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Media Center
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We offer service plans that are designed to shield and protect solar PV investments from unavoidable degradation.  Provide cost effective approach to solar O&M management including reporting/warranty management, performance monitoring and best practices for highest return on investment.


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26 March 2015

Solar's Gone Country


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Posted in In The News

The best specialty cash crop for farmers


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by Ted Walsh

Reprinted from Acres- The Voice of Eco-Agriculture: April 2015 - Vol. 45,No.4

Whats the best specialty cash crop for farmers right now? Nuts? Citrus?
The answer could be solar energy. Agricultural companies are generating $60,000 to $85,000 per acre per year from solar power. Thissolar profitis the cost avoided in their utility bills, inclusive of the cost of operations and maintenance. Thats as high as pretty much any other legal crop right now outside of grapes grown for high-end California wines.
Recently our firm worked with a large agricultural company in California that had 5 acres of cropland located near one of their processing facilities. They were leasing the land to another grower for strawberry production (one of the highest value-per-acre crops grown in California), but the lease was providing him with limited revenue of approximately $5,000 per acre per year. They decided to use the land themselves, remove the berries and install a 1.3 megawatt solar electric system. The result: they turned their $25,000 annual lease revenues into approximately $350,000 in annual savings from solar for the next 20-plus years. The solar savings is actually helping to finance a large expansion and exponentially more growing than was initially displaced for solar.
Over the past few years there has been a transformation in how farmers view solar. Rather than  just  installing solar as part of their sustainable growing programs, primarily to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and realize other environmental benefits, farmers increasingly see solar as an economic boon, a new technology that can significantly lower their operating costs and make them more competitive. Recently,  Bonipak, a 75-year-old farm in Santa Maria, California, that takes a vertically integrated seed-to-sale approach to ensure quality and freshness, decided to install over megawatts of solar over the next year, enough solar to power 400 homes, into its operations. Meanwhile Taylor Farms, an 80-year-old agricultural leader based in Salinas, California, dedicated to high-quality salads and sustainable growing, recently installed 675 kilo-watts of solar that was integrated into their existing fuel cell power system.

LOWER COSTS, FINANCING OPTIONS

Some of the growing interest in solar is driven by the economic trends across the market. Installed prices for residential and commercial photovoltaic (PV) solar systems completed in 2013 fell by roughly $0.70 per watt (W) or 12 to 15 percent from the prior year, according to a recent report from Berkeley Lab.
 
In addition, while the price of solar keeps dropping, the price of electricity continues to increase.  According to U.S. Energy Information Administration, average U.S. commercial electricity prices rose almost 4 percent last year, and more than 6 percent in solar-friendly states like California. In fact, solar power generation is now cost-competitive with natural gas and other fossil fuels in several regions of the country.
Flexible, attractive financing options in the form of agriculture-specific loans and operating leases are also helping farmers and agriculture-related firms deploy solar in the same manner that they have financed other equipment and facility construction. These low-interest, long-term financing options can monetize the tax incentives directly, or leave them outside the financing for the farm to capture, most often allowing a farm to go solar with no money down and be cash flow positive from day 1. They can also front- load the solar savings in the early years or extend them evenly over 7-15 years. This kind of flexibility allows farms to use solar as a strategic financial asset that can provide cash for other core business needs or expansion.
Stewart & Jasper Orchards, one of California’s most successful almond and citrus growers, uses four solar systems to help power their sheller and huller processing plants. In cases like this, the benefit is not just cost savings but also the avoidance of energy price volatility the farmer does not have to worry about fluctuating energy bills, just a steady loan or lease payment on a system with a positive ROI.
PRIME REAL ESTATE
Farmers possess the key asset needed for almost any renewable energy installation space. Many farmers are finding that hilly, dry or other marginal land for farming can deliver tens of thousands of dollars per acre per year in revenue and avoided expenses, especially since you do not need water for a solar installation. With serious drought affecting the West, rising water prices and water scarcity make being able to find a new crop that does not need water a very big deal.
Combine this marginal farmland with other quasi-industrial real estate often owned by farmers, as well as rooftop real estate on processing, storage and farming facilities, and farmers have a tremendous opportunity to use unproductive real estate as a cost-cutting measures are particularly helpful to farmers doing businesses in a hyper-competitive global market- place, where revenues fluctuate based on crop yields and global commodity prices.
Deep down, farmers have a tremendous respect for the environment and value the responsible use of natural resources. Their lives are based upon a partnership with the land, and the calculated management of plants, water and sunshine. They are the original solar engineers, converting the sunlight into energy in its most basic and essential form food. They have a deep connection to the natural environment and possess the patience, hard work and careful planning it takes to feed our country. Due to their appreciation of the extraordinary power of the sun, it makes perfect sense that farmers have been early and strong adopters of solar.

