 and $1100 a month.  So it was a great experience.”

Special music credit to Ken Conway of the HERO Financing Program!

The post Solar Time Lapse Video appeared first on HelioPower.

Solar and the Grid

“We live in a global world … and the fact is, if everybody on the planet lived like we do in America, we’d need 10 planet Earths. This is a sad fact, but, unfortunately, we’re all going to have to make do with a lot less in the future.”
~Scott Gordon, SVP of  Sales, HelioPower

Let’s think about that for a moment. Smart metering is one way for the utilities to monitor and regulate electric usage. As more electric providers introduce smart meters, more people will look to solar power as a way to regain control of their own electricity use.

But a mindset shift will occur, where we begin to think of affordable electricity-on-demand — with the simple flip of a switch or push of a button — as a privilege rather than a right. (And if you don’t believe that, take a look at the recap of our 3/14/12 #SolarChat, during which we discussed charitable initiatives to bring solar energy to impoverished areas of the world.)

In the same conversation that he shared the above words, Gordon mentioned that by 2015, we may begin to see programmable appliances, equipped with smart chips, that enable users to program them to turn on only when electric rates are at their lowest. “When electricity rates are between X and Y, your appliances are allowed to run. At other times, you’ll get an error message when you go to run your dishwasher,” Gordon explains.

All of this sounds exciting and high-tech but, as Gordon points out, “Ninety-nine percent of the world is not technical. They just want to plug something in and have it work.”

People who are not technically savvy, and who can’t afford to pay someone else to program their appliances for them, will subsidize electricity production for everyone else. Sadly, these are the people who can least afford to pay even more for electricity — people on fixed incomes, the unemployed, the elderly, and people with young children.

What’s the answer? You call a solar installer, and within a week to 120 days (depending on installation schedules and how long it takes to acquire permits), you can turn on the lights, TV and appliances in your home during the day and enjoy free, clean, renewable energy. Produce enough energy, and you feed it back into the grid to use as energy credits when you need to use electricity at night or on rainy days.

How Will Your Solar Installation Affect Your Electric Company?
The electric companies want to see people using solar, just as they want to see people conserving energy. It’s good for the environment and reduces the risk of brown-outs, helping to ensure the electric providers have enough power to supply their region.

But only to a point. Gordon says, “Every time we sign on a customer, the electric company loses part of a customer, maybe 50 or 75 or 80 percent. That’s what they’re worried about.”

Since the electric companies still need to make money, the grid will change. Instead of being a provider of energy, utilities will become distributors.

Gordon uses the analogy of a cable company. “Your local cable company or satellite dish provider doesn’t produce a lot of content — less than 1 percent. But they distribute massive amounts of content. When we move into the distributed grid of the future, you’ll see utilities charging to use their pipes — as a distributor of electricity rather than content.”

Net metering, according to Gordon, is just the first step. Ultimately, we’ll see a model where electricity comes from a variety of sources, including renewable sources like wind and solar farms owned by individuals or communities, and the utility company is simply charging people to use the grid for distribution.

If this makes you think it might be time to start creating your own power now… you’d be right.

Original Article on HelioPower

Smart Meter Events Begin in California

Havequestions about the new meter installed on your home?  Do you wonder how it works?  Will it record energy use differently than the “old”version?   Will the new smart meter change your energy bill?

These questions and more will be answered in a free seminar series that kicks off this week in California.  Called “Smart Meters & Solar – 10 things homeowners should know about their new smart meter, the series is presented by HelioPower, a leading California solar installation firm.

Millions of homes have or will receive smart meters in California.Mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), allinvestor owned utilities including Southern California Edison (SCE),Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas & Electric(SDG&E) are installing smart meters.

The “Smart Meters and Solar” series is designed to help homeowners understand their new smart meter, how it records energy use and affects

PG&E Smart Meter

PG&E Smart Meter

their electric bill, and how the new digital equipment works with solar energy production.  Sponsored by Canadian Solar, one of the world’s largest solar companies, the seminars will be mostbeneficial for homeowners whose electric companies are SCE, PG&E orSDG&E.

Smart meters are the residential point of information collection forthe smart grid. They connect your home to the smart grid in much thesame way a cable or DSL modem connects you to the internet.

“While most homeowners are familiar with the installation of smartmeters on their homes, many are seeking more information about the smart meters’ impact on their electric bills,” said Scott Gordon, VicePresident, Residential Sales for HelioPower.  “We will cover the 10 things homeowners need to know about smart meters including how to read the meter and how the new digital meters recordenergy use.  We will also look at how and when solar is appropriate inthis new ‘smart grid’ world.”

As part of the education effort, HelioPower has created a resourcesection about smart meters. Homeowners can find this information here on the HelioPower website page, 10 Things About Smart Meters & Solar.

