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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 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!

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

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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!

20 May 2014

President Obama Announces Solar Commitments

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Stellar Energy Among Leaders in the Industry to Contribute to President Obama's Execute Actions on Solar Energy!

In April 2014, The White House hosted a Solar Summit, providing an opportunity for leaders in the industry to discuss the economic opportunities that can be found in the sector.

One such leader, Stellar Energy, has committed 50 megawatts for farmers and agricultural companies as part of the executive action announced by President Barack Obama.

Read More..

09 May 2014

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

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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

03 March 2014

Republican Congressman to Oil and Gas Industry: ‘No More Subsidies’

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Jigar Shah argues for an end to fossil fuel subsidies—and a phase-out of clean energy subsidies.

Congressman Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced a tax reform bill earlier this week that removed all subsidies for oil, gas, coal, renewables and other energy technologies.

So, what led a conservative congressman to call for killing oil and gas subsidies?

Find out here!

27 February 2014

NY Senator Commends Stellar Energy's Work In Solar

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Senator Nozzolio helps dedicate the municipal solar project at the Seneca County Law Enforcement Center

Seneca Commencement Stellar Energy partners to deploy successful solar project in Seneca, NY.

27 February 2014

Stellar Energy Partners for Successful Solar Project

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The Quarterback Scores Again With Solar

Seneca SystemStellar Energy partners to deploy successful solar project in Seneca, NY

26 September 2013

Stellar Energy in PVSolar Report

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PVSolar Report Covers Stellar Energy Mining and Quarry Projects

Mines, quarries and other industrial facilities are going solar to decrease operating costs and reduce dependence on grid electricity. Stellar Energy has completed multiple solar power projects for quarry and mining facilities. 

See the complete post at PVSolar Report

06 September 2013

Stellar Energy in SolarPro Magazine

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Lightstorm Entertainment Project Profile

SolarPro magazine is featuring Stellar Energy’s Lightstorm Entertainment Project in their Oct./Nov. 2013 issue. 

Click here to read the article "Stellar Energy: Lightstorm Entertainment."


28 August 2012

Stellar Energy in US Builders Review

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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"

24 July 2012

Jordan Vineyard & Winery in the News

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Solar Powered Winery Mentioned in North Bay Business Journal

Jordan Vineyard & Winery, one of Sonoma County’s most prestigious family owned wineries was mentioned in this recent article of the North Bay Business Journal.

Jordan chose Stellar Energy to design, engineer, and install a fixed tilt, ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) power system. The 454 Kilowatt (kW) DC solar energy system is composed of two separate solar electric arrays and consists of 1,932 Sharp solar modules, 1 Solectria inverter, and a DECK internet-based monitoring to measure and display performance.

Lean more about this solar powered winey in this Solar for Agriculture Case Study.

See the complete article at North Bay Business Journal.

08 December 2011

Stellar Energy's Industrial Solar: 100% Solar Powered Quarry

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Awarded Top Project in the North Bay

BoDean Company Mark West Rock Quarry achieves a first in solar. With the largest solar powered rock quarry in the western United States, and the first all solar facility of its kind in the industry, the BoDean Company has taken the use of photovoltaic cells and sustainability to the next level.

Stellar Energy was the general contractor for this project. Lear more about this Industrial Solar Case Study

See the complete article at North Bay Business Journal

04 November 2011

Stellar Energy Completes Installation for Honda

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Includes Solar Powered Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

American Honda Motor has unveiled its 100kW solar-cell demonstration project at Honda Performance Development (HPD) in Santa Clarita, California featuring 800 thin-film CIGS solar panels manufactured by Honda Soltec. The project was designed and installed by Stellar Energy and includes a roof, carport and load dock canopy installation at the HPD headquarters and is said to be one of Honda's largest solar installations to date.

The 100kW system includes solar tracking and is designed power to power electric vehicle charging stations. The PV system's energy output is monitored in real-time through an Internet-based monitoring system.

"The installation of Honda Soltec solar panels along with an electric vehicle charging station at one of our most advanced Honda facilities in the United States represents a big step for us in our solar product development," said Mike Hodge, manager of Honda Home Energy for the Power Equipment Division of American Honda Motor. "What we learn from this new project at HPD will provide real-world data and feedback on the use of Honda solar cells in a typical commercial application."

Click here to see an interview with Mike Hodge who explains the project.

Click here to download a fact sheet with complete project details.

05 October 2011

North Bay Business Journal Features Sonoma Mountain Village Solar Project

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Dedication of New Solar Installation Project in Sonoma

An article in North Bay Business Journal, published on October 4, featured the dedication of the Sonoma Mountain Village solar installation project, which is being installed by Stellar Energy.

The article highlights, "The solar arrays, provided by Stellar Energy, are comprised of 4,928 solar panel modules, generating electricity that when combined with the existing on-site solar, will allow Sonoma Mountain Village to offset 100 percent of its electric needs from on-site renewable power."

For more details, see the complete article: Large RP Solar Array Activated.