Welcome to the Arizona Solar Challenge Tumblr! We're your source for the latest updates about our work to put solar on 5% of homes in your community by the year 2015. We'll regularly feature photos, news clips and profiles of Solar Ambassadors from across the state. Learn more at the Arizona SmartPower website.

Posts tagged "solar"

On Tuesday, Sept. 25, residents and community leaders will gather at City Hall to celebrate Buckeye’s designation as an official “Arizona Solar Community.” Official town signs will be presented at the event and later placed throughout the City.


WHAT: Buckeye Solar Celebration

WHEN: Tuesday, Sept. 25, 10 a.m.

WHERE: Buckeye City Hall 530 East Monroe Avenue Buckeye, AZ 85326

WHO: Mayor Jackie Meck, Representatives from Arizona SmartPower and APS, Buckeye residents

Buckeye quickly reached the 5 percent goal of the Arizona Solar Challenge and is now an official Arizona Solar Community, with an impressive 8.6 percent installs already achieved by 2012, well before the 2015 deadline.

ABOVE: Buckeye Solar Ambassadors gathered back in October 2011 to brainstorm ways to help the town reach its 5 percent goal, playing a huge part in helping Buckeye soar past this goal. 

Arizona Public Service is investing in the development of 200 MW of solar power plants across the state. This announcement comes after APS has seen astounding success with the Arizona Solar Challenge — a program to help owner-occupied homes achieve more than 5 percent solar by 2015.

Clearly, solar makes sense for Arizona. More than 5 of the Arizona Solar Challenge's 14 towns have already surpassed the program's 5 percent goal. An official Arizona Solar Community sign was just installed in two locations in Goodyear, where Mayor Georgia Lord could not have been more proud to see residents reaping the benefits of a wise, clean investment.

But homeowners aren’t the only ones seeing the potential to reap the benefits of a bright investment.

APS just announced a Request for Proposal (RFP) from solar developers and installers to construct a 32-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic facility in Gila Bend, Ariz. This project will be financed by APS through the company’s AZ Sun Program and and is expected to provide electricity to more than 8,000 Arizona homes. And create more than 2,000 local jobs, just in construction.

The potential for solar in Arizona is endless. While other less sunny states might not see the same rate of growth, they can certainly learn from the wise investments and important roles that utilities can play, as demonstrated by the Arizona Solar Challenge and this new AZ Sun Program.

Dozens of Goodyear residents, including Mayor Georgia Lord, turned out to City Hall on Wednesday, July 18, to celebrate the installment of Goodyear’s official “Arizona Solar Community” sign — the first in the state.

Just two years ago, Goodyear signed on to participate in the Arizona Solar Challenge, a program organized by the nonprofit Arizona SmartPower, which set a goal of achieving solar on at least 5 percent of owner-occupied homes by 2015. Goodyear has already achieved more than 10 percent, becoming a true leader in clean energy. 

Goodyear Mayor Georgia Lord could not have been more proud to help present the official solar sign to residents, saying that SmartPower’s “grassroots effort led to 1,368 total solar installs in Goodyear,” a number that will make a real difference in the town’s sustainable future, and in its local economy. 

"With Goodyear’s leadership, we are cracking the code on how to get solar on rooftops in Arizona and beyond," said Brian F. Keane, president of SmartPower.

Goodyear’s official Arizona Solar Community sign will be featured in two prominent locations — one on Litchfield Road and another on Pebble Creek Parkway. 

Goodyear homeowners Mike and Cher Zeman recently moved to Arizona and witnessed the widespread adoption of solar on homes in their PebbleCreek neighborhood. They began asking neighbors about their experiences with solar and soon they were hearing all about the good savings that could be achieved. But when they asked questions about purchasing and installation, they were overwhelmed. Every homeowner was telling a different story and sharing different advice, but the one suggestion that they heard from all of their neighbors was that they needed to talk with a Solar Coach.

Mike and Cher called Arizona SmartPower to speak with Solar Coach Dru Bacon. In the ensuing conversation, they mentioned that they had several neighbors who had also recently moved into their immediate neighborhood who had questions about solar. Mike and Cher invited nineteen homeowners to attend a meeting in the Zeman’s living room, where Solar Coach Dru gave a brief background about SmartPower and the Arizona Solar Challenge. After a discussion of how solar energy works, homeowners began asking questions. And Dru had the answers.

Since that meeting, Dru has continued to work with the PebbleCreek homeowners to address their concerns and provide solutions.

Solar energy is new to most homeowners and can be an intimidating process when trying to integrate all the variables that impact the best solar solution for each home. Such things as electricity usage, roof space, roof azimuth, rate plan, pattern of usage and other factors all have important impacts on determining the optimum solar system. The process is further complicated by the question of whether to buy or lease a solar system. Fortunately, the Solar Coach is there to sort it all out.

Please contact Solar Coach Dru Bacon at dbacon[at] with your solar questions.

"When I was looking to go solar I felt caught in the middle of various solar companies, all wanting me to buy, but with Dru’s help and expertise, I went ahead and chose a PV system feeling confident in my decision based on his ‘brass tacks’ real world knowledge. 

With Dru’s help, I feel I made a much more informed decision than I would have otherwise. I would highly recommend that anyone looking to go solar take the time to get Dru’s invaluable input as a Solar Coach.”

- David Snyder, Scottsdale, Arizona

Please join the Arizona SmartPower team at this Green Cave Creek event on Earth Day 2012 to learn more about solar. Solar Coach Dru Bacon will be speaking at 11am and 1pm, so be sure to come by then!