The free informational seminars will begin at 6:30 pm.  The first 20attendees at each event will receive a free solar LED key chain.

More information for community events and directions to reserve space is available by calling Billie Rafferty at 1.951.398.9811 or by going to Smart Meters and Solar online here.


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Murrieta Solar Update

The city ofMurrieta has added 38 more rebates to its popular Murrieta Solar RebateProgram.  The city committed to 72, $1,000 rebates for approvedresidential solar installations (purchased systems, not PPAs or leases)in April 2010.   It originally settled on 72 rebates by taking theaverage annual solar installation in Murrieta over a 3-year period,which came out to 24 per year.

According to city representative, Brian Ambrose, “We assumed,especially in light of a horrible economy where residents had little/nochance of home equity loans, that we would have funding for the full 3years.  We were surprisingly mistaken.”

“We have now processed our 70th rebate.  Had we not had thecommitment of our City Council to continue this funding, the programwould be wrapping up now.  But I’m happy to announce we still have 40rebates in total to pay out (there are up to 10 being installed rightnow, but rebates are paid out on a first come/first paid process afterfinal inspection).  Fortunately, I am able to speak to many of theresidents that come in to drop off their paperwork for the rebate, and I can say that an overwhelming amount are highly satisfied with theirsystems and the company that installed them,” said Ambrose.

Mr. Ambrose will update residents on the program at the headquarters of HelioPower on August 3.  HelioPower is located on Jefferson Avenue in Murrieta.  The company is doing a series of educational sessions on “Smart Meters & Solar” to help homeowners understand the new digital meters being installed by utilities and the applicability of solar in the “smart grid” world.

For more information about the Murrieta Solar Rebate program, callthe city at (951) 304-CITY (2489) or HelioPower at 1.87.SOLAR.888.


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Top 10 Things About Smart Meters and Solar


Millions of smart meters are being installed on homes acrossCalifornia.  Mandated by the California Public Utilities Commission(CPUC), all investor owned utilities (IOU) including Southern California Edison (SCE), Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), and San Diego Gas& Electric (SDG&E) are installing smart meters at residentialand business customer properties.  Smart meters are the residentialpoint of information collection for the smart grid. They will connectyour home to smart grid in much the same way a cable or DSL modemconnects your home to the internet.

While most homeowners are familiar with the installation of smartmeters on their homes, many are seeking more information about the smart meters’ impact on their electric bills and their ability to lower orcontrol their electricity costs with solar in this new “smart grid”enabled world.

1. Definition of a smart meter
Smart meters are digital devices that record the amount of energy youuse in your home and send this information to the utility company. Smart meters are the digital replacements of their predecessors, the old electro-mechanical analog meter.  They have a digital display and areabout the same size as the old analog electricity meter.

The new electric meters provide two-way communication between yourhome and the utility. These new meters use secure wireless networktechnology or powerline technology to communicate your usage data to the local utility. The utility uses the information from the smart meter to calculate your energy use and your monthly electric bill.

2. Why the utilities are installing smart meters
Utility companies around the world are installing smart electric metersfor many reasons.  Those include efficiencies related to remote meterreading, fixing service disruptions remotely, and as a first step in the rollout of smart grid technologies in their service areas.  One of thecritical factors driving smart meter technology is the need to matchelectricity consumption with the real time demands on the grid.Utilities are increasingly challenged during high usage times such ashot summer afternoons when air conditioning loads can place tremendousstress on the grid. The smart grid promises to aid utilities in theirability to balance grid demand in their service areas in real time.

Traditional analog meters track total consumption.  Smart meters allow the utilities to track when electricity is used in a household and thus match the time the energy is beingconsumed with amount of electricity consumed. Utility customers will beencouraged to shift their energy consumption to ‘off peak’ hours duringtimes of high demand through a combination of lower electricity ratesand higher baseline allowances.

3. Who will receive smart meters in California
By 2012, every electricity consumer of the big three IOUs will have smart meters. Source CPUC April 2009.

4. How the CPUC envisions smart meters will reduce energy use
Smart meters track electric use in fifteen minute increments.  The goalis to help consumers understand their electrical and gas usage so theycan make decisions to reduce and control energy costs. Additionally, by linking electricity costs to grid demand, the hope is that userswill shift consumption to ‘off peak’ times thereby helping to avoidbrown and black outs during hot summer months and other high demandtimes.

From the CPUC website: The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has authorized the state’s investorowned utilities to replace conventional customer meters with smartmeters in order to give consumers greater control over their energyuse.  Smart meters enable a utility to provide customers with detailedinformation about their energy usage at different times of the day,which in turn enables customers to manage their energy use moreproactively.

