Melissa DeRoso

Melissa DeRoso

Friday, 19 March 2010 08:23

Florida Job Growth - Solar Energy?

 

In this NBC news snippet, I talk about how solar energy growth isn't a fad and how Florida is not number #1 in terms of solar usage, YET, it is the Sunshine State!


We've been in the Solar Energy business for over 30 years, and we're definitely seeing a continued growth in our solar energy business.

Here's 9 ways you can conserve energy by switching to solar energy based solutions:

    • Solar Lights - save by using natural light for your home!
    • Pool Automation - save by automating your chlorination, pump timing and heating!

If you have any questions about Solar Energy, or would like to learn more give us a call at (239) 574-1500.

We're very passionate about what we do, and would love to help you!

- Dan

Tuesday, 16 February 2010 13:45

Calculate Your Electrical Use & Save!

Have you ever thought about how much electricity you use, and possibly reducing your usage?

Think about this:

    • The Wii Videogame System uses 18 Watts when in use, and 3 Watts when it's in sleep mode.
    • A typical desktop computer with a 17" LCD (Flat-Panel) Monitor uses about 200 Watts.
    • A 42" Plasma TV uses 270 Watts.
    • A central air conditioner (2.5 tons) uses 3500 Watts.
    • A clothes dryer uses 4400 Watts.


Now:

    • Turning off, or putting your Desktop computer to sleep - rather than leaving it on all of the time, can save over $100/year.
    • Switching from 100 Watt Light Bulbs to the equivalent fluorescents can save you over $200/year.
    • Going solar can save hundreds per year as well!   Be sure to check out all of our solar products.

If you're really interested in learning how much energy you use, you can measure it with this $20 device:

Kill A Watt

It's called the Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor, and it will not only calculate your electrical use, but empower you to save hundreds on your electric bills!

Here's to saving energy and enjoying life,

- Dan

In the very near future, citizens of Florida will have an opportunity to show their opposition to oil drilling as close as 3 to 10 miles off the coast.

On February 13th, Hands Across the Sand, will be sponsoring this interesting event...

I’m not one who normally gets involved in these types of events, however, as a volleyball player, I am interested in the long-term quality of our beaches, and as a solar contractor, I am interested in reducing our dependency on fossil fuels.

So, in this case, it makes sense to me to make a statement about two things about which I am so passionate.

If you're interested in joining me, please contact me, and I'll talk to you very soon!

- Dan

Wednesday, 30 December 2009 13:18

Solar Water Heating - Fafco Celebrates 40 Years!

In the fall of 1977, my father (read more about him here) went to a Pool and Spa Show in Orlando and had the good fortune of meeting Freeman A. Ford, the founder of FAFCO, Inc.

By the end of the year, we were FAFCO’s authorized exclusive dealer for SW Florida...

By 1983, I was so “in love” with FAFCO, that I changed our company name and starting operating as Fafco Solar.

Our “marriage”, as Freeman likes to refer to it, remains strong. This year marks FAFCO’s 40th year in business. Not a bad milestone for the solar industry. So, I’d like to raise my glass and say  “Here’s to you, Freeman!"

Here's the official news from Fafco, Inc., about their 40th anniversary:

At Solar Power International 2009, FAFCO today celebrated its 40th anniversary in the solar energy industry. Founded in 1969 by Freeman A. Ford and Richard O. Rhodes, FAFCO is the oldest and largest solar water heating manufacturer in the United States.

"Congratulations to FAFCO for four decades of providing consumers with affordable, reliable solar water heating," said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. "FAFCO has long been a leader in the solar thermal market, which has grown more than fivefold since 2000 and represents the largest segment for installed solar energy in the United States. Solar thermal is one of the easiest and most cost-efficient ways to go solar. I'm sure we'll see FAFCO and the solar thermal market continue their strong growth as Americans look for ways to lower their bills and go green."

