SunRun 4 Free Months of Energy Extended!

The SunRun program, which HelioPower offers, enabling homeowners to receive 4 free months of electricity has been extended through the end of February.  If you sign up with SunRun through the end of February, your first 4 months of solar electricity are free! If you sign up in March you get 1 month free.

With HelioPower, this promotion is available to new customers whoreside in California. The specific dollar value of the monthly creditwill be equal to the value of an average monthly bill for the firstyear of your solar system. Each homeowner will see the specific valueof the promotion credit before they sign a contract. Promotion creditswill be applied when the solar system has been installed and isoperating, and will appear as a credit on your monthly SunRun bill.

For more information, please visit us at and click on the Four Free Months button.


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More AB 811 $$$ for Solar in Palm Desert

The City of PalmDesert has announced the upcoming release of $6 million in new fundingfor its popular Energy Independence Program. Half of the new funds willbe dedicated to loans for energy efficiency improvements with the otherhalf reserved for loans for solar projects. The funding will beavailable to Palm Desert property owners who submit a completed loanapplication beginning Monday, February 8. 


The City’s Officeof Energy Management, 73-510 Fred Waring Drive, will acceptapplications from Palm Desert property owners on a first-come,first-served basis. Property owners can apply in person by appointmentonly. Applications submitted by contractors on behalf of propertyowners will be accepted by appointment with a limit of one applicationper company each day.


Applications willbe reviewed by Office of Energy Management staff, with writtennotification of approval provided to customers when their applicationis officially complete. Staff will schedule appointments with customerswhose applications are complete to review and discuss the loandocuments and processing. If an application is deemed incomplete,notification will be sent to the property owner that they mustresubmit. Resubmissions will be accepted while funds are available on afirst-come, first-served basis.


Since its creationby the Palm Desert City Council in August 2008, the Energy IndependenceProgram has helped nearly 190 Palm Desert residents and businesses getmore than $5 million in loans for solar panels, high efficiency airconditioning and heating systems, and other permanent energy efficiencyimprovements.

The program makesthese energy saving measures more affordable by allowing the City toloan money to residents and businesses at competitive interest rateswithout the credit checks or appraisals associated with home equity andother types of personal loans. Borrowers can repay the loans over timeas part of their property taxes. If the property is sold, theimprovements and the outstanding loan balance can be transferred to thenew owner.


The EnergyIndependence Program’s goal is to stimulate investment in energyefficiency and conservation, thereby decreasing energy demand, boostingpower generation from renewable sources, and reducing energy costs.When combined with the City’s Set to Save program, it is part of astrategy to reduce energy consumption and demand in Palm Desert by 30percent over five years.
Applications are available at the Office of Energy Management and online at To schedule an appointment and for more information, please call the Palm Desert Office of Energy Management at 760-837-0287.


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The AB-811 Symposium: Feb 9th

For more than 18 months now, California cities and counties have been empowered to offer residents and businesses a cost-effective way to install solar panels and otherenergy-saving measures, yet so far only two cities in the Inland Empirehave taken advantage of it – Palm Desert and Yucaipa.

If that’s because too few people understand the scope and powergranted them by the signing of Assembly Bill 811, they will now havethe opportunity to unravel the mysteries of this program and itspotential for their city.  On Feb. 9, UC Riverside will host the AB-811 Symposium, featuring guest speakers from Inland Empire city and county governments, public utilities, solar and electrical contractors.

“The city of Riverside is committed to becoming a Clean and Greencity,” said Mayor Ron Loveridge, an early advocate of AB-811 and theopening speaker at the symposium. “Our goal is to increase ourrenewable energy sources, such as geothermal, hydro, wind and solar.”

HelioPower’sScott Gordon, Vice President of Residential Sales will join the rosterof industry experts. HelioPower has installed many projects in the PalmDesert and Inland Empire areas, including the design and installationof the first project under the Riverside Municipal commercial solar rebate program andcurrently works with other group buying programs. "The combination ofAB811 and private enterprise promises to make the dream of solarpossible for a much broader number of California property owners," saidGordon.