Ted Walsh is the president of Stellar Energy, one of the nations foremost large-scale solar developers and integrators. Reach him at ted.walsh@stellarenergy.com.

To download a pdf of this ACRES article, click here.

13 January 2015

HAAS Automation charges up with a 1 MW Solar Roof Mount

Posted in Solar Videos

HAAS Automation Solar Roof Mount

HAAS Automation is now charging up with a 1 MW solar roof mount built by Stellar Energy.

Click here for a test drive of this state-of-the art solar system!

12 January 2015

Central City Cooling Completes Their First Megawatt Solar Project

Posted in Solar Videos

Central City Cooling Builds Their First 1.14 MW Solar Project

Stellar Energy completed the first 1.14 MW solar ground mount project for Central City Cooling in Santa Maria.

Click here for a look at this solar PV ground mount project.

13 June 2014

Agriculture business flips the switch on new solar panels

Posted in In The News

Bonipak Farms Goes Solar

A produce company in the Santa Maria Valley is now farming more than food. It's also harvesting solar energy.

Thursday, Bonipak turned on a 1.3 mega-watt solar panel system.
A mega watt is the equivalent of 1 million watts.

The project will save 14 million gallons of water that the business would use to generate electricity.

"Essentially, the solar system's producing power that's off-setting their direct loads, so it's simply power that they don't buy from PG&E," said Ted Walsh, president of Stellar Energy.

Don Klusendorf, the director of sales and marketing at Bonipak, says, "We consider ourselves leaders of being sustainable and being social responsible. This is just one more thing of what we do."

Bonipak says the project will pay for itself in a few years.
It's expected to save more than $10 million in the next 30 years.

Read More Here!

07 October 2014

Santa Barbara Farms Goes Solar!

Posted in Solar Videos

Santa Barbara Farms Solar

Stellar Energy just completed this 561 kW ground mount solar installation at Santa Barbara Farms, demonstrating their commitment to financial and environmental responsibility.

To watch a quick time-lapse video of building Santa Barbara Farm's solar project, click here!

22 May 2014

Stellar Energy Joins White House Clean Energy Initiative by Bringing 50MW of Solar to Over 40 Farms and Food Processors in Next 3 Years

Posted in In The News

Stellar Energy is doing its part to advance the clean energy economy.

Stellar Energy, one of the nation's foremost large-scale solar developers and integrators, has committed to installing 50 megawatts for farmers and agricultural companies over the next three years as part of an executive action by President Obama announced to advance the clean energy economy.

"Farmers, food processors and others in the agricultural value chain understand that going solar isn't a fad. It is becoming one of the hallmarks of fiscal and environmental responsibility," said Ted Walsh, President of Stellar Energy.

Read more here!

09 May 2014

Stellar Energy generates global recognition for its solar clients from White House!

Posted in Press Releases

Stellar Energy to contribute 50 MW of solar to the White House Clean Energy Initiative

Stellar Energy Joins White House Clean Energy Initiative by Bringing 50 MW of solar to Over 40 Farms and Food Processors in Next Three Years

Bonipak and Taylor Farms to Collaborate With Stellar and Soligent on First Two Projects

Stellar Energy, one of the nation's foremost large-scale solar developers and integrators, has committed to installing 50 megawatts for farmers and agricultural companies over the next three years as part of an executive action by President Obama announced today to advance the clean energy economy.

Soligent, the country's oldest and largest solar distributor and provider of value-added services for dealers, will provide equipment and support in the initiative.

"Farmers, food processors and others in the agricultural value chain understand that going solar isn't a fad. It is becoming one of the hallmarks of fiscal and environmental responsibility," said Ted Walsh, President of Stellar Energy.

Under the executive action, President Obama announced that more than 300 private and public sector commitments to create jobs and reduce carbon pollution through solar and efficiency. The commitments cumulatively represent more than 850 MW of solar -- enough to power 850,000 homes -- and lower bills for over 1 billion square feet of buildings.

09 May 2014

Stellar Energy generates global recognition for its solar clients from White House!

Posted in In The News

Stellar Energy to contribute 50 MW of solar to the White House Clean Energy Initiative

Stellar Energy joins the White House Clean Energy Initiative by bringing 50 MW of solar to over 40 farms and food processors in the next 3 years.  Bonipak and Taylor Farms are set to collaborate with Stellar and Soligent on the first two projects!

Read More in the Press Release Here

18 September 2012

Stellar Energy Completes 960 kW Solar PV System for Lightstorm Entertainment

Posted in Press Releases

Solar Electricity Powers the Film Production of AVATAR Movie Sequels

Manhattan Beach, California -- Stellar Energy, a large-scale solar energy project developer and systems integrator announced the completion of a 960 kilowatt (kW) solar project that will provide clean energy to James Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment Inc. (LEI), the film industry’s most technologically advanced and innovative production company.