In 2008, Newsweek magazine published the “History of Solar”—a look back at the history of solar over the last 100 years. FAFCO Inc. is credited with developing the first lightweight set of solar panels that can reduce heating costs by up to 50% (or more in warmer climates). FAFCO is the only company in the world given this distinction in global technology history.

A World Solar Industry Leader

Since its inception in 1969, FAFCO has achieved many significant milestones. Over the last four decades it has manufactured more than 1.75 million solar collectors. The company has shipped 66 million square feet of pool heating collectors, or the electrical equivalent of 4.3 gigawatts. Finally, FAFCO owns more than 25 domestic and international patents on its technology.

"FAFCO was not only one of the earliest solar companies and longest running solar companies, but also one of the only U.S. companies to compete in a subsidized conventional energy market without subsidies for its products — a notable achievement that exemplifies its stature, quality and professionalism in the market today," said Scott Slar, president of The Stella Group, Ltd. and former executive director of the national Solar Energy Industries Association for 15 years.

FAFCO History

From 1969 to early 2008, FAFCO was led by world-renowned solar thermal expert and 2006 Inductee to the International Solar Hall of Fame, Freeman A. Ford. The Solar Hall of Fame is an international award that was created by an Act of Congress during the 1976 Bicentennial of the United States. The Solar Hall of Fame distinction has been given to 45 men and women from various countries throughout the world. Ford joins such industry luminaries as Dr. Charles Abbot, Dr. Erich A. Farber, Dr. John Yellot and Dr. Harry E. Thomason.

Under Ford’s guidance, FAFCO pioneered the solar pool heating industry. When the company was launched, the solar pool heating industry was based on expensive, difficult-to-install copper collectors. Despite significant drawbacks, copper absorbers had dominated solar thermal heating for a century. FAFCO’s vision was to replace copper with inexpensive, easy-to-install polymer absorbers. It has since spawned an entire industry.

In 1985, Ford directed his company’s polymer expertise toward Thermal Energy Storage (TES). Today FAFCO TES systems allow customers to buy inexpensive off-peak electricity at night, store the energy and then use it to cool buildings in the day when electricity costs peak. In addition to saving customers money on HVAC costs, FAFCO TES systems enable utilities to reduce peak load thus saving the costs associated with building new capacity.

In 1996, Ford once again focused his company on developing ground-breaking solar energy products. In collaboration with the Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, FAFCO developed the world’s first lightweight, affordable, all-polymer, solar hot water system. The system, designed to reduce water heating bills by up to 50%, was launched in 2007.  Ford’s vision was to not only provide cost-saving benefits to consumers worldwide but also to reduce the environmental impact associated with traditional energy sources.

In 2008, Ford was succeeded as president by Robert Leckinger, a 22-year veteran of renewable energy, aerospace and the automotive industry. Ford remains an integral part of the FAFCO team as Chairman of the Board.

Industry Recognition

FAFCO’s solar water heating systems have won numerous industry awards, including PCBC’s 2008 “Cool Products” for industry; Building Products’ MVP Award; 50 Most Innovative Products for 2008, Professional Remodeler; Top 100 Products: Residential Design & Build; and Top 10 Products: Readers’ Choice, Qualified Remodeler. FAFCO was also named one of the Top 100 Companies in California’s Central Valley

FAFCO’s headquarters are located in its own custom-built, state-of-the-art solar research, design and production facility, in Chico, California.  

Nationwide, electricity rates have increased an average of 4.4% per year over the past 35 years, twice that rate in some parts of the country.

At the local level, Florida Power & Light (FPL) is asking for a $1.3 billion annual increase in base rates, which amounts to about $12.40 per month for the first 1,000-kilowatt hours used.

FPL dubiously notes that declining fuel costs will more than offset that increase for its customers. Regulators will vote on the increase in the beginning of 2010. As you probably know, the Lee County Electric Cooperative (LCEC) is not an energy producer and their goal is to buy all of their power from FPL within the next couple of years. This means rising prices at FPL will be passed onto LCEC and its customers.