The benefits of smart meters to customers, the state, and utilities, include:

  • Allows for faster outage detection and restoration of service by autility when an outage occurs and therefore, less disruption to acustomer’s home or business.
  • Provides customers with greater control over their electricity usewhen coupled with time-based rates, increasing the range of differentpricing plans available to customers and giving them more choice inmanaging their electricity consumption and bills.
    • Smart meters enable a utility to measure a customer’s electricity usage in hourly increments.
    • If a customer elects to participate in time-based rates offered bythe utility, they have the opportunity to lower their electricity demand during “peak” periods (the peak period for most utilities are summerafternoons) and potentially save money on their monthly electric bill.
  • Allows customers to make informed decisions by providing highly detailed information about electricity usage and costs.
  • Helps the environment by reducing the need to build power plants, or avoiding the use of older, less efficient power plants as customerslower their electric demand.
  • Increases privacy because electricity usage information can berelayed automatically to the utility for billing purposes withouton-site visits by a utility to check the meter.
  • Smart meters are the first step toward creating a smart grid in California.

5. Smart meter online utility resources
The utilities have a wealth of information and in many cases, easy to watch videos, online:

6. How a smart meter works
A smart meter tracks your home’s hourly use of electricity and/ornatural gas in fifteen minute increments.  The smart meter then sendsthe data to your utility.

7. How you can measure your power consumption with a smart meter
Your new electric meter records your kilowatt hour usage to date.Utility customers with smart meters can access their energy usagethrough their account information on line and by reading their meter onsite. On average the smart meters automatically scroll through different displays.  Each display remains on screen for three to five seconds. The screens and the amount of time vary slightly depending on whetheryou are in SCE, SDG&E or PG&E territory.

Generally the screens read out your kilowatt hour usage to date. Akilowatt-hour (kWh) is 1,000 watts of electricity used for one hour.

San Diego Gas & Electric: Smart meter scrolls through several different displays that will show yourkilowatt-hour (kWh) usage, date, time, and other system and diagnosticinformation.

Southern California Edison:   The smart meter cycles through three different screens. The first screendisplays electricity usage. The other two screens are for the use of the utility.

Pacific Gas & Electric: There are two different types of meters in use in the PG&E territory. Information for how to identify which type of meter you have and theinformation displayed can be found online here.

8. How a smart meter affects your energy bill
The impact of the new smart meter on your electric bill will vary. Homes with older analog meters will see the highest potential increasein electric rates.  The mechanical analog version can slow down overtime as the bearings and other mechanics wear out.  Analog meters canbecome increasingly inaccurate as the mechanism becomes older.  When the new, digital version replaces the old analog meter then your electrical use is more accurately captured and billed. This sometimes results inincreased electricity costs for some homeowners.

The electric smart meter records and communicates hourly use ofelectricity. This capability allows the utilities to bill customers innew ways. One way is called time of use or TOU.  Commercial companiesare billed with time of use fees.  This fee structure matches the use of electricity with the time it is used.  Electricity used during thehighest demand periods of the day are billed at the highest rates. Timeof Use rate plans are now optional for most Californians. Contact yourutility or visit their website(s) for further details concerning TOU inyour area.

Who pays for the smart meter installations?

Information from SCE: Edison SmartConnect is a $1.6billion program authorized by the California Public UtilitiesCommission. Edison SmartConnect is expected to contribute an approximate 1.6 percent increase in customer rates during the installationtimeframe. This slight increase, expected to take effect this year, will not be applied as a line item to customer bills. Rather it will beincorporated in the overall electricity rate. Customers can more thanoffset this cost by actively participating in new smart meter programsand services designed to help save energy and money.

Information from SDG&E: Just like the currentmeters, the cost is part of the overall bill. The cost for smart meters, as with all meters or equipment purchased by SDG&E, is part ofregular business expenses and is recovered in rates.

At its peak, the cost is approximately $2.50 per month. However,there is not a separate line item for smart meters on the SDG&Ebill, and this cost will diminish over time.

9. Smart meters and solar
In most utility regions, smart meters now also record the energyproduction of your residential solar power system.  For example,according to its website, smart meter installations for San Diego Gas& Electric customers with solar/net energy metering systems began in November 2010.

10. Solar becomes “an even more valuable” strategy to offset energy consumption in a smart meter world
Three factors are increasing solar’s ability to offset energy costs in a smart meter world.  First the cost of solar is at an all-time low.  Second, financing options are increasing thus reducing the cost of entry for solar generated electricity to zero.  And third, as residentialrate structures more to time of use via smart meter technology the trend of increasing energy costs is expected to continue to rise.