The solar energy system consists of three large roof-mounted photovoltaic arrays and features 3,692 solar modules and three inverters, which produce enough electricity to power LEI’s sound stages and offices at Manhattan Beach Studios (MBS) Media Campus, a state-of-the-art production lot in Manhattan Beach, California owned by The Carlyle Group and property managed by Raleigh Studios.

LEI was determined to harness pure and clean solar energy to power their highly anticipated sequels to AVATAR, the highest grossing film of all time. Adding these solar energy systems to the studio’s rooftops was crucial to making the production of the next AVATAR films as energy efficient as possible.

By using renewable solar energy installed on complex roof-tops at the studio campus, LEI reduced its carbon footprint and has become a highly visible example for other studios to follow. LEI, and its leadership by James Cameron and Jon Landau, has a history of supporting environmental causes and plans to donate a portion of the profits from the next two AVATAR movies to environmental and social initiatives that are at the heart of the AVATAR world.

“The AVATAR sequels are a great opportunity to show how we, as a production company, can make clean green solar energy as we go. Going into AVATAR 2 and 3, we are going to be able produce enough solar energy to handle the entire electrical demand for our computers and performance capture systems here at MBS Media Campus,” said James Cameron, Director of AVATAR. “We have to do this for the future, for our children, and as a moral responsibility to the planet.”

12 September 2012

Stellar Energy Strengthens Leadership Team with new Operations Executives

Posted in Press Releases

Michael Mittleman is now Senior VP of Operations and Wayne Williford is Solar O&M Manager

michael mittleman_headRohnert Park, CA— Stellar Energy, a large-scale solar energy integrator is pleased to announce the addition of two solar industry veterans to its operations team:  Michael Mittleman as Senior Vice President of Operations, and Wayne Williford as Operations and Maintenance Manager.

Mr. Mittleman is a solar industry veteran, who brings Stellar Energy over three decades of experience in commercial construction, with an extensive background in design/build projects for some of the largest food processing, cold storage, and distribution facilities in the nation. Prior to joining Stellar Energy, Mr. Mittleman managed the construction of over $150 million of solar projects for commercial, municipal, and industrial clients around the country.  Mr. Mittleman will oversee all engineering, procurement, and construction operations including purchasing, estimating, design, and project management.

Mr. Williford is also a solar industry veteran with extensive experience in the areas of solar power plant performance and system monitoring. Previously, he managed a portfolio of over 70 Megawatts of client’s solar assets.  In his new role as Stellar Energy’s Operations and Maintenance Manager, Mr. Williford is responsible for all client solar system performance, monitoring, and component maintenance.

“As the industry matures, investors in solar projects are demanding the lowest possible costs for development and greater accountability, including energy output guarantees,” stated Tosh Fujioka, Chief Executive Officer at Stellar Energy. “Adding Mr. Mittleman and Mr. Williford to our team increases our ability to compete and underscores our leadership position in large commercial and municipal solar project construction and operation.”

“Michael Mittleman’s demonstrated leadership in large-scale solar project management makes him the ideal partner to help lead Stellar Energy’s growth,” said Matt Lugar, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing at Stellar Energy. “Both Mr. Mittleman and Mr. Williford bring deep experience to help increase our efficiency through the entire life cycle of a solar project, and ultimately, more competitive pricing for our clients and financial partners.”

Contact us today to learn more about Stellar Energy's Solar Opperations & Maintenance services.

28 August 2012

Stellar Energy in US Builders Review

Posted in In The News

Solar Power Solutions That Make a Difference

Stellar Energy was recently featured in US Builders Review - 'The industry leading construction journal'. 

 Click here to read the 2 page article "Solar Solutions that Make a Difference"

09 July 2012

Stellar Energy Powers Jordan Vineyard & Winery

Posted in Press Releases

Venerable winery nearly eliminates their utility electrical bill with solar energy

Rohnert Park, CA—Stellar Energy, a large-scale solar energy engineering, procurement and construction provider, announced it has completed a 454 Kilowatt (kW) solar project at Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Healdsburg, California. The solar photovoltaic array consists of 1,932 modules composed of 100% American made equipment—quite uncommon in this country due to the higher cost of U.S.-manufactured products. The solar power generated is expected to offset the family-owned and operated winery's utility bill by 99% and save the winery nearly $4.9 million in electricity costs over the next 30 years.

View the online Case Study for Jordan Vineyard & Winery 

Prior to installing solar, Jordan chose to focus its efforts on a six-year program to reduce its energy consumption to the lowest possible level before switching to solar power. "I felt strongly about reducing our energy use before converting to solar," said Tim Spence, director of operations at Jordan Vineyard & Winery. "In the rush to get off the grid, many businesses have been 'solarizing' their inefficiencies—putting marketing before true sustainability and using the sun to power their overconsumption of energy. Reduce use first: that's been our guiding principle."