One way to offset the inevitable rise in the cost of electricity is to become a small-scale energy producer at your home and/or business. Incorporating solar hot water and solar electricity (or PV) technologies into residential and commercial buildings can significantly offset the rising price of fossil fuels. As you move towards less reliance on nonrenewable energy from the large utility corporations, you´ll gain some independence from the utility companies, reduce your monthly bills, and minimize the impact our energy use has on the environment.

The first step is to apply the basic principles of conservation and efficiency to all of your energy choices. Then consider your energy appetite and needs, your site, and the resources available to you. A solar thermal system to heat hot water for the home, business, and/or pool can reduce about a third of your electric bill. Photovoltaics or solar electric will generate free electricity for decades and allow you to send power back to the grid. Think through your renewable energy choices carefully, speak with a solar professional, and evaluate how you can become a small-scale energy producer as there are numerous options.

You will immediately start saving money with solar technologies because the energy from the sun is free so rates will never increase!

I received this from the Rocky Mountain Institute, and it's pretty impressive, so I thought I'd share with you, and spread their word.

"Today, we do not need to convince the world that Reinventing Fire is necessary. Instead, we must work together to make it happen."            – Amory B. Lovins

 

Dear Dan,

Since 1982, Rocky Mountain Institute has been hatching gamechanging innovations to help make the world richer, fairer, cooler, and safer. Among other things, RMI has made important contributions toward achieving tripled-efficiency cars, trucks, and airplanes; laid many conceptual and practical foundations for electric and water efficiency, widespread renewable energy, and community economic development; devised profitable approaches to solving climate change, oil dependence, global insecurity, nuclear nonproliferation, and critical-infrastructure vulnerability; and forged (with Paul Hawken) a natural version of capitalism. All this work has prepared us well for what comes now.

RMI’s Next Big Thing will bring together all of our 27 years of innovation and engage the world in our most ambitious and important work yet. Put simply, this effort is aimed at changing the way most people have been getting and using energy since the Industrial Revolution. We mean to speed the transformation from pervasive waste to elegant frugality, from causing scarcity by inattention to creating abundance by design, from liquidating energy capital to living better on energy income. In short, we are Reinventing Fire: driving the business-led transition from oil, coal, and ultimately gas to efficiency and renewables.

Reinventing Fire will require tapping, in particular, the two biggest motherlodes of energy, efficiency and the Sun. Efficient use is generally the largest, least expensive, most benign, most quickly deployable, least visible, least understood, and most neglected opportunity in the whole economy. Efficiency can save half of U.S. oil and gas at about a fifth of their current price, and probably three-fourths of U.S. electricity at about an eighth of its price. RMI is speeding the expansion and capture of this vast “efficiency resource” by showing, in our 10xE (Factor Ten Engineering) project, how whole-system design integration can often make very large (sometimes even tenfold) energy savings cost less than small or no savings.

Once we use energy in a way that saves money, supply becomes much easier, and important synergies emerge between efficient use and renewable supply. Every 70 minutes or so, the sun supplies the Earth with enough energy to run global civilization for a year. An average square meter of land receives each year as much energy from the sun as is in a barrel of oil, and it falls reliably, freely, and relatively evenly on rich and poor alike. The world’s electricity use could in theory be provided 20 times over just by modern 20-percent-efficient solar cells on the rooftops of buildings in the 1 percent of land area that dense cities already cover. Solar power is always in stock, never runs out (even at night when it’s shining elsewhere), is safe, and never threatens us with terrorist plots.

The sun also causes wind, which could cost-effectively provide over 35 times global electricity needs, particularly at night. Sun and wind are the fastest-growing global energy sources: windpower was the biggest addition to power generating capacity in the U.S. in 2008, and in Europe in 2007–08. Sun and wind in 2008 added, respectively, 6 and 27 of the 40 billion watts of new renewable power worldwide (excluding big hydro dams). Sun powers photosynthesis, which can produce the biofuels for efficient mobility without interfering with food and fiber production or destroying natural ecosystems. Solar warmth already does 98 percent of our space-heating: without it, the Earth’s surface temperature would average not 15˚C but nearer –269˚C. Reinventing Fire is about putting the sun’s benign warmth to efficient use in vehicles, homes, factories, neighborhoods, planes, electricity systems, ships, appliances, trucks, and cities, with all these devices, systems, and social orders sharing power and information to create mutual value.