Since residential solar systems produce the most electricity during‘peak’ usage times (generally hot summer months), customers with solarenergy systems are credited for their production at the higher dayrates. Those that can shift the bulk of their demand to the eveningoff-peak times will gain additional benefit as they will book morekilowatt hours (kWh) at the higher day rates while buying neededkilowatt hours at lower off-peak rates. As a result, many of thesecustomers require smaller solar power systems than their counterpartswho have installed solar under current tier based rate structures. Formore information on this energy hedging strategy, click here for a freesite evaluation: https://www.heliopower.com/free-site-evaluation

According to Helen Priest, Director of Emerging Markets, PG&E, quoted here at the Greentech Media Summit, 2011…

“TOU pricing (via smart meters) for residential will be implementedcompletely by 2014.   You will see a ‘significant shift in consumerpricing’ where solar becomes even more valuable as part of the mix andneed from consumers in TOU environment."

By HelioPower

Original Article on HelioPower

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Murrieta Ups Solar Incentives

Murrieta, asolar friendly California city, has added more incentives for residenthomeowners.  This month the city passed the Home

Improvement Incentive Project to “promote home improvement projectsfor its residents and encourage job creation and local shopping for home improvement supplies and materials.”  The project also benefits energyefficiency upgrades including solar.

The permit and inspection fees for applicable projects with the completed permit fees submitted during  July 5 to July 13th period will be refunded to the applicant following the completion ofthe work.  City officials said this week that the average savings willbe up to $250.  The program applies to Murrieta residents working withMurrieta located businesses.

To support the Murrieta Home Improvement Incentive Project, HelioPower, a Murrieta based solar installation firm, will extend its$500 cash back offer to Murrieta homeowners who go solar on or beforeJuly 13, 2011.  The HelioPower $500 cash back offer is due to close onJune 21, 2011. Local retailers including Home Depot and Lowe’s will beoffering discounts to residents during the Home Incentive week.

The HelioPower extended $500 cash back solar offer is designed to cover the estimated $250 permit fee rebate from thecity.  HelioPower cannot guarantee that project construction plans would be completed in time to meet the city’s window of July 5th to July 13th for permit applications.  Thus the company will extend this cash backoffer to cover the cost of the permit.

City officials also offer a $1000 solar rebate, of whichapproximately 45 remain for residential solar installations, as of thispost date.

Murrieta residents who are interested in the program and want to get a list of participating local businesses can see city officials at the upcoming 20th anniversary Birthday Bash to be held Saturday, June 25th at California Oaks Sports Park or call City Building Officials at 951.461.6051.

For more information about the HelioPower program in the city of Murrieta visit us at www.HelioPower.com or call 877 SOLAR 888.

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Solar delivers in San Diego

by Glenna Wiseman
Vice President, Marketing, HelioPower

Children running in the grass.  Volunteers securing tents. Dignitaries making their way to a donor’s reception. The many handsthat have IMG_6174-1330538180-O-Chelped shape a sustainable community where once violence ran amuck allgathered last Thursday.  Those who have volunteered, supported andhelped build this bright light of an affordable housing community in anoppressed neighborhood in San Diego came together to celebrate anothermilestone in the history of Las Serenas.  Las Serenas Goes Solar!

Donors, dignitaries, politicians, federal and state programrepresentatives, construction partners and the community itself allrallied to help Community HousingWorks (CHW) celebrate another accomplishment for Las Serenas.

Las Serenas, on the border of National City and San Diego, is ashining example of the impact CHW has on communities as therehabilitation of this 108-unit apartment complex transformed a formerly high-crime block into an attractive safe-harbor anchor in a strugglinglower income community.  This time the cause for celebration was freesolar energy for its tenants and the many tenant based benefits derivedfrom a creative combination of state and federally funded initiatives.

In November 2009, CHW was awarded the first Multifamily AffordableSolar Housing (MASH) Track 2 grant by the California Center forSustainable Energy (CCSE) to install solar energy in the Las Serenasaffordable housing community. CHW worked with HelioPower to develop and fulfill the Las Serenas project.

The grant funds provide free solar energy to the low-income familiesat Las Serenas. The program also provided residents with job trainingand educational support on all aspects of sustainable living.   Thesimultaneous  “green” apartment improvements grant from federalNeighborWorks funds provided  installation of low-e, dual paned windows, water-saving tub and kitchen fixtures, and related kitchen and bathrepairs.

Congressman Bob Filner (L), Susan Reynolds and Martha Gonzales of CHW

Congressman Bob Filner (L), Susan Reynolds and Martha Gonzales of CHW

On Thursday, Community HousingWorks staff was joined by CongressmanBob Filner (D-Calif.),  NeighborWorks America CEO Eileen Fitzgerald, Irene M. Stillings, CCSE Executive Director and solar installationpartner, HelioPower, among many others to celebrate their solar andgreen building initiatives.