TheAB-811 Symposium will be held at the UC Riverside’s Highlander UnionBuilding from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 9. The event cost of$35 includes lunch and parking.  Although the event is open thepublic, it’s specifically aimed at county supervisors, mayors and citycouncil members, department heads, staff and private sector partners.

The major sponsor of  the symposium is Southern California Gas Co.;additional sponsors are the Inland Empire Labor Management CooperationCommittee, Viewpoint Green, and the Inland Empire chapter of the U.S.Green Building Council.

“AB-811 is a fantastic tool,” said Marvin Hudson of Viewpoint Green,a division of Viewpoint Financial in Redlands. “It aids localgovernments in the fight for economic development by putting people towork and circulating dollars.”

AB-811 grants California communities the ability to allow certainloans to residents, be repaid through assessments that appear on theirproperty tax bills.

This idea, making solar more affordable, could result in cleaner energy, plus new jobs for solar installers.
The first step toward taking advantage of AB-811 is for a city orcounty to create an “contractual assessment district” within itsborders. The symposium will answer such questions as: How do you createyour own contractual assessment district? What components to include inyour program? How to fund your program? How might you administer yourprogram?

For more information or to register for AB-811 Symposium, contactthe Inland Empire Labor Management Cooperation Committee  at (909)307-3400.  USGBC members may attend at the discount price of $25.


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1BOG helps San Diegans buy solar systems for less, reports NBC

temp_logo_peacockNBC affiliate Cox Media reporter Diana Guevara caught up with HelioPower‘sScott Gordon and solar power client Robert Schmalz in Oceanside for hersolar piece Monday, January 25.  Schmalz, a HelioPower client who wentsolar just recently through the solar San Diego 1BOG program, talks about solar as a smart investment:

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Green Meets Green Expo

For three days in January, San Diego will play host to the first event of its kind in the country.

It’s a Green Expo, but an event which will encompass “both sides of green.” Two shows together— all green and all earth friendly. The Green Meets Green Expo will marry The Del Mar Antiques Show and the 21 Century Friends of the Planet Market into one spectacular event.

The O’Brien Exhibition Hall will be the filled with antiquesexhibitors from across the country featuring the finest in “recycledrelics” the new buzz word for the Antiques are Green movement.

The Bing Crosby Exhibition Hall will feature the latest and mostinnovative companies dedicated to producing products and technologythat will sustain our planet for centuries to come. Among some of theseexciting exhibitors will be San Diego Gas & Electric, Dyocore WindEnergy Systems, HelioPower, EcoSolargy and many more.

From clothing to furniture to personal beauty products toarchitectural and garden to learning how to “get off the grid,” theGreen Meets Green Expo will be the event to create and live your lifein total green!



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The Ravages of Solar Shading

While most folks agree that shaded solar panels produce less powerthan unshaded ones, many consumers grossly underestimate just how bigan impact shading has on the annual production of a solar system.

Thephoto here shows a particularly egregious example of solar shading. Asyou will soon learn, this customer would have been much better off NOTbuying the five panels installed on the upper left roof. Why? Read on…

The vast majority of solar systems (95% +) installed today are designed with ‘String Inverters’. The SMA SunnyBoy inverteris an example of a string inverter you may have heard of. Stringinverters rely on solar modules to be connected in series (aka‘strings’) to achieve the minimum power output the inverter needs inorder to turn on and operate efficiently. Without going into atremendous amount of detail on the subject (which is outside the scopeof this article), know that whatever happens to one panel in the seriesaffects every panel in the series. An analogy that may help you makesense of this phenomenon is one involving a battery powered toy car. Ifyour toy car takes eight AA batteries, and you put eight brand newbatteries in it, it’ll run fast and furious. This is because thebatteries are fully charged (i.e. unshaded). Take one of those brandnew batteries out and replace it with a half charged battery and thatsame toy car will run more slowly (i.e. a half shaded solar panel).Replace a brand new battery with a dead one, and the car may not workat all or run very slowly (i.e. a fully shaded panel or panels). Withthis information, please examine the photo below:


The shading in this photo is akin to having two dead and two halfdead batteries in your toy car. Sure, the rest of the array looks fine,but the array as a whole could be operating at as little as halfcapacity. To illustrate this further, please consider the followingexamples:


As you can see, it doesn’t take much shading for a panel’sproduction to plummet to zero. Shading of just one cell (bottom right),cuts the whole module’s production by one half! This drop in productionaffects the entire string thereby robbing the solar power system ofhundreds or potentially thousands of kilowatt hours per year. Over the25+ year expected lifespan of the system, this adds up to some seriouscash. In this scenario, you are in fact buying very expensive solarpanels that are providing you with very little benefit.

So how do we solve this problem? One way is to chop or top trees.Sometimes, as is the case with palms, the tree needs to be removedaltogether. Other times, as is the case with a tall chimney, we lose anentire section of roof. We employ shading analysis tools to help usfind an unshaded or less shading spot on the roof. Here is what theoutput of a typical shading analysis tool looks like:


The data presented in this tool (Wiley ASSET)aids an integrator in proper panel placement and gives us insight intothe objects doing the most significant shading. In the analysis above,it’s a neighboring house and neighboring trees causing all of theproblems. Fortunately, we were able to find a place on the roof wherethese shading issues are mitigated, but removal of the house and theneighbor’s palms are obviously not an option. Overall, we can expect92% performance from this system.

Another way to address shading is to skip the string inverter altogether and design your system with micro inverters (Enphaseis the most popular of this technology). Micro inverters treat eachsolar panel individually. Thus, shading that affects one panel isisolated to only that panel. This increases your overall system yieldin highly shaded situations. To learn more about the pluses and minusesof micro inverters, please see Solar Professional’s excellent article on the topic by Ron Burden and Joe Schwartz. You may need to register for a free subscription to view the article, but it’ll be well worth your time.

Lastly, many folks wonder what happens if their neighbors or othersplant trees that eventually grow into a shading problem. Many states,such as California and New Mexico, have ‘right to light’ laws thatprotect home and business owners who install solar panels. In brief,the law can be summed up as follows: if the solar is there first, solarwins, and the tree must be removed or topped, otherwise, if the tree isthere first, the tree wins. If it’s your tree, you can take appropriateaction, but if it’s your neighbor’s tree, you’ll need to work out asolution or you might be out of luck altogether. In fact, some statesgo as far as to state that neighbors can’t add a second story or builda home that will shade your solar power system. You’ll need to checkyour local state law to see how this applies to your particularcircumstance.

In summary, make sure you are aware of any shading that may affectyour solar system. If your solar installer brings any shading issues toyour attention, take heed. They are bringing this to your attention forgood reason. Shading will not only affect electrical production, butwill also lower your state rebate amount. Likewise, if you are aware ofshading issues and your solar installer doesn’t mention them, findyourself another solar installer. If you don’t you are likely to end upwith an underperforming system, for the dollars you expended.

Please stay tuned for a bonus in this series, The Ugly Side of SolarPart IV, coming soon. As always, I wish you the best of luck in yoursolar power endeavors.

Editor’s note:  For the full series in downloadable documents, click here.


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4 Free Months of Solar!

421-promotion-from-sunrunStart your year with solar!

This year, make solar electricity your New Year’s resolution.  HelioPower has made it even easier for you to bring clean, renewable energy to your home with SunRun,the nation’s leading provider of home solar financing.  Sign up withSunRun in the first 3 months of 2010 and we’ll reward you with freemonths of solar electricity. 

·        January: first 4 months free

·        February: first 2 months free

·        March: first month free

Thispromotion is only available to new customers who live in California,Colorado, Massachusetts, and New Jersey.  For more information, visitthe SunRun promotion page.  Start your year off bright with 4 FREE months of solar!

4…2…1… go solar today! Call HelioPower today for more information, Toll-Free: 1-87-SOLAR-888!


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