But the Reinventing Fire story is not just about efficiency, the sun, wind, and other renewables. In the third of a century since my “soft energy path,” a powerful new force has begun to reshape society: modern information technology (IT). Putting IT to work can speed the leap from fossil fuels to efficiency and renewables. Thirty years ago, few utility managers thought about influencing a home’s or a factory’s power consumption. Now, many smart utility managers are doing just that, sniffing out places—swimming pools, water heaters, air conditioners, manufacturing equipment, commercial lights—where sharing information with consumers to inform smarter choices can retime use, cut costs, and curb emissions. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has found up to 188 billion watts of such “demand response” potential in the United States; we suspect there may be even more.

Information technology has further transformed how renewables can mesh with each other and with the power grid. A prevalent myth holds that solar cells and windpower can’t do much because they don’t always work. (Neither does any other source of electricity: the various types of power plants differ only in the size, frequency, duration, predictability, and cause of their failures.) RMI’s analysts have developed a unique simulation tool to explore how to integrate these variable renewables into utility operations, backing out coal- and gas-burning stations whenever the wind blows or the sun shines. Our initial findings suggest that integrating even very large amounts of variable renewables into the grid—just as utilities now integrate intermittent big power plants and cope with fluctuating demand—requires not new technology but new attitudes and operating procedures that can deliver better service at lower cost and make more profit with less risk. To help our utility partners understand how to do this, as some in Europe already do, RMI is now synthesizing with them a practical vision of the shape, stability, economics, and transitional path of an efficient, diverse, dispersed, renewable, resilient, economical, and climate-safe electricity system.

Modern society is built from fossil fuels. They are the root source of our society’s wealth and power. But as their rising costs to our security, wallets, and habitat become ever more intolerable, we see one system dying and another struggling to be born. The inflection point at this moment in history is both evolutionary and revolutionary. The evolving tools to reinvent fire have at last caught up with the vision that has been hatching for decades. And it’s a revolutionary moment because we can at last move beyond just conceiving answers to actually getting off oil, coal, and gas by integrating, articulating, and applying what we know. Today we need not convince the world that Reinventing Fire is necessary. Instead, we must work together to make it happen.

Hence, Reinventing Fire is a “grand synthesis” that will systematically combine decades of intellectual capital, both ours and others’, into a practical map of the road beyond fossil fuels—then help the world head down that road with due deliberate speed. Integrating the latest developments that make getting off oil and coal even more attractive than we thought five years ago, Reinventing Fire weaves together a resilient, multi-layered web of connected, efficient, renewable replacements for fossil fuel, chiefly in the U.S. but in a global context.

The pieces of the most complex jigsaw puzzle in human history are falling into place. The world that we at RMI imagine, and that we strive daily to create, is starting to take shape. We need to form it even faster, because humanity, as Dana Meadows said, has “exactly enough time—starting now.” Please join us as we embark on one of the most important phases in the 27-year history of Rocky Mountain Institute.

Sincerely,

Amory B. Lovins
Cofounder, Chairman, and Chief Scientist

Learn more about the Rocky Mountain Institute on their web site at: www.RMI.org.

Monday, 07 December 2009 14:03

Local Solutions for Global Warming

Global warming is a phrase that most of us are now familiar with since it was brought to the media forefront with Vice President Al Gore’s book and subsequent movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Fluctuations in the Earth's temperature are inevitable due to decades-long ocean cycles.

But a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that since 1950...

the world's climate has been warming, primarily as a result of fossil fuel emissions and heavy deforestation around the world. Such activity adds to the atmosphere's invisible blanket of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping "greenhouse" gases. The long-term warming trend over the last century has been well-established, and scientists immersed in studying the climate are projecting substantial disruption in water supplies, agriculture, ecosystems and coastal communities.