100% of the clean energy generated from the solar power system willbenefit the Las Serenas tenants, offsetting on average 20% of theirannual electricity bills.  Additional ‘green’ apartment improvements,funded through a grant from NeighborWorks America, will also lowertenant utility bills and create a more sustainable community.

Community HousingWorks President, Susan M. Reynolds spoke eloquently of the victories accomplished by her team and those at the

Susan Reynolds, President, Community HousingWorks addresses solar celebration crowd.

Susan Reynolds, President, Community HousingWorks addresses solar celebration crowd.

community itself, “Today we are celebrating the victory of ourresidents over those who would say we cannot be free from violence anddespair,” she said.

Las Serenas resident, Lillian Wellman, describes the savings on her electric bill!

Las Serenas resident, Lillian Wellman, describes the savings on her electric bill!

Las Serenas tenant, Lillian Wellman, brought the benefits of thesolar energy system to life when she spoke to the gathered crowd. “When I got my electric bill, I was so excited because I could afford my billnow,” said Lillian. “My first bill went from $60 a month to $36, whichmakes a huge difference for my family.”

“Look around you.  We are surrounded by energy.   And just about allof it comes from the Sun.   Wind comes through differential solarheating, hydroelectric power from the sun driven water cycle.  The foodwe eat – biofuels – calories – come from the Sun via plantphotosynthesis.  Food is energy – human energy.  And Las Serenas isultimately a story of energy,” said Tom Millhoff, Vice President ofBusiness Development for HelioPower.

“We are surrounded by solar energy.  Some of it you can see. These300 solar panels will produce about 100,000 kWh annually – enough toreplace 76 tons of carbon dioxide– or the amount of C02 sequestered by a 15 acre pine forest.  You may see sleek black glass on these roofs… Isee an urban forest and it’s beautiful.

These photovoltaic panels absorb photons – light – and that energyknocks loose electrons, which race through the panels and electrical

Tom Millhoff, HelioPower

Tom Millhoff, HelioPower

equipment, and every single kWh benefits Las Serenas residents…enough to reduce their electric bills by 20%.  The hardware you see issupported by software that monitors and measures the solar productionand shows just how much clean solar energy is benefiting residents – you can see it today in the community center, and you’ll see it soon on the web.  But that’s just part of the story.

We are surrounded by human energy.  Creative, energetic and inspiredpeople who’ve taken this effort far beyond a solar installation, andcreated a truly integrated energy initiative, who’s components include:

  • Energy Workshops – conducted in both Spanish and English to increase resident awareness and appreciation of the benefits of solar &energy efficiency
  • Ongoing Outreach – “Green” bi-lingual curriculum that teach residents how to live a more environmentally conscious life.
  • Green Job Training and Job Creation – as part of this initiativeHelioPower conducted solar installation workshops and hired Las Serenasresidents to participate in the installation and get hands-on jobtraining.
  • Wireless Internet access – to improve this community’s communications and access to information and educational resources.
  • Energy Monitoring – in the community center and soon on the web

This Las Serenas Clean Energy Initiative is a shining example of what can happen when the public, nonprofit and private sectors worktogether,” closed Millhoff.

At the solar celebration, CCSE presented CHW with its $412,000 rebate check for their MASH Track 2 initiative at Las Serenas.

Susan Reynolds and Sochiata Vutthy of Community HousingWorks accept check from CCSE's Irene Stillings

Susan Reynolds and Sochiata Vutthy (L) of Community HousingWorks accept rebate from CCSE’s Irene Stillings

Irene M. Stillings, CCSE Executive Director, started her remarks quoting the June 7th New York Times Thomas Friedman column, “You really do have to wonder whether a few years from now we’ll lookback at the first decade of the 21st century — when food prices spiked,energy prices soared, world population surged, tornadoes plowed throughcities, floods and droughts set records, populations were displaced andgovernments were threatened by the confluence of it all — and askourselves: What were we thinking? How did we not panic when the evidence was so obvious that we’d crossed some growth/climate/naturalresource/population redlines all at once? The answer is denial.”

"But not in California, not in San Diego and not at Las Serenas," proclaimed Stillings.

Las-Serenas-Goes-Solar-Childrens-Book-one-pageTo memorialize the day’s celebration, the children of Las Serenas created a storybook about solar at the community, which they presented as a thank you gift to Congressman Filner. “The families were able to use thegift from the sun to supply energy to their homes and lighten theirburdens,” stated one young resident!