Arizona SmartPower, with the help of the Anthem Council, sponsored a booth at the 13th annual Anthem Days event in North Phoenix on March 24-25th. The booth welcomed a steady stream of homeowners eager to learn more about how they can obtain solar energy for their homes.

Many event goers signed up for Solar Coach services and several of those who had already installed solar signed up to become Solar Ambassadors so that they could share their solar experience with friends and neighbors.

Among the new Solar Ambassadors were several young professionals who have solar homes and who were interested in ways they can share information about the benefits of solar with other young families. With such a high return on investment, solar is an excellent choice for homeowners at any stage of their life. Arizona SmartPower looks forward to working with these new Solar Ambassadors to encourage more young professionals to make the solar investment.

The community of Anthem already has a high percentage of solar homes, but Anthem Days certainly helped Arizona SmartPower and its team of Solar Ambassadors set a high standard for community events and for homeowners looking to go solar.

While solar energy proponents, skeptics and pundits were debating the renewable energy source’s future, solar became mainstream.

ABOVE: U.S. Solar 2011 Year in Review in One Graphic via GreenTechMedia.

2011 will likely be judged as the year solar energy came of age, as examples of solar and wind energy developments last year are too numerous to list. Below are a few highlights.

- U.S. Photovoltaic Solar energy installations grew from 152 megawatts of power installed in the first quarter of 2010 to 776 megawatts in the fourth quarter of 2011. Year over year increases were 887 megawatts in 2010 to 1,855 megawatts in 2011 or a growth rate of 209%.

- Solar energy attracted massive investments from big money investors such as Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, KKR, MetLife and John Hancock. These well-known investors claim solid 15% returns from their solar investments. “A solar power project with a long-term sales agreement could be viewed as a machine that generates revenue,” said Marty Klepper, an attorney at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP, which helped arrange a solar deal for Buffett. “It’s an attractive investment for any firm, not just those in energy.”

- General Electric, already a major player in wind energy, broke ground on a $400 million solar panel manufacturing plant in Aurora, Colorado, which will be the largest solar panel manufacturing plant in the nation. GE will be competing with First Solar in CdTe thin film solar technology that has already established the world’s lowest manufacturing cost for solar panels. The entry of GE into thin film can only mean even lower prices for solar and more widespread adoption for residential, commercial and utility scale projects.

- Solar PV panel prices decreased 50% in 2011, resulting in an average 20% drop in total installation costs. The rapid price decline caused business failures for manufacturers introducing new technology and for non-cost competitive companies.

- Solar electric energy grew in all market segments including residential, solar and utility scale.

- California reached a total of one gigawatt of residential solar power. California homeowners’ roofs now generate power equal to one nuclear power plant.

- “With 30-year Treasuries yielding about 3.4 percent, investors are seeking safe places to park their money for years at a higher return. Solar energy fits the bill, with predictable cash flows guaranteed by contract for two decades or more. Those deals may be even more lucrative because many were signed before the cost of solar panels plunged 50 percent last year.”

- Dan Reicher, executive director of Stanford University’s center for energy policy and finance in California, said, “The beauty of solar is once you make the capital investment, you’ve got free fuel and very low operating costs.”

- Renewable energy is cheap today. The following are some key quotes from Climate Progress’s report on the solar market:

  • Last year was the first time global investments in renewable energy surpassed investments in fossil fuels
  • The United States is currently leading in corporate R&D and venture capital investments in clean energy globally, and last year retook the top spot in overall investment with a 33 percent increase to $55.9 billion
  • Some wind developers are signing long-term power-purchase agreements in the 3 cents a kilowatt-hour range, far cheaper than any other new power source. 
  • The clean energy sector is growing at a rate of 8.3 percent, nearly double the growth rate of the overall economy. 
  • The global market for clean energy was worth a whopping $250 billion in 2011. 
  • Solar energy development in Arizona increased by 333 percent in 2011. 
  • In California solar developers have signed contracts for power below the projected price of natural gas from a 500-MW combined-cycle power plant. 

The road ahead for solar and wind now seems clear. Prices are falling dramatically; leading financial institutions and manufactures have accepted solar and wind as mainstream industries; the use of fossil fuels continues to decline in energy production; electric power from coal in the U.S. has dropped from 50% to less than 40%; plans for more than 100 new coal fired power plants have been cancelled as retirement of older coal fired facilities has increased; the economics of solar and wind have made renewable energy the fuel of choice.

The transition from mining and burning coal and uranium for electric power to harnessing the free fuel of solar and wind will take a few years to complete, but the outcome is inevitable. Solar and wind will win.

Arizona SmartPower led an exciting Solar Workshop in Yuma, partnering with the wonderful folks at the Foothills Library to host the event. The SmartPower team was joined by five Yuma Solar Ambassadors who shared their experiences with their residential solar electric systems.

Arizona SmartPower State Director Toni Bouchard introduced the workshop to the 32 attendees with information about SmartPower’s work, particularly the Arizona Solar Challenge. Solar Coach Dru Bacon answered solar questions ranging from “What size do I need?” to “How much will it cost and what is the payback?” to “Will solar panels be damaged by hail?” along with several other inquiries.

BELOW: Solar Coach Dru Bacon answers attendees’ solar questions.

Reporters from two television stations covered the Solar Workshop including one from Channel 9, a FOX News affiliate, who visited the home of one of our Solar Ambassadors to film solar installations in Yuma. The City of Yuma TV Station also arranged to visit the home of a Solar Ambassador as part of a series they have planned that follows a homeowner through the entire solar process, from learning about solar to flipping the switch and watching their meter run backward on the day they start producing electricity.

The SmartPower team was thrilled to see solar spreading even further throughout Yuma. Thanks to all of the Solar Ambassadors and local reporters who came out to the workshop to help spread the solar message.