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red robin selects led light bulbs

Red Robin, a popular restaurant in the U.S. has recently upgraded their lighting from incandescent and halogen bulbs to high efficiency LEDs (light emitting diodes) in 150 restaurants. Red Robin transitioned to 7 watt PAR 20 flood and spot lights which are being used at the entrance and lobby areas, lighting over dining room tables, and perimeter lighting. The company expects to save several thousand dollars per year in electric and maintenance costs by upgrading to LEDs Today, more than half of the company owned Red Robins have transitioned to LED light bulbs. Do you think LED bulbs are ready for prime...

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Ohio budgeting for solar panel incentives

One of the largest barriers of going solar is the upfront cost. Many cities in California are now offering homeowners low interest financing for a solar electric system that is paid back through property taxes. The money is raised through a bond and then paid back as the residents make the monthly payments on their solar panels. If the owner of the home decides to sell the home, the payments on the solar electric system are continued by the new owner until the system is paid off. When municipal financing is available to residents the number of solar electric system installations skyrocket. Ohio’s state government has made legislative improvements to allow cities across Ohio to raise money for residential solar installations for it’s residents. What do you think about muni-financing that allows more people to access solar...

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shout out to michael raines.

Have you seen The Colony on discovery channel? If you haven’t you got to check it out! The reality show is a unique experiment that puts 10 people and their skills to the test in a real-life exploration of what it would be like to have to rebuild after a devastating global event. My friend Michael Raines of SunPower Systems was part of the experiment. The second episode aired last night and the survivors had a major challenge recharging the battery bank they managed to salvage. The team was able to pull it off by making a wood gasifier out of the scrap parts to run a gas engine which recharged the battery bank. It was amazing how the team was able to improvise and be able to generate power with the little resources they had access to. Michael surprises everyone with his skills in building alternative energy. He is an inventor who fabricates furniture from both wood and metal, customizes cars and bikes, installs solar panels, and makes bows and arrows from scrap metal. Michael is also quite opinionated and is both a conspiracy theorist and pessimist. He feels he’ll survive in a catastrophe because he has vast knowledge on alternative energy and is a fighter. Do you think Mike will survive? check out the episodes...

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bring low cost solar power to the poor

Nicole Kuepper is on the path to solving the biggest barrier to going solar, cost. One of the primary reasons why solar cells require such a large upfront investment to get started is because of the intensive manufacturing process. The 23 year old scientist has found out a way to use simple household items to manufacturer solar cells on the fly using nail polish and an ink jet printer. Nicole’s technology uses the same theory of an ink jet printer to print solar cells that are not made from silicon onto a substrate which then can generate electricity. Currently the technology is in it’s infancy stages, although its great to see this type of development and innovative thinking in the solar power industry because its very much needed help solar power reach grid parity. What do you think about Nicole’s process of developing solar cells? In what other ways can the cost of solar panels be reduced for end...

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sacramento approves feed in tariff

Sacramento Municipal Utility recently approved a feed in tariff that pays people who install solar panels from 5 to 20 cents per kWh (kilowatt-hour) up to 20 years. Feed in tariffs are cash payments from the utility company for the power you contribute to the electric grid. Solar electric systems up to 5 megawatts can qualify to get paid from the Sacramento Municipal Utility. The feed in tariff is also available for home owners as long as they have not received the rebate administered by California for installing solar panels. A feed in tariff is the same financial policy that accelerated Germany into the #1 user of solar power in the world. Feed in tariffs are gaining popularity in the USA, since the first feed in tariff policy passed in Gainesville, FL. In regions where feed in tariffs are active many small solar farms on homes and businesses are setup to create extra income for the property owner. What do you think about feed in tariffs? Should the U.S. have a standardized feed in...

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Canadian Solar pledges to recycling solar panels

Many people worry that solar panels at the end of their life cycle, which is 30 to 50 years could cause an environmental problem when they need to be trashed. SolarWorld was the first company in the industry that created a recycling program for solar panels but recently a company called Canadian solar that manufacturers low cost solar panels in China has also pledged to recycle old solar panels. Canadian Solar became a member of PV Cycle, an organization that promotes the voluntary take back and recycling of end of life solar panels. This is good to see more companies create policies towards the problem of what’s going to happen when all these solar panels being installed today need to be thrown away 30 years from now. Do you think it’s important that solar panel manufacturers have a policy towards recycling solar...

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