The Global Carbon Project's latest figures show that CO2 concentration levels have risen to 385 parts per million, far more than anticipated.  In order to cap the increase in global average temperatures to 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change  (IPCC) strongly suggests that countries should aim to stabilize atmospheric CO2 concentrations at between 350 and 400 parts per million.

These figures and strategies to cap emissions will be a major point of discussion from December 7-18 at the international climate summit in Copenhagen. At an earlier United Nations conference, leaders have agreed that they will work toward an interim political declaration on climate change that stops short of a binding international treaty. Delegates are expected to pledge to complete work on a treaty next year in hopes of putting in place a new global agreement on fighting climate change.

China is now the largest emitter of greenhouse gases.  The United States while second, has less than 5% of the world’s population, but produces one-quarter of all greenhouse gases. At the international climate summit in Copenhagen, President Obama will tell the delegates that the United States intends to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions “in the range of” 17% below 2005 levels by the year 2020 and 83% by 2050.

While climate scientists agree the world is warming due to man’s activities, there are still large areas of conflict over how certain we can be about the predictions. Although we don’t know about the future, we are witnessing the melting of almost all the glaciers on earth, some slowly and others at an alarming rate.  Countries, like Chile and Peru that are almost totally dependent on their glaciers for drinking water, are facing the prospect of very low to no water in less than 20 years.  In essence, we should see climate change as “an insurance problem” – where we don’t know what will happen but acknowledge there are serious threats to human populations around the world. Further, entire habitats and their animals and plants are on the brink of disruption and demise.  Many scientists and leaders throughout the world are advising action to be taken now.  But what can be done at the local level to help alleviate such global peril?

Individual choices can have an impact on global climate change. Reducing your family's heat-trapping emissions does not mean forgoing modern conveniences; it means making smart choices, using energy-efficient products, and renewable technologies such as solar. The sun’s energy can be used to heat water, create electricity, and even run a solar air conditioner.  Solar technologies require an additional investment up front, but with the government incentives currently offered, such investments can pay for themselves in a few years and give you decades of free electricity. Despite the enormity of the climate crisis, it is the individual choices and actions that will collectively make a difference in changing the future of global warming.

These choices are good for the wallet and good for the globe.

Tuesday, 01 December 2009 13:53

The Best Solar Use - Creating A Better World!

I was recently in front of a large, friendly group of open-minded people, when I stated my mission...

“I want to help people replace their use of fossil fuels with renewable energy within 10 years or sooner.”

The speaker interrupted me and asked a very simple question: “Why? Why would you want to do that?”

I was surprised, not only by the interruption, but also because in the 35 years I’ve been in the solar industry, no one has ever asked me that question directly.

My reply was inadequate due to my ineptness of thinking fast on my feet, but, after further consideration… you know how it goes… oh I should have said this; I should have said that… here’s my answer:

I want to create a better world, a world that works well (I consider this the best solar energy use):

1) I want to create a world in which all people can bring out the divinity within.

2) There’s something inside of me, from way back that compels me to leave the world a better place than when I got here.  (Did my father instill this in me? “If it’s worth doing, it's worth doing right.”)

The area in which I can make a difference is in our use of energy.

Scientific evidence supports my belief that our current use of energy is causing very serious problems.

We each need to address these problems.

If you wait for someone else to address these problems for you, you might not like the solutions or worse; you might not live long enough to solve the problem. YOU need to address these problems because they are YOUR problems. I can help you. I want to help you.


The Bundesrepublik Deutschland and the Pacific Northwest in the United States have one major thing in common – they both get about the same amount of sunshine which translates to “a lot of cloudy days” in plain American English.

In Germany, where the clouds rarely seem to part, there are more photovoltaic installations than anywhere else and it is the third largest producer of solar cells and modules after China and Japan.