From 2007 to 2010, Jordan installed "cool roofs", new refrigeration units, new warehouse doors, pre-insulated piping systems, LED lighting and also enrolled in PG&E ClimateSmart™ to reach its initial electricity-reduction goals. The winery's electrical demand decreased by 25% due to this aggressive action program, and energy use was certified carbon neutral through ClimateSmart™.

Jordan was among the first wineries certified in the Sonoma Green Business Program and the winery's energy use was certified carbon neutral in 2009 through the purchase of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

"California's bountiful sunshine has nurtured our grapevines for 40 years, and this harvest, we'll use that same sunlight to power all of our crush equipment for the 2012 vintage," said John Jordan, chief executive officer of Jordan Vineyard & Winery.

"The Jordan Winery solar project is another example of Stellar Energy's expertise in designing and installing complex, ground-mounted solar installations on steep hillsides," said Matt Lugar, vice president of sales and marketing at Stellar Energy. "Jordan Winery's new solar energy system will allow them to use clean solar energy to produce their wines for decades to come."

Jordan's American-made solar system was mounted on a hillside behind the winery to maximize the southern exposure sunshine and preserve the traditional, elegant look of the winery chateau buildings. The official switch from electrical to solar power took place June 29.

Click here to see videos and photos of the solar installation.

04 June 2012

Soligent: New Name for Stellar Energy’s Managing Company

Posted in Press Releases

Operational efficiencies lead to more competitive solar equipment pricing

You probably already know Stellar Energy as one of the top solar EPC companies in California. Yet did you know our sister companies, DC Power Systems and Solar Depot were the largest solar equipment suppliers in the Unites States?

As of June 1, 2012- Stellar Energy's managing company; SolarNet and distributors DC Power Systems and Solar Depot officially changed to a single name Soligent, LLC. Merging into one name completes a transition to one company with a single vision and purpose, to be the best equipment partner in solar energy. Soligent's improved operational efficiencies lead to more competitive solar equipment pricing for Stellar Energy clients. Stellar Energy GP, Inc. will keep its name and remains a 100% wholly-owned subsidiary of Soligent, LLC.

As a brief history, Stellar Energy incorporated in 2004 and in 2009, ITOCHU International, a Fortune Global 500 company, acquired a majority interest in Stellar Energy and its managing company, SolarNet LLC, now called Soligent LLC. ITOCHU strengthened Stellar Energy's position with increased bonding and insurance capabilities.

Today Stellar Energy remains one of the nation's foremost large-scale solar energy integrators, with complete system design, engineering, procurement, and construction management capabilities. Stellar Energy navigates the technical, logistical, and regulatory complexities of developing solar projects for a wide variety of market segments, including government and municipal projects, schools and universities, commercial and industrial businesses, and utilities and independent power producers. Contact us to learn more.

30 May 2012

2011 SEPA Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings

Posted in Solar Industry News

120% growth in the megawatts installed over 2010

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) just released their fifth annual Utility Solar Rankings, which analyzes the amount of new solar power interconnected by U.S. electric utilities in 2011. It covers more than 240 of the most solar-active utilities representing more than 99% of the U.S. solar electric power marketplace. The research shows that utilities are adapting to solar as their fastest growing electricity source.

In 2011, utilities interconnected over 62,500 PV systems and conservative forecasts expect this number will grow to more than 150,000 interconnections in 2015. And for the fourth straight year, utilities integrated a record amount of new solar power, despite the recession. The nation's most solar active utilities integrated almost 1,500 megawatts (MW-ac) of new solar, equivalent to six natural gas power plants, with commercial rooftop installations accounting for more than 53% of the capacity.

These 2011 numbers represent a 38% growth in the number of installations and a 120% growth in the megawatts installed over 2010. SEPA expects continued growth in 2012, driven by sustained price decreases and a build-out of large solar power plant contracts. Today, the most solar-active utilities are no longer theoretically talking about solar in the future – they are engaged with solar today in substantial ways. As solar markets grow, these utilities are already adapting to this rapid growth and the operational and regulatory changes that it requires, and in the process laying a path that other utilities will soon follow.

03 January 2012

30% Grant in Lieu of Tax Credit Expired

Posted in Solar Industry News

Investment Tax Credit still valid through 2016

As it stands now, the wildly successful 30% Grant in Lieu of Tax Credit for renewable energy property (affectionately known as the 1603 or Treasury Grant Program) will not see the light of day in 2012, nor will 100% first-year bonus depreciation. This is not so much a policy development as a lack of policy development, but all is not lost. The clean energy industry will still be able to benefit from the 30% business energy investment tax credit and the residential renewable energy tax credit through the end of 2016, as well as 50% first-year bonus depreciation through 2012.  See DSIRE's Database for complete details.