President Barack Obama has recently announced a federal loan guarantee to Abound Solar, a Loveland-based company that has a manufacturing facility in Longmont.
The company, which employs 360 people in Colorado and manufactures thin film solar panels, will nearly double its employee base in the state, Abound Solar spokesman Mark Chen said.
He said it’s not yet clear exactly how the new jobs will break down between Abound Solar’s Longmont production facility, its headquarters in Loveland and its research lab in Fort Collins.
But he said Longmont would most likely be the biggest beneficiary since the bulk of production is done in the city. The company will be able to add two production lines to the one it already has in Longmont as a result of the loan guarantee, Chen said.
The White House said the project marks the first time this new manufacturing technology for Cadmium-Telluride panels will be deployed commercially anywhere in the world.
It will produce photovoltaic panels using an innovative process in which thin films of Cadmium-Telluride are deposited onto the glass panels, according to the White House. The technology reduces overall product costs.
Abound Solar is a member of PV Cycle, an organization dedicated to creating “truly sustainable energy solutions that take into consideration the environmental impacts of all stages of the product life cycle, from raw material sourcing through end-of-life collection and recycling.”
Learn more about the Abound Solar expansion in Longmont and the federal loan guarantee at the Camera.
The world of solar is about to open up to a whole new group of Coloradans thanks to a bill that is on the way to the governor’s desk to be signed.
People with shady roofs, renters, condo owners and even folks with too-small roofs (or even no roofs, like farmers who want to offset their irrigation pumps) will soon be able to buy a share of solar panels that are installed in nearby “community solar gardens.”
People who buy into the gardens will get all the same benefits as people who slapped the PV panels directly on their roofs, which means they can get rebates and incentive payments as well as have the electricity produced by the solar panels credited directly to their energy bill.
Solar gardens could be sprouting as soon as next fall, according to the bill sponsor, Claire Levy, a Boulder Democrat.
Last year, Jeff and Rachel Hohensee’s winter energy bill was $500.
This year, they don’t even have an energy bill. Jeff, a consultant on sustainable-living topics at Natural Capitalism Solutions, was feeling guilty about his energy-wasting home, so he and his wife set out on a two-year project that transformed it into a net-zero home–meaning it generates more energy than it uses.
They started with easy fixes like switching to CFL bulbs and low-flow showerheads, and getting an energy audit to see where air was leaking from their home. They used caulk and insulation foam to fill the leaky areas.
Eventually, they hired insulators to add materials to the home’s walls. Jeff says they took the process to a higher level by hiring someone from Standard Renewable Energy to follow the insulators with an infrared gun. The infrared photos would show areas where the initial insulation was too sparse, and more was added. Read more
Sometimes it seems like deep green building is for the wealthy. Even a “for the masses” house in a zero-energy neighborhood in Boulder clocks in at more than $1 million. But now, Boulder County is trying to bring green — and the resulting cut in energy bills and increase in comfort — to those with fewer resources.
Boulder County’s Housing Authority, which helps low-income familes, seniors and people with disabilities find a place to live, is going seriously green.
The county finished the Paradigm Pilot Project in October. The tiny, near zero-energy development is only three units, but it’s the template for a much larger plan: a 153-unit green neighborhood.
When the cranes showed up at the property on Avalon Avenue last summer in Lafayette, they wrenched 13 giant boxes off the back of five semi-trucks and stacked them like Lego blocks.
When the cranes left, the connected boxes — which were already fitted with wood floors, cabinets, countertops and porches — had become the modern-looking Paradigm Pilot Project, a near-zero-energy, low-income pair of buildings owned by Boulder County. The tiny project can only house three low-income families, but it’s just a test run for the much larger green-building aspirations held by the county’s housing authority. Read more
Earlier this year, Boulder County launched the ClimateSmart Loan Program, which gives low-interest loans to property owners who want to give their buildings an energy face lift.
The loans (which are attached to the property, not the owner, and stay with the house even if the owner moves) can be used for insulation, new windows, ground-source heat pumps, solar panels… pretty much anything that will lower a building’s energy use.
The program has been wildly popular, and since the program launched in May, more than 600 homeowners have borrowed nearly $10 million for their projects.
The loans are made possible by bonds that voters approved last November, and this November, the county is asking voters to double the available funding from $40 millino to $80 million.
Read more about the request to double ClimateSmart on November’s ballot at DailyCamera.com, or learn more about how to get a loan at www.ClimateSmartLoanProgram.org.
Boulder resident Thomas David Kehoe’s green dream turned into an eco-nightmare when his solar installer put up his photovoltaic panels in the shade, on a roof that couldn’t take the load and attached to old wiring that couldn’t handle the extra current.
Thomas David Kehoe’s home on 31st Street in Boulder is not a destination on Saturday’s Tour of Solar and Green Homes. Maybe it should be.
The tour, sponsored by the Center for ReSource Conservation, kicks off Solar Week in Boulder County. Saturday, people can tour one or more of the 14 homes CRC has on its list, all great examples of how solar power and green building strategies can cut energy costs.
Kehoe’s home is not a shining example, however. Instead, it’s a solar installation gone wrong, an example of what not to do when installing photovoltaic panels at your home. It’s a cautionary tale of old house meets inexperienced contractor.
“I’m one of those annoyingly green Boulder people,” said Kehoe, who owns Casa Futura Technologies, a company that makes electronic devices that treat speech disorders. “I’ve done everything I can to make my home energy efficient. My house is as green as a 1961 tract house can be. So putting solar on the roof was part of my goal to reduce my carbon footprint even further.” Read more
After months of waiting, stimulus dollars freed up in February have trickled into Boulder, reinvigorating the local solar industry.
It took until June for the feds to figure out how some of the programs in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act should be administered, including language that allowed companies to take a cash grant, instead of a tax credit, worth 30 percent of the cost for installing solar.
And since companies have to be profitable to take a tax credit, the change could mean a big boom in solar.
In Boulder County, Namaste Solar Electric is just starting up its first big commercial project since the economy tanked last fall. They’re installing a 100 kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Eldorado Natural Spring Water’s Louisville building. (That’s a solar-panel spread about 25 times larger than the average residential display.)
“Last October, all sectors of the economy took a hit, and for us, all of our projects, especially the commercial projects, were put on indefinite hold,” said Blake Jones, president of Namaste Solar.
“This is the first big commercial project since the recovery act. We’ve been waiting six months for this to happen. That’s the kind of lag time it took for the rules to be figured out.”