NeighborWorks America CEO, Eileen Fitzgerald, reviews Solar Storybook with children of Las Serenas

NeighborWorks America CEO, Eileen Fitzgerald, reviews Solar Storybook with children of Las Serenas

PHOTO CREDIT:  Maria Robinson, www.DRMPhotography.com

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Former SunPower Exec Joins HelioPower $SPWRA

Kent Miller builds on solar and related energy industry experience with move to HelioPower

HelioPower,an integrated energy solutions company with nearly 2000 solar and cleanenergy systems engineered and installed since 2001, today announced theappointment of Kent J. Miller to Executive Vice President of Commercial Sales.  HelioPower engineers and constructs integrated energy solutions tosolve the complex energy challenges facing organizations today.  Millerand his team will work to bring the company’s expanding energy solutions portfolio to a growing list of commercial and public sector clientsworldwide.

“HelioPower has created a fully integrated suite of energy services,” said Miller. “This is critical in today’s energy market, whenbusinesses and public sector clients face increasingly complex energychallenges.”

Prior to HelioPower, Miller served as the Sales Director of Servicesfor SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq: SPWRA, SPWRB), a worldwide top fivevertically integrated solar company.  Prior to SunPower, he acted asDirector of Sales with SunEdison, the largest solar energy servicesprovider in North America.  Miller built his expertise in managingemerging technology companies, leading a turnaround effort as vicepresident of sales and marketing for EnFlex Corporation, an energymonitoring company which was subsequently acquired by SunEdison in 2008. Miller’s early background includes 5 years of sales experience withApple Computer, and 14 years of sales, sales management, and businessdevelopment with Microsoft Corporation.

“Kent has a remarkably broad experience in both energy and enterprise solutions,” said Ty Jagerson, President of HelioPower.  “Increasingly,renewable energy is about delivering compelling financial and technicalsolutions integrated with corporate customer requirements.  I’m thrilled to have Kent leading up this complex sales process.”


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Taking a Look at the Malibu BodhiFest

HelioPower’s Derek Girling will address, “Realizing Your Solar Dreams” at the upcoming 2011 BodhiFest at the Malibu Jewish Center on Sunday, June 19.   BodhiFest brings together numerous traditions ofBuddhism, with yoga, live music, films and more, under the United Dharma banner.

Derek trained with the Hopland-based Solar Living Institute and hasworked with hundreds of homeowners and businesses in attaining theirgoal of switching to clean, sustainable solar energy. He will share hisinsights on solar’s role in renewable energy technologies and what’s instore for the future. Part of the discussion will focus on the variousfinancial programs that have enabled many more environmentally conscious homeowners to realize their solar dreams.

Ironically, Derek got into solar because of his concern for theenvironment, but now finds that he spends most of his time talking about money. “Fortunately,” Derek says, “most homeowners now don’t have tochoose between sustaining the environment and sustaining theirpocketbooks!”

For more information about BodhiFest, go to www.BodhiFest.org


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Water Districts and Solar

An unprecedented alignment of financial benefits exists now for water districts to significantly cut energy costs through large scale solarenergy development.

Projects up to 1 megawatt (MW) can be developed now with little or no money out of pocket for your water district.  However the fuse isshort!   On 12.31.11 this window closes.

Industry veteran, Mo Rousso, will address water district management at an upcoming “Lunch and Learn” at the Bakersfield Marriott Hotel, May 18 at noon, hosted by HelioPower, a leading California solar development firm.

"Water districts and agencies have a tough job.  Their directors andconstituents mandate cost containment and rate caps, while requiringservice levels to remain high,” said Mo Rousso, Founder and ChiefTechnology Officer at HelioPower.  “Energy has always been a significant operating cost water companies struggle to manage, especially as theelectric utilities raise rates each year.”

Mr. Rousso, a renewable energy veteran and engineer with more than 20 years of experience helping utilities and water districts make their organizations more cost efficient while preserving service levels, will be the featured speaker at the May 18th “Water Districts & Solar” event.

His expertise will assist water district management to understand how easily renewable energy can be integrated into their operations and how they can leverage solar to cut one of their largest operating costs,energy.

Mo’s presentation is designed to help attendees understand thecurrent financial and regulatory environment and how they can leveragethis soon-to-expire opportunity.

“Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate energy costs and increasesand keep more money in the your (water districts”) annual operatingbudgets,” Rousso continued.  “Affordably generating some or all of yourown energy in a low risk and reliable manner is available to you.  Iwelcome you to join me for lunch as we begin to discuss your options."

HelioPower financing gives empowers water districts to leverage twokey financial incentives they would not normally be able to exercise tooffset the cost of solar:

  • The Federal ITC 1603 Treasury Grant in Lieu 30% offset which expires 12.31.11.
  • MACRS (Modified Accelerated Cost Recovery System) 5 year, 85% depreciation schedule for solar.