So why in the world is Germany the worldwide leader in solar energy and what does that have to do with the Florida Gators?

The answer to that question is Feed-in Tariffs or FIT's.

Now, Germany and the City of Gainesville, Florida have one major thing in common.

Gainesville, in the heart of the Sunshine State, is probably best known for its powerhouse football team – the University of Florida Gators. It is now attracting attention for promoting power of another nature – that being power from the sun - and photovoltaic modules are being installed all over the city. Modeled after the Feed-in Tariff that resulted in Germany’s turbo-charged solar industry, the City of Gainesville was the first in the nation to enact a solar FIT.

The city-owned utility, Gainesville Regional Utilities (GRU), offers its electric customers—both business and residential—the chance to invest in solar photovoltaic systems and sell all the electricity that they produce directly to GRU. Participants signing up for the program before 2011 will be guaranteed a fixed rate of $0.32 per kilowatt-hour of electricity produced for 20 years, an estimated 4-6 percent return on investment.

The Feed-in Tariff for solar energy is the ultimate renewable energy incentive. A solar FIT means that homeowners or businesses sell all their renewably generated electricity to the utility at a premium price and buy all energy used at retail rates. Wow, imagine the tables turned for once. The major difference between FITs and other energy incentives is that the intent goes beyond just supplying energy—the idea is to promote the use of renewable energy by richly rewarding system owners. Per-kilowatt payments for renewably produced electricity are set higher than conventional market prices for fossil-fuel-based electricity, as an incentive to add renewable energy to the grid.

In Florida there is an organization called “FARE” which stands for the Florida Alliance for Renewable Energy (www.floridaallianceforrenewableenergy.org). They are a coalition dedicated to educating Floridians about Feed-in Tariffs and other policies that promote the use of renewable energy. The United States would benefit from a national FIT law. A national FIT would encourage more renewable energy in general, create U.S. jobs, and significantly help the national effort to reduce climate changing greenhouse gas emissions…

Go Gators, Go Gainesville, Go Solar.


On October 27, 2009, Rhone Resch - President & CEO of Solar Energy Industries Association -- declared, in the City of Anaheim, California, a Solar Bill of Rights...

And we find it very inspirational!

Here you go...

The Solar Bill of Rights

We declare these rights not on behalf of our companies, but on behalf of our customers and our country.  We seek no more than the freedom to compete on equal terms and no more than the liberty for consumers to choose the energy source they think best.

1.      Americans have the right to put solar on their homes or businesses. Restrictive covenants, onerous connection rules, and excessive permitting and inspections fees prevent many American homes and businesses from going solar.

2.      Americans have the right to connect their solar energy system to the grid with uniform national standards. This should be as simple as connecting a telephone or appliance. No matter where they live, consumers should expect a single standard for connecting their system to the electric grid.

3.      Americans have the right to Net Meter and be compensated at the very least with full retail electricity rates. When customers generate excess solar power utilities should pay them consumer at least the retail value of that power.

4.      The solar industry has the right to a fair competitive environment. The highly profitable fossil fuel industries have received tens of billions of dollars for decades. The solar energy expects a fair playing field, especially since the American public overwhelmingly supports the development and use of solar.

5.      The solar industry has the right to equal access to public lands. America has the best solar resources in the world, yet solar companies have zero access to public lands compared to the 45 million acres used by oil and natural gas companies.

6.      The solar industry has the right to interconnect and build new transmission lines. When America updates its electric grid, it must connect the vast solar resources in the Southwest to population centers across the nation.

7.     Americans have the right to buy solar electricity from their utility. Consumers have no choice to buy clean, reliable solar energy from their utilities instead of the dirty fossil fuels of the past.

8.      Americans have the right, and should expect, the highest ethical treatment from the solar industry. Consumers should expect the solar energy industry to minimize its environmental impact, provide systems that work better than advertised, and communicate incentives clearly and accurately.

Resch is president & CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. He made this statement before a gathering of thousands of industry professionals at the Solar Power International conference.

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