Supporting Solar Power

Officials participating in yesterday’s dedication ceremony included Ameresco Vice President Jeff Metcalf, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knox County Schools’ Superintendent Jim Mclntyre.
Officials participating in yesterday’s dedication ceremony included Ameresco Vice President Jeff Metcalf, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and Knox County Schools’ Superintendent Jim Mclntyre.

 

Yesterday, both Knox County and Knox County Schools held a major press conference touting a new solar powered initiative. With the solar industry becoming more mainstream, many people are starting to wonder how they can get involved in saving the environment with solar power.

The good news is solar power and the use of solar power products are available to all economic groups. Here are some different ways the public can embrace solar power.

Business owners can take advantage of a free and educational workshop next week held by regional company LightWave Solar. The Solar Workshop for Businesses will be held on Friday, October 9 from 10:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m. at the Loudon County Visitors Bureau located at 1075 Highway 321 in Lenoir City. To register, call (615)641-4050 or email info@lightwavesolar.com.

LightWave also offers resources for homeowners wanting to learn about how to install solar panels. The company representatives take their time to thoroughly answer every question asked. The company also voluntarily prepared a solar estimate for this reporter’s current address. The company uses a satellite photo of an individual’s house and then can calculate an estimate on how much solar panel installation will cost and how much money solar power will save an individual in the long run.

Solar for Homeowners provides additional information and the hypothetical cost and the return on investment is for someone currently within the TVA region.

The Solar Energy Industries Association’s website also provides essential information for the homeowner. This organization has been around for over 40 years. They have created a very informative brochure for those that are thinking of adding solar.

For local information about solar energy directly impacting Tennessee, visit the Tennessee Solar Energy Association’s website.

In addition to rooftop solar installation, homeowners also have the option of solar landscaping.

If you don’t own a home, don’t worry!

According to a recent report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 3 out of 4 households in America cannot efficiently have solar panels added to their property. For those that cannot add solar to their property, they have many other different options to support the growth of clean energy.

Investing in solar-related companies on the stock market is an option. Companies such as First Solar, Inc (FSLR), Renewable Energy Group Inc (REGI) and SolarCity Corp (SCTY) are just a few of the solar stocks available on the stock market.  For those looking to diversify with mutual funds, Firsthand Alternative Energy (ALTEX), New Alternatives (NALFX) and Guinness Atkinson Alternative Energy (GAAEX) are just some examples of the options now available.

In addition to the stock market, “solar bonds” are also an option. According to SolarCity’s website, “Solar Bonds are fixed income debt securities that are issued by SolarCity, America’s largest residential solar company. With Solar Bonds, your earnings come from SolarCity and the monthly solar payments we receive from our more than 260,000 solar customers — families, schools, and businesses who have made the switch to clean energy.”

Another way to invest in solar power is crowdfunding.  Kickstarter.com is a website that often has new innovative ideas which the inventor/developer seeks financial help from the public. One example of this type of investment can be found here.

A different form of crowdfunding that is getting a lot of attention is Go Cloud Solar. The premise behind “Go Cloud Solar” is to create the optimum conditions for solar installation and maintenance. Instead of having solar panels placed on an individual’s house, which might not be at the optimum angle for generating the optimum amount of power, the investor purchases solar panels which are located in the best environment. The panels are also placed in strategic locations close to the ground. This makes it easier to install solar panels, than if they were to be installed on a roof.

Supporting solar power isn’t all about investments, one can also use a variety of fun new fashion items, whether it be a Tommy Hilfiger jacket, a baseball hat, watches or even a panel that can be affixed to your backpack to keep your cell phone charged!

This backpack was customized with a solar panel for the purpose of keeping a cell phone charged.
This backpack was customized with a solar panel for the purpose of keeping a cell phone charged.

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