Large scale solar installations can now offset electricity bills fordispersed meters.  CA AB 2466 allows water districts to develop up to 1MW of solar power and offset multiple location meter bills throughvirtual net metering.

For more information about the event go to the HelioPower “Water Districts & Solar” event page.


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PredictEnergy Software Well Received in the Industry

By Mo Rousso

Chief Technology Officer, HelioPower

Software to monitor and analyze energy use has, historically, beenlimited to power production and consumption monitoring.  The ability toleverage analytics and to do energy optimization has been lacking.

However, PredictEnergySM changes all of that.  It is a tool that many of our clients are finding valuable in providing:

  • Decision analytics
  • Business intelligence
  • Business process improvements
  • Energy usage behavior improvements
  • Strategic planning
  • Resource allocation decisions
  • Scheduling of processes and distributed generation sources

When considering a business, it is best to start with an inventory of energy sources and uses.  This is a key concept in determining what tomeasure and what to optimize.  Some potential sources and uses arelisted below:

Sources Uses
Utility Grid Refrigeration
Gas supply Motors
Stand-by generators Lights
Fuel cells Electronics
Solar PV Ovens
Bio-mass Water heaters/boilers
Combined heat & power Biological processes

Once you have determined what it is you need to measure, the nextstep is in developing analytics within the context of your businessoperations and tariff regime.

Analytics will provide a tool for energy planning, benchmarking, baselining, and best practices.  It will also provide energy HES-graphinformation to support thoughtful business decisions on batch and per unit energycosts.  Finally, analytics enables the creation of energy specific keyperformance indicators.

The ultimate benefit from PredictEnergySM is in optimizing your portfolio of energy sources and uses to deliver the lowest totalenergy cost.  Additional benefits include long-term economic planning of energy sources and uses, short-term production and delivery planningwithin the context of energy cost, and the optimization of capitaldeployment for energy sources and uses.

The results from implementing PredictEnergySM are very attractive.  In summary, results have shown using PredictEnergySM delivers:

  • IRRs in excess of 100% as a result of measuring and modifying business processes
  • Paybacks of less than 1 year as a result of identifying utility incentive opportunities
  • IRRs in excess of 40% when used as a strategic planning and optimization tool

Energy, for most businesses, is one of their largest expenses,usually second to only labor.  Prudent monitoring, analysis, andoptimization of that energy can offer your organization significanteconomic savings.

You can reach Mo directly at MRousso@HelioPower.com


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Murrieta Solar Friendly City Event March 30

Murrieta isone of the most “solar friendly” cities in southern California.  Notonly is the weather ideal for solar electricity generation, but the city officials have worked hard to create an atmosphere conducive to solarinstallations.

On Wednesday, March 30 at 6pm HelioPower will host an open house at the company’s headquarters located at 25767 Jefferson in

Murrieta.  Residents will be able to tour the solar installationfacility and get a status from city officials.  Brian Ambrose, SeniorManagement Analyst for the City of Murrieta will be on hand to providean update on the city’s solar friendly initiatives including the popular $1,000 solar rebate.  The program will also feature Scott Gordon, Vice President ofResidential Sales and a popular speaker on solar, smart grid and smartmeter related subjects.

Murrieta city officials report that the rebates for solar in theircity are being claimed more quickly than they had anticipated.  As ofMarch 14, the city has processed the 45th $1,000 rebate (out of a totalallocated of 72).  So there are a total of 27 rebates remaining,although there are about 10 in the process of permitting, constructionor final inspection stages.

In April 2010, the City of Murrieta began the Solar Rebate Program to incentivize residents to purchase a solar power system.  The rebate isopen to purchased solar electricity systems on homes, not PPA’s orleases.  The City made available seventy-two $1,000 rebates with theexpectation that it would take a minimum of 2 years until the rebateswere fully paid out (based on past history).  However, as of March 14,there are only 27 remaining rebates.

On the business front, Murrieta is a solar installation companyfriendly city.  Officials understand that the permitting process costssolar installation firms added time and staff expense.  In an effort tosave solar installation companies time (and therefore money!!), the City of Murrieta has recently implemented a more efficient permittingprocess for solar installations.  Instead of driving down to City Halland waiting in line to submit permit paperwork, the city has adopted ascan and email submission system for solar permits.

Finally, Murrieta city officials have been very involved in theWestern Riverside County Energy and Water Efficiency ConservationProgram.  Last year the City of Murrieta and other area cities joinedwith the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) to implement a PACE/AB 811 program.  Everything was going smoothly until Fannie Maesent out a directive to mortgage companies to not honor PACE loans (nottake a subordinate position).  The city reports they have worked through the details and are ready to move forward with the program.  BrianAmbrose will give a brief update on this program.

For information on the HelioPower open house please call 1 87 SOLAR 888 or save a seat by reserving it here online for the free Murrieta solar event.


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Solar Training Empowers Residents with New Job Skills

Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino builds on green initiatives at

Maplewood Homes community with job training by HelioPower

Gerard Auer, HelioPower program manager, presents solar and smart grid basics at the green job training kick off meeting, March 3. The training session was conducted at the WhitneyYoung Community Center for Maplewood Homes residents. Photo courtesy:HACSB.

What is a solar power installation?  How does it work?  How is asolar power system installed?  These solar energy basics are part of the new green job curriculum initiated this month for residents ofMaplewood Homes in San Bernardino, CA.

The solar training is part of a green initiatives program adopted by the Housing Authority of the County of San Bernardino (HACSB) at Maplewood Homes.  Located on West 9th Street in San Bernardino, this HACSB community includes 296 housingunits and is home to over 1100 residents.  The solar training ispresented by HelioPower, a leading California solar installation firm, through its HelioUniversity program.

The training is a component of an overall green program at thedevelopment supported by a California Solar Initiative (CSI) Multifamily Affordable Solar Homes (MASH) Track 2 grant received last year.  TheMASH funding includes the installation of solar power systems byHelioPower on 98 residential homes and 3 community buildings in thedevelopment.  HACSB is monetizing the savings from the green energygenerated on the common area meters and channeling those funds into thegreen job training programs now underway.

“The solar panel installation courses are a great opportunity for our residents to learn a new trade, gain knowledge of the upcoming solarefforts in the community, and potentially get hired by HelioPower to dothe installations at Maplewood Homes.  This project is the first of many that the Housing Authority is pursuing to show our commitment toimplementing green initiatives not only to increase sustainability andsave energy, but also to provide employment opportunities for ourclients in the growing green-building industry,” states Gus Joslin,Deputy Executive Director, Office of Real Estate Development at HACSB.

HelioPower Vice President of Business Development Tom Millhoff said“HACSB’s demonstrated outstanding initiative, creativity and financialsavvy in developing this solar project in conjunction with a majorenergy efficiency retrofit and property upgrades at Maplewood Homes. The result is substantially improved living environment for tenants,reduced living expenses, and a shining legacy that sets the “greenstandard” for other Housing Authorities.”

The Housing Authority was organized in 1941 and is the largestprovider of affordable housing in the County.  HACSB owns or managesmore than 10,000 housing units and serves approximately 30,000individuals, the majority of which are children, seniors, and personswith disabilities. HACSB is not only a housing provider and developer,but a community resource and advocate for the residents of SanBernardino County.

HACSB is celebrating its 70th anniversary in the community this year.  The solar power system at Maplewood Homes will be dedicated in an anniversary open house and ribbon cutting ceremony on Wednesday,July 14th at 10am.


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Construction Begins on Giumarra Vineyards Solar Project

HelioPower,an integrated energy solutions company with over 1600 solar and cleanenergy systems engineered and installed since 2001, today announced thecommencement of construction on a 516 kilowatt (kW) dc commercial solarpower system for Giumarra Vineyards Corporation.  The solar photovoltaic (PV) system will be adjacent to Giumarra’s mainproduction and cold storage facility in Bakersfield, CA.  Using 2296 PVmodules, the system will deliver 1 gigawatt-hour of electricityannually, enough to power over 200 homes.  The system will offset morethan 24,000,000 pounds of CO2 emissions over the next 20 years.

The Bakersfield solar power installation is a key milestone in theGiumarra sustainability program.  The program’s energy strategiesinclude the reduction of electricity consumption throughout its growingand packing operations and the generation of clean energy to bring downcosts and carbon emissions.

“Its a great feeling when we can reduce our operating costs and do the right thing for the environment,” said fourth generation grower and shipper John Giumarra III.  “Growers are being squeezed byescalating costs on all fronts.  We must be diligent in controllingcosts in every aspect of our business, with our new solar power systembeing the first step in holding the line on our ever increasing energycosts, while at the same time doing our part to become a moresustainable family farming operation.”  

HelioPower is providing turnkey energy solutions for the Giumarrasolar power project out of its Bakersfield based operations.  The system configuration is ground mounted, with a single-axis tracker system. Completion, utility interconnection and commissioning of the Giumarrasolar power system is slated for early this summer.  Energy generationwill be monitored and analyzed by the HelioPower proprietary energyanalytics software to ensure production capacity is fully utilized. 

“Giumarra is setting an important example in the agriculturalcommunity,” said Ty Jagerson, President of HelioPower.  “They havecreated a high bar for their energy solutions program.  We are verypleased to empower them to generate their own clean energy, beginningwith solar electricity